Monday, December 15, 2014

Toy Review – Doctor Who Time of the Doctor Action Figure Set from Underground Toys

Doctor Who’s descent into the realm of television that I do not enjoy began with Matt Smith’s final story – “The Time of the Doctor”.

I didn’t like it and I haven’t liked much since.

I did, however, love Matt Smith’s final costume as the Doctor. Of course I’m going to like a purple jacket and bow tie combination. I never thought we’d get a 5” scale figure of the Doctor in this particular outfit, so I was thrilled when I first saw images of this set. I do, overall, like Smith’s Doctor Eleven very much and I wanted to have a figure of him in this get-up. 
 
Despite the launch and ensuing support of the (not very good in my opinion) 3.75” scale Doctor Who action figure line, it looks like Underground Toys is still going to grace us with the occasional 5” scale figure to fit in with our existing collections. Heck, you can still walk into a Toys R Us store and find 5” Daleks on the pegs.

If you want more details about my feelings on “The Time of the Doctor”, click here.

FIRST GLANCE

The difference between this figure and its 3.75” counterpart are staggering. Where that one suffered from a lack of detail, articulation, and a general sort of blurriness, this one is well defined and full of detail. There’s no mushy sort-of-Matt-Smith-like face here. Nor is there a dull, untextured jacket that looks more like a garbage bag. This is a nice-looking figure.

PACKAGING

This box is a very interesting addition to the line, as it apes the look of the fantastic Eleven Doctors Box Set, right down to the bios on the opening TARDIS doors:

It’s clearly meant as a companion piece, though it technically only contains one Doctor. Still, I do like consistency within a line and this will look neat next to your box set if you choose to leave the Doc in the box. So to speak.

The exterior is a TARDIS with the diamond-shaped text boxes we’ve come to associate with the line. It looks really good and helps this figure seem like something special, which it is.
Since the biographical portions are printed on the door flaps, they chose to print a synopsis of the story on the back where a bio would normally be.

A little editing might have been nice on the Eleventh Doctor’s bio, as the mention of Amy Pond doesn’t really make sense in this context. She’s been long gone at this point.

As an interesting note to those who defended Clara’s ridiculous overreaction to the Doctor’s regeneration – it states quite clearly here that she “understands regeneration more than any other companion”. So no, sorry – she didn’t forget all of that. It was, indeed, just bad writing. 
 
LOOKS

I think this is the best Matt Smith head sculpt we’ve seen. It seems to have a bit more character than the older ones. Maybe that’s due to Smith’s being a bit older. The hair is sculpted nicely and has the sort of definition that makes it look like hair without being overly detailed. There’s a trick to making action figure hair look good – it can’t be flat and blobby, but you also can’t put too much detail into it. This figure hits a happy medium. The face is clearly Matt Smith and has a much nicer paint job than the other Smiths I have. The lips don’t look lipstick-y, the eyes are clearer, and the eyebrows… well, the eyebrows aren’t so great. They’re just painted on with no sculpting, but they don’t look all crazy, either.

The Doctor’s coat has a sculpted square pattern all over it. It doesn’t have the minute color detail of the prop coat, but the texture helps with the look a lot. The collar is painted a darker purple, which is correct. The sleeves match the coloration of the main portion perfectly, which is nice because they are a firm plastic while the body of the coat is rubber. Sometimes different materials don’t match up. The sculpted buttonholes on the lapels are a nice touch.
The Doctor’s hands are about as good as hands get at this scale. The right is sculpted to hold his sonic screwdriver and the left to hold his cane.

Under the coat the figure has a sort of dickie thing going on. It’s a rubber piece with a fob watch, vest, shirt collar, and bow tie sculpted on. The sculpt looks fantastic and the painted detail is perfect. They really nailed this piece. From the buttons to the dots on the bow tie, the tiny detail is all there. It looks great.

Without the dickie (or a head), the figure looks super weird. But obviously you won’t be displaying it like this.

The trousers are plain black trousers. There’s a lot of sculpted detail showing wrinkles and seams. 
 
The shoes are awesome. I would wear these shoes. Sometimes, I have no idea what a prop or piece of costuming looks like until I get the action figure. I don’t hunt this stuff down on the internet, and I’m usually too busy watching and listening to what’s happening on screen to worry about the Doctor’s shoes or what sort of cufflinks he’s wearing. These are cool shoes. 
 
ACCESSORIES

This set comes with two extra heads, an extra dickie, a Cyberman head, a cane, and the 11th/12th Doctor’s sonic screwdriver.

The extra dickie is the same as the stock one except that it is unencumbered by a bow tie and has a weird black nimbus around the fob watch and chain. I think the latter is an accident, and it isn’t as noticeable in person as it is in these pictures. This piece goes with the alternate heads. It switches out fairly easily. The collar fits around the neck of the body and there are two slots for pegs that are sculpted into the coat to hold everything in place.

The alternate heads look just as good as the Matt Smith head and swap out easily. The old Eleventh Doctor head actually looks better than it did in the story because it’s just an action figure and you can’t tell its lousy makeup. Seriously – that makeup was terrible.

The Twelfth Doctor head looks fantastic and makes me hopeful that we’ll see a Capaldi in this scale. I may not like the show now, but I do love his Doctor. I find his expression a little bit odd, but whatever. It’s the spitting image of the guy.

The cane is a cane. It has wood grain sculpted onto it and fits into the Doctor’s hand.

The sonic screwdriver looks much better than this terrible picture. Sorry about that. It’s hard to photograph tiny things and when you do it’s hard to tell if you got a good picture until it’s on the computer screen.

As great as the extra Doctor heads are, I won’t be displaying the figure with them, which makes Handles the decapitated Cyberman the best accessory of this set. He looks perfect – everything you might want out of a Cyberman head. I like Handles because he’s an old school Cyberman and not one of these new Iron Man ones or (shudder) a Cybus model.

FUN

When you pack this many interactive accessories in with an action figure you’re pretty much guaranteeing a good time. With three different heads to switch out, a sonic, a cane, a Cyberman head to toss around, and two interchangeable (what more could any toy collector ask for!?!?), there’s plenty to mess around with on this Doctor.

On top of all of that, this figure features the best articulation of the line. There aren’t any advancements, but it maintains the recent shoulder hinges that were so sorely lacking on the first several years’ releases. The mid-limb swivels are quite ugly and no attempt was made to hide them. They’re literally just cut right into the sculpt. The thighs are mercifully hidden by the Doctor’s long coat, but the biceps are some of the worst joints I’ve ever seen (a common issue with this line). If the Doctor’s arms are turned, it looks terrible. It’s like the Brits have some powerful aversion to modifying aesthetics for the sake of… well, aesthetics. Making the arms a little more round would fix this eyesore, but they just won’t do it.
Still, this Doctor is tons of fun and for the most part nice to look at.

OVERALL

Personally I think this figure is a big win. I’d hate to see the 5” line die, but if this were the final release I’d be okay with it. It’s a nice-looking figure that certainly received the deluxe treatment as far as deco and accessories go. 
 
If you’re a fan of Matt Smith and/or purple coats, you need to own this one.

4 out of 5

And you can buy it RIGHT HERE and help Needless Things pay the bills (seriously – we have bills)!:


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