Of all the things 2020 will be remembered for, probably pretty low on the list will be “the year that Character Options’ Doctor Who action figure line suddenly awakened”, but…it’s still on the list.
Hot on the heels of the box sets released earlier this year come…more box sets! First up, there is a set of new variants of the current TARDIS crew, with repaints of Graham, Yaz, and Ryan, the thirteenth Doctor’s companions.
The remaining box sets are firmly in classic series territory, however, starting with a box set of the fifth Doctor, as played by Peter Davison, and his TARDIS. This particular TARDIS mold has been released before, along with the seventh Doctor, but the paint job here is unique, a bit more weathered, and the box set is tied, at least in name, to the 1982 four-parter The Visitation (which was also graced with a soundtrack CD earlier this year). Those of you who like to have an era-appropriate TARDIS for each of the Doctors on your shelf, here it is.
Having been released earlier this year in different costumes, the fourth Doctor’s companions are back in circulation once more, this time dressed for different episodes.
This second box set of both incarnations of Romana and Sarah Jane Smith dips into the Jon Pertwee era as well, with Sarah Jane sporting a leather jacket similar to the one worn in 1974’s The Monster Of Peladon, while Romana’s first incarnation wears the futuristic outfit seen in 1978’s The Power Of Kroll (you’ll have to supply your own giant squid to re-enact specific scenes though). Romana’s second incarnation is ready to do battle with The Horns Of Nimon, the not-exactly-a-fan-favorite story that saw Doctor Who limp into 1980 before a new production team gave the series a serious revamp.
The fourth Doctor’s era gets some additional love with the box set that’s likely to be the real eye-opener of this wave of figures…
…a box set of figures from the classic fourth Doctor story Terror Of The Zygons, which introduced the shapeshifting monsters in the story’s title. Tom Baker wore a unique variation of his normal costume, complete with a tam o’shanter and a long tartan scarf, appropriate to the Scottish setting of that particular story. That outfit is finally immortalized in plastic, along with a new camo fatigues variant of UNIT regular Sgt. Benton and a more anonymous UNIT soldier (better check to see if he’s wearing a red shirt under there, as many an anonymous UNIT soldier…well, let’s just say they tend not to come back and become as well known as Sgt. Benton).
And are there more Daleks? Oh yes, there are more Daleks.
Tackling these in reverse order, Dalek Collectors’ Set #4 brings us two variant Daleks from the epic, 12-part story The Daleks’ Masterplan, a story so long that it started in 1965 and ended in 1966 (!). A Dalek equipped with a flame thrower – for clearing the dense, Dalek-hostile vegetation of the planet Kembel – is included, along with a Black Dalek, presumably in command of that mission.
Dalek Collectors’ Set #3 brings us a pair of Daleks from the earlier 1965 six-part story The Chase, one featuring the lighter color scheme that BBC propmasters tried out during this period of the show to help the Daleks “gleam” more futuristically (and more like metal) under studio lights, along with a repeat of the recent limited-edition paint job indicating that the other Dalek was on loan to the BBC from the recently-completed Peter Cushing film Dr. Who And The Daleks; unlike the two Daleks with a similar color scheme from the limited edition set, however, this one features a standard Dalek base and not the raised “bumper car” base seen on the movie Daleks.
And if you think that all of these sets feature characters spaced out too far apart to be a part of the same scene, never forget that UNIT and the Daleks clashed – briefly, and with heavy UNIT casualties (here’s where your anonymous UNIT soldier comes in) in 1971’s Day Of The Daleks (especially if you have, on DVD, the “special edition” of that story which punches up that battle with newly-shot footage).
Plus, of course, you probably have your own UNIT-vs.-Daleks scenarios in mind, too.
A new official U.S. web destination – though leading primarily to Amazon links from a single seller (presumably the owner of the site) – has been established for American collectors in the wake of the resurgence of the Doctor Who action figure line. These sets will start to appear in late October, probably in the $30-40 range for two/three figure box sets, with the fifth Doctor/TARDIS set probably landing at around $50.
What’s next for the Doctor Who figure line? Looking closely at years past offers some likely clues: once a new character mold (say, Romana or ’70s Sarah Jane, or Sgt. Benton and Captain Yates of UNIT) is added to the line, often at great expense between the actual sculpting and the rights to the likenesses of actors who are increasingly no longer with us, those heads will be dropped on top of new bodies for at least a year or so. So if you’re disappointed that Romana hasn’t turned up in the sailor or schoolgirl outfit yet, wait until 2021; your wish-list Romana outfit will probably eventually happen, if only to amortize the expense of creating the new head molds. (If they ever put Sarah Jane in her Brain Of Morbius or Hand Of Fear duds, they’ll probably sucker me into buying whatever box set those variations are part of.) Smart money also says to watch out for specialized Daleks tied into the upcoming Time Lord Victorious storyline or the Daleks! animated series.
And new companions beyond these? Maybe this time next year at the earliest. But the Character Options Doctor Who line, going strong since 2005’s relaunch of the TV series, is clearly not one to write off. As I’ve said before, it’s the UK’s equivalent of the Kenner/Hasbro Star Wars line…and the Doctor’s travels are far from completely chronicled in toy form.