Friday, 25 April 2014

Review: Doctor Who: The Other Doctor

The 5" Doctor Who action figure line from Character came about more or less by accident. A couple of figures (aka statues) were bundled with some radio control daleks way, way back in 2005. The popularity of these resulted in additional 'proper' figures being released, sticking to the same scale which was about 5" in height. The size really being determined by what size was needed to fit the electronics in the daleks.

That line is now dead. At least in mainstream stores the Doctor Who figures have shrunk to 3 3/4", favoured by companies such as Hasbro. The main reason for this is the spiralling cost of plastic, though I'm sure the hope was that bringing Who into line with Star Wars, Power Rangers etc would help bump sales.

For collectors, however, who've been with the line since the beginning, this is a bit annoying. I can't be the only one with a giant box brimming with 5" and who thinks the new smaller figures look absolutely rubbish. There are occasional 'classic' series releases, featuring characters such as the Brigadier, Ace, old aliens etc, but hopes for getting anything from the latest episodes is nothing more than a dream.

It was a surprise then when the Other/War/John Hurt Doctor was announced. I still can't believe it's been released. As a SDCC exclusive I might have been able to understand, but it's widely (if you can use such a term) released in specialty comic shops Forbidden Planet (both of them).

The figure has a great likeness of John Hurt as he appeared in the episode. His outfit is a mix of the 8th & 9th Doctors, including a battered old jacket which is simply, but effectively achieved on the figure with a brushing of lighter brown paint on top of the darker brown plastic beneath.

The Other Doctor comes with a second head, that of Paul McGann, the 8th Doctor. This kind of makes the figure double as a regeneration figure, but since the 8th never wore these clothes during the regeneration it doesn't quite make sense. Still, it's a great likeness of McGann and can probably be stuck on the existing 8th Doctor figure with a bit of work.

In addition, Other Doctor comes with a sonic screwdriver, which he holds tightly in his hand. You can lose the figure for a couple of weeks down the side of the sofa and when he turns up again he'll still be clutching it. He also comes with the Billie Box weapon (the official name of which I can't remember).

Overall, while the figure looks great in every regard there's a nasty big flaw that you discover as soon as you pick him up. All the joints are loose, really loose. The loose waist and hips aren't such a problem as the coat restricts these a bit, but his arms flail about all over the place. It makes me think of old GI Joe figures whose joints have loosened with time and play. But this is a brand new figure, so the looseness can only be put down to dodgy sculpting/build. Again I am thankful for the coat as it's bulk allows you to wedge the arms against it to stop them moving, otherwise posing the arms would be impossible.

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