Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Toy Review – Classic Doctor Who: The Master & Axon By Underground Toys

My current TV-on-DVD undertaking is every single episode of Doctor Who featuring Jon Pertwee as The Doctor (1970-1974). My Doctor will always be Tom Baker, but I am finding that Jon Pertwee is my favorite Doctor of all time for the moment. He knows Venusian Kung-Fu and he utilizes it every fucking story. Unlike the other ten pacifistic incarnations of the Doctor, Pertwee’s Time Lord is more than willing to fuck your shit up if he needs to. And sometimes when he doesn’t need to. I’ve seen him chop dudes unconscious - risking concussion and even death – when he could have easily avoided them entirely by just walking more quietly or ducking behind a tapestry.
(the picture above is from Pertwee's first episode, where he pauses in the middle of an escape to enjoy a long shower before stealing some dude's clothes and car)
Which brings me to another reason I love the Third Doctor – dude has no tolerance for anybody. When he’s not busy saving the world, he’s straight-up verbally abusing everybody he knows. He absolutely cannot believe how dumb everybody on Earth is. The story is that he was stranded there by the rest of the Time Lords as punishment for something I haven’t gone back and watched yet, so one could understand his being a little crotchety.
But this Doctor is a Man of Action. He’s always trying to fix the TARDIS or visit some obscure Earth location or something. He’s proactive. And then, right in the middle of important negotiations with an invading alien race, who shows up?
The Master.

He is constantly fucking up the Doctor’s Christmas. The Master is always involved in some elaborate scheme to destroy humanity or sell Earth to aliens or poison the waterhole. And he has no grand overall plan. He’s just a douchebag. As much as I’m loving Jon Pertwee’s Doctor, Roger Delgado’s Master is really just blowing my mind.
I’ve always loved Anthony Ainley’s portrayal of The Master, but that’s because the only other versions I’ve had were Eric Roberts and John Simm. They’re solid and all, but Ainley was just this sinister, smirking evil that couldn’t be stopped.
Roger Delgado is sinister and evil, but in the same way as that one kid you absolutely fucking hated in school that ended up in every single class with you. Delgado’s Master is inescapable. No matter how far-flung or mundane the Doctor’s adventures may seem in any given story, the Master will show up at some time during the proceedings to be a dick. And Pertwee plays it so well. You can just see the “Fucking shit. This guy again,” in his eyes every time.
The story that this box set is based on - The Claws of Axos – is a classic example of this Master’s douchebaggery.
This gross thing that looks like the inside of an ear lands on Earth. Grosser things come out of it. These are the Axons. It comes to pass that the Axons want to make some kind of exchange for their precious metal – Axonite – that can cure cancer or something. It turns out the Axons are full of shit and either want to blow up Earth or turn it into alien condos or something. Just as the Doctor is about to call the Axons on their bullshit, the Master shows up and says he’s some sort of goodwill ambassador or something, and if that’s not a clear sign these guys are up to no good, I don’t know what is.
My love for the Third Doctor’s adventures hadn’t peaked yet when this set was offered for preorder, but after seeing Roger Delgado in action a couple of times and then witnessing the craziness of this episode (and the grossness of the Axons) I really wanted it. Luckily, it was offered through Previews so I was able to get my comic shop discount on the set’s absurd $39.99 price.
First Glance: I like that this is in a box. The rest of these Classic Doctor Who two-packs have been on those horrible clamshells. I’m sure this has to do with the size and weight of the Axon, but I’d like to see more boxes.
Sculpt: I cannot believe how much this line has improved since the first offering of a Christopher Eggleston figure that looked more like an Auton.
The Axon has an unbelievable amount of detail. So many weird organs and nooks and slimy-looking crannies you could never count them. Not to mention the tendrils hanging all over the place that are actually separately sculpted pieces. There’s also a lot of articulation for something this… lumpy. Ball joint analogs at the shoulders and hips, swivel wrists, neck and ankles and possibly a swivel waist. I couldn’t get it to turn and stopped trying out of fear of breaking my expensive, new figure. This Axon is so gross it would look right at home on my Tortured Souls shelf.
Despite the gross glory of our alien friend, The Master is where this set is really worthwhile. That likeness is simply outstanding, possibly the best Character Options (sorry if I switch between referring to the producer of these figures as Character Options and Underground Toys sometimes. CO actually makes the figures and Underground Toys imports them into the US) has produced at this point and that is saying an awful lot. He’s wearing his signature Nehru jacket and gloves and just looks great. The Master sports the odd standard humanoid articulation for this line: swivel shoulders, biceps, thighs, neck waist, wrists and ankles; with jointed knees and elbows and ball-joint analog hips. I’ll never understand quite why these things are articulated this way, but it’s better than five points.
Design: The Master’s paint job is pretty much all about the head. The guy wears all-black, so there’s not a lot to deal with in his clothing aside from the different glosses used. The head looks really good, with highlights in his van dyke and hair and precise eyes. My figure has a couple of little misplaced dark spots on his face, but that’s the sort of thing you just end up with sometimes when you have to order toys instead of buying them off the shelf. I’m not saying it’s okay, it’s just that those little imperfections are things I can deal with if I have to in order to grow my ever-expanding collection of Doctor Who toys.
The Axon’s paint job is phenomenal. It would have been easy to just throw dollops various shades of rotten flesh-colored paint all over this thing, but the designers actually took the time to designate specific parts and organs and tentacles or whatever as differently colored individual sections. Again, thoroughly disgusting and wonderful.
Accessories: Include in this set is the Master’s first laser gun. It’s a black and silver tube and that’s all it needs to be. The important thing is that he can actually hold it.
I’m also going to count the little package insert as an accessory because it makes a neat little diorama for your figures and is the first time Character Options has done such a thing. I hope it becomes standard practice because it looks great.
Packaging: I cannot overstate how much I prefer this window box over the horrible clamshell packaging that requires a pair of scissors to open. Well, I guess I could, but just know that I feel a whole lot better paying a premium for something that comes in a box.
Overall: This is a great set and probably a must-have for any fans of the Third Doctor. Go get it from BigBad. The relatively high price point will likely scare off any casual fans, but I’m not sure there is even such a thing as a casual fan of Classic Doctor Who.
5 out of 5
On a related note, I’ve been jonesing for figures of the Classic Companions for a long time now and Underground is finally complying. Granted, they’re doing it by making a figure of Peri, but you gotta start somewhere. I’m hoping very strongly (I’m not going to use the word “praying” for this situation) that Hot Romana and Ace and Leela are in the near future.
For those that don’t know, Peri was the sole American Companion that the doctor has had (thought the actress that played her wasn’t, leading to accent moments far worse than Carrie Fisher ever produced). She is also the most annoying by far. It didn’t help that she accompanied the most annoying Doctor, Colin Baker. Yeah, I’ve softened somewhat on the guy over the years, but he still wins that race.

Until next time, stay creepy


  1. UK Who fan that's found your cool site here. Cheers for the excellent review!

    1. Even though it's a well old review!!

    2. Glad you found it! I'm thrilled this older stuff still gets hits. After all - the toys are still lout there. Hope you enjoy poking around the site and all the things to come!