Friday, March 22, 2013

Toy Review The Three Doctors Box Set By Underground Toys

Ever since I took in all of Jon Pertwee’s run as the Doctor I have been eagerly anticipating figures of Jo Grant and Brigadier Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart. Of course, there was no guarantee we were actually going to get those figures, but as long as the Doctor Who Classics line continued they seemed like a safe bet.
            Now they have been released, and in what I would call the best case scenario. There are all kinds of different way that these figures could have been released and some of them would have been significantly less satisfactory than others. But as it stands Underground Toys hit all of the right points:
  • Jo and the Brig are packed together
  • Jo is in my favorite costume of hers done in the best possible way
  • The Brigadier is also in my favorite version of his uniform
  • Rather than throwing a variant of the Doctor in this set, they gave us a monster
  • The monster is cool
  • This set compliments an already-released figure (Omega)
The only negative here is that I don’t have figures of Troughton and Hartnell loose to complete the Three Doctors theme. Gonna have to fix that.
As for the story itself, The Three Doctors is one of the few Pertwee adventures that I had already seen. My local PBS station played a few Pertwee stories after they stopped showing Davison’s (I can’t remember if they showed Davison’s entire run or if they just stopped – I’m inclined to believe the latter since there are many Davison stories I haven’t seen and I didn’t stop watching until after Colin Baker took over). I enjoyed it when I was younger and I still liked it after re-watching it. Omega is an exciting and interesting villain (despite the fact that he doesn’t actually, you know, do anything) and Jo and the Brigadier are among my favorite companions. Plus, any multi-Doctor story is fun. Watching Hartnell interact with Troughton and Pertwee – even in a limited capacity – is thoroughly engaging.
First Glance: I think it speaks volumes about Doctor Who, its writers, and the actors that played the companions that even with a universe so full of monsters we fans are excited to be getting a figures of a couple of plain ol’ humans.
I love these window boxes and the way Underground Toys arranges the contents. The figures all look nice and I can’t wait to check them out.
Articulation: Underground has continued to improve the articulation on this line. Aside from pieces of costuming interfering with movement these figures are about as poseable as you need at this scale.
Head – Swivel
Shoulders – Swivel/pivot
Elbows – Pivot
Wrists – Swivel
Waist – Swivel
Hips – Swivel/pivot
Thigh – Swivel
Knees – Pivot
The bottom of the Brig’s jacket prevents a large range of movement, but it is wide enough that you can get a little bit.
The arms have a great range of motion and I love the way the shoulder joints are done. They blend well with the sculpt but move nicely.
Jo Grant
Head – Swivel
Shoulders – Swivel/pivot
Elbows – Pivot
Wrists – Swivel
Waist – Swivel
Hips – Swivel/pivot
Thigh – Swivel
Knees – Pivot
Jo’s dress inhibits leg movement at the hips.
Both sets of arms have elbow joints, but the ones with the coat sleeves don’t move as much due to the overhanging sleeves.
Jo’s long hair does not interfere with her head movement as much as you might think.
Gel Guard
Shoulder – Swivel/pivot
Heh. This guy has a moving arm. It moves up. It moves down. And it does so slightly more successfully than the monster upon which it is based.
Sculpt: Jo is an entirely new sculpt. Well, her lower abdomen and thighs may not be, but the rest of her certainly is.
The head – obviously the most important part – looks great. Her hairstyle reflects what is in the episode. Unlike her predecessor Liz Shaw, Jo had mostly the same hairstyle so I’m sure we’ll see this head again. The facial features are a bit soft, but that seems common in this line. As long as the likenesses continue to be this good I’ll take it. There’s no doubt this is Katy Manning.
The arms are the sleeves of the dress and have a nice texturing. The shapes of the sleeves at the end look good and the striping is raised rather than just painted. The hands are slim and feature Jo’s signature plethora of rings(would you say I have a plethora of rings, Pepe?). The hands are in flat, neutral poses. This is fine because there’s nothing for them to hold (which is also fine). I hate it when hands are sculpted as open fists for no good reason.
From the thighs down Jo is definitely new, as she is wearing over-the-knee boots. They look great and do a good job of blending the knee joints. Before I had the figure in hand I wasn’t even positive it had knee joints. The platforms at the bottoms of the boots look great and the figure has no trouble standing despite them.
The Guardian is a gross, bubbly mess and I love it. This is a classic example of an old-school Doctor Who monster. A simple design that manages to be creepy without being able to move very well at all. The eye is made somehow grosser by the presence of the lid around it. And the lobster claw (what the fuck are robster craws?) sticking out of its right side is just plain wrong. I love how the bubbling texture of the body is irregular and uneven. It has a very organic look.
The claw looks a bit more like it has a hard carapace on it. This is truly disconcerting coming out of that gelatinous form. This thing creeps me out. Let’s move on.
The Brigadier looks absolutely sharp and commanding. He is an entirely new sculpt (but maybe not the pants).
The head is among the best sculpts in the line. Not only is it an excellent likeness of Nicholas Courtney, it captures his dignified yet slightly incredulous expression perfectly. His cap is properly proportioned – something that does not always happen with action figures’ headgear – and nicely detailed. The insignia on the front looks great and the band is sculpted rather than painted.
The arms sport crisp jacket sleeves with cuffs that are open at the end rather than just stuck to the hands. The hands are sculpted gloves, not hands painted brown. They are both sculpted in an open position to hold something, but more natural and relaxed than open fists.
The legs may or may not be new. Creased trousers have been used before, but I think these are different and the shoes definitely are.
Coloring: The Guardian is molded out of a translucent plastic that looks pretty gross. There’s a hole in the bottom where you can stick a small flashlight in and make the thing sort of glow. It looks neat enough to do once. Aside from some washes on the body the only real coloring is the eye and the lid. Both are solid and stay within their boundaries.
The Brigadier is a bunch of olive drab and brown, much like an old GI Joe figure. The detailing on his hat is tight and his facial features are all distinct and well-placed. The olive drab portions are all uniform (see what I did there?) despite being molded out of different plastics. The shoes are a nice, deep brown with dark soles.
Jo has blonde hair with a wash. I feel like it’s a bit darker than it should be, but it looks good nonetheless. The blue on her sleeves matches her dress and the raised white stripes are accurately done without any blotching or misplaced spots. The rings on her hands are individually painted and amazingly the silver manages to stay on the sculpted ring portions. The figure’s legs are darker so that they look like hose and the boots have a wash on them.
Flair: The Brigadier’s jacket is a separately sculpted piece over his torso and waist. I prefer this to a solid sculpted torso with a soft plastic piece separated at the waist. The detailing on this jacket is fantastic. The pockets, buttons, belts, service bars, and brocade might represent the most detail I’ve seen on a human Doctor Who figure. The sculpt is great and the paint detailing is accurately placed. I still haven’t decided how I feel about the attached holster. Obviously it looks better than a functional holster would have, but when the Brig is holding the included pistol it seems a bit weird. And I’ve probably given that more thought than it deserves.
Jo’s dress obviously isn’t quite as detailed as the Brig’s jacket, but it still looks good. The turtleneck has a nice shape and texture. The dress itself has a nice form and is a soft plastic that allows for a little give when posing the legs. The raised ridges at the bottom match the sleeves.
Accessories: This set comes with a pistol, Jo’s jacket, and an extra set of arms for Jo with jacket sleeves on them.
Jo’s jacket looks awesome and as far as I am concerned is pure bonus. The sculpt is great, it fits perfectly on the figure and the fact that Underground put this all in one package rather than releasing it as a variant down the line is great. Jo’s arms are easily interchangeable and stay in place well thanks to pliable pegs in the shoulders. The arm holes in the jacket piece are tight and don’t leave ugly gaps where they meet the arms.
The pistol looks good and fits in the Brigadier’s hand. Um… that’s it.
Packaging: These Doctor Who Classics window boxes look so nice. I suppose they’re more than some of these sets really call for, but I love the little dioramas they build inside. It always makes me a little sad to throw the packaging away when I’m done.
The box features brief bios for each character as well as a synopsis of the story.
Value: And once again I have to address the fact that these figures cost way too much. Forty bucks is obviously more than I would like to have paid for this set, but considering they are import figures, they are very well done, and none of them are repaints; I have to say I feel it was worth it.

Overall: Underground Toys went above and beyond for this set. I can’t think of a way it could have been better executed. It’s easily one of the most satisfying sets from the Doctor Who Classics line.

5 out of 5

There are a few different options for buying The Three Doctors set, with a bit of variance in pricing – BigBad, JRs, and Entertainment Earth may or may not have it in stock right now. You could also try your local comic shop or toy show. If you’re a fan of classic Who, this is an absolute must-have.


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