Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Timey Wimey Toy Review – Doctor Who 3 ¾” Scale Ice Warrior By Underground Toys

Harm one of us, and you harm us all. By the moons, this I swear!
Oh, how we all longed for the Ice Warriors’ return!
Pretty much every Whovian on the planet had been in agreement since the show’s return that the return of the Ice Warriors would be very cool. Like the Silurians and Sea Devils, the Ice Warriors were interesting creatures with a solid backstory. They had a whole society that had evolved and existed beyond the Doctor’s influence, and were introduced as part of a larger universe that just keeps going on regardless of the Time Lord’s presence. The sort of stuff that great fictional tapestries are woven of.
We wanted to see them return because of these things, as well as their stolid manner and hulking, menacing forms.
But mostly I think we just wanted to see how they would be updated.
Once the Silurians were reintroduced in “The Hollow Earth” I think everybody recognized that it would only be a matter of time before the Ice Warriors came back (start clocks now for the Sea Devils’ reemergence). The only question was that posed above: What would they look like now? There seems to be a division of opinions on the Silurians update. Some think it was clever and reasonable; others don’t like the sleeker, more mobile reptilians. I think I’m somewhere in the middle. I don’t mind the more humanoid Silurians, but I think maybe more could have been done to preserve the Classic Who aesthetic.
The Ice Warriors made it through the Wilderness Years relatively intact. I think we were all curious to see how the current designers would handle their chunky helmets and weird, LEGO hands. The helmets are mostly intact thanks to modern prosthetics and the LEGO pincers were replaced by perfectly acceptable chunky, three-fingered hands. Of course, they had to go and muck up the design by revealing the creature inside that big, bulky armor looked like Gollum after a bout with anorexia. I think it was reasonable to think the outward appearance of the Ice Warriors was armor, but the design of the actual creature was somewhat disappointing.
That’s Stephen Moffat for you. His one goal seems to be to make it impossible to enjoy Classic Who without being reminded of some intrusive bit of Moffat retcon – Clara being the ultimate example of this. So now, anytime you want to enjoy “The Ice Warriors” or the excellent “The Monster of Peladon” you’re going to have to think of that shriveled Gollum thing. Maybe the next showrunner can fix it by claiming that Skaldak – the Warrior depicted in the modern episode “Cold War” – was some kind of genetic anomaly.
Speaking of which, creature design aside I liked “Cold War” so much that I started reviewing Doctor Who stories again. You can go check that out if you like.
All I know is I can’t wait for Alpha Centauri to return.
First Glance: It’s amazing how little they changed the design of the original Ice Warrior, yet still managed to make it look modern and menacing. I love the bulk of this guy.
Articulation: By virtue of his design the Ice Warrior’s articulation is a bit more limited than other releases, but that’s okay. All he really needs to be able to do is lumber around and look menacing.
Head – swivel
Shoulders – ball joint
Elbows – swivel/pivot
Hips – ball joint
Knees – pivot
Skaldak’s shoulders have a good range of movement thanks to the fact that the armor on his torso is a separate piece and there’s room for movement. His elbows can’t bend a full 90°, but whatever.
His hips are a bit more restricted due to the design of that torso armor. He won’t be doing the Ice Warriors’ signature roundhouse kick, is what I’m saying here. The knees don’t bend a lot either, but whatever.
Sculpt: This is a thick, heavy figure with all of the detail from the creature’s appearance in “Cold War” represented.
Rather than a full redesign of the creature (or armor, as it were), the designers did a very slight bit of streamlining and added a bunch of detail. A very conservative version of DC’s New 52 approach.
The head is astonishingly similar to the original Ice Warrior design, right down to the large eye lenses. The jaw remains very humanoid and is defined as a separate part of the character. There is sculpted plating on the top and sides, with the smaller reptilian patterns everywhere else.
There are large, solid-looking plates on any wide expanses of body and smaller, reptilian scales on the rest. The figure is molded from a firm plastic that resists warping and works well with the joints. Clearly British toymakers have higher standards than we do as far as plastics go.
Coloring: Skaldak is molded from an olive green plastic that is very slightly metallic.
The head is the only place with any kind of additional color. The eye lenses are glossy red and the exposed jaw is a flat, slightly more drab green. The paint is applied well with no bleeding or slop.
A larger version of this figure might have a wash over the armor to highlight the detail, but I don’t find that ne3ccesary at this scale. As a matter of fact, it might have just made the figure look muddy.
Flair: The armored shell around the torso is a separate, but permanently attached, piece. It is bulky and imposing. I love the raised collar around the head. The textures, detail, and color all match the rest of the figure. The shoulders are scooped out well enough that the arms have full movement, but the lower portion does impeded leg posing a bit. So Skaldak won’t be riding the Official Ice Warriors’ War Motorcycle (with launching missile!).
Accessories: Like almost all of the figures in this line, Skaldak comes with a stand. It looks fine, but a stand is still a stand and he doesn’t need it anyway.
I think it would have been reasonable to include naked Skaldak in this package. I’m not saying he needed to actually interact with the armor (though that would have been awesome), but this figure could have used a little something extra.
Packaging: A simple blister card. The packaging is exactly the same across this line except for the insert in the bubble. It’s eye-catching and easy to open.
Value: I think these worked out to about twelve bucks apiece, which is absurd. This is a seven dollar toy at best.
Overall: This is a great representation of the new Ice Warrior design. It bums me out that we won’t be seeing it in the larger scale.
4 out of 5
I really don’t know if these will show up at brick and mortar retail or not. You can buy them from pretty much all of the online toy stores, though.
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Remember to check in every weekday between now and the 23rd for new, original content.
Finally, be sure and come out to the HUGE 50th Anniversary Party that TimeGate, Earth Station Who, the folks behind The Forgotten Doctor, and (others) are throwing at the Holiday Inn Select; the same location where TimeGate is held each and every year. There will be panels, games, Whovian carousing, and a LIVE recording of Earth Station Who immediately after “The Day of the Doctor” airs. You will literally never have another opportunity to attend a party like this!

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