Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Whoniversary: Timey Wimey Toy Review Doctor Who Spin and Fly TARDIS from Underground Toys

"All of time and space; everywhere and anywhere. Every star that ever was. Where do you want to start?"
I was furious when Character Options/Underground Toys announced that they were switching scales for the modern Doctor Who line. While I was never a fan of the 5” scale they initially chose (because it means my Who collection is not compatible with anything), I now have a massive collection of Doctor Who toys in this scale.
What was even more baffling was the decision to continue the Classic line in the 5” scale. So now the Doctor Who line isn’t even compatible within itself.
I stated here and on Earth Station Who that I would not be buying the new modern toys and almost immediately admitted that I probably would and then almost immediately preordered them from BigBadToyStore. This TARDIS was the first one I put in my queue and as such will be my first review.
First Glance: Doctor Eleven’s TARDIS is classic, despite being the newest model. The blue is vibrant, the angles are sharp, and all of the little signs are intact. This is a great representation of all of that. This model is almost identical to its larger predecessor. As such, I will be doing a bit of cutting and pasting.
What? I almost didn’t even review this series. ***SPOILER ALERT*** The figures and the TARDIS have all ended up as eBay fodder and I will not be purchasing future releases.
Sculpt: It’s TARDIS-shaped. All you can really do with something like this is refer to the what it’s based on, and judging from what I’ve seen this thing is a perfect to-scale representation.
The wood grain on this one looks – to me, anyway – a little better than the larger model. It seems just a bit deeper and more visible and I like that. The whorls and patterns are random and each side and part is unique. As far as the sculpt goes it looks very good.
The windows are smooth, but have textured panels where appropriate. The door handle, access panel handle, and keyhole are detailed and well-placed. The signage is a sculpted part of the doors rather than being stickers.
The light on top is clear, blue plastic with the frame built around it. It’s sturdy and secure – you don’t have to worry about the thing breaking off as long as you’re not throwing your TARDIS around like a lunatic.
Coloring: The shade of blue is bright and solid. Despite the fact that we all think of “TARDIS Blue” as a thing, the craft has actually been many different shades over the years, whether it was due to wear or simply changes by BBC’s design department. I will say that the plastic is just a tad glossier than I would have liked, but at least it’s molded from blue plastic rather than painted. The only issue here is that the doors are a slightly different shade from the rest of the craft. It is more apparent under bright lights (or a flash) and not all that noticeable on the shelf.
All of the signage is sculpted and painted rather than stickers. It all looks fantastic, particularly the little “St. John Ambulance” crest. At a glance the “Police Public Call Box” looks like it’s a bit off-center, but it isn’t. The “Public Call” portion is a bit to the right due to “Police” being a longer word than “Box”. I feel weird pointing this out, but I did have to think about it for a second. Now you don’t have to.
The windows have white trim and black panes and look great. The white framing gives the whole thing a classier look.
The interior features a cardboard background with the new TARDIS control room printed on it. It looks a bit too drawn or cartoony to me, but isn’t bad. Better this than a plain, unadorned interior.
All of the various paint apps are amazingly precise on this toy. There is no bleeding or splotching and all of the lettering is centered and accurate.
Moving Parts: The main doors push inward – as TARDIS doors do. The left door has a catch to keep it in the open position. The right door does not. It is a bit of a chore to get the doors closed again. You have to stick your finger in and pull the left door out, then push the right door in to seat them correctly. But at least they do open and have spring-loaded action to keep them secure.
When the doors are closed they line up nicely and are snug to the point where you have to look to realize they even open. The doors are sturdy and solid – no worries about the hinges snapping or the spring mechanisms breaking during normal play.
Features: The TARDIS has electronic lights and sounds. These are all activated by doing various things with the toy; and not just opening doors and such. It actually responds to how you play with it. Once you have turned the power switch to the “ON” position, you have several options. If you leave the TARDIS sitting somewhere it goes into “Idle” mode, where the light pulses slowly and the background noise of the control room is produced. When you pick the police box up or put it down it produces the signature wheezing dematerializing noise. But the most fun by far is when you place a finger on top of the light and then another on a special indentation on the bottom of the TARDIS. That indentation is on a swivel, so you can spin the TARDIS to simulate flight and you get the travel noise of the craft. You can also place the time machine on the included stand and spin it independently.
The light on top is very bright, and oscillates in time with whichever sound effect you might have activated, or simply pulses when the craft is in idle mode.
This smaller version does not have as many features as the prior release. It is, as a result, not nearly as much fun to play with. On its own it still has a load of neat electronics, but I can’t help but feel like this is an inferior toy.
Accessories: The TARDIS comes with a translucent plastic stand. This is an extra piece that the larger TARDIS did not have and I appreciate its inclusion. It makes playing with the spinning feature a bit less difficult. It’s a lot of fun to spin it with your fingers, but the base is nice. It’s a thick, sturdy plastic that is balanced well enough to support a spinning TARDIS.
Packaging: It comes in a perfectly acceptable window box. Nothing too fancy, but with some nice graphics and exciting word bursts to describe the features.
Value: At $29.99 (plus shipping from BigBad), this was only five bucks less than the 5” scale version. I can’t really call that a great deal. Twenty-five dollars would have been okay and twenty would have been perfect.
Overall: This TARDIS simply isn’t the success that the larger one is. I appreciate the included stand, but the reduction of other parts and features combined with the high price make it less than perfect.
4 out of 5
I have yet to see any of the new 3 ¾” scale toys at retail. I don’t know that I expect to. My original theory about the scale change was that CO/Underground wanted to make Doctor Who appealing to American retailers, but now I don’t know. It doesn’t look like we’re going to get the flood of merchandise I was hoping for.
You can, however, obtain this TARDIS from BigBadToyStore.com or EntertainmentEarth.com.
I just wanted to note that I am saddened by the apparent closing of JRsToyWorld.com. I loved dealing with that particular retailer - for customer service and for stock and pricing. There has been a hold message up on the site for several months now with no activity.
The next two weeks here on Needless Things will be dedicated to Doctor Who. I have Guest Posts, Toy Reviews, and more on the way. The site will be jam-packed – relatively – with content. Please share these links wherever you can and spread the word. And if you’re so inclined, throw a few dollars at the Needless Things family. I have to send you to the podcast homepage because Blogger doesn't want this sort of thing. Just check out the widget on the bottom right here.This is all out of pocket for me, so anything I receive during this time will got to site costs, hosting, and possibly new merchandise if I get really ambitious.

Also, you can buy the Limited Edition NeedlessThingsSite.com Luchador vs. Owlbear t-shirts here. I can’t say they’re selling fast, but once this style is gone, they’re gone forever. And I do intend on being famous one day, so wouldn’t it be cool to have the first shirt I ever designed?
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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