Thursday, June 12, 2014

Toy Review – Doctor Who Captain Jack Harkness by Underground Toys/Character Options

I think pretty much everybody loves Captain Jack Harkness. Certainly Captain Jack does.

Jack Harkness is probably one of the best things to happen to Doctor Who since the return in 2005. He’s a proactive character that very much has his own agenda and is not beholden to the Doctor, but at the same time when he shows up the story doesn’t switch to focus on him. He enhances the show without taking the spotlight away from the title character. And thanks to the natural charm and ability of John Barrowman, Harkness very much feels like a character that has a life of his own; even before he got his own spinoff series in Torchwood.
This figure is specifically from Doctor Who, so I’m not going to discuss Torchwood here. 
Also because I cannot stand Torchwood.

Until this figure arrived the only Captain Jack we had been able to find was the one in the jumpsuit and cravat from his first appearance in “The Empty Child”:
That is not a great figure. The likeness is soft and let’s face it: the jumpsuit was not Captain Jack’s best look. Even in the context of the show I was a bit confounded as to why they put him in that thing. 
The Torchwood figure that came out later – and that apparently was not licensed to feature John Barrowman’s likeness – is probably the best one that’s come out. I’ve seen it at cons, but I’m a little weird about things like likeness rights. Especially if I have specifically heard the actor express displeasure over something, which I have. So I didn’t buy that one.

Underground Toys has wisely reissued a number of their older Doctor who figures recently. I’m pretty sure this was compelled by the 50th Anniversary, though it took a little while for these to find their way to the States. And the distribution has been spotty at best. This version of Captain Jack is part of those reissues and I was only able to find him from There have been a couple of different releases of today’s figure. The best one came with the disembodied Doctor hand that would eventually grow into Rose Tyler’s Love Clone. This one comes with a shitty revolver.


That is a big ol’ coat. And those are some ruby red lips.

It is impressive that in a line full of aliens, monsters, and robots of varying shapes and sizes – not to mention several versions of one peculiarly dressed humanoid – Underground made this human an interesting figure. You now – as opposed to the jumpsuit one.


I don’t like clamshells, but if you’re going to make a clamshell at least have the decency to make it zany. This design is pretty zany. I dig all of the different levels of surface and the huge diamond shape that jumps out at you (and is reminiscent of the classic Doctor who diamond logo).

This is a pretty good character synopsis, though it’s awfully blurry. Wait – that’s my fault.


Unfortunately the likeness on this Jack isn’t a whole lot better than on the jumpsuit version. It’s recognizable as John Barrowman, but is not one of Character Options’ better sculpts. The expression isn’t a winner, either. As much of a bummer as Torchwood was, the Doctor Who version of Captain Jack was a pretty happy fella. If I were in charge of this figure I would’ve gone for that trademark Barrowman grin, not this dour look. The paint is applied well, with the eyebrows and eyes looking particularly good. The lips are maybe a bit too red, but they are at least placed well. And I have to say – they nailed the hair. It has a great thickness and texture and the paint is solid.

The coat looks great. It has a sculpt that makes it look like it’s a large piece of clothing as opposed to just a huge, sculpted thing. It has lines that suggest its weight and a sort of flowing motion without looking overly swooshy. The buttons, belt, and upturned collar are well-defined. Aside from the buttons – which have nice dots of brass color on them – the coat is one solid color, but it looks good. The holes at the shoulders are tight enough so you don’t see shirt through them.

Jack’s hands look good and have decent finger definition. The right is posed to hold the pistol – the success of which I’ll discuss in a bit – and the left is relaxed; though it could probably cup or bitch slap if needed.

Underneath the coat, this figure is buck naked.

Ha! Just kidding! This isn’t the actual John Barrowman, just a figure.

The detail under the coat is great, to the point where it’s almost a shame the coat is covering it all up. The shirt and trousers have a nice amount of wrinkle and fold detail. Jack has his braces and belt combo, but lest you make fun know that the belt is holding the holster for his sidearm. Sadly the holster is not functional.

The paint is surprisingly great. Lots of toy lines wouldn’t have bothered, but each of these parts has a color and detail – the braces actually have three colors. 
Harkness’ shoes have laces and soles and the soles are even a darker brown. This is a nice touch. It seems like CO/UT always does a nice job with footwear.


Captain Jack comes with a revolver that can’t really interact with the figure very well.
It looks great and has some nice detailing with two colors, but it’s super flimsy and the figure can’t hold it very well at all. It also doesn’t fit into the holster.

I wish I had gotten the one with the Doctor hand.


This is a tough call. While it’s a lot of fun just knowing that I own a Captain Jack figure, the figure itself isn’t very thrilling. It has the old style of Classic Who articulation, which means that it has a bunch of serviceable joints but the shoulders are just swivels rather than the swivel/pivot of later releases. The coat doesn’t hamper posing too much, as it’s a soft plastic, but there’s not a whole lot of posing to do. He can’t hold his gun and he looks weird trying to point it at anything.


While I’m disappointed in the shoulder joints, the big letdown is the face sculpt. This just doesn’t feel like the Captain Jack I want in my figure collection. This guy is all morose. I want happy, lusty Jack. If he had that head sculpt I’d be pretty happy with the figure. As it is, I’ll put him on the shelf just to have a Captain Jack, but he won’t be up front.

3 out of 5

This isn’t an awesome Jack Harkness, but it’s the best one we’re likely to get at this scale. Go buy one from Amazon and help out Needless Things!:

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