THE DOCTOR, INCARNATIONS 1-11
Welcome to day 9 of the Post-Christmas gift reviews! We’ve gotten quite a ways into these reviews without seeing any entries from a regular fixture in all gift related reviews, Doctor Who! Today, I’ll be fixing that in spades!
One of the key elements of Doctor Who’s lead character is his ability to regenerate into a new body when he is dealt a fatal blow. In the real world, this has allowed the character to be portrayed by thirteen different actors (counting the War Doctor) over the course of fifty years. It’s a marvelous way of keeping the character fresh for all that time, and it doesn’t rely on everyone looking the other way in a similar fashion to, say, James Bond. So far, I’ve looked at figures of four(ish) of the Doctor’s incarnations, but today, I’ll be knocking out the other nine! I’ll be totally honest with you all, I’ve been dreading this review just the slightest bit, because I’ve never actually reviewed this many figures at once. Let’s see how this goes!
THE FIGURES THEMSELVES
These eleven figures were released as part of a special boxed-set following Matt Smith stepping into the role in 2011. It somewhat amusingly proclaims it “Contains All Eleven Incarnations of the Doctor!” That’s no longer as inclusive as it boasts, but it was all of them at the time. It’s not like they’re time travelers or anything….
William Hartnell was the one who started it all, bringing the Doctor his first life back in the 60s. He portrayed the character a fair bit different, in a much more reserved, less eccentric way than those who would follow. The figure stands 5 ¼ inches tall and has 18 points of articulation. The articulation is a bit more primitive than some of the more recent Doctors, but that’s acceptable given he’s an earlier release. Hartnell had more or less the same look for his run as the character, with varying add-ons. This figure presents him in his most basic look, without the extras, which was his primary appearance in the show, so it’s a good choice. The sculpt exhibits some pretty sharp work, in keeping with most of the other Doctor Who figures. There isn’t much texture work, but there is some very sharp small details. The head sculpt sports a pretty spot on likeness of Hartnell, giving an ever so slight smile, which feels right for the character. The First Doctor’s paintwork is quite sharp and well detailed. It’s somewhat monochromatic, but there’s a surprising number of levels to the greys, and it looks quite good. The paint on the face is decent, though he does have these odd red rings around his eyes. Maybe he didn’t sleep well last night? The figure includes the Doctor’s signature cane, which he holds quite nicely.
Patrick Troughton may not be the guy who originated the role of the Doctor, but he’s still an innovator in the role, being the first to emerge from one of the Doctor’s regeneration sequences. Had his introduction not worked, the very integral concept of the Doctor being played by many actors would have been lost. The figure stands 5 inches tall and has the same articulation scheme as the First Doctor. Troughton’s Doctor was to inject a bit of eccentricity into the character. He was somewhat disheveled, and embraced his goofier side with a bow tie. This figure replicates that look quite nicely. Like Hartnell, the Second Doctor’s sculpt is sharply detailed, but a bit lighter on texturing. The jacket has a ton of detailing, showing the various creases and folds in the coat, which successfully makes it look like the jacket has been rolled up in a ball before being put on. The head sculpt is a fairly spot on likeness of Troughton, right down to his mop top of hair. The paintwork is nice and clean, and it adds a splash more color than the First Doctor. There’s some pretty awesome work on the polka dots on the tie and the plaid of the pants, which gives him a bit of pop. There’s a little bit of slop around his pocket square, as well as the edges of the hair, but the ver all work is pretty sharp. The Second Doctor was the first to use the sonic screwdriver, but it wasn’t yet his main thing, so this figure includes his recorder, which is a well enough handled, but he can’t quite hold it right.
After the Second Doctor cleared the idea of replacing the show’s lead actor every so often, actor Jon Pertwee was the next in line, becoming the third actor to bear the role. Troughton’s Doctor was a disheveled genius, with a very goofy strain deeply rooted in him. He was ever so slightly awkward. Pertwee changed things. While he kept his flair for the dramatic, and played up the eccentricities, he was also a suave charmer, of almost Sean Connery levels. The figure stands 5 ½ inches tall (tallest in the set. Pertwee was a big guy) and has the same articulation as the prior two. One of the things about Pertwee’s Doctor, in terms of looks, was that he didn’t really have one specific look, like his predecessors. He had a style, but the specific costume pieces changed from story to story. This figure seems to do a decent job of summing up the “character” of Pertwee’s Doctor. He’s got the smoking jacket, the boots, the ruffled shirt, and the tie, as well as an add-on part for the coat/cape, which can be removed if you so choose. The quality of the sculpt is definitely up there, though like the others, he doesn’t do a whole lot as far as texturing on the clothing. The head does a nice job capturing Pertwee’s likeness, and there’s some really nice work on his crazy hairstyle. One thing I did notice about this figure is he has a little difficulty staying standing, I think due to the shaping of the legs. The Third Doctor’s paint is definitely more colorful than the previous two, but it’s not quite as complex. There’s a lot of just solid patches of color, which looks perfectly fine, but isn’t the most exciting thing. On the plus side, his gerneral design is a bit more visually interesting, so it offsets it well enough. The general application is pretty clean, so that’s good. The Third Doctor is the first to include his sonic screwdriver, which is well sculpted and fits nicely in his hand.
For a large chunk of people, Tom Baker’s Fourth Doctor is THE Doctor. He has the longest run of any actor in the role, and held the role during one of the show’s highest points for viewership (he was also the Doctor while one of my personal heroes, Douglas Adams, was the main story editor on the show, which certainly elevates him in my eyes). Unlike most of the others in this set, this was not the Fourth Doctor’s first figure in this line, due to his immense popularity. But, that doesn’t make this figure any less cool. The figure stands 5 ½ inches tall and has the same articulation as the others. He has the most detailed sculpt by far of all the figures in this set. There’s just a ton of fantastic work, especially texture work, that’s just very well carried out. A lot of it’s easy to miss or overlook, just due to the level of detail included. The coat and scarf are both separate pieces, with a nice flow about them. Under those parts, the figure is more inline with the other figures in the set, with a bit less texture, but still plenty of detail. There have been a few figures of the Fourth Doctor, so there have been a few stabs at his likeness, with various differing zany expressions. This one is slightly more reserved, but still somewhat goofy, and it’s a pretty decent likeness of Baker. The paintwork on the figure is rather involved, and there’s some varying quality throughout. The underlying paint is really great, especially the pattern on his vest. The rest of the paint is decent, but the scarf and coat and such show a bit of slop in a few areas. The Fourth Doctor includes his sonic screwdriver, which appears to be the same sculpt as that of the Third Doctor, but with slightly different paint.
Replacing a fan-favorite is no one’s ideal job, but that’s what Peter Davison came into when he became the fifth main actor to take the role of the Doctor. He had the task of replacing Baker’s defining turn in the role, which he approached by taking a more subdued stance on the character. Gone were the absurdly long scarf and the loud colors, replaced with someone who wouldn’t look out of place playing cricket at a prep school. The figure is about 5 ¼ inches tall, with the same 18 points as all of the prior figures. His sculpt falls somewhere between Baker and the others. His sculpt is definitely quite sharp, and there’s a lot of nice detail work. The hair and vest have some very well-handled texture work, but the rest of sculpt is fairly smooth, much like the others in the set. I do like that the vest is a separate piece. His likeness to Davison is definitely there, but not as strongly as some of the others. His paint is reminiscent of the First Doctor’s; it’s a bit monochromatic, but there’s lots of levels to those similar colors, which help to make him a rather impressively painted figure. He includes his sonic screwdriver, which is almost identical to the Fourth Doctor’s.
And now we get to the two figures for which I know the least. This here is the Sixth Doctor, portrayed by Colin Baker, brother of prior Doctor Tom Baker (okay, not really). He took the more refined look of the Fifth Doctor, discarded it, and went for more the “I stole this out of a clown’s closet” sort of look. That’s all I know. The figure stands 5 ¼ inches tall and has the same articulation scheme as the others. Six’s sculpt is reasonable, but not as good as some of the others in this set. A lot of that has to do with the basic build of the figure, which is somewhat off. His chest is a bit flat and rather squared off, his hips seem too far set apart, and he’s perpetually stuck leaning just a bit forward. The actual detail work does fair a bit better. His likeness is pretty spot-on to Colin Baker, and they even managed to capture that wacky head of hair. I’m not really sure what’s going on with his expression, but it works alright, I guess. The paint on this figure is certainly an undertaking. I think that CO managed to pull it off reasonably well, but he does still exhibit a fair amount of slop. The Sixth Doctor is the only figure in the set not to get an accessory, which seems a little unfair.
And this here is the Seventh Doctor, portrayed by Sylvestor McCoy. He came after Colin Baker, and before Paul McGann. And now I’m out of things to say. He’s the shortest figure in the set, at just under 5 inches tall. His sculpt is reasonable enough, though I feel like the clothing is a little softer in definition than it was on the others. The coat sort of runs together with the scarf, and the tie, vest and shirt also run together a bit. He’s not a bad sculpt, just a sort of “meh” one. The head sort of looks like McCoy, but it’s a weaker likeness than the others. I think that may partly have to do with him lacking the hat that this incarnation of the character seemed to almost always have, which was certainly an interesting way to go. On the plus side the paint is really good here. The colors are nice and vibrant, and the various patterning on his clothing looks really cool. The Seventh Doctor is packed with an umbrella, which is quite a nice piece.
After the show was cancelled during McCoy’s run, Amblin Entertainment did their best to bring back Doctor Who in the 90s, in a slightly more Americanized form. The venture was…less than successful. But, people generally liked Paul McGann’s Eighth Doctor, and the 50th Anniversary build up did a fair bit to give him a good storyline. This figure pre-dates those developments, but I won’t hold it against him. He’s about 5 ¼ inches tall and has the same standard articulation as everyone else. This figure’s sculpt also feels just a bit soft, though not as bad as Seven. There is some more definition between the parts of his clothing, but some of them do still run together a bit. His likeness isn’t too bad; you can definitely see McGann in there. However, I think the extra head included with the War Doctor might be a better example (even if it is from later in McGann’s career). The overall look of the sculpt sums up the Eighth Doctor pretty well, and this one feels like he’s better than the sum of his parts. The paint is a little bit of a step down. It’s much more drab than the others (which is accurate, to be fair), and there’s a couple of pretty obvious instances of bleed over. Eight includes his sonic screwdriver, which appears to be the same one included with Three, Four, and Five, just painted differently.
Doctor Who finally made its way back to tv airwaves in 2005, with Christopher Eccleston as the ninth incarnation of the main character. The Ninth Doctor was a back to the basics, no nonsense approach, in both personality and design. He had perhaps the most reserved, average look of any Doctor incarnation, which actually kind of makes him stand out, despite his rather indistinctive look. The figure stands 5 ¼ inches tall. His articulation is similar to the others in the set, but he lacks the thigh swivels. This has to do with him reusing the torso and legs of the regeneration version of Ten. He does get new arms, so he keeps the swivels on the biceps. The overall sculpt is pretty solid, and is in keeping with the better entries in this set. The best work is definitely on the coat, which has some great fine detail work and texturing. His head has a pretty good likeness to Eccleston, and it’s at least good enough that he doesn’t just look like a random guy in a black jacket. The paintwork on Nine is pretty decent overall, but he does have a few missing spots on his hairline, which are a little obvious. The best work is once again on the jacket, which nicely replicates the look of a beaten up leather jacket. Nine includes his sonic screwdriver, which is totally different from the previous one, and does a good job capturing the look.
After Eccleston’s rather short run as the character, David Tennant took over, and gave a turn as the Doctor that rivaled Tom Baker’s in terms of popularity. His Doctor was a bit more out there than Eccleston’s, but one of his signature characteristics was his ability to jump back and forth between comedic and serious in quick succession. He’s also one of the two Doctors in this set I’ve already reviewed. He’s roughly 5 ¼ inches tall, but he loses four points of of movement, two in his biceps and two in his thighs. This is mostly to do with being pretty much entirely a re-used figure. The torso, legs, and head (but not the glasses) are the same as the Doctor from the previously reviewed Doomsday set. Those pieces were good there and they’re still good here. As a positive, the addition of Ten’s longcoat does a good job of masking the slight bulkiness of the jacket. I also like the glasses, which aren’t as bulky and ill-fitting as most examples in smaller scales. One of the best parts of the Doomsday Doctor was his fantastic paint. This figure lives up to that, which I was definitely happy about. Ten includes his sonic screwdriver, which is the same piece as the one included with Nine.
Like Davison, Matt Smith had some big shoes to fill in taking over for fan-favorite David Tennant. However, unlike Davison, Matt Smith didn’t shy away from the more eccentric side of the character, and successfully earned a pretty size able fan base of his own, which was almost enough to rival Baker and Tennant. His figure stands 5 ¼ inches tall and has the same articulation as all the others barring Ten and Nine. The figure’s sculpt is definitely well done. He definitely captures Smith’s unique build, which sells who he is pretty well. There’s also some pretty nice texturing on his tweed jacket, and the basic details of his clothing are pretty sharp. The head sports a pretty good likeness of Smith; close enough that you can tell easily who it’s supposed to be. The bangs on his hair are a separate piece, and you can clearly see the seam where it joins the head, which is kind of annoying. Fortunately, that’s the only real issue with the sculpt. The paintwork on Eleven is pretty solid; the base work is all pretty clean, and the jacket has a nice wash which helps accent the sculpt really nicely. Eleven is packed with his unique sonic screwdriver, which is quite nicely sculpted.
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
This set was given to me this Christmas by my Super Awesome Girlfriend and her parents, who seem to have also gotten into the swing of supporting this insane habit of mine. This set is a massive set. Really. But, it’s also a fantastic set of figures. Just all around a lot of fun.
Look at that, I just wrote a 3000 word review! I’m gonna go fall down now…