8 Inch Scale
It’s a great time to be a Doctor Who fan, as the show seems to be reaching a high point in terms of popularity and that’s translating into a lot of product on the shelves. For decades fans of Who were left with rather subpar toys and now not only do we have great import toys from Character Options, we also have for likely the first time ever, American companies making Doctor Who toys!
BifBangPow is a little company that has been making niche toys for several years now. BifBangPow teamed up with EMCE toys about a year or so ago to form a relationship where BBP would use the designs made famous by Doc Mego, but crank out a variety of new licensed product. The toys have had mixed success within many collectors circles and some of the license choices have frustrated certain sects of toy collectors.
However, BifBangPow has provided some incredible product and have slowly built up a catalogue of products and licenses leading to what ultimately has become a surge in the new Mego-like toys market. This has led BBP to arguably their biggest license to date, Doctor Who! This brand is not foreign to having Mego style figures as in the 1980’s Deny’s Fisher, a UK branch off of Mego made a short lived Mego Doctor Who line. However those figures were not in the classic Mego scale and were not readily available here in the United States.
Now twenty plus years later BifBangPow has given Doctor Who the classic Mego treatment and have brought Who to our shores in a way never thought possible before. I’ve fallen behind on Doctor Who figure reviews this year but it’s where we’ve often specialized here at Infinite Hollywood, so let’s close out the year with some more Who-goodness. Can this Who compare to the classic brands and is it worth your time and money? Read on to find out!
Mego often had charming packaging with neat art on simple bubble cards. BifBangPow and several of the other companies making these style of figures have often replicated those types of packages with varying success. However, with Doctor Who, BBP has sort of done their own thing and while it definitely has a classic Mego feel to it, it also feels very Doctor Who-ey as well.
The result is a fantastic card that is far and away my favorite modern Mego type of card to date. It’s simple, but sleek and appropriate. I could totally see this on the shelves in the 1970’s or 80’s and yet ti looks perfect on the shelves today! It’s rare that I find a toy I want to keep in the package because it’s so nice, but this is one of those times.
The back has all the appropriate info and shows off some of the other figures in the series. It also has some other Doctors listed, hinting that perhaps BBP will make other classic Doctors as well. I also like that the 4th Doctor has an inner tray holding him upright, and that does wonders for making the figure not slouch or get beat around like many of the other figures that are loose in these packages so often have issues with.
BBP has had pretty good success with capturing likeness in this scale for some time. In fact if anything, they’ve often had figures that looked a bit too realistic for what Mego used to do. I’m happy to report that they’ve hit a homerun with the 4th Doctor as he’s unmistakably Tom Baker, but he also has a bit of a toy look to him. It’s a perfect medium!
Some of the early BBP “Mego” figures suffered from ghost face syndrome. That is to say that their heads were cast in a nearly transparent vinyl color that made them especially pasty and stand out from the color of the rest of the skin. Thankfully the Doctor Who line doesn’t seem to suffer from this problem and although the good Doctor is a bit pasty, his head skin tone matches his body’s skin tone.
The face is sort of a blank stare, but I appreciate that. This Doctor can be in any variety of poses and not look out of place. It’s better than having a big grin or something, which will only look good in certain poses. This is the 4th Doctor doing one of his stoic, deep thoughts. It’s nearly identical to the first Character Options 4th Doctor figure’s alternate head.
“Doctor, you’ve been to the future… Tell me, how do they remember me?”
The costume is always important on a small scale figure like this, especially since they use soft goods. Again BBP has soared beyond expectations, as the 4th Doctor has all his patented attire on and it’s quite colorfol and vibrant.
The most important part of any 4th Doctor outfit is the scarf and this one is appropriately gigantic! It’s quite a bit bigger than the Doctor himself. It can be a bit hard to figure out how to wrap it around him properly, but it’s really a nice piece.
I think it looks better than the classic Deny’s Fisher brand Doctor, but at the same time there were elements of that figure which were better… Like the hat!
Underneath the Doctor has his waistcoat which is a separate piece, but one that is actually connected to the shirt underneath. So essentially, it can open like a vest, but you won’t be removing it. He has nice rubber shoes and brown pants. The quality on the clothes is pretty good and appropriate for this style of figure where hyper-details are not necessary.
He also comes with a hat. I’m not going to lie… It’s a mess. The Mego scale of heads have often been a bit too big and the Doctor suffers a bit from this. BBP tried to compensate by making his hat even bigger, to help sit on the curly afro of Tom Baker.
It doesn’t work at all. It looks gigantic, it doesn’t sit properly and honestly even the sculpt looks a bit too “cowboy hat” for some reason. Deny’s Fisher was able to make their Doctor with a removable hat back in the day, but BBP just couldn’t replicate it. Supposedly they were working on this problem, but I guess they never could find a solution.
So yeah, the hat sucks. It’s not the end of the world, just don’t display him with the hat. My hopes is that BBP will release a version with a hat sculpted on, or rescale the head in future 4th Doctor releases. If not, it is what it is. You could possibly cut some of his hair away and glue the hat down, but I’m not brave enough to try it.
Mego and Mego clones tend to have a decent amount of articulation. The one area that they’re really lacking is a swivel joint for the arm. Of course, ball joined heads and thigh swivels would help as well. What you’re left with is a cut neck, some rubber band ball joint shoulders and legs, as well as swivel hinge wrists, hinge knees, elbows and ankles.
BifBangPow actually had an EMCE body made with swivel arms, but for some reason the 4th Doctor didn’t get them. It’s not a huge deal and to be honest, EMCE’s swivel arms seem a bit clunky in comparison to Cast-A-Way toys swivel arms. So perhaps the figure is better off without them.
He’s still pretty poseable and fun to fiddle around with. The only area I have found that’s concerning is that his ankles tend to be a bit loose, causing him to want to lean forward. This is rarely a problem with most Megos, as they typically wear long boots, but the 4th Doctor’s short shoes cause him to have less support there. it’s not a issue all the time, but it could be for those who pose him a lot.
I’ve always said that these style of figures need accessories and lots of them, more often than not. BBP has done a pretty good job here of giving the Doctor everything he needs. From his giant removable scarf, right down to his sonic screwdriver.
The sculpt and paint, while minimal, is perfect. This is a great small scale rendition of the 4th Doctor’s sonic. It fits into his hand quite well and he can be posed with it as needed.
“I once caught a gumblejack this big! Almost as big as my hat!”
The hat is a failure, but we’ve already went over that. At least they included it, so at least you can decide what you want to do with it.
The coat and tie are removable. Speaking of which, I’ve heard some stories of the coat and also the red portions of the scarf staining the figure. Mine isn’t stained, but there does seem to be some red going onto the white shirt underneath. This is a frustrating problem that I’m not sure how to fix. Possibly by gently washing these items. Not everyone seems to have the issue, but it’s something to be aware of.
And that’s pretty much it. Be careful when removing the figure from the package, so that you don’t lose your Sonic Screwdriver. While it’s bigger than the Character Options version, it’s still quite small.
$20 for a single figure in today’s toy market is a tough pill to swallow, but one we’re seeing more and more. To make matters worse, this figure is sold bundled with a Sontaran in most retail settings. That means you’ll end up paying $40+ for the both of them, more often than not. However, the quality here is pretty nice and aside from a few issues, this guy is worth tracking down if you have even the most modest interest in Mego-like figures. Even classic Mego collectors will want to have this guy in their collection, as he fits right in with the vintage stuff.
Packaging – 9
Sculpting – 8
Paint – 8
Articulation – 9
Accessories – Sonic Screwdriver, Hat, Scarf
Value – 8
Overall – 9 out of 10
Let’s face it, I’m a sucker for the 4th Doctor and I tend to like Mego-style figures more than most people. This figure is not without it’s problems, with a tad oversized head, a hat that doesn’t fit and clothes that could eventually stain this figure. However, he has a lot of strong points, including a great likeness, nice cloth clothing and a few accurate accessories.
These figures are limited to a run of only 3,000 and each package is individually numbered. While I have hopes that this line will become a huge success for BBP, you may want to pick one of these guys up while you have the chance. It’s not a perfect figure by any means, but it’s the kind of neat retro toy that you might kick yourself in a few years for not picking up when it was affordable.
Around this time every year we seem to have an influx of unannounced, completely surprise, Doctor Who Classic figures announced. This happened the last couple of years and it looks to be happening again. Today just released is the 4th Doctor set, City of Death. I loved this particular story and it looks like Character Options has done this set up right. It’s expected to hit in October, so I would assume it’ll be stateside around that time as well.
It features Count Scarleoni Figure with Scaroth Head, Pistol Accessory (not shown), Mona Lisa Painting Accessory (not shown) plus Fourth Doctor with Sonic Screwdriver. Price is about par for the course with these exclusives.
This one comes as a total shock to me and is quite sad. Elisabeth Sladen, known to fans around the world as Sarah Jane Smith, a long time companion of the 3rd and 4th Doctors, passed away at age 63. Sladen had returned to the role of Sarah Jane in a crossover with the 10th Doctor reuniting her with the character of the Doctor for the first time in years. She also had her own quite successful kids show called the Sarah Jane Adventures, featuring the same character.
That show had just been renewed for a fifth season and Elisabeth Sladen reportedly filmed several episodes before her untimely death. I wasn’t even aware Sladen was ill, but apparently she had battled cancer for a while. She will be greatly missed. As with the others who have been taken from us too soon, she will live on eternally through her countless hours of work in the Doctor Who mythos and will no doubt be discovered and loved for generations to come.
Classic Series Review
The Seeds of Doom
Staring Tom Baker as the Doctor, Elizabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane Smith
Director: Douglas Camfield
Alright, I was not planning on doing another Doctor Who review for a while, but this little fella just came in the mail the other day, and to be honest I have been deriving a ton of fun from watching it over the last few days, so I felt it was worth my temporary ban to temporarily review it, temporarily, of course.
The Plot: This is a long episode, so I am going to try to keep the summary to the important points, and get on to the DVD special features as quick as I can.
At a research station in Antarctica, a group of researchers turn up a mysterious pod of unknown origins. They take it back to base, and radio back to England to share the discovery. There, two men from the world ecology bureau show 4th Doctor Tom Baker pictures of the pod. The two men think little of it, but the Doctor seems strangely worried, and insists on leaving as soon as possible to investigate. He also warns the men not to let anyone touch the pod until he arrives.
As the Doctor prepares to leave, one of the men, Richard Dunbar (played by Kenneth Gilbert) spirits away to the mansion of the flora obsessed millionaire Harrison Chase, played brilliantly by actor Tony Beckley (whom many might recognize from the 1969 film The Italian Job) Chase is fascinated with the idea of owning an extraterrestrial plant, and immediately dispatches two men to get it. They are Scorby, a thuggish but strangely eloquent mercenary, and Keeler, a nervous and ill-fated botanist. Now, why a millionaire who is obsessed with plants needs a mercenary for hire on the payroll is beyond me, but he also has a home patrolled by armed guards, so who am I to judge?
You can tell this is a serious episode. I’m wearing my serious face.
Arriving in Antarctica, the Doctor discovers one of the crew has been infected by a mysterious vine that came shooting out of the pod. The Doctor quickly identifies the pod as Krynoid, and goes out into the ice fields to find the second pod he knows must be there. While he and Sarah Jane search, Scorby and Keeler arrive and pretend to be lost. They make themselves cozy, planning on staying until their plane can leave again. While the Doctor and Sarah Jane try to deal with the crewman who is ill, Scorby and Keeler begin making plans to find, and steal, the now useless first pod.
After much running about, from bad guys and Krynoid, The Doctor and Sarah manage to narrowly avoid being blown up by Scorby and Keeler who have themselves managed to locate and steal the second pod, and escape the base leaving the Doctor for dead.
Upon arriving home, the Doctor finds himself the target of a deadly assassin (heh, Doctor Who joke) who fails to kill the Doctor, but does lead him to an eccentric old woman, who in turn leads the Doctor and Sarah to Chase. What follows is classic Who, with the inevitable Doctor vs. Madman speech, where in the Doctor explains how terrible their plan is, and the Madman (Chase) ignores the Doctor. This of course leads to the villain’s eventual downfall. Just once I wish they would listen to him. Now that would be a surprising episode. The Doctor shows up, explains how terrible their plan is, and they agree and leave. Hardly thrilling, I know, but definitely new.
In the end, the Doctor and Sarah manage to escape from killer vines and a vicious wood chipper, as well as defeat the villain, and save the world from giant, killer plants. And the episode ends with a fun Tardis misjump leading Sarah Jane into the snow in her swimsuit, and the Doctor with a pun. I’m glossing over a lot, including the Doctor’s fight scene and Sarah’s verbal jousting with Scorby, but I don’t want to give too much away. Trust me, there are a lot of great lines and fun surprises in this episode.
In my opinions this is one of the best scripts of the Tom Baker era. It contains all of the elements of what made Baker great, without skewing too far one way or the other. The plot is straight forward, but with depth and subtlety to it, and the actors take the material seriously, which is always important in an episode like this.
This episode has all of the classic Who Elements, including, but not limited to:
1. Evil alien menace that does not appear threatening until it is too late
2. Danger only the Doctor can see, but quickly shown to others
3. Eccentric super villain with his own mad schemes
4. Nervous scientist who keep telling super villain they are insane
5. Sarah Jane trapped and screaming
6. Doctor caught in machine that might kill him
7. Exploding models
8. Mutated Humans
9. Brutal henchmen
10. UNIT soldiers
And that’s just what you’d expect. You also have a Doctor who is, in this episode, much more subdued than normally. Not we’re missing his usual quirks and goofiness, but in a lot of ways this episode reminds me of another six-parter, Genesis of the Daleks. Baker is serious and focused in the episode, and while jokes are made, you can tell how dangerous he considers the threat by how seriously he takes it. He really strikes a nice balance in this story that shows what a good actor Baker really could be.
The rest of the cast is also superb. Liz Sladen is, of course, the greatest companion ever to travel with the Doctor (sorry Adric) and does an excellent job here as well. I know I have watched classic Who with several friends who complain that all Sarah Jane does is get herself trapped so the Doctor can rescue her, and while I agree that happens a lot, there is a lot more to her character than just getting stuck. When you watch the scenes between her and Scorby, a mercenary for hire who would just as soon shoot someone than talk to them, you really get an appreciation for Sarah’s spunk and determination. She holds her own in all of her scenes, and has no problem standing up for herself.
The rest of the cast is fantastic as well, and this episode really feels like it has some major gravitas because of that. There are few moments that make one groan, and even fewer where the viewer is bored. In a word, it’s fantastic.
This episode does have some kind of cheesy effect for the modern audience, and yes, you can occasionally see the sets wobble in the background, but that’s really part of the charm. To keep it in perspective, pick up one of the Doctor Who DVDs that has new, redone special effects, or watch the rerelease of Star Trek with the new effects. As bad as the effects look today, with newer effects it looks even worse. Just enjoy the campy charm, and stop worrying.
This DVD is so packed with extras they had to include a second disk. Not only do you get commentary on each episode, several of which include Tom Baker himself, you also get info track subtitles that reveal fun facts about each episode, a feature on the making of the episode, a special on Doctor Who comics in the 70’s, a feature on the music of the episode, and even a tour of the property used in filming. All in all you have at least 10 solid hours of quality viewing here, much with repeat watching value.
Packaging: One thing that does irk me just a bit is that occasionally in England they release special sets of the Doctor’s adventures in collectable boxes. With a feature like this, a 6 part episode with 2 full discs, it would be neat if they could have done a special edition box. As is, it is pretty standard, like the other releases, and contains no inset material, which is also disappointing.
Still, it’s a nice picture on the front, but it’s nothing to write home about.
Two disks? Amazing!
Commentary track: 9/10
Bonus features: 8/10
Total score: 8.5/10
New, this DVD will run you about 28 bucks on Amazon. Not cheap, but at the same time well worth it. Even the casual classic Who fan will find this episode a treat. This one is definitely a buy.