I was going to start GI Joe week this Friday, but I’ve decided to push the official start of Joe week off to Monday to coincide with the fact that GI Joe the movie opens next Friday. What prompted this little time shift? Doctor Who of course! We here at Infinite Hollywood simply love the good Doctor and can’t help but review the figures from Character Options when we get them. In fact back in March we dedicated the whole month to Who and since I haven’t gotten a single new Who since then, I figured now that I had some new Whos, I’d give them a go.

Today I’m reviewing the First Doctor, because what better place to start then at the beginning, eh? The First Doctor was portrayed by William Hartnell way back in 1963. Back then he wasn’t the “first” Doctor, he simply was THE DOCTOR! In fact fans of Doctor Who back in the early 1960’s probably had no idea that the Doctor Who program would still be on the air 40+ years later and they definitely couldn’t have known that we’d be nearing the eleventh version of the character.

The Doctor arrives in his TARDIS fresh from SDCC 2009!

You see what makes the character so unique is that the Doctor can regenerate into a new form (and actor) if he’s nearing his death. It’s a special thing that Time Lords can do to cheat death. That’s part of what makes getting this figure so special. It’s not like getting an Adam West version of Batman, for all intensive purposes this is the same man that David Tennant plays now. This is the same guy as Tom Baker or even, gasp, Sylvester McCoy. But sci-fi fans back then had no idea the Doctor could change until he did it and became the second Doctor in 1966… But that’s tomorrow’s review so let’s stick with the first guy, shall we?

I mentioned in plenty of my Doctor Who reviews back in March how incredible the packaging to the Doctor Who figures are. The Doctor Who Classics packaging isn’t as fancy as the regular figures, but the incredible part isn’t so much the design but how versatile it is. As an example, the First Doctor here comes packaged with a Dalek so his bubble is twice the size of the Second Doctor’s package. It’s sort of strange to see a company like Character Options adjust the size of their bubbles as need be while for years we’ve heard Hasbro and Mattel complain that they can’t make “giant” figures because they need them to fit on the card.

Apparently Character Options doesn’t subscribe to that philosophy. The package itself is a typical clamshell, but it is fairly attractive. A nice feature here is that there were two versions of this figure, a regular color version (the one I’m reviewing) and a black and white version. Both were exclusive to San Diego Comic Con and both include a SDCC sticker with number… But the cool part is that the packages are also variants with the color version having color photos and the black and white having monochrome different pictures.

The back of the package gives a great little bio of both the Doctor and the Saucer Command Dalek (since this is a 2 pack even if the First Doctor is the star) as well as pictures of both. That’s the one area I’ve criticized the packages in the past is that they didn’t give bios, but this one does. Kudos to that. If you’re interested in what number I have, it’s #123 which is pretty low. Out of a possible 3,000 worldwide.

Once you crack the clamshell open (I recommend cutting 3 sides so it opens like a book) you’ll find a standard inner shell with quite a few twist ties and tape holding the figures in. Be careful getting the Dalek out because he has both his eye stalk and plunger arm taped in. The Doctor has several twist ties holding him in but CO deserves a lot of credit because I’ve never had one twisted too tight or twisted to the point where I had to cut it. It’s a hassle to get through all the twist ties, but they’re some of the best put on in the business.

William Hartnell spent most of his early life as a circus acrobat and actually trained Bruce Lee in several styles of martial arts, so it’s an absolute must that his figure have no less that 45 points of articulation. I believe it was the fourth episode of the series in which he did a triple backflip off the TARDIS killing a Cyberman… Ah wait, none of that is true. The truth of the matter is that Hartnell’s First Doctor was the most frail of any of the incarnations of the character.

I have no idea how old Hartnell was when he started the series but he looked 65ish, which can’t be true since he was only 67 when he died. Needless to say he looked OLD. He even walked with a cane, so articulation isn’t exactly something that needed to be loaded down on this figure. That said, Character Options has really upped their articulation in recent years and Hartnell can bend and twist in places that the real one likely never could. At least not while he played out hero from Gallifrey.

The Doctor has a cut neck, cut shoulders, upper arm swivel, wrist swivel, waist swivel, Who Crotch® (Similar to a DCUC figure), thigh swivels, hinge joint elbows and knees. That’s more than enough points of articulation to get this figure into any position he ever did in the show. For what it’s worth, Hartnell was surprisingly spry at times during the original broadcasts so he can definitely put those points of articulation to use if you want him to.

No Who Crotch® for the Dalek though. The Dalek has all the same basic points of articulation for a Dalek, which is wheels in the back, rotating front wheel, an eye stalk that can move up and down, a cut head and ball jointed arms. I’ve heard some people complain that the arms don’t move because of the paint (which has been an issue with the classic Daleks) but mine move just fine. However if they do stick on you as my original batch of classic Daleks did, remove the arms and stick a small paintbrush end or a drill bit (NOT THE JAGGED END) into the hole and jimmy it around until it frees up.

What a beautiful sculpt this turned out to be. I don’t know if it’s perfect, but it’s damn sure close. It really captures the likeness of William Hartnell. My GF thinks the first Doctor looks a bit creepy and if that’s the case, she confirms this figure is creepy too. Hartnell did have a bit of a ghastly appearance to him and that definitely shows through. The face likeness is quite good with subtle wrinkles throughout and the Doctor’s patented half smile, half sneer on his face.

Creepiness in tact!

The rest of the sculpt is as equally impressive with seemingly a whole new body. If there is some reuse here it’s worked in well. Perhaps my favorite part is that his ring is sculpted on the right hand. When I first saw pictures of him I was a bit bummed that he didn’t have his ring and figured they just reused some previous hands, but nope he has his ring on his right and also one on his left. INCREDIBLE!

His coat, pants and vest are all nicely done. He even has his necklace monocle deal. Even the shoes have a nice design to them. Top to bottom you can tell a lot of love and care was put into designing this figure. Something I notice a lot with the Character Options toys. It’s pretty rare to see them take any shortcuts and so many American toy companies could learn a thing or two from these guys.

Paint wise he’s very well done too. The only area where the paint suffers is on the face, where he does appear to be sort of Turner colorized. It certainly doesn’t look too bad and they have a ton of subtle details such as around the eyes to really give him that sickly First Doctor look, but that is probably the only area where it’s not five star. Of course Hartnell only appeared in color in the Three Doctors special in which he was so ill he spent the entire show trapped in a little triangle cube. So they didn’t have a lot of color footage to work off of.

Scale on these is pretty good though not 100% accurate. He’s shorter than the younger Doctors as he should be, but he’s not in perfect scale. For action figure scale though, he’s fairly spot on. I should also mention that Richard Hurndall did a great stint as the first Doctor during the special The Five Doctors and this figure could just as easily be him as well. The two actors looked a lot alike.

The Dalek is a Dalek. The likenesses on these guys are superb. This is the Saucer Command Dalek, known for the little saucer on his back. Some folks have had enough Daleks, but I never get tired of them. Comparing him to the other classic Daleks he’s definitely quite different looking even without focusing on the saucer on his back.

Dalek Butt…

My Dalek has a tad bit of slop on his paint, but that’s strictly on his blue balls (there are no lady Daleks). Those little orbs are probably hard to paint for man or machine. The rest of his paint is very nice and even those errors are few and far between. I have heard a handful of grumbling about them, so it’s something to watch for. Of course no one is buying this set for the Dalek anyway, so it’s probably a moot point.

Daleks don’t need accessories so naturally the Saucer Command version doesn’t include one. The good Doctor does come with his cane though. I’m not sure they could have packed him with anything else anyway. I don’t believe he ever used any other real trinkets and gizmos as some of the later Doctors have.

Additional Notes:
I realize some people may wonder what the big deal is about this figure of an old dude, but it’s really pretty special. Consider this, Hartnell was dead by 1975. His appearances on the show although many, were over by 1966. A lot of time has passed and this guy never got his crack at action figure fame. Getting a truly great figure of the First Doctor is literally over 40 years in the making. He’s never had another action figure and he deserves it.

The First Doctors meet?

Thankfully Character Options did Hartnell proud with this one. Despite it’s limited availability it’s a simple must have for Doctor Who enthusiasts. Hartnell’s version of the Doctor is rarely on anyone’s top lists, but he was the first and no one can ever be another first.

I paid $35 for this set, although they retailed for around $40. I suspect you’ll find them in the $40-$50 range for some time if you act now. That’s certainly not a great value at all. However there are a few things to consider. This isn’t a Ben 10 figure. This is an old geezer from 40 some odd years ago. It’d be like getting a Petticoat Junction figure now. The demand simply isn’t as great as Twilight figures, so these are made on a limited run. For that aspect, the value isn’t so bad. Plus CO made this a two pack, including a brand new exclusive Dalek. Even if most of us have plenty of Daleks, you can’t knock them for giving us a little more bang for our buck.

So a near perfect 5 inch figure of a rare character is definitely worth quite a bit. Considering Hasbro charged $25 for it’s GI Joe two pack, I think this is a solid value. I pay about $12-$14 for most new Who figures anyway, so with the limited run factored in this is a fair price. Obviously the whole line couldn’t cost this much, but for these exclusives I’m giving them a break.

Score Recap:
Packaging – 7
Sculpting – 8
Articulation – 8
Accessories – Cane
Value – 8
Overall – 8 out of 10

It’s the First Doctor! Without him there is no Doctor Who. So you have to give credit where it’s due. Doctor Who begins with this man. You need him. This isn’t a phoned in figure. It’s one of Character Options best. Major kudos needs to be given to Character Options and Underground Toys for making this guy at all.

Someone changed the TARDIS desktop!

We’ve got Doctor Who lined up all weekend, with the Second Doctor tomorrow and the exclusive version of the Sixth Doctor on Sunday. It’s a full weekend of SDCC Doctor Who fun! Plus next week starts GI Joe week! So come here every day! Tell your friends!

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3 Responses to Doctor Who Review: First Doctor & Saucer Dalek

  • Wes says:

    Hartnell was born in 1908, so that would have made him roughly 55 when “Doctor Who” began. He did look way older than that, though.

    I didn’t think Hurndall looked very much like Hartnell at all, but eh.

    Anyway, great review! I still have yet to take mine out of the set, but this review has made me a bit more eager to do so. Those first few pics have also kind of made me wish I had a TARDIS to go with the figures. 🙂

    (Also, where’d you get the set for $35? That’s a great price!)

  • Mark says:

    Hartnell was 55 when he started. He is made up to look like an older man, including the white-haired wig they had him wear on TV.

    Oh, “This is the Saucer Command Dalek, known for the little saucer on his back.”….

    You are KIDDING, right?
    Please tell me you are kidding, and you know better. Because that is not even close to correct…

  • My aren’t we picky, lol.

    The identifying difference between this Dalek and many of the others is the Saucer. Get off your high horse fella.

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