Amy Pond - Dr. Who
Big Chief

"The following is a guest review.  The review and photos do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Michael Crawford or Michael's Review of the Week, and are the opinion and work of the guest author."
To anyone who is a collector of high end figures you will know a few good rules of thumb… the first is never, and I mean NEVER trust the first pics of a figure that are released (unless of course they happen to be by OMG, Lukazou or Tomm Wong Jnr, in which case you might just want to question how they actually manage to make what ends up in your hands look better than it does in the flesh).

The second is to keep your expectation in check. We all want the best quality product available, and luckily most manufacturers aim to deliver just that, but a lot can happen between A and B, so be realistic!

And the third is take everything you read on a collecting forum with a large pinch of salt. We all have our own agendas, but sadly these hives of scum and villainy seem to bring out the very worst in people. Whilst most are level headed members of a community that want nothing more than to discuss and debate the merits of one collectible over another, there is also a thankfully small (but overly vocal) minority of folks who have nothing in their lives but the ability to go online and whine and cry and vomit bile (you all know who they are… just put them on ignore). That’s not to say anything is beyond criticism, no one improves in any arena unless they receive constructive criticism… but the all-important word is CONSTRUCTIVE.

I’m lucky that I managed to circumnavigate the forums recently, partly because my day job is too demanding now, but also because I sadly choose to avoid them most of time. But I have been told that they have become particularly harsh and unforgiving places of late.















And so it was that I was invited to look over an early preview release of the Big Chief Amy Pond figure from Doctor Who. I reviewed the titular Doctor way back in September of last year here, and though not perfect he was a damn fine representation of the character and probably your only chance to get a high end figure of this particular incarnation. But what is the Doctor without a companion… pretty lost if the show is anything to go by. And luckily Big Chief saw that fact and decided to give us the rather lovely, leggy red head that accompanied Mat Smith’s ‘11’ in the form of Amy Pond (played by Karen Gillan). She was quite a brave and bold choice for a second figure, but to my mind an important one. The easy choice would have been to rattle the Doctors in reverse order (would anyone actually buy the Colin Baker version?), then a few key villains and aliens with the companions becoming a bit of an afterthought. After all you couldn’t do Mulder without Scully, Deunan Knute without Briareos or R2 without 3PO, some things just have to come in pairs, and whilst I wouldn’t be ‘bovered’ if they did Katherine Tate’s Donna Noble to go with ‘Ten’, I’d consider Frima Ageymans Martha Jones and a Billie Piper/Rose Tyler would be a must have (even if she does look a bit like Bingo from the Banana Splits).

So, after all the ‘who-ha’ (sorry, bad pun), what do I actually think of the figure?

Packaging - ****
This follows the same format set by the Doctor’s box, so like before we have a predominantly dark blue back-drop with a copper logo foil blocked out of it. The side panels have photographic images of Amy, and the right side of the box lifts up (held by magnets) to unwind to the left. Once opened you see the fully dressed figure through the large window, alongside some of her accessories, whilst the panel opposite features images of the figure and her various accessories.

Within the box you will find two separate trays. The larger front tray contains the figure as described above and the second shallower tray holds the base. Everything is collector friendly, so no twisties are used, and you can replace her as easy as you got her out.

So, I’m giving this the same score as the Doctor’s box as it is essentially the same, whilst obviously being character specific. The quality of the card and other materials is strong and dense, and the quality of print and finish is immaculate. It’s a far from unique design, but for a new company it says a lot that they have considered its form and function so well.

Sculpting - ***1/4

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, we live in charmed times. Back when I first started ‘seriously’ collecting high end figures the likenesses could be pretty hit and miss. Often a ‘celebrity’ portrait would manage to capture something of the subject, without actually looking that much like them. Sideshow began the trend of trying to more accurately portray our chosen hero or villain ‘du jour’, and they did an outstanding job on the Universal Monsters, but even they struggled with the more regular everyday ‘human’ likenesses. However, as the years have progressed so has the quality! This is largely down to the talented sculptors that have emerged, but is also down to the superior manufacturing techniques now employed.

For new companies to enter into this arena must be a daunting task, and Big Chief have been a prime example of showing what a tough environment this industry can create. Not only are there all the legal hoops you need to jump through in securing a worthwhile IP (and then getting your product approved by the licensor), but you then have to get your newly developed product manufactured, painted, clothed, equipped and boxed before you even enter the maelstrom of distribution (and every stage of that development requires funding).

However, against odds that many would crumble under, smaller independent companies still manage to bring out some of the more leftfield fan favourites. Just look at the problems companies like NECA and ENTERBAY had in trying to release their Django Unchained figures, both of which now look set to languish in landfill sites. Blitzway are another company worthy of our support, like Big Chief they are only two figures into their releases, but the love and dedication to the product they put out is plainly evident.

So why have I waffled on like this in the sculpting section you might ask, and you’d have every right to do so! The reason is the so called ‘fan’ reaction to the earlier photos released of this figure, which went beyond plain negative criticism and became a form of vindictive trolling, needed some kind of balance. Did these folks have an agenda, I don’t know, but all I can say is that the product I now hold in my hand doesn’t look like one that deserves the mauling it received! It seems that much of the criticism was aimed at the rooted hair (which divides opinion at the best of times), but to my eyes it looks pretty good. Is it perfect? No! But it helps soften and feminise her look without looking too overtly Barbie doll. However at the end of the day we do collect dolls guys ‘n’ gals… get over it! I remember a fellow ‘young’ collector once recounting how he couldn’t have any female figures in his collection as his father would ridicule him. A statement that I found both sad and confusing, and a statement that said far more about his father than his chosen hobby!

But for those that are not fond (or feel threatened by) the rooted hair Big Chief have made an unprecedented and bold move not seen since Hot Toys recalled the first John Connor head they released on their Terminator: Salvation figure. On that occasion it was because of the base plastic used in the manufacture and paint app. But here Big Chief have promised anyone not happy with their Amy Pond figure, that they will replace the head with a new one with sculpted hair (which can be seen on their Facebook page here). This seems like a win-win situations for the collectors, and one that I applaud.

So, now down to the nitty-gritty, what do I think of this sculpt? Well it kind of takes me back a few years to when Sideshow would put out a female figure like Scully or more recently a figure like Leia (in her white outfit), insomuch as I can see a pretty good likeness in the sculpt, but it is just crying out for a better paint app to let it shine. It also suffers from the same problem the first figure of Black Widow from Hot Toys had, in that the expression is a little lifeless making her look like she is in a trance rather than ready for action. If you sit and study the portrait (and I know those who buy it will) you will see that the likeness is very strong, but sadly the paint ends up hindering its ability to come through, rather than enhancing it!

The hair, as I said is rooted, and I won’t lie, you will need to futz and tweak here quite a bit to get it looking how it should. I found the best thing to do was remove the head completely (it pops off easy enough). I then boiled a kettle and held the front section over the steam for a few seconds (I obviously advise you do this at your own risk, but unless you are a sausage fingered klutz you’ll be OK). This helps soften the hair enough to reposition and style it. I then pulled forward and tucked in the tied back section under the right hand side of her hair whilst draping this section over her shoulder. I then dampened the hair and did the shirt up over these front sections hanging down to hold them in place. I then took a 5cm wide piece of thin transparent plastic (the kind of stuff Hot Toys use to wrap heads in their packaging) and bound it tightly around the head, held close by tape. I then simply left it for an hour, and when I removed it and released the hair from inside the shirt it looked 100% better. I’m Iucky that I have two daughters who aided me in the process, and everyone was happy with the end result.

So to sum up, there is a good likeness spoilt by the paint and the hair will need a quick salon treatment, but the style required is in there if you tease it out!

Paint - **
This area is something of a letdown. I saw Greggo’s early prototype paint jobs and they looked pretty damn good, but sadly something has been lost in translation! Karen is a redhead with a pale alabaster complexion, a type of colouring that is always difficult to get right. However, even though pale, she should still have a little more colour in her cheeks (admittedly mostly through make-up, but evident even on the picture they use of her on the box). I also found the eyes end up looking too small and startled. Karen, when playing Amy, does have a signature expression where she looks alarmed and her eyes become wide and disk like, just look here or here . However it doesn’t look natural enough on the figure, and the crisp ‘wet look’ we get from many high-end companies is lacking clarity. From some angles she even looks a little wall-eyed. Add to that the fact that this is not an expression that lends itself to a great many poses other than looking slightly shocked, and it can be considered a little limiting! I would have preferred a more relaxed expression with softer eyes, and I’m sure with a repaint the likeness here could shine even more. However, on a figure that costs 150 you don’t really want to hear that!

At the end of the day I would imagine this is the only representation we are likely to get of Amy Pond, meaning that for the 1/6th collector, and one who is a Whovian to boot, there is not a lot of choice, and if you want a companion for eleven, this is your best bet. Female figures are often a hard sell in the world of male dominated ‘action figure’ collecting (there is an intrinsic irony in there I think you’ll agree, does having Leonidas on your shelf say more about you than having Baby Doll, I wonder?)

Articulation - ***1/2
Big Chief have devised an all new female body for Amy here, and on the whole it performs well. To match her complexion it has pale alabaster colouring that matches the tones on the head perfectly. The abdomen and upper torso has a soft silicone covering that disguises the inner articulation, which enables her to bend forwards, backwards, and from side to side. Her shoulders are a rotating hinged joint that can also shrug inwards slightly for arms ‘crossing over’, or double grip poses. She has double elbows that bend smoothly and the classic pegged ball joint at the wrist. If they are to reuse this female body on future releases I hope thy can refine the aesthetic at the wrist. There is nothing per se wrong with it, but because of Amy’s slender frame, it does mean the joint is quite noticeable. Her neck has a great range of movement in all directions, and as the joints are also hidden beneath the soft, skin-like covering, there are no ugly joints visible at all.

From the waist down she has a fair range of movement. The hips move well (hampered only slightly by her tights/leggings), and a cut joint on the upper thigh enables them to twist. I did find her thighs couldn’t come completely together, meaning her legs couldn’t cross over for that ‘elegant’ one foot in front of the other, walking pose… but with Amy’s choice of ‘clod hopper’ foot wear that’s not such a problem. Like the elbow she has a double joint at the knee that works well, but like on the Hot Toys Baby Doll figure it does mean it can look a little odd when bent acutely, as it is visible through the material of the tights. And be careful when closing the knee up again as it could potentially close on the material, snagging it. As she is wearing boots she has no actual feet, the posts at the ankle simply push into cups concealed in the boots.

So, it’s a solid body with some nicely considered articulation. Not quite up there with the new Hot Toys body used on Black Widow or the Sucker Punch gals, but perfectly serviceable!

Accessories - ***1/4
Like the good Doctor, Amy here comes with a cool, and it has to be said cute haul of accessories and knick-knacks.
1 x Mobile Phone
1 x Picture Frame with Photo of Amy and Baby Melody
1 x Apple with Smiley Face
1 x Marker Pen with Lanyard
1 x Raggedy Amy Doll
1 x Raggedy TARDIS
1 x The Pond’s Invitation with Envelope
1 x Necklace with “A” Pendant
1 x Wristwatch
6 x Interchangeable Hands
1 x TARDIS Floor Base with Stand

There is a bonus accessory available if purchased direct from the BIG Chief Website in the form of a Raggedy Doctor Doll, but I didn’t get one so can’t comment.

Apart from the hands and base, all of the accessories are small sculpted items with no moving parts, all are well detailed, and I’m particularly fond of the little raggedy TARDIS and Amy (which makes me wish the Raggedy Doctor had been included), both these items are nicely detailed and painted well. The rest of the items are also well executed, however, even though I watch the series with my kids, I’m not the kind of fan who remembers episode specifics (it generally washes over me on a Saturday afternoon having prepared tea for the girls while downing a couple of G&T’s), hence I can’t actually remember the significance of the apple or the pen on a lanyard… but of course even I remember the photo frame!

The 6 hands are made of a soft rubber and swapped over very easily, and consist of-
2 x relaxed
1 x left lightly cupped (for apple)
1 x left phone grip
1 x right clenched shut (but not quite a fist)
1 x right fingers splayed
The stand is modelled on a section of TARDIS floor, as per the one that came with the Doctor. However this one is a slightly different configuration, that can but up next to the other.

So a nice selection, but it lacks a statement piece! However, the fact I find it hard to think of one kind of makes it obvious why we never got one. A prop fez or stetson might have been cool, more pertaining to the Doc I know, but ho hum. And I guess an extra police-woman outfit may have been too much to wish for, but a red sweater and a pair of converse would have been a more deliverable option (I’d rather of had this than that bloody jacket!).

However, we get what we do, which is a fair selection to have her interacting with.

Outfit - with the jacket **1/2- without the jacket ***1/2
One-sixth tailoring is a form of alchemy, which can veer between the sublime and the ridiculous, and here we have something in between. She comes in an ensemble that consists of-
1 x beige pleather Jacket
1 x checked casual shirt
1 x denim mini skirt
1 x pair of grey tights
1 x pair of black boots

The first thing I have to say is more about the wardrobe department on the show than the figure. Who… no WHO wears a beige leather bikers jacket. It’s like a naff insult to biker’s jackets. The style of it is an homage to the classic Schott ‘Pefecto’, but in beige… BEIGE… I despair!

It is fitting that such a horrendous garment is the weakest part of Amy’s wardrobe. Sadly it feels too bulky on her sleight frame. There are some good details on the tiny feaux zips used at the cuffs and on the pockets, and the plaited epaulets are beautifully executed as well. However when placed on the figure it just looks a bit wrong, and the lining isn’t finished as well as it should be for a figure in this price bracket. But, that is the only item I would really bemoan, and the funny thing is when I Googled ‘Amy Pond outfits’ I could only see one pic of this jacket here, where as there are tons of her in various checked work shirts, so problem solved! The boots are well sculpted and soft enough that the ankles still have a degree of movement, with some nicely observed details in the way they are rendered. Her tights are a good snug fit and don’t hamper the figures ability to strike a pose too much, they could have done with being a tad more opaque so as to hide the articulation in the knee a little more, but they still do the job.

Her ‘distressed’ denim mini skirt is nicely fabricated, with working pockets at the rear, and an authentic looking dye job. Lastly her checked shirt is so well done that I’m going to consign the jacket to the box. And that is not just because I’m not fond of the jacket, but also because with just the shirt and skirt, she looks far more ‘Amy Pond’ than with the jacket on, to my eyes anyway, as its all about the tall willowy silhouette.

So, it’s a good looking outfit on the whole, its just a shame the jacket didn’t turn out a little better, you can tell that a lot of work went into choosing the fabric and tailoring the cut, but sadly it just doesn’t add up to the sum of its parts.

Fun Factor - ***
I’ll be honest, without the Doctor this figure wouldn’t mean much to me! However, with the Doctor you have a great double act … yes, double act. I’m sorry I never really like Rory, he just got in the way, and I know the Doctors relationship with the companions is always platonic, but you need a little of that ‘will they, won’t they’ for the best interactions to work. Rory’s presence introduced too much moral ambiguity on Amy’s behalf to work (plus he was a bit wet)… well, in my opinion!

The base body poses well and she comes with a good selection of (albeit small in scale) accessories, so in terms of getting her to pose next to the Doc we are on solid ground.

Value - ***
With an RRP of 149.99 (124.99 if outside the UK as you don’t need to pay the VAT) for the regular edition and 169.99 99 (141.66 if outside the UK) for the hand signed signature edition, these are not cheap figures. However, neither are they extortionate in the current climate. What we get is a well constructed and well rendered figure from a cult TV series, but I’d be lying if I said you were getting Hot Toys quality for that price. Instead we have something that sits between their figures and a company’s like Triad. The big difference being that this is a fully licensed product.

Overall - **1/2
She gets a slightly above average score here, as at the end of the day she has not quite lived up to my expectations!

She comes in a nicely designed box that compliments the Doctors packaging well, and the outfit is on the whole well put together. I admit I’m not sold on her jacket, as the way it has been reproduced here is a little bulky when placed over her willowy slender frame, but the rest is good.

The sculpt is solid and I can see a good likeness to Karen Gillan in there, but sadly the basic paint app lets it down. Her hair can be made to look good, but does need some major futzing and attention if you want to get it looking right.

But for a fledgling companies second release it deserves praise, and as I said before, I find it highly unlikely that this character will ever get another high-end representation.

Where to Buy -
You can order direct from the Big Chief website for the prices quoted above.

You can use this link here for the limited edition signature edition (only 250 being made) or here for the regular edition which still has only 1000 being manufactured.

Alternatively, if you are in the good ol’ U.S of A, you can order from TFAW- $159.99 on pre order, or you can search ebay.

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This product was provided for the review by the manufacturer. Photos and text by Jeff Parker.

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