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Dr. Who and the Daleks

U.K. based guest reviewer Danny Mills is back tonight, with another terrific column.  This time he's covering new Dr. Who products, and I have to say I'm very impressed by how well this license is being handled.  Take it away, Danny!

Doctor Who is a classic programme from the BBC that has had a revival in the last two years, with a new show that's getting high ratings from both sides of the Atlantic. Of course, with any successful show these days, you have to have a toy line. Character Options have provided two waves of 5" figures so far, and also a remote control Dalek. One of the latest releases is this Dalek Battle set, featuring TWO remote control Daleks, plus a Doctor figure. The Doctor is the same one available in wave 2, he is not any different to the previous release. This set cost 30 (around $55) from Toys R Us in the UK. The packaging says it is a limited edition, although I do not know whether it just means limited (ie exclusive) to Toys R Us.





Packaging - ***
It's a big box, with some nice clear graphics on the front, and a good view of the three figures inside. It's quite collector friendly, with the Daleks being held in by a single twist-tie each, and everything else able to be pulled out with the minimum of fuss.

Sculpting - ***1/2
You might think that as this is a mass release in the UK market, that the sculpts would be poor, bland likenesses. You'd be wrong. These figures are very well sculpted, and the likenesses are dead on. The Doctor is obviously harder to capture correctly in plastic, but they have done a bang-up job on getting David Tennant right. My only complaint about the figure is his glum expression. The 10th Doctor is a livewire, madcap bundle of energy. Sure, he has his moments of contemplation, but his normal look should be a happier one.

The Daleks are also extremely faithful representations to those on the show. They look absolutely perfect, and the scale between them and the Doctor seems to be fine. The 5" scale overall might annoy some people, though, especially people used to Marvel Legends-sized figures.

Paint - ***
The Doctor's pinstripe suit has been well recreated, with not a stray line or missed paint application. The only blotchy work is on where his white trainers meet his suit trouser bottoms; otherwise, it's surprisingly good.

The Daleks appear to be molded in their colours, so the paint is limited to the gold accents, and again it is clean and consistent. It's really nice to finally get a black Dalek, as the single release Dalek was the brown one.

Articulation - **1/2
Articulation on the Doctor is passable. It certainly won't impress any Marvel Legends fans, but there is a cut neck, cut shoulders, elbows, and the hands twist at the socket. Lower body articulation consists of ball-jointed thighs (hindered by the suit), and knees. The lack of ball-jointed shoulders is the worst issue for play value.

The Daleks have one huge flaw due to their action feature - they do not roll on a flat surface. The heads move slightly from side to side and the eyestalk moves up and down. The gun and plunger arms are on ball joints, but the range of motion isn't great. Still, it's acceptable for a Dalek.

Accessories - **
The only accessory is the Doctor's sonic screwdriver. It's a tiny, badly painted bit of plastic, but he looks OK holding it.

Action Feature - ****
This set has some great action features surrounding the Daleks. The two Daleks are radio controlled. When you start them up, the Dalek says "Seek, locate, destroy!" in its menacing electro tones. It says it at random intervals too.

You use the controller with the two sticks, both pushed up for forward, both pulled back for reverse, and a combination of each for left and right. Takes a bit of practice, but works pretty well once you get used to it. Two Daleks spinning around crashing into each other is a sight to behold. But it doesn't end there. Each controller has a fire button, and when pressed you get the famous, timeless "Exterminate!" plus a laser firing. Each Dalek has a panel which registers hits against it. Once a Dalek has been hit, it says "Dalek unit damaged!" and the lights on the side of the head start flashing the number of hits it's taken. If it gets hit 5 times it lets out an anguished scream. Which Dalek will win? 

This action feature is really fun, and not just for kids. Adults who remember the Daleks from their childhoods (they've been around since 1963) will want to have a go with these beauties too.

Fun Factor - ****
Two Daleks able to be controlled and fight for supremacy? It's fun for all ages.

Value - **1/2
30 ($55) is a lot for this set, there's no argument. However if you look at the price of the standalone r/c Dalek, which is around 17 ($31), then think that in this set you are getting two Daleks, plus a 7 ($13) figure, and suddenly 30 ($55) doesn't sound so bad.

Things to Watch Out For -
Just remember to pick up 12(!) AAA batteries along with the set, or your Daleks will be somewhat immobile.

Overall - ***1/2
I have been really impressed with the new Doctor Who series, and it definitely swayed me in picking up these Daleks. Every home should have at least one! The set is innovative and fun, and deserves to be a huge success.

Score Recap
Packaging - ***
Sculpt - ***1/2
Paint - ***
Articulation - **1/2
Accessories - **
Action Feature - ****
Fun Factor - ****
Value - **1/2
Overall - ***1/2

Where To Buy:
Toys R Us in the UK.

EDITOR'S NOTE:
It was just announced this last week that Underground Toys will be distributing the Character Options figures in the States, with first shipments hopefully in time for the holidays!


Figure from the collection of Danny Mills.

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