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Doctor Who 4th Doctor - Tom Baker
Big Chief Studios

Dr. Who 4th Doctor Tom Baker action figure by Big Chief


There are a few properties that are necessary for any nerd curriculum. Star Wars, Star Trek, Indiana Jones, Battlestar Galactica - these are the sorts of shows and movies that all good geeks know inside and out.

Along with Star Wars and Star Trek, I'd say Doctor Who, in his many incarnations, rounds out the top three.  And I'm here to admit it - I don't watch the show.

I realize this is blasphemy. I have no good excuse. I'm a terrible human being.

That being said, I do love the look of perhaps the best known Doctor Who, Tom Baker as the 4th Doctor. He was the man in charge of time back when I was at the right age to at least pay attention, from 1974 to 1981, and had the longest run of any actor in the role.

With the recent 50 year anniversary of the show (fifty years? Holy crap!), it seems appropriate to check out the latest release from the small but effective company Big Chief Studios

This figure comes in two editions - the Signature Edition, which includes an additional signed plaque and is limited to just 300, and the Limited Edition (reviewed here) which does not and has a higher edition size. I haven't heard what the final number is, but I'd expect it to be in the 1000 - 2000 range at least, if not higher, considering the popularity of this Doctor.

The price is 170 GBP, but that already includes their VAT tax. I think the US cost is closer to $220 US after conversion, although you'll want to double check the day you order for final rates. If US retailers end up stocking him, as they did with the earlier figures in this series, it should be closer to $190 - $200.
Click on the photo below for a life size version
Dr. Who 4th Doctor Tom Baker action figure by Big Chief
Dr. Who 4th Doctor Tom Baker action figure by Big Chief
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Dr. Who 4th Doctor Tom Baker action figure by Big Chief
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Dr. Who 4th Doctor Tom Baker action figure by Big Chief
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Dr. Who 4th Doctor Tom Baker action figure by Big Chief
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Dr. Who 4th Doctor Tom Baker action figure by Big Chief
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Dr. Who 4th Doctor Tom Baker action figure by Big Chief
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Dr. Who 4th Doctor Tom Baker action figure by Big Chief
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Dr. Who 4th Doctor Tom Baker action figure by Big Chief
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Dr. Who 4th Doctor Tom Baker action figure by Big Chief
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Dr. Who 4th Doctor Tom Baker action figure by Big Chief
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Dr. Who 4th Doctor Tom Baker action figure by Big Chief
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Dr. Who 4th Doctor Tom Baker action figure by Big Chief

Packaging - ****
I really love this box, particularly because of one creative aspect that sets it apart.

First, it's completely collector friendly. You know how much I love that. Did you know that back when I was working with Flatt World I coined that phrase as a marketing term for our packaging? It was a first at the time...at least as far as I know.

Back to the issue at hand - there's no reason you have to damage any part of the packaging to remove the figure and a;cessories. There are two levels inside the box, both plastic trays that keep the figure and extras plenty safe.

The interior box is a window box, with nice graphics and text but nothing else that really sets it apart. It's the outer cover that accomplishes that.

Magnets hold the outer cover (which is three sided) to the front and sides of the box. It pops right off, and on the inside is a printed graphic that can act as the perfect backdrop for your figure on the shelf. How cool is that? Making the box do double duty is a great idea, since most collectors want to keep it around anyway. Giving them something to do with the cover, other than stick it in storage, is a creative concept.

There's also a baseball trading card sized Certificate of Authenticity, always a nice add for something that's supposed to be a limited edition. I didn't see any sign on the COA. base or box of an edition size or number, however.

Sculpting - ***1/2
The area that will probably create the most conversation is the portrait and the chosen expression. Doctor Who has a rabid fanbase, and if anyone can find nits to pick, they certainly will. Let's be honest - picking nits is a time honored nerd tradition.

I love the curly hair, although at first glance it can make the head seem large for the body. That's just because there's just so much hair, which is actually accurate to the original character. The detailing in the curls is decent too, although not quite at the level of some of the finest sculpts in this scale.

The portrait is clearly Baker, with one of his wide eyed expressions. He always did have a bit of a Marty Feldman thing going on, and they've played that up here.

The rest of his expression is a bit sad though, somewhat uncharacteristic for the personality of this Doctor. I suspect that's an issue with which some fans will take exception.

Having a hat in proper sixth scale is always tough, but doing it with all this hair is near impossible. I love the solution they came up with - there are two hair pieces, one complete and one carved to wear the hat. It's genius, and allows for a perfectly scaled hat to sit properly on all those curls.

The Doctor stands just under 12 inches tall without the hat, making him a good fit with other sixth scale lines from companies like Hot Toys, Sideshow and Enterbay.

Paint - ***1/2
While they haven't quite reached the very high bar set by Hot Toys and Enterbay in this category, Big Chief is getting close.

The skin tone is good, and the glassy eyes produce their own natural catch lights. The lip color is realistic, and the finely stranded eyebrows look terrific. There's a little bleed in the eyes, and one pupil is *slightly* higher than the other, but these are pretty minor issues when compared to the overall level of quality.

Articulation - ***1/2
The underlying body is fairly light weight, and reminds me quite a bit of the Medicom design. It takes excellent, natural, flowing poses, but the knees are a little loose on mine. It didn't interfere with the poses I was working with, but I am worried that over time he might start to have issues.

The ball jointed neck works particularly well, and the arm articulation allows for a great range of movement, even in the shirt, vest and coat. The legs can take fairly deep stances while the feet stay flat on the floor.

The soft rubber hands swap easily, and I didn't have any concerns about breaking a post. Other than the knees, the joints were tight and strong.

If the knees on mine had just been a little tighter, he would have pulled the full four stars here. Hopefully this isn't a consistent issue, but a one off problem. Even on mine, it's only a minor nit, and he was able to remain standing in most poses.

Accessories - ****
There's some terrific extras here, all very specific to this Doctor.

He has four sets of hands, including the pair he comes wearing. There are relaxed poses, as well as several designed specifically to hold accessories. The hands are a VERY soft rubber, which makes them extremely easy to swap. They also work great holding the smaller accessories, but if you try to use them with something heavier - like the hat - they have trouble.

You'll notice in the photos that he has his bare head and a hat he can hold...and yet he can also wear the hat and it looks great in place. How is that possible? Because there's actually two sets of hair, one normal and very curly, and a second with a section designed to hold the hair down tight, with curls just sticking up around the outside edge.

That's a great design, and the two hair pieces pop on and off easily. They both look great, and it allows the hat to fit perfectly on his head.

There's the Key to Time, with only one piece removable. Thank God it doesn't come completely apart - I'd never figure out how to get it back together again.There is also the Tracer of course, which helped assemble and activate the Key. The long wand on the Tracer can be removed, and there is a smaller end that can then be inserted into the Key itself.

The Hand of Fear is a very well known item from a four part serial that starred this doctor in the 14th season of the show. An evil alien manages to regenerate from this hand, before being defeated by the good Doctor. It's a great addition, something that fans will really like including in their display.

This Doctor had a pretty silly personality, making him one of the more endearing versions. In that vein, he has his little yellow yo-yo, complete with string, and his little white bag of Jelly Babies.

He has to have his Sonic Screwdriver of course, the ultimate Swiss Army Knife for any Time Lord. The sculpt looks decent, and he can carry it with a couple of the hand sculpts.

He has a base, but it does not include any sort of post to hold him upright. EDIT: Sure enough, there's a post - it just got misplaced! 

The base has a very shiny mirror top, and lights up as well. More on that in the Light Up Feature section, but suffice to say it's a cool extra.

As I mentioned in the Packaging section, the top can be removed and used as a diorama style backdrop.

They included a couple extra wrist pegs too, just in case you have a problem. I can't imagine how, considering the soft rubber hands, but it's still a good idea to have some extras.

Outfit - ***1/2
The outfit is quite extensive, and after the expression, is probably going to be the most discussed aspect of the figure.

The shoe sculpt looks great, a basic style but very realistic. The shirt looks good without the coat on, although the coat really makes the complete look. Of course, you can't over look the vest or tweedy oh-so-70's pants, either, and the overall tailoring and quality of materials is top notch.

With all these layers, clothing can often end up bulky or out of scale on a figure this size. Not so here - everything looks terrific, and they've used a very thin, fine cloth to keep each piece in scale.

They also went with small snaps in most places, which I personally prefer to Velcro.

The hat is a separate piece, but I included that with the Accessories. There's also his rather unique tie or cravat, and his trademark scarf. The latter has a wire along both edges to allow for posing, and it works extremely well. I'm not completely sold on the exactness of the color bands on the scarf - they seem slightly off the original to me - but that may just be my eyes.

Light Up Feature - ****
I mentioned the included mirror base, which has a very cool light up feature. The batteries are included, and with the flip of a switch the symbol glows blue within the mirror. It's a great effect, and quite bright. I've included a shot of it lit up facing forward, and you get extra points if you can name the character reflected from across the room! He stands about 6 feet tall, if that's any help.

Fun Factor - ***
With all these cool accessories and a very posable body, fans of the classic version will have a ton of fun posing him on the shelf.

Most high end sixth scale figures are very fragile, but this one is sturdier than you'd expect. The smaller accessories can break if improperly handled, but older kids should be able to pose and display this guy in their room without fear of breaking anything.

Value - **
As much as I love this figure, the price is really a killer. Even taking out VAT, US buyers will spend north of $200 on this guy. While that's the going rate for a lot of the current Hot Toys and Enterbay releases right now, this figure isn't yet *quite* there. But Big Chief is a small company, and these figures are produced in much smaller runs than something from a company the size of Hot Toys. The quality is good enough that he can certainly hold his own on the same shelf with their product.

If this guy does make it to a U.S. retailer (in the Where to Buy section I mention several that carried the previous releases) for under $200, you can add another half star here.

Things to Watch Out For -
Pay attention to the Time Tracer - the long clear piece on the end of the Tracer is removable, as I said, and can be easy to break off if you're not careful. Otherwise, you should be good to go!

Overall - ***1/2
When people think of the very best in sixth scale figures, they tend to think Hot Toys and Enterbay, and depending on the license, Sideshow and Medicom as well. This is a tough market for small companies to break into, with high barriers to entry, including cost and quality.

Big Chief seems to be making it through the barriers though, and while this figure is not quite at the same level as the very best work from the aforementioned firms, it's certainly good enough to stand next to them in any display and not look out of place.

Personally, I also think that if you're only going to have one Doctor Who, this is the one to have.  I'm sure some fans have a particular favorite from the series, but this is the most recognizable incarnation to the average person. For many people, Baker defined the character, and Big Chief has done a terrific job paying homage to him in this shrunken duplicate.

Score Recap:
Packaging - ****
Sculpting - ***1/2
Paint - ***1/2
Articulation - ****
Accessories - ****
Outfit - ***1/2
Light Up Feature - ****
Fun Factor - ***
Value - **
Overall - ***1/2

Where to Buy -
It looks like you can still pre-order him at the Big Chief site for 170 GBP, or other online options may include these site sponsors:

- Urban Collector carried the 11th Doctor for $190, so they may end up with this one too - you might want to give them a call and check.

- Entertainment Earth the Amy Pond for $200, so they may carry this one too.

- Big Bad Toy Store carried both previous releases for about $200, so again, they very may well carry this guy.

- or you can search ebay for a deal.

Related Links -
I have a guest review of Big Chief's Amy Pond and the Eleventh Doctor. as well as Weta's Dalek statue that would go great with this guy.

Discussion:
Want to chat about this review?  Try out one of these terrific forums where I'll be discussing it!

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Dr. Who 4th Doctor Tom Baker action figure by Big Chief


This product was provided for the review by the manufacturer. Photos and text by Michael Crawford.

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