Friday, July 1, 2011

REVIEW: Character Building Doctor Who Doctor Figure

Produced by The Character Group | Released 2011

The Doctor is the last of the Time Lords, an ancient race of travelers in time and space. Wandering the universe in his TARDIS and accompanied by his companion, Amy Pond, the Doctor seeks to oppose all those who would oppress, dominate and conquer.

Blind-Bagged Mini-Figure Goodness
The Character Building Mini-Figures are sold either as single, blind-bagged figures or bundled with various play and building sets. This version of the Doctor - wearing a blue shirt and bow tie - is one of three exclusive figures produced for and given away by British newspaper The Daily Mirror.

The Doctor
As with all constructor-type figures, it's difficult to really assess their worth as construction toys without a play set or bricks to interact with. As a stand-alone mini-figure, though, this is a pretty good-looking toy.

The Character Group has designed the figures to utilise interchangeable parts (such as limbs and heads) to allow you to create your own mashup characters and there appears to be a good level of cross-compatibility between this and the other figures I own (a Dalek Eternal and Amy Pond, if you were wondering.)

As a result of this cross-compatibility, the sculpt is fairly simple, with Tampo transfers and paint being used to differentiate the figures in a manner similar to that seen with the Lego mini-figures. (On the plus-side though, Character Options has created a female torso sculpt, which is something not seen in the Lego line.)

Like the rest of the body, the head's design is fairly simple but the sculptors have managed to capture the essence of the 11th Doctor's look. It's not an exact likeness of Matt Smith (as that would just be too weird, given the simplistic nature of the toys) but if you were to switch the heads around with other figures from the line you'd still be able to identify this as the 11th Doctor.

These toys are designed for younger children and so don't feature the intricate (and delicate) articulation of something like a MyClone figure or even a Marvel Mega Bloks toy but what's here is OK, with peg-style joints at the shoulders, head, waist and hips. Whilst the wrists can also be rotated, there's no articulation at the ankles.

It's difficult to really talk about the ''paintwork'' on this figure, as most of the colouring comes from the plastic used to cast the toy or Tampo transfers. Although a Harris Tweed jacket pattern would probably be too complex for a figure of this scale, the colouring is pretty much spot-on, with the Doctor sporting his brown jacket, black slacks and blue shirt-and-bow-tie combo (because bow ties are cool.) The facial details are cleanly applied in an impressionistic/minimalist manner and although they're not a lifelike representation of Matt Smith, there's a little bit of his character there in the smirk.

Each blind-bagged figure comes with a TARDIS-blue base and a colour collector's sheet, showing the other figures in the line. The Doctor also comes with his Sonic Screwdriver. It's a pretty neat little accessory that sits well in his hand and - again - captures the essence of the tool nicely.

Final Thoughts
The Character Building Doctor Who figures are not the most complicated or detailed of toys. They're aimed at younger collectors and are quite simply constructed. This is a plus, as it makes them fairly durable and sturdy but it does mean that there's not a great deal of detail to them. However, The Character Group has done a good job of capturing the spirit of each character. Each is easily identifiable and - despite sharing some basic parts - they have their own unique look.

As for this Doctor, it's a great little representation of the Time Lord's 11th incarnation. The Tampo transfers are well designed and applied, the sculpt (specifically the head) captures his look well and the construction quality is high. Although articulation is simple, it's sturdy and you never feel as if the figure is going to fall apart. It's certainly designed to be played with.

I've yet to see these figures hit the US but in the UK, each figure retails for 1.99GBP (around $3) making them competitive with the Lego Mini-Figures they share so much with. If you can find them for that price and are a fan of such blind-bagged figures (or just a Whovian) then there's certainly a lot of fun to be had here. Just don't expect anything overly complex and accept them for what they are - simple, fun toys.

Production QualityB+
Final ScoreB

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