And now, Scary-Crayon reviews... The Sixth Doctor Regeneration Figure from "The Caves of Androzani" (1984)

Figure Information Name: The Sixth Doctor
Regeneration Figure from
"The Caves of Androzani" (1984)
Line: Doctor Who (Classics)
Scale: 5 inch
Manufacturer: Character Options
Distributor: Underground Toys
Year Released: 2009
Original Price: $12.99

If one were to poll the world's Doctor Who fans regarding their favorite television Doctor, Tom Baker's fourth Doctor would probably win -- but even so, I'd wager that the answer percentages would be diverse enough to prevent his victory from being called overwhelming. However, if the poll question asked respondents to note their least favorite Doctor, I'm fairly confident that Colin Baker's sixth Doctor would trounce the competition, perhaps with a percentage as high as the 80s or 90s. Here, I can't help but think of Rassilon's rhyme: "To lose is to win, and he who wins shall lose."

While the Doctor Who Wiki notes that C. Baker actually won a fan's choice poll for the "greatest" Doctor in the audio plays -- and while he was highly watchable as the Stranger in a very Doctor Who-esque series -- his Doctor was a conceited, callous, and oftentimes shockingly brutal character. This was the hero of an "educational" children's program, and yet he would routinely call his gorgeous companion mean names and make fun of her weight. He even attempted to strangle her during his very first full episode! And since that's how he treated his friends, you can imagine how the guy treated his enemies: he'd merrily quip after bringing villains to violent ends (and, unlike Buffy's frequent foes, these enemies were humans or alien analogues rather than soulless demons). If that sounds badass, trust me -- it wasn't. Colin Baker's Doctor was a jerk.

Given my dislike of the sixth Doctor, it's probably no surprise that someone was missing from the group photo at the end of the third Doctor and Dalek review. Completists and die-hard Whofans may snatch up every figure regardless of their personal feelings for the character, but -- unless they're heavily clearanced -- I only tend to buy figures of characters I like. However, with the release of the Toys "R" Us exclusive regeneration sixth Doctor as a test figure for the US retail market, I figured I'd do my part to convince the higher-ups that there is enough fan support to justify releasing more desirable figures to stores. Besides, I find it oddly fitting that my one figure of my least favorite Doctor should be a mud-covered headswap of my favorite one.

Packaging

Score: 5.5 / 10

Woo, look at all that wasted space!That outfit isn't dirty at all...

The packaging is pretty much the same as it was for the third Doctor, which means that it's got the same attractive graphics and blues and flamey Time Vortex oranges, along with a text description -- this time summarizing "The Caves of Androzani" -- above a row of Time Lord seals on the back. Naturally, since this figure doesn't have two characters vying for space, the shared photo of C. Baker on the front and back of the packaging is quite a bit larger than the third Doctor and Dalek photos were on the third Doctor packaging. Ideally that would be a good thing, but the photo here looks to be a promotional image rather than a screencap from the episode -- which wouldn't be as bad if C. Baker's outfit weren't completely clean in the photo. And although I realize that locating this promotional photo was probably more difficult than simply whipping out the DVDs and taking a screencap, I still find this rather unsatisfying. This is supposedly a figure of the sixth Doctor as seen in "The Caves of Androzani," so it'd be nice if the photo reflected that.

Of course, since this packaging is largely the same, it's also got a hateful clamshell construction. It's a little bit easier to stomach here, as this isn't a convention exclusive $40 set, but even at $13 this is a store exclusive aimed at collectors. On the other hand, since this set has only the Doctor with no accessories -- as opposed to two figures, or one with a BAF piece and accessories (as with previous Doctor Who Classics releases) -- I find that I like it even less here since it's just Colin in a bunch of wasted space. That might be appropriate considering that this is the sixth Doctor, but Character Options really does need to work on some smaller, collector-friendly packaging for these figures. I'd totally be down with a TARDIS-shaped window box design.

Visual Appeal

Score: 6.0 / 10

Tell usthe lessonthat weshould learn!I'd look just as cross if I couldn't turn my neck without injuring myself.

If you've seen the fifth Doctor figure and either of the previous sixth Doctor figures, you've pretty much seen this figure in its entirety -- it really is a simple headswap, and even the mold lines and deformations in the plastic of the body are in exactly the same places. That said, both the fifth Doctor's body and the sixth Doctors' head were well sculpted, so combined they look fairly decent. It's true that C. Baker was a bit heftier than Davison, but, since it really wasn't all that noticeable when he was wearing Davison's clothes, I don't blame the folks at CO for not trying to pad the torso in any way. There's even an argument to be made that this is better than modifying the existing sixth Doctor body in some way: that figure was notably shorter than the fifth Doctor figure, yet celebheights.com lists C. Baker's height at 6.0' and Davison's at 6' 0.25". And when you shrink those guys down to 5" action figure scale, that 0.25" is entirely negligible. There is, however, one change CO should've made -- since the sixth Doctor figure's neck was appropriately thicker than the fifth Doctor's, the company should have widened the space inside the sculpted collar in order to accommodate it. I'll talk more about that in the articulation section, but note that I've docked the score here quite a bit for it.

One of these figures can turn its neck comfortably!

Other than sporting C. Baker's head, the main difference between this figure and the fifth Doctor release is the paint. The pants and stripes are a different color, the sweater has a different design, and the underside of the collar is green rather than red -- but the most obvious change stems from the mud decorating the figure's right side and areas of his sweater and pants. Incidentally, the Doctor's outfit hardly got this dirty in "The Caves of Androzani," though it did appear somewhat dirtier when the story resumed in the very next serial. As many fans have remarked, this figure would more appropriately have been called a "Twin Dilemma" sixth Doctor. In any case, the dirt doesn't quite match how it looked in the serial -- it looks more like what one might come up with if one only had a text description of the stains to go by -- but it's not appallingly inaccurate. Overall, the paint is really well done, and I'm especially impressed by the crisp lines on the pants (I suspect these were done via tampograph) and red outlines on the coat. As with most Doctor Who figures, though, the lack of a wash or drybrushing on the face largely obscures the detail of the sculpt.

Articulation

Score: 4.5 / 10

y kant i uze mai nek?

The regeneration sixth Doctor sports the same articulation model as most of the newer Doctor Who humans, which would ordinarily allow for an acceptable -- though not especially impressive -- amount of posing. The hips are a bit restricted in their forward and backward movement (here due to the sculpt of the legs and crotch as opposed to a tightly-fitting jacket), the thighs are a little too tight, and the low-hanging coat makes it a bit difficult to turn the waist, but nearly everything else has a full and unimpeded range of motion. None of the joints were stuck or seemed likely to break, either, which is always a plus given the myriad collector figures that have disappointed in these respects.

So why the low score, you ask? Well, remember how I mentioned that the sixth Doctor figure's neck was thicker, yet the interior of the collar wasn't widened to accommodate it? (If you don't, scroll up -- and pay more attention next time!) I honestly might not have noticed if I hadn't turned the neck swivel... and ended up with deep creases and scratched paint on both sides of poor Colin's neck because CO just jammed the head in there without even bothering to make sure the parts fit comfortably. That's the kind of error you learn to avoid in Customizing 101, yet here it is on a retail release from an established toy company. Unacceptable.

You may not be able to see the creases in the photos because I was able to reduce their appearance -- either they're still there or the "scarring" in those areas is due to the scraped paint, but the effect is hardly as drastic as it was at first -- by blasting the figure with a hair dryer, but, as much as I dislike the sixth Doctor, I don't want a collector figure with huge gashes in its neck. So the larger issue is that now, unless I actually pop the head off and widen the interior of the collar myself (not to mention repaint the red interior and make sure the paint doesn't rub), I'm stuck with a figure with an immobilized head. This means that while I'm posing the other Doctors looking at companions standing at their sides, glancing at Daleks attacking from an angle, or doing anything else that requires me to turn their heads, Colin will be limited to the most bland poses ever because he's perpetually stuck staring straight ahead. Now, I do have some figures that get by without neck joints, but they're almost all robots and few of them are especially articulated. But for a figure with this much articulation to lose the neck joint is just crippling -- it's arguably the most important joint on any articulated toy, and its loss significantly diminishes the number of interesting poses the figure can assume.

Accessories

Score: 0.0 / 10

FROBISHER!Only Doctors who don't totally suck can call Sarah Jane "Sarah."

Oh ho, this figure just keeps getting better! It comes with zero accessories -- not even a sonic screwdriver or lance. I realize that the sixth Doctor only showed up at the very end of "The Caves of Androzani" and thus didn't actually use any tools in that serial, but come on. Even a pocket mirror like the one the Doctor used to first gaze upon his "noble brow" and "clear gaze" in "The Twin Dilemma" would've been something, but this figure comes with jack. Weak.

Fun Factor

Score: 1.5 / 10

As a lazy -- though well painted -- headswap with either an immobilized neck or hideous gashes in his neck -- and no accessories whatsoever -- there is very little fun to be had with this figure. It's not fun to look at because of its necessarily boring pose and scarred neck; it's not fun to pose because I can't turn the head without fear of marring the figure's appearance further, and it doesn't come with any accessories that might help it in either of these respects. Given how angry the too-thick neck and resultant creases and paint scarring make me, I'm almost tempted to give this figure a negative fun score. It really is hateful.

That serial really was awful.Whenever Character Options starts making companion figures, I hope the company outsources the creation of Peri to Japan.

Value

Score: 3.5 / 10

At $12.99, this 5" figure wouldn't have been a stellar value even if it had been perfect in all respects. As it stands, the fact that it's simple headswap with no accessories -- yet costs the same price as figures that came with both accessories and a BAF piece -- lowers the perception of value even further. But the fact that CO didn't even bother to test fit the parts and released a figure that ends up damaged if you even try to use the most vital point of articulation really makes it a poor value. Honestly, if you really want a regeneration sixth Doctor and have some customizing experience, I recommend paying the extra money to get fifth and sixth Doctor figures and doing the headswap yourself -- at least then it'll seem cooler because you actually put effort into it, and you can widen the collar interior in order to ensure that your own figure has a working neck swivel doesn't end up damaged when you try to follow through with its intended usage. This figure does, however, contain actual plastic and have a decent paint job, so you are getting something for your money.

Review Summary

Packaging
  • Attractive graphics and layout; informative summary of serial
  • Sixth Doctor image from TCoA would have been preferable to promo shot
  • Hateful clamshell and wasted space
SCORE: 5.5 / 10
Visual Appeal
  • Simple headswap, but reused parts look fairly decent together
  • No retooling to accommodate neck
  • Paint looks great; mud is well done if not screen accurate
SCORE: 6.0 / 10
Articulation
  • Fairly decent articulation model
  • Minor issues with waist, hips, and thighs; no joints were broken or stuck
  • Turning neck swivel results in ugly gashes, so I won't/cant use it
SCORE: 4.5 / 10
Accessories
  • No accessories whatsoever. Weak.
SCORE: 0.0 / 10
Fun Factor
  • Lazy headswaps with no accessories and unusable neck joints are not fun.
  • Might actually piss you off, but we don't give negative scores.
SCORE: 1.5 / 10
Value
  • At $12.99, lazy headswaps with no accessories and unusable neck joints are also terrible values.
  • That said, figure is made of plastic and has a decent paint job.
SCORE: 3.5 / 10

Overall

Score: 3.5 / 10

One of these toys is not like the others...

This figure was never going to score especially highly given the nature of it, but I was fully prepared to give it at least a 6.5 until I discovered those hideous creases in its neck. Now I can barely stand to look at the thing, and I'm probably going to have to boil and pop the head off so that I can widen the collar interior myself... even though I really want to just return it to Toys "R" Us and get my money back. I really did want to help out the American Whofans and convince CO to bring Doctor Who merchandise to the toy aisles of our local chains, but -- if this is the kind of garbage the company is going to give us -- they can keep that shit in the UK.

Heck, this figure even makes me kind of angry at (some) American Whofans. Weeks before I actually made it to TRU to pick the figure up, folks were intensely clamoring for it on the Who North America forums -- apparently it's only showing up at a relatively small selection of TRU stores, so several people on the boards were buying the figures from their local TRUs to sell to people in areas that didn't get them. Even the retailer got in on the action, buying figures from forumgoers and offering them for sale in the webstore, largely so that international fans would have the opportunity to get them. And while this is all arguably noble (there was a bit of a hubbub about raised prices, but I'm not getting into that), I'm pretty upset that, out of all of these people who ended up with the figure before I did, nobody saw fit to point out how much it bloody sucked. These neck creases are entirely noticeable, and these are the kinds of people who -- like me -- would be fairly upset about far less prominent errors. Yet nobody mentioned that, and there were even one or two people praising the way CO slightly modified the sculpt in order to make the sixth Doctor look slightly portlier than the fifth... which the company most certainly did not do. Of course, I'm not seriously angry with any of these people -- so don't go getting all offended, Whofans! -- but there has got to be a subcircle in Hell reserved for everyone who praised this figure and actively helped other people to obtain it. I would probably sell someone mine just to get it the flip away from me, but outside of that context I'd sooner help people contract the Movellan virus than get this toy. At least then they'd get to spray shaving cream all over the place... and doesn't that sound like fun? :P

-- Wes --

HEY! GOT SOMETHING TO ADD? LEAVE A COMMENT IN THE BLOG!
Return to the main page!
Copyright © 2003-2018 Scary-Crayon. All rights reserved.