Wednesday, 29 January 2014

DAPOL and the Doctor

Character Options have recently changed the size of the main Doctor Who action figures, and, though I have bought far fewer in recent years, it is still a shame as I have little interest in the newer smaller figures.  The 5" range were generally of high quality and improved over time.  There were a few misses and odd choices, such as the 'old woman' figure or 'dead Cassandra' (that being the empty metal frame with no skin).  Now it seems that Forbidden Planet have the exclusive on the War Doctor and hopefully they will be able to offer Capaldi's Doctor, as every other Doctor has a 5" figure.  Forbidden Planet have exclusivity on most of the old series figures, which is where my interest in the future of the line lies.

I think the drawbacks to these new 3¾ inch figures are both in quality and their incompatibility with the rest of the range.  It seems an odd decision to change the range now, is it a way to save on costs?  The figures are much smaller than the 5" range but not much cheaper.  They really suffer on the detail though, the faces of human characters especially and they don't seem as robust.  The best one I think is the dalek, which had I owned 20 years ago would have been exterminating my GiJoe and Star Wars figures.

At least they're compatible with the Dapol range.

Dapol.  A range of toys notorious in fandom for being terrible.  Dapol is a decent model company that produces some nice kits and trains for model railways, but for some odd reason they produced Dr Who figures in the late '80s and well into the '90s by which time it could only have been fandom buying.  Initially they focused on current Who, producing the 7th Doctor, Mel, Ace, a Tetrap and Daleks in various colours.  Later they produced the 4th Doctor, Ice Warrior and K9. From what I recall there was quite a lag before they started making lots of things like Time Lords, Sontarans and Silurians, etc, into the late '90s.

Well that sounds grand, except they were almost all shocking.  It's a bit hard to be sure who the target market was.  Were they intended as children's toys?  I had several when I was young but they all broke in various ways as they were fragile and the plastic brittle in comparison in most toys that I owned that survived; GiJoe and Star Wars.  Assume they were for collectors then, as only adults were buying them after 1990.  They were certainly priced as such from what I recall.

The 7th Doctor, Mel and Ace were ok but quality seemed a bit poor.  The Tetrap had awkward joints in the arms and the wings were a piece of leather you had to attach yourself somehow.  The Ice Warrior and Cyberman were both ok if a little tall and thin.  I had several cybermen.  The Daleks were good, the proportions typically inaccurate but they are probably the most pleasing of the Dapol range.  The Police Box is also pretty good, it's a nice size and shape and well made.  It opens up to form the tardis interior and has a flashing lamp on top.  Overall a nice object.

Then there are the complete misses in the range.  The Davros would be fine if he didn't have two arms!  Later figures would have the hand removed but the range was mocked long after for this mistake (as err... I am now).  Some cheeky eBayers describe the two armed variant as 'rare', it isn't, they were bloody everywhere.  The K9 was initially released in green, apparently because the photo they had was taken with K9 reflecting the grass he was sitting on.  In some sets the Police Box was released with a console for the interior, made with five sides.  The 4th Doctor figure bares vague resemblance to Tom Baker but has neither a hat or a scarf.  The oft repeated excuse is that there was a lack of reference material, but how could people be so clueless as to make a console with five sides and K9 green?  It seems odd to make a range of figures for a TV show and then seemingly know nothing about it.

Later years they would release Silurians and a Sea Devil, which are competent and about the same standard as the Ice Warrior. A Delgado style Master was done which I really liked at the time.  The Sontarans are too tall and thin like some figures before them.  And there was a Melkur, which looks good but was a very odd choice for a figure.  I'm only forgetting the 3rd Doctor figure, which I've saved for last because it's excruciatingly awful.  One of the last released I think, it's far taller than any other figure, has a strange posture and looks barely human.

This is why our minds were blown when Character Options released the 5" figures in 2005.

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