That’s not The Three Doctors, but rather the third Doctors. After displaying prototypes at the 2009 San Diego Comic Con, Character Options followed up that year’s Comic Con exclusive first and second Doctors with the Doctor’s third incarnation, as played by Jon Pertwee from 1970 through 1974. Setting a pattern that continues through the most recent limited-edition classic Doctor Who figures, U.K. distribution was exclusively handled by Forbidden Planet, with FP’s U.S. arm, Underground Toys, taking care of North American distribution. (And like the first and second Doctors, the Underground Toys logo appeared on all of the classic Who exclusives, alongside the logo of manufacturer Character Options.) The third Doctor had arrived in figure form again, and it wasn’t going to be cheap.
Again taking the lead of the first and second Doctor figures, each third Doctor was packaged with an enemy from his era, though in this case the enemies were new paint variations on existing figures. A Death To The Daleks two-pack included the third Doctor and a Dalek with the silver-and-black paint job that was never seen again beyond that 1974 story
A repainted Sea Devil (already released individually in the first wave of classic Doctor Who figures available at general retail) joined another version of the third Doctor for a Sea Devils two-pack.
At a later date, an original enemy was sculpted – although in inanimate form – for a Green Death pack featuring the Doctor and three giant mutant maggots (not a selling point for most action figures, sure, but this is Doctor Who!).
Clearly, some forethought had gone into how the third Doctor could be released in as many variants as possible. The figure’s details are, much like the Dalek figures, assembled in a modular manner from a limited variety of pieces. Two shirt pieces were designed for the third Doctor: one with a bow tie (as it turns out, even in the early ’70s, bow ties were cool) and one with a cravat; two different sets of legs were also made, one with boots and one with shoes. The Doctor’s signature smoking jacket was the same no matter which shirt or legs are used, with an optional cloak over that. The breakdown of which figures are wearing what can be found below.
- The Sea Devils: cravat, cloak and shoes
- The Carnival Of Monsters (Eleven Doctors box set): cravat, cloak and boots
- The Green Death: bow tie and shoes, no cloak
- Death To The Daleks: bow tie and boots, no cloak
Almost the only variation still possible would be to add the cloak to a version of the figure sporting a bow tie. (If there’s a villain figure specific to Pertwee’s era yet to be released, you can bet that Character will do this at a later date.) There may yet be another “shirt” piece we haven’t seen yet, as Pertwee spent many stories with neither kind of tie, simply going for an open-collared casual look. Again, don’t bet against Character coming up with further variants if they feel there’s a market for it. Each third Doctor set to date has weighed in at around the $40 mark; even though the Green Death set did away with the second figure and added three “maggots,” it retained the hefty price tag of the Sea Devils and Death To The Daleks sets.
The likeness to the late, great Jon Pertwee is a vast improvement over the smaller-scale third Doctor released around 1999/2000 by Dapol, though his hair is a kind of uniform grey. Pertwee’s hairstyle changed drastically from his earliest episodes (merely curly) to his last (an almost fright-wig-like bouffant), and the figure’s head – which is the same regardless of costume variations – seems to be trying to split the difference. There’s no mistaking the figure for any of the other Doctors, however.
On a personal note, I lean heavily toward the cloak/cravat figures – those, to me, typify the dashing, larger-than-life third Doctor more than his less flamboyant outfits. The cloak, however, is only semi-pliable, so for actual play, the “uncloaked” variations are probably preferable. Each one comes with a tiny version of the Doctor’s sonic screwdriver.
In the space of a little over twelve months – from the introduction of the first wave of classic Doctor Who figures to the appearance of the third Doctor in his various forms – Character Options went from only having the current series’ Doctors to making the first six classic series Doctors available. For fans who had previously complained of the lack of earlier Doctors, this was solid proof that the current toy licensee was at least going to try to bring all of the classic Doctors to our toy shelves.