Released shortly after the climactic two-part finale of the new series’ fourth season, the Doctor Who Stolen Earth set is the action figure debut – at least in the new scale used by Character Options – of a major villain with a classic series pedigree. Originally intended to be an exclusive to this set (a decision quickly reversed in the face of what was expected to be a grim 2008 Christmas toy-buying season), Davros is the evil genius behind the Daleks’ creation. Horrifyingly disfigured in an incident never chronicled on screen (but dramatized in the I, Davros audio series), the lower half of Davros’ body is paralyzed, forcing him to rely on a mobile life support unit – the inspiration for the means of the Daleks’ movement.
Released once already in action figure form by Dapol, this Davros earns the description “screen accurate” – the sculpt is disturbingly detailed, really capturing the character’s disfigured face. His one useful arm terminates in a robotic hand (the new series taking into account the original series continuity that Davros’ remaining organic hand was blasted off in the 1985 story Revelation Of The Daleks). Ironically, the robotic hand was predicted with startling accuracy in the cover art of the 2004 Big Finish audio story The Juggernauts – either that or the new series was paying a surprising homage to the audio stories, which are still stuck in a bit of a canonical limbo where the BBC and fandom are concerned. Davros’ one arm is articulated fully, including bicep and wrist swivels; while it looks like the remnants of the other arm are articulated, they’re not. And at least, unlike the first release of the Dapol figure in the early 1990s, Davros only has one arm. The detailing comes to an abrupt end inside his Dalek “wheelchair”, but it’s at a depth where you have to be looking at the figure from directly overhead to find a disappointing lack of detail – and in any case, the character has never been depicted from that angle before, so I’m not sure what anyone would expect to see.
Even the control panel of Davros’ chair is meticulously detailed, from the fine detail of the switches and controls to the transparent trackball-esque control that was added as of The Stolen Earth. His arm is jointed well enough to be posed as if he can reach most of these controls and yet look completely natural. To be honest, this is one of the high points of the new series toy range, which has repeatedly set high water marks for itself – it would have to be an extremely nitpicky fan to find fault with this figure. One place where some may count points off, however, is the back of Davros’ chair. The cage-like backrest is molded in a relatively soft plastic, and may require a bit of gentle coaxing to ensure that it looks straight.
The Dalek Supreme, with its deep maroon coat of paint and bizarre set of completely unexplained external “clamps,” is an entity unique to the new series; while the original series occasionally showed a Dalek Supreme, it either had a slightly different paint job or, in one case, was a repaint of one of the taller Dalek casings from the 1960s Peter Cushing Doctor Who films (see our review of Dalek Collector’s Set #1). This Dalek Supreme is clearly a whole different animal from the rest of its kind, and the details are extremely accurate on the figure. Why the clamps are there, we still have no idea – is this some kind of Darth Vader Dalek that gets to “meditate” outside of its casing from time to time? Or does it just look really cool? (That’s my guess. Dalek pinstripes.) Between the clamps and the third “ear” light, the new series Dalek Supreme breaks or bends many previously-hard-and-fast rules of Dalek decor – and it’s a neat figure to boot. This figure is also available on its own, as well as in talking radio controlled versions in both the 5″ and 12″ scales (not seen here).
Aside from yet another slight revision of the coatless Tenth Doctor figure, the other new figure in this set is the “Crucible Dalek” – a variation on the standard new series’ gold Dalek casing with an egg-whisk-like claw arm instead of the traditional sink plunger. However, this doesn’t mean that this was a simple east refit of an existing action figure mold; Character Options introduced a brand new Dalek body mold with this figure, correcting some very minor inaccuracies in the previous mold. Now, I’m a big fan of Daleks and perhaps an even bigger fan of Dalek toys, and I never found fault with Character’s existing Dalek figures, but apparently this new “likeness” offers more correctly spaced and angled “hemispheres” on the lower half of the figure, as well as correcting very minor inaccuracies in the spacing of the vertical slats on the Dalek’s midsection. I’m sure it’s impressive enough to please the diehards (what, that doesn’t mean me?), but I honestly wouldn’t have known this was a new mold if much hadn’t been made of this fact in advance.
One problem I do have with both of these new Dalek figures, however, is something that first cropped up in Characters’ recent three-pack of classic series Daleks (see our review of Dalek Collector’s Set #1): the arms have very limited movement, and are prone to being stuck fast in whatever position they were shipped. I greatly dislike the new style of arm joints on the Dalek figures, and didn’t expect to find it carried over to the new series Daleks, whose previous arm joint design was as close to flawless as you could get. I would complain about the umpteenth iteration of David Tennant’s Doctor in the set – surely every kid in Britain has about half a dozen variations on the tenth Doctor by now, since he seems to be included in nearly every boxed figure set released to date – but I’m sure there are solid marketing reasons to back up his inclusion. I would’ve been much happier to see an action figure of Wilfred Mott or even fallen former Prime Minister Harriet Jones included, or even Jackie Tyler as seen in the second half of the story, Journey’s End: none of these much-loved characters have been immortalized in plastic, and if Wilfred didn’t justify action figure status by shooting a Dalek in the eye with his paintball gun in The Stolen Earth, then there’s simply no justice.