Having produced about as many different variations of Jon Pertwee in plastic as possible, Character Options spent much of 2011 producing numerous classic Doctor Who sets with variations on Tom Baker instead, with an unusual focus on the actor’s first season as the fourth Doctor.
Having already produced a collect-and-build figure of the enormous K-1 robot from Robot, Character skipped over Ark In Space and picked up the season 12 story with The Sontaran Experiment, issuing an unusual two figure set with a fairly large vehicle – the first non-TARDIS vehicle in the Character Doctor Who range since the Satan Pit lift (which wasn’t exactly a best-seller).
The fourth Doctor is the long-coated variety, with no hat and the familiar scarf; unlike previous fourth Doctor figures, this one has no swappable extra head included.
The real draw of the Sontaran Experiment set, though, is the first figure of an original series Sontaran. Field Major Styre is represented very well, from the character’s cushiony black suit of armor to his famous face – he’s probably the second most famous representation of the Sontaran race in the original show – complete with Styre’s habit of never quite keeping his tongue in his mouth. The somewhat amusing, cheap-BBC-prop gun carried by Styre is included too, along with the pre-requisite Sontaran helmet.
Taking up most of the space in the set is Styre’s spherical ship, with the diamond-plated texture typical of Sontaran ships (in both the original series and the new series), and offering the toymakers a chance to get a little creative by having to invent the ship’s engine section out of whole cloth. (I’d always assumed that the whole thing was just a sphere, and it had been shown to be a perfect sphere anytime the ship was shown on TV, but let’s face it: it’s hard to keep a perfectly spherical spaceship from rolling off of the toy shelf.)
The ship’s door open, revealing the pilot seat inside, but it’s a bit of a misnomer: Styre can’t actually sit in it, nor can he really go inside the ship. The “interior” isn’t deep enough to accomodate the figure at all – a bit of a disappointment when Styre’s return to his ship to “recharge” is such a key plot point in the story in question. The Sontaran ship is made out of a soft, pliable material – a good drop off the toy shelf might result in some unintentional “battle damage” – and it’s almost squishy, so an actual hollow interior was probably off the table.
Character has since issued the ship again, except in a Time Warrior set (the first Sontaran episode in the series’ history) with the third Doctor and Sontaran warrior Linx. Given that most collectors probably have an abundance of plastic Pertwees and Bakers on their shelves at this point, maybe it would’ve been a neat idea to pack Styre and his ship with Linx instead of the Doctor. As desirable as Linx is, only completists – with bigger toy budgets than this reviewer – will be in a position to spend upward of $50 just to add another Sontaran (and his kickball-sized ship) to their collections.