The first item released in Character Option’s lineup of Doctor Who action figures during the show’s first season back on the air in 2005, the RC Dalek Battle Pack consisted of two Daleks, their respective color-coded radio controllers, and an action figure of either the ninth Doctor or Rose. (Though almost identical to the individually-released figures – the Doctor sports a burgundy-colored sweater, and both figures have a slightly less detailed paint job – these figures beat the individual carded figures to the stores by several months.) The Daleks are the real stars of this box set, and as much as I loved Dapol’s endless fleet of Dalek figures, the attention to detail on these Daleks puts them in a whole different league.
That said, there’s not a lot of action to be found on the Daleks themselves; out of the Battle Pack we acquired, one Dalek’s gun and sucker arm were stuck in place; the other’s were much easier to move. The Daleks’ heads don’t move, but their eyestalks can be re-aimed – anywhere between looking straight up or straight ahead. In theory, however, they move plenty by themselves. First, each Dalek and each remote control must be loaded with three AAA batteries each – that’s right, you’ve got to have a dozen AAA batteries to even get started here.
Now, again, in theory, each Dalek can be driven more or less like a little tank with the dual joystick controls. Pressing the button at the center of the remote control, of course, gets you an “Exterminate!” followed by the sound of the Dalek’s gun. But that’s not all! If the Daleks are facing each other, the clear portion of their “grill” contains infrared sensors to register whether or not they’ve been “hit.” The Dalek’s “head lights,” rather than syncing up with their speech, flashes the number of hits each Dalek has taken. (If you’re relatively new to Doctor Who and can’t imagine why Daleks would be shooting at each other…uh…just watch the Dalek stories on DVD from the 1980s, those’ll explain everything. The third action figure in each set doesn’t actually have any bearing on the infrared side of things, but you can knock them over…) At the fourth hit, the Dalek lets out what would best be described as an ungodly screech, and the game, such as it is, is over.
The challenge isn’t just drawing a bead on your buddy who’s controlling the other Dalek. Well, actually, that is the challenge, because like fingerprints, no two Daleks seem to operate quite the same. There was a huge difference in the ease of controlling the two Daleks in our box set; the gold Dalek had pretty good maneuverability, while the black Dalek had…issues. (It didn’t just have movement/control response issues, either – one of its “hit lights” wasn’t working.) When I could get the black Dalek to respond to its RC, it could turn on a dime. Both of them had difficulty with the relatively smooth surface of my kitchen floor tiles (see our video feature for a demonstration of this) – even a very slight bit of grout between the tiles either stopped a Dalek dead in its tracks, or “redirected” it in the most interesting ways.
They look great standing still, but the RC Daleks need to go back to the lab on Skaro (or Character Options, whichever happens to be closer). Reportedly, however, Character Options has re-released the Dalek Battle Pack in 2006, identifiable by a new third action figure (either David Tennant’s Doctor or a Cyberman); whether or not they worked out some of those bugs in the meantime is something we have yet to determine first-hand.
Side-by-side comparison of Character Options and Dapol Daleks.