Sunday, January 13, 2013

Review: Doctor Who Character Building Series 3!

I recently reviewed the Titans, Doctor Who's foray into the 3 inch designer vinyl market, so why not now look at the third series of Doctor Who Character Building, the closest you'll probably ever get to Doctor Who Lego. Once again these are blind packaged minifigures so you're never really going to know what you're going to get. Except for perhaps the Tardis. Those things are bulky.

What did I get from this nightmare smorgasbord of tiny mannequin faces? Find out... after the jump!

But first let's look at the line up. There's 12 unique figures in all, with varying rarities. The ones with green bricks under them are the most common, the yellow bricks are uncommon, and the red are rare. Or at least so I believe... I did wind up with a double of the one red ones below as you'll soon see...

I'm always most lured by the unique human characters such as River and Rory here, but I never seem to  pull them from a pack. And I'm a big Amy fan (much to the chagrin of fellow Fruitless Pursuer, Jacinta)  so although I have both her regular and police uniform versions from previous series, I was hoping to get the pictured "tally faced" version from the episode Day of the Moon. Didn't happen this time, but I still got some interesting stuff.

But first a quick, obligatory disclaimer... I really am a casual Doctor Who fan. I've seen all of the episodes referenced by these figures but I lack the encyclopaedic knowledge that I have of something like Star Wars. I don't know all the names or episode names off the top of my head. So forgive me if I get a detail wrong, and I'll promise to forgive you when you call Ponda Baba "Bumface".

It makes sense that first out of the bag is the Eleventh Doctor, pictured here with his massive, affable head. It's just like a loaf of bread!

There's been plenty of Doctors in the past, but this is the first wearing his long green coat from Let's Kill Hitler and beyond. And, as you would expect, he has his sonic screwdriver as an accessory.

They're certainly not up to par with Lego in terms of design or materials used, but I do like the comparatively detailed head sculpts - especially once we get into the alien figures - and it should be reflected that these are much cheaper to purchase than the Lego figures too. They're more aesthetically pleasing than the tiny legged Mega Bloks figures at least.

Each one comes with a blue stand shaped like the DW Tardis logo. The figures peg in so they are super sturdy for display. I received two Doctors in the batch I bought so expect him to show up a lot. 

Now how about some opposition? Starting with the Ood. 

This is the only non helmeted alien character in the wave and I think it's a really solid choice. He's appropriately gross (he looks like he's vomiting moist hotdogs) and I like that he's got an accessory, as simple as it is.

All the humanoid characters are strangely broad shouldered though. Come on guys, this isn't Masters of the Universe! You think Matt Smith or this Ood guy oil up and work out?

Next is the handbot from The Girl Who Waited. How's this for a detailed headsculpt?

Not that I think they are cutting corners. It has a unique shoulder piece that slides over the neck as well as a unique hand sculpt for administering "kindness". And halting traffic. And high/low/side fives. This one is perhaps a little niche, but if you get bored you can draw a face on him. Send me an image if you do.

From one marginally exciting character to another...

This Sontaran soldier would be a billion times better if his helmet was off and we could see his baggy alien face. I guess perhaps this is foreshadowing a future wave where'll they'll simply use the same body but add the head instead of the helmet. I guess this guy is fine if you wanted to amass a grand army but he's kind of lost on me. I didn't receive the Judoon trooper but you'll know from the insert sheet that they've done the same thing there, choosing the helmet over the exposed rhino head.

He does have a gun though, and I don't think previous waves had a great deal of accessories. The only issue is that the design of his hand/arm mean that he has to hold in on an angle like a gangster. Actually, that's not an issue at all. It's pretty awesome. Not that he could successfully target anything in that helmet. It makes Stormtrooper armour look breezy. I shudder to think what it smells like in there.

Meanwhile, Cybermen are a perennial favourite and here's the Cyber Controller...

He's similart to the regular troops but has the exposed brain/target.

And here's a comparison between him and the series 2 drone. His head is noticeably narrower which, to me, makes him look like a bit of a sissy baby by comparison...

And finally here's the rare I doubled up on. My favourite of all the adversaries in this wave, the Vashta Nerada. Or skeleton in a spacesuit.

Now there's an episode that was especially memorable, even for me, so I'm pretty thrilled to get this creepy bastard in minifigure form. Actually, from the close up pictures it kind of looks like his skull glows in the dark, but sadly it doesn't. Would have been a nice touch though. Even if just for a rare chase.


All in all I'd say that this is a solid enough wave, but that I didn't too well with my haul. River, Rory, Amy and Madam Kovarian (I like eye patches) are really the standouts/anchors for me but I did not see a hair of them. And the sad truth is that you probably won't either, unless you by a ton of them. That said, prices are not especially high on ebay so if you keep your eyes peeled you may be in luck.

One final thought though... I love minifigures of all descriptions and especially like it when they're blind-packaged but I have no idea how to display them. I have most of the series of Lego minifigs for example, and will probably keep on being compelled to buy them, but what the hell do you do with them? If I walked into a room and say 100 minifigures on a shelf I would probably back out quietly. There must be an elegant storage/display solution that is clever, attractive, and doesn't make you look like a jerk. I'd love to hear any suggestions!

In the meantime, you can pre-order individual blind-packages from our friends at Big Bad Toy Store here. Or if you're super enthusiastic you can pick up a full case of 36!


  1. Nice write-up! I've only ever had a couple of the Doctor Who minifigures (given to me by a friend - I've never seen them for sale here) so it's good to see more here.

    As for storage/displaying them, it might be expensive but what about buying those clear plastic card cases (the sort you keep baseball or Magic: The Gathering cards in) and creating some kind of stacked display, with a figure per box?

    1. One thing I have done in the past with the Lego figures is getting one of those square, small, but quite deep IKEA picture frames and put a couple of foam core shelves inside. Then you can have a few rows of about six minifigs and it looks pretty classy in a frame. But we don't have a lot of hooks, and once again, one frame looks good - ten of them would look pretty creepy!

  2. My kids each got one of these in their stockings -- one Doctor, one Dalek. Totally by luck!

    They play with them... so no storage suggestions,I think they keep them in the lego bin.

  3. These are, as the 9th Doctor would say...FANTASTIC!