The B&M Exclusive Doctor Who 3-packs were established in late 2015 and have been released annually every since. These were predominantly repaints or tweaks at first, but in 2019 we saw Character bring us a brand new head sculpt for Harry Sullivan, and in 2020 this principle was used for new figures of Sarah Jane Smith, Romana I and Romana II. With new head sculpts in place for these three classic female companions, a second batch of sets were released in Winter 2020 re-using the head sculpts to bring us the companions in adjusted outfits.
The three figure set packaging remains consistent with the silver and blue base colours and the TARDIS illustrations. The front of the box sees the three figures displayed in a window. With three figures of a smaller stature, the issue around the right hand panel obscuring the end figure does not present itself within this set. Under the window is a blue bar confirming the name of the set, and above this in a red segment is confirmation the set is in the 5.5 inch collectors scale. There are no character names included on the box front.
The left side panel uses the TARDIS artwork while the right sees the wrap round of the window against a plain blue rail topped with a circular panel that now confirms the set contents with the wording "INCLUDES SARAH JANE SMITH, ROMANA I & ROMANA II".
On the back of the box we have a repeat of the TARDIS illustration, the Doctor Who logo and another confirmation of the set name. Under this are images of each figure and a name plate for each character - but no confirmation of the classic story on which the character is based, this is confirmed solely in the original press release text. The roundel from the side is also reprinted on the back containing the same "INCLUDES..." information, which seems odd and repetitive considering the named images on the rear of the box? Unlike the Dalek or TARDIS sets, there is no background text on the back of the 3-packs - going from feast on the aforementioned sets to famine. And its a shame that with all the space available on the box reverse a story or character synopsis couldn't be written and included.
The set is accessed via the top flap. All three figures are sat in a plastic tray, and the tray in a cardboard backing tray that carries a grey parallel line design. Each figure is strapped into the tray by means of plastic ties around the waist, arms and legs. These can rub paint if you do try and ease the figures out - so best to cut these first from behind.
We start with Sarah Jane who is based on her appearance in The Monster of Peladon from 1974. The head sculpt is recognisable as Elizabeth Sladen, with neatly painted eyes, eye brows and lips. The hair is well shaped, but is a touch too long and the wrong style for the Peladon story.
The costume starts with a brown jacket that is fastened. In the episode this is a short cut jacket that she wears open with a sweater underneath - so it is not 100% accurate. The trousers are plain brown and tucked into a pair of knee high boots. Again, the cut of the clothing is not a dead on match. While Sarah wore knee high boots in the story, the trousers were baggier. The outfit is cast in base colour with some paint apps on the jacket to give it a worn leather look around the edges.
The inaccuracies of the outfit are down to the re-use of an existing figure to create the body - or rather the use of two existing figures. The top section and arms are from the Martha Jones combat fatigues outfit, while the legs are from the Sarah Jane Adventures line.
Legs aside, this is the same as the August 2020 Sarah Jane from Revenge of the Cyberman, including the head and hair. The skin tone painting on this one is a little paler, and the lips a darker shade.
Romana I is based on the Power of Kroll story from The Key to Time Season. This features a red tunic with black belt, a plain black shirt underneath and black trousers with knee high boots. The costume is very accurate to the episode.
The head-sculpt is another base likeness to Mary Tamm with painted eyes, eyebrows and lips.
This new version of Romana I uses the same head-sculpt as the Summer 2020 version. The hair piece is similar, but not identical and looks to have been tweaked around the top parting and it no longer sits so high on the forehead. The new version is a more natural skin tone and with a red lipstick shade applied to the lips.
Aside from the head, the new Romana shares no parts with its earlier counterpart. This Romana figure uses the torso and booted legs from a Sarah Jane Adventures figure - the one without the jackets that came with the child Slitheen. It seems Character have sculpted a new "overcoat" to create the new tunic which is new to the line.
The final figure is Romana II from The Horns of Nimon. Like the previous two figures, the likeness to Lalla Ward is basic but recognisable, with painted eyes and eyebrows and red lipstick.
She is wearing a red jacket, as seen in the episode, although the cut of the coat is not quite long enough and is flared out at the bottom while the one in the episode hangs much flatter to the body.
The shirt under the coat is coloured in a very soft pink, with a painted design to try and replicate the shirt Romana is wearing - it doesn't quite pull it off but is a nicer finish than leaving it plain although its a shame the rounded cut of the original torso shirt is still visible. Romana's waistcoat is also in place and painted and yet is not visible due to the coat design.
I was impressed that the hands were painted in red to replicate the gloves Romana wears through the story. The trousers are beige, very much in keeping with the riding trousers she is wearing in the Horns of Nimon, and with knee high brown boots.
The entire figure is re-used from the Summer 2020 Romana II release, having just been repainted for the Horns of Nimon outfit. The only absence is the scarf which was part of the Destiny of the Daleks costume, but not worn in The Horns of Nimon. The only issue with this is that the original figure had a gap left where the hair met the shoulders to seat the scarf underneath. Without the scarf the hair does present a gap all the way round.
There are zero accessories including in the set. This is in line with most B&M sets.
All three Companions have the same articulation, 14 points in total. This is of course consistent with the line as a whole and fully as expected considering all three figures use bodies previously used in this or similar lines.
Head : rotating neck plug
Body : rotating waist
Arms : rotating shoulder joint, bicep swivel, single pin elbow, rotating wrist
Legs : T-Joint hip, thigh swivel, single pin knee
None of the figure are overly expressive. The arms are quite mobile, but engaging the bicep swivel will throw the look of the arm and the bicep joint does have a tendency to begin to pop out of the upper arm joint when rotated on all three figures. With no ability to extend the shoulder away from the body, only rotating round, simple gestures are probably the order of the day.
The legs have more scope thanks to the T-Joint hip which can swing the leg out in front or to the side. This allows for wider stance posing, or some level of bend in the knees. There is a drawback though with the feet as there is no ankle joint to keep the feet flat to the floor as the other leg joints are moved. That leaves all leg posing in the hands of the figure to balance on the turned foot.
This new set probably came far too soon after the original set and while the first set was well received, this do-over could probably have done with waiting until 2021 for release - although I appreciate there would have been factory synergy costs with the figure moulds already in place for the figure parts.
While Romana I was the weakest figure in the first set, she is the star of this release and demonstrates that Character will develop new parts if required to complete a look if suitable parts are not in the range already.
Sarah Jane provides a fantastic addition to sit with the 3rd Doctor who has been restricted to Jo Grant as his sole companion released to date. Romana II provides another option for display with the multiple Tom Baker 4th Doctors.
Articulation is standard and the figures are sensitive to the wider line as a whole and look no different to figures released at the start of the line. I would like to see the packaging get some builds - particularly giving us some concept of story and year each character is based on and some brief background text.
I score the Winter 2020 B&M Exclusive Set - Companions of the Third & Fourth Doctor - a total score of 3.5
About Me : As a child of the 70's and 80's I grew up in a golden age for action figures and in my youth bought and sold myself through collections of Star Wars, G.I. Joe (Action Force) and M.A.S.K. while also dabbling in He-Man, Transformers and Ghostbusters. Roll forward and I am now reliving that Youth with the action figures of today and am a collector and fan of the larger 6-8 inch figures from my favourite movie and TV licences - including the ones mentioned above, but also the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Doctor Who and the Aliens. I launched The Mephitsu Archives in 2015 with a view of creating a UK focused site or these figures where fans can pick up the latest action figure news, read reviews and get information on where to buy their figures and what is currently on store shelves. I hope I am delivering that to you guys...
action figures, reviews, review, articulation, doctor who, dr who, companions, sarah jane, romana, fourth doctor, third doctor, B&M, exclusive