Welcome to our review of the 2019 release of the 4th Doctor and TARDIS set from Character Options 5.5 inch Doctor Who line. The set, featuring a Regenerated 4th Doctor from his first story Robot, is exclusive to B&M stores in the UK. It also launches a brand new packaging design for the classic Doctor Who figures.
The 4th Doctor and TARDIS set see's the launch of a brand new packaging design for the 5.5 inch Doctor Who line. The design is based on the new series logo, although the fiery gold colour has been changed to a white. The box has a blue base overall, but with cut out panels in grey - almost silver - depicting the TARDIS.
The figure and TARDIS are viewable via a large window that wraps the front and left hand side of the box, under this sits the name of the set "THE FOURTH DOCTOR REGENERATED AND TARDIS" and with the subtitle "COLLECTORS FIGURE SET".
Colour is added with a yellow stripe running round the window and extending round the side of the box along with a red flash that confirms the contents of the set again which seems unnecessary, this red box contains almost identical text to the main label but does confirm the story on which the set is based "INCLUDES: FOURTH DOCTOR - REGENERATED FROM ROBOT (1974)"
In case we've forgotton we get a number on circular inserts around the box that confirms this as a 5.5 inch scale collectors figure.
Look a little closer and one of the nicest elements of the box is a Gallifreyan script that wraps the box front and back in a small band just under the main Doctor Who Logo.
The figure and TARDIS are pictured on the right side of the box, and again on the reverse. Next to the image on the box reverse is a large piece of text which oddly talks extensively about the TARDIS but makes no real reference to The Doctor or indeed the story, Robot, on which this set is based.
"The TARDIS can travel to any point in all of space and time and is bigger on the inside than the outside due to trans-dimensional engineering - a key Time Lord discovery. It has a library, a swimming pool, a large boot room, an enormous changer jammed with clothes and many more nooks, crannies and secrets just waiting to be discovered.
Just like the Doctor, the TARDIS tends to stand out a bit. Its exterior should change to blend in with its surroundings, conforming to a new environment within a moment of arriving there, but this handy facility was lost years ago when its chameleon circuit developed a fault. Since then, except for a brief period of somewhat random metamorphoses, the TARDIS has retained the outer appearance of a British police box. There's a sneaking suspicion that the Doctor could fix the fault if he wanted to, but he chooses not to tinker because he likes the way the 'old girl' looks.
The TARDIS is sturdier than it appears and has survived missile attacks, extreme temperatures, gunfire, alien onslaughts and even the assembled hordes of Genghis Khan couldn't get through its doors - and they've tried. So, this ship, ancient and remarkable, endures as an icon of hope and remains harder to defeat than many would first imagine... just like the Doctor."
The base of the box includes some instructions for the set, essentially how to open the door on the TARDIS. The only mention of this being a non-electronic TARDIS sits alongside these instructions.
The box opens via the top or bottom flap and the entire inner tray slides out. The Doctor is taped into place in an inner tray and the TARDIS is screwed into the base by means of two screws accessed from underneath.
The interior of the box is meant to be a selling feature, replicating the UNIT office the Doctor uses. This is really nicely designed and yet is really difficult to extract without damage due to the excess tape.
Once freed it is not the nicest of diorama displays and is pretty poorly finished with plain cardboard down the sides. The inner pieces are beautiful, particularly the notice board with a poster for Weng Chiang and diagnostic images of the TARDIS console. However, the set will need work if you want to use this as a display.
The Doctor is strapped into the figure tray by way of three elasticated clear straps. These are best snipped as they have a habit of damaging paint if you try and slide the figure round them.
The TARDIS has the same clear strapping used on the previous 3rd Doctor TARDIS. It wraps the TARDIS and fastens at the back. It takes some patience to remove as the strap slides behind the opening doors to protect them in transit, but is really hard to remove without some level of force - so be careful you don't damage the doors.
Paint & Sculpt (The Doctor) 4/5
The Doctor is a standard 5.5 inch figure and is dressed in the 3rd Doctor's outfit from Planet of the Spiders. The ruffled shirt is a light blue, with some grey highlights to add some definition. The coat is black with grey trim and with the blue shirt cuffs popping out at the ends of the sleeves. The trousers are grey and the figure finishes with black gloss shoes.
The head sculpt is clearly Tom Baker as seen in 1974 and is well painted with bright blue eyes, thin pink lips and a surprised expression with raised eyebrows. The skin tone is one colour but is natural and there is enough definition in the sculpt to create light and shadow.
The hair is really well executed with loads of sculpted depth. It is then painted brown with some washes and highlights. The only element that doesn't look quite right are the sideburns which are a very different colour. If you look at the Regeneration scene you can see Tom does have almost ginger sideburns, but they aren't this pronounced and could have done with being toned back a little on the figure.
This is not a new 4th Doctor figure, it was originally released in 2013 as part of the 50th Anniversary celebration in a DVD/Art/Figure pack called The Time Capsule. The figure would then go on to be released in the US on a single card.
While I don't have the US version, comparing this to the Time Capsule release and you can see this has a much nicer face paint job and better painted trim around the jacket. The trousers are a touch lighter grey too.
Paint & Sculpt (The TARDIS) 3/5
The TARDIS is the same one used in the 3rd Doctor box set from 2018 with an updated colour scheme. The blue is sharper and the sign above the doors and windows is grey with black text. The blue is not a flat colour and there are elements of weathering round the box.
The door sign is now fully black with white text, and is well defined and easy to read considering the scale. Windows are grey and the lamp on the roof is the same blue as the main box.
This is of course a re-used shell from the older electronic TARDIS sets. That means you can still see the speaker holes on the back and the battery compartment. I suspect anyone not up to speed fully with these releases, and who misses the very small "non electronic" text on the box may be disappointed and I wonder if B&M will get any of these back as "faulty".
The doors work on the same basis as always, with the right having to be pushed back until it clicks and then the same with the right. The interior of the box has no decor and all you can see inside is the inner gubbins of the box and again the battery compartment.
There is the same release button in the floor of the open TARDIS to help you close the doors. In a reverse of opening them you pull the left door closed first, then press the button to unclip the other door which then springs closed.
The Doctor figure does stand inside the TARDIS, but only just. Tom is tall, but he would normally see his head reach the top of the windows on the door, not nearly to the roof. I guess in the move to a 5.5 inch scale after 2012 the TARDIS - which was made for the original 5 inch scale - now looks a touch undersized. This is more evident if you compare this Tom Baker with an early 4th Doctor, with this newer version standing taller.
There are no accessories included with the set, this is consistent with all the other B&M releases to date. Interestingly the right hand for the Doctor remains the one used in the original release, so is shaped to hold a sonic screwdriver - even though one is not included.
The Doctor has the standard Character Doctor Who range of articulation, 16 points in total but quite dated in terms of the joints used.
The head is jointed at the neck where it plugs into the torso so will only rotate. The shoulders are also a plugged joint and will rotate only and can't be extended out from the body - a joint that other figures have been given in some of the newer scults. There is an ugly bicep cut down from the shoulder to allow arm rotation. As the arm is sculpted quite flat any turn on this ruins the look and flow of the arm to the point it looks really odd. Elbows are a single pegged through joint with visible sockets on both sides of the arm. The wrists are plugged and can rotate.
There is a waist joint under the coat which can be rotated. Under this sits a T-Joint hip allowing the legs to swing out to front and side. Beneath this is a thigh split, this is not as severe looking as the bicep and is needed to help turn the feet out for some poses due to the lack of any ankle joints or rockers. The final joint for the legs is the knees, these are the same pegged joint as the elbows with visible pegs.
So while there are quite a few joints, posing options are pretty limited and in the main the Doctor - like most of the range - will be kept and displayed in a neutral stance.
This new B&M set will set you back £19.99 and that means the set is pretty good value for money even without any electronic features for the TARDIS. Yes this is nothing new, just repaints and re-uses but it does give the line a continued lease of life with B&M's support and therefore as a collector I am grateful for what we get.
The figure is an improvement on the Time Capsule set and has no worse articulation than any other release from the past 13 years or so. The TARDIS is nicely coloured and weathered and is different enough for display to warrant the purchase.
What does not work is the diorama insert which is beautifully designed but impractical to use once the box is unpacked. If you are going to offer a diorama back then for me it should work straight out of the box - not be taped up all over the place and easily damaged as the figures are removed.
I think the Character / B&M team have also missed a trick by not adding a cardboard TARDIS console room insert, something that would have set the TARDIS above the other classic TARDIS releases for relatively low cost.
I score the B&M Regenerated 4th Doctor and TARDIS an above average 3/5