The 5 inch Doctor Who line from Character Options now exists predominantly as B&M exclusive releases, with sets released each year using existing sculpts and figures with new paint jobs or part tweaks to create new characters or outfits. The TARDIS sets have been a staple of this exclusive line since 2018 and bring us a TARDIS and Doctor in a set based on a particular Doctor Who Story. For the 2nd batch of releases in 2020, B&M and Character brought us a 5th Doctor set based on the classic story, The Visitation.
This 5th Doctor and TARDIS set remains packaged in the blue and silver wrapped window box as established in 2019, and used on all the B&M releases since. The Doctor and TARDIS can be viewed through the large window that wraps most of the left hand spine. The window is trimmed in a thin yellow band with the modern Who logo at the top in silver and the sets name across the bottom rail. There is a red insert just above this name place quoting the set as "Exclusive" as opposed to the silver stickers we've seen on other sets in the B&M line. The circular insert top right confirms this as that 5.5 inch scale.
The right spine carries an image of the Doctor and TARDIS with a repeat of the Who logo, 5.5 inch circular info flash, the red exclusive flash and the sets full name.
All of this is repeated again on the back alongside a very lengthy piece of background text. Like the other TARDIS sets, and the Dalek sets, the text is overly extensive and covers the full plot of the story rather than providing a short synopsis or a taster.
"THE FIFTH DOCTOR & TARDIS FROM 'THE VISITATION' (1982)
written by Eric Saward
The Doctor attempts to take Tegan back to Heathrow Airport but the TARDIS arrives in the 17th Century instead of the 20th. The TARDIS is suffering from temperamental lateral balance cones and materialises three centuries too early. The time travellers find marauders in the woods they have landed in and at a local manor house, there are signs that anachronistic forces are at play. The TARDIS crew soon discovers that a space capsule has crash-landed nearby and that its alien occupants, three Terileptil prison escapees, intend to wipe out all indigenous life on Earth by releasing rats infected with an enhanced strain of the Black Death plague. The Terileptils are also using a sophisticated android to stalk the local area dressed as the personification of Death, striking terror into the local villagers. Aided by itinerant thespian Richard Mace, the Doctor tracks the Terileptils back to their main base in Pudding Lane, London. The creatures are ultimately destroyed when a fire breaks out and the Terileptil leader's weapon explodes - also setting off the Great Fire of London.
The Visitation was the fourth serial of Season 19 of Doctor Who. As an early Fifth Doctor story it featured an explanation for the Great Fire of London. The story also contained the final appearance of the classic version of the Sonic Screwdriver which would not appear again until BBC Wales revived the series in 2005. It was decided to destroy the Sonic Screwdriver because it felt it allowed the Doctor to get out of tricky situations too easily. It was Eric Saward's first contribution to the show and unlike most other cases where the script editor received credit for writing an individual serial, here the script submission came prior to Saward's ascension to the script editors office. It was essentially the script that landed him the job as script editor. It was also notable for its high ratings. It's one of the very few stories told in the serial format to improve its ratings with every episode with a rating of 10 million viewers or better."
I would question both the need for such an in-depth piece of text that both summarises the whole plot of The Visitation - leaving noting for new fans to go away and discover for themselves - and that goes into a lot of detail about the production of the story. The fact should also be checked, with the sonic screwdriver fact being incorrect as the 7th and 8th Doctor used the screwdriver in the TV movie. Sometimes, less is more....
To unpack the set the box is opened via the top flap and the inner contents can be slid out. You are presented with a cardboard backing, into which the Doctor sits, in a plastic tray, with the TARDIS to one site.
The TARDIS is both screwed in at the base and tied in with a cotton tie around the light. You have to unscrew the bar at the bottom then untie or cut the cotton to remove the TARDIS. Once the TARDIS is unpacked we find lengths of tape that stretch from the doors to the sides of the TARDIS. These are trying to keep the doors secure in transit, but are a pain to remove as the end of the tape is on the back of the TARDIS doors - not an easy space to get to.
The Doctor is sat in a clear tray that wraps around the back of the TARDIS and is also taped to the side of the insert and also via a tab at the base. He is held into place by a further twisty tie.
The 5th Doctor head sculpt has been around since the classic line launched and in terms of the standards of the Who line, the likeness to Peter Davison is there but the paint apps don't quite bring out the depth of the sculpt. Facial paint décor is limited only to the eyes and eyebrows and a thin line of pink on the lips.
The hat is glued into place and is a re-use from earlier in the line. It looks a little too large, but is painted well enough with the red band.
The Doctor is presented in his usual Cricket sweater with red trimmed coat and stick of celery on his lapel. All of which are painted very well, including the ? mark symbol on the collars. The trousers are striped and again this is well painted with no obvious errors.
The sculpt for this hatted Doctor dates from 2010 originally (two pack with The Master) and this new 2020 version uses the same colour pallet although there are some differences. The jumper on the new version is a brighter white but is missing the red painted buttons. The Doctors face painting is much better on the older version, with the new one lacking some definition.
The figure was also used in 2013 in the Dalek & Doctor packs at Toys R Us.
The TARDIS uses the Classic TARDIS design with the base and top aligned to be as close as the parts allow for the appearance of the TARDIS in The Visitation. The window panels are a duller grey and the POLICE BOX signs and the sign on the door are a deep blue, almost the same as the base colour of the TARDIS.
The original Classic TARDIS sets included sound and lights, and because this is the same base TARDIS you do get a blanked off battery panel on the back of the box and a speaker configuration. As I have said on previous reviews, this might cause confusion for more casual purchasers.
At this point it is also worth looking at the diorama backdrop that is included as part of the packaging. This is a recreation of the woods from Visitation with the Android lurking in the background. These pieces have a lot of potential, but are still designed as packaging so while they look great in the box - and as you can see in the following images - they will need significant work to be useable on display as the plinth and sides are still left in brown cardboard.
As is standard for most B&M sets, there are no accessories included in the set. Considering the points made on the packaging about the last appearance of the Sonic Screwdriver for some time, it might have been relevant to include that in the box.
The Doctor has the same basic 14 points of articulation as most of the Doctor Who line. This has remained consistent over the last 14 years with little variation and in a way it is good that Character are not deviating from this to allow the line to remain uniform - a release in 2020 looks perfectly contemporary to a release from 2006.
Head : neck post swivel
Body : waist post swivel
Arms : shoulder post swivel, bicep swivel, jointed elbow, peg wrist
Legs : T-Joint hips, thigh swivel, jointed knee
All the joints work fine across the figure. The arms are the most mobile with bends at the elbow and rotation at the bicep to aid some gesturing. The legs are a little trickier being hemmed in by the tails of the coat but do work for some wider stances. The Doctor suffers from a very loose set of hip joints - the worse I have experienced on a Who figure which can cause him to lean forward and overbalance.
The TARDIS articulation is purely in the doors. These use the same clip and release as we've seen on all TARDIS sets - and is covered in very simple instructions on the base of the box. The right door opens first and clips in place followed by the left. You close the left by pulling it shut then use the floor button to spring back the right hand side.
As you can see there is no insert or backdrop when you open the doors. A neat cardboard piece with the Fifth Doctor era console room would have looked great?
From my count, this is the 7th classic TARDIS we have got from Character in the B&M line since 2018. While the TARDIS is an integral part of the show, the appearance of the time machine doesn't vary too wildly from Doctor to Doctor and there will likely be some buyer fatigue if this continues in 2021 without some variation.
There is still scope for some very cool TARDIS sets to fill in some gaps - for example a specific 6th or 8th Doctor TARDIS, both still missing from the line. Or braver options like the pink TARDIS from Happiness Patrol, or the "Bad Wolf" TARDIS from the 9th Doctor story of the same name.
What we get in this £19.99 set is a well painted Fifth Doctor - although not as well painted in the face as the version from circa 10 years ago - with a nice Classic TARDIS. The box is well thought out for boxed collectors, although there is an argument that the rear text can and should be trimmed considerably. It is just a shame the inner diorama backdrop cant be easily repurposed for loose display.
I give the 2020 Fifth Doctor and TARDIS set from B&M a 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, tardis, fifth doctor. visitation, B&M, exclusive