Updated: Aug 7
The Doctor Who 3-packs of figures in B&M have been a summer staple for a number of years now. While a lot of the previous sets have been re-releases and re-paints, 2020 see's an exciting new set for fans of UNIT with a pack based on the 1971 story The Claws of Axos. The set contains figures of the Brigadier, Captain Mike Yates and Sergeant Benton.
The 2020 packs continue the packaging design established in 2019. It uses the new Dr Who logo, but in a silver colour with the box artwork themed around silver and blue and outline images of the TARDIS. There has been some improvement on the 2019 boxes with the top rail now removed and the window extended to wrap the top of the box and the right hand side. While this resolves issues with the figures head or feet being hidden in the box, it does leave the left hand figure as you look at the box a partially obscured.
The window is stickered with a gold foil "limited edition" sticker. Beneath this is confirmation of the set name as U.N.I.T. 1971 - the Claws of Axos. A small red insert then confirms the scale as 5.5 inch. The character names are not included at all on the front.
The left hand side spine continues the TARDIS illustration with a repeat of the set name. The right hand spine is simply coloured blue with a circular insert that now finally confirms the contents and character names. I am not sure why they have not put this on the box front.
The back of the box is very basic and carries pictures of each figure with the character name underneath and then repeats itself with a further circle insert with the character names listed again. With so much background detail included on the Dalek and TARDIS sets, I am confused as to why Character cannot include some basic background text for each figure on these sets?
The set opens up from the top flap and the figures and tray slide out as one piece. The figures are set against a grey lined cardboard backdrop that replicates the design used on the box reverse. Each figure is strapped in by two clear elasticated ties - one around the waist and another at the feet. It is easiest to snip these with scissors from behind as these can rub the paint if you try to pull them while the ties are in situ.
The weapons are each sellotaped into the tray. As you will see later, these are quite a hard brittle plastic so remove with care otherwise you risk sapping the smaller parts like the barrels or grips.
Paint & Sculpt 4/5
Let's start with Captain Yates. The head sculpt is brand new to the line as Yates has not been released in any format before. The likeness to actor Richard Franklin is recogniseable while the paint retains the spirit of the line and does not look out f place against any of the older figures. Mike is wearing his UNIT beret, complete with circular UNIT badge, that looks to be applied as a decal and is legible with the UNIT lettering around the inner grey circle.
Yate's body the legs from the Brigadier figures with the arms specifically from the Three Doctors Brigadier. The chest piece is a rubbery over-piece which is new to the line and position over what I assume is the base torso from the Brigadier figures. This essentially creates a brand new figure that is a good match to the combat uniforms see in the Claws of Axos. The only thing missing is the combat boots rather than the shoes this figure is wearing.
The uniform is painted in varying combat greens with a grey for the neck scarf and silver for the buckles on the straps and belts. Another UNIT decal is applied to the left arm of Yates.
Yates is sculpted wearing gloves, as taken from the Brigadier figure, painted in burgundy. Gloves do vary as being worn and not worn for the UNIT troops in the Story, but Yates is definitely wearing these colour gloves in some of the final scenes with the UNIT jeep chase.
Sergeant Benton is another head sculpt, and another recogniseable likeness to actor John Levine. Again, the paint is neat and tidy and in keeping with the line, there is even a degree of expression with Benton with the eyebrows narrowed and the mouth downturned. Benton is wearing the same beret as Yates with the same UNIT decal.
Benton shares the exact same body as Yates with the only difference being the sergeant stripes applied as decals to the left and right arms above the elbow.
Benton has the same gloved hands as Yates, painted in the ame burgundy. This is perhaps not entirely accurate to Benton's scenes as he is not wearing any gloves in most of them - however, the type and colour are consistent with Yates and the Brigadier so is a very minor point.
Our Brigadier figure is a full re-use of the original Claws of Axos Brigadier. The head sculpt is a very good likeness to Nicholas Courtney and the painting a little more detailed around the eyes. Sadly though the moustache is less detailed with parts of it left in the flesh tone which is detrating up close.
The Brigadier is wearing a combat sweater and plain trousers, both painted in khaki green with lighter pads on the shoulders and elbows. He is wearing a belt, with a holster on his left hand side. This is a sculpted piece and it does not work with the included revolver.
Despite being from the same Story, the two Claws of Axos Brigadiers do have some significant paint variations between this new version and the original 2013 release. The beret is a different green, as are the trousers. The gloved hands are now burgundy and not black, this burgundy colour looks to be more accurate to the episode.
The flesh tone used on the head is more rosy in 2020, while the 2013 version seems to be have the better painting of the moustache.
It is a relative rarity for a B&M set to include accessories, so the UNIT set is very impressive to boast three weapons to share among your troopers.
We have two versions of an Automatic Rifle. These are cast in black in a hard and brittle plastic, so be careful of damage. Being a harder plastic, the detailing is quite impressive even without any further paint apps on top of the base plastic.
The rifles are taken from the Primeval range of figures and appear to be an M4 Carbine. They are technically far too modern for the 1971 setting of the story and are certainly not what UNIT was using on screen. They do, however, work well with the figures sitting into the right hand, with a trigger finger that slots into place. The left hand can also hold the front grip for a two handed pose.
There is then a smaller handgun which sits with the Brigadier figure - but that can be used with any of them as you see fit. This is also cast in black plastic with no paint apps. This looks to be a Webley Revolver, which is consistent with the handgun used by the Brigadier. It has been included in most Brigadier releases to date - but as stated above, does not fit into the holster which is sculpted for display only.
All three figures share the same base body and therefore the ame articulation count of 16 points of articulation.
Head : rotating neck plug
Body : rotating waist
Arms : rotating and pivoting shoulder joint, bicep swivel, single pin elbow, rotating wrist
Legs : T-Joint hip, thigh swivel, single pin knee
The one joint that is more extensive than usual is the shoulder which can be swung out from the body as well as rotating in its slot - only a handful of Who figures have included this joint to date.
The figures are all mobile enough in the arms for two handed weapon poses, but the bicep swivel is still disjointed when turned vs the rest of the arm because of how the arms are sculpted. The legs are OK but limited without an ankle rocker to some wider stances only.
Not only is this an impressive set, with two new characters introduced into the line. But it is also a very nostalgic set for those of us who grew up with 70's and 80's Who and who also loved soldiers and the UNIT troops. It is a shame the box could not have carried the same background info as seen on the Dalek & TARDIS sets to give us some more background info to UNIT and the Brigadier, Benton and Yates.
The set is good value at £19.99 for three figures, and while the Brigadier is a re-release (with paint tweaks) the new figures of Yates and Benton expand the Third Doctor era figures considerably. The paint work is neat and tidy and remains consistent with the whole line back to the launch in 2006. The likenesses on all three heads, not just the two new ones, is great.
As with most B&M sets of recent years, paint application and the positioning of the decals can be mixed - so inspect your set carefully to get the best option. I score the UNIT 1971 Claws of Axos set a very impressive 4 out of 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, claws of axos, unit, brigadier, yates, benton, 3rd doctor, TARDIS, B&M, Character options