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Review : Doctor Who, UNIT 1975 - Terror of the Zygons Set (B&M Exclusive)


The first batch of Doctor Who Exclusives at B&M stores arrived in Summer 2020, and soon after it was confirmed a 2nd batch were planned for an Autumn 2020 release. The UNIT troops, originally seen in the Summer 2020 set from the Claws of Axos, were revisited in this Autumn wave and the set also finally brought us the 4th Doctor in Tam o'shanter (oft seen as a prototype leaked image) and combined them all into a UNIT 1975 Terror of the Zygons 3-pack.

Packaging 3.0


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, although the left hand panel carrying the Doctor Who logo does cut a little bit into the UNIT solider and obscured him a little.

Under the window is a blue bar confirming the name of the set, and above this in a red segment is confirmation of the story base as Terror of the Zygons from 1975. 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 THE FOURTH DOCTOR, SERGEANT JOHN BENTON & U.N.I.T. SOLDIER". If you are splitting heirs then it is worth noting Benton was a a Sergeant Major for Terror of the Zygons but I get he will always be referred to as Sergeant Benton.



On the back of the box we have a repeat of the TARDIS illustration, the Doctor Who logo and a confirmation of the set name. Under this are images of each figure and a name plate under each. The roundel from the side is also reprinted on the back containing the same information? 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.



Paint & Sculpt 3.5


Figure one is listed as a generic UNIT soldier on the packaging. It is actually the Captain Yates figure from the Claws of Axos set, now painted with a very large moustache to hide his identity. While there was a moustached soldier in Terror of the Zygons, he did not look anything like Mike Yates. Character really needed to go with an alternative head in this case.


Once you look passed the use of Yates, the figure is well painted an the face features very neatly applied. The beret carries a UNIT logo on the circular front emblem and the uniform features a varied camouflage design as well as painted detail on the clasp of the belt. The soldiers left shoulder carries an applied decal that reads UNIT. The whole uniform is not 100% accurate, but is close enough in design and decor to the 1975 Terror of the Zygons uniform.



If you compare the 1975 UNIT Soldier with the 1971 Yates figure from Axos, you can see the paint job is quite different and the camouflage pattern is consistent with the fatigues worn by UNIT in the story. The added camo paint has led to some cut backs elsewhere and detail on the rear straps have been lost, leaving them a plain green rather than having painted silver fastenings.



The Benton figure is a good likeness to actor John Levine and is well painted, while remaining in keeping with the basic features of the Who range - any change now would look odd. Like the UNIT soldier detailing includes the logo on the beret and the UNIT badge on the left arm. For Benton, there is also the sergeant stripe decal applied to both arma. If you watch the episode, Benton did not have this rank detail on his uniform.



Again, on the side by side comparison with the previous released Benton you can see the change in decor to the camouflage design. The figure still carries the exact same rank insignia on both arms - something that could have been left off to make the figure more screen accurate to the 1975 story.



The Terror of the Zygons Fourth Doctor figure has long been shown as a blurry leaked image in collecting circles, and this 2020 B&M set finally brings the figure to a release. It uses the existing Fourth Doctor body with long coat and waistcoat and loosely tied tie underneath.


The head is brand new and features a Tam O'Shanter hat on the Tom Baker head sculpt. The hat is well executed with a blue base colour, bobble on top and front red & white patterning as well as the red feather. The head is not a terrible Tom Baker likeness, but is certainly not as strong as those that have come before. Viewed from the side it is pretty impressive, but face on less impressive. The chin seems to be too slim and the nose too big and the expression is very dull and does not carry any of Tom's usual sparkle. Everything on the face is painted well and the hair sculpt is pretty good as it struggles to escape the hat.


Tom is wearing a Tartan Scarf, a new piece by the looks of it. It is cast to wrap the figures neck with one length down the front to the left and a shorter length to the back. The base colour is a deep red with applied Tartan pattern using white, orange and blue. This is very neat and well applied on the hanging length, but loses detail around the neck.



Accessories 4.5


The set is quite unusual as a B&M exclusive, as it contains accessories. The first UNIT set was criticised for using modern assault weapons taken from the Primeval line and it is therefore brilliant to see this new set including some 1970's era Browning Rifles for use by Benton and our UNIT soldier.

These are a brand new cast piece and they are done so in black plastic. The shape and details on the weapons are good with the holes down the barrel and the ridges on the ammo clip. They are designed to fit into the figures right hand, with the left hand able to swing round and grab the clip for a two handed pose.


I am very impressed Character have been able to update the weapons with a brand new accessory and can't fault what they have done. The only build would have been the addition of some dry brush gunmetal on the barrel to bring out more of the detailing they've included.



Articulation 4.0


All figures in the set include a total of 16 points of articulation. With the two UNIT figures obviously sharing the same body and articulation design.


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 UNIT figures do benefit from a more extensive shoulder joint allowing the arm to be raised away from the body rather than just rotating on one axis.



The joints on the UNIT Troopers do what you'd expect, but they are rudimentary in their pin hinge design vs more modern figures. The arms on the figures are pretty wide ranging in their movement and they can achieve two handed weapon poses as we've seen, as well as some gesturing options. Due to the shape of the arm, the bicep swivel can look odd when deployed as it throws the arm shape - it also has a tendency to pop out or leave a very visible gap.


Both Benton and the UNIT soldier stand and pose pretty well in most neutral stances. With no ankle rockers you do have to be mindful of planting the feet when posing and the wider the stance the more odd the feet look being at an angle to the floor.



The Doctor features the same articulation apart from the shoulders which remain a single rotating joint on one axis. The Doctor is less expressive in his posing thanks to this and the fact the legs are restricted a little behind the long coat. The right hand is cast to hold a sonic screwdriver, which is not included and this also can look odd.


All three figures are consistent with the rest of the Who line that now spans some 15 years of releases. I am quite happy with that, with so many figures now in circulation (and in my collection) I do not want to see a change in either paint techniques or articulation that will create a noticeable difference between older and newer releases.



Summary


The UNIT 1975 Terror of the Zygons sets is another clever release by Character. It uses the UNIT figures developed for the previous round of releases, gives them a new decor and weapon and then packs in the long awaited Zygons 4th Doctor. The execution of the generic soldier is not great, and it looks a bit comical - and ideally a new head would have looked much better. But putting this aside, the rest of the set is solid in the design and the production with neat paint apps and sufficient likenesses for both named characters, albeit that the Doctor looks best from side profiles.



The box still doesn't do it fully for me. The window should show off the contents, not obscure some of them and I do not get the lack of any background text on this format of sets when it is used (over-used in some cases) extensively on the Dalek and TARDIS releases.



If you are only after one set of UNIT troops for your display, then the Summer 2020 set from The Claws of Axos is arguably the slightly better release. If you missed that one or are a competist, then this wont be a disappointment - particularly at the £20 price point.


I score the UNIT 1975 Terror of the Zygons set a total of 3.5




For more news, reviews and a checklist of releases then visit our Doctor Who Database





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...

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