I’m thumbing through the latest issue of Doctor Who Adventures yesterday afternoon, and this is what I see.
I’m sorry. What?
In the first instance, I should mention that I don’t buy the figures these days. Not since they dropped the size from 5 inches down to 3.75. Overnight, the Whoniverse characters shrunk from respectable, chunky ones that took up a good portion of a fist when you were holding them down to piddly little things that easily fall out of pockets. To give you an idea:
I’m reliably informed that the new figures are about the size of the original (and, for all I know, contemporary) Star Wars figures that your friends used to have in the playground back in the 1980s. Maybe that’s why they changed them; it allows for greater cross-play between universes, presumably inspiring numerous scenarios in which Clara goes doe-eyed at Lando Calrissian and it is established that neither Han nor Greedo shot first; it was the Doctor, playing around with a laser pistol on the other side of the room and not realising that the safety was off.
I haven’t bought any of the new size figures; they look ridiculous alongside the original range, and it gives me an excuse to concentrate on DVD purchases, as well as dithering over whether I really want to spend £25 on that ‘Three Doctors’ set with the Brigadier and Jo Grant. The fact that I won’t be able to buy a decent scale version of the Twelfth Doctor annoys me, but there’s no sense getting too cross about it. It just means they don’t get any more of my money. Their loss, and I’m sure it’s minimal.
But these? Colossal fail.
Let’s start with the good stuff. They have, at least, not managed to fuck up the Dalek. Presumably doing so would incur threats of insane legal action from the Nation estate (even though Nation had bugger all to do with how the thing actually looks, beyond a vague description). If I were going to be picky I’d question whether you could really justify releasing two practically identical models where the only difference was the dome colour and the weapon attachment, and then charging £12 for each, but I think that ship already sailed back in 2010. The Weeping Angel, too, is reasonably functional. Smith’s Eleventh Doctor, meanwhile, resembles the androgynous singer in a New Romantic pop group, all impeccably smooth skin and hints of what looks suspiciously like lipstick, although if you examine closely, I don’t think it is.
Capaldi’s Doctor is facially intact, if again the skin looks far too smooth for a man of his age. I recognise that some loss of detail is inevitable when you scale down your sizes, but one of the most interesting aspects of Doctor Who was their tendency – at least until 1981 – to avoid casting oil paintings. Sorry, but colouring his hair grey won’t do it; it looks like he’s had the sort of disastrous facial surgery that lands you on the right hand column of the Daily Mail’s home page, photographed by the paparazzi. The whole thing reminded me of an episode of Dad’s Army called ‘Keep Young And Beautiful’, in which the most elderly men in the platoon get makeovers from the undertaker in order to make themselves appear young enough to avoid being drafted into the ARP; the sight of the elderly Arnold Ridley, skin stretched so much that (in the words of Captain Mainwaring) “he looks like Madame Butterfly”, is enough to reduce me to fits of hysterical laughter every time.
But it’s arguably poor Clara who’s suffered the most. I mean, have another look.
She’s practically obese. At the very least she looks like she’s suffering from the mumps. Now, I’m not suggesting that all Doctor Who companions need to be slim and beautiful. I got as cross as you did when Disney did an extreme Photoshop job on Princess Merida from Brave. But the fact is, Clara is pretty slim – no Kate Moss, by any means, but the fact of the matter is that this doesn’t look anything like Jenna Coleman, and if I were here I’d be seriously mortified, or at least stomping around my house like David Huddleston in Santa Claus: The Movie, muttering “Is that how they think I look?”.
Well, it is, if you do this.
And yes, it looks dreadful, but so does the figure.
(Seriously, there must be people out there who could do a better job of fattening up Clara’s face than I’ve managed in two minutes with a three-month-old baby on my lap. Anyone want to have a go?)
“The Zygon looks quite good,” said my eldest child.
“Josh, it looks like Bungle,” I said, having been apprised of this by Gareth some time before. And, of course, it does.
I’m not a toy manufacturer. I know nothing about plastic moulds, cost control or the limits of manufacturing technology. Still, even I can see that this is a massive turkey. I’m not asking for a return to five inch scales (although I do think that might fix some of the facial detail problems). But I think the only way they could make this lot any creepier would be for the things to come alive on the back seat of the car on the way back from the toy shop.
Now, there’s a concept.