The most fun you can have with a hunk of junk...
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One of the biggest hits at the Underground Toys booth at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con was a Doctor Who toy that’s as unique as the episode in which it appeared: the Junk TARDIS Console Playset! If you aren’t a Who watcher (and you should be!), here’s some brief background: The Doctor belongs to the race of Time Lords from the planet Gallifrey. The reason why they’re called that is in large part due to their technological/organic achievement of the Time and Relative Dimension in Space, also known as the TARDIS. A fantastic device that’s part spaceship and part time machine, the TARDIS is a massive vessel on the inside, but appears to be much smaller on the outside due to complex physics and its existence in many places and times at once. While it’s not the only one referenced in the show, the most famous TARDIS is of course the one used by the Doctor; long ago its chameleon circuit was damaged and so it’s stuck in its current appearance, that of a 1960s-era British blue police call box.
In 2009 the BBC announced a contest for fans to design a new TARDIS control console. The winner, selected by the Eleventh Doctor himself Matt Smith, was a 12 year old fan who created a unique spin on the classic design: the Junk TARDIS! Appearing in this season’s episode The Doctor’s Wife, the Junk TARDIS was cobbled together by the Doctor and the soul of his own TARDIS in a human body (it’s complicated). With the meager components on hand they put together a barely-functional spacecraft/time machine that was minimalist in the extreme with just a control console and a couple of walls. The important thing was that it worked, and the Doctor was able to save the day and take back control of his own TARDIS. With such a unique look and event in the show, the Junk TARDIS was a perfect addition to the Doctor Who figure line.
The Junk TARDIS Console Playset comes in a wide, sturdy box. As usual with Doctor Who boxed items, the front panel here has some great imagery (a photo of the playset as well as some insert shots) and lots of text (the name of the set as well as several of its features spelled out in great detail).
The sides and top likewise repeat a lot of the same text, as does the back. But there you’ll also find a screenshot from the episode as well as additional photos of the playset in action, which can be very helpful to make sure you get the most out of it. As the many blurbs announce, there are a lot of cool features in there!
If you took a look at the box and wondered how they could cram the whole playset in there, you probably won’t be surprised to learn that it comes in pieces and you get to build your own Junk TARDIS just like the Doctor did. Assembly is pretty easy with the included pictorial instructions, and I have to say that this set includes some neat little features to make it very firm and stable. It’s essentially broken up into the base, the console itself, the “ceiling,” three wall panels, two cardboard background inserts, and a series of reinforcing parts. Putting all of that together only took a few minutes, and then you’re ready to fly into the unknown.
The Junk TARDIS is kind of hard to explain, so check out the photos for the complete picture. Basically, it has a swiss cheese-like floor full of holes, three uneven walls with totally different patterns (taken from three different vessels), an open ceiling comprised of uneven girders, and the console. Each TARDIS console is different, but most of them feature a central tube that extends upwards, surrounded by panels covered in strange apparatus. The Junk TARDIS takes this to the extreme, as its console has everything including the proverbial kitchen sink!
Whereas most of the playset is relatively flat, the console has tons of sculpted detail. It’s covered in dials, buttons, keypads and even more odd objects like a microphone, mirror, handles, and the aforementioned faucet. Within the central clear tube is a reflective red power core, and the entire piece can be lifted up to reveal the Gallifreyan circuitry at its base. One of the console’s panels is removable as well, and behind it are even more technological details. Around the console are three “flight restraint safety straps” that can be used to strap in a figure (there are also corresponding foot impressions to help keep them in place). Once you’ve got the Doctor and any companions locked down you can use the final special feature. In the base of the Junk TARDIS is a spinner; simply put your finger in it and you can fly the TARDIS by spinning the post on its roof!
Like the other TARDIS playset, the Junk version is a fun setting for your figures whether you’re just displaying them or flying them around the room. This one recreates a really unique element in a great episode, and makes a welcome addition to any Doctor Who collection.
Review and Photos by Scott Rubin
Review Sample Courtesy of Underground Toys