Underground Toys Doctor Who Character Building Mini Sets
Big sci-fi fun in small packages...
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It’s no secret that kids and adults alike love small scale constructible toys, especially those depicting characters, vehicles, and places from comic books, television shows, or movies. Cute little figures and playsets you get to build yourself are all part of the fun. And while for a long time properties had to go through the one big constructible toy company, or more recently the distant but still popular second choice, it seems as though now toy companies are getting in on the act themselves (Hasbro’s homegrown Transformers Kre-O for example). This is great news for the fans as it means more toys in general, and because they’re being made “in house” as it were the products are often of very high quality and accuracy. That brings us across the pond actually, where with cooperation from BBC the masterminds behind all of our favorite Doctor Who toys are bringing us the Character Building line!
Doctor Who Character Building has only just begun, but already it is becoming very popular in the UK and the US. In the initial offering are several 50-70 piece “Mini Sets” that include miniature figures and playsets. All of it is based on a familiar constructible system utilizing bricks and other shapes that connect via pegs and holes. Figures are about 1 ¾ inches tall with cartoony but lovable style and good articulation, making them fun as well as cute. The sets are intricate without being overly complicated, and for the most part recreate very specific events and locations from the show. Today we’ll be taking a look at two Mini Sets in particular: The Time of Angels and The TARDIS!
The Doctor Who Character Building Mini Sets come packaged in straightforward boxes of sturdy cardboard. As with other constructible toys there are usually no windows (since everything inside is in pieces anyway). Each box has a photograph of the completed set on the front cover as well as the line’s logo, the show’s logo, a clear explanation of which figures are included, and an “Actual Size!” image so you know exactly what you’re getting. The sides of the boxes show off the miniature figures as well, and the back panels depict the full sets next to some background information about the specific contents. The Mini Set boxes are primarily TARDIS-blue with accents in yellow.
Bound to be the most popular among the Mini Sets is of course the TARDIS. Coming in at 53 pieces it’s not the most complicated or intricate of the first wave, but it includes nothing less than the TARDIS itself, the Doctor (Eleventh), and Amy Pond! The TARDIS takes mere moments to build, with standard pieces as well as unique walls, doors and roof. Except for the base panel in gray all of the parts are a uniform dark blue. Outside details like the door sign, windows, and police markings are stickers (extras are included), while a cardboard insert depicts the interior of the TARDIS. Both doors open freely, and at 3 ½ inches tall it’s the perfect size for the figures.
Speaking of, the Doctor and Amy Pond are absolutely adorable. The miniatures really capture the look and spirit of the characters with the charm of these new sets, looking like animated versions of actors Matt Smith and Karen Gillan. The Doctor wears his traditional outfit including bowtie while Amy looks smart in her usual jacket and skirt. Each figure is unique with respect to its parts (except the uniform hands), very refreshing in a constructible toy line. Articulation on these figures is very good with joints at the neck, shoulders, wrists, waist, and independent hips. Their feet have standard sized holes that fit onto any compatible system’s pegs, and their hands are posed to hold accessories. Amy doesn’t come with any of her own, but the Doctor has a tiny version of his Sonic Screwdriver!
While the TARDIS set is a must-own because of its universal appeal, the Time of Angels is great because it captures a moment from a great episode and one of the scariest and most interesting aliens of all time. The Season 5 episode of the same name featured the return of the Weeping Angels, truly horrific aliens resembling angelic statues that come alive and attack when no one is looking at them. In the episode the Doctor and Amy encounter the creatures in the Maze of the Dead, a desolate landscape full of places where they can hide.
The Character Building set gives you that exact scene, a section of the Maze and one Weeping Angel. With 68 pieces, this set has some really cool unique rocky terrain. One of the sets that starts with a flat board, it turns into a piece of a wall topped by a broken arch, some low rocks, and a small computer station. There are plenty of places for figures to stand on the landscape, and that means lots of hiding spots for the Weeping Angel.
The Weeping Angel figure is as scary as its onscreen counterparts. About the same height as the humanoids, the Angel shares some parts in common with Amy (chest and arms) with the rest being unique. Instead of legs the figure has a solid dress lower half, but it still has holes at the bottom for attaching to pegs. The Angel is articulated at the neck, shoulders, wrists, and waist. It’s perfect for hanging out in the Time of Angels landscape and creeping out any Doctor Who mini figures who happen to walk by...
The Character Building line is going to be huge hit with hardcore Doctor Who fans, and I can’t imagine any of them would pass up the TARDIS Mini Set. Whether or not the current Doctor is your favorite, it’s the TARDIS! The Time of Angels set is an excellent back up, especially for fans of that episode (and “Blink”) and those aliens. You can find both of these Mini Sets (as well as the awesome Dalek Progenitor Room) for about $20 at collectible stores and websites.
The overall Character Building lineup continues to expand as well, with a series of blind-packed single figures, army builder packs, and larger sets like the Dalek Factory, Cyberman Conversion Chamber, TARDIS Control Room, and even the Eleven Doctors Micro-Figure set with all eleven figures in a TARDIS-themed box!
Review and Photos by Scott Rubin
Review Samples Courtesy of Underground Toys