Monday, 11 August 2014

Where to next for the 5" range of Doctor Who Figures?

I've been collecting different ranges of figures for over 15 years and never has there been an action figure line that has kept you on the edge of your seat as much as Character Option's 5" scale Doctor Who line. It seems like every few months someone will say something cryptic that would suggest it's lights out for range, and yet some new items will be leaked or released on Forbidden Planet that appears to say there's still some juice in those light bulbs.

The 5" Classic figures have been running on life support for several years. After two full waves at retail, the mini Cyberman wave and a few collector sets, the only thing that has kept us going is Underground Toys and Forbidden Planet's scattered releases of single figures and collector sets. This has gone from almost once a month/every two-three months, to a set or two every quarter. Probably even less than that. Looking at the main 5" inch range, we seem to have been living on variants and re-releases per wave. A sign of the times where the reuse of existing molds and parts are the only viable option to keep the costs down. The figures had gone from £6.99 to £10.99 by the time the series 6 figures were released, and with less desirable characters hitting the shelves people stopped buying and refused to pay the asking price for a repaint of what they already had. According to a recent tweet by Al Dewar, there was a 70% drop in people buying the range before the decision was made to reboot the line in 3.75" scale.

Earlier this year it looked like the bucket could have been well and truly kicked. After the 50th Anniversary saw all 11 Doctors, each with a Dalek, released in 5" scale at Toys R Us, and a variety of classic sets released (or at least intended for release) through Forbidden Planet, things seemed to be on the up! However it all started getting gloomy when news came out that there were no classic figures planned for 2014 and that if we got anything it would be towards the end of the year. Yikes. The planned 11th Doctor in Victorian outfit from The Snowmen and the 2nd Doctor in fur coat from The Five Doctors, complete with diorama background, were axed by the powers that be. It seemed like the nail was being steadily hammered into the coffin.

Something strange happened when John Hurt's War Doctor was announced in the 5" range. This release broke the established rules. This wasn't classic, this was from an episode that just aired and we were told that new series characters would now go straight into the new scale. It was also a 100% newly tooled figure that has only had this one release to date, so unless they re-release him down the line this is going to be something of a first. Bring on July 2014 and another new series figure is announced in the 5" scale, the 11th Doctor in his series 7 outfit with a plethora of accessories and the 12th Doctor's head, which seems to be upscaled from the 3.75" release. Towards the end of that month we're shown a 5" Clara (well, Oswin), which we were told would never happen and lo and behold, the cancelled 11th Doctor in Victorian clothes makes it's way to release as well. We've been been informed that Oswin has been made in such a way that other Clara variants are possible. Oh, and a variant of Ace in her more commonly seen ponytail and rolled up sleeves is due for release as well.

With these recent, and incredibly popular, new releases in mind, does this mean that new series Doctor Who figures are the future of the 5" range with the odd classic figure/set thrown into the mix? It seems odd that Character would be trying to push the smaller scale forward while releasing 5" figures that are far superior in terms of sculpts and detail. However, if a solitary figure with accessories can be as much as £29.99 then that competition is going to be limited. The children, for whom the 3.75" range is marketed to, aren't likely to get their parents spending that sort of money on a toy, so perhaps the competition isn't really there. If the 3.75" sculpts are being upscaled, which certainly appears to be the case with the Capaldi and Clara heads, then perhaps monsters like the Ice Warriors, Zygons and Cybermen will creep their way into the 5" scale? This has been deemed unlikely by Mr Dewar, but then we were told we'd never see Clara, a series 7 11th Doctor and any Classic companions in the 5" scale, so forgive me if I don't take these words as gospel. Collectors would snap those three up at lightning speed, so Underground would be daft not to commission them. If we also keep in mind that the Victorian version of the 11th Doctor was planned as a Toys R Us exclusive for late 2013/early 2014, then perhaps our fur coated 2nd Doctor is just around the corner? I live in hope.

I gave up collecting the new series figures back in 2010, but if these new exclusives means that the classics can continue, then I'm happy to take part. The Time of the Doctor set was a must buy with all it's bells and whistles, and I loved that costume in the show. The last variant of the 11th Doctor I bought was that hideous orange striped version from the Christmas Carol set, so this is long overdue. Clara and any of the monsters are also must haves and I'm sure we'll see a 5" Capaldi... Eventually. I'm still rooting for my classics, and I hope that we still have plenty of goodies to come before it's time to see the end of that line... Even if it means one release per year.

Doctor Who Exclusive - The Time of the Doctor 11th & 12th Figure

Doctor Who Exclusive - Ace from Silver Nemesis Figure

Doctor Who - The Impossible Set 11th Doctor and Clara


  1. they still haven,t released any 60,s companions!

    1. I asked Frazier Hines at a convention in Chicago last month about whether he had ever been approached in regards to obtaining his likeness for a Jamie action figure. He said he had, that a sculpt had been commissioned, but that the release of the figure had been postponed in favor of another figure. He said he thought it likely that a Jamie figure could be released in 2015. I would assume, being a Classic, that this would be rendered in 5" scale.