While I work with Bif Bang Pow! as a part of my day job, I had very little to add (or say about) The Fourth Doctor. The prototypes looked really good and this was a license we talked about quite a bit, mostly because Denys Fisher did Mego toys for the UK back in the day and anyone who ever read magazines about Mego collecting knew that the original 10-inch figure line was kind of a big deal. Due to his price on the secondary market and lack of respect for scale, it made sense to bring the most famous of Doctors into the world as a new, cheap, 8-inch action figure.
Being old and crusty, I branch out in new directions less and less these days-- getting this in the mail really made me excited, and opening it proved difficult due to the general awesomeness of the package design. Or so I thought. Feel free to disagree below, you'll be wrong, but that's why we have comment fields.
Things like authenticity and realism can get in the way of a good product-- Tom Baker has a very distinctive smile, which was not really replicated back for the original, which instead opted for the big toothy bright white grin seen on many large scale figures of his day. (See also: 12-inch Kenner Luke Skywalker ca. 1978.) Since we're in the 21st century, we get things right-- so the stylized mouth wouldn't quite work. Instead, he has a closed mouth. The detail in the original head sculpt prototype seen here looked more like a mini bust than an action figure up close-- I was afraid the transition from painted resin to molded flesh hollow vinyl would hurt the look of the figure. Well, I'm thrilled to say I feel I was wrong.
The plastic head is great-- it's a mix between Tom Baker and 1970s sculpting, slightly better than would have been expected from the era but not quite 100% perfectly realistic because, well, that wouldn't go with the concept. The retro packaging is based on a BBC style guide, and is freaking gorgeous. When I saw the final packaged figures I flipped. It looked like it fell out of a time warp, if you'll forgive the expression.
The outfit is made of several layers-- there's a scarf, a red coat, a vest, a full tie (secured with an elastic neck band), plus a long-sleeved white shirt plus his pants and shoes. In 2011 it's not exactly unusual to see figures with this much going on, but for an actual Mego figure of 40 years ago it'd just be ridiculous. He also sports a hat-- which doesn't fit very well-- and a Sonic Screwdriver, which looks delightfully retro-meets-modern and fits right into his hand. (This is, of course, very important.)
The body is normal Mego/EMCE material. Pale skin, hollow head. The shoes are removable if you're so inclined, and doesn't have shoe feet like many other figures in the Bif Bang Pow! pantheon of TV characters.
While this is not going to blow you away as the most amazing thing ever, it does feel like a very appropriate tribute to the show-- even in the USA as a kid, our PBS station aired some Doctor Who from Tom Baker's era and my dad watched a few episodes with me on a Saturday afternoon, most likely after an episode of Newton's Apple where most of us first heard Kraftwerk for the first time. I am not Doctor Who Fan Numero Uno, but this is a piece that I absolutely felt obligated to own-- it mixes old and new so well, and the admittedly low-tech Mego figure is probably the best possible basis for the admittedly low-tech Tom Baker era of Doctor Who. If you're at all on the fence when it comes to this figure, just buy it. You won't be sorry-- although my sample had a semi-detatched bubble, I may have just been, uh, "lucky." This is one of my favorite Bif Bang Pow! pieces and I hope this is an indication of how well they/we'll do with the next few TV sci-fi licenses from the 1970s. (And I wish I had a Luke Skywalker to go with him and Mr. Spock now.)
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