I like Lego. And believe it or not, I like Doctor Who as well. So when a company announced they were bringing Doctor Who into the world of plastic building block toys which are compatible with leading brands, I was a little excited, even though I knew I might have a tough time getting them in America. Fortunately a pal of mine used his influence to score me a complete set of the minifigs, and I am going to share my thoughts on them with you.
First, let’s talk about what these are. They’re from a company called “Character Building”. They’re sold a variety of ways. There are blind-packaged single figures, similar to the Lego collectible minifigs. There are army collections featuring multiples of popular villains (Daleks, Cybermen, Weeping Angels). There are packs that feature multiple figures, such as a set containing all 11 Doctors and a set containing a variety of Cybermen. And finally there are playsets in which you build some small scene.
I have all of the collectible figures plus a couple of the army builder packs. Here are some photos and thoughts about them.
FIRST AND FOREMOST: The figures are adorable. The sculpts are well done, and are incredibly cute. The hands are sized to hold Lego accessories, they have standard minifig articulation (though hair is not removable) and they are (to a point) compatible with Lego bricks. They’re made of cheaper plastic than Lego bricks are, but even collectible Lego minifigs are made with cheaper plastic, and Lego’s standard ABS bricks are really the solitary outlier here, so this isn’t unexpected or significant. They are pretty much exactly as advertised, and let’s face it, most purchasers of these are intending only to display them, so anything beyond that is lagniappe.
Here are the Doctor and Amy Pond:
And since you’re all wondering, let’s just get this out of the way:
Here’s an example of how they’re compatible with each other:
You’ll notice there that the Doctor is holding his good old sonic screwdriver, which is the most no-brainer of an accessory for him to come with. You’ll also note that Amy isn’t holding anything. Here’s where we get to the first problem I have: that sonic screwdriver is the only accessory that any of these come with (other than, I guess those little “DW” bases.) That seems like a missed opportunity to me, but then again, I’m not sure what Amy WOULD come with.
There are other missed opportunities and indications that Character Building kind of doesn’t understand the point of Lego-like figures. For example, the Weeping Angels. There are two models: “serene face” and “screaming face”. The packages emphasize that the “screaming face” version is rare. There are a couple of weird problems with this.
First, the ONLY difference between them is the head. Since this is “Lego”, that head comes off and is interchangeable. There’s no reason why a single Weeping Angel couldn’t just come with both heads. And as for the goofy “rarity” issue, the second problem is that there’s a Weeping Angel army builder set in which you get six of them…all of which are screaming. And the army builder sets aren’t random or anything. You can get SIX of these “rare” figures in the same aisle where you might find one of them. In fact, I’m betting that because of this, it’s actually the serene ones that are more rare.
Similarly, the “Smiler” robots were included as a figure. If you remember these at all from the show, you remember a smiling face rotating to reveal a frowning face which then rotates to reveal an angry face. The Character Building Smiler has an angry face which rotates to reveal…
…nothing. They don’t do the one thing they’re noted for doing. And no alternate heads here, just the angry one. I’m betting the Smiler is the snowboarder/skateboarder of this collection. This really should have been Rory instead.
Moving on, here are the Doctor’s most famous enemies, the Daleks, in their new rainbow assortment:
And here’s how they disassemble:
You can kind of see here that in a lot of ways, the “Lego” aspect is superfluous. Yes there are pegs and tubes and holes and such, but most of the pieces don’t have much of a point without the others. For example, the black “base” of the Dalek has notches so it can sit on a plate of studs. Remove that base and the piece above it doesn’t. It pretty much just has to fit onto that base. So these bricks have the problem that people falsely claim actual Lego has, in that there are a bunch of specialized pieces you can’t really use anywhere else.
Rounding out the bad guys are the Cyberman and Silurian:
Nothing wrong here.
So once again, if you’re looking to just buy and display these guys, no problem. They will happily stand on a shelf and look cute. If, however, you’re looking to play or build with them, you might be disappointed. There’s nothing really wrong with them, they’re just not as thoughtfully done as you might want or expect.
I don’t know where you can get these in the US yet, but I expect they’ll be available from someplace on the Internet soon enough.