Wednesday, May 30, 2012

I'm A Grown Man And I Bought This: Doctor Who The Astronaut and Silents Figures

I first started buying Doctor Who action figures around 2007. The original plan was to buy the Tenth Doctor and Rose and maybe a Dalek and that's it. You can probably guess how that turned out, five years and several hundred figures later. Sorry wallet. Sucks to be you!

These are my newest Doctor Who acquisitions: The Astronaut and the Silents (or if your prefer, the Silence) from the season 6 episode The Impossible Astronaut.

These three figures are actually rereleases as they were all previously produced last year. I bought the original versions, but decided to pull the trigger and buy these as well. Normally I don't care for rereleased/repaint figures; it's a cheap ploy by the toy company to get some more mileage out of their molds and squeeze a little more cash from their customers. But in this case the redo figures were different enough that I didn't mind acting like Waylon Smithers squealing over Malibu Stacy's new hat and buying them again.

First up is the Astronaut. It's a standard NASA spacesuited figure, circa 1969. In the episode the Doctor and his crew are picnicking along the shore of Lake Silencio (I see what you did there, Doctor Who writers) in Utah. Suddenly a mysterious Astronaut rises from the lake and after revealing its identity to the Doctor, kills him in front of his friends. Don't worry, he got better.

The figure's a good hefty hunk of plastic and stands up fairly well despite the heavy pack on its back (if you're a regular reader of my blog, as millions are, you'll know that action figures that can't stand under their own power is a big pet peeve of mine). 

The detail on the suit is a little soft and could have been a bit sharper. There are a couple of mission patches on each side of the chest that are nothing more than blank circles. Would it have killed them to print a tiny authentic image on the patches, say of an eagle landing on the moon? Apparently so. The patches are multi-colored so it's obviously technically possible.

The Astronaut comes with zero accessories. Again, would it have killed them to include a green lightning bolt to attach to its hand? I guess I could always borrow one from one of the Silents (which I will get to in a moment, keep yer pants on) but still.

Aside from those minor complaints, it's a nice looking figure.

It's also surprisingly articulated for such a seemingly clunky figure, as you can see here where it's trying to recreate Burt Reynolds infamous 1970s nude photo. In fact it's far more articulated than some of the previous figures of the Doctor!

Try not to look at the next three photos if you haven't seen the episode! You've been warned!

The Astronaut features a flip up visor, which reveals the identity of the assassin inside, who is none other than Professor River Song, everyone's favorite time traveling archeologist, former hit (wo)man and future wife of the Doctor. It's a long story that would take way too much typing to explain, so just go with it and don't ask questions.

It's a pretty good likeness of actress Alex Kingston, which stands to reason since they've sculpted her at least three times before. To my rapidly fading eyesight the face looks identical to the River Song figure that came with the Pandorica chair, but the hair looks completely new. 

As I said earlier this is actually the second Astronaut figure they've released. As near as I can tell the two figures are identical. Well, almost.

The first Astronaut figure featured the face of young River Song beneath the helmet. Now you see why I went ahead and bought both figures; so I'd have the two versions of the character as seen on the show.

Don't ask me how a little girl can fit inside an adult sized suit and still be able to walk around in it. The episode had some technobabble excuse, but again it would take too much typing effort to explain. When you're watching Doctor Who it's often best to just go along with things.

Next up are the Silents figures. The Silence (which is the plural form of the name) are aliens who have been secretly infiltrating Earth for centuries. They have the perfect defense mechanism: you're only aware of them while you're looking directly at them. Once you turn away you instantly forget they ever existed. That means one could be standing in the room with you right now and you'd never know it as long as you weren't looking at it.

The design of the Silence is very obviously based on Edvard Munch's The Scream, which I guess would qualify as ironic (I hope you're taking notes, Alanis Morissette). Their natty suits are also supposed to evoke images of the men in black from UFO lore.

As you can see above, there are two different Silent figures; one without a mouth and one with. Normally the Silents appear to not have a mouth at all, but when they attack a gaping maw appears in their face as they suck the life force from your body.

The figures are sculpted well and appear to be identical except for the heads. The suits aren't smooth, they feature an odd rough texture that indicates they're probably not supposed to be made of Earthly seersucker cloth. Both Silents are taller than normal figures, to reflect their towering stature in the episode. Both figures are reasonably well articulated too.

Both versions of the Silence come with two accessories each; blue translucent energy bolts that can be slipped over their fingers. They actually stay on the hands fairly well. Why they couldn't have included one of these bolts with the Astronaut figure, I have no idea. I would just go ahead and use one of the bolts with my Astronaut, but I don't think it would fit over its clunky glove.

Here's the same shot with a little Photoshop glow added/*

*Caution! Energy bolts do not actually glow. When I was a kid the boxes my toys came in always said stuff like that, and I always wanted to say it. So now I said it. Move along.

Like the Astronaut, this is actually the second time they've made the Silence figures. The first versions are the flesh colored ones on the right. Their skin tone is closer to that in the actual episode. The first versions didn't come with the energy bolt accessories, so that's why I went ahead and bought the new versions. There were dozens of them in the episode, so you can't have too many Silents! I'm not sure why the new versions have grey skin. Maybe to tie in with grey aliens? Or maybe the factory just ran out of flesh colored paint.

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