Once assembled this is a fantastically detailed replica of the Tardis but, and there’s no over-stressing this, unpacking and assembling it is a lot of hard work.
It’s been a long time since I built my Millennium Falcon so I might be out of practice but it took me a shade under 40 minutes to get it out of the box – there are twist wires aplenty as the picture below shows – and fully assembled.
Anyone thinking of buying this as a present for a younger family member needs to consider that an adult’s help is pretty much a ‘must’ if the toy’s to survive the unpacking process – impatient young hands are likely to quickly result in tears.
The second factor to consider is that the entire toy just clips together, there are no solid bases or screws so the item isn’t easily moved around the home and can’t be easily split for easy storage.
An equally important consideration is the sheer size. Fully assembled the Tardis spans 60 centimetres.
Once the size became painfully clear as we realised there were few places we could store the unit without disassembling it. We eventually had to clear a coffee table for the purpose.
This and the lack of mobility means that if you’re a parent who likes their offspring to put toys away this may not be the ideal purchase!
Assembly is pretty straightforward although the instructions could be clearer in a couple of places. Once fully unpacked it’s clear the components are solidly built and there’s little concern at in-construction breakages or snappings.
One grumble is that the wall/ceiling section and entire floor detail is provided by cardboard sections. The floor panels sit on pretty solid plastic base segments and look authentic but there’s no obvious reason (other than stinginess) why the wall/ceiling section isn’t made from either screen printed PVC or plastic panels, both of which will last longer than the cardboard will – the fact that the card is right by the doors means it’s likely to get knocked or bashed as figures ‘enter’ the Tardis.
Where the playset does score is with the console.This seems to be where most of the production cost and effort has gone and it does go some way to justify the pretty high cost.
The console panels are fully detailed and lit and there are six working buttons which activate the various lights and noises. However, the Tardis background noise is too loud to be left on all the time yet most of the buttons only work when the console is in ‘full play’ mode.
This is a shame as the console also has a ‘try me’ mode which allows the potential buyer to test the lights and sounds via a single button instore. It’s unclear why this mode couldn’t also allow use of the other 5 buttons without the constant background noise.
The playset accommodates the standard range of Doctor Who figures from Character Options – even with adult hands we had no problems fitting in The Doctor, Rose, K9 and a Dalek.
Like all Character Options electronic toys this one is battery hungry and the pre-installed batteries are unlikely to last long in younger hands. Four AA batteries are required to keep the Doctor on his travels but, according to the manual, these can’t be the environment and wallet friendly rechargeable type.
It’s hard to assess this for value for money. Whilst the console is first rate the over-reliance on cardboard is a major disappointment and smacks of stinginess. Character Options do seem to have a habit of modifying items in the range – witness the changes in the Sonic Screwdriver and the Rose figure – so it’s to be hoped that they’ll address these issues in future.
The pack’s suggested minimum age range, presumably based on safety, is 5 and over. This seems a little young to me and I can’t help thinking it works better as a static display model for the action figure range than as a practical toy, especially for younger children.
This will no doubt be in great demand and it is great fun but parents may not share their youngster’s enthusiasm by the time it’s assembled.