Doctor Who Into The Time Vortex, an interview with Paul Sawyer (Part 2)

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By Alan Hunting

Last week I shared Part 1 of an interview with head of product design, Paul, for a chat about the Doctor Who range. Here is Part 2:

Q. What made you decide to make the figures larger than 28mm?

There were a number of factors.
From the start, we wanted our figures to appeal not only to tabletop gamers but also to Doctor Who fans and collectors. This led us down the route of producing photo-realistic models as Whovians outside of the gaming world wouldn’t appreciate the usual big head, ham fists and short legs on traditional wargames figures. When you’re paying a licence, you want to make sure you replicate the look of the subject matter rather than caricature and exaggerate them.

“We also know from feedback Doctor Who collectors appreciate the increased scale so all round it has been well received.”

Most tabletop gaming figures have odd proportions which came from the early days of metal casting capabilities – large heads, big hands, short legs and over exaggerated details. Our figures are scale representations of the characters from the show so are slimmer in general and the features and details subtler. To show these off to their best and to allow our master casters to stand a chance of producing the antennae, fingers, etc on the models we decide to make them a slightly larger scale.

We also wanted the figures to be one piece where possible – that way collectors with little gaming hobby experience can pop them on their PC, mantelpiece, bookshelf, etc without having to buy superglue, hobby knives, etc. Again, a larger scale meant that would be easier to accommodate.

As our models are photo-realistic representations of the heroes and villains form the TV series we knew they would be very different from old Doctor Who figures produced many years ago, so matching the scale of those wasn’t in our mind at all. We also know from feedback Doctor Who collectors appreciate the increased scale so all round it has been well received.

When we first started Warlord, myself and partner in crime John Stallard agreed that we’d look at every project in its own right rather than being formulaic. We also said that we’d try not to follow the crowd and to do things differently when necessary. Oh, and for it always to be as much fun as possible rather than too serious and dry. I’d like to think we’ve done a pretty good job of that on the whole!

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Q. What would be your dream franchise to get the licence to?

Perfect time to ask that question as aside from Doctor Who, we’ve just announced a worldwide licence to produce games and miniatures for the characters and strips in 2000AD comic. If you’d asked me when we first started Warlord which two licences I would want from a personal perspective I would have gone for Doctor Who and 2000AD. I’m a bit excitable at the moment!

Q.Where do you see the range in a year’s time?

We’ll have the first of our games out by then (I hope!).

“The likes of the Slitheen, Vashta Nerada, Draconians, Sea Devils, etc are all underway. Your favourite characters such as Missy, Davros, The Master, etc are also being worked on.”

We have two games in development at the moment one of which I hope to be released around summer next year. The other will take a little longer as we need more models to be finalised to show off in it.

In terms of miniatures we have over 20 sculptors working on figures but the painstaking attention to detail plus the BBC approvals process mean it takes a lot longer than traditional sculpts. We have more Doctor & Companion sets underway for the 4th, 8th, 9th and 11th Doctors at the moment. The likes of the Slitheen, Vashta Nerada, Draconians, Sea Devils, etc are all underway. Your favourite characters such as Missy, Davros, The Master, etc are also being worked on.

A lot of the timing depends on approvals from the BBC. Sometimes we can get approval on something in the same week whereas other times it’s taken up to 3 months. Approvals have to be done on the sculpt, the painted figure, the packaging and all the website material. That makes planning rather difficult and we’re approaching this with a ‘when it’s approved we’ll start planning it into our schedules’ view. It means it’s hard to given hard and fast dates for what is likely to be released when, I’m afraid…

Q. Any forthcoming figures you can talk about?

The Tetraps are coming next, followed by the Cybermen set. We have a Papal Mainframe set in the pipeline, and the Sea Devils look fantastic, based on the original 1970’s designs. Plastic Daleks and 2013 style Cybermen in their own boxes. The 9th Doctor and Companions release will include 9, Rose (Different sculpt to the 10th Doctor set), Jackie, Mickey and Captain Jack as he appeared in The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances. The 11th Doctor and Companions set will include The 11th Doctor, Amy and Rory based on their first episode costumes (My eyes widen at the thought of the police woman costume adorning Amy) and of course River.

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Q. Are there more plastic, multi pose figures on the horizon, bar the cybermen and Daleks?

Absolutely. Current plans are to introduce more plastics for the Sontarans, Silurians and UNIT. Again, there is no timescale on this (see above!).

Q. Are there any of the larger sized monsters on the horizon, ie dalek emperor, cyber king etc?

The Emperor Dalek was on our list from the start. It’s a beast of a model though so we’ll be focusing on the main elements such as Doctors, Companions, adversaries first before tackling these. The Cyberking is also on the cards along with a Mercy Hartigan in place as cybercontroller. I’d quite like to do a Time Lord tank from the Hell Bent episode but that would be a long way down the list of priorities!

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One question we’re not asked very often is about scenery – what would people like to see on that front? I’m not likely to consider a Statue of Liberty Weeping Angel but it would be good to hear what people wanted as set pieces or themes.

Thank you, Paul, without your determined drive to secure the DW licence we wouldn’t be where we are today with all the wonderful figures coming next year.
If anyone has feedback or further questions please reply to this post over on the Doctor Who Into the Time Vortex – Official Facebook page, we want to make this a regular thing.

Keep an eye out for all Into the Time Vortex news over on the official Facebook page.

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