To celebrate the upcoming debut of Doctor Who‘s 13th incarnation on TV, the BBC and Character Options Ltd have brought out the latest Sonic Screwdriver toy…or collectable, depending on your point of view. Just how important the latest Sonic will be to the lore depends on what the episodes show, but all indications point to this one’s history being a little more detailed than others. But is the toy itself any good?
For fans, the answer has to be a resounding yes. Although, there are a few curious things about it too, some of which are drawbacks.
By now the packaging will be familiar to Sonic Screwdriver collectors. The standard clear tube bearing the latest Doctor Who logo, it’s got the usual battery instructions on the side of the packaging while inside it tells you how to make it work. Sort of. It actually misses something important out, but we’ll get to that in a moment.
The Sonic Screwdriver itself is both hideous and gorgeous in its design. Unlike previous angular versions, the 13 Doctor’s Sonic is more about curved edges and a sleek handle that fits in the palm of your hand. The core of it is a clear plastic crystal, encased in windowed silver plastic that looks like dented steel. At the front, a jagged part of the crystal sticks out, while the top and bottom of the grip have the suitable buttons to make it function. Basically, it looks like alien technology built by a mad scientist from scrap bits and pieces, which is exactly the right image it should convey.
Here’s where things are a bit weird, though. First, the bottom button is a “dummy” button that does nothing. It jiggles around like it should have some kind of purpose, but it doesn’t. However, there’s a pressure plate inside the Sonic that makes the body’s core crystal light up a warm orange colour when picked up, and which shuts down after a few seconds when not in use. It’s a similar feature to the one seen in the 11th Doctor’s Sonic, except here it doesn’t always trigger properly which can be a little frustrating.
The main button does function, naturally, and with just a touch the front lights up orange while the familiar operational noise kicks in. There’s a feature borrowed from the 12th Doctor’s Sonic here, that if you press the button twice in a row the front lights up but with a different sound effect – this one being a quirky diagnostic scan noise. Both of those are listed in the brief instruction manual in the packaging.
Then there’s a third function not listed in there. There’s a third noise that comes with a different light effect, that they didn’t list!
Clicking the main button three times, there’s a work-in-progress sound effect that resembles a high-pitched Star Trek tricorder, while the core crystal flashes statically. It’s a cool look, and instantly became a personal favourite upon finding it. But it isn’t listed in the instructions! Is it meant to be a secret? Something that will appear in the show, some kind of Easter egg? Only time will tell on that front, but to not mention it in the packaging is a serious mistake which may lead to some buyers missing out by not getting the full benefits of it.
At the end of the day, the 13th Doctor’s Sonic Screwdriver is a neat and offbeat addition for collectors. It’s a cool design that feels far more comfortable to carry in the hand than some of the earlier ones, and it’s ideal for cosplayers with its homemade look. Of course, it’s a ridiculous purchase and nowhere near as flashy as a lightsaber, but if you’re a Doctor Who fan it ticks all the right boxes. Just as long as the new series can back it up and make it a fan favourite.