It has been confirmed that Neil Patrick Harris will play The Toymaker in the 60th anniversary special of Doctor Who. The Toymaker is one of The Doctor’s most mysterious enemies for a number of reasons. Chief among them is how rarely the Toymaker has appeared, even in media outside the Doctor Who show.
The Toymaker is a being of vast cosmic power. The master of a whole universe dubbed The Celestial Toyroom, he delights in ensnaring mortals and forcing them to play games for their freedom. Anyone who loses becomes a subject of his realm for the rest of their lives. Despite his god-like power, the Toymaker cheats and rigs the games in his favor.
The Toymaker first appeared during the time of the First Doctor, William Hartnell, in 1966. He made his first and only on-screen appearance in the four-part serial The Celestial Toymaker. He was originally played by Michael Gough, best known for playing Alfred Pennyworth in the Tim Burton Batman films.
The Toymaker trapped The Doctor and his companions, Steven and Dodo, in his realm. The Doctor revealed that he knew who The Toymaker was, and that he had encountered him once before. The Toymaker also made reference to The Doctor having escaped his clutches once before. The trio escaped, apparently destroying The Toymaker’s realm in the process.
The Doctor’s First Encounter With The Toymaker
The story of how The Doctor learned of The Toymaker’s existence unfolded in the novel Divided Loyalties. The story revealed that The Toymaker was a legend even among the Time Lords. As a student, The Doctor and two of his classmates, Rallon and Millennia, decided to investigate the legend and find the Toymaker.
The three students were successful, finding The Toymaker in an inert state. Unfortunately, the Toymaker possessed Rallon’s body and claimed Millennia as one of his toys. The Doctor escaped, but only because The Toymaker let him win so he might grow into a more worthy opponent.
It should be noted the canonicity of Divided Loyalties is questionable. The BBC only counts the Doctor Who show as canon to the series’ overall storyline. Despite this, the Toymaker has appeared in other media that further defined his character.
The Origins of The Toymaker
There are three conflicting origin stories for The Toymaker. One account suggests that he is one of six Guardians of Time, charged with defending Dreams and Fantasy. These Guardians, also known as the Great Old Ones, are the last survivors of another universe.
The second origin says The Toymaker is a cosmic being born of the chaos at the beginning of the current universe. Another account claims he was an elder being from an earlier universe who went mad and became obsessed with playing games. In any case, the question may be academic, as The Toymaker’s powers are considerable regardless of his sanity or divinity.
Whoever he is or was, The Toymaker is not the only one of his kind. The Toymaker has a sister, Hecuba, the self-styled Queen of Time. She contested with the Second Doctor in the audio play The Queen of Time and showed a similar level of power. She has only appeared in one Doctor who story, whereas The Toymaker battled The Doctor several times.
Later Encounters With The Toymaker
The most notable of the stories featuring The Toymaker is The Nightmare Fair. Originally scripted for the show, The Nightmare Fair would have brought The Toymaker back to fight Colin Baker’s Sixth Doctor. It was later recorded for Big Finish’s Lost Stories line of Doctor Who audio plays, with David Bailie as The Toymaker.
The Toymaker returned to torment Sylvester McCoy’s Seventh Doctor in the audio play The Magic Mousetrap. The Toymaker also contested with Paul McGann’s Eighth Doctor in the comic story Endgame and the audio play Solitaire.
The Doctor’s final chronological encounter with The Toymaker came in the Twelfth Doctor comic Relative Dimensions. This story ended with The Toymaker being sealed within a room of the TARDIS and jettisoned into space. This left The Toymaker as “a lonely god, drifting through time and space in his magical toy box.”
The Toymaker’s Role in Doctor Who’s 60th Anniversary Special
It is clear from the trailer for Doctor Who’s 60th anniversary special that The Toymaker is out for revenge. It is less clear, however, if he has somehow found a way into the real world or if The Doctor is trapped in his realm again. This might explain several oddities about his latest regeneration, which resembles David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor for some unknown reason.
It is entirely within The Toymaker’s abilities to alter the Doctor’s appearance. The Toymaker used his powers to make The Doctor invisible and intangible in their first televised encounter. Even if the new form is a coincidence and not The Toymaker’s doing, the prospect of him running amok in the real world is a frightening one. It is also sure to test The Doctor like never before.