Geoff Havers' Bids & Pieces

In a gravel pit, far, far away…

This month’s article opens with an exciting and fun cryptic trivia quiz question. Are you ready? Here it comes. It’s just for fun. OK: what do Professor Richard Dawkins and Chris Evans have in common? Got that? Think about it, now. One is the leading Darwinian theorist and ‘cleverest man’ in the country, and the other isn’t. Remember, it’s just for fun. Don’t write in. The answer is in the next sentence; so writing in would be pretty silly. Answer: they are, or were, both married to actresses who at some point in their careers played, or are about to play, the role of assistant to Doctor Who! There! I told you it would be fun!

Further pub quiz answers in this piece will be marked with an asterisk, so do memorise them, because they are sure to come in handy.

The first episode of Doctor Who was broadcast on 23rd November 1963*, and immediately became a focus for producers and collectors of memorabilia. From toy makers to film companies, book and magazine publishers and confectioners to home-furnishing suppliers, the range of available merchandise grew and grew. Even though the last 25-minute episode was made in 1989*, the phenomenon continued, every month bringing some new piece of merchandise, such as highly accurate talking Daleks, which may one day – if properly looked after – become sought-after collector’s items. Fans have formed production companies to make spin-off documentaries and films, and on top of the BBC’s continuing marketing of ‘classic’ episodes through video, DVD and CD releases there is, practically every month, a new magazine, a new novel or a new CD-only audio drama. Of course, the interest in Docstuff is bound to surge when the new series is broadcast, which is why we are here today.

To date, being a serious collector of Doctor Who memorabilia has proven to be a complicated proposition. There is a bewildering array of merchandise but no single guide available to collectors to provide descriptions and suggest values. Until collectors have such a guide at their disposal, they will have to rely on a combination of miscellaneous printed and online references, word of mouth and direct experience. Here is a far-from-exhaustive, yet strangely exhausting, list of collectibles:

Louis Marx Daleks (grey and black ‘mystery action’, aka ‘tricky action’, rolykins)
Herts Plastic Moulders push-along Daleks
Cadet Sweets Dalek sweet-cigarette cards
Cherilea Toys ‘Tempo’ Daleks
Peter Pan Toys Dalek paint-by-number set
Woolworth’s Dalek jigsaws
Selcol Ltd Dalek nursery toy
Lone Star Toys Anti-Dalek Rocket Gun
Anti-Dalek Fluid Neutraliser
Landing of the Daleks single
Go-go’s I’m Going to Spend My Christmas with a Dalek single
Century 21’s Daleks EP
Scorpion Automotives Dalek playsuits (original and simplified versions)
Scorpion Automotives Dalek punch bag
Dinky Toys GPO phone kiosk and blue police public call box gift set
Plaston TARDIS money-box
Chad Valley Toys Give-a-Show Projector
Sky Ray ice lolly Doctor Who trading cards
Frazer Hines’ Who is Doctor Who? single
Kellogg’s Sugar Smacks metal lapel badges (Doctor, Brigadier, Jo, Master)
Doctor Who wall poster (‘Colony in Space’ – Doctor menaced by giant claw)
Palitoy talking Dalek
Weetabix breakfast cereal promotion
Ty-Phoo Tea promotion
Nestles milk chocolate bars promotion
Today Promotions Doctor Who woollen scarf (long/extra long)
Action Man-scaled figures (Giant Robot, Cyberman, Dalek, TARDIS, K-9, Tom Baker, Leela)
(Readers should note that this is only half of Geoff’s original list – I cut it when I began to lose the will to live – Ed.)

Clearly, much of this material is pretty specialised (or, to be technical, ‘geek’) interest stuff. If you are not a Doctorhead, however, it should be a simple matter to work out where the most vibrant trading takes place. Just think ‘Doctor Who’ to yourself. What picture do you get? Police box, robot dog, unnecessarily long scarf, girl from another galaxy wearing a buckskin swimmie, Daleks.

Russell T. Davies, the scriptwriter for the new series, was heard on the radio the other day pointing out that several of the basic Doctor Who ideas that we now take for granted are actually astonishing: the TARDIS is bigger on the inside than on the outside, for example. Point that out to anyone over the age of thirty and they will say, “Yes....and?” Now, think about it. It’s an extraordinary invention. You could think about the beauty of that idea for a lifetime. Unfortunately, you couldn’t precisely replicate it in affordable toy form....

The Daleks were, and continue to be, the fuel behind the enormous merchandising machine associated with the programme. Most of the desirable memorabilia is inspired by the creatures from Skaro* and dates from the sixties, when merchandising licences were snapped up left, right and centre. The sixties’ toy shelves, if not the galaxy itself, belonged to the Daleks.

Louis Marx and Co. Ltd. released their range of Dalek toys in 1964. These were tiny 1” tall ‘rolykins’ that moved on a ball bearing and came in three colours: red, black and silver. Next there were the 4” friction-drive Daleks and the robot/tricky action or ‘Bump and Go’ Daleks. Mint-condition examples of the above, whilst not impossible to find, are extremely rare and command premium prices when offered for sale.

‘Bendy Bots’ were Dalek nursery toys made by Selcol, and were frankly rather crap and were also subject to the inevitable environmental problems associated with nurseries – they were eaten, or at least given a jolly good chew. Next up the range were ‘Cherilea’ Daleks. These small pocket-money range plastic toys were inexpensive enough for children to build entire armies. They had plenty of interchangeable parts to keep the kids busy. They were made in 1965; in good condition, they command between £50 and £100.

Even more desirable is a clockwork Dalek from 1964. Having been wound up, they moved in a fairly Dalek-like fashion – i.e. in a straight line, before falling over. They were made by Cowan de Groot (Codeg). The pictured item came in a box with a ‘Redmayne & Todd Ltd. (Nottingham)’ sticker; the original price was 14/11 of your Earth shillings and pence.

There were two Dalek dressing-up costumes available. The red PVC affair produced in 1965 by Berwick just about resembled a Dalek... Sadly, the crème de la crème, the ‘legendary’ 1964 Dalek from Scorpion Automotives was produced in limited numbers as the factory that made them suffered a fire which destroyed nearly all their stock and many of the parts required to make the suits. Only a couple are still in existence. Should one come up for sale, expect a price tag of thousands rather than hundreds.

Three Dalek annuals were produced in the sixties. The Dalek Book was followed by The Dalek World. The Dalek Outer Space Book did not feature the Doctor at all but centred on the Daleks’ conquest of the universe in adventures that the television series could only dream about. In good condition, these make about £40 to £70 each. In the 1960s and 1970s, several British firms began stuffing Doctor Who collector’s cards in product packages. Some are photographic scenes from the shows, while others are illustrations. The thing was you collected and swapped them until you had the set, which, when laid out, made a big picture on the back. Therefore, as not all collectors made a set, because they were fatty gingers and no one would swap with them, ner ner, there are not that many complete sets available. They range in size from a twelve-card set by Ty-Phoo Co. to a 50-card set entitled: ‘Doctor Who and the Daleks’ by Wall Ice Cream. A thirteen-card series of Walls cards from 1966, unhelpfully called ‘Doctor Who Adventure’, was recently offered on eBay for £30.

The show’s 25th anniversary in 1988* inspired not only tremendous celebrations – readers will doubtless remember the street parties, the Queen’s special address to the nation, the commemorative single by Phil Collins – but also the production of collectibles by the ton, including oversized pictorial art cards and countless ‘official books’, such as Doctor Who: 25 Glorious Years by Peter Haining. At the time the ‘collectable’ status of these items might have been in question, but I would get in quick.

Back to the good old days. 1965 saw the cinematic release of Doctor Who and the Daleks starring Peter Cushing as dotty inventor, rather than mysterious time traveller from another world. The full-length feature film was spectacular, the sets were great, the Daleks were far better than their television cousins and it was in colour. The incredible success of this film meant that a sequel was quickly commissioned and made. Daleks – Invasion Earth 2150 AD, based on the six-part TV account of the catastrophe, was superior in scale to the first film thanks to an increased budget. However, it was not quite as successful as the first and so plans for a third were scrapped. However, there was a curious movie tie-in with Sugar Puffs (of all things), and, indeed, if you look at the opening scenes set in London, you will see that there is a single advert for the puffed-wheat breakfast cereal on an otherwise empty advertising hoarding – an early and rather bizarre example of product placement.

After this, Dalekmania began to subside. The Daleks were apparently killed off in the explosive climax to the 1967 TV story Evil of the Daleks, and that appeared to be that. However, in 1972, producer Barry Letts decided it was time for the Daleks to return to the small screen in Day of the Daleks. This was heralded by a spectacular cover on the Radio Times, which, along with ones for the Dalek Invasion of Earth (1964) and Power of the Daleks (1966), is among the most sought-after items. Easier to come by but just as nice was the Snowdon photograph of a black-and-silver Dalek that graced the cover of the Radio Times in November 1999.

Five years had gone by and merchandisers began to take notice again. Dalek jigsaws began to appear, as did a new range of Louis Marx Daleks, in red and yellow colour schemes. Tom Baker’s time as the Doctor saw the return of the Dalek annuals. Four were produced between 1976 and 1979. British toy maker Denys Fisher had a range of Doctor Who dolls available in the seventies that featured Baker as the Fourth Doctor*, his companion Leela* (the buckskin swimmie lady played by Louise Jameson*), K-9 the robot dog (no asterisk for that), a Cyberman, the TARDIS, the Giant Robot from Baker’s debut story* and, of course, a Dalek. This toy was, at that time, the most accurate Dalek toy ever made, silver with a red dome. This is the rarest of the Fisher range and has a price to match.

Palitoy’s Talking Dalek is easier to come by. In either red with black spots or silver with blue spots, it speaks several menacing phrases at the push of a button. You can pick one up quite easily for around the £100 mark – more for a flawless example. The packaging was stunning, and as is so often the case packaging in good condition can be worth more than the contents. Finally, on eBay, 99 quid for a scarf! Buy some wool and get knitting, say I.

Some US prices:

Postcard, published by the BBC, 1980s of Tom Baker as the Doctor – $10
Art card published by Who Dares Publishing, showing five of the Doctors – $5
Action figure, Mego Corp., 1977 Doctor Who (Tom Baker), in original package – $200
Leela (companion) – $50
Cyberman – $35
Playset of TARDIS spaceship, 1980s – $25
Note card, front illustration of Tom Baker as the Doctor, 1980s – $10
Jigsaw puzzles, set of 4, 8”x14”, 1979, in original packaging – $20
‘The Game of Time and Space’ board game, mint in original packaging, 1980 – $25
Collector card premium set of 12 by Ty-Phoo, 1980s mint – $20
Promotional video kit for 1996 made-for-TV movie, inside of miniature police call box – $25
Playing cards, deck, 1970s – $20

If you are fired with the urge to mix it with the world’s Doctor Who traders after reading this, you may just have time to scoot along to Europe’s largest collector’s event. The Memorabilia Show returns to the NEC on the 2nd and 3rd of April for another weekend of nostalgia. You’ll be able, says the press release, to rub shoulders with famous names from the worlds of cult TV, movies and sport while shopping for your collectibles.

The Memorabilia Show has become the ‘must attend event’ for collectors and fans of film, sci-fi, cult TV, pop and sporting memorabilia and is the place to buy and trade with more than 650 dealers from the UK and around the world. Whatever it is you collect, whether props, toys, posters, comic books, autographs, books and DVDs, the chances are there will be something you want to buy and someone who will be able to help you.

The Star Wars area will celebrate the six movies with props and replicas and a host of special guests including ‘the dark lord of the Sith’ himself, Darth Vader – known to his mum as actor Dave Prowse. Toy manufacturer Hasbro will also be there to preview the forthcoming first wave of Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith merchandise. Whatever that means.

In the Doctor Who area, you’ll get the opportunity to meet the fourth Dr – Tom Baker – and the sixth – Colin Baker*. There will be life-size replicas of the TARDIS, Daleks and a host of other monsters and props from the universe of Doctor Who. You can also have your photograph taken in front of a giant CGI screen that will place you in a scene from the show. Golly. And, doubtless, for the nervous, there will be plenty of sofas to hide behind.

Geoff Havers


©Government Auction News 2005