Let’s shed some light on the issue.

Quite often people get in contact with me to ask various prop related questions, usually it’s about the TARDIS, the console, K9 or whatever and I really don’t mind helping out if I can.  Sometimes people like the answer, sometimes they don’t.  I’ve had a few people get a little irate with me in the past when they’ve tried to sell “original” props through various high-profile international auction houses only for me to put a bit of a spanner in the works.  It’s not always like this, just from time to time. 

What usually happens here is that representatives of these institutions get in contact with me and invite me over for appraisal of the item in question, I’ll have a look and give them my honest thoughts.  If I’m on the fence, I usually pass them on to someone else for a second opinion as I think that’s more than fair.  The best one recently was when an original condition movie Dalek from the second Peter Cushing film was offered for auction in London…  I pointed out a few tell-tale signs about the over-all shape that illustrated that it couldn’t be what it was claimed to be and then finally showed them the killer blow; it was made from MDF.  Somehow, I don’t think this material was around in the mid 1960s.  Oops!

Anyway, in the last month I’ve had numerous people ask me about the new TARDIS prop as used by the 11th Doctor, Matt Smith – and the topic of the lamp that it uses has cropped up a hell of a lot.  It’s funny how things cycle through people’s interest at more or less the same time.  I guess this is all down to the newness of it all.

So here we have, below, a sort of chart showing the two new props.  On the left is the non screen used Promotional TARDIS and on the right, the screen used Hero TARDIS as utilised throughout all 13 episodes of series five.  You can play a game of “Spot the Difference” – just like I invited you to a month or so ago.

Okay then.  It’s more than clear that the basic over-all shape and dimensions are identical, as is the construction method.  However, it’s the details that differ and these give us a few clues as to what’s going on.  It’s my belief that the Promotional prop was built at a later stage to the Hero prop.  Why?  Well because the construction of the phone panel graphic plate is more simplified for a start, the “Police Public Call Box” top sign graphics are very different, even down to the changed font and it has a completely different lamp on the roof.  If these were built in tandem, they’d be absolutely identical as there is absolutely no rhyme or reason to change the details just for the sake of it, it simply creates more work than is necessary.

Back on topic, we’re here to talk lamps.  So let’s crack on.

HERO TV PROP – “Anchor” Oil Lamp:
These have recently been discontinued, though if you keep your eye out and check around any chandlers that happen to be near you (or trawl the web) you may find somewhere with some still left in stock.  All the places that I usually use don’t have them anymore, but if you had the inclination to do a protracted search, you may prove to be rather more productive than me.

These lamps are hand assembled and finished, are approximately 15cm (6″) in diameter and have four spokes that hold the upper and lower brass sections clamped firmly around the fresnelled beacon in the middle.  They also have a hanging rail on the top and a pull rail on the bottom.  Ostensibly, they are oil lamps, though at the point of purchase you could have them modified with a ceiling light fixing, thus providing the internal illumination via a standard house bulb.

When used on the prop, the lamp was modified somewhat, having the two rails removed – unfortunately doing this left unsightly holes in the top and bottom brass sections, though rather than fill them, further holes were drilled into these sections to make them into a feature and possibly also to provide a bit of ventilation for the newly attached electrical light fitting that was secured inside.  The top of the flip over access lid was cut off and decorated with the cap from one of the old style candle lanterns as used in the previous four series – the assembly was then sprayed blue to match the rest of the prop.  **I have to make it abundantly clear here, I’m saying the cap from the old style of candle lantern lamp was used here, NOT one of the actual lamp caps from the older props – that would be just silly… I’ve been told recently that some people have understood it that I was suggesting parts from a previous prop was removed and placed on the new Series Five prop.  Not so. 

PROMOTIONAL PROP – “New Haven” 60 watt Wall Lamp: 
Still currently available, I’ve seen these in Home Base (UK) just a few months ago and they retail at just under £36 including VAT.  They’re a little smaller than the “Anchor” lantern, coming in at approximately 13cm (5″) wide, so proportionally, they look a little off when compared to the tv Hero prop lantern.  The other differences are that they have six spoke arm rods keeping the upper and lower metal sections fixed to the inner lens as well as a wall fitting on the lower metal casing.

On the Promotional prop lamp, two (opposing) arms of the six present have been removed which results in some very un-even spacing between the remaining four.  As with the other lamp, the top has been modified and given a cap from the previous series’ candle lantern, though because of the size, this tends to make this fixture look too tall, quite skinny and very much top-heavy.  For obvious reasons, the wall fitting had to be removed too – then the unit was sprayed blue as before.

It’s more than likely that as this prop was built a little later than the Hero version, the builders could no-longer obtain the original “Anchor” fitting that was used previously and thus opted to use something similar, effectively thinking that it was perhaps their only option; it probably didn’t matter that much as no-one would pay that close attention to the differences… they forget about us prop researchers, everything comes under close scrutiny, no matter how insignificant.


So there you are – the differences in a lamp.  Now isn’t that just fascinating?  No, I know, but there you are.  Next we’ll be talking about how to tell the difference between your arse and your elbow, so stay tuned for another thrilling installment of, “The Things around Us.”

By the way…  Just as a final point, when I talk about the lamp’s diameter size, I am actually  referring specifically to the lens itself and not the whole unit – it’s just how they are listed in catalogues.  This did cause me some confusion when I first started to look into this sort of thing all those years ago and you’d think I’d have learnt by now, but no, I still trip up over this!

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~ by PurpleBlancmange on June 14, 2010.

19 Responses to “Let’s shed some light on the issue.”

  1. We nerds must stick together.

    And yes, it does suck to tell someone what that think is a TV/Movie prop is in fact a replica. Remember the supposed Cushing TARDIS at the Who Shop, even though we have seems figured out it was blown up in an Avengers episode?

    • That’s the thing about the WHO Shop TARDIS, I remember very clearly telling the owners at least 10 years ago about the fate of the original in “Target” the New Avengers episode. They even agreed with me!

      Funny how they soon forgot this fact when talking to other people. It’s their choice, it doesn’t bother me and if that’s what they want to claim it is, then fair play to them.

  2. Interesting, both lights had been pulled up on the forums as possible candidates for the construction of the NNST (if they redesign is will it becomes the NNNST? lol)

    I am going to ask you a question, and if you cannot answer it I fully understand however… Do you have any idea about the lamp used on the 96 movie TARDIS? As that is the one I am building and as things stand I am merely considering finding a complete lantern that looks “something like” and butchering it. Obviously if you have any further information or decent images of it I can try to match it a little better.

    • The 1996 TV Movie prop used a lamp that was pretty much identical to the 2010 prop. All they did was to completely remove the flip over lid, retain the four brass spoke arms and then place the unit inside the standard “TARDIS” type lamp housing – you know, four upright dowels with a wooden (square in this case) cap.

      Hopefully that’ll answer your question.

  3. That’s about what I knew anyway, well the build of it, seems that if it is the same basic lamp as the 2010 build I am pretty much SOL for finding one and finding one cheaply lol

    • Well I wish you all the luck finding one. The one used on the 2010 box has been discontinued, but that’s only that particular brand, however, other manufacturers must still be doing other models that look the same or very much like this one.

      It’s just a case of doing a thorough search and not giving up.

      As for the construction, it is very straight forward. A simple piece of work that should only take a couple of hours at most to do from start to finish.

  4. Quite informative and thank you for sharing.

  5. Hey Purp..love the blog…I may have found the hero prop lantern online…but they do not list the Fresnel size only that it is 14″
    Do you know the height of the Anchor light?
    Thanks Purp for all you do.

    • Thanks, glad you like the blog – I was beginning to wonder a while back whether I should carry on or not, but as I do write about family stuff as well, I will keep going… plus if people want to know stuff, I’m happy to oblige.

      Sounds to me like you’ve found a good match for the oil lantern. As I say above, it’s only one particular brand that has been discontinued – the one the BBC used, but there are others out there as you have discovered.

      14″ in height is identical to the BBC one before it was cut down, so no worries there for you! Congratulations on the find.

  6. I enjoy reading the comments as much as i do the actual blog :)…thnks Purp and everyone :)

  7. Aha, now I know where the good Doctor (Iz) found the lamp
    Hi Purple ol son, hope things are well

    • Things are well, yes. Thanks!

      Oddly enough, when we had the snow late last year, I was almost stranded in your town while out delivering something on Christmas Eve! (No, I’m not Father Christmas, by the way.) I did think of you then.

  8. Its interesting the differenced between the two boxes, from lamp to signage…makes them both very much different versions. I wonder if we will see the promo version end up in the series. I do quite like that version of the lamp too.

  9. Interesting stuff. Curious, I am about complete with my Hartnell Build. Since most of the Original Brachacki Box photos are in B/W it is difficult to gather what the Colour of the box really was. Any thoughts? I painted mine Blue Bolt from ICI Dulux which is Venitian Crystal 2 in UK.

    • Well, I can’t give you a specific colour as it doesn’t seem to be documented – well, it is, but I don’t know what the hell the code means and I’m sure it’s part of some in-house system that no-longer is in use.

      However, VC2 is a good choice, but make sure you really splash the black filth wash over it to really darken the prop up. Once you’ve done that, selectively dry brush the VC2 back over the box to give a sort of highlight effect – it’s what they did with the original TARDIS. Have you textured it? This will make your job a lot easier.

  10. no I didnt texture it. wanted to go for a clean build. Might do that in future.
    On the black wash, I saw Jon’s box and I dont know if I want to black was her. I like the new look. Maybe down the road I might. I know Jon has your email addy. I will make sure he sends you some pics when I get it assembled. Very VERY HUMID here right now so giving the paint some extra time to dry.

    • If you do want to add black in the future, do it with a very thin wash of pure colour, by this I mean watery. It’ll look very subtle on the first application, but will darken with subsequent washes, so you just stop when you think you’ve gone far enough. (If I remember correctly, Jon went for a heavy distressed look with paint pretty much out of the tin… I’m sure he could tell you what he did.) Then if you want, you can dry brush on your base coat here and there, just to highlight things.


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