Childhood memories: Classic Doctor Who toys.
Every now and again, rather like the past few days, I’m overwhelmed by a sense of happy nostalgia and often it becomes all-consuming to the point that I’m in danger of slipping into a maudlin pining for the past. You know, those halcyon days when I didn’t have to worry about the future, where my next job will be coming from or ‘Why is it so quiet upstairs? The kid’s must be up to something – and something that isn’t good and quite possibly rather painful in the wallet regions’… that sort of thing.
Some of you must remember those times. Not my times, of course, but your own. Times when the summers were actually hot and flares were trendy, even though I hated them at the time – and still do. Nothing says “Major Bell End” than someone wandering around, dressed like a hippy when they’re not even old enough to remember the 1990s, let alone the 1960s and 1970s. There was a song in the charts within the last few years where the young songstress clearly didn’t know what the hell she was on about, talk about confusing the issue – one of the well informed jewels of knowledge was something along the lines of, ‘I wanna be a punk rocker with flowers in my hair.’ Um, no dear. That’s the last thing a punk would have up there.
Hmm, I’m straying off the point now – I also just got distracted by the fact that I’ve used the term “Bell End” – how uncouth of me. One day (read that as probably never) I’ll tell you a naughty story about how a very famous Doctor Who prop was deliberately modelled on just such an appendage of the male standing for a joke… you’ll never watch the show again in the same light. Go on, see if you can work it out. It’ll be so obvious when you notice it.
If you were to ask me to show you an image that symbolises my own childhood, it would probably be one of the three that I’ve included here today.
Ahhh. The Denys Fisher toys. *Warm glow*
Christmas 1977. I received The TARDIS, the Doctor, K9 and Leela and to me, they were the best things ever. The Doctor broke immediately, literally as I took him out of the box and when he was returned to Father Christmas, he didn’t have any left so he replaced him with an annual for The Fall Guy. I was less than impressed. Fuming even and rather deflated.
K9′s ears and tail were also rather fragile and didn’t survive. I think that I had two or three replacements over the next few years and of course they all broke. Leela survived intact for many years, though for some reason I later modified her into Wonder Woman. God knows why, I just did, then she went the way of all things… in the bin, I expect.
The TARDIS was the thing that I adored. I played with it all the time, it went everywhere with me and I’d spend hours with it, zooming it through the time vortex… the lino in the kitchen. Then one day, tragedy struck. Traffic and obstacles were high on this particular occasion and it struck a piece of cosmic debris – or the cooker to you and me. The TARDIS’ front doors sheered right off their fragile little peg hinges. If I knew the many swear words that I do now at that tender age, I’m sure I’d have chosen a choice few. I was gutted.
One day not too long after that fateful day, the TARDIS mysteriously disappeared, never to be seen again. Or so my parents thought.
I was out in the garden some weeks later and I just happened to look in my Dad’s shed for something and to my utter surprise, there was my doorless TARDIS. I picked it up and trudged back into the house with it and joyfully presented my wonderous find to my Dad with the challenge of repairing it for me. How could he resist my innocent boyish charm? He couldn’t, so off he went with it.
Later he returned with it and while he tried his best, it was just no-longer the same. I kind of expected him to re-use the original doors, but no, instead he used a piece of unpainted ply wood. Not just that but it clearly wasn’t big enough with a gap at the top and the bottom of the opening. If anything, it now looked like a Turdis, a Police Bog. There was something lavatorial about it. I’m not saying that his workmanship was “shit”, far from it, I’m simply saying that he turned the toy into something that now seemed to resemble a public convenience, rather than the time machine that I knew and loved.
I didn’t play with it much after that. I sound so ungrateful, but I wasn’t – it’s just that it wasn’t the same anymore. Kids can be fickle. Or at least I could. Perfectionism was a curse to me even then.
After decades of lusting after one, I finally bought the very one you see in the photo above there, from eBay - several years ago. Usually just the TARDIS alone goes for well over £200, but I got mine (boxed and in near perfect condition for its age) with the Doctor for a little under 50 quid. Pleased? Was I ever. I punched the air when I realised I’d won it for such a low amount – luckily the air didn’t mind that little demonstration of mindless brutality.
I’m so happy to have it, but recovering my childhood toys is not yet complete.
The Palitoy talking Dalek. I never did get the Denys Fisher version and to be honest, I always prefered this Dalek toy, especially as it could speak.
For years I heard on good authority that there were actually three variants; the common red with black spots and the silver with blue spots, but then there was the mega rare one – silver with black spots – where only a small handful of “production errors” were known to exist. literally, 5 or 6 of them.
Thing was, the rare one wasn’t rare at all – there were three standard versions. I must have gone through at least three silver with black spots myself and I know that a couple of friends of mine also had that one too.
One of my fondest memories is of my Dad taking me and my brother several times to a shop called Tandy that sold these Dalek toys. They had a whole wall staked floor to ceiling with them. I’d always go for the silver version, denoted by a silver Dalek with black spots on the box – but you’d never know until you got it home whether you had the blue spotted version or the black. That was part of the fun. The red one had a red Dalek with black spots on the box, this is the one that my brother would go for, just so that we knew which Dalek was whose… I’d always end up with his anyway when he got bored with it.
Yeah, I know. The Dalek shown here has the wrong box.
We pretty much played with these Dalek toys to destruction. Over the course of say about 5 years, I think my Dad bought twelve of theses for us, six each. Possibly more. One year, I was cleaning up and repairing what we had left of them to make a good batch and I left them out for a few days – all stripped right down and in their respective parts. I must have got side tracked with something else (as I usually do) and when I came back to work on them and finish up the refurb, they were no-where to be seen!
My Dad had assumed they were broken and threw them out!
So. I am bereft of Palitoy talking Daleks. I never quite got over it really. I’ve seen some on eBay of varying quality but never made the reach for them for some reason or other. I don’t even mind the repro arms and box versions that are out there, I just want to recreate what I used to have. One day I will. I’ll bide my time.
Right, I shall leave this little wander through Nostalgia Lane and carry on listening to these Beach Boy tracks that I’ve dug out and have been listening to repetitively whilst I’ve been writing this entry. My poor wife… I get around, round, round, round, I geeeet around – yeah!