Airfix 1/12 'Dr. Who - Welcome Aboard'
working light and sound effects.5
That nice man from Gallifrey
„The Doctor“ has managed
to keep his real name secret for almost 50 years by now. He was created
show aimed at educating juveniles, as a time traveller who was able to visit all
sorts of places and events Britain´s youth needed elucidation on. To ease the
rather limited budget, his time machine looked exactly like one of the then
ubiquitous police emergency call cells.
it was far bigger on the inside, or the poor humanoid would have suffered severe
discomfort on his epic journeys. In fact, it seems the actual inside is vast and
contains hundreds of rooms. Later on in the show, its look was explained by a
malfunction of its supposedly camouflaging „chameleon circuit“. This (admittedly
unique and rather weird) craft was called the TARDIS for Time And Relative
Dimension In Space. Another
clever idea was that the Doctor wasn´t just very long-lived, but also able to
regenerate and morph into a different person upon serious injuries. This must
have taken the wind out of many fee negotiations, as any actor in that role was
per se replaceable.
The show developed way
beyond the wildest dreams of its creators. Not only did it widen its scope away
from what we today would call edutainment to pure entertainment with loads of
fun and thrills, it also attracted clever writers who developed gripping
storylines and all sorts of villains to be encountered by the succession of
Doctors and their, ahem, companions (most of them of the female and not entirely
unattractive persuasion) Meagre budgets made for a decidedly trashy look
(especially in hindsight, obviously) but the show became a veritable British
icon and funneled the imagination of generations of kids. Over the years, an
entire mythology and a veritable Whoniverse were created, with all sorts of
alien civilizations and their clashes. The Doctor became the sole survivor of
the race of the Time Lords from planet Gallifrey, travelling through space and
time and fighting against injustice wherever he came, protecting Earth from all
sorts of alien and other attacks over the decades.
the advent of big budget SF shows, the show started a decline that led to a
hiatus between 1989 and 2003 (save one TV film in 1996). At that time, the
decided on a relaunch of the show to be being produced by its Welsh Division,
Cymru at Cardiff. Writer Russell T Davies and Producer Julie Gardener need to be
named as the driving force behind the relaunch that was aimed at combining
up-to-date production values with a deep devotion to the spirit of the show.
The relaunch started in 2005 with
Christopher Eccleston as the ninth Doctor and Billie Piper as his companion,
Rose Tyler. Reviews and viewer reception both were very favorable, and the show
has been continued since, now heading for a 50th anniversary in 2013.
When Eccleston left after one season, Scottish actor David Tennant took over as
the Doctor for three seasons, leaving a lasting impression and sad fans when
replaced by Matt Smith in 2010. The show spawned various spin-offs such as
Torchwood or the Sarah Jane Adventures.
Today, Doctor Who is
gripping entertainment for the whole family, with likable characters, intriguing
storylines, both moments serious, fun and sad and a big potential for addiction.
In our household, it´s the perfect show to put in the
machine on a pleasant night of escapism from reality.
Merchandising the show
Well, the most extreme
case in that regard must have been the (fictional!) brawl at a fan con in
Seattle when it came to blows over a Doctor Who TARDIS, leaving one participant
missing one ear. Luckily he landed in the capable, even though perpetually
challenged hands of the plastic surgery team at Seattle Grace / Mercy West
Hospital. The disputed item in this episode of Grey´s Anatomy looked
remarkably similar to the one subject of this review, but mine was obtained for
about 20 British Pounds at Telford Scale Model World 2010, which wasn´t quite
easy and involved trekking through the venue and asking a lot of vendors whether
they had a kit or were able to obtain one. It seems this kit was pretty popular
during its production run between 2007 and 2009, as it was hard to find.
As with the Wallace and
Gromit franchise, Airfix (which was relaunched at about the same time as Doctor
Who) teamed with the
to produce gift sets aimed at juveniles. This set was the first to be issued,
sadly only one other was ever produced. The big and sturdy box is chock full of
stuff, it contains a pretty large TARDIS and two figures of the Doctor luring
his latest companion into his ship. At thet time, Billie Piper had left the
show, and Freema Agyeman took over. It´s the moment before she first enters the
TARDIS in the episode „Smith and Jones“ which is depicted in the scene.
The bigger-on-the-inside effect is
cleverly hinted at with some partial interior and a printed screen which is to
be placed inside the TARDIS. The TARDIS roof contains the light and sound chip
and the batteries needed to power it. Upon opening the door, the chracteristic
whooshing sound and blinking of the light atop the TARDIS is activated. The
large and sturdy parts are well molded, and the full colour instruction booklet
is just excellent, giving all the necessary informations plus a very good
beginner´s course on painting, weathering and accentuating. As usual for a gift
set, glue, paintbrushes and paints are included. The figures are partly
represented from vinyl, which is at least my personal bugbear when it comes to
working with it.
Now this is another feel-good kit,
when it comes to building the TARDIS itself. Large and uncomplicated parts,
easily cleaned up, nice to be glued, good fit, and loads of space for fun in
preshading and accentuating. I pretty soon had the basic box completed. I looked
for CG textures on the net and found a nice tile floor, which I printed out and
glued to the TARDIS floor. Placing the inside effects screen was rather tricky
and needed some tweaking, but it was all very much doable. The windows were
screened with paper from the inside. As with weathering, I took care not to
overdo things but to make the blue box look old and used.
figures were a different kettle of fish. The vinyl parts were a bear to clean
up, and still didn´t look perfect. I found some automotive primer which had some
grip on the material, but it was far from satisfying. Painting the faces and
especially eyes was daunting for one completely unused to it, but I soldiered
on, working from screenshots from the show and the images in the booklet. I did
less accentuating than a dedicated figure modeler would do, but then I´m no
friend of today´s „this one goes to eleven“ school of face painting, and I
wouldn´t compete with this birthday present for SWMBO anyway.
I spent some time trying to convert
the figures to an easier assembly sequence. In my eyes, I want to first assemble
all the subassemblies, then clean them up, then prime and paint them and finally
bring it all together. I don´t want to trap a head between body parts, then
assemble and clean them up, and then start painting the head. So I did some
tweaking to steer around this obstacle. Mostly fit was quite OK, even though the
Doctor´s arms and legs needed some filling and sanding. Martha was easier in
this respect, but painting the pattern on her top took some concentration. I
much enjoyed adding wear patterns to her jeans, though, which was quite easy
using the airbrush.
I was utterly unable to replicate the
Doctor´s pinstriped suit, so left him without any pattern on the suit. The coat
was treated with oil paints to add some surface texture hinting at the material.
Care was taken to replicate Tennant´s typical 5´o clock shadow, pastel chalks
worked very well here.
earrings were replaced by wire items, apart from that the figures are OOB.
Martha´s assembly proved an exercise in frustration, as her cleavage wouldn´t
want to conform with her scanty garments, but somehow I tucked the one into the
other and called it a day.
Early on, I had decided to house the
scene into a display box, and tried a German company that produces custom
acrylic boxes which come as kits and are assembled using screws. This looks not
as nice as professionally glued boxes, but is good value for money. I very soon
had my box in hand and assembled it. The base consists of two parts and has a
snug fit with the cover. I needed to add some felt-covered pads to the underside
to prevent scratching the furniture as I did screw the TARDIS to the base. The
base proper was created using sandpaper which was masked and sprayed and
weathered to give that unique dingy back alley look. I added a printout of an
election poster from the show, but refrained from adding more rubbish. The
figures were secured to the base via pins in their feet and holes drilled into
This is a very nice gift set, even though some experience with vinyl
would make construction of the figures as cheerful as that of the blue box. It
was a very well received birthday gift and still has pride of place in
If you would like your product reviewed fairly and fairly quickly, please contact the editor or see other details in the
Back to the Main Page
Back to the Reviews Index Page