August 30, 2006
Genesis of the Homemade Daleks: Part 2!!!

Invasion of the paper Daleks!

It's true: Genesis of the Homemade Daleks: Part 2 (!!!) is finally online. No excuses, but part of the reason I took so long with this is that the Dalek-making process continued to evolve even as I began writing the piece, including the addition of the LED lights right up through my attempt to replace the paper dome in the latest model with a rounder plastic hemisphere just this past weekend. Anyway, given that the directions are detailed in full at The Ultimate Dalek Factory, the majority of this article contains my musings about the creation process, the improvements upon the original design, my comments regarding the new colored templates themselves (along with the downloads!), and various other issues that came up during the creation of the revised paper Dalek. One thing I didn't mention, however, is that the dollar store Fix-All Adhesive that I used in place of the craptastic glue stick at certain points (which I also used last time) is apparently known to cause cancer in the state of California. I'm not sure why it would cause cancer in California and not elsewhere, but if I happen to become violently ill and die within the next six months, you can truthfully say that I was exterminated by Daleks. Long live Skaro-Crayon.

I also wanted to add some general comments about the Dalek toys and toys in general. During my various Dalek-related web searches, I came across this article on the BBC site regarding the creation of the Doctor Who toys. It's an interesting piece, but I think that the viewpoint expressed by Alasdair Dewar in the content -- at least when taken to the extreme, which it arguably has been when one can't find a decent Dalek toy under $30 -- is exactly the reason that the toy industry is hurting. I quote:

There has to be a drive against producing cheap - but essentially poor value - goods with a logo slapped on them. ... Whenever a feature film comes out there are a lot of cheap giveaway toys that appear via fast food outlets etc. Very rarely do these have any real function, play value or integrity relating to the actual film. It's most often an existing mechanism or idea redressed. I hate that, as that really is just 'label slapping' and offers no long-term play or fun to the kids. ... You may not get the remote control Dalek without Mum and Dad's help, but I bet you're still playing with it long after you get it.

And while I guess I share Dewar's apparent disdain for cheap licensed toys -- and by "cheap" I mean things that fall apart at a ginger touch, not cheap in that they aren't remote controlled talking things with various lights and whatnot -- I recall being extremely excited about getting those cheap McDonald's Happy Meal and Burger King Kids' Club offerings as a kid. (Hell, even now, if Dairy Queen offered cheap Dalek figurines with every Blizzard, I'd have brain freeze for days.) So maybe I'm taking Dewar's comments too far, but I think the larger problem with toys these days is that the folks designing and marketing them aren't thinking like kids. Simply put, today's toys -- or at least today's "boy" toys -- aren't really for kids. I mean, just look at them. Remember the Spider-Man 2 figures, with their 39 and 46 points of articulation? I don't know who that was for, but I don't even think I knew what articulation meant when I was in elementary school. Many of those Spidey figures are still hanging from pegs at Toys 'R' Us stores across America -- the ones that didn't close for lack of business, anyway -- at this very moment.

When I was a kid, sure, I got a kick out of RC gadgets and motorized toys, but contrary to Dewar's remarks, these expensive offerings were rarely toys that I played with for very long. The one larger toy that actually had staying power in my toy collection was the Dino Riders T-Rex -- and not because it advanced and roared with the flip of a button, but because the T-Rex could fairly easily be integrated into my adventures with other toys. I removed and misplaced the armor for it ages ago and the D battery that powered it calcified in place, but it's still within eyeshot of me even as I type this article. The Shredder rode on its back as the Foot battled the TMNT in prehistoric times; it once worked for the Penguin and gnawed away at the top of the Batmobile; the McDonald's Happy Meal Super Mario Bros. toys bounced on its back and called it Papa Yoshi as they pursued Tokka (who, for the purposes of that adventure, became King Koopa) through farthest regions of the Mushroom Kingdom.

But you can't do that with a RC toy, which is essentially a solitary beast. You've got to use both hands to control the damned thing! They don't work terribly well in situations where one would want to play with multiple toys, so they command a kid's exclusive attention during playtime -- and after I drove my cars around the cul de sac for about a week and showed them off to my three friends, they were promptly relegated to the bottom of that yellow crate in my closet. I was never keen on talking figures either -- they were cool when they first appeared on the scene, but soon after getting them I stopped using their talking functions altogether. Again, it had to do with integrating them into toy adventures, and for that to happen figures have to be able to speak more than three scripted lines ad infinitum with the same freaking inflection every time. I preferred to do their lines myself.

Maybe today's kids have changed -- or maybe they're different in the UK -- and are clamoring for uber-expensive talking RC Daleks. Maybe I was (and remain, I guess!) an unusual kid. I dunno. Were I a kid today, I would've been happy with a silent, stationary figure that opened up to reveal the freaking Dalek mutant inside. I can move a toy with my own hands and bellow, "EXTERMINATE!" as loudly as I please (it's kinda fun, really), but little creative touches like that go a long way towards really bringing toys to life. Toys with kung fu chopping action got old quick, but I still fondly remember Storage Shell Michaelangelo. A secret compartment to house all of the accessories -- not to mention that jewel Shredder needs to complete his doomsday device -- built into the figure? Pure genius, and I'm shocked that the new line hasn't seen fit to implement this feature. The Mutations figures paled in comparison.

Seriously, out of all of the new Doctor Who merchandise, I've got to say that the thing I want most is the Dalek shower and bath gel. It's cheap, it looks the part, and I imagine that the head screws off and it's got a hollow interior, which means it could easily support a tiny Kaled mutant with a few modifications on my part. And it's not even really a toy!

Anyway, thanks for reading -- and remember to show me your Daleks! That voice you hear is your inner Davros shouting, "EXTERMINATE!!!" πŸ™‚

-posted by Wes | 11:03 pm | Comments (20)
20 Comments »
  • I just want to point out that today was my birthday (techinically it's over now I guess).

    Anyway, back on topic, this is fucking cool. I've in the past made paper toys like this, but this definately takes it to the next level.

    Two things I may very well try...

    1.) Making "custom paint job" Daleks with grafitti designs and celebrity pictures et cetera. (especially one covered in Pokιmon Ash+Misty fanart).

    2.) Using the same technique as these Daleks to solve a simular action-figure problem involving a different show. Namely, making homemade paper toys based on the monsters from Code Lyoko. After all, It's not like I can just go and buy a whole bunch of "Bloc" monsters any more than you can just buy a whole bunch of Daleks. And, I wonder if anyone's taking the paper model approach to TMNT's Mousers yet.

  • Wes says:

    Happy belated, Tetsu. I hope you had fun!

    Those Bloks do indeed look cool -- and apparently they're getting relatively inexpensive figure representations right around now! -- but yeah a whole army of them would be pretty expensive (whereas even one Dalek is pretty daunting in terms of price). I'd probably go about making them with a simple printed box template with red pipe cleaners (or taped up newspaper shapes) for the legs.

    Speaking of box templates, there's a printout for making your own Hellraiser Lament Configuration here. To say nothing of Bison dollars...

    And I don't think anyone's made any paper Mousers, but that's probably because there's never been an official pattern released for them. Making paper toys -- especially when they're fairly involved robot forms -- can be pretty complicated! Making a Mouser that lacked the chomping action would be fairly easy, though.

    I kind of want to try making paper Mousers and Bloks now. :/

  • I am totally printing out a bunch of Bison dollars now. I think they'd make good "prize money" for a really dumb contest.

    Anyway, I think tomorrow I'll start work on Blok and Mouser patterns (Bloks probably easy, Mousers probably hard).

  • agustinaldo says:

    What if Wes actually gets hired by either McDonalds or Burger King to design their future Happy Meals toys?

  • Wes says:

    Tetsu: Yes, I imagine Bloks would be fairly easy -- at least in the basic design department -- but you may run into trouble with the actual "faces" (at least insofar as you want to make them look really keen) unless you've got some particularly good screencaps or a tablet to facilitate the drawing. I wouldn't like to draw Bloks using a mouse!

    agustinaldo: You know, that would be a fantastic job. Kids' meal toys haven't been very exciting at all in the last few years -- I think the most attractive ones have been the Sharkboy and Lavagirl promo items, which suffered from being linked to a pretty weak film -- so it'd be nice to inject some much-needed life and creativity into those offerings.

    Hey, does anyone remember the McDonald's food items that transformed into robots? I'm hoping they'll bring that idea back when the new CG Transformers film is released next year. Those things were fantastic.

  • Yeah, I don't draw *anything* with a mouse. I live by the scanner! In fact, I'd be lost without it. And, since I have recorded almost every episode of CL with my trusty homemade DVD recorder (have I ever mentioned how much I love that show), finding referrence material should be easy.

    And, yeah out of all the Happy Meal toys to exist, I think "Changeables" are by far the number #1 best. (Mc Boo pails are a close second).

  • Wes says:

    You made a DVD recorder yourself?! o_O That sounds pretty amazing.

    As far as the Bloks go, if you've got a bunch of the episodes on file, you should be able to make some really cool paper ones from screencaps! I found a tiny screencap of a Blok and mocked this quick thing up. Obviously, one would need a cap of the box top (or simply remove an eye) and a bottom attached to one of the sides -- and you probably wouldn't want to have such defined lines between the sides -- but there's the idea. As noted, I'd probably make the legs out of some other material. (Legs made from newspaper and masking tape -- covered with red tape for visual effect -- might be a good way of pulling that off.) Anyway, keep me posted with your progress -- I'd be interested in making my own blok. πŸ™‚

    By the way, I don't know why this didn't occur to me before, but screw the glue and go for double-sided tape! If only I'd thought of it sooner... then maybe I wouldn't be at risk for Californian cancer.

  • Yeah, I made it out of old beer cans mostly. It's held together with chewing-gum and duct-tape. The drive is actually made of an old egg carton!

    Seriously though, I actually have no idea why I typed the word "homemade" in that post. I think I was thinking of the term "homemade DVD" often refering to what would really be a home *recorded* DVD and it kind of slipped in when I was typing. I'd be fairly embarassed if I could stop laughing.

    Anyway, the DVD recorder (which I sadly didn't really make myself, though now I wish I had) hooks up to the TV rather than the computer (more like a VCR than a disk drive), and I don't yet have a DVD drive in my computer so actual screencaps may be tough.

    But, I think it might be more fun to just watch some episodes, pause it when there's a good view of a blok and simply draw the patterns on paper, then adjust, color, and shade the whole thing in Photoshop.

    This would result in a Blok in my own style rather than a direct clone from the show which actually sounds like fun.

    As for legs, I have a veritable "buttload" of pipe-cleaners, so no problems there.

  • agustinaldo says:

    So:

    out of all the 90s/2000s McDonald's Happy Meals toys, which was your favorite line?

    And out of all the 90s/2000s Burger King Kids Club toys, which was your favorite line?

  • Wes says:

    Hard to say with the BK Kids Club line -- I wasn't terribly keen on too many of those, but I guess my favorite tie-in would've had to have been the one with the TMNTs (even if my Michaelangelo "button" was far too heavy to be an ideal fashion accessory). Admittedly, part of the reason BK lost out was the presentation -- no matter how many cool kids with wacky gadgets they drew on it, that crappy paper bag just couldn't compete with the fabulous Happy Meal boxes.

    As far as the McDonalds Happy Meals go, the food-robot Changeables win hands down, though the food-dinosaur ones were pretty cool too. Regarding licensed ones, I was pretty keen on the Tiny Toons and Super Mario Bros. toys. Neither of those lines had actual action figures in the stores, so that was kind of my best bet for incorporating Plucky Duck and the iconic plumbers into my other toy adventures. And the Disney World pullback toys were pretty neat too. πŸ™‚

  • christmasp says:

    Hi people
    I do not know what to give for Christmas of the to friends, advise something ....

  • Wes says:

    Um... homemade Daleks?

  • Sarah says:

    Hi there, just to say thanks for the dalek page and plans, my five year old son and I just had great fun making a dalek egg for an egg-decorating competition. Pictures are here if anyone's interested.

  • Wes says:

    Thanks for sharing, Sarah! That egg Dalek is awesome. πŸ™‚

  • Bibi says:

    Thanks for the models from this page http://www.scary-crayon.com/misc/dalek2/

    BTW, I want to make a post and link to it, but it just shows the images complaning about the bandwith on everywhere, like the one below. I don't mind about the message (and I hate when people use my images too), but the graphic, well... its that ok, or there were any images of daleks there?

  • Bibi says:

    ah, ok, I reloaded, because I came from Google (cache) and they appeared. πŸ™‚
    I'm going to save the links to post another day. Thanks again for the daleks.

  • Wes says:

    So you've got everything figured out, Bibi? The anti-hotlinking graphic appears if people link to the images or try to display them from another site, so your best bet would be to link to the article itself and tell people to get the models from it.

    At any rate, you're welcome for the Dalek models, and thanks for visiting SC!

  • steph says:

    thanks for the patterns and directions....my son is dalek crazed and wants an army, but as you know the "toys" are expensive. anyway building them are more fun.
    i'm sure we will be busy all weekend! exterminate!

  • Wes says:

    You're very welcome, Steph! If you ever pass by here again and have the means, do feel free to share photos of your son's new Dalek army with us. πŸ™‚

  • nikolai says:

    im 10 and i love daleks i make toilet tube daleks . I will make loads of your daleks make a part 3 please

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