Tuesday, February 24, 2009

"Hartnell's Armpit" - The Doctor Who Gossip Rag

Here's some general Doctor Who related silliness for you. This is a cover for a Doctor Who gossip magazine I invented called "Hartnell's Armpit" (click to enlarge). It's basically my version of one of those trashy celebrity gossip mags for the Doctor Who world! I have done my best to ensure that it is as tasteless as possible. Watch this space for more of this stuff, folks!

Monday, February 09, 2009

Sevans Models: A review

As featured in Doctor Who Monthly Issue #132 (January 1988), here is an article reviewing new kits from SEVANS Models.

It’s been a busy year for SEVANS Models, for aside from the five brand new kits available now, they are going into a new venture – pre-assembled models shipped out and ready-made and only in need of a lick of paint. The perfect solution for those who just want the finished article, rather than all the fiddling around that preceeds it!


The new models are much simpler to build than the original Dalek issued back in 1983, so that construction is within the grasp of ninety-five percent of fans, regardless of modelling ability. Yet, for those who still aren’t courageous enough to have a go, he is engaging out-workers to produce the final unpainted items at a price which should still make them attractive to the bulk of readers.


All the models will, of course, still be available in construction kit form, so let’s see whats on offer this Christmas and for the coming year.


One general improvement to all the models is on the packaging front; the same sturdy boxes are used, but now the two-tone cover art has been replaced by photographic colour pictures of the assembled contents in appropriate settings.


The New Dalek will doubtless soon be familiar to you all and needs little comment, save to say that these really are Daleks! Excellent though the original was, these are far more aggressive, pepperpotty and menacing. The metal collar mesh adds considerably to the effect, as does the new neck, with its eight separate rods which now actually push through holes in the three neck rings, just like the real thing!


K9 and the Ice Warriors benefit from extensive painting guides which, unlike many other commercial kits, not only tell you what to paint but how to paint it – brush techniques, etc


The long-awaited Davros kit is also hot off the press, and by far the speediest and easiest to build of all the SEVANS range, with only two dozen basic components.


The skirt, being flat-surfaced panels, fairly flies together, and the Lad himself, based entirely on the original Michael Wisher Genesis version, comprises five pieces! The two body halves and wrist are plastic, while the head is one solid resin and the hand one solid metal forming. The model pictured here is shown at a stage of construction prior to the chair-back and microphone being installed.


The extensive painting directions feature a stage-by-stage photographically illustrated guide on how to recreate the realistic flesh effects shown here.


The Mk6 Cyberman Kit, advertised a year ago and withdrawn by Stuart prior to release, because it did not meet with his standards, is also now available and, judging by the accompanying photograph of one made “straight from the box”, was well worth the wait.


The bulk of the bodywork is again plastic, though the helmet and gun are one-piece solid resin castings. The “ear-jugs” are metal and slot in place, while the clear plastic hose pipes dog into pre-drilled holes in either cheek.


This kit features the widest variety of components yet seen, with pre-printed decals, reflective tapes, springs, miniature body netting, clear mouldings, fabric gun strap, etc. Don’t be put off by any of this, though, or by the apparent complexity of the photograph. Construction time is only about an hour-and-a-half and painting two hours.


Stuart painted the model shown here himself, and chose to enhance the “wear and tear” aspect to achieve a battle-weary trooper. Full details of all paint variations are given in the kit and the arms and hands can be varied to create a choice of poses.


Finally, a new departure. SEVANS are now licensed by BBC Enterprises to produce the full range of Cyberman helmets from Tenth Planet to date! They are full size, extremely robust and come ready-made and painted! The Earthshock variant pictured is from the first batch and shows very clearly the eye mesh and ear hoses fitted as standard.


These helmets are pulled from the same moulds as the original TV props, only in thick plastic, instead of fibreglass. Partially foam-lines and with a removable back-plate, they should be available shortly, but only in one colour, Gloss Black, as in tests, Silver was shown to wear very badly and looked cheap.


No special tools or glues are required to build SEVANS Model Kits, just the regular sort you will find at all Hobby or Modelling Shops.


Should you require any further details, write to SEVANS Models PO Box 34, Trowbridge, Wiltshire BA14 8XY, England. Only do please send an SAE (UK), or one dollar bill (Overseas) for your reply.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Sevans Models: Portrait of a Licensee

Here's an interesting article about SEVANS Models. I transcribed it from Doctor Who Monthy Issue #114 (July 1986). This is an interview with Stuart Evans - the man behind the highly accurate Dalek model kits from the mid-'80s. This interview gives insight into how he obtained a license from the BBC to manufacturing them, and also discusses his expansion of the model range to cover other monsters from the Doctor Who universe. Enjoy!


A scan of the original article from DWM (click to enlarge).

Stuart Evans, of Sevans Daleks, talks about his merchandising experiences and his plans for the future.

“I’ve always been a fan of Doctor Who. It really is quite beyond the comprehension of anyone born after the mid Sixties just how massive Doctor Who in general and the Daleks in particular were between 1963-65. Every child in our street had a toy Dalek.
“It’s quite an admission, but I’ve never lost the love I developed for the show all those years ago. Indeed, the desire to one day be involved in some aspect of the programme has been on e of the few continuous threads in my life”.

After school, Stuart went to Salisbury Art College, but left before completing his B.A. Graphics course.


“I found my way into a local government, pen-pushing job, which afforded me the opportunity of getting an HNC in Business Studies on day release.”

Moving on to a job in the Civil Service, Stuart became increasingly dissatisfied with his work, and concentrated on finding other interests.


“The quite out of the blue, I was sitting in the bath one night, and there it was, staring me in the face… the Radio Times Tenth Anniversary Special. I decided then and there to put all my efforts into building a full-sized Dalek.

Stuart persuaded the BBC Who Exhibition at Longleat to let him measure up one of the props. However, he quickly realised that building a full-scale Dalek model just wasn’t viable, and decided to turn his attention to a scaled down model. Having created his first scratchbuilt Dalek, after reading up on model making and fibre glass techniques, Stuart was ready to move on to other things, when h
e attended the Longleat Convention.

“The model was in the back of my car – until two fans saw it, and I left one Dalek lighter.
“I now knew there must be a larger market on maybe several dozen people (believe me this wasn’t false modesty, but total ignorance speaking), but I had no contacts in TV, the press, or merchandising.

GETTING THE LICENSE

However, when Stuart’s job moved offices, he met Simon Lydiard, ex editor of the defunct fanzine Skaro. Simon suggested that Stuart approach BBC merchandising.

“At this time, I’d envisaged making two fibre glass models a month, and wrote into Chris Crouch (then of BBC Enterprises) asking only if I could use the work ‘Dalek’ in an Exchange and Mart ad I’d planned, and how much the BBC royalty would be.
“Chris wrote back saying ‘no can do’, and that unlike the Sixties when everyone under the sun obtained Dalek licenses, nowadays concurrent merchandising wasn’t entertained.”

BBC Enterprises did add that if Stuart could get a manufacturer interested, they might reconsider.


“Again the idea dropped, and then a couple of weeks later, I was in a local model shop, and heard mention of a nearby firm specialising in short run kits.”

Stuart spent the next month living on their doorstep picking up tips on how to make moulds and dies. Eventually he made up the tools for a foot-tall Dalek kit. He approached the BBC again, who agreed to see him.

“With only a day to go, the first mouldings were ready and we sped to the factory to collect two of the most awful pieces of tat you’d ever seen.
“Fleet of brain as ever, and with only hours to go, I realised what had to be done, the pokers were heated, the Doc Martens donned, and the two made the trip as smashed up ‘exterminated’ versions!”

Stuart impressed Chris Crouch and Brian Codd (of Terry Nation) sufficiently to win the world rights to making Dalek kits.
“Now the problems really started; who would produce the quantities required, what would those quantities be. All previous Who merchandise had been kiddie-based: there’d never been any accurate, well researched, up market, up-price models before.”

CREATING THE PACKAGE

Aiming to build a creation that would please him personally, Stuart determined to create ‘The Ultimate Dalek Package’.

“The three-thousand-word history took six months to research. The lead Dalek from Genesis was measured and refined over several months and individual parts were moulded and tooled.
“I wanted to make this one kit have the potential of being assembled in many forms, and this has paid dividends, as many customers were to but four or five kits, just to create their favourite variants.
“Everything went so smoothly that I should’ve guessed that there was trouble around the corner and sure enough, with all the ads placed, two unforeseen things happened.
“First, I realised that the shoulders were 3mm too far forward. The moulds were, at great cost, altered. Then with only days before the kit’s launch, the factory (one of the main contractors for Marks and Spencer and Boeing Aircraft) developed faults on its moulding plant and I had no kits to send.
“To further compound this, I had an overnight success to contend with! Everyone’s estimation of the market was way out: every day for weeks we received literally hundreds of orders and well over a thousand before anything was ready.
“Mercifully, extra hands were laid on, and we finally shipped the goods out.
“With this behind us, the long lacking ‘fun element’ once again returned, and within weeks of sending the first kits out, we were getting loads of photos and letters from fans saying how good the kits were.”

Stuart plans to stay in merchandising for as long as Who lasts and then perhaps another decade, if he can secure the rights.

KITS IN PREPARATION

“I really want to stay in business long enough to exhaust the main monsters and get down to the really rare ones, like Quarks and Zarbi”.

Although he keeps an eye on the market, he basically turns out the models he likes the most.

“Hence K9, which would still be a big seller in America, being kennelled at the moment in favour of other things.
“The kits no the drawing board are Ice Warrior, 1967 Cyberman, Feature Film Dalek, Davros, Tardis Console, New Mk6 Cyberman and Sil Borad. The first three of these kits will be available this Autumn, with a possibility of the Mk6 Cyberman appearing at Christmas.
“Readers will have to wait until the ad appears for details of price and exact box contents, though I can now reveal that the Ice Warrior and Cyberman kits will both stand over fifteen inches tall and will have solid one-piece plastic heads, alternative weaponry and costume details, and that in the case of the Cyberman, you’ll get three heads: trooper, Controller and zapped trooper with the Cyberface showing through behind the mask … Oh and you’ll also get a scale Cybermat!
“I’m introducing new elements with each kit, with resin, rubber and self-adhesive components appearing, the Cyberman will have individual pipes and tubes and I’m currently trying to find a supplier for synthetic bristles for inclusion with the Ice Warrior to simulate its body hair!
“As the histories on these two monsters are somewhat slighter than that of the Dalek, you’ll get details of how to recreate your own Ice Cave diorama and readily obtainable components.
“The ‘humanoid’ kits will be comparatively simple to produce and should hopefully be available from UK and foreign dealers within a few months of issue. The Dalek family of kits is, however, so time consuming to manufacture that we can’t really afford to sell through agents and keep the price so low, so it does look as if certain of our kits will remain exclusively available from us, the manufacturers. Generally, anyone wanting any kit in a hurry or by a deadline, is much safer ordering direct from us.
“All the kits should retail around the £15 mark and the original TV Dalek will still remain on sale.
“One other point perhaps worthy of mention is that subject to final BBC approval each new kit will contain a raised plastic badge of the monsters’ head or whole body, which can be painted and pin-backed.”

Stuart does his own modelling, tooling, artwork, research and a lot of his own photography.

KEEPING UP THE STANDARDS

“To be perfectly honest, by the time I’d explained what I wanted to an assistant, I could have done the job myself, anyway!
“The ability to design is only one factor in the equation; you’ve got to have a good eye for advertising and PR, a grasp of commercial law and basically the ability to see a sizeable hole in the market, then come up with a really good product to fill it.
“Almost every time a Merchandising feature appears, the BBC get flooded with readers’ ideas for ‘Terror of the Zygons Draught Excluders’ or ‘Gallifrey Kitchenette Tin Openers’, and although they’re always receptive to marketable ideas, they actually receive singularly few. That not to put people off, it’s just that unless the possibility of a worthwhile royalty return exists, it’s not worth the administrative expense involved.
“Perhaps my biggest handicap is that I’m a perfectionist and will only release a kit when I’m two hundred per cent satisfied with it. Were any other manufacturing company producing the same range, there’s probably be six titles available already; only the quality and accuracy would be as woolly as the merchandise of the past!
“For all this, I should be releaseing between three and five kits this year, which should live up to, or transcend the standards I set myself on the Dalek.”

If you have any difficulty in obtaining SEVANS kits, or have any comments on them, please write in to them at: PO Box 34, Trowbridge, Wiltshire BA14 8XY, enclosing an SAE for your reply.

Guide to the pics:
1) A realistic scene from the SEVANS models video, which was used on a Pebble Mill feature
2) Stuart demonstrates one of the full-size silhouettes cut out before the modelling begins
3) A close-up of the Davros model – under two inches from the chin to the cranium

Friday, February 06, 2009

Photo(s) of the Day: Weird world

Here's some more of my weird experimental stuff for you. I borrowed the peephole from the door and took these pics. They're quite surreal and I'd like to experiment more with this technique (preferably taking pics of slightly more interesting stuff outside). I'd better get down to B&Q and buy a spyhole (I think they're pretty cheap) so that I don't have a hole in the front door!

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

3D Dalek rendering test

Just for fun here's a quick rendering of of my incomplete 3D Dalek model.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Photo of the day: Spyhole 2


Another treat for you! It's another pic taken through a spyhole! I hope you're enjoying visiting this strange world as much as I am, folks. This one's through the spyhole of a Spanish apartment I stayed in last month. Seriously - I might even keep the spyhole photography thing going. Perhaps I should publish a picture book - "DrGaz's Peepholes of the world" or something. What do you think? Anyone? Someone?

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Photo of the day: Spyhole


This is the view through the spyhole of my flat (or "apartment" if you're an estate agent or American). Quite a surreal world through one of these isn't it?