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Digital Subscriptions > Doctor Who Magazine > DWM Special 46 – Toys and Games > Christmas with thePVC Daleks

Christmas with thePVC Daleks

The most expensive of all the Doctor Who toys produced in the 1960s was the luxurious, and problematic, ‘Dalek suit’…

In early 1964, public fascination with the Daleks was considerable.

Their first adventure, in Terry Nation’s The Mutants (aka The Daleks), had concluded on 1 February; cannily, a return appearance was commissioned without delay, on 17 March.

Emboldened by the creatures’ popularity, BBC Television Enterprises approached the Wellington-born impresario Walter Tuckwell, head of Walter Tuckwell and Associates, to create viable marketing opportunities for both Doctor Who and the Daleks.

Tuckwell specialised in licensing popular film and television characters for exploitation in other media, most notably the toy industry, and his company lost no time in producing a professional marketing brochure.

The intention was to galvanise what would shortly become known as ‘Dalekmania’, and in this Tuckwell’s would be much aided by the Daleks’ second television outing, which, under the title The Dalek Invasion of Earth, began on 21 November and wound up on Boxing Day.

Doctor Who’s first producer, Verity Lambert, recalled an unexpected meeting with Tuckwell at a restaurant. “There was a group of people sitting at the table opposite us,” she said.

“One of the men said, ‘You’re Verity Lambert? You’ve made me a millionaire!’ And I was being paid £1,600 a year… He said, ‘I bought half the franchise for the Doctor Who toys!’ His name was Walter Tuckwell. And I said to him, ‘Well, the least you can do is take me out!’ So he arrived in his Bentley one evening and took me out for a very expensive dinner.”

One of the earliest companies to secure a licence from Tuckwell was Northampton-based Scorpion Automotives Ltd, whose management had noticed how children throughout the country loved imitating the Daleks’ squawking voices. To capitalise on this they conceived a Dalek dressing-up costume, designed under their Universal Toys subsidiary. Having been granted the licence, they worked swiftly to get the product ready in time for the all-important Christmas market. Rather too swiftly, as it turned out. A note from Ann Fitch of BBC Television Enterprises to Tuckwell’s colleague Richard Culley pointed out that Scorpion Automotives’ first batch of Dalek costumes was on general sale before the BBC had agreed either prototypes or even concept designs or drawings.

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About Doctor Who Magazine

In 1964 Dalekmania led to the birth of Doctor Who licensing, and it’s been with us ever since. The return of the series in 2005 prompted an even bigger range of merchandise, which this time invaded supermarkets as well as toy shops. In 2017 the popularity, and ingenuity, of these products continues unabated. This is the surprising story of Doctor Who toys and games – told by the people who make, sell and collect them.
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