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Digital Subscriptions > Doctor Who Magazine > DWM Special 46 – Toys and Games > THE 1980s

THE 1980s

This was the decade in which Doctor Who models were first marketed strictly for collectors, while games moved into the digital realm…
Producer John Nathan-Turner proudly clutches the series’ Saturn Award and a copy of Doctor Who: The First Adventure, a game written for the BBC Microcomputer.

Following the development of Doctor Who merchandise provides plenty of clues as to how the show was faring in the wider world. Indeed, it’s telling that, as the 1980s progressed, there was a definite move away from mass-market releases and a dramatic increase in smaller, ‘cottage industry’ type product. Either way, these years could boast only a few items of note, with the meteoric rise of computers being responsible for most of the innovations.

As the decade began, however, digital entertainment had yet to gain widespread popularity. The Game of Time and Space came from Games Workshop in 1980 and comprised a board, counters, rules and various player sheets. This was to some extent a variation on the popular Dungeons and Dragons games that would challenge the popularity of home computing over the next few years. The game was described as being suitable for two to six players: ‘Each player, as a different incarnation of Doctor Who, must search the galaxy for the Key of Chronos. Daleks, Cybermen and other aliens protect the key; but with the help of his scientific know-how and assistants, each Doctor must fight the aliens, and maybe each other, in their struggle to save the galaxy.’

The board and pieces from The Game of Time and Space, issued by Games Workshop in 1980. Photo © Emily Cook.
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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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