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Steve Walker’s company Product Enterprise earned the admiration of collectors all over the world with its range of high-quality Dalek toys. But keeping up with demand proved exhausting…

For many fans, the disappointment that followed the broadcast of the Doctor Who TV Movie in 1996 was accompanied by a deep suspicion that the series was never going to return. As if resigned to this fate, in 1999 two fan-led companies began exploring Doctor Who’s past with unprecedented passion and attention to detail. One of these companies was audio producer Big Finish, the other was toy manufacturer Product Enterprise.

In the following years the efforts of both these groups would, ironically, point the way to the programme’s triumphant rebirth.

In the early 2000s the Product Enterprise logo served as a guarantee of quality for casual fans as well as dedicated collectors, with both types falling hungrily on the company’s remarkably detailed Doctor Who toys. The range of variously sized Daleks, in particular, was more faithfully rendered than any of its predecessors, making the models produced by Louis Marx, Palitoy, Denys Fisher and Dapol look crude in comparison.

Part of a stunning panorama illustrated by Graham Humphreys for the packaging of Product Enterprise’s Radio Command Movie Daleks.

Product Enterprise founder Steve Walker was well aware of the earlier toys’ shortcomings, as he remains, by his own admission, something of a Dalek scholar. Steve was born in 1963 and has been obsessed with the machine creatures since childhood. “I had every toy. I loved my Louis Marx Daleks, but even as a kid I could never understand why they didn’t look like actual Daleks. Why were the Dalek toys’ hemispheres so flat? Years later I realised there was no reason why you couldn’t create a more accurate model – it would just cost more money.”

Before he was in a position to do anything about this, Steve attended Newport Film School and then joined the BBC Visual Effects Department, learning the ropes with designer Peter Pegrum. “They were doing The Trial of a Time Lord in 1986,” he remembers. “I spent a lot of time sweeping the workshop floor but I also got to add some detail to the Time Lords’ space station. I’m a Doctor Who fan, so I felt like I’d died and gone to heaven. But after six months I was finding it impossible to live on such a low salary. They kept telling me I should put up with it because I was getting the best training in the world, but in the end I had to move on.”

“It was never aimed at kids.” Steve Walker, the founder of Product Enterprise.
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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.