Sunday 3 May 2020

Custom Figure: Denys Fisher "Red Top" Dalek

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Continuing my current lockdown project of creating some new custom coloured Daleks, I tried to look into various media that I hadn't sought inspiration from before. I've done movie Daleks before, and I've also done audio and stage play ones. But a toy deco one? That would be something new. One of my favourite classic Dalek toys is the 1977 toy by Denys Fisher, which sported a red dome and blue eyestalk. As far a toy-unique colours go I would say it's probably the most notable amongst all Doctor Who lines there's been over the years, so was the perfect choice for my latest custom.

Image Credit: Megomuseum.comImage sourced via Pintrest

The Denys Fisher Dalek was released in collaboration with US toy maker Mego, as part of their reasonably-sized Doctor Who range. This included doll-sized figures of the Doctor, Leela and a Cyberman, the K-1 Robot, the TARDIS and of course the Dalek itself. The Dalek is particularly notable for being an example of the infamous "red top" Dalek - a unique variant that never appeared in the show or movies. The red top first appeared as one of creator Terry Nation's own refurbished movie Daleks - also sporting mismatched dome lights and an appendage that lacked the plunger attachment. The red top also appeared in both the Doctor Who comic strip "Sub Zero" and a Weetabix trading card. The figure itself stands around 6" tall and can fetch a rather hefty price on the aftermarket in good condition. One day a really hope to own a legitimate one myself, but in the meantime a custom job is a good substitute. 

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This custom was constructed using an Evil of the Daleks Emperor Guard Dalek as the base, with the eyestalk switched with the one from the Day of the Daleks Supreme Dalek. It was painted using Humbrol silver spray for the body, neck mesh and sucker arm, Humbrol gloss red for the dome and then Citadel Kantor Blue for the eyestalk, dome lights and hemispheres. The eyestalk was sanded down at the end to ensure it could still move without the paint rubbing off, and once painted was also coated in clear nail varnish for extra durability. The neck mesh was also panel lined using Tamiya black panel line accent colour ink, just to give it some more depth since I couldn't recreate the translucent plastic of the proper toy. In an ideal world I would have spray painted the head rather than done it by hand, but I used the last of my red spray on the Brotherhood Thalek and am unable to buy any more due to the lockdown (since spray paint can't be shipped via Royal Mail in the UK). The blue is perhaps a little darker than it needs to be, but the colour of the original toy seems to vary from photo to photo and I think the darker shade differentiates it quite nicely from the standard Dalek livery.

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When coming up with this idea I wavered between toy or box art accuracy, but eventually decided to go for toy accuracy to make it even more unique among my collection. This didn't just include doing the eyestalk in blue, but going the extra mile and painting the sucker arm fully silver as well. I'm extremely pleased with the finished product. Though unintentional at first, I really think the slightly uneven coating on the silver only adds to the figure as it reminds me of the off-colour swirls you often get in that sort of silver/grey plastic (and was present on the original toy). It's such a simple but dynamic custom - the red dome is immediately striking but the little extras a what really make the homage.

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Customs homaging older Dalek toys wasn't something I'd thought about doing in the past, but this one has turned out so well that I'm tempted to do some more in the future. Dapol came up with some really weird and wonderful colour schemes during their time with the Doctor Who license, and the 60s Louis Marx bump 'n' go Daleks have some interesting ones as well. I'm extremely pleased with how this Denys Fisher Dalek has turned out, and feels like a particularly unique addition to my Dalek army. For now I only have one figure left to work with though, and unfortunately I don't know when that's going to get finished. It's currently about 20% done, but I'm in desperate need of black spray paint to get the job finished. It's not a particularly original idea for a custom, but boy is it a good one.

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