Author Archive: Eric Fritzius

Owner/operator of Mister Herman's Publishing Company and Mister Herman's Production Company, Ltd. Author of A Consternation of Monsters, available in print, ebook, and audiobook formats.

REPOST: The Talkin’, Iiiiiii’m offended, If that IS your Real Name, End of an Era, Friiiiiitz Call Blues

(In honor of a reading of this story at the 2022 West Virginia Writers Conference this weekend, here’s a reposting of this Horribly True Tale.)

When I worked as a morning drive radio DJ, back in the `’`90s, frequently we would get calls from people who wished to complain about something they heard on the radio which had offended them.  Trouble was, with few exceptions, the thing they heard that had offended them had been said by an on-air personality on a completely different radio station than the one I was employed by.  Yep, whenever John Boy and Billy said something saucier than most decent folks cared for, the offended of Northeast Mississippi had no other recourse than to open the phone book, pick a radio station at random, and call me up to give me a lecture about something I had not even said.  We called these “Iiiiiii’m offended” calls.

For the past 15 years, my wife and I have experienced a different version of this sort of behavior in what we’ve come to refer to as the “Friiiiiitz” calls.  Somewhere around 2006, at approximately 3 a.m., our land line rang, waking us up.  Since 3 a.m. is outside the normal hours of telephone conversations, we naturally expected the call to be from a relative bearing tragic news.  I braced myself for the worst as I answered the phone.

ME—Hello?

(noise…  noise… labored breathing)

ME— Hello?

FEMALE CALLER— Friiiiitz?

ME— I’m sorry, what?

CALLER— Is this Friiiiitz?

ME— Um, this is Eric Fritzius.

(labored breathing)

CALLER— Is this Friiitz… from Fritz’s Pharmacy?

ME— No, I’m afraid it’s not.  My name is Eric Fritzius.

(noise… noise… labored breathing)

CALLER— You’re not Friiitz?

ME— No. 

(noise… noise… labored breathing)

CALLER— Do you have… Fritz’s number?

ME— No.  I’m sorry, I don’t.

(labored breathing)

CALLER— I need… to call Fritz.  I’m having…  an emergency.

ME— Um…   (Looks to wife, who, at the time, was a medical resident)  She says she’s having an emergency.

WIFE—Tell her to call 911 or go to the ER.

ME— Ma’am.  I’m sorry, but if you’re having a medical emergency, you need to call 911 or go to the emergency room.

(noise… noise… labored breathing)

CALLER— I caiiint dooo thaaaat.

(click)

That was the first of at least a dozen such hour-of-the-wolf “Friiiiitz” calls we have since received.  I’m pretty sure the same lady has called us many of those times, but other folks have as well.  Folks who are experiencing what they have deemed a medical emergency; folks who then decided to phone up not their doctor or otherwise an emergency medical professional, but instead their pharmacist, Fritz, because that makes a metric ton of sense; folks who then opened their white pages to F, at 3 a.m., located a last name that shares five letters with the name Fritz—which, it should be noted, is not actually Fritz’s last name to begin with, as “Fritz” is a nickname he uses in place of his first name—and then these folks blindly phone said number in the assumption that they’ll reach their target. Because all Fritzes know one another, I guess?  The “Friiiiiitz” calls pretty much all follow the same script as above.  And every time—every single time—no matter if it’s the original lady caller or someone new, when told we are not the Fritz they’re looking for, these folks ask if we know Fritz’s number. 

No, we most certainly do not have Fritz’s number.

We have gone out of our way not to have Fritz’s number and have never even checked to see if it’s actually listed. Our reason is because if we were to look it up then we would have Fritz’s number, and the fact that we would still not be willing to give out someone else’s home number, at 3 a.m., to people who should be calling 911 to begin with, would mean we were willingly withholding said information, implicating us in their death should they pass from the medical emergency they refuse to call the proper medical assistance to assist with.  Instead, we have always been polite when such calls come in, but we always advise the callers that in medical emergencies the only number they need to phone is, in point of fact, 911.  And, frequently, they have issued the declaration of “I caiiint dooo thaaaat,” but have so far never elaborated as to why. 

In 2008, we moved, relocating from Greenbrier County to Mercer County.  There are no Fritz’s Pharmacy locations in Mercer County, though, so our “Friiiiiitz” calls came to an end.

In 2012, we moved back to Greenbrier County, got a brand new land line phone number, listed it in the white pages, and within three months of our return, right on time at 3 a.m., the phone rang.

ME— Hello?

(noise…  noise… labored breathing)

FEMALE CALLER— Friiiiitz?

ME— No.  This is not Fritz.  This is the Fritzius residence.  We are not related to Fritz. 

(3… 2… 1…)

CALLER— Do you have Fritz’s number?

ME— No. We do not have Fritz’s number. Again, we are not related to Fritz. Our name only shares five letters with his name.

(Okay, we’re not ALWAYS polite.)

CALLER— I need to call Fritz.  I’m having an emergency.

ME— Then you need to call 911 or go to the emergency room.

(3… 2… 1…)

CALLER— I caaaiiint do thaaaat.

(click)

We’ve had a few more “Friiiiiitz” calls in the years since, some during actual daylight hours as well, most from folks other than the usual lady. However ,they’ve not been coming in at the same volume as our earlier stint in the county.

While writing this, and after 15 years of steadfastly avoiding the attempt, I finally looked up Fritz’s home number.  It’s been right there in the phone book the whole time, it seems, but the callers wouldn’t have been able to determine which number was his even if they had known his actual last name, because “Fritz”  was smart enough not to have his phone number listed under his nickname either.  Instead “Fritz” used his actual first name, which also starts with F but is also not Fritz.  In other words, the real Fritz doesn’t want these calls any more than us Fake Shemp Fritzes do. 

Alas/Huzzah, the days of the 3 a.m. Friiiiitz calls are probably at an end.  Fritz recently sold his chain of pharmacies to CVS and will no longer be dispensing meds under that name.  And I am astounded and just a little disappointed that we’ve not received even one “Friiiiitz” call due to this transition.

TARDIS Collector’s Corner: Bif Bang Pow! Classic Series Bobble Head TARDIS (The Bobble Head TARDISes Part II)

Another of the rare bobble head TARDISes that I own, this is the classic series bobblehead TARDIS manufactured by Biff Bang Pow! Once again, I was drawn to buy this mainly because, not being a humanoid figure, it didn’t have an oversized head to bobble but simply bobbled as a whole, and because it was a respectable likeness of a classic flat-roofed early Tom Baker TARDIS or maybe a late Pertwee model.

Analyzing it, this bobble head overall is a bit of a mish mash of Pertwee and Baker elements. The TARDIS itself could go either way. The flatness of the roof matches Baker’s more closely, but the roof lamp design is more like the taller skinner lamp Pertwee’s TARDIS had in “The Time Warrior.” (Pertwee’s often had the fatter lamp, carrying over from Troughton’s era.) The lighter greyish blue paint job is also better suited to Pertwee’s era, as Baker’s tended to be a more greenish hued darker blue. The Doctor Who logo on the front is a bigger giveaway, being the official 3rd Doctor logo used from seasons 7-10. (And again for the TV movie.) However, if you look beneath the TARDIS itself, on the top of the base, there is the image of the time tunnel from Tom Baker’s early years. Granted, this was also used during Pertwee’s final season, so it could still be his, but the logo changed during that season as well, becoming the diamond logo we associate with Baker’s run. (My favorite logo, truth be told.)

Where this bobble head distinguishes itself is that there’s a button on top of the base, just below the front doors, that plays the classic Pertwee/Baker theme music.

The whole thing is cast in hard resin, which makes it feel a bit fragile somehow, but I’ve not had any actual problems with breakage. I just know that of my many TARDISes, this is one of the ones I wouldn’t want to drop even on carpet.

All in all, I like it well enough. It’s a good representation of a TARDIS from my favorite era of the show and it plays the proper theme. Gotta give it four TARDi.

TARDIS Collector’s Corner: the Half-Assed Disappointment Lootcrate Paper TARDIS model (Paper TARDIS series)

I like the idea of paper TARDISes–printed paper kits that can be cut out and assembled into a model of the TARDIS. In my time collecting TARDISes, I have purchased four such TARDIS model kits. I have, however, only attempted to assemble one of them thus far and it was such a disappointment that I have avoided the other three (two of which, truth be told, are really the exact same paper model that I accidentally purchased twice).

The half-assed disappointment Lootcrate model is kind of what it sounds like. It was a paper TARDIS included in a Lootcrate shipment which I purchased second hand off of eBay. It arrived as a single sheet with perforations allowing you to easily cut out the sections of the TARDIS model itself. The half-assed part is doubly so (which I think technically should make it full-assed, but I only used half my ass in constructing it and the Lootcrate folks only used half of theirs designing it, so, really, the separate half-assed applications can’t equal a whole).

Let me start with the good. It’s a simple enough TARDIS design, consisting of an elongated rectangular square for the body, a roof housing that tab/slot inserts, and a square tab/slot lamp. Shouldn’t be hard to put together, really. It is also designed to have doors that can be opened in the front, to reveal a cartoony Peter Capaldi scowling out from within. I thought that was pretty cool. However, I have kept my doors uncut simply because I’m not sure the structural integrity will hold if they were ever cut open.

The bad. While the simple print of the TARDIS has most of the standard TARDIS elements, including Police Public Call Box signage above each side, and the TARDIS door sign, there is some inattention to detail that can be found, leading me to suspect someone other than an actual fan of the show did the graphic design. For instance, if this is truly a Capaldi TARDIS, as the Capaldi inside would suggest, where is the St. John’s Ambulance badge on the right front door? Also, why are there door handles and door sign phone cabinet handles included on each and every side? It’s almost as if whoever did the graphic design only drew the one door, copied it three more times and slapped a door sign on one of them to establish which side is the front. And while we’re talking about which side is the front, why on earth would they have designed this so that the cut seam falls right beside the left of the front of the TARDIS rather than in the back corner where it wouldn’t be so apparent?

As to my own half-assedness, I admit that my assembly leaves something to be desired. I’m sure someone else could have put this thing together in a way that didn’t look quite so jankey. I mean, I could have taped down that front left cut seam and made that look at least a little better, if I’d wanted to. What I found, though, was that this was an assembly project that took a good bit longer to accomplish and with a greater level of difficulty than I had assumed it would, but I was only willing to put in the minimum amount to get it together, but not the amount it would take to make it look its best. That said, Lootcrate didn’t do anyone any favors in the design department, so I’m giving them the majority of the blame. If I hadn’t paid $10 for it, I would probably wad it up and pitch it at the recyle bin.

I give it a rare two TARDi rating. (Would have given it a one had I not thought the Capaldi behind the doors thing was kind of clever.)

TARDIS Collector’s Corner: TARDIS 3D printed Bird Feeder (the 3D printed TARDISes as well as the mother-in-law TARDISes)

I wrote a few weeks back about the Bird Feeder Model TARDIS, one of the many TARDISes my mother-in-law has given me over the years. It’s largely not even a display item anymore, unless by “display” you mean “sitting way up on a shelf in the garage,” due to the weather damage it received when I used it for its intended purpose as a bird feeder out in one of our flowerbeds.

I think Ma wasn’t happy that this wooden TARDIS she’d constructed hadn’t held up. She repeatedly gave me permission to throw it out, but I wouldn’t hear of it. However, she was none too keen on how the thing was put together in the first place, knowing there were ways she could have done it that didn’t involve the danger of having a hand impaled on one of the screw tips that stick out of the bottom.

Two weeks ago a package arrived in the mail. From the box it arrived in, it seemed to be a shipment from Chewy. And when the mail lady drove it up to us, staying well within the confines of her truck so as not to risk a nip from one of our dogs, and I came out to take it from her, I saw it was from Chewy and said about the dogs, “Ironically, it’s for them.”

Turned out, it wasn’t. I should have known as much when Ma said, “What have I ordered now?” Only when she opened it, she saw it was not something for the dogs but, instead, for the birds. And for me. Ma brought the box over to me and said, “This is actually for you.”

I peered inside, expecting some kind of insane dog toy. Wrapped up in bubble wrap and padding was a 3D printed TARDIS bird feeder. I was astounded. It was printed in TARDIS blue, was uniform on all sides, and had no decals or door sign, but I knew that would be easily remedied. In design, it was very similar to the TARDIS bird feeder she had made for me, with a removable roof into which bird seed could be poured, and slots at the bottom of each door for it to spill out from into a wider tray beneath. Instead of being dangerously screwed into that tray, though, the whole thing was 3D printed on top of the tray, as part of it. The major difference, beyond general shape, was that this bird feeder had a hanger threaded through a hold in the roof lamp which fed down through the housing itself to a ring in the base, allowing it to be hung.

The TARDIS design is a little off in some of the detailing, such as the corner columns being too thin and the windows being quartered instead of cut into two rows of six, but the door paneling is quite respectable. There’s no denying what it is on sight.

After doing some measuring, I printed up a customized door sign as well as some Police Public Call Box signage to go on each side of the roof. These I sealed between layers of packing tape then cut out and rubber cemented in place, figuring this would be a fairly easy way to keep them weather-proofed. For the roof lamp, I just rubber cemented both sides of a strip of paper and wound it around. I totally dig it. We filled it with seed and hung it in a tree by our patio.

Today, while eating breakfast on the patio, some larger birds came and began eating out of the TARDIS feeder. Whenever one of them would get full and fly away, the force of their departure would spin the TARDIS around on its string in a very satisfyingly TARDISy way.

If you would like one of your own, Ma found this one on Etsy.

TARDIS Collector’s Corner: Underground Toys/CO Pen Topper TARDIS (Shotglass TARDIS series)

(An ongoing writing project in which I catalog and quantify my extensive TARDIS collection. Find previous entries HERE.) 

Shortly into Matt Smith’s run as the Doctor, I noticed that Underground Toys/Character Options began an onslaught of new Doctor Who merchandise. Not to say that there wasn’t plenty to be found during Tennant’s run, but the output was definitely stepped up. One of these products which found its way into my possession was a TARDIS ballpoint pen, with a rubber TARDIS on one end.

Now, this was not really an item that attracted my attention, TARDIS or no. I’d seen them in Books-a-Million before, usually in a big plastic cylinder of the pens, up near the check-out counter where it could be an impulse purchase. I never had the impulse. However, a friend who knew of my affection for all things TARDISy did and bought one for me. I had to admit, it was cute.

For years my TARDIS pen has lived in various pen jars around the two houses we’ve lived in during that time. It would be used once in a while, but never for anything important, like writing anything on which your signature needed to look good, because it wasn’t that great a pen. I mean, it laid down a line of ink, and all, but one could not ascribe any aesthetically pleasing qualities to that line, or anything.

After 10 years or so, the pen stopped working altogether, and this was where my real plans for this item came to fruition. I yanked the TARDIS off the end of the useless pen. It came right out with no argument, the decade-old glue giving way quite easily. Having greed the TARDIS, I then had another miniature TARDIS to add to my shotglass TARDIS collection.

Is it a great TARDIS? No. It’s the TARDIS equivalent to the pen itself: it’s fine, it does it’s job of being a small TARDIS, but due to the limitations of the rubber material it’s molded from and the manufacturing process, it’s not especially detailed. I mean, the door sign is gray, which isn’t to spec at all. And you’d need a jeweler’s loop to be able to read any of the type on it, if it is legible in the first place–my old eyes can’t tell. But whatevs. It’s a shotglass TARDIS.

In terms of shotglass size, this is maybe the 4th smallest TARDIS in the collection, following the LED Phone Charm TARDIS, the Baker-model Keychain TARDIS, and the Hornby Scaledale model Railroad TARDIS. It is also one that is still easily locatable in the wild should you want one for your very own. Amazon is selling them for a mere $9.99. Is it worth $10? Not at all. But if you want a miniature fair-to-middling Matt Smith TARDIS with a pen rammed up it’s hinder, that’s where you can land one. I give it 2.5 TARDi.

TARDIS Collector’s Corner: The Hobby Lobby Model

A few years back, round about March of 2015, I spotted a very sad attempt at tapping the Doctor Who fan market while browsing in Hobby Lobby.

What Hobby Lobby did, which you can see in the accompanying image, was to repurpose a tea candle holder modeled after a red British phone box, paint it blue and slap a Police Public Call Box sign above it’s single door. Oh, I get it. I can sympathize. Someone on their merchandize creation staff was clearly enough of a Doctor Who fan to put this together. But it’s clearly just a cash grab, banking on Doctor Who fans snatching up anything even tenuously related to their favorite show. I said, “Nice try, Hobby Lobby, but you’re gonna have to try harder if you want any of my cash money.”

Well… they did.

A year later, I was walking through the same Hobby Lobby when I spied, on the shelf of their metal decorations section, their next attempt. My suspicion that someone in research and development was a fan of the show felt even stronger, because this metal TARDIS bank thing gets way too many details right to be merely a repurposed telephone booth. It’s actually a pretty sweet approximation of a Tom Baker era “Shada” model TARDIS, complete with greenish blue paint, the dark door sign, and the blue dome light on top. Someone knew their stuff and I was willing to bet that someone was about my age and adored Tom Baker’s run as much as I do.

I would have bought this TARDIS regardless, but the fact that Hobby Lobby happened to be having a 50 percent off sale on metal decorations, making it a $10 purchase, meant the sale was a lock.

It’s a high quality item, solidly built. Is it an exact replica of an on-screen TARDIS, no, but it doesn’t need to be. It’s an interpretation that knows its source material.

While they’re not an item one can rely upon finding in your average Hobby Lobby, I have seen them on and off over the years. Keep your eye out, cause it’s a good’un. Four and a half TARDi.

TARDIS Collector’s Corner: The George Bennett Model (Paper TARDISes Series)

(An ongoing writing project in which I catalog and quantify my excessi– uh, extensive TARDIS collection. Find previous entries HERE.) 

As I recently mentioned in the previous paper TARDIS entry, the Nick Bell Model), one of my formative experiences as a youth was to attend the Summer Scholars Onstage Theatre Camp at Mississippi State. It’s a theatre camp for gifted junior high and high school kids, who gather together, usually 50-55 of them total, write a three-act musical comedy in a week, and then perform that show at the end of the third week, complete with dance numbers, acting, costumes, sets, the whole bit. I was only a camper for two years, then came back as writing staff for a handful of years, took ten years off, returned to the writing staff, and eventually became the script coordinator for the writers camp for several years.

One thing we’ve learned in the nigh on 40 years of the camp’s existence is that, when wrangling 55 kids, keeping to a schedule is an important thing to do. It’s therefore always important to write out the schedule on a big long piece of paper for everyone to see. We usually assign the task of writing out said sched to creative and artistic souls who will not only supply the schedule for the following day, but make it look good too. One such soul during one such year was George Bennett. George was a camper himself during the early years of my return and he returned as staff for a number of years following his high school graduation. Whenever George was around, there was no question who would be doing the schedules.

In addition to being a talented comedic actor, George was a gifted artist even in those early years. He was able to dash off magic marker sketches that were annoyingly good for those of us who only wish we had his kind of talent and have to work so very hard to achieve anything presentable ourselves. George made it look effortless. He’d been doing the schedules since a junior counselor camper, but once he’d enrolled at the Savannah College of Art and Design, his schedules improved beyond the impressive level they’d already set.

The image at right, which I featured a couple of weeks ago in the TARDIS Cozy entry, contains one of George’s sketches–a quick doodle of Rod Serling in a TV set that I found charming and which I purloined at the end of camp. Our play’s theme that year was a pastiche of Twilight Zone style stories–hence the Serling appearance. However, time travel was also a factor in the plays, with it ultimately being revealed that Rod Serling himself was from the future and, due to some alterations to the timeline, Tales from Dimension 13 (the title of our play and the TV series within the play) transformed into The Twilight Zone. With time travel as a factor, though, it only made sense for George to sketch a random TARDIS in the corner of another day’s schedule in scented blue magic marker. As a lover of TARDISes, I couldn’t resist saving this one too, and it now resides among my TARDIS collection, as you can see in the photo. And one day, when George is famous, I shall sell it for a mint (though I might have to get him to sign it first).

Lest you think that George’s talent was limited to schedule pages alone, perish the thought. In the intervening years, he has gone on to become a professional illustrator and storyboard artist. These days, you can find him and his work at GeorgeBennettStoryArtist.com.

Actual Conversations Heard at My House #783

(SETTING: My house as the wife and I sit on the sofa, her trying to read something on her phone and me trying to interrupt her process.)

ME—   I gave Moosie my apple core.

WIFE— Uh huh.  

ME—  He loves them.  You could tell, by the way he clamped down on it gently in his mouth, that he was grateful.

WIFE— Uh huh.  

ME—  Like he was saying, “Thank you very much for this apple core, Pa.  I am indeed your buddy…”

WIFE— Uh huh.  

ME—  “And I love you…”

WIFE—  Uh huh.  

ME—  “More than Mama…”

WIFE—  All right.

TARDIS Collector’s Corner: The TARDIS Birdfeeder Model (Mother-In-Law TARDIS series)

(An ongoing writing project in which I catalog and quantify my extensive TARDIS collection. Find previous entries HERE.) 

My mother-in-law, Susan “Bad Sue” Holloway, has been the supplier (some might say enabler) of many of my more unique TARDIS collection items. As previously chronicled, she not only knitted me a full-size Tom Baker scarf, but later bought me my TARDIS cookie jar and quilted me a TARDIS console mug coaster. But there are many other TARDIS-related gifts from Ma that have become treasured items in my TARDIS collection which I look forward to chronicling here.

Today’s entry, most unfortunately, no longer has a treasured place among my collection, mainly because it kind of got ruined by the weather and now lives in the garage. It’s a TARDIS Bird Feeder which my mother-in-law made with her very own crafty hands. She sent it to me with the caveat that it wasn’t very good and that I was welcome to throw it away if I liked. This was no reflection on the piece itself, other than it probably didn’t turn out as good as Ma had wanted, but she was going to go ahead and give it to me until she could make a better one.

Constructed from thin plywood, this TARDIS bird feeder is a squat box container, hollow on the inside but with slots at the bottom to allow for seed within to spill out onto the lip of the wider base. The base itself has a raised edge to hold the seed in place and to provide birdy’s with a perch from which to eat. The sides of the box are fitted with glues on strips of wood forming the door panels. Ma added “Birdie Public Food Box” signs above all sides as well as door signs on all four sides. (I’m not sure she knew the door sign was only on the front, but whatevs.) Now, granted, the windows on each side have twice as many panes of “glass” as the real TARDIS. And atop the box’s lid was a yellow and blue cylinder for the lamp. It’s impressively detailed and cleverly assembled, even if there were a couple of screws poking out the bottom that posed a risk to anyone trying to pick it up. I also suspect Ma didn’t have solid photo reference for the whole project and wound up winging it some of the time. However, I loved it and declared it to be too good for birds and that I was going to fill it with Chex Mix and keep it in my office.

Alas, it never saw Chex mix either. I wound up moving it to a pedestal stand and parked it in one of our flower beds for a photo session. And there it wound up staying, eventually getting filled with actual bird seed and being used for its intended purpose. And thus the tragedy ensued, because the TARDIS birdfeeder was not precisely weather-proof. Within weeks, I could see some of the plywood begin to peel up. By the time I removed it from the flower bed, the TARDIS birdfeeder had begun to resemble a miniature version of the giant ruined TARDIS on Trenzalore. Ma didn’t mind. She was all for letting the elements have it and starting anew with a better version of it. However, I wound up removing it to the garage when we took the bed down for winter and it has not rematerialized since.

TARDIS Collector’s Corner: 3rd Doctor Character Options/B&M TARDIS (a.k.a. my 4th Doctor TARDIS)

(An ongoing writing project in which I catalog and quantify my extensive TARDIS collection. Find previous entries HERE.) 

One of my major regrets in my TARDIS toy collecting is not buying the original Character Options 4th Doctor Electronic flat roofed TARDIS when it was first released, back in 2011. (The didn’t call it a flat-roofed TARDIS, but that’s what it was.) At the time it was a bit outside my price range and difficult to find. I eventually managed to get my hands on a far cheaper 7th Doctor Electronic TARDIS a couple years on. (You can read about that purchase as well as a brief history of the CO Electronic Classic TARDIS line HERE.) r 7th Doctor TARDIS from the same line. And while I was fine with imagining that the 7th Doctor Electronic TARDIS was really a pitched roof 4th Doctor from Baker’s later seasons, I really wanted the flat roof model.

Which is odd, because I never really liked the flat roof model when compared with the stacked roof models from before and after its use during the show’s run. In fact, I go so far as to say that I hate it in the above linked entry. Hate is such an ugly word, though. I can attest that since penning the entry on the 7th Doctor’s TARDIS, I have actually warmed up to the flat roof TARDIS design quite a bit. For one thing, it was the primary TARDIS design during a good chunk of the Pertwee and Baker runs, so I can’t really hate it, even if I prefer the stacked look more.

When Character Options teamed up with B&M Stores in England, a few years back, to produce some B&M exclusive toy sets, they announced they were going to include a 3rd Doctor TARDIS. From the photos they included with the announcement, it was clearly just a repainted version of their 4th Doctor TARDIS mold, complete with dingy greenish blue paint job (which looks far more like a day-glo blue in the image they released), dark door sign, and flat roof. I really dug the look save for one feature: the base of the TARDIS was painted black. Having not watched much of Pertwee’s run (which was largely TARDIS-free for his first three seasons), I didn’t recognize this TARDIS as one from the show. To that point, I’d never seen even a still of a black-based TARDIS and, having tried mightily to find one today, can’t. I did find one during Peter Davison’s run, so apparently the black base returned at some point. Considering that the TARDIS isn’t always shot in full, though, meaning we don’t often see the base at all, the show could have used black based TARDISes for several Doctors and we’d not likely know it. One of the actual B&M 4th Doctor TARDIS releases even has a black base, suggesting it must have in the show at some point. (This was, in fact, the SHADA TARDIS release, which also had the blue dome light on top, instead of the lantern-style.) Regardless of its on-screen accuracy, I didn’t care for the black base in any era.

(I should note at this point that I already own a black-based police box model, the Hornby Skaledale Blue Police Box model, featured in 2018’s Shotglass TARDIS series. I only happened to notice it recently, though, while writing a new shotglass-related entry.)

I found a fairly cheap 3rd Doctor B&M TARDIS second hand on ebay. In fact, while it came in its original packaging, it was without its John Pertwee figure. I knew this from the listing description, though, and didn’t want him anyway. I already have a Pertwee from the 11 Doctors figure set, so what do I need with another wearing a red jacket with frilly cuffs instead of a green jacket and MacIntosh and frilly cuffs? I was pleased to find that it was not day-glo blue, as had been pictured, but the traditional greenish dingy blue of the Pertwee/Baker era. I immediately set about to “fix” the black base on it by adding more dingy greenish blue paint to the base, covering it up. I also further transformed this into my dream 4th Doctor TARDIS by adding an interior card that matches the steampunk, wood-paneled auxiliary control room of the early Baker years–which remains my all time favorite console room style to date.

As far as TARDIS toys go, I really like it for the most part. The detailing and paintwork make it feel exactly like it came from the era it claims to represent. The sculpt of it is basically the exact same mold as the 7th Doctor’s TARDIS (a.k.a. my other 4th Doctor TARDIS), but the roof cap is switched out for the flat model for this one. However, as a functional toy, this one is far from perfect.

While the B&M TARDIS sets use the same molds of the earlier Electronic TARDIS releases, repainted for new purposes, they are now stripped of their electronics entirely, meaning no light up roof lantern, no interior lights, and no sound effects whatsoever. And just to turn that cheapness knife they stabbed us with further in the wound, they left the back side battery panel in place, complete with speaker holes above it. Every time I see it, I am fully aware of what this toy COULD have been had whichever party was responsible for being a cheapass not decided to be a cheapass. Sure, I’d rather have this TARDIS than not have it, and if leaving out the electronics was the deciding factor then I guess I’d rather live in a world in which I get my TARDIS. It’s not like I spend a lot of time activating any of the sounds and lights of any of the other TARDISes I own anyway. But I lament that we could have had something truly special if not for profit margins.

TARDIS Collector’s Corner: The April Fool Model

(Unfortunately, in the process of attempting to photograph this on the landing of my stairwell, I managed to tip the platform my Bill & Ted Time Traveling Phone Booth was resting on, spilling the booth and its passengers down the stairs, resulting in the breaking of three of the antenna bars on the booth as well as breaking off Rick’s foot. So I guess the April Fools Day prank was on me.)

Now Available…

The third book in S.D. Smith’s Tales of Old Natalia, Prince Lander & The Dragon War, is now available from Amazon, Audible, and other fine online audiobook retailers. It is the sixth book I have had the pleasure to narrate for Story Warren Books and I am thrilled it is now available.

I can say that it is an exciting, moving, and worthy story that continues, and in some ways brings to a close, the story begun in The Black Star of Kingston. While I’m certain more adventures are in store for these characters and the world of Old Natalia, Prince Lander and the Dragon War fills in some vital details in that world’s history, making the Green Ember main series all the stronger for them.

Old Natalia, during the declining years of Whitson Mariner and the rise of tyrannical dragons and their master, Namoz Dragonking. Rabbitkind faces extinction, and Prince Lander must follow his aging father to the last desperate edge of hope. A possible future is glimpsed dimly through a veil of darkness and death. This will not be a safe ending.

Blood calls. Oathbreakers attack. Allies fracture. Legends end.

Hear a SAMPLE

TARDIS Collector’s Corner: The Funko POP! TARDIS (Full Size)

(An ongoing writing project in which I catalog and quantify my extensive TARDIS collection. Find previous entries HERE.) 

As one of the final entries in this TARDIS Collector’s Corner series (prior to my multi-year sabbatical from writing them), I wrote about one of my shotglass TARDISes, the Funko POP! Vinyl Keychain TARDIS. I mentioned in the entry that this particular tiny TARDIS was based on a much larger Funko POP! TARDIS toy, about which I would one day write in the future.

This is that day.

Just as I did back in March of 2018, I shall again in March of 2022 declare that Funko’s POP! Vinyl figures are a plague upon this earth, as chronicled in the book of Revelation itself. (I was almost going to do a bit here where I added a 14th verse to Revelation 8, covering the unsealing and distribution of beady-eyed plastic demon idols, then I remembered that there’s another verse in Revelations (Rev 22:18), where the author explains the fate which will befall anyone who adds to or takes away from the prophecy. So, thanks, but I’m gonna pass on my dumb joke.) Four years on, Funko POP!s are even more ubiquitous and underfoot than they were in 2018. They’re found not only glutting the shelves of nerd stores, but are now spreading to retail outlets far and wide, whether it makes any damn sense for them to be sold there or not. I continue to weep for our landfills. (*COUGH*COUGH* saysthemanwhoowns16ofthem *COUGH*!)

Regardless of my feelings about Funko POP!s themselves, I absolutely had to own the Funko POP! TARDIS in all its boxy glory. The Funko’s POP! TARDIS is squatter and wider than the real thing, as in keeping with the stumpier dimensions of the figurines, but without the creepy black eyes. While this is supposedly based on the Smith/Capaldi era TARDIS, oddly, the supports between the panes of the windows are not white as theirs were, but blue–more in line with a Eccleston/Tennant box, or just about any of those from classic Doctor Who. Funko otherwise did a good job on the details, such as the hardware on the phone cabinet door and the hardware of the TARDIS door handle itself. They didn’t go for a wood grain detailing on the surface, but they captured the beveled edges of the base and nicely detailed roof cornices. A lot of skimping could have been done, but was not.

Did I mention it has a door? Oh, it’s got a door all right. A door. A single opening door, that is. Yep. Funko only included one working door on a two-door TARDIS. (Well, I say “working.” It does open, but requires a bit of effort to do so, and is somewhat difficult to close again afterward.) Of course, if you’re only going to have one working door, the right hand door is the one to choose, as it’s the only one that tends to be seen open on the show. However, when you take a look at the noggins on the Funko POP! figurines, one starts to do a bit of mental measurement estimation and one then immediately comes to the conclusion that the only Funko POP! that’s gonna fit through the doorway is one of the keychain sized figures. That’s when Funko reveals the twist in their story.

Funko knew none of their encephalitic figures would fit through that one door passage. However, they also realized that even if both doors were allowed to be open and a figure inserted within, a collector would then be hard-pressed to close either of the doors with such a gargantu-craniumed figure inside, or for that collector to ever have a chance at closing both doors again–figure or no. What good would that do? At the same time, a collector would clearly want to be able to show one of their Doctor figures peeking around the interior edge of the left door from within. What to do?

Funko’s elegant solution was to include a feature unlike any other TARDIS release I’ve encountered: this TARDIS features not only a false bottom, but an entirely missing bottom to boot. That way, you just stand your Funko Doctor wherever you want him (and/or her) and lower the TARDIS over them, door already in the open position.

As far as TARDISes go, it’s not a bad one. It may be in an exaggerated cartoonish geometrical configuration compared with your standard TARDIS shape, but it retains a good amount of detail. While very light in feel, it is also surprisingly solid in construction and not at all cheaply made. Do I wish both doors opened? Yes. But I’m totally cool with only the one as well. I mean, really, what kid would want to play with Funko POP!s anyway? They’re among the least functional toys ever made, clearly meant for adult man-children to set on a shelf and allow to collect dust. Accessory toys don’t really require much more functionality than that. All in all, I give this a solid 3.5 TARDi.

TARDIS Collector’s Corner: Underground Toys Diecast Collectable TARDIS

(An ongoing writing project in which I catalog and quantify my extensive TARDIS collection. Find previous entries HERE.) 

In one of my early Collector’s Corner entries, the one on the Matt Smith/Peter Capaldi Spin & Fly 3.75″ scale TARDIS, I made note that for a few hours one afternoon, I’d convinced myself that Character Options had released a David Tennant era Spin & Fly TARDIS to accompany their 3.75″ figure line and its David Tennant figure. This conviction was based solely on a photo I found online that featured the 3.75″ David Tennant Doctor figure standing outside of a to-scale TARDIS in the style of his tenure, alongside a 3.75″ Amy Pond figure. It looked fantastic, because even if it was just a re-paint of the Smith/Capaldi box, it was one done with an eye for the details of the Tennant box. Of course, fact that Karen Gillen and David Tennant only appeared in one story together and she was not playing Amy Pond at the time, and was therefore not his companion, made the photo a bit odd. Surely they could have cobbled together a Rose figure for him, or just not used a companion at all. However, the truly odd thing about the photo was that I could find no evidence online of Character Options releasing a 3.75″ scale TARDIS in the Tennant style. Was this some sort of prototype? Turns out, not so much–at least not officially. Character Options had not produced a 3.75″ Tennant TARDIS for their 3.75″ line because this TARDIS pre-dates that line of toys. There’s a chance that it even pre-dates David Tennant being hired to play the Doctor.

No, what I was seeing in the image was actually a TARDIS released by Underground Toys in the US, and Character Options in the UK, as part of a very early line of diecast Doctor Who toys. Exactly how early is still a little bit unclear, as I’ve been unable to find an actual release date on this line. However, the fact that this line also included a couple of Daleks and a Tennant-era Cyberman as well tells me that it was likely released during or maybe a little after Tennant’s 2006 first season, as the Cybermen made their debut then. The Cybermen were likely designed earlier than that, as artist Bryan Hitch, who came up with the updated Cybus Industries design, had been hired as a designer on the show in 2004, before the first season even aired. This is born out, possibly, by the 2004 copyright date on both the TARDIS itself and its box. Still, while I haven’t found an official release date, the toys in this particular line were probably not released until 2006, after the Cybermen’s first appearance in this particular form.

Even though this was not the TARDIS I had hoped to find, it was definitely one I was interested in acquiring. Off to eBay I scurried, searching high and low for one. And I found a few, but whoah were they pricey! After all, this item was one of the earliest Doctor Who toys made available and pre-dates even the Flight Control TARDIS. Of course it would go for a pretty pence.

I bided my time, waiting and watching until one came up that remained below the threshold of what I was willing to pay for one.

And now, sitting beside my 3.75″ scale Spin & Fly TARDIS, with its accompanying Capaldi figure is my 3.70″ scale diecast TARDIS, for which I also purchased a 3.75″ David Tennant. (They would be fun Doctors to meet someday, I think.) As far as TARDISes go, visually it’s a beauty. Admittedly, it’s not particularly detailed in terms of woodgrain, but it’s diecast metal–not particularly known for fine detail. Being metal, it actually weighs about the same as the solid resin Eaglemoss TARDIS, which sits on the shelf beside it–both far outweighing the Spin & Fly TARDIS next in line. The weight, however, lends it a feel of something that should have another purpose–like maybe as a piggy bank. Visually, the paintwork has a nice dingy quality to the blue exterior, much like Tennant’s TARDIS on the show. The windows even look a bit like they’ve been splashed with mud at some point, and there is pebbled glass detailing on the outer panes of each window, giving it that TARDIS T shape on the non-pebbled panes. (Oh, so now they can do detailing in diecast?) Someone clearly tried to capture the 10th Doctor’s TARDIS. The odd thing about this “toy” is, it’s not really a great toy, per se. It has absolutely no functionality, such as opening doors (a standard in the diecast toy world), lights or sound-effects. At the same time, I’m completely cool with that. It’s an anomaly. An object of beauty for those of us who find TARDISes beautiful. I give it 3.5 TARDi.

TARDIS Collector’s Corner: Idris (the NYC TARDISes)

(An ongoing writing project in which I catalog and quantify my extensive TARDIS collection. Find previous entries HERE.) 

I previously told the tale of my purchase of one of the two TARDISes I bought at Forbidden Planet in New York City in 2014. This is the story of the second.

Except, it’s kind of difficult to say much about this particular TARDIS without spoiling the story it is featured in, a Matt Smith story called “The Doctor’s Wife” written one of my favorite writers in any form, the great Neil Gaiman.

It is an episode I highly recommend watching and is certainly in my top five favorite Doctor Who stories of all time. (One day I must get around to writing them down.) It’s a story that is beautiful and innovative and touching in equal measure, and very Neil Gaimany, as you’d expect. Using shockingly few words, it also manages to both call upon rare moments of previously established Timelord lore, but also establishes a brand new Timelord character who we’ve never seen nor heard of before, yet who seems pretty important to the Doctor all the same. We never see the character in the episode, but Gaiman’s description makes the character feel wholy fleshed out.

That’s not even the main part of the story. That’s just a throwaway detail at the top of the story. The main gist is the best bit yet.

Even if you’ve not seen the episode, I think most folks who are passing-familiar with the show could easily watch and follow it with no problems. You should go do so now, cause there are SPOILER’S AHOY…

“The Doctor’s Wife” is a tale in which the Doctor, Amy and Rory find themselves beckoned into a pocket universe where they find a small number of people (both odd and Ood), who seem to have fallen out of the main universe. Two of them also seem to be patchwork creatures composed of bits of other people. Holding reality there together is an entity called House. Through the course of the story, the Doctor learns that House not only eats TARDISes for sustenance, he’s been luring Timelords into his pocket universe for centuries, devouring their TARDISes and killing them. When House learns that the Doctor and his TARDIS are the last of their kind, he decides to take possession of the TARDIS in order to escape into the universe beyond. And in order to make room for its own consciousness within the TARDIS, it stashes the TARDIS’s existing living consciousness within the body of one of the lost people who serve him, a strange woman named Idris. Inside the body of Idris, the TARDIS at last has a voice and the ability to communicate with the Doctor, who she calls her thief. I will go no further beyond this, for the plot takes some delightful and frigtening twists and turns. I will say that the word, “Hello,” has never before caused me to openly weep, but Gaiman somehow managed it.

IdrisI found this figure of Idris in Forbidden Planet NY, plunked down my cash, and took her home with me. It’s a decent likeness of actor Surrane Jones, as well as her wardrobe–though the real Surrane is far more pretty than the figure gives her credit for. She was brilliant in the show and everything you’d want the embodiment of the TARDIS to be. I think the figure captures her nicely.

Gotta give Idris Four TARDi.

TARDIS Collector’s Corner: Monitor Bobblehead TARDIS (The Bobble Head TARDISes Part I, plus bonus Mother-in-law TARDIS)

(An ongoing writing project in which I catalog and quantify my extensive TARDIS collection. Find previous entries HERE.) 

There are a number of Doctor Who bobble heads on the market, usually featuring likenesses of the various Doctors. I have no real interest in them, save for maybe a Tom Baker to add to my Tom Baker collectables shelf. Even that, though, is a bit of a stretch because I’m just not a huge fan of bobble heads in general. If they’re you’re thing, then go with God, but I just find them a bit off-putting–what with their normally proportioned body and then a big giant wobbly head on a spring. I mean who really needs a giant-headed William Hartnell wobbling disapprovingly at them. (I really wanted to use Collin Baker for that joke, but I don’t think they’ve made one of him yet.)

However, there are a few TARDIS bobble heads that I can get behind, mainly because they’re simply normally-proportioned TARDIS recreations that are mounted on a spring. (Though, I suppose you could to an Idris bobble head, and I’d probably buy it.) They have been manufactured in various sizes and levels of complexity, from various companies. Some are painted in accurate TARDIS colors. Some are chrome-coated plastic. Some are Christmas-themed. Some even play sound effects.

I now own three TARDIS bobble heads and have for quite a few years. I don’t know if today’s TARDIS is my favorite of the bobble head TARDISes, but it’s one I am very fond of all the same. It’s a TARDIS bobble head “monitor mate” that I believe I may have bought from Entertainment Earth, or ThingsFromAnotherWorld.com or perhaps the late and lamented ThinkGeek.com. (You can currently find one fairly cheap at Amazon.) It’s a simple hard rubber TARDIS, of the Matt Smith era style, that I believe was manufactured by Biff Bang Pow! around the time of the 50th anniversary of the show in 2013.

Being rubber, this TARDIS has no hard angles to be found. There’s a minimum of paint, due to the rubber being TARDIS-colored to begin with. It’s also not huge, being only around 4 inches in height with maybe an 1.5 inch base. While no one would mistake it for a realistic model of a TARDIS, it’s certainly a respectable impression of one and I appreciate it for that quality. While it is designed to be a monitor mate bobble head, it has never once been placed as the mate of an actual computer monitor at my house. This is mostly due to the fact that all of the flat screen monitor’s I’ve owned have had round-edged housing that would prevent even this TARDIS’s narrow base from resting on it in a stable fashion. Instead, my bobble head TARDIS lives in a specially constructed corner of the closet-based audiobook recording studio in my office. Why’s it so special? Lemme tell ya.

My recording studio is located in what is technically a walk-in closet of my office, but only because a single human being could, technically speaking, walk into it. It would only take a single step, and, once inside, there would be nowhere to go but back out, or to remain in a small two-foot square of space. The studio area takes up half of the small 2.5’x6’x6′ space–the other half being devoted to office supplies. Actually, of those dimensions, you’d probably have to back out around two inches of space on each wall due to the carpeting and sound foam I’ve lined them with.

The studio area is composed of a simple board shelf for a keyboard and mouse; a sewing desk beneath that which has been repurposed to hold my sound board; a music stand to hold my folding laptop, creating a screen to read copy from; and a boom mic. However, the placement of the boom mic gave me some trouble. In a former studio space, I’d had loads of room for it, but not so much in the tiny studio. My plan was to affix a stout block of wood to the back corner and use that to mount the boom arm to. However, I could never quite get it to work right. Because of the awkward mechanics of the boom itself, when mounted to the block, there simply was not room enough for its hinged and springed boom elbow unless that joint was extended, pushing the mic far out into the space where it could not satisfactorily be used to record anything. After fighting with it for an hour, I eventually realized that the boom worked just fine when mounted to the keyboard shelf, which allowed room for its elbow to stretch back to the corner. The block mounting point remained, though, and looked in need of a purpose. So I plunked my monitor mate TARDIS bobble head on it and called it a day. While I never actually reach back and cause it to bobble (for fear of sending it into the chasm of chaos and wiring beneath the shelf), I do like looking at it. It never fails to cheer me up.

You may not have noticed, but there are technically two TARDISes to be seen in the photo of the space. Or, at least, a TARDIS and part of the interior of a TARDIS. The orange-shaded rectangle on the green sewing/sound board table, is actually a quilted, double-sided, coaster matt featuring an image of Matt Smith’s first TARDIS console.

This brings me to a TARDIS-related subject that I have only partially addressed in this series of entries. My mother-in-law, Susan “Bad Sue” Holloway, has gifted me with and/or crafted for me with her own two loving mitts, a goodly number TARDISes in my collection. (One I have already written about is the TARDIS cookie jar, my third TARDIS to own ever, circa 2006.) Not all of them are traditional, three-dimensional representations of the TARDIS, mind you, but can take different artistic forms. As such, I count them as part of the collection and will continue to celebrate them here.

TARDIS Collector’s Corner: The Latest Entry to My Collection (not).

Here’s the latest TARDIS added to my collection.

Yessir. That’s it right there. All life-size and 1:1 scale, and stuff.

I mean, I didn’t just roll on down to The Inner Geek, in Huntington, WV, and stand in front of the one they had on display there and then claim it was my own, or anything. Cause that would be dumb.

Nope. This one’s all mine.

Gonna take it out for a spin soon.

(Incidentally, if you’re ever in the neighborhood, The Inner Geek is a really nice comic/bookstore/toy shop/nerd haven and I highly recommend stopping by. There are two other comic book shops within a few blocks of it–Comic World and Purple Earth Comics–which are also worth a gander. They don’t have lifesize TARDISes, though.

I’ve seen a couple of life-size TARDISes over the years and they always give me a thrill. Often I have found them to be ever-so-slightly janky, though. Not the case with this one. It’s pretty well to spec. I give it four TARDi.

Coming Soon…

The third book in S.D. Smith’s Tales of Old Natalia, Prince Lander & The Dragon War, is not far from publication, as is its audiobook.

Having just wrapped the recording of my narration for this, I can say that it is an exciting, moving, and worthy story that continues, and in some ways concludes, the story begun in The Black Star of Kingston. While I’m certain more adventures are in store for these characters and the world of Old Natalia, this story fills in vital details in that world’s history, making the Green Ember main series all the stronger for them.

Hear a SAMPLE

TARDIS Collector’s Corner: The TARDIS Kleenex Box Cozy

(An ongoing writing project in which I catalog and quantify my extensive TARDIS collection. Find previous entries HERE.) 

One of my best friends growing up, John Underwood, was known for three things:

  • A) his extreme ticklishness along the sides of his torso, giving everyone else in the world an automatic John-Shut-Off switch should it ever be required, a power we almost never abused, almost certainly never by first shouting “That’s it, drop him!” and then attacking his sides until he was no longer able to remain upright, never in the middle of the cafeteria, in high school, and also college;
  • B) his unflagging devotion to the 1989 Michael Keaton-starring/Tim Burton-directed film Batman, (as well as it’s far lesser sequel, Batman Returns, a.k.a. Batman Sucks), to the degree that he, at one point, had a Batman ’89 shrine of collectables in his room at summer camp, and also at home;
  • and C) having a mother who put a cozy on absolutely EFFing everything.

You may think that I am exaggerating, but I tell you that, in the Underwood home, there was not a single item smaller than, say, a coffee table, that did not have a specialized cozy to cover it. Some cozies were crocheted. Some were quilted. Some were macraméd. Many were themed to whatever holiday fell during that month. The toaster had a cozy. The tea kettle had a cozy. The bread box had a cozy. The VCR had a cozy. There were picture frames in which the picture itself, while still visible, peeked out from within a cozy. In the winter, we joked that John wasn’t really wearing sweaters so much as John cozies. (And if John’s mom could place a cozied item on top of a doily, I think she got extra points, or something, cause there were a lot of those too.) Ubiquitous among the cozy-covered items, however, were the Kleenex boxes, of which there were… I’m gonna say at least 78. In my memory, there was a box of Kleenex atop every level surface in the house, and each of those boxes was clad in its own cozy. They were ever-present.

As youths, those of us among John’s friends were never super clear if all of this cozy-cladding was done out of some sort of embarrassment that visitors might be exposed to naked items sitting out on tables, or if Mrs. U just feared they would catch a chill. But if it was warm and snuggly Kleenexes that you needed, they were guaranteed to be found at chez Underwood

(I should note that Mrs. Underwood is a fantastic lady in all other respects, played a huge role in helping set me on the path to becoming the playwright and actor I am today, and always treated me as part of the family. But I made no bones to her at the time that she was in need of a cozy intervention.)

Time travel ahead 30 years.

Imagine my horror, after decades of ridiculing the cozy-wrapping practices of my betters, when I happened to be browsing Etsy one night and spied a cozy that I knew I had to both own and display. Yessir, the TARDIS Kleenex Cozy caught my eye and I was unable to prevent my finger from pressing the purchase button for longer than a week.

It soon materialized in the mail. And, I am ashamed to say, it was delightful.

The design is your standard yarn-woven-through-plastic-grid tissue box cozy, mind you, but done up in TARDIS-colored yarns, and with a keen eye for detail in terms of capturing the essential elements of the TARDIS. You’ve got your Police box sign above each side (though leaving off the “public call” part for space considerations), plus the door sign (with implied text). Even the levels of the roof are taken into account through the use of varying shades of yarn. The cozy fits over the taller, squarish tissue box in the brand and style of your choice. I really dig it and it now resides on my desk, next to my TARDIS Bluetooth speaker lamp. Mrs. Underwood would be proud and encourage you to find your own at etsy, courtesy of IrishKitten.

Of course, having learned my cozy lesson somewhat… looking around my office, I note that the number of TARDISes I own could almost kinda constitute something of a… TARDIS shrine, of sorts? Really gives one pause to consider that maybe I should also not be so cavalier in lobbing stones at the Bat-shrines of friends. Sorry, John.

TARDIS Collector’s Corner: The 13th Doctor’s Electronic TARDIS

(An ongoing writing project in which I catalog and quantify my extensive TARDIS collection.) 

From the moment the BBC first released the initial promo images for Jodie Whitaker’s 13th Doctor, I took the bit of the idea of owning a 13th Doctor TARDIS toy and started chompin’. In fact, I gave it a Five TARDi rating here in advance just based on the picture of the prop. It just looked so cool, hearkening back to the classic series, with its darker color scheme, dark background door sign, yellowish windows and new lamp atop. I couldn’t wait to see it in toy form.

In 2020, the TARDIS toy was finally released. I’d already had a Jodie Whitaker Doctor figure standing among the other regenerations for weeks by then. One eBay purchase later, I had the new TARDIS on its way to me.

I knew in advance that the new toy was not going to be up to the same standards as the original Electronic Flight Control TARDIS, but none since has been, so that wasn’t a total shock. This new one would have no interior lights, but was still supposed to have takeoff and landing sounds, as well as a flashing roof lamp–standard features for most main series TARDIS releases these days. What I suspected from early pictures of the toy, though, was that Character Options had simply used the same sculpt that it had been using for their classic series TARDIS releases in the late oughts as well as the more recent B&M stores TARDIS releases (which have no sound or light functions). It would have a few few cosmetic additions to match the new prop, but this would be a classic style TARDIS. And while this further hearkened back to the classic series look her TARDIS shared, it also kind of annoyed me.

The classic series TARDIS is considerably smaller than those of the modern series in both prop and toy forms. And while I think there’s some visual evidence that Jodie’s 13th TARDIS prop is in fact slightly smaller than that of Eccleston through Capaldi, it doesn’t look that much smaller on screen as the size difference between the classic toy to modern toy would suggest.

Size RangeAnd here was the thought that bothered me: What does it say that your toy company is not willing to invest the resources to make the TARDIS replica of the first onscreen female Doctor just as large and functional as those of her predecessors? Not much good, I think. Sure, Character Options had been getting skimpier with their functionality, eliminating lights and sound in their B&M releases of the last few years, but this new TARDIS was allegedly part of the main line of toys. I would have preferred to see a modified version of the David Tennant TARDIS mold of the old Flight Control series than this modified smaller classic show TARDIS. (Check the size range in the above image, featuring 13th, 9th/10th, 7th, and 3rd variations.)

That said, nearly every TARDIS toy made by CO in the last 12 years has just been a lesser variant of the Electronic Flight Control TARDIS and the classic series TARDIS molds, so it’s not as if Jodie was being treated any shabbier than Peter Capaldi, other than her TARDIS toy was not in the same scale as Capaldi’s. Actually, there is another element of potential shabbiness I could complain about, but let’s save it for a moment.

Beyond the optics of it, though, there’s a lot to like about the 13th Doctor TARDIS toy. Character Options, while still re-using a previous mold, altered it enough to match the onscreen prop for the most part. The color scheme is great, recalling the kind of greenish blue of the Tom Baker era, as well as returning the dark background of the door sign over the phone compartment. That door sign, much like the TV counterpart, has had its hinges reversed, opening to the right instead of the left. (Or, at least, it would if the toy’s phone compartment door opened at all. No biggie. None of the classic TARDIS releases of the past five years have working phone doors anyway, nor did the last couple of models for Smith and Capaldi.) While the takeoff and landing sound effects are not as varied as those of my beloved 9th/10th Doctor TARDIS (which had two audio variations for both takeoff and landing), the sounds they chose are screen accurate and satisfying.

Where the 13th TARDIS toy falters for me is in its lack of an interior background card, which all of the previous modern series TARDISes have come with. Granted, none of the classic series style TARDISes (the mold of which this model uses) have interior background cards. For the most part, I’m okay with that, because it allows me to customize them to my liking (such as the wood-panel auxiliary control room interior I made to modify the flat-roofed 3rd Doctor TARDIS into a 4th Doctor TARDIS, as will be featured in a future entry). It just seemed wrong, though, that I had to go find and print a Jodie Whitaker TARDIS interior when CO could have just provided a higher quality one from the factory.

Again, is this the look you wanna go with for the first female Doctor, Character Options? Lookin’ at you. While I hate to do it, I have to revise my previous Five TARDi rating to a four…

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