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.

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…

TARDIS Collector’s Corner: The Nick Bell Model Paper TARDIS (Paper TARDISes series)

For many years as a youth into young adulthood, I was both a camper and staff member at Summer Scholars Onstage, a theatre camp at Mississippi State University in which a group of junior high and high school students write a three act musical comedy (or three one act musical comedies) in the space of one week and then co-star in that musical at the end of the three week camp. I took some years off, from 1998 to 2007, and came back as an act leader and, eventually, the writers camp script coordinator. It’s consistently one of the more stressful things I ever do in terms of the workload and the deadline, but also one of the most satisfying in terms of getting to see pure creativity at work on the part of the kids in both the writers and production camp aspects. They get it done every year and I sometimes get to be there to help suggest stitching for any small tears in the narrative fabric. (There are not that many. And for every suggestion I make, the camper writers almost always come up with something way better.)

As part of camp, during the third week we have a tradition called Secret Pal. (It’s like Secret Santa, only in July.) Campers and staff draw one another’s names from a hat and are then tasked with giving the person they drew some little gift or card each day, which they either bought or made. It’s just sort of a nice daily pick-me-up during the energy-sapping third week rolling into production.

In 2013, or so, my secret pal had my number in terms of an ideal gift. Not only did they learn of my obsession with TARDISes (maybe from spying one in my room on the staff hall or maybe from the many TARDIS t-shirts that I sported), but they made, with their very own hands, a paper TARDIS which they gifted to me on the sly by leaving it for me in the camp office. I actually spied through the office door as I came around the corner, recognized what it was, and instantly knew who that paper TARDIS was meant for.

Making a TARDIS of any sort is always a tricky prospect. While the basic shape and features are fairly consistent (except when they’re not–I’m lookin’ at you Patrick Troughton TARDIS with the door sign on the wrong door), there are loads of details to take into account and only the most foolhardy soul would attempt it without a visual reference. I don’t know if mine was made with one or not, but it’s impressive either way. A rectangular box made of thin cardboard, akin to cereal box packing, the TARDIS has individual windows applied, also cut out of cardboard, and pasted onto the surface. And on its roof was affixed a lamp, also in cardboard. Most other details are drawn on in ink. It’s not a small thing, either, coming pretty close to the same scale as the Electronic Flight Control TARDIS, which was the very TARDIS I’d brought with me to camp.

If the title of this post didn’t already spoil it, at the end of camp, my secret pal revealed themselves to be none other than my fellow staff member and friend Nick Bell. Nick’s one of the nicer guys I know and was among the first campers I was privileged to work with upon my return to Summer Scholars, some years earlier. His TARDIS remains a treasured member of my TARDIS collection to this day.

TARDIS Collector’s Corner: Doctor Who Salt & Pepper Shaker TARDIS and Dalek set (the NYC TARDISes)

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

In 2014, my wife, my in-laws, as well as my sister-in-law and her husband, took an April trip to New York City to see the sights. Only a couple of us had been there before (I twice previously) so it was a fun time to see one of the world’s great cities and get to do touristy stuff, see some Broadway shows, and eat good food. One of the other things I wanted to do while there was to visit at least one of the world’s great comic book shops, because this was an experience I had missed out on during my two previous visits. And there was one I knew I had to visit, because of the high likelihood of it having a wide selection of TARDISes.

Back in July of 1986, during my first visit to NYC as a kid, my dad, sister and I were just traveling through on our way back to Mississippi from a trip we’d made to Maine. We arrived, mid-afternoon. Dad had already asked me what I wanted to do while we were in the Big Apple and I’d said I wanted to visit a comic shop. I’d had scant little experience with comic shops of any sort, but knew that they existed in the world. I figured a New York City comic shop would be the ultimate version of one. Only, I had done no research in advance (how could you as a kid in 1986, really?) and was left guessing as to how to find one. Did we start our search by looking one up in the phone book? No. Didn’t occur to us. Instead, we consulted the advertising section of Ambush Bug #1, which I had brought with me on the trip. It featured a tiny yellow ad for an outfit called Centor Comics, located at 122 E. 42 Street. Sounded like a comic shop.

Dad drove us there, we found parking, and then discovered the address was located somewhere within a high rise office building, (which Google Maps now indicates is called the Chanin Building, I think) located next door to the Chrysler Building. Kids in tow, Dad ventured inside, consulted an office directory for Centor Comics, and we soon found ourselves riding an elevator up more stories than I’d ever climbed before. We shared the elevator with a middle-aged guy. When we reached the floor we were looking for, the guy got out too and we went our separate ways. It took us a little bit to find our way around the hallways of the floor until we reached the door of Centor Comics. It was not a comic book store. It was an office, complete with pebbled glass door. We knocked and who should open it but the guy we’d ridden up with in the elevator. Turned out, he was not associated with Centor Comics, itself, but shared the office space with the guy who was. It was a very tiny office and looked to consist of a single room and, I assume, a bathroom. He explained that Centaur Comics was not a retail outlet at all, but a mail-order business. He invited us in and opened up a file cabinet drawer to reveal a row of comic books neatly bagged with backing boards. I had no idea that people stored their comics in filing cabinets. I’d never even seen a bag or a backing board in my life. I also had no idea what comic book I might want to buy, should they have it, and since this wasn’t the guy’s business anyway Dad decided, wisely, that it was time for us to move on.

Back in the car, we regrouped and decided that if Centor Comics had not worked out, maybe we needed to just go to the source of my favorite books and head to DC Comics headquarters. We already knew where it was, because its 666 5th Avenue address was printed in every DC book, including my Ambush Bug issue. Surely they would have comics, right? If nothing else, I might get to meet my hero Keith Giffen, creator of Ambush Bug. Unfortunately, we were in town on July 4, 1986, which was not only the 4th of July celebrations but also one of the days of the three day Liberty Weekend celebration marking the 100th birthday of the Statue of Liberty (still covered in scaffolding from its then ongoing restoration). And when we arrived at the DC Offices, located another elevator ride up another tall building, we found them closed for the holiday. I was still able to look through a window in their office door, where I could see a dummy of Clark Kent seated in their reception area, reading a copy of the Daily Planet. It was disappointing, sure, but still cool.

I was out of ideas after that, so we decided to try visiting the Empire State Building.

Here’s where it gets officially weird.

After we pulled out of our parking space near 666 5th Avenue, and turned onto 5th Ave itself, we suddenly found that our red 1976 Chevy Nova was the only car on the street for as far as the eye could see. We headed south west, curious as to how we’d suddenly found ourselves in a seemingly deserted Manhattan. It was exceptionally weird and very Twilight Zoney. Then, suddenly, there were flashing lights and sirens and three long black limousines filled with guys in dark glasses, flanked by at least a half dozen motorcycle cops, went flying by us in the other lane. The guys in dark glasses all turned and looked over their glasses at us with odd expressions on their faces. Then, just as quickly as they had arrived, they had passed us and had vanished into the distance.

When we reached the Empire State Building and parked again, Dad found a cop and asked him what had just happened to us. It seems that the entirety of 5th Avenue had been blocked off so that President Reagan’s motorcade could make the trip south to lower Manhattan, where the Statue of Liberty celebrations were soon to begin. We had managed to slip through the secret service’s security efforts entirely by accident. They’d blocked off 5th avenue and all of the cross streets to traffic, but had no control over cars that had already been parked on the street within that secure corridor. Somebody probably got fired because of us.

With such a disappointing lack of a NYC comic shop experience already under my belt, I was determined in 2014 to remedy this. I did my research well in advance and had a target in mind: Forbidden Planet. It’s one of the world’s most famous names in nerd shops, with the original London FP location being at the top of the planet’s nerd shop heap and land of Doctor Who merchandise. My bet was that FBNYC would have a pretty wide selection themselves, and in that I was not wrong. Just about any recent release of the Character Options toys and the Eaglemoss figurines were all on display there, save for the Eaglemoss TARDIS, which had sadly sold out. They had a couple of other TARDISes I decided to go home with, though.

The first of these was part of a two-piece set of official Doctor Who porcelain salt & pepper shakers. The set includes a porcelain TARDIS and a porcelain Dalek. Being porcelain, the TARDIS has little in the way of hard corners. Everything is smooth and rounded and glazed. But it’s a high quality product, with nice-looking print on the door and roof signs, and enough highlighting and lowlighting in the paint work for the panels that it gives the whole piece better visual definition. It’s clearly modeled after the Eccleston/Tennant TARDISes. A very satisfying piece. The Dalek is similarly glazed and smooth, with a stumpier than usual eye stalk, but respectable plunger and gun arms. There’s not much in the way of paint detailing beyond a bit of gray on the arms and stalk and on each of the two lights on its head, which are pointy and look kind of like devil horns. I have a mind to repaint it, just to add some more detail. I mean, really, in how many stories were the Daleks jet black? Rarely, and when they were it was usually with silver or gold Dalek-bumps.

Looking at my new set of salt & pepper shakers, I had to wonder, though, which one was intended to be the salt shaker and which the pepper? There was no labeling whatsoever. Then it hit me: for the entirety of their existence, Daleks have been described as looking like angry pepper-pots. Of course the Dalek was the pepper shaker. To quote one of my comedian heroes, Jimmy Pardo, “That’s a nice piece of business.”

I’ve yet to put salt or pepper in either.

I give the Shaker TARDIS four TARDi.

As to the second TARDIS I purchased, we’ll have to wait for a future post for that reveal, but even then I won’t be able to say much about it for reasons that may be obvious to those who have seen the episode in which that particular TARDIS featured.

(TO BE CONTINUED)

TARDIS Collector’s Corner: Corgi Tom Baker Die-Cast TARDIS & K-9 Set (the White Whale TARDISes)

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

I cannot say for sure where I first saw the Corgi Tom Baker Die-Cast TARDIS & K-9 set. Likely, it was one of the products for sale on WHONA.com, in the early oughts. I expect they’ve stocked it several times over the years. It was among a number of Doctor Who toys that the Corgi Company produced round about 2004, with many Doctor Who villains and characters represented. Tom Baker, however, is the only Doctor they seem to have included in the line, appearing in three different versions, all clad in his burgundy outfit from his final two seasons. They produced a free-standing 4th Doctor figurine, clutching his hat to his head; a 4th Doctor driving his car Bessie (a bit odd, as the only story in which the 4th Doctor drives Bessie is his first story, Robot, and in which he is not clad in his burgundy outfit at all; and the piece I now own, the Tom Baker clad in burgundy outfit peeking out of that door of the TARDIS. The set I bought came with a die cast K-9, which is wildly not to scale with the Doctor or the TARDIS, but whatever.

As with the above anachronistic costuming on some of the figures chosen, there’s just a lot about this particular set that also leads me to believe the Corgi crew were not necessarily knowledgeable about the show, but were just in it for the cash. Their dedication to a quality product led them to produce a TARDIS of a satisfying likeness to the actual prop, really only cutting corners with the roof lamp, which is just a cylindrical chunk of silver reminiscent of a LEGO stud, with little hint that it is supposed to be a lamp at all. But the overall shape is great. Where Corgi’s inattention to details from the show fall short, though, is that they have the miniature Tom Baker peeking out of the left-hand door of the TARDIS. By and large, in the classic and current series, if only one of the doors of the TARDIS is open, it Can't... open doors... any further. Phone... too... big.is the right-hand door. Part of the reason for this, I suspect, is that the left hand door contains the telephone cabinet, which sits behind that door and collides with the interior wall of the TARDIS prop when opened. And I only think this because all of my toy TARDi with opening doors, and a phone installed behind the left door, have that issue. (Okay, I just checked and this is not entirely accurate. Of the three TARDISes I own that have working phone panel doors, only one of them really has this problem–the 7th Doctor TARDIS, which has an actual box behind the door in which a replica vintage phone sits (see photo). The box keeps the overall police box door from opening more than a little bit. The other two with working phone doors (the 9th/10th Flight Control TARDIS and the first 11th Flight Control TARDIS) have phones that hang from the backside of the door, instead of within a box, and take up less room, allowing for fully opening police box doors. (Incidentally, while we’re complaining about anachronistic and inaccurate toys, please note the mid-to-late period Tom Baker console I added to the 7th Doctor’s TARDIS.)

The Corgi K-9 diecast toy I have about as many complaints about. While Corgi got the general body shape right, there are some inaccuracies to be found. The most obvious one is that it has no ears. The head shape itself is very nice for such a small figure, but instead of the antenna ears of the actual K-9 prop, this one just has a blobby triangleish thing on top of its head, sort of like an ear unibrow. If viewed from the side, at just the right angle, it kind of implies the presence of ears and gives it the right silhouette. Looking at it from head-on, though, it looks like someone gave K-9 a pillbox hat. Other oddities include a raised section between its front “legs,” instead of a depression similar to that of its lower sides and back. There’s no hint of a tag, there is an implied collar painted the same metallic silver as the body. And the body has the name “K-9” written on both sides of the toy, instead of just the right side, with a TV screen on the left, as would have been more accurate to the prop. My guess, Corgi was given production stills to work from that only showed the prop from the K-9 side and they just assumed it was on both. (It’s a cynical view, I know, but it’s precisely what happened with many of the Dapol toys, which, as I’ve written about before, led to things like a five-sided TARDIS console, a Davros with two arms, a green K-9, and a Tom Baker with no scarf.)

Still, I’m not going to fault the Corgi TARDIS for the weaknesses of the Corgi K-9. It’s a great-looking piece, which I had wanted for years, so I grant it a full 3.5 TARDi.

Recipe for Irrational Ire

You could key my car and I’d be super pissed.

You could open-mouthed cough near me in the same aisle of Walmart and I might very well throw a box of toothpaste at your head.

You could hurt my loved ones and, in my pain and rage, I would become an avenging angel of destruction, dedicating my existence to ending your existence, Chucky Bronson-style.

However, all of those forms of anger are faint and distant glimmers compared to the white hot supernova of fury that instantaneously floods my being each and every time I catch my earbud wire on the drawer knob by the kitchen sink.

You have no idea.

(The perils of allowing your wireless earbuds to run out of juice before you’ve had your coffee.)

TARDIS Collector’s Corner: Classic 1980 Tom Baker TARDIS Tin Bank (The White Whale TARDISes)

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

As I’ve previously written, I came to my fandom of Doctor Who in the summer of 1980, in small town Mississippi, where I felt like I existed in something of a Doctor Who fandom vacuum. In the years before the internet, the ability to research a television show, let alone one from a foreign land, was kind of limited. At the time, having seen only a handful of Tom Baker stories, I had no idea how long the show had even been on the air. I had no idea that there had been other Doctors before Baker, or, indeed, a 5th Doctor impending. I had no idea that there were novelizations of episodes in the world, or that books about the show itself had also been published. I’d never even heard of a Dalek, cause I had missed “Genesis of the Daleks” during its initial PBS run. My first ever episode to see was mid-way through “Revenge of the Cybermen,” the story falling immediately after “Genesis of the Daleks”. I was a babe in the Whoniverse woods, trapped in the deep south, where we only got the show at all by the grace of the God of Public Television and a long-handled spoon. But I was definitely hungry for more.

Being in the 4th grade during my initial viewing, I longed for Doctor Who toys, yet, again, had no clue that such things already existed elsewhere in the world. It would be years yet before I learned of the Denys Fisher TARDIS of the 1970s and years yet before the Dapol TARDIS toy was produced. Yet I would have given anything at that age to have my own TARDIS toy. Which was why, a few years on, I was shocked the first time I caught sight of a Doctor Who Tom Baker Tardis Tin Bank. These were first produced by the Avon company in 1980 as fairly simple metal lidded boxes of a rectangular TARDIS-like shape, with a printed TARDIS exterior featuring an illustrated open door with Tom Baker himself standing in it. There was no three dimensional lamp on top, but just an embossed metal lid with a circular raised section painted as if light were pouring from beneath the rounded blue disc. (I expect it’s meant to be thought of as the TARDIS roof as seen from directly above.) By no means was this a toy TARDIS, but for a kid who was easily able to use his imagination to transform his Dad’s girlfriend’s cream-colored muffler into a full-length Doctor Who scarf in his head, it wasn’t a far stretch at all that I might yet be able to use such a tin as a toy, I thought.

Now, you’d think for such a powerful memory of wanting one of these, I’d be able to remember exactly where I first saw one. Not… as… such.

Part of me wonders if I first saw one at the house of some acquaintances of my dad’s, whose older son introduced me to the concept of the Doctor Who Target novelizations. That would have had to have been around 1982, or so, that I first saw the tin, and I think we visited those folks around then. However, if he’d owned such a tin, he certainly didn’t let me lay hands on it. Instead, I suspect that the tin might have been something I first spotted in a comic book store–possibly among the first two such stores I’d ever visited, both of which were within a block of one another, in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and both of which are no more. The more likely shop I might have seen it in was called Injun John’s, which was a newsstand/comic shop/tobacconist/porno mag emporium. I can still remember the smell of the place, which was always a heady blend of tobacco and newsprint. Asgard Comics was more of a traditional comic book store. I bought my first two issues of Marvel’s run on Doctor Who there.

Or, perhaps I saw the TARDIS tin at Memphis Comics and Records, which was another shop I would frequently convince Dad to take me to, on the way to see my grandparents in Missouri. Or maybe at any of the handful of comic stores I visited while on summer time road trips. (Though not, I should add, at the very first comic shop I attempted to visit in New York City–a story for a future entry.)

Wherever it was that I spotted one, it was in person and was distant enough that I couldn’t get my mitts on it. (I can recall seeing the first issues of Watchmen there in 1986, so why can’t I pin down the tin? It’s maddening!)

Years later, while visiting my friend Matthew Jameson, who lived in Huntsville, AL, I spied another similar tin. This time it was owned by Matthew’s father, and was not a Tom Baker tin, but a Peter Davison 5th Doctor tin bank. This tin Mr. Jameson let me examine up close. It looked the same as the Baker tin, but with Peter painted in the doorway instead. (Fun fact: Peter Davison is the only Doctor Who actor I’ve met in person, so far, and whose hand I have shook. And the entire time I was doing so, all my brain would spit out was “That’s #&%!ing Doctor Who!”) I was not nearly as enchanted with the fact that Peter Davison was on the tin, but it was still a TARDIS. By that time I was in high school, so seeking a toy TARDIS was not yet back on my radar of things a boy my age should be doing. I’d have to wait until I was well into my 30s for that desire to kick back into gear. And soon after it did, I made the mental note that one day I wanted to own such a classic TARDIS tin like I’d wanted as a child, preferably with my boy Tom on it. However, I found in my ebay searching that such tins had become rare as the old ones rusted away and got recycled. As such, it became one of my White Whale TARDISes. I occasionally would still look for them on ebay, but they tended to go for dozens of dollars more than I really wanted to pay for a metal box. I bided my time.

Back in May of last year, I finally located one in an ebay auction. For some reason, it was only listed for $19.98, or, at least, that was the price I paid as the winning bidder. I worried that perhaps this was some sort of knock-off TARDIS tin, due to its cheapness. Perhaps there was something wrong with it. But I paid my money and took my chances.

When it arrived, it was somehow smaller than my memory of the ones I had seen previously. Of course, I was relatively smaller at the time I saw them, too. However, I’ve looked up several listings for similar tins and the measurements match those of the one I have. And if it is still somehow counterfeit, the counterfeiters did a fine job of aging it, for there was rust to be found around the edges of the inside. A little elbow grease cleaned it right up. It looks like a true 1980s-era item. I also don’t really care if it is of more recent manufacture. It’s awesome and now has a proud place on my office bookshelf. I give it four TARDi.

TARDIS Collector’s Corner: Siege Mode TARDIS (3D Printed TARDISes)

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

Today’s TARDIS Collector’s Corner features one of the more unique TARDISes in my collection, which is also, as of this writing, the most recent. It’s also one I had a pretty heavy hand in the final appearance of, though none in its basic construction. As you may have guessed from the title, I’m talkin’ bout the Siege Mode TARDIS, which first appeared in the Peter Capaldi Story “Flatline,” as written by Jamie Mathieson, and as mentioned in last week’s Big Chief Mini TARDIS accessory.

In addition to being one of my favorite Capaldi stories in general, “Flatline” introduced a number of cool concepts into the show’s mythos. Not only did we have a group of new (and as-yet-to-reappear) villains which the Doctor names “the Boneless,” which are two-dimensional creatures capable of killing human beings by turning them into graffiti, we also get to see the effect such creatures have on a multi-dimensional device such as the TARDIS. As the story progresses, we see the notoriously bigger-on-the-inside TARDIS become progressively smaller on the outside due to the presence of the Boneless. At first it shrinks to maybe a quarter of its normal size, forcing the Doctor and Clara to crawl through cabinet-sized doors to exit. Then, with Clara on the outside and the Doctor returned inside, the TARDIS exterior continues to shrink until it’s no bigger than an Electronic Flight Control TARDIS version of itself. In this form, Clara is able to carry it around in her purse, talking to the Doctor’s face through its door. As the TARDIS continues to react to the presence of the Boneless, it eventually enters an altogether different form called Siege Mode, becoming a 6″x6″ cube with Gallifreyan designs etched into its surface. In Siege Mode, nothing can penetrate the TARDIS’s exterior, but the Doctor is also trapped within it, life-support dropping to non-existent levels. (I will say, as gargantuan as the TARDIS is on the inside, the idea that the Doctor would ever run out of oxygen seems pretty silly unless it was all somehow vented–which we weren’t shone. This comes up in multiple other stories as well, so apparently it’s a real design flaw. I blame Omega.)

I loved “Flatline” as well as Jamie Matthieson’s other stories during the series. When word came down that Stephen Moffatt was leaving as showrunning, Matthieson had my vote to become the new guy. Even if he never does, though, he set up a storyline or two which have yet to be paid off, so perhaps one day he’ll return to at least write those episodes.

While I enjoyed the Siege Mode in the show, I kind of forgot it existed. It’s way less exciting than just the mini-TARDIS form on the show, and I was way more fascinated by the Boneless themselves, whose physical appearance became one of the more unique and terrifying villain forms we’ve seen in the history of Doctor Who.

Big Chief Studios included a tiny Siege Mode TARDIS with their Peter Capaldi figure-release, alongside the mini-TARDIS from last week. I only realized this fairly recently. No, it wasn’t until RubberToe Replicas released a Siege Mode TARDIS replica that I even remembered that the TARDIS had another form in recent years. As with all of RubberToe’s other replicas, this looked to be a very nice, high-quality item and was to scale with the original prop. Unfortunately, it was also more hundreds of dollars than I cared to pay for one, so I didn’t buy it.

A little more affordable was Titans Collectibles Siege Mode TARDIS, released as part of their line of randomly packaged stumpy little vinyl Who-related figurines. I believe, however, it was intentionally made a rare item in that line, probably having no more than one or two per display box, if that. It looked nice, but was not exactly to scale with the original prop, so even when I found them for sale on ebay, they just weren’t as attractive. No, I’d already had the to scale RubberToe version and no other felt like it would do.

My happy-medium solution, which I’m rather pleased with, was to buy a 3D printed Siege Mode TARDIS blank, from a seller in England. It arrived and was pretty sweet just in unpainted form to begin with. That it could be customized, though, meant it was a cube of potential.

As with many 3D prints, you could clearly see the print lines in the surface of the model, but I knew that going in. Some minor sanding and layers of paint help to lessen this quite a bit, though does not remove them entirely. I knew I could sand them down flat, but then I would lose all the detail of the sculpt itself.

After priming, I began experimenting with spray paint effects. I gave it a layer of a dark metallic grayish black as a base, then used a round candle lid to mask off the circular sections, one at a time, in order to give the corners a dusting of a brighter metallic blue spray. After that I switched to hand painting with brushes and metallic paint pens, coloring in various areas of each side to give it more visual appeal. Each face of the cube is unique, though similar in elements to the others, usually with smaller circles of varying size orbiting a central circle, with lines both straight and curved cutting through these areas as well.

I decided right away that I would not even bother trying to match the appearance of the original Siege Mode TARDIS from “Flatline”–which was, frankly, pretty plain Jane. Instead, I would freely add color and non-screen-accurate details as I saw fit. And while most of the colors can be found within the TARDIS’s usual color scheme, not all of them do. There are shades of green and yellow and mauve incorporated simply because those colors were available in the paint pen set I bought. In many ways, it kind of thematically reflects the opening credits of Capaldi’s era, with the swirling clockwork and spherical shapes orbiting on circular trajectories.

My wife even got into the act. Seeing that some of the silver on one of the rings was a little faded (likely from having been set down while still wet) she took one of my silver metallic pens and went over it. Then she started in on the other colors as well. So this wound up being a whole family affair. I even had to borrow some paint from my mother-in-law, so she’s got some stake too.

I like my Siege Mode TARDIS far better than the show version. I give it four TARDi.

TARDIS Collector’s Corner: Big Chief Mini 12th Doctor TARDIS accessory (The Shotglass TARDIS series)

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

I’ve written here before about some of the White Whales of my TARDIS collection, chief among them being any of the Big Chief Studios TARDISes. Big Chief Studios is a toy company known for manufacturing larger to-scale figures of a number of different properties, Doctor Who being a major licensee. Their 1:6 scale figures are designed to be the ultimate fan version of any given character, with fully articulated limbs, painstakingly perfect likenesses, tailored clothing, multiple hands for multiple poses, and accessories that clearly have had a lot of thought put into them. They also run around $250 retail, sell out very quickly, and then become extravagantly priced on the secondary market. I own none of them, nor do I have plans to unless I just spotted a really cheap one somewhere.

Their figures are impressive. Their TARDISes are also no exception to the high-quality standards, and are far more expensive, running around $460 ‘merican. They are massive, cast in resin stone, and basically have all of the same light and sound features of the 10th Doctor Flight Control TARDIS (which, as I’ve mentioned, is my favorite TARDIS toy ever) and then even more features piled on top of those. Things like a removable roof allowing for interior TARDIS backgrounds to be swapped out, so that different TARDIS control rooms may be displayed, (important for the 11th and 12th Doctor eras, which had multiple control rooms and variations on the décor within those).

Unfortunately, the $450 average retail price tag, which jumps far higher in secondary markets, is just more than I can really justify spending on a toy. (Actually, I could rationalize such a purchase just fine. It’s my wife who would definitely have something else to say about it.) I mean, I recently saw a really nice-looking full-size old school TARDIS replica on sale for $550, which also had working lights. It looked amazing and far better than most home-made TARDIS props turn out. If i was going to spend that kind of money, it had better be for a TARDIS I can step inside, right? (And if I didn’t live on the other side of the continent from its location, and have no practical place to put it, I would have had a hard time not buying it–though don’t think I didn’t start looking up shipping companies all the same.)

While $100 cheaper, the Big Chief TARDIS even at 1:6 scale would still take up a massive chunk of real-estate in my office that might otherwise be devoted to, say, a pickle bucket. (BTW, I already have a pickle bucket in my office. I use it as my recycle bin, but it is, in fact, a prop from a play I wrote.)

Just watch this video of the Big Chief Studios 1/6 scale 11th Doctor TARDIS and you’ll see what I mean.

While this entry might be the closest I ever come to writing a personal review of any of the 1:6 scale Big Chief Studios TARDISes, it is fortunately not the only review I can write of a Big Chief Studios TARDIS that I own. As I mentioned, the Big Chief Doctor Who figures always come equipped with very thoughtfully chosen accessories. The Peter Capaldi 12th Doctor figure, for instance, comes with quite a few extras many of which are in-jokes and props from the show. He has: two sonic screwdrivers (the green one he inherited from Smith, not the blue light one he later adopted, with one version closed and one open) a few extra hands, a rubber glove, a spoon, the psychic paper, a pocket watch, a jelly baby case with little mini-jelly babies inside. He also comes with two mini TARDi both of which came from one of my favorite Capaldi stories, “Flatline.” One is the cube-like Siege Mode TARDIS, which the TARDIS went into after an assault from beings from another dimension which were wrecking havoc on its dimensional stabilizers, causing its exterior to shrink in size; and the other is one of the miniaturized versions of said shrunken TARDIS that Clara had to carry around in her purse and which the Doctor later had to drag around from the inside by reaching his hand through the tiny doors, Thing from Addams Family-style. If you’ve not seen the story, it’s wonderful and inventive and I wish someone would give Jamie Mathieson more to do on that show.

I happened to spot one of these mini-purse TARDi accessories for sale, loose, on ebay and snatched it up. I can’t recall what I paid for it and my ebay history doesn’t go back that far, which is disappointing, but I seem to recall getting a good deal on it. (No surprise, though, of the last ten purchases ebay displays, three of them were TARDISes and five others Doctor Who-related. I may have a problem.)

The Big Chief mini-TARDIS is every bit as cool as you would hope a tiny TARDIS would be in terms of its look. If you get a magnifying glass, you can probably even read the letters on the door sign. Where this one goes above and beyond, in order to match the details of its appearance in “Flatline,” is to have opening doors which can reveal a variety of backgrounds. These are printed on thin cardboard strips that can be switched in and out via a slot in the base of the TARDIS. One is the standard TARDIS control room; one is a closeup of the face of the Peter Capaldi toy, so it can peer through the doors from within, and one is a medium shot of the Capaldi toy reaching its arm toward the POV, with a hole in the center of the picture into which one of the extra hands can be inserted to show the Doctor reaching through the doors, as he does in the story. Like I said, Big Chief puts a lot of thought into these things. This toy could have been far less cool than it is and no one would ever have complained. Thankfully, Big Chief wouldn’t settle for a lesser TARDIS.

If I had one complaint about it, the doors are a little difficult to get closed again once they are open. Not so much when there are no backgrounds within, but that thin cardboard background is enough to make the doors stick open. The door space is so small that getting a finger in there to close them manually is also difficult. And while you could use a tool to get one door closed, the other would still be open. The best method I’ve found for getting them shut is to lightly whack the face of the TARDIS on a table, knocking the doors into closed position. Also, the strips themselves are kind of tricky to get in and out. They are a tight fit within the slot provided, are difficult to remove without tweezers, and, once in place, sit just outside of the slot itself, destabilizing the base and causing the TARDIS to sit at an angle. Still not enough to get me to drop it in the ratings, though, especially since it’s probably the only Big Chief TARDIS that I’ll ever own. Five TARDi all the way.

The TARDIS Collector’s Corner: The TARDIS Bookends by Underground Toys

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

This particular set of TARDIS bookends is not necessarily a Christmas-themed one. However, I received mine as a gift for Christmas, a few years ago, so I tend to associate it there. No better time to talk about it. I have my niece Catherine (a.k.a. “K.T.”) to thank for this set. I loved it immediately, as I’d been eyeballing the set whenever I’d see it in a store, but I had never pulled the trigger on the purchase because the sets tended to be in the $50 + range. K.T. had been a fan of the show during the David Tennant era and she wound up re-watching many of those episodes and on into the Matt Smith era while she lived with us for a couple of years. So she knows of my love of TARDISes of old. (In fact, I think she still has one of my TARDISes–a fish tank ornament I offered for use in her fish tank but which she instead just put on her shelf, much as I’d been doing. If these bookends were a replacement for that one, though, I’ll take it!)

These bookends were released by Underground Toys, the manufacturer of any number of other fantastic Doctor Who products, so you know out of the gate you’re in safe hands with folks who know the topic. Unlike some bookends where you have two identical sculpts on each end, this set splits the TARDIS in twain, perhaps as it passes through the other-dimensional barrier posed by your books. In my case, it’s even better because I use the bookends to hold up my classic Doctor Who novelizations, and a few more modern ones as well.

The bookends are presented with the TARDIS door side up at an angle, against a starfield backdrop. The right half has the top of the TA`RDIS popping out with plenty of room below to add some other toy for display, such as K-9, as I’ve shown, or even another TARDIS. But the windows look great, framed in white with the distinctive dark panels of the Smith era.

The left half is mostly taken up with the lower half of the TARDIS, so there’s not much room to display anything there. (It’s also a dickens to dust.) It looks just like the plain side of the TARDIS until you look at it from above, where you can see the details of the door, including door sign and ambulance badge.

Now, it would certainly be a terrible thing if I’d been given a TARDIS for Christmas by a loved one and then spent a bunch of time talking shit about it here. But as this is a review, of a sort, so I feel like I have to talk a tiny bit of shit, but just a smidge (smudge?).

If I had a complaint about the craftsmanship of this piece, it’s that the lower half of the face of the TARDIS on my particular set (as seen in the above photo) seems to be a little warped in its molding. One might chalk this up to the warping of time and space which the TARDIS experiences in the show, but I’m pretty sure its just that someone at Underground removed it from the mold before it was fully set. Whatever the case, I don’t care. In fact, the first time I even noticed this flaw was in looking at the above photo while writing this. You certainly can’t see it looking straight on at the bookends, so what does it matter? I dig these a lot. I give them a solid 4 TARDi.

Merry ChristmaHanaKwanzika to all!

The Runaways Giveaway

The RunawaysMy friend Brenda Barnes Clark is currently running a free ebook promotion for her new middle-grade novel The Runaways: A Billie Rose Tackett Horse Adventure. It’s a historical adventure story set in West Virginia and starring a character of Melungeon descent. Brenda would love it if you’d give it a read and submit a review of it to Amazon.

Billie Rose Tackett, an 11-year-old girl in 1946 West Virginia, can speak to horses. It’s kind of a think-speak, but she can speak to them all the same. She knows this, because of a pony named Penny, who has run away from the local county fair, asks Billie for her help. How will Billie prove Penny did not belong to the fair, or to the terrible pony ride keeper?

How can she prove Penny told her this when no one in their right mind would believe that a horse can speak? She knows she can’t and they have no other choice but to run away.

In her quest to save Penny, Billie and Penny show amazing courage and tenacity to overcome seemingly impossible, life-threatening situations. In this fast-paced adventure story, Billie grows in confidence as she deals with prejudice, disability, bullying, family loss, compassion, and forgiveness while doing whatever it takes to save the runaway pony.

#westvirginia #horses #horsebooks #middlegrade #freeebook

Get your free copy today at… https://amzn.to/3GYeJEv

TARDIS Collector’s Corner: the String Light TARDISes

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

Continuing the holiday season for TARDIS collecting, I can finally detail 10 of the TARDISes in my collection in the form of a set of TARDIS string lights.

Manufactured by the Carlisle Company of Carson City NV, and licensed by the BBC, but purchased from the late and lamented ThinkGeek.com, these string lights are from the Matt Smith era of the program, complete with bright blue paint job and the return of the St. John’s Ambulance Company badge on the door. They are well-sculpted with a decent wood grain, though not one that’s especially to scale with how grain would look on a full-sized TARDIS. Better than most, though, I’d say.

When illuminated, the light from within does tend to bleed through the surface of the blue-plastic instead of just from the windows and roof lamp. In point of fact, the roof lamps don’t glow at all, as that’s where the wires connect.

Now some folks would say that, with this item being a single unit, it should only count as one TARDIS in my collection. I am not one of those people, though, and count it as 10, since there are 10 individual TARDISes present and accounted for. Yep. That’s how I roll. One purchase increased my already sizeable TARDIS collection by 10. That’s some festive holiday efficiency for your ass.

As far as string lights go, these are fine. There are only 10 of them, so you’re either going to have to string them on a very small tree (as I did using my grandmother’s antique artificial tree in the image above) or you’re going to need more lights. Like many string lights, these will connect to other sets, be they TARDISes or other types of lights. Maybe you could mix and match with Dalek string lights. However, if you just want some atmospheric TARDIS lights to hang from the end of a bookshelf (which is where mine usually live) then they’re great. I give ’em 3.5 TARDi.

More recently, another company, Rabbit Tanaka, has picked up the license to make TARDIS string lights. (Rabbit Tanaka also manufactured the TARDIS night light from a few years ago, which I also own but have not yet reviewed here, though I suspect it will be startlingly similar to the string lights review.) I do not yet own a set of the RT lights, but they look half-way decent, if a little bit plain. They look to be modeled after the Eccleston/Tennant TARDIS, though with a uniform blue color rather than their dingier paint-job. Gone is the ambulance badge, but the white door sign is retained. From the pictures I can see online, they also do not appear to have any wood grain elements. I might get a string of them eventually, just to help fill out my other 10. (And to add another 10 TARDISes to my collection number, natch.)

In the meantime, I present my Nerd Tree for 2021…

My Nerd Tree

TARDIS Collector’s Corner: The Hallmark Keepsakes TARDIS and Tom Baker Ornaments

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

There have been loads and loads of Doctor Who Christmas ornaments on the market across the show’s nigh on 60 year existence. A number of them have even been TARDISes, of which I’ve detailed a couple that I already own here and here. However, I’m always up for another version of the TARDIS and this year has brought a fantastic one.

Let me talk first about a couple that I don’t own by a company that doesn’t always get their ornaments right. The Kurt Adler Company has made a number of Doctor Who ornaments few varieties, including the glass TARDIS ornament that I own and like quite a bit and the other plastic TARDIS ornament, which is okay. However, their more recent attempts just don’t appeal much to me. The Kurt Adler Doctor Who Tardis With Wreath Light-up Christmas Ornament, for instance, I don’t care about at all. It looks quite a bit like the plastic TARDIS ornament they released a few years ago, but with added snow sculpting to the exterior and roof. There’s also a wreath on the door and it lights up. However, the wreath’s positioning made it difficult for them to get the St. John’s Ambulance badge decal set into the center of its usual door panel, so they had to skew it toward the top. Design flaw. The phone door decal, at least in the pictures I’ve seen, is also a bit off square, which leads me to believe most of them must be. (I’ve seen other photos on different Amazon listings that seem closer to center, but quality control is not likely great. When the company releasing the product can’t be bothered to photograph a good one, why would I want it?)

However, the real crime in the Kurt Adler Doctor Who ornament department is their Tom Baker figural ornament. I really REALLY wanted to like this ornament, because Baker is my favorite Doctor of all time. And I can see what they were going for with it, but it just… misses… all of the targets. I mean, look at him. He looks like a hippie. Sure, Tom’s Doctor was always very bohemian, which is a cousin of the hippie, but you never saw the man wearing blue jean bell bottoms. Maybe it’s just that they chose to paint his pants blue, a color he never wore in a trouser, but those cuffs are just unforgiveable. And the waistcoat he wears, while not dissimilar to ones he might have worn on the show, is in a pattern I don’t think is at all screen accurate, not to mention his kerchief is the wrong color. He’s also a lot skinnier than the man he’s modeled from, and the likeness is far from exact. His coat, while a similar color to his first season coat, is not the right cut to match it, but is also not long enough to match his latter day burgundy coat. And the scarf… The colors are a bit off, which I can forgive, but its length is about half of what it should be for a Baker style scarf. It’s like the sculptor was working from a verbal description of what Tom Baker looked like with no photo references at all. It’s like the Bizarro 4th Doctor. I’ve been tempted to buy it when I’ve seen it online, sometimes even very cheap, but I just cannot pull the trigger on such a janky Baker. (And, by the way, The Janky Bakers is the name of my Bread tribute band.)

UPDATE 12-11-21: Okaaaaay. I have to issue a slight correction to the above paragraph here based on some new information I’ve found. While I still maintain the Janky Baker Kurt Adler Ornament above is still the Bizzaro Tom Baker, there’s a method to its madness I was unaware of. I would lay dollars to doughnuts that this ornament did use photo reference because I happened upon said photo reference. While looking for pictures of Tom Baker’s actual screen-worn scarf, I stumbled upon the image at right. It shows a veeeeery similar outfit and pose for Mr. Baker, clearly taken from an early season of the show. He’s not clad in bluejeans, but his cuffs are Super 70s ™ enough to appear to be bell bottoms. If anything, the ornament’s cuffs are more modest than the real pants. Coat color’s still wrong but is the right cut. The waistcoat isn’t too bad and has the same stripe pattern, albeit in a plaid instead of just the stripes. He has the same red tie and is holding his hat (also wrong color) in the same fashion. Scarf remains too short, but I suspect that the real baker probably had a loop of it hanging down his back. Or maybe they just had a stunt scarf for photo shoot days. The facial likeness is still off compared to the photo, but now that I see the photo they used, it’s not as far off as I’d thought. They capture elements of his expression, but the whole doesn’t reflect the likeness of the real guy. The hair sculpt doesn’t help. You can see what they were working from. I take back some of my ire at Kurt Adler’s work on this.

Let’s turn our attention away from Kurt Adler and to a company known world wide for their ornament quality. This year, Hallmark has added some Doctor Who items to their 2021 Keepsake Ornaments collection. One of these is a classic series TARDIS, which looks very much like it could have been from the Pertwee/Baker era. It’s a beauty, with the flat roof, the muted bluish green paintjob, the dark door sign, and everything. The sculpt is fantastic as well. And then, with the press of a button, the ornament lights up, both at the roof lamp and within, and alternately plays either the TARDIS materialization sound effect (nice) or the theme music from David Tennant’s run on the show (huhruhh?). Yeah, it’s kind of mystifying that Hallmark chose a more modern, though now 15 year-old theme, after clearly expending so much effort to get the details of the piece so correct otherwise. I feel like I sort of have to knock a TARDi point off for this, which would otherwise be a five TARDi piece.

However, where Hallmark in no way dropped the ball for me is with their version of a Tom Baker ornament. If the Kurt Adler was the Bizzaro Universe Baker, this one’s the full on Superman. There he is, all curls and teeth like he looked in his first season, clad in his signature coat, vest, pants, and hat. It’s just like they sculpted it from a publicity still. In fact, I think they may have, though I have to say that the likeness in the face sculpt looks more like a Dave Gibbons drawing of a Tom Baker publicity photo than an exact match for Baker’s actual face. Which is probably an easier thing to sculpt. A small quibble I might have, which I’ve seen others complain of online, is the scarf. While longer than Kurt Adler’s, it’s still not to scale with the actual scarf from the show. At least not without another couple of loops around his neck. And the tassels for it are not accurate, as the original scarf had multi-colored tassels using the same yarn colors as in the scarf itself, whereas these are solid. (Even the Janky Baker got that part right.) I’m also told that the color order in the weave of the scarf is not screen-accurate, but I’m not going to quibble about that. It looks very similar to the scarf my mother-in-law knitted for me, nigh on 20 years ago, and I think they did a pretty good job on the ornament version.

They also look great on my tree.

Merry Christmas!

TARDIS Collector’s Corner: The Return

It’s been a good little while since I penned a new entry in my TARDIS Collector’s Corner series of posts. Which is odd, because I’d been having fun writing them. As of the most recent entry, from 2018, I’d not even covered half of the TARDISes I own. Since then, I’ve managed to add several new ones to the collection, including some fairly rare ones, some of which have become new favorites.

It’s therefore time to resume the series, which I hope to continue on a semi-weekly basis until I run out of material.

Tune in tomorrow for the first in the returning series in which I not only detail two of my favorite new Christmas-themed Doctor Who products, but also talk shit about a couple of others.

Actual Conversations Heard Following Actual Colonoscopies #1 (a.k.a. TMI Theatre 3000)

NURSE– (shaking my shoulder) Eric? Eric? We’re all done now. Your procedure’s finished.

ME– (Blinking) Really? Wow. That didn’t seem like–

MY BUTT– *FAAAAAAAAAAAAAART!!!!*

ME– Ohhhh… my lord. I am SO sorry!

NURSE– Not a problem. We hear it all the time.

While I was mortified to have involuntarily released such an assvacuation in front of far more strangers than you’d normally care to (a few of which were, fortunately, still yet-to-be-awakened following their own procedures), it was understandable. Part of the colonoscopy process is to pump your guts full of air to help give the scope a better view of the interior of said guts and to give the surgeon room to snake seven feet of it through them. It was but the first of many such ventings to follow. Including one, 20 minutes later, in the restroom of Olive Garden, where I thought I was totally alone and therefore free to let fly, only to hear the voice of some poor soul who’d quietly slipped into the room cry, “Daaaayuuum!” mid-way through my effort. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the presence of mind to scream, “Don’t fart-shame me, dude, I just had a colonoscopy!”

BTW: To my fellow humans who may be due for a colonoscopy and dreading it, mine was really easy and not worth stressing over. The worst part is the prep, where you have to get rid of the contents of your guts by drinking half a gallon of Miralax-laced Gatorade a pint at a time. It’s not pleasant, but it’s doable. My part of the procedure was basically to get nekkid, save for an ill-fitting gown, then answer the same ten questions asked by five different people, then take the best nap ever. As for my results, I am told my colon is immaculate, they didn’t find anything out of the ordinary, and it was so clean you could eat off it.

See ya again in 10 years, colon!

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