3D Printed TARDISes

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: 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.

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