Mother-In-Law TARDIS

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: 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: 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 or perhaps the late and lamented (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.

The TARDIS Collector’s Corner: The Cookie Jar (My 3rd TARDIS) (Mother In Law TARDi)

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

In the early 2000s, pre-2005, around the time I was searching the internet for TARDIS models and toys, leading to my purchases of my first two TARDi, I began coming across TARDIS cookie jars for sale.  These were ceramic TARDIS cookie jars, with removable roofs/tops for the insertion and removal of cookies.  And I could never find one for under $40.  Now I’d probably spent $40 total for my two previous TARDi and a bag of Jelly Babies, but I just couldn’t find a way to justify spending that kind of cash on an object I was, in all likelihood, going to drop on the floor and smash into TARDIS bits at some point (recreating the ending of Season 7, a full ten years in advance–you can do that with Doctor Who stuff).  So I didn’t.  But I really really wanted to.  I just kept looking at them up on eBay and AmazonUK, and lamenting the criminally high postage costs that would accompany a $40 (60 pound) price tag.  I even looked into becoming a cookie jar dealer, figuring I could get a bunch of them in bulk for wholesale prices and resell them all, minus one, to recoup my investment.  That didn’t happen either.  Instead, I came about the acquisition of a cookie jar without much effort on my part.  I was given one by a generous soul who was well-versed in my love of Doctor Who and who, loving soul that she is, gave me had already given me two even better gifts in the past, one of which was Doctor Who related and the other was my wife.  I’m talking about my mother-in-law Susie, a.k.a.: Ma.

I may have dreamed of owning a TARDIS toy from a very early age, but what I truly wanted most in the world as a 4th grader was a Doctor Who scarf just like the one worn by Tom Baker on the show. (Yeah, I know, there were like 5 of them during his eight year run, and I would have settled for any of them.)  The scarf was such a monstrous thing in both length and color scheme, but I adored the show and therefore adored the fashion sense of its main character–Bohemian as it was. At the time, I didn’t even consider that I might one day own such a scarf. That sort of accessory was only found on TV, as far as my 9-year-old brain was concerned. Instead, I wound up borrowing a muffler from my dad’s then girlfriend, Nell.  It is an item of clothing which I still possess to this day.  Nell’s muffler (which, BTW, is also the name of my bluegrass Nelly cover band) looked nothing like the Doctor’s scarf, being white and with tied off tassels on the end.  It was, however, the only scarf I had and I wore it habitually.  (Somewhere there exists a photo of me wearing it, along with a paper plate Tom Baker mask I’d made in art class at school.)

Time travel ahead a decade or so. My friend Joe and I took a weekend trip to Atlanta and happened to find a Nerd Shop, somewhere on the outskirts of the city. We were nearly finished with our shopping and were on the way to the counter to check out when there, lying coiled in a basket like a multi-colored snake, we spied a single, full-sized, Doctor Who scarf.  It was a thing of beauty and we both coveted it immediately. However, because there was only one scarf and two of us, neither of us could purchase it for fear of drawing the eternal jealous ire of the other.  Oh, sure, we could have gone in on it together, but then we would then have had to work out some kind of complicated time-share deal for it and that seemed unwieldy at best.  Some time later, I was able to search out a knitting pattern for such a scarf on a Doctor Who Usenet newsgroup, but at the time I knew no one who knitted.

Time travel ahead another decade. I’m married to a wonderful woman who had the good fortune to have been given birth by another wonderful woman, a.k.a.: Ma.  Soon after I learned that Ma is a crafty soul who can knit all sorts of yarny goodness, if of a mind. It took me a couple of years, but slowly it dawned on me that here was a lady who COULD knit and who loved me enough that she might do me up a scarf if I asked real sweet.

On Thanksgiving, in 2002, I even brought the subject up to my wife, asking if she thought Ma might be willing to knit and/or crochet met a scarf (I wasn’t sure which it was)?

“No way!  A Doctor Who scarf would take forever to knit and Ma doesn’t have that kind of time.”  I felt foolish for even asking.  Of course Ma would never knit me something like that.  Maybe after a decade or so of me being in the family, once she was pretty sure the marriage had taken root, she might consider it, but it was too much to ask only two years in.

One short month later, a day or so from Christmas, we were back in North Carolina visiting the in-laws and out-laws for a day before heading toward Mississippi. I was sitting in a chair, watching TV when the wife and Ma approached carrying a double lined grocery bag, tied off by its straps. They passed it to me and stood smiling down. I took it, not even suspecting what might be inside. As I was trying to untie the straps, I caught a glimpse of knitting through the top and instantly knew what it was. Deep inside me, the 4th grade version of me snapped to attention and I began clapping my Puppy Chow dusted hands together in pure 9 year old glee.  At long long last, I had my scarf. And a beautiful scarf it was, 17 feet of green and tan and brown and orange–just fantastic! Ma said it was the ugliest thing she’d ever created, but she was glad I liked it. I wrapped myself up in its length and soaked in the coolness of the very concept.

“You’re gonna sleep with that thing, tonight, aren’t you?” the wife asked.

“Hell, yes, I’m going to sleep with it!” I said.

Time Travel ahead four more years to 2006, well into David Tennant’s first year as the 10th Doctor.  Ma let it be known that she’d sent a package to us and gave the wife special instructions that she was to take my picture as I opened. it.  And so it came to pass that in two days time a large box arrived.  Unfortunately, the wife was on call that night, so I had to wait to open it for fear of retribution for lost snapshot opportunities. When she returned the following day, however, I alerted her to its arrival and of my good behavior in not peeking at its contents. The wife told me that I was going to freak out with happiness when I saw what it was. And I knew she spoke the truth, for surprises from Ma designed to freak me out in a happy way always do.  The wife turned on the camera.

Carefully I cut the tape holding the box flaps down, taking my time with it to prolong the moment. (I get so few positive freak-out moments in life, so it’s best to savor them when they do come my way.) I then sliced the tape down the center of the box, slowly opened the cardboard flaps and peered into its depths.

My first glimpse of the contents was of an emergency roadside tool kit, the very kind I’ve been meaning to purchase for several years now. It was not, however, a freak-out worthy present. A bit to the left, I next spied a pair of lounge pants printed with the characters of South Park. Again, a fine present, but I was not freaking out.

The me from 2006 with his new time traveling cookie jar.

Then I saw it.

Partially submerged in the sea of pink packing peanuts within was a Doctor Who TARDIS cookie jar.  What was even cooler, though, was that this was not the porcelain TARDIS cookie jar that I was so certain I would break but a much larger (and less fragile) plastic one which played TARDIS sounds every time you opened or closed the lid.  (Or just pressed down on the lamp on its roof.)  Granted, this meant I had an automatic alarm that would sound every time I went for a cookie, but it made up for it in coolness points alone.

I completely and happily freaked out!   I cannot show you the images the wife took of my freak-out, for they are even more embarrassing than my admission of sleeping in my scarf.  Instead we have one from just after I’d calmed down a bit.

I finally had my cookie jar.  And it was a much more screen-accurate model of the TARDIS than the porcelain cookie jar would have been–which was a bit rounded off for easier casting.   I’m not certain of the manufacturer, though the packaging certainly suggests Underground Toys, or another such early toy company that had the license.  If they still have the license, they’ve more recently upgraded to the Matt Smith model TARDIS.  And they also have a porcelain model to boot, but, again, it’s nearly $40.

My TARDIS cookie jar lived in the kitchen for years afterward and was rarely passed without its lamp being pressed to make the TARDIS sound.  It has since relocated from our current kitchen and now lives atop the bookshelves of my office, along with its other sister TARDi.  (BTW, Sister Tardi is the name of my bluegrass French-language Night Ranger cover band.)   It does not currently contain cookies, but is used to store my pipe tobacco sampler pack, purchased during our 10th anniversary weekend getaway to Gatlinburg.  (Glad I didn’t have to wait that long to ask for a scarf.)

As far as TARDIS functionality goes, it’s mainly decorative.  And, for some reason, the cookie jar doesn’t have the wood grain sculpting of future TARDIS releases.  It does have the shape and details down otherwise.

I’ll give this one four TARDi.  And will further note that while it was the largest TARDIS I own for many years, that honor has fallen to another TARDIS.  I mentioned the scarf and the cookie jar as major Doctor Who related gifts from my mother-in-law, but I assure you she was not done.  There have been, to date, three more hand-made TARDIS-related gifts from Ma which come very close to rivaling even the scarf in coolness and at least one of which are larger than the cookie jar.  Those will be revealed in future posts.

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