Sunday, 30 September 2012

THE MARX DALEK - APPROVED AND AUTHENTICATED...



If I remember my DOCTOR WHO history correctly, a DALEK's
'plunger' appeared on the programme on December 21st, 1963, but it
wasn't until the following week (28th) that the pepper-pot perpetrators
of planetary pulverisation appeared in their full glory and subsequently
took the kiddie-contingent of the country by storm. MARX TOYS were
amongt the first to jump on the merchandising bandwagon that followed,
with an assortment of friction- drive, ball-bearing and battery-powered
bump'n'go plastic playthings in varying sizes and colours. (Silver,
black and red initially, with a yellow one a few years later.)

Although the demand for these toys was huge, it has to be admitted
in the cold light of adulthood that they weren't entirely accurate in terms
of detail. True, they captured the essence of the aggressive aliens perfectly
and were even used as stand-ins in the programme itself, but could hardly
be considered as exact reproductions of their TV counterparts. (Although
Marx were not the only manufacturers of Dalek merchandise whose
product differed from their cathode ray tube incarnations.)


At least, that's the generally-held view of collectors of these popular
'metal' mutants. However, a few years back, in the pages of DOCTOR
WHO MAGAZINE, I spied an early production sketch by designer RAY
CUSICK, which suggested a possible means of propelling the Scions of
SKARO around the BBC studios. Take a good look at the drawing below -
doesn't it seem remarkably similar to the Marx Dalek to you? Look at the
shape of the head - it's almost a dead-ringer for the Marx version. (It's
also got the same lights as the movie version - a couple of years before
the big- screen adventure had even been thought of.)  
  

So, to all those inclined to write off the Marx Dalek as an inaccurate
representation of the Doctor's arch-enemies, perhaps it's now time to re-
evaluate that assessment. The fact that it bears quite a resemblance to an
approved (in appearance, if not in propulsion) production sketch by the
actual designer means we can safely regard the most sought-after toy of
Christmas '64 as an 'official', if variant, member of the Dalek ranks.

Obviously, as has been seen down through the years, Daleks
come in various versions, and each one is as valid as the other. I can't
help but wonder, 'though, if these tin-pot tyrants would have been as
successful if either of the following two designs had been approved by
those in charge. Perhaps the whole future of the programme would
have been different - if, indeed, it would even have had one.      


So, go on - dig out your Marx Dalek today (if you're lucky
enough to own one) and give him pride of place once more on your
shelf or sideboard. No longer need he play second-fiddle to his later
brothers and cousins. No hiding him behind the rest of them, mind -
stick him up-front where he rightfully belongs. 

6 comments:

Mark Carter said...

The Mark Dalek was near enough to the real thing for the BBC to use several of them for the climatic battle scene in 1966's "Evil Of The Dalks" (and again as a frozen army in 72's "Planet Of The Daleks".
I used to have two of 'em back in the day but, alas and alack, they are long, long gone.

Kid said...

They were even used in the background of a Radio Times cover featuring Jon Pertwee, if I remember correctly. I did allude to their appearance on the programme in my post, but thanks for supplying fuller details, Mark.

John Pitt said...

Hi Kid, can you remember which out of the Marx Daleks had the little hoverbout operating rod in their suckers? I remember some did & some didn't. I no longer have mine.

Kid said...

The Bump'n'Go Marx Daleks had a little rod inside the plungers, as well as the large friction-drive, I think. The one in the photo is a small friction-drive version.

John Pitt said...

What used to move more realistically than the Marx battery Daleks was the clockwork Dalek - it went in one direction & would then turn around & go in a different direction, whilst at the same time moving the head dome from side to side. And do you remember those little plastic Daleks that you could pull to bits? One of my rolykins was the odd one out as he was World Cup Willie!! I passed my Daleks army down to my younger brother, I wonder how many of them survived........

Kid said...

A clockwork Dalex was released a few years ago, very much in the style of the original '60s one. it moves in exactly the way you describe, although it wasn't quite a 'double' in appearance, 'though close. (I've got two.)

The Daleks you pulled to bits was the Cherilea Dalek, sold exclusively in Woolworths. There's a photo on this blog of a couple of the Marx Bump'n'go Daleks with some Rolykins.