When Ray Cusick and the BBC special effects workshop designed Doctor Who’s deadliest of enemies, who could have guessed they would have been so popular and such a part of our culture? With very limited resources and a short amount of time, a handful of Daleks were created with the help of Shawcraft.
Over the next few appearances, the Dalek designs were fine-tuned but the overall look and function remain the same even with the 2005 Peter McKinstry design. A Blue Peter viewer wrote in to ask what the innards of a Dalek would look like. This had only been hinted at in the 1963 premiere when the Dalek occupant was removed and placed under a cloak. A single gnarled claw crept out into view, giving just a glimmer of horror. Devoted to his fans, Cusick drafted up an octopoid creature.
In the 1980’s, this creature became more clearly defined and appeared in The Five Doctors, Resurrection of the Daleks and beyond. While some fans will claim that showing the inner creature of the Dalek removed some the mystery and thereby killed the mystique, yet there is some real drama in the hunt for the Dalek creature in Resurrection of the Daleks, mainly thanks to director Matthew Robinson.
The sheer volume pf reference material released around the 20th anniversary including a role playing game with resource books on the Daleks was so immense that graphic drawings such as the one reproduced here became commonplace. The inner workings of the once otherworldly and weird creatures were no longer so obscure.
The redesigning of the Daleks and the need to show new facets of the monsters hasn’t always been a success. To be frank, the modern program has made the Daleks rather pedestrian which is a shame given the sheer grandeur of those story lines. And the less said about the ‘humanized Dalek’ in a zoot suit the better.
In recent years, a line of special FX toys from Character Options has been released celebrating the long history of the program by releasing exclusive iterations of each Dalek from specific stories; Dalek Invasion of Earth, Power of he Dalek, Frontier in Space, Death to the Daleks, Revelation of the Daleks, and the 2005 Bronze Dalek.
Not only have the designs been masterfully recreated, but so have the sound samples and effects, reproducing key phrases and blaster effects from each story. Though moderately successful (domestic imports are devilishly expensive), a second wave was planned with the partially invisible model from Planet of the Daleks, the ‘glass Dalek’ from Revelation and more.
Strangely, none of these have surfaced yet more recently, a new wave of designs have popped up for pre-order.