The mid-1960’s was a merchandising dream for producers across the country and an even better one for Doctor Who and Dalek loving children. With the popularity of the show rocketing, thanks in no small part to the Daleks, by 1965 you could lay your hands on everything from Dalek board games to novelisations and annuals.
Merchandisers quickly realised the marketing potential for Terry Nation’s tin pepper pots and here we present 15 of our favourite, wonderfully 1960s, pieces of Dalekmania. With so much on offer at the height of the craze, we had to be cruel and cut the likes of the Dr Who’s Anti-Dalek Neutron Exterminator, Selcol’s Nursery Toy Dalek and decided the TV-21 Dalek Chronicles would feature in a future article all of their own.
So here’s our choice of the best 15 pieces of Dalek merchandise from the height of Dalekmania… you can keep your Lego Dimensions and Doctor Who Monopoly, we wish we’d been a kid back then!
15: Dalek Shooting Game (Louis Marx)
Produced in 1965, the set featured a pop gun with cork ammunition to fire at tin Daleks which would slide into place after the player scored a hit.
14: Daleks Stand-Up Jigsaw (Thomas Hope & Sankey Hudson)
The Doctor, Daleks and the TARDIS pieces were separate jigsaw pieces that were placed on small wooden stands to create the stand-up effect.
13: The Dalek Pocketbook and Space Travellers Guide (Panther Books)
Written in two parts, the first focusing on the Daleks and the second on astronomy, The Dalek Pocketbook was one of the first Doctor Who books made available, being published in 1965 and given some authority by it being written by Dalek creator Terry Nation himself.
“How does a Dalek obtain motive energy when it leaves its own planet? Can a Dalek swim? This is the book — the only book with all the answers, compiled and presented by Terry Nation, the man who discovered and translated the fantastic Dalek Chronicles.
Here, by arrangement with BBC tv, is a Dalek encyclopaedia and dictionary. The only Dalek reference book which includes anti-Dalek precautions and a completely authentic space-travellers’ guide.”
12: Doctor Who and the Dalek’s Sweet Cigarettes (Cadet)
We remember sweet cigarettes from our own childhood (now branded as candy sticks), but in 1964 Cadet jumped on the Dalek bandwagon with these specially themed sweets. With artwork inspired by the Dalek Book, the candy contained one of 50 collectors cards which together made two separate stories featuring the Doctor and the Daleks. You can view some of the set below.
11: Cutta-mastic Doctor Who and the Daleks (Bell)
Produced in 1965, the Doctor Who Cutta-mastic contained a heated wire tool alongside templates and several sheets of polystyrene which could be cut into Dalek shapes and painted.
10: Dalek Bagatelle (Louis Marx)
Produced in three versions in 1965, both oblong and small/large circular, bonus points could be scored for landing a ball in the Skaro pocket!
9: Astro Ray Dalek Gun (Bell)
Another item with only a tentative link to the show itself, the Astro Ray Gun is however wonderfully 1960s! Released in 1965, the gun was a battery operated torch and dart gun.
8: The Dalek Oracle (Bell)
Another piece from 1965, The Dalek Oracle was a variation of the Magic Robot game. The board is divided into two circles, with questions around the board. A small Dalek toy is placed at the centre of the first circle and turned so it points to a question. Moving the Dalek to the second circle and placing it on a mirror, the Dalek magically spins to point to the correct answer which surrounds the circle.
7: Dalek Rolykins (Louis Marx)
One of the most popular Doctor Who toys of the 1960s, Dalek Rolykins were around an inch tall with detachable guns and eyestalk. Coming in three colours – black, silver and red, the Rolykins were unique for their distinctive ball bearing in the base feature, enabling the toys to glide across or down surfaces such as tables. Over one million units were sold by October of 1965.
6: Dalek Dressing Up Costume (Scorpion Automotives)
One of the rarest Doctor Who items from the 1960s, the Dalek Dressing Up Costume was slated to be one of the must haves for fans at Christmas 1964. However, Scorpion Automotives’s Northampton factory was damaged by fire prior to launch and both the stock and all components for creating the suits were destroyed. The suit is now considered one of the holy grails of Doctor Who collecting.
In 1965, Berwick released a similar playsuit and Even Peter Capaldi had one!
5: Dodge the Daleks Game (Codeg)
Noted as the first Doctor Who board game published, Dodge the Daleks is a simple roll and move game, players advancing their pawns and obeying instructions given on the board along the way. The track on the board winds in and out until one player reaches the Secret City and thus wins the game. However, if you encounter a Dalek along the way, you are knocked out of the game!
4: Clockwork Dalek (Codeg)
The Cowan de Groot Ltd (Codeg) Mechanical Dalek featured a wind up key and clockwork action and came in either blue or black domes and studs.
“This realistic clockwork model moves along, gradually turning itself through 360 degrees. At the same time, the dome containing the seeing eye scans the horizon.”
Product Enterprise produced a replica Codeg Clockwork Dalek at the turn of the century; the eyestalk on the remakes is white and comes with all new box art.
3: The Dalek Book (Souvenir Press)
Notable as being the first spin-off Doctor Who fiction, the 1965 Dalek Book (published 1964) featured six Doctorless comic strips in an annual-style publication alongside information on the Daleks, a Dalek dictionary and a photo-story about Susan meeting the Daleks, complete with images from Season One’s The Daleks.
Telling the story of the Daleks’ attempts to invade the Solar System, the book fits well with later alternative Dalek lore established in the TV Century 21 Dalek Chronicles strips. The book was given added credibility, much like The Dalek Pocketbook, by being written by Terry Nation, this time alongside David Whitaker. The art was by Richard Jennings, John Wood and A.B. Cornwall.
2: Doctor Who in An Exciting Adventure With the Daleks (Armada)
This is DOCTOR WHO’s first exciting adventure – with the DALEKS! Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright travel with the mysterious DOCTOR WHO and his grand-daughter, Susan, to the planet of Skaro in the space-time machine, Tardis. There they strive to save the peace-loving Thals from the evil intentions of the hideous DALEKS. Can they succeed? And what is more important, will they ever again see their native Earth?
The first ever Doctor Who novelisation, An Exciting Adventure With the Daleks by David Whitaker, breaks continuity with the TV series by introducing both Ian and Barbera in a completely new and unique fashion, serving as a literary introduction to the series rather than a straight adaptation. The book, originally published in 1964, would be republished in 1972 by Target at the beginnings of their own famous range. The illustrations were by Arnold Schwartzman.
A full review of the book by Paul Driscoll can be read Here.
1: Marx Dalek (Louis Marx)
The Louis Marx Dalek is one of the iconic pieces of merchandise from Doctor Who‘s long history, maybe the definitive toy associated with the show.
The original release stood a comparatively small 4.5 inches tall yet had friction drive and came in either black or silver. Marx would go on to release a bigger 6.5 inch battery-operated Dalek, also in black or silver, the edition most widely known. This edition, complete with a flashing light on the dome, would move around and turn should it bump into a solid object, known as bump and go. A further later version had a siren alongside the flashing lights.
The battery operated versions of the Louis Marx Dalek were even used as stand-in Daleks for 1967’s The Evil of the Daleks. Which we say makes them canon!