Spring 2020 Newsletter

Spring 2020 Newsletter cover

Spring 2020 Newsletter
Issue 174

January 2020 Meeting

This was one of our informal quarterly meetings where our members showed off their latest Meccano creations.

At around 2:00pm we had our annual general meeting, followed by the Model Tour in which members were invited to give a short talk about their models — in particular their entries for the Secretary’s Challenge!

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Daleks in Meccano

It was in April 1965, as Dalekmania swept across Britain, that the first plan for a Dalek constructed from Meccano was published. It appeared in Meccano Magazine, and it was possible to build the model from a medium-sized set with some additional parts. This Dalek was a somewhat crude design with a sloping front section but straight sides and back, with no real attempt to produce the multi-sided base section, and no satisfactory way of depicting the Dalek bumps. The top looked more like a lighthouse. There was a centrally positioned sucker arm, flanked by two lights, but no exterminator. Any resemblance to the real thing was a coincidence! The one redeeming feature was that it was motorised.

1965 Dalek built by Bob Palmer
1965 Dalek built by Bob Palmer

I can’t actually remember seeing any Meccano Daleks in the 1970s and 80s — there may have been one or two skulking away somewhere? A Meccano K9 appeared at SELMEC in 1980, built by Neil Carter, who was in his teens at the time. It was remote-controlled with a cable leading to it. My first attempt at a Dalek was in 1981 with a 9” tall skeletal version, without any infill plating so that you could see through it. Unfortunately, I have no photos of this effort.

K9 built by Neil Carter
K9 built by Neil Carter

Fast forward to the 21st century and there have been quite a few sightings. In 2001 a chap called Chris Harris had a remote-controlled Dalek standing about three feet high. He still had it ten years later when I saw it and I seem to remember it could talk, move its arms etc.

The Chris Harris Dalek (Photo: Robin Schoolar)
The Chris Harris Dalek (Photo: Robin Schoolar)
Chris Harris Daleks
Chris Harris Daleks

By 2006/8 he had started making some small Daleks about 4” tall. I first saw them at Meccanuity in 2011 and this inspired me to have another go. I have made three standard Daleks — they all have a similar base section to his, but a redesigned top. Like his, mine have appeared in various colours, using standard Meccano without any repainted parts. This makes them look more like the Matt Smith-era Daleks.

Chris Warrell’s Daleks
Chris Warrell’s Daleks

I have recently added the Special Weapons Dalek (from the 1988 TV story Remembrance of the Daleks) to the collection.

Chris Warrell’s Special Weapons Dalek
Chris Warrell’s Special Weapons Dalek

A look online has shown that, a few years ago, there was another large Dalek, also three feet high, with movement and a voice. This has a better shape than the Chris Harris one. I’m not sure of the builder’s name. There is also a fine looking one by Gary Higgins of New Zealand which is over 12” tall. There have also been a variety of K9s (the robotic dog mainly from the Tom Baker years).

Dalek built by Gary Higgins (Photo: Reuben Hoggett)
Dalek built by Gary Higgins (Photo: Reuben Hoggett)
Small Dalek built by Chris Harris
Small Dalek built by Chris Harris
Les Chatfield’s K9
Les Chatfield’s K9

The Dalek is such an iconic design that it’s always recognisable, no matter how out of scale the model. Just take a look at the French Dalek in 1940s blue/gold Meccano — it just has the essence of Dalek, but there’s no mistaking what it’s supposed to be.

A French Dalek, seen on eBay
A French Dalek, seen on eBay

Next thing on my list? Perhaps the Dalek Emperor from The Evil of the Daleks (1967) — something’s got to keep my other Daleks in order!

Dalek built by John Gay
Dalek built by John Gay

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