Daleks in Manhattan - a Doctor Who Gift Set
When this model set became available in the Reviewer Corps back in March 2009, I got all excited, and I thought I had reason to be. This seemed to be a project made for me, as a long time ago I was a Doctor Who fan and knew the Daleks probably better than your average IPMS/USA dude. But now, I look back at this project and wish I had never taken it. Frankly, I was going to get cute and throw in all sorts of in-jokes and trivia in this review, sort of like I did with the Lamborghini Jota review I did a few years back. This kit does NOT deserve it.
Nor does it deserve a "slam job".
I'm not sure what this kit deserves. It is mediocre. It's too toylike to be a serious model, but too involved and difficult for young modelers. It's too esoteric for the general scale model crowd. For me, it was particularly challenging because 1) it is five to ten times the size of my usual projects; 2) it has electrical wiring (for the light and sound gizmo located in the Daleks' heads), which I had never worked with before; 3) it has vinyl creature parts, which I had never worked with before and did not have proper paint or glue for them. The parts breakdown for the Daleks themselves leads to fit problems, especially in the "skirt" area and the places where the head meets the neck, where the neck meets the middle module, and where the middle module meets the skirt. And adding fifty-six sensor globes to each Dalek is just an exercise in tedium. Keeping up the desire to build these models is the real struggle.
This is a big box with a lot of contents: five black sprues, four tan sprues, five gray sprues, two clear sprues, the premade heads and bases for the Daleks, the vinyl body parts for the Sec Kaled Mutant figure, wiring for the internal electrics, and three Humbrol paint brushes. The UK issue of this kit also has paint and glue included; my example did not have these components. In addition to the usual modelmaking tools, it would helpful to have a small Philips head screwdriver handy. The head units for the Dalek figures include electronic sound and light effects. The bases have space for three AAA batteries each. The wires provided are to connect the heads and bases electrically…connections both ways are at Philips-screw type terminals.
The head for Caan (the gold Dalek) had a broken eyestalk when I received it. Since the break happened close to where it met the base, I decided to replace that length of plastic with a centimeter of aluminum tubing. (The one on Sec broke when I was taking the photographs! Airfix should have used sturdier material to make these components!)
Before any further assembly, I decided that some liberal spray painting was necessary. Caan’s components got most of the paint, but I also made sure to get as much of Sec’s internal workings painted as possible. I also decided to deviate from the show’s color scheme by painting the sensor globes aluminum for Caan and gold for Sec. I put no paint whatsoever on Sec's Kaled body, and since enamel paint wasn't sticking at all, blacked in his eye with ballpoint ink.
The scenery set was challenging in itself. Mainly, this was because the walls had some warpage where they meet in the center, and it's impossible to clamp the pieces so the seams are tight when they're being glued. I got Super Glue all over during assembly and tried as best as I could to remove the residue from the plastic after it had dried. The scene includes four hemispheres that are lightning generator balls on the "real thing"...since I didn't want to cut up the instruction booklet for the "decals" that went into them and the gauges on the back wall, I scanned the page in color and printed out my own on an inkjet printer. This turned out to be a mistake, as the glue made the inks on my duplicates run and blur. Still, some of my fellow modelers liked the scene piece better than the Daleks themselves, and want to be able to order it separately from Airfix.
I had to start late on this project as I had an ongoing project (the Hasegawa Mig Combo set) to finish first, and then life got in the way repeatedly whenever I went to resume my construction of this set. It finally took asking another modeler in my local IPMS/USA Chapter to pitch in on painting and construction, and I rewarded him by giving him the set when I finished photographing it.
I can only recommend this kit to experienced modelers who are Doctor Who fanatics and have plenty of time, space, and passion on their side. Or, perhaps a group or club build with the work divvied between a number of builders. Thanks to Robert Vancel, Peter Bos, Paul and Kristina Francis, Airfix/Hornby and IPMS/USA.