All I Want for Christmas
Some 'Must Have' Dalek toys of the early 1960s
Designed by BBC employee Ray Cusick, the Daleks proved to be equally popular with children and adults alike. When in 1964 the first Dalek toys went on sale, they became so popular that literally hundreds of by-products were launched. The first were battery-operated and friction drive toys and were quickly followed by small inexpensive (pocket-money) plastic toys from Cherilea Toys of Burnley and Herts Plastic Moulders Ltd which were sold loose from retailers such as Woolworths.
Rolykins Daleks from Marx Toys, stood about an inch tall and had a detachable gun and eye. They moved along by way of a ball bearing in the base enabling them to glide over smooth surfaces. Also available for pocket-money (one shilling - or 5p in today's money), they were very probably the most popular Dalek toy of all time with over a million units sold by October 1965. Available in black, silver and red, these toys were often found as 'prizes' in seaside arcade machines.
Cowan de Groot Ltd produced a number of different Daleks such as money boxes and wind-up toys as well as a board game called 'Dr Who...Dodge the Daleks.' The game contained an illustrated playing board, a dice, a small plastic cup and four standard plastic pieces for moving round the board. These weren't even shaped like Daleks which may well have improved the quality of the product (although only minimally). The best thing about this game is the illustration on the box. The item is quite rare now and one was sold recently for nearly £400.
There were also Doctor Who and Dalek annuals, Dalek badges, a slide projector and, in what clearly illustrated that quality didn't always take precedence over mass-production, two notoriously poor plastic products. The first was the 'Cutta-mastic featuring Daleks,' which contained crude polystyrene tiles on which illustrations of Daleks were printed. The box also included a small battery-operated hotwire gun which was employed to cut around the Daleks.
The second was a bargain-basement playsuit by Berwick Toys. The playsuit was made up of a red and white vinyl skirt which went over the head with shoulder straps for the body. A plastic dome was worn on the head which was supported by a cardboard visor (no, really) that had slots cut out so the wearer could see where they were going. Weapons (a suction cup and a gun which were attached to the end of two painted wooden sticks) were held through holes in the body.
Infinitely better was the 'Dalek Playsuit' by Scorpion Automotive which was released to cash in on the 1964 Christmas market. However, a factory fire in April 1965 destroyed all their stock and the parts required to manufacture additional suits and as a result, when Dalekmania hit the high street toy shops in 1965 they were unable to take advantage of it. As such, the Scorpion playsuit, which came in a TARDIS style box, remains to this day one of the most sought-after TV tie-in toys by collectors.
Arguably the best of these early toys was the first Marx Dalek, a battery powered 'robot action' Dalek with a flashing head and casters on its base which meant it would change direction when it bumped into something. This model proved so successful that it stayed in production well into the 70's.
In 1965, Bell Toys Ltd UK produced Doctor Who's 'Astro Ray' Dalek Gun. This hard-to-find toy which has been seen from time to time on eBay is a red and white plastic dart gun with three suction darts and a battery-powered ray beam. If you can't get the actual toy there was a fridge magnet produced by a seller called magnetworld1 on the world-famous online selling site!
One of the most curious and today one of the rarest of all Dalek toys was the Bendy Dalek by Newfield which was produced in 1965. American Charles Newfield had met BBC representatives at a toy fair and convinced them to let him add the Daleks to his substantial bendy toy range which included TV characters such as Popeye. Keen to promote the Daleks in America where the Dr. Who and the Daleks movie was on release, the BBC granted him a licence. The Bendy Daleks were produced in the UK at Newfeld's factory in Ashford, Middlesex. The original selling price for the 7-inch toy was 10 shillings and sixpence (around 52p) and came in a choice of three colours; black, grey or white. They were made of a soft pliable rubber over a wire skeleton and because of this very few have survived as over a period of time the rubber simply perishes and the wire snaps. In 2008 a surviving Bendy Dalek sold at auction for £1,500 Start looking in your toyboxes!
Article by Laurence Marcus