Forty Years of Doctor Who Collectables
Doctor Who is part of Britain’s cultural heritage and has become a global phenomenon that has had children hiding behind the sofa for decades. Doctor Who and the TARDIS first materialised on our screens on a November evening in 1963.
Doctor Who’s position as a Saturday teatime favourite was assured in the second storyline when the TARDIS landed on the planet Skaro and the Doctor met a Dalek for the first time. Over the next four decades and more he’s done battle with the Yeti, Autons, Cybermen, Ice Warriors, Tetraps, Silurians, the Master and the Rani, Zarbi and countless more and won the day nearly every time.
In 2005, Christopher Eccleston returned as Doctor Who and this has meant that there is new interest in Doctor Who collectables and items of all sorts. A brand new generation has joined thousands of existing Whovians in collecting and enjoying the plethora of wonderful Doctor Who items that exist. The new interest in Doctor Who also means that there are some innovative new collectables available for the old and new Whovian alike.
eBay is doubtless the best single source of Doctor Who items in the galaxy, so if you are looking for that elusive Doctor Who collectable you’ve come to the right place.
Doctor Who Collectables
Age isn’t necessarily the most critical feature of Doctor Who collectables. As with most other collectables, condition and rarity count for a lot. The most prized of Doctor Who collectables are those which have struggled to survived, like sweet wrappers, or those in mint condition and in the packaging they were first housed. Doctor Who was most popular in the sixties and seventies so many of the items available then were mass produced. For much of the nineties Doctor Who was followed only by a hardcore of fans and many of the items produced in those years are very scarce.
Doctor Who Titles
When you are searching for Doctor Who items there are a few things to bear in mind. Obviously Doctor and Who are very common terms in listings titles so a search for plain Doctor Who will probably return you more items that you want to see. By putting “Doctor Who” in inverted commas you will only get results that include Doctor and Who in the correct order and you won’t get results for “Who is Doctor Strangelove?” Don’t forget to look for items that have Doctor styled as Dr so searching for “(dr,doctor) who” will get you more results than simply “Dr Who” or “Doctor Who”.
Most experienced Doctor Who sellers will use very specific terms familiar to Whovians such as Dalek and TARDIS. Try searching for full titles of books because if you are searching for an individual item your luck will probably be in. If you are looking for a specific item, the more specific you can make your search term the better. Don’t be afraid to use ‘dapol’ for the 1990s range of Doctor Who toys and abbreviations. For instance, Doctor Who Magazine is commonly abbreviated to DWM and many sellers will include the edition number such as “DWM 245."
Doctor Who Categories on eBay
The main place to seek out those Doctor Who treasures is in the collectables category where there is a dedicated Doctor Who Section under the sci-fi heading.
Although there is a special section some sellers will put their items in other eBay categories. You’ll find Doctor Who items in Books, Comics and Magazines and also Toys and Games where you’ll typically find action figures and don’t forget to take a peek in DVD, Film and TV.
Who is the Doctor
Time Lords have the amazing ability to regenerate if they are mortally injured or their existing body is too old and frail to survive. This list of ‘official’ Doctors will help you better understand the Doctor Who chronology and introduce some of the collectables available.
William Hartnell (1963 – 1966): The first Doctor was an old man, grandfatherly and fusty in appearance and often curmudgeonly. Although he may not have been physically spritely it was through his mental dexterity and often childlike wonder and childish sense of adventure that he won the day.
The Doctor relied on his intellect and instinct and that has been true whoever has played him. Hartnells’ reign also set the standard for Doctor Who collectables. Christmas 1964 saw ‘Dalekmania’ and every child wanted their Dalek suits consisting of a plastic skirt replete with plunger and gun and a very rudimentary headdress with a Dalek eye stalk and if you’ve got one of those mint in box you’ll get a fortune for it. From the very beginning there were books, toys and annuals and trinkets that are still sought after today.
Patrick Troughton (1966 – 1969): With his straight dark hair brushed down and evenly to his eyebrows, the second Doctor looked a bit like a the older fifth Beatle when he took over from Hartnell after being injured after the Doctor’s first encounter with the Cybermen. Patrick Troughton’s Doctor was altogether more approachable and whimsical and it is a shame that so many of his television adventures have been lost as part of the scandalous BBC clear out all those years ago. That said, one of the best adventures survives, Tomb of the Cybermen and even forty years on it is still an engaging and terrifying piece of drama.
Jon Pertwee (1969 – 1974): The third Doctor stumbled out of the TARDIS after his regeneration into a world full colour for the first time. With the Doctor exiled to Earth by the Time Lords, he teamed up with UNIT (the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce) under the command of Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart.
Dressed in ruffled shirts, velvet jackets and sometimes a cape, Pertwee’s portrayal was flamboyant and confident. He was also the least politically correct of the Doctors frequently patronising his female companions: Liz Shaw, Jo Grant and the redoubtable Sarah-Jane Smith. The 10th Anniversary provided an opportunity for the first three Doctors to unite and do battle with Omega in an adventure that remembered as much for the frailty of Hartnell (who died not long after) as the famous souvenir Radio Times it produced that is highly prized.
Tom Baker (1974 – 1981): When Tom Baker assumed the role in 1974 after Pertwee encountered the giant spiders of Metebelis 3 the Doctor Who collectables machine was in full gear. From his first adventure, ‘Robot,’ collectables became part of the norm. Not only was there a collectable ‘Robot’ there was the Palitoy talking K9 and also much admired Doctor dolls and a fun TARDIS. Other items from Baker’s golden age that saw rating soar to their all time high include the TARDIS Tuner, which was simply a branded radio set.
During the Baker years, Doctor Who Weekly from Marvel (which later evolved in Doctor Who Magazine) first hit newsagents’ shelves all over Britain.
Peter Davison (1982 – 1984) : Depite being an impossible act to follow, Peter Davison was a successful boyish and scientific Doctor who maintained the pace and verve of Baker’s years. It was on his watch that the BBC started to meddle with the formula and by the time Colin Baker (1984 -1986) took over Doctor Who was in decline. Ratings were failing and after a long break and the twee ‘Trial of a Time Lord’ series the future of Doctor Who seemed uncertain.
Sylvester McCoy (1987 – 89): Sylvester McCoy faced the most deadly enemy in the history of Doctor Who: Coronation Street. Moved to Wednesday evenings, the three seasons that McCoy presided over suffered from bad ratings that belie the darker more adult qualities that he brought to the role. The Doctor was very much an adult and rebellious anti-hero again.Collectables gems from the twilight of the classic era include the excellent Dapol models produced including the rare two handed Davros.
When Doctor Who came off the screen in 1989, it wasn’t the end. Doctor Who’s adventures continued off the screen from 1989 with a series of books published variously by Virgin and the BBC. Many of these books were published in small print runs or have achieved cult status and are highly sought after which goes to show that even new Doctor Who items are collectable. In particular the final Virgin adventure, ‘Lungbarrow,’ saw the Doctor return to his family home on Gallifrey and it always garners a great deal of interest when it appears on eBay.
Paul McGann (1996) : McGann only played Doctor Who for one single TV adventure that lasted a single feature length episode. But like McCoy, McGann continued as Doctor Who in book adventures and also audio tales from ‘Big Finish.’ The 1995 adventure also spawned a brief but glorious moment of one–off collectables such as t-shirts and mugs that you can find on eBay.
Christopher Eccleston (2005): The much heralded return of Doctor Who to a prime time Saturday slot was a risk taken by the BBC that has paid off magnificently. Hordes of new fans are hungry for Doctor Who collectables and many new fabulous items are available. In particular, the new style ‘industrial’ gold Dalek on sale and the books selection have given the world of Doctor Who collectables a new breath of life.
The wonderful thing about Doctor Who is that you never know what the future, or the past, holds. Christmas 2005 will see the first adventure of the 10th official TV Doctor Who in the guise of David Tennant (2005 - ?) and I think we can feel confident that the best days for Doctor Who collectables are yet to come.