Remote Controlled Dalek
I hadn't asked for anything in particular for Christmas in 2005, and my parents had already got me a much-needed new mobile phone as an early Christmas present, so I wasn't expecting them to present me with a very large box on Christmas Day. I was even more surprised to discover that it contained a Remote-controlled Dalek. It was a shame I had to wait until new year to get it out of its packaging, on account of it being too big to take back to Coventry on the train, but my brother, who still lives at home, got one too, so I got to play a bit earlier than otherwise.
Anyway, this is supposed to be a review, so let's start talking about the toy, rather than how I got it. The first thing you notice about it when you open the box is just how well-secured it is. It takes about half an hour to get it out of its box - you have to untwist numerous plastic "wires" which hold various bits in place. If I ever want to sell it in years to come, repackaging it (of course I'm keeping the packaging - I know what the collectables market looks like a decade down the road) will be a nasty job. Then, of course, you have to change the batteries. The Dalek needs 4 AA batteries, it comes with some already supplied, but you are advised to change them very quickly. The remote control unit needs a 9 volt battery. Oh, and you'll need a phillips screwdriver to get into the battery compartments. They toy is very show-faithful. Although the finish isn't perfect, it looks like a new series (2005) Dalek both in shape and in colour.
The Dalek comes with three settings. On, off, and "try me". "Try me" basically means that you can push one of the bumps on the casing and it will spout out its eight phrases in order. The relevant bump is marked by a sticker. I still can't decide whether to keep to sticker on for future collectible value or to remove it for aesthetic reasons. When the Dalek is packaged, there's a hole in the packaging right by the relevant bump, so you can try it in the shop. In addition to the remote controlled aspects - which I'll get to in a minute, the Dalek has some manual posability, you can swivel the midsection round three hundred and sixty degrees, and you can pose the plunger and the gunstalk. You can also push the top dome into three different positions and remove the eyestalk - I don't know why, perhaps it makes it less likely that it will break off.
As for the remote control, you can make the Dalek go forwards, backwards, and turn it around using two levers - pull both forwards, it goes forwards, pull both backwards it goes backwards and do different things with the two then it turns. Sadly, it doesn't go up stairs, but I'm sure there will eventually be a stair-climbing version. The eyestalk glows when it is switched on, and the (detachable) "ears" have LEDs which light up in synch with the phrases it speaks.
The Dalek also has eight phrases, spoken out of a speaker in the base (I'd have thought that the grill towards the top would be a better placement, but never mind). However there are only five buttons on the control (each with one phrase labelled). The way they are positioned feels odd because they're arranged on a slanted bit of the casing, so the one nearest to you sticks out the most despite being the same height. Anyway, Seek, Locate, Annihilate and Seek, Locate, Destroy (unlabelled) are on the furthest (top) button. You will obey the Daleks. Obey, obey! is next, followed by Halt or you will be exterminated, which - bizarely - shares a button with the unlabelled You are an enemy of the Daleks. We are the supreme beings is next, followed by Exterminate *gun effect* and the unlabelled Exterminate Exterminate Exterminate *gun effect*. Sadly, there isn't a My vision is impaired. I cannot see noise.
So, having outlined what it does, how good is it? Well, it entertained the entire family, from my brother who's 20ish to my Gran who's in her 80s, and I'm sure it would work brilliantly with the kids - it's just the sort of thing I'd have wanted as a child. It's sure to become a collector's item in years to come, so it's a good investment as well as lots of fun. Though after having it a while, it loses its novelty.
Review by Stephen Gray