My Daleks

Salvador Dalek

Salvador is a black, New Series Dalek based on Dalek Sec from the 'Cult of Skaro' episodes of Dr Who.

He has appeared at Arisia twice, in 2012 and 2015. He won Best Reconstruction and a technical award in the Novice class in the 2012 Masquerade.

Getting Salvador to and from the Westin is a pretty involved task so he does not get to go every year. He has to be dismantled every night to fit through the door of the room.

Salvador used to live in my office but that made taking him out a full day event as every one of the 56 hemispheres had to be removed to get him into and out of my office. That spot has since been taken by his brother, llama.

The Dalek Llama

Llama is a static display prop. Since he is made from the plugs used to make Salvador, he is very heavy and it is impossible to get inside him.

He is currently finished in the green camouflage of an IronSide Dalek from the episode Victory of the Daleks

Anatomy of a Dalek

A dalek has five main parts:

The dome has an eye stalk and rotates to let the dalek see in any direction. The new series dalek dome is detailed with groves, lightcages and a cowl which makes the eye stalk more prominent.
The neck is at the level of the operator's eyes and is semi opaque to let the operator see out.
The shoulders are the business end of the dalek and are equipped with a plunger arm and gun. The new series dalek is detailed with 16 slats.
The skirt has 11 panels decorated with a total of 56 hemispheres.
The fender bulks up the base of the dalek and hides the wheels on which it rolls.

In addition a working prop such as Salvador has an internal mobile frame with a seat for the operator, a battery to power the lights, etc.

Building a Dalek of Your Own

If you are interested in building a dalek yourself, I strongly advise you to join Project Dalek which is a community of dalek building enthusiasts which supplies invaluable plans, building advice and build logs.

Some of the Materials I used:

Building a fiberglass Dalek

Working with fiberglass is (usually) a three part process:

  • Build a model of the thing you want to make using wood, clay or other materials. This is called a plug.
  • Make a fiberglass mold from the plug.
  • Make parts from the mold.

Most of the build time was spent on the plugs. The shoulders alone took over a hundred hours work. While the plugs are just a means to the end of making the molds I was not going to throw them out after so much effort. After carting Salvador up two flights of stairs to my office and then back down again to take to Arisia, I decided to leave him sulking in a (newly constructed) room in the basement and paint the plugs to make a static prop for my office. He might not say static though, while there is no room inside Llama for an operator, there is plenty of space for motors and gears.

All the parts for Salvador were made in this way except for the fender which is a fairly simple part where I tried to save time by making a mold. While this dis save some time, the wood mold was destroyed during the demolding process and poor llama is left without a fender!

One of the main problems I faced in this build was the lack of a garage. Fiberglass is really nasty stuff to work with and especially so in a confinded space. Safety equipment, mask, goggles, gloves etc. is essential but not a substitute for good ventilation. As a result the fiberglass parts of the build were slowed by the need to work outside and to carry every piece of equipment inside and out every day.

Reading Mike Tucker's history of the BBC special effects department, I found they had the same problem and much of their prop building took place on the roof of Television Center.

Work in Progress

Dalek building never really ends. Salvador would like a new coat of paint for a start. And his gun bosses and light cages are resin parts rather than the machined aluminium it should be. These are currently waiting for me to finish fixing up my CNC mill and lathe.

Another work in progress is building a motorized base for Salvador. Daleks are designed to glide effortlessly over perfectly flat television studio floors. They are foot powered! This is fine if you are on a smooth surface but scootching across the riven marble floors of the Westin Harbordrive gets very tiring, very quickly.

Hire, loans, appearances, etc.

Unless you are with the BBC, my Daleks are NOT for hire or loan.

Copyright in the NSD design belongs to Terry Nation's estate and the BBC. Even if you can get a license it almost certainly isn't worth my time or effort to loan a very valuable prop for a children's party or the like.

If you are with the BBC then I have a TARDIS you can borrow as well.

Putting in an appearance at a Science Fiction convention or other event is a possibility but only likely to happen if the convention is very large or very close to Boston USA and you are willing to provide suitable transport.