To celebrate on the 25th anniversary marketing frenzy surrounding the BBC’s long-running science fiction series Doctor Who, Dapol released its first wave of toys from the series, with an odd mixture of current, recent, and long-departed characters.
The Seventh Doctor figure came in two variations, the season 24/25 version with a light biege jacket (by far the most rare of the two variations), and the same figure with his jacket painted a darker brown, as seen in the show’s final season. Melanie also came in two variations, with a blue suit or a pink suit.
(Left: original 1988 Melanie figure; right: post-factory-fire version.)
The Dalek figures came in four variations when first released. The variations included black with gold highlights, black with silver highlights, grey with blue and black highlights, and white with gold highlights. The grey Daleks retained their paint jobs better than the others, whose detail work could practically be rubbed off.
The Daleks and K-9 were all equipped with pull-back action – set ’em on the kitchen counter, pull ’em back, and let ’em loose! K-9, whose tail and head would wag while it was in motion, was originally molded in an odd dark green color, later changed to grey.
Perhaps the strangest entry in Dapol’s initial collection of Doctor Who toys was the leathery-winged Tetrap figure. Though a fairly good replica of a well-realized menace from the show, the Tetraps – unlike the Daleks – made only one appearance in the Time And The Rani four-parter… not a beloved adventure for many fans.
The figures, in roughly the same scale as Kenner’s Star Wars action figures (but with a little bit more articulation), hit British toy stores packaged individually as well as in a box set tied in with the show’s 25th anniversary in 1988 (covered elsewhere in this section). They proved to be an instant hit for Dapol, a company more accustomed to selling model trains, so more characters were quickly promised to the toy-buying public – and all this despite many indications that the show’s popularity was waning.