Last Halloween, my friend Stephanie revealed an incredible costume she had been working on all year: a dalek. At first, I thought ‘How is that even possible? How will you wear it?” I underestimated the creativity, crafty skills and motivation Stephanie had behind this undertaking. It was unfortunate that New York was slammed by a huge snow storm Halloween weekend which cancelled all local parties, including the big one Stephanie had planned to show the dalek off at, and hopefully win a costume contest at. I couldn’t let this incredible costume go back into the basement without sharing it with all my fellow Doctor Who fans, so I set upon compiling all the information I could from Stephanie on how she pulled this off. Hopefully some of you will feel inspired by this to create your own awesome Halloween costumes this year!

I asked Stephanie to answer a few questions for me about the experience of building her dalek and hopefully a little advice for those of us thinking of trying this out:

Lissa: When did you first decide to take on the project of building the dalek? Was there some thing/event in particular that prompted you to do it? 

Stephanie: I started in February of 2011.  I am not sure what exactly got me into the idea, but when I found out Dalek’s stand about 5 feet tall (and that is my height), I figured it would be an excellent idea.  Then when I found the very detailed plans online, I was sold.

L: Did you have some idea at the beginning of how long it might take you to finish it, and how close was your estimate to the actual time it took?

S: I don’t think I had an idea, but I definitely did not think it would take the amount of time (and money) that it did.  I knew it was good to start early, and I’m glad I did, because I ended up finishing very close to Halloween.

L: Was it challenging to collect the materials?

S: It definitely was.  I was trying to find components that would work but be cheap and light and would make the final product mobile/portable.

L:  What were some of the changes you made (if any) from the original set of build instructions you used?

S: I didn’t make many changes, except ones to make it able for me to go inside.  Accidentally, it ended up taller than expected, but that turns out to be good because now people who are not petite like me can go inside it as well.

 

L: What was the biggest challenge in the project and how did you work past it?

S: The biggest challenge was making the dome for the head.  I could not find any bowls that were the right size (huge), so I decided I would use paper mache over a large beach ball.  However, I also could not find a beach ball that was the right size, despite ordering some online that turned out to be incorrectly described.  I finally had to use wire mesh and shape my own dome and then cover it with paper mache.

 

L: I know thanks to a big snow storm you were unable to show the dalek at  Halloween parties. Did you get to actually take it out for display to the public? Have you made any plans to display it since halloween?

S: I have not yet had a chance to bring it out to the public yet.  I do plan on attending one or two cons this year, though, to show it off.  And hopefully this coming Halloween.  Unfortunately I need a large venue to effectively display it, and that can be hard to find.  (It does not fit through a conventional doorway, except in pieces, so that also creates a challenge.  I have to put it together in one room and stay there the whole time.)

 

Now for the technical details:

The plans Stephanie used were found here. That site offers plans for several different styles of daleks. Stephanie chose to build the ‘New Series Dalek’, which premiered in 2005. I’m assuming she picked that model because, being fans of David Tennant’s 10th Doctor, her boyfriend Dave would be happy to wear the appropriate Doctor costume.

For technical notes from Stephanie and her bio, read past the break.

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