Monday, 4 May 2015

Know Your Cybermen: Cyberships

The very first Cyberships seen on screen, in The Tenth Planet, were small, squat circular craft. Each held only a small number of Cybermen. We saw little of the interior save for the area where first Polly and then the Doctor were confined. It is significant that the Cybermen had special chairs designed for humanoid captives. These ships were useful for flitting between Mondas and the Earth like shuttles, but did not look as though they could manage interstellar travel.

The second ships we saw, in The Moonbase, were your traditional flying saucer shape. These were not very large either, but were obviously capable of intergalactic flight. Again, we did not get to see very much of the interior - save for the control console area. The significance of the strange lighting effects is not known. These Cyberships were sent hurtling from the Moon by the Gravitron, but presumably once beyond its influence their propulsion units would have overridden its effect.

The first massive Cybership appears in The Wheel In Space. We don't get any real sense of scale. It is long, with a large antenna on the top. The Doctor surmises that it contains their invasion force - and the Cyberman he's talking to does not contradict him. Like most alien spaceships at this time in the programme, the ship relies on a homing beacon to get to where it wants to go. It is easily destroyed by the Wheel's X-Ray laser - suggesting it does not have much in the way of defences - though the laser was boosted by the TARDIS Time Vector Generator. The interior was never seen.

The Invasion sees the first appearance of what is now regarded as the classic Cyberman spaceship design. Far from streamlined, it has wheel shaped sections at front and back, with a globe structure in between. There is a whole fleet of these ships. Once again, they do not appear to have much in the way of defence. Conventional missiles destroy them. No sight of the interior. If you pay close attention to the UNIT lab in Spearhead From Space, you will see one of these model props reused as a piece of scientific equipment.

There is a new smaller craft on view in Revenge of the Cybermen. Despite Earth having fought a war with the Cybermen, the human crew of Nerva Beacon do not recognise the design - so it may be a stolen ship not necessarily built by the Cybermen. There are missile tubes in the nose. The interior of the command deck is seen and it is, as expected of Cybermen, purely functional. This craft is destroyed by the Vogan Skystriker rocket.

We do not see another Cybership until Silver Nemesis - where there are two designs on show. The first is a small shuttle craft, containing only a dozen or so Cybermen. This is destroyed by a brace of Ace's Nitro-9 explosives.

Later, we see the main Cyber-fleet. These ships owe a little of their design to The Invasion ones - in that they are larger at the front and back and narrow in the middle. These craft appear to have some kind of cloaking capability. The entire fleet is wiped out by the Gallifreyan Nemesis statue.

The first Cybership of the New Series, in The Next Doctor, is a Dreadnought-class craft known as a Cyber-King. It is shaped like a massive Cyberman, and contains a conversion factory. We see it walking, but presumably these can also fly. This particular one was built in the Victorian era using the available technology of the time, so presumably these Dreadnoughts are usually much more high tech and streamlined.

The Matt Smith era of the programme sees the return of The Invasion design for the Cyberships - as seen in The Pandorica Opens and A Good Man Goes To War. These have the wheels at front and rear, with the globe in the centre, but each has a long cylindrical section at the very front.

There is another Cybership on view in Closing Time, but we don't get a clear look at the overall design as it is mostly buried. It is unlikely to be one of the large "wheel and globe" ones - perhaps a large shuttle or even an escape craft from one of the bigger ships.

2013 saw a major redesign for the Cybermen - and a new spaceship to go with this. In The Time of the Doctor, even the Doctor and the TARDIS fail to recognise it. It is a spiky, six-winged design. We see the interior, and the new  Cybermen are seen to stand in individual cubicles when inactive. The hemisphere designs throughout are based on the foot and hand holds as seen in the Cyber-tombs on Telos.