Sunday, 6 March 2016

Doctor Who Experience March 2016

What better way to spend one's birthday than a day out in Cardiff, and a visit to the Doctor Who Experience (plus a tour of the TARDIS set). Birthday presents to yourself are often the best. Regular readers will know that this is not my first visit to either. I have made four TARDIS tours - three at the new Roath Lock studios, plus the initial visit to the Matt Smith version at the old Upper Boat studio complex, when I attended the first ever official BBC-sanctioned convention at the Millennium Centre in March 2012, out of which this blog was born. I'll save my TARDIS tour for a later post in a day or two, and concentrate on the DWE for now. This is my first visit since it was announced that the Series 9 props and costumes would be going on display.

First of all, I'd like to mention how busy it was - considering my visit was on a weekday and not during school holidays. There were lots of kids present - school outings. Why on Earth did we never get to do anything like this when I was a lad? A whole bus load of excited kids went through just before my party entered the adventure part of the Experience. This remains the same, with the Gallifrey Museum theme, and efforts to find three crystals which will save the TARDIS from Time Squids. Adults all kindly allowed the youngsters present to do the crystal finding. By the way, the waiting point to go into the Experience is now walled off from the rest of the reception area - and it is the wall which appeared in Heaven Sent - the one with the window that Rassilon gazed through.

Once out of the adventure section, it was into the display area. Last time, I had already had my TARDIS studio tour, so could browse at my leisure, but this year the studio tour followed, so I only had about 50 minutes to look around. A lot of changes have been made. Downstairs still has the various TARDIS control rooms and Police Box props, plus items from An Adventure In Space and Time. These include a Menoptra and 1963-style Daleks.

Where the Doctor costumes used to stand there is now the green screen area where you can get a photo taken. The costumes have moved upstairs, where the main monster exhibits reside. On my last two visits, the centre of the upper area had the Silents in their time-ship. Now a lone Silent joins the ranks of miscellaneous monsters like a Sontaran (2008 version), the Abzorbaloff and a Hath. Costumes and props from Series 8 now dominate the central space.

Both the Teller and the Foretold were absent on my last visit. The Cybermen get their own line up - all post 2005 apart from one of the 80's versions. They still have a display case of heads from earlier models.

There used to be a display of Daleks in a circle, with the new series Davros amongst them. They've moved, and now form  two ranks on either side of the entrance into a separate section where the 2015 exhibits are housed. One thing that's nice to see is the Terry Molloy version of Davros appearing in the Experience. You'll have noted his Remembrance appearance above. The Emperor Dalek used to be there but with the dome closed. But he is also present as he appeared in Resurrection.

Like I said, the Daleks line up on either side of the way into the newest exhibits section.

Before we run the gauntlet and enter the new section, I should just mention an area where you can learn to walk like a Cyberman or a Scarecrow, with a video tutorial from monster-wrangler Ailsa Berk. I elected to give this a miss, walking like a Scarecrow as I do at the best of times.
Into the new zone, and first up you enter Davros' intensive care unit from the opening two episodes of Series 9. I saw this space before - at the Festival last year. They've changed the lighting from green to blue.

Around Davros are the Doctor's costume from this story - the hoodie / checked trousers one - plus the open Dalek casing that Clara was in. Pass through the ICU and there are more things of wonder from last year's series.

As well as the Mire, a Sandman, the Fisher King and the Veil, we have a Zygon, Odin's costume plus a number of Time Lord outfits and Clara's little blue waitress number. There's even the dying Doctor's tattered outfit from Hell Bent. I was disappointed that Colony Sarff was only represented by his costume, and not a full figure with prosthetics.

A good idea to have the new stuff set in its own area, I think. Once you've seen the new items, it's exit through the gift shop. I didn't buy anything for a change. The new series box set isn't out until Monday, and there's a new book I fancy (the 365 days one) not due until Thursday next week.
As I mentioned in my last post about the DWE, if ever you are in Cardiff and don't have the money to take the Experience, it is worth popping into the reception area. For free you can see a trio of Daleks, a classic era Ice Warrior, a Weeping Angel and a Smiler, plus one of the police box props. Sadly, Tricey has been removed.
To round this post off, a trio of classic monsters from the main exhibition area. 

The Web of Fear Yeti, the K1 Robot, and another Ice Warrior. Next post will be my most recent TARDIS studio set tour...

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