Doctor Who Dalek Customs- The Asylum Project Announcement

It has been over a year now since the last major Dalek Asylum Custom Collections Tour on Sacred Icon, and although a small teaser was uploaded several months ago, the customs have changed significantly since then – but as of this month, our preparations are complete, and so now is the time to announce Project: Asylum, a new and updated showcase of over a hundred unique Dalek Asylum custom figures. Together, they form a huge diorama of the Dalek Asylum, with each and every model being meticulously created by hand, renovating old, broken or otherwise unwanted Dalek figures to create a vast art installation.

The Dalek Asylum

As seen in the Series 7 episode Asylum of the Daleks, the Dalek Asylum is a hollowed-out planet filled with vast underground chambers and a honeycomb of interconnecting corridors that the Daleks use as a dumping ground for the most insane amongst their number. Daleks that are so battle-scarred, insane or unhinged that they are unable to function among the Dalek race, but have otherwise done no wrong, are committed to the Dalek Asylum for safekeeping out of a twisted since of respect for the pure hatred that these creatures represent. Once a fully-automated self-repairing facility, the Asylum has decayed over the millennia of abuse to the point that it now exists as little more than a dark recluse for its deranged denizens, as many of its actual repair or rehabilitation facilities have long since been damaged beyond repair.

Either as a result of its unfathomable age or Dalek time-travel meddling, the Asylum contains many examples of Classic Daleks alongside their bronze Time War era brethren, and several factions of Daleks from centuries ago the in their history still fight age-old wars amongst themselves within the deepest parts of the Asylum. Alongside that are factions that have sprung up within the Asylum itself, such as bands of the more insane inmates that upkeep their own casings by hunting the newest inhabitants and ‘recycling’ them, leading many to sport mismatched casings made up of bits and pieces of several types of Dalek. Several of the scientists that were once stationed to study the inmates of the Asylum have since been admitted themselves, and these usually form the brains behind the organised bands of scavenging Splicer Daleks throughout the Asylum.

Arguably the most dangerous part of the Asylum, however, is the ‘intensive care’ ward – a location designed to house nothing less than the most insane Daleks in the Asylum. Many of these are examples of lone survivors of famous Dalek campaigns against the Doctor, and after thousands of years of vain attempts to calm these vicious specimens, the ward now exists as a glorified prison for its occupants – and with good reason. The Daleks that reside here are so murderous in their eternal rage that they have been deliberately containing within separate cages with their weapons removed as a safety precaution to prevent them from killing each other. Should they ever be released among the other inmates of the Asylum, they would surely stir up enough bloodlust among the imprisoned Daleks that they would attempt to escape, an eventually so terrifying that it scares even the Supreme Dalek.

Project: Asylum aims to capture the the essence of this unique setting by portraying a diverse and eclectic selection of Dalek inmates from a wide variety of points in Dalek history. Almost every type of Dalek is represented here in some form, and one of the joys of using the Dalek Asylum as a template for a custom project is the range of freedoms it provides for Dalek customs. Several examples of the Daleks seen in this collection are totally new designs that incorporate elements of several different Dalek designs, and this is due to the design philosophy for this art installation of broadening the scope of the Dalek Asylum from what we saw on-screen.

The Asylum Project

For those not already aware, my name is Cameron, and I run the Sacred Icon blog, writing blog posts about several science fiction franchises from Star Trek to Transformers. However, a franchise I tend to talk about a lot on this blog is Doctor Who, because it is honestly my all-time favourite series and arguably my favourite thing about Doctor Who it the Daleks themselves. Ever since I was a child I have been fascinated with the Daleks, and this has fuelled by passion for creating custom Dalek figures. As so many Dalek figures one can find on eBay and in other places around the internet are damaged, it can often be difficult to come up with new and creative ideas for the huge numbers of broken, incomplete or otherwise unusable Dalek figures that are floating around. However, when the concept of the Dalek Asylum was introduced, this created a goldmine of potential ideas for Dalek customs, and I endeavoured to actualise as many of those ideas as I could in Dalek figure form.

Ironically, though the production team behind Asylum of the Daleks went to the trouble of acquiring lots of Classic Dalek props to use in the episode, the actual variety of ideas we saw on-screen was fairly limited – many of the Daleks appeared merely broken or slightly damaged as opposed to the insane, battle-scarred warriors that they were described as. Even worse, the Classic Daleks were woefully underused, to the point that Moffat felt the need to being Classic Daleks back again just two seasons later to compensate. In fairness, they were working with full-size props and were on a time and budget limit, but nonetheless the customs in my collection involve a more diverse array of Daleks and explore additional concepts to those seen on-screen. As such, not all of the Daleks in the collection are screen-accurate, indeed only a handful are based on specific Daleks from the episode itself. One of the best things about the idea of the Asylum is that the Daleks within are sourced from many different points in Dalek history, including points in their timeline that we, the fanbase, have not seen. As such, making Asylum customs opens the doors for more creative freedom when it comes to colour schemes and general designs.

Overall, the process of creating Dalek customs is always relaxing and enjoyable to me, but there is something special about creating customs for the Asylum collection, as each Dalek adds to the collective history of the collection. The Asylum Project is a source of immense personal pride for me, as I have put a lot of time and effort into ensuring that each individual figure is as good as I can make it. The entire project has taught me a lot about model making (particularly on the health and safety side) and I am proud to share my collection of custom Daleks with the world. I hope you enjoy browsing them! For those who are interested, there is the potential for some of these Daleks to be put up for sale at some point in the future. I am considering setting up a Youtube channel to further showcase the figures in video form, rather than static images, so perhaps the figures will go up for sale concurrently with that, when it eventually transpires. For now though, none of these figures are for sale. However, I will be offering tips throughout the figure showcases of how to create your own Dalek customs, and with that in mind I have also written a brief ‘how-to’ guide regarding setting up your own Dalek customs workshop.

Making your own Dalek Customs

For a fan of the Daleks there is perhaps nothing better than creating Dalek Customs, as the availability of cheap broken Dalek figures on sites like eBay coupled with the relative ease of creating a convincing destroyed Dalek has led many fans to having a go at fixing up their own custom Dalek. However, it takes more work that you would initially think to design and build a really good destroyed Dalek, and even more to pull off a perfect repaint of a pristine Dalek figure. Part of what this project is all about is encouraging would-be Dalek Custom creators to make their ideas reality, and if this installation proves anything it is that you can create some amazing things with simple materials from around the house that you would never think to use otherwise. For example, a lot of the Dalek mutants seen throughout the collection were made primarily out of old headphone wires and tissue paper. Upcycling and re-using of old junk plays an important part in customising Daleks, and it is an excellent way to make creative use of computer waste and difficult-to-recycle plastics that would otherwise be sent to rot in landfill.

To create your own Dalek custom, the first thing you will need as a Dalek to base it on. These are usually easy to find – if you have been a fan of the show since your childhood, chances are you have a Dalek figure lying around somewhere – or, if you have children who have recently grown out of their Tennant-era toys, consider bringing a new lease of life to these otherwise abandoned relics. As previously mentioned, sites like eBay are useful for picking up bundles of broken Daleks, and sometimes a huge batch comes along for ridiculously low prices that are really useful for Dalek Custom army-building. Also be sure to check out local car boot sales or charity shops – you never know what you might find, and old action figures are definitely something that pops up a lot in those sorts of places.

Second, you will need the arts and crafts materials themselves – depending on what kind of custom you want to make, you might need anything from paints and brushes to glue and cutting tools, but remember that almost anything can be used in a custom figure – what matters is how it is done. For example, hot glue is an excellent means of bonding plastics, and it also doubles as convincing Dalek goo when it dries and is painted over in green. However, you could just as easily use plastic glue or any strong adhesive that you have at home for your custom. Though it is good to have high-quality paints such as the Citadel paints from Games Workshop, most paints work on Dalek plastic and several of the early customs in the Asylum collection use Humbrol paints that date back to the 90s, proving that just about anything is possible.

Be sure to be sensible with the kind of arts and crafts that you are using, as although it might seem like a good idea to go out and buy a hot glue gun to get started on your first custom, if you have no idea how to use it properly, you will inevitably end up with a nasty burn. This metaphorically applies to almost all elements of DIY – enthusiasm for the task is meaningless without the skill to do it properly and, most importantly, precaution is required to get the job done with no injuries. It is therefore best to start small when it comes to your first Dalek custom, and ideally you will want to use materials you have at hand without having to spend any money at all. Buying the equipment necessary to have a flexible arsenal for creating a diverse range of Dalek customs would likely cost upwards of £100 including paints, tools and brushes, so start cheap until you know if you have a flair for DIY.

Next, you will need ideas. This is arguably the most important aspect, as a good idea is what drives the creative process of making the custom, so without a solid idea the project will rapidly lose direction. If you are stuck for ideas, feel free to use any of the figures in these showcases as templates for customs, and if you’re really stuck you can always try re-watching Asylum of the Daleks, and that is not something that you will find is regularly recommended to you. However, as poor as the episode itself is, you can still find some inspiration among the wasted potential. A good way of thinking up a damaged Dalek custom is thinking of interesting ways in which Daleks could be damaged or destroyed, and go from there. Think of ideas like “What would a Dalek that fell down a mineshaft look like?” or “What would a Dalek’s casing look like if it were attacked by a bear?”.

Once you have the Dalek, the appropriate tools and an idea, all you need next is the will to create a custom. Getting to grips with using model-making tools and precise paintbrushes can be tricky at first, but don’t be afraid to start a practice run and find that you have to start again. As any comparison between the two custom collection showcases on this blog will inform you, there is always room for significant improvement. Keep at it and you will soon start to see the results that you want. To that end, I would like to recommend the paints and brushes from the Games Workshops, now rebranded to Warhammer shops in some parts of the UK, whose tools are perfect for this sort of work. The staff are always friendly and will answer any questions you have about model-making. I personally use the Warhammer shops both in Liverpool and Warrington town centers on a regular basis, and I have had nothing but positive experiences there.

Dalek Upcycling

Who knew that making Dalek customs helps the environment? But if you think about it, creating Dalek customs is an artistic and creative way of making use of pieces of plastic that would, lets face it, otherwise be filling landfill. Many of the bundles that I buy on eBay or receive as donations are old collections of broken toys, either being put up for sale by the former children who owned them or the parents of children that have grown out of action figures. As such, had they not fallen into the hands of someone who could make use of broken Dalek figures, they would have almost certainly have been thrown away.

However, the eco-friendly nature of this hobby goes further than that – the more elaborate customs make use of a plethora of upcycled computer parts, plastic pieces, wires, electronic parts, old stationary and much more. Even though only a small number of Daleks in the Asylum collection are elaborate customs that required lots of parts, I still need to ask around my friends, in the workplace and even charity shops for old computer parts, wires and otherwise disposable electronic components. Scavenging these parts that would otherwise have ended up in the bin is one small way of helping the planet, and it is nice that this is a great eco-friendly side effect of the hobby that I am passionate about.

The Asylum Project and Sacred Icon

So what’s next for this blog? The answer is simple – Dalek Customs. This project has taken up a large amount of time and so I want to give the customs the attention that they deserve, as such the posts will be numerous and contain in-depth descriptions of how each custom was made as well as a short description of how it might have ended up in the Asylum in-universe to give you an idea of my thought process as I created the customs. Each custom will also have several pictures taken from different angles.

In terms of the blog posts themselves, I have arranged them into categories based on their classification, Classic Series Daleks and New Series Daleks, as well as their condition, destroyed or intact. However, I will be releasing the posts in a varied order, so each posted blog will alternate between intact New Series Daleks, destroyed Classic Series Daleks, destroyed New Series Daleks and intact Classic Series Daleks, as well as any other additional posts in the series. It is also worth mentioning that, although not part of the Asylum Project specifically, there will also be other custom showcase posts at the end that will analyse my other non-Asylum Dalek customs – including my Big Finish Dalek customs.

Doctor Who – Series 6 Cybermen Designs Explained

One of the many unexplained things about Moffat’s era of Doctor Who is what happened to the Cybermen. Due to an apparent mishandling of the metal men early in Moffat’s run, some strange continuity errors have cropped up which baffle fans to this day, and it is all to do with the specific design of the Cybermen that was used in each episode that featured them in the 2010s.

The continuity error surrounds the use of the Cybus Cybermen, a subspecies of Cyberman that originated in a parallel universe during Russell T. Davies’ era as showrunner. These Cybermen, unlike their prime universe counterparts, were more robotic and heavily armoured, and were easily recognisable by their characteristic stomping feet.

Despite originating in a parallel universe, these Cybermen were first seen crossing over into the Doctor’s universe in Doomsday, and were later seen stranded in our universe having fallen back through time to the 1800s in The Next Doctor. These Cybermen used Victorian steam technology to build a rudimentary CyberKing dreadnought, but were stopped by the Tenth Doctor and seemingly destroyed. These Cybermen were seemingly the last surviving Cybus Cybermen, and as far as this Christmas Special is concerned, they were all destroyed when the CyberKing was sucked into the Time Vortex.

That would be it for the Cybus Cybermen, were it not for the fact that they also started inexplicably appearing in early Moffat stories. Series 5’s The Pandorica Opens featured a damaged Cyberman guarding the Underhenge, which was recognisable as a Cybus Cyberman by the distinctive ‘C’ on its chest. Later, other Cybus Cybermen were seen forming part of The Alliance alongside the Daleks, Sontarans and other creatures. How and why these Cybermen were present in Roman times is still unknown.

From Series 6 onward, Steven Moffat and the production team clearly realised that they needed to change the Cybermen in order to distinguish them from the Cybus Cybermen of Russell’s era. Though they would later completely redesign the Cybermen in Series 7, in the meantime the production team simply removed the ‘C’ logo on the chest of the Cybermen and replaced it with a more generic circle-like design. This was allegedly done to establish that these Cybermen were indeed native to our universe, and according to non-narrative sources, the idea was that the Cybus Cybermen had encountered the Cybermen of the Doctor’s universe and the two had merged into one species, explaining the fact that the Cybus design was now used by Cybermen of our universe.

Whatever the reasons, Series 6 saw two appearances of the Cybus-style Cybermen with circular logos. The first was the Twelfth Cyber Legion, the fleet of Cybermen that was terrorised by Rory and the Doctor during their search for Amy Pond. These Cybermen sported the circular logos but the leader featured the distinctive black head and exposed yellow brain of the Cyber-Lord seen in The Next Doctor. The second appearance of the Cybus-style Cybermen was near the end of Series 6 in the episode Closing Time. This episode featured a small group of Cybus-style Cybermen stranded on a crashed spaceship in modern-day London. The Doctor mentions that the ship itself was likely empty for ‘centuries’ until the construction of a nearby power grid restarted the conversion chambers.

These seemingly unconnected Cyberman appearances could, in fact, be connected in more ways than simply featuring the Cybus-style Cybermen. The fact that this specific design is present in all of these appearances suggests that these events are interlinked. Could it be that the Cybermen featured in The Next Doctor are in fact the same as the ones in Closing Time? Or could the prescence of Cybus Cybermen in Roman times eventually lead to a Twelfth Cyber-Legion in the distant future that sported the same design? Perhaps survivors from other Cyber-incursions eventually culminated in the Mondasian Cybermen adopting the Cybus design.

Whatever the reasons, the Cybus model eventually overtook the Mondasian Cybermen, Telosian Cybermen and other disparate Cybermen models to become the definitive Cyberman design, as by the events of Nightmare in Silver both the ‘C’ variant and ‘circle’ variant of Cybus Cybermen are featured as remnants of a recent Cyber-War. This episode also reveals that the Cybermen have evolved beyond the Cybus design, adopting the new look that has endured to this day. Having taken on this new design, the Cybermen of the New Series have been more prominently associated with Mondas as their homeworld, rather than originating from a parallel universe.

However, there are also other examples of Cybermen from parallel universes invading our universe, that may not necessarily be from the same parallel universe as the Cybus Cybermen. These include the Blood of the Cybermen model, sporting a Cyber-face logo instead of the usual ‘C’ but otherwise appearing as Cybus Cybermen, and the ‘Cyber-Reality’ Cybermen that face off against UNIT and the Master in the Big Finish box set UNIT: Cyber-Reality. These Cybermen look and sound like the Cybermen seen from series 7 onwards.

As if that were not complex enough, the final Cyberman story of Moffat’s run further solidifies the idea that the Cybus Cybermen are a natural evolution of the Mondasian Cybermen. During their thousands of years of development during the events of The Doctor Falls, the Cybermen adapt from primitive Mondasian variants to Cybus Cybermen, and later the newer Cyberiad Cybermen. The short story Alit in Underland reveals that an interim stage exists in which the Cybermen appeared as they did in the 1980s, from Earthshock to Silver Nemesis.

Doctor Who – Which Daleks make up the Dalek Supreme Council?

Due to the temporally unstable nature of Dalek history, establishing who their primary leadership are can get a little confusing. Between Dalek Emperors, Supreme Daleks, Dalek Parliaments and interference from their creator Davros, the Daleks have had numerous rulers or ruling bodies over their corrupted history.

The Dalek Supreme

However, one concept that has remained constant throughout most of the Dalek timeline is the concept of the Dalek Supreme Council, a ruling body that served directly under the Emperor. This concept was perhaps best expressed in the Third Doctor story Planet of the Daleks, with the black and gold Supreme Dalek being a representative of the Dalek Supreme Council. The idea was later elaborated upon in the Big Finish audio We Are The Daleks, in which the Dalek Emperor summons the Supreme Council to preside over the Doctor’s execution.

Although the concept of the Dalek Supreme Council is fairly well-established, which unique Daleks actually make up this council remain mostly a mystery. Other than the Supreme Dalek seen in Planet of the Daleks there has been no reference to specific members of the Council on-screen. As the Doctor Who fanbase is known for speculation, however, there have been several theories as to which Daleks feature on the Council.

The Dalek Supremes

The Gold Dalek from Day of the Daleks

Undoubtedly the primary members of the Dalek Supreme Council were the various Dalek Supremes that were active during Dalek history. Although Dalek Supremes vary in design and colour schemes, and it is unlikely that all Supreme Daleks were members of the council at once, it seems only logical that the Dalek Supreme Council was made up of Supreme Daleks. There are various distinct Supremes from across Dalek history, from the Gold Daleks of Jon Pertwee’s era to the Black Daleks that ruled in the 1980s.

The Black Dalek from Remembrance of the Daleks

The most likely candidates for inclusion on the Supreme Council include the commander-class Daleks of the early Dalek empire – identified by the black base colour of their casings, replacing the standard silver. Later Supreme Daleks include the previously mentioned Gold Daleks and Black and Gold Supreme, the Black and White Supreme featured in Resurrection of the Daleks, and the Black and Silver Supreme featured in Remembrance of the Daleks. Although counted as Supreme Daleks, the red New Series Supreme as well as the White Paradigm Supreme are unlikely to qualify, as their post-Time War placement in Dalek chronology means they outlast the Council itself.

Whilst there are probably dozens, if not hundreds of Supreme Daleks, there are likely others that make up the Supreme Council. The Big Finish audios have proven that Daleks would often specialise certain members of their ranks for particular roles, and the same is true of their upper echelons of command. Whilst the Supreme Daleks would have made up the majority of the Council, these Daleks are a more elite caste designed for the development of special weapons, secret strategies and temporal machinations.

The Eternity Circle

A Dalek Interrogator Prime

First mentioned in the War Doctor novel Engines of War, the Eternity Circle were an elite group of five Daleks sported blue and silver casings that were tasked with creating temporal weapons for use against the Time Lords during the Last Great Time War. These Daleks possessed abilities above and beyond that of a standard Dalek, capable of temporal engineering, advanced reasoning, and even laughter.

Though it may be an error, some are described as being blue and gold, suggesting that not all in the order possess the same markings. However, the recent release of the Dalek Interrogator Prime figure in the B&M Exclusive Doctor and Dalek Figure two-pack suggests that the Blue and Silver colour scheme was not exclusive to the Eternity Circle either, as the Dalek Interrogator Prime from the Big Finish audio In the Garden of Death is apparently depicted with this colour scheme too.

As they form a key component in the Dalek war effort, as well as possessing capabilities above that of the standard Dalek, it is highly likely that the Eternity Circle were also granted seats on the Dalek Supreme Council. Likewise, high-ranking individuals such as the Dalek Interrogator Prime were also likely granted seats on the Council, as they would likely deliver important information to the Council first-hand.

The Cult of Skaro

The Cult of Skaro after the Time War

Although they were only part of the main Dalek Empire for a relatively short amount of time, the Cult of Skaro – an elite order of Daleks capable of imagination – were commissioned by the Emperor to create strategies and long-term survival plans during the waning days of the Last Great Time War.

Due to their high status among the Dalek ranks, allegedly ‘above and beyond’ the Emperor, the Cult of Skaro were likely privy to Supreme Council meetings, and would likely offer their insight into battle strategy or survival tactics. It is known that before the end of the war the Cult of Skaro served as front line commanders before fleeing the war in their Void Ship, meaning their tenure over the Supreme Council was likely very brief, even by Time War standards.

Interestingly, as mentioned in a previous Dalek theories post detailing a possible appearance from Dalek Sec in the Series 9 two-parter The Magician’s Apprentice and The Witch’s Familiar, it is possible that the temporal nature of the Cult of Skaro allowed them to preside over multiple incarnations of the Dalek Supreme Council throughout Dalek history, though this is merely speculation.

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Halo TV Show Update – Lore Changes, Casting Choices, and More

The Halo fanbase is in uproar after huge announcements related to Showtime’s Halo TV series seem to imply that the show will take a radically different approach to the story than the games did. The once intangible and near-mythical Halo TV series, which seemed to be in limbo for the best part of five years, has recently made waves with exciting announcements – first, that the show actually exists, and second that it had cast its Master Chief. From there, however, things started to get strange and perhaps even a little scary for die-hard Halo fans.

To get the ‘bad news’ out of the way first, it seems highly likely that this new TV show is set in a different universe to the Halo series we know and love – either that, or it is playing extremely fast and loose with the canon. Story details ranging from changes to dates, characters, locations and events seem to imply that both the Covenant and the UNSC will be very different in this new retelling of Halo’s beloved story. Arguably the most significant change is to do with the Keyes family, most notably the idea that Doctor Halsey is Keyes’ ex-wife. Those who are familiar with the lore will know that, although Keyes and Halsey had a child together, they were never married in the original timeline. Secondly, their daughter Miranda is described as a Doctor rather than a Commander, and that her speciality is Covenant languages and cultures.

Though these changes seem interesting, particularly in that Miranda has chosen a more scientific-based role rather than a military one, they have been unfortunately brushed aside by those who are complaining about another change to the Keyes family in this new TV show, as Captain Keyes is played by Danny Sapani, who played Colonel Manton in the excellent Doctor Who episode A Good Man Goes To War, and EastEnders actress Olive Gray will be playing Miranda Keyes. To those not in the know, these two actors are black, and as the Keyes clan was Caucasian in the games, this seems to have caused quite a stir. Doctor Who’s male-to-female regeneration has recently shown us that change is not always as hard to accept as it initially appears. As many stalwart fans have pointed out, as long as both Jacob and Miranda Keyes have their British accents, it shouldn’t matter what colour their skin is, particularly in the homogeneous 2550s.

Hopefully most Halo fans will be more worried about the changes to the lore, something actually worth complaining about. The biggest deviation from the norm of Halo is the announcement that Charlie Murphy’s character Makee is a human who has been raised by the Covenant. This seems bizarre at face value, as the Covenant was driven to destroy Humanity out of religious fervour in the games, as they believed that all Humans were an affront to their religion. Nonetheless, this does not mean that a Human being raised by the Covenant is completely impossible, though many fans have pointed out that at this point it seems as though the Halo TV series is defined by its blatant disregard for the lore.

Halo TV Show Theories

So with the basics of the controversial details of Showtime’s Halo TV Show listed above, it is now time for some damage control. How can this show reconcile the drastic differences in the canon with the firmly established lore of Halo that we know and love?

Theory 1 – It Just Will

The first theory is the worst theory – the idea that the TV show will simply try to bolt this story onto Halo and expect fans to just go with it. Admittedly, this is highly unlikely. It might be easy for fans to assume that the production team behind this TV show don’t care about Halo lore given the evidence, but it is unlikely that 343 industries would green-light this project knowing that it would upset fans after release. In truth, it is far more likely that 343 industries wants all this ‘bad news’ to be announced well in advance to give fans a chance to assimilate it.

Theory 2 – The Show is an Alternate Timeline

This seems like a logical, if wholly un-Halo, way to get around the strange changes to the lore in this new TV show. There are two broad ways this could be done – an ‘in-universe’ alternate universe as in Star Trek, or a ‘canon’ alternate universe like Disney’s Star Wars. It could be that the fact that the series is a ‘parallel’ universe plays into the plot in some way, perhaps even to explain some of the blatant inconsistencies that already plague Halo’s lore. Either way, it would account for the differences in Miranda’s job role, the Covenant doctrine, and (for those who care) the Keyes’ family pigmentation.

Theory 3 – Miranda will Survive

This is less of a broad theory and more of a specific prediction related to Miranda. As we know she has taken a scientific career path and not a military one, we can infer that she has a closer relationship with her mother than her father, as in the games she chose the military to follow in Keyes’ footsteps. Will this choice ultimately affect her fate? In Halo 3, Miranda’s gung-ho attitude was eventually her undoing, whereas a more reserved and calculated Doctor Miranda Keyes might not make the same mistake.

Theory 4 – Makee is a Secret

This final theory relates to Makee, and the idea that she is a human who has been raised by the Covenant to hate Humanity. Whilst this sounds odd on the surface, we do not know the specific details, so we cannot judge the validity of this idea until we see it executed in practice. But how could this idea work? There are two most likely methods. First is that Makee is a secret Covenant project, perhaps even a weapon. Second is the idea that Makee has been raised not by the Covenant as a whole, but by a single member – perhaps a Sangheili or San’Shyuum – who keeps her a secret.

Conclusion

In all seriousness, it is understandable why Halo fans are confused and perhaps a little alarmed over the decisions that have been made relating to Showtime’s Halo TV series. After all, Halo is a behemoth of a franchise that has managed to keep its lore (mostly) intact for nearly 20 years, which is quite a feat considering how much expanded universe material there is. Halo fans are as dedicated to their franchise as Star Wars fans, Star Trek fans and Doctor Who fans are to theirs, which is no easy feat.

Despite everything said above, it is even understandable why some are concerned about the Keyes recastings – after all, change for change’s sake is usually a bad move. But, to those who are concerned about this decision, 343 industries confirmed that the casting was carried out based on who was best suited to play the role. The caucasian Captain Keyes was rendered, not cast, and anyone playing him for real would ideally need gravitas and a suitable screen presence, two traits that Danny Sapani showed during his brief time on Doctor Who.

As far as the changes to the lore go, we can only wait and see. There are some other interesting morsels here and there that imply a much grander and multi-layered human side to the story, such as the casting of Shabana Azmi as the infamous Admiral Margaret Parangosky as well as Bokeem Woodbine as dissident Spartan washout Samuel-066. It could well be that the story of the Halo TV series is deeper and more multi-faceted than the games could have been, which makes sense given the fact that Game of Thrones is allegedly a prime source of inspiration. Halo fans may finally get a depiction of the legendary intrigue, guile and back-stabbing of wartime Human politics, particularly if ONI is set to play a significant role. Nonetheless, there will inevitably be more rumour, controversy and pointless speculation to come – as far as Showtime’s Halo TV series goes, we’re just getting started.

Halo – Who Created The Flood?

The Flood. One of the most loathed enemies in all of video gaming history, the scourge of the Halo Galaxy, and the ancient enemy of humankind. Anyone who has played the Halo games knows the Flood well, but despite their importance to the Halo story, little has been divulged in the games themselves that explain the origin of the space parasite.

However, Halo’s vast and expansive lore has offered an explanation as to how the Flood came about, and that is what we will be exploring today. Strap in, because this post not only delves into some deep, deep Halo lore, but this story is long. Really long. Millions of years long, actually, as our story begins in roughly ten million years ago, give or take a few hundred thousand years.

The Precursors

Before delving into the tale, we must first establish the main players. Before the Forerunners even existed in the Halo universe, there was another race that dominated the Galaxy – the Precursors, a near-omnipotent race of shapeshifters who utilised their extremely advanced, magic-like technology to hold the Galaxy in balance. They created the Mantle of Responsibility, the philosophy of a single race having a duty of care over the rest of the Galaxy, and they held the Mantle for eons.

A suspected mid-mutation Precursor specimen

However, the Precursors eventually decided that the time was right to pass on the Mantle of Responsibility to a new race. As they had created every race in the Milky Way, the Precursors had to choose which of their creations would inherit their most treasured cultural and political achievement. Initially, it fell to the Forerunners to inherit the Mantle, but at the last minute the Precursors decided that it would be Humanity, not the Forerunners, who achieved this noble goal.

Needless to say, the Forerunners were less than happy with this decision. Either due to feelings of resentment or as revenge for the denial of their ‘birthright’, the Forerunners rose up and attacked their creators. Despite the fact that the Precursors were almost all-powerful, they had no combat experience whatsoever. They were shocked that one of their own creations would defy them to such a degree. In time, the Precursors were all but destroyed.

The Forerunners

As such, the Forerunners claimed the Mantle of Responsibility, and the remaining Precursors were forced to flee to the far edges of the Galaxy. Desperate to survive, the last of the Precursors employed several methods to prolong their existence. Some went into stasis, some left the Galaxy altogether, but most decided to use their shapeshifting ability to take the form of a fine powder, which was held in containers and left to drift in space until such a time when the Precursors could return to prominence.

Meanwhile, the Forerunners assumed the role of Galactic custodians and the Humans were none the wiser to this entire conflict. For some time, things continued on in relative peace, with the Forerunners keeping order and the Galaxy essentially ticking over as the Precursors intended. That is until the previously mentioned fine powder was discovered by ancient Humanity.

Suspected infected Pheru specimens in stasis

Located drifting cargo ships that would occasionally crash-land on planets near the edge of their space, Humankind discovered the powder in dozens of transparent cylinders and, after some testing, found that it was harmless and useless, but nonetheless took some for study. They began to test the powder on small domesticated animals called Pheru, basically the ancient Human equivalent of a modern Canine, and found that over time the powder promoted docile behaviour in the creatures.

The populatiry of these Pheru spread throughout the Galaxy. Other races, such as the San’Shyuum, began to take Pheru as pets. For hundreds of years, nothing happened. Then, just as the Pheru had become as engraciated within Human and San’Shyuum society as possible, the first signs of what would soon be called ‘The Flood’ began to show.

The Flood Rises

The behaviour and physiology of the Pheru exposed to the powder began to change at an alarming rate. First, soft loose fur began to grow on the backs of some Pheru, which other Pheru often consumed. This was odd, as Pheru were known to be herbivores. Eventually the fur began to be replaced by small, fleshy growths – these were also consumed by other Pheru, and led to birth defects and more radical changes in their behaviour. The infected Pheru became aggressive, and to make matters worse the early signs of the infection began to show on Humans as well.

A Flood hive developing Spore Growth Pods

Before long, the infected Humans began to consume the flesh of their fellows. Throughout Human space, panic ensued, and the same was true for the San’Shyuum. Before long those that had become infected were almost unrecognisable, they began force-feeding their infected growths to other humans, and the Flood spread like wildfire. Before long they were primed to wage war against the Ancient Human Empire.

And wage war they did. The Flood ravaged Human space, forcing them to flee across the Galaxy. This leads into the events described in the Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary Terminals, to sum up briefly, the Humans aggressively fled into Forerunner space with the Flood hot on their tail, the Humans began sterilising planets that showed signs of Flood infection, and in response the Forerunners, completely ignorant of the Flood threat, cast judgement over Humanity and regressed them to a primitive state.

Forerunner-Flood War

Due to their haste in condemning Humanity, the Forerunners were caught off-guard by the Flood ten thousand years later. Nobody is quite sure why the Flood waited so long to attack – the Forerunners believed that Humanity had found a temporary cure, but by now it was far too late to ask them about it. Others suspected that the Flood waited deliberately in order to maximise the impact of their sudden attack, similarly to how long the Pheru took to mutate being put down to a conscious decision by the Flood so as to not raise suspicion.

Whatever the reasons, the Flood attacked after a centuries-long wait. Caught off guard, the Forerunners lost dozens of colonies and billions of Forerunners were infected within just a few years. A horrendous campaign ensued in which the once mighty Forerunner empire was whittled away as the Flood continued their relentless advance. In response, the Forerunners became increasingly desperate.

The Forerunners created an advanced Ancilla known as Mendicant Bias, an AI designed to destroy the central intelligence of the Flood – the Gravemind. Unfortunately, Mendicant Bias was infected by the Logic Plague and defected to the Flood. The Didact’s plan to use a Composer on Humanity to create a new race of Promethean soldiers was undone by his wife, the Librarian, who at this point was dedicated to a programme of galactic conservation. Machinations within the Forerunner political elite meant that, after exhausting every other strategic option, the Halo Array was developed and deployed to wipe out all sentient life in the Galaxy.

The tragic history of the creation and development of the Flood is one of Halo’s darkest tales. Whilst it is easy to point the blame at the Forerunners for their own fate, they did eventually make the ultimate sacrifice in the hope that the Flood would never return. Unfortunately, due to their desire to ensure the Flood could be cured, the Forerunners also used the Halo Rings as research facilities, storing Flood specimens there. This ensured that the Halo Array, a weapon designed to be the ultimate counter to the Flood, was actually the Flood’s ultimate salvation – and given that a Halo Ring is confirmed to be present in the upcoming Halo: Infinite, we can be assured that the Flood will make at least a minor appearance after years of absence.

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Life, Death and the Force – The Cyclical Universe of Star Wars

“It’s like poetry, sort of, they rhyme. Every stanza kinda rhymes with the last one. Hopefully it’ll work.”

Since George Lucas first uttered that infamous phrase in the behind-the-scenes documentary of Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, it has been met by a keen combination of derision and fascination from Star Wars fans. Some see this is prove of Lucas’ lazy writing, whilst others see it as the purest presentation of the creator’s intent for the universe he created.

The moment the infamous quote was uttered

The narrative of Star Wars has included elements of repetition and mirror-images since its inception, so if we dig a little deeper into what George meant by this, however, we might discover a new way to interpret how the Star Wars story is told, or at the very least learn a little more about how George wanted Star Wars to be remembered in the future.

Let’s start at the beginning – sort of. Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope is not where the Star Wars story starts, but it is where the story started for many fans of the series, as it was the first film to be released. Already this tells us a lot about how George wanted Star Wars to be consumed as a medium, as he apparently had the basics of the entire saga planned from the beginning and yet chose to start with what would later become ‘Episode 4’ because he believed it was the most interesting part of the story.

Bear in mind that this has to be taken with a pinch of salt, as George has also claimed at various points over the years that ‘The Star Wars’ was originally going to be 12-parts long, or that he deliberately skipped making Episodes I-III in the 1970s because the technology to actualize them hadn’t been invented yet. Nonetheless, if we take George’s word for it, the saga was planned out to some degree before Episode IV even started production, and despite the fact that Episodes IV-VI are regarded by many as the perfect trilogy to rival The Lord of the Rings, it seems it was always George’s intention to have these three films be the middle trilogy of a much larger saga.

Things start to get interesting when you start to consider the manner in which George Lucas went about created the prequel trilogy. Either by long-planned design or spur-of-the-moment inspiration, George chose to deliberately echo the events of the original films in the prequels, to the extent that the parallels are so overt that they barely classify as subtext. The infamous ‘poetry’ quote from the start of this article was first uttered in reference to the fact that Anakin blowing up the Trade Federation ship at the end of Episode I is strikingly similar to Luke blowing up the Death Star at the end of Episode IV, but this similarity isn’t the result of lazy writing on Lucas’ part, it was intentional – apparently.

Upon realising this, one can find these sorts of similarities everywhere in Star Wars, most notably the Luke vs Vader fight in Episode V mirroring the Anakin vs Obi-Wan fight in Episode III. Delving into the Expanded Universe gives fans even more poetry to rhyme with, as we discover that the ‘New Republic’ established at the end of Episode VI only lasts for about a quarter of a decade before the Galaxy descends into chaos again. Even when Disney bought the franchise and rendered the entire Expanded Universe non-canon, they stuck with the basic story of a Skywalker child turning evil and bringing back the Empire.

The question is – why? Surely this cyclical narrative structure devalues everything that made the original trilogy so good? Surely watching Return of the Jedi will now leave a sour taste in your mouth as you know that within thirty years the entire galaxy is at war again?

Well… not really. The ending of Return of the Jedi has lost none of its impact, in the same way that the heavy-hitting ending of Revenge of the Sith is in no way impacted by the fact that the next film is called ‘A New Hope’. The reason for this is that we are already used to cyclical storytelling as humans, because that’s basically the narrative structure of our own history. One of the beautiful things about Star Wars is that it tells two important stories – the huge, diverse galactic conflict spanning dozens of planets, and the smaller introspective story of a small family and how the choices of individuals impact the wider universe.

And whilst this is as much due to a happy accident and the incredible work of thousands of talented people as it is to the scrawlings of an idealistic filmmaker in the 1970s, the end result is the same. Star Wars is a series that reflects one of the fundamental truths of life, in that whilst there are happy endings to stories, there is rarely such things as a ‘happily ever after’.

Revan, a powerful ancient Sith Lord

This is made especially clear when one delves even further into the now non-canon Expanded Universe. Did you know that 4000 years before the events of A New Hope, there was another Old Republic that had previously stood for a thousand generations, that was betrayed by a fallen Jedi, and was then transformed into an Empire only to be reformed back into a Republic by a band of Rebels? Did you also know that 120 years after A New Hope, another Sith Empire rises and has to be battled by Luke’s great-grandchildren? This is perhaps the clearest illustration of Lucas’ vision – the idea that heroes and villains rise and fall, dark and light are locked in eternal struggle, and the entire Galaxy is a stage to the cyclical ouroboros of the Force itself.

So what does this tell us about Star Wars as a whole? Have fans been barking up the wrong tree by complaining about its cyclical story structure? Is Star Wars actually a subtley veiled allegory to the vicious cycle of boom and bust in the capitalist economic system, or perhaps an illustration of the futility of warfare on a global scale? The real answer is… maybe. It is difficult to tell whether that is the intention of the filmmakers or simply coincidence that the story structure of Star Wars ended up this way, but it makes for interestng analysis. One thing that is certain is that, like all good science fiction stories, Star Wars is a parable. Deciphering its meaning is a whole different behemoth, as it can be interpreted in so many different ways – perhaps that is part of the reason why the franchise endures to this day, as its constant reinvention and enigmatic morality keep it fresh for each new generation that experiences it.

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Top 5 Scariest Big Finish Doctor Who Audios

As October is a festively spooky month, it is a good time to revisit some of Doctor Who’s scariest episodes. So in keeping with the tradition, here at Sacred Icon we are counting down the Top 5 Scariest Big Finish Doctor Who audios. Big Finish have been making Doctor Who audios for over 20 years, they have accumulated a fair amount of scary stories.

5 – Ravenous 2 | Seizure

This is a spectacular story that firmly establishes the titular Ravenous as truly terrifying adversaries. Previously in the Ravenous 2 box-set the Eighth Doctor, Liv and Helen fought against the Krampus and several hellish imps, as well as the notorious Voc Robots, so the scary theme of the set is clear – but the final episode, Seizure, takes the cake. This self-contained story depicts the trio exploring the labyrinthine remains of an insane, dying TARDIS as they attempt to locate potential survivors, one of whom is the deranged Time Lord known as ‘The Eleven’. Afflicted with regenerative dissonance, The Eleven’s previous incarnations live on inside his mind, and with ten other voices in his head at all times, he has been driven quite mad. Yet The Eleven isn’t even the scariest thing that stalks the Doctor and his friends in this story, as the dying TARDIS is also home to an elusive ghost and a ravenous monster that aims to devour the Time Lords themselves.

4 – Embrace the Darkness

Another Eighth Doctor story, but from far earlier in his timeline, Embrace the Darkness is a fantastic narrative that makes excellent use of the audio drama format. The entire story is set in near-total darkness, and the fact that there are no visuals does wonders to enhance the fear-factor, as the story consistently keeps you on your toes. There are some genuinely chilling scenes, particularly involving the humans the Doctor and Charley encounter in the dark world that they visit, and at times this audio seems like the closest Doctor Who comes to doing straight-up horror.

3 – Spare Parts

This audio is often mentioned when people discuss the benefits of Big Finish’s position as an independent company, as it is a great example of the company completely ignoring the ‘child-friendly’ requirement that people expect from televised Doctor Who. A Cyberman origin story set on the bleak, dying world of Mondas, Spare Parts depicts a society in its death-throes as the Mondasians desperately attempt to survive against the bitter cold of their lost planet. Inevitably, the Cybermen rise, and although Nyssa and the Fifth Doctor do everything they can to prevent it, we know from the beginning that the ending is inevitable. What Spare Parts does so well is show that even in the bleakest of scenarios there is still an inkling of hope, but for the people of Mondas their source of hope is the eternal living death of Cyber-conversion. Spare Parts isn’t ‘jump-scare’ scary, but it is the kind of story that will be playing over and over again in your head for days after you listen to it.

2 – Doom Coalition 1 | The Red Lady

Usually, the scariest audio dramas are the ones that capitalise on the audio format itself, as many of the scariest Doctor Who audios would be impossible to adapt for TV without losing an element of the fear factor. The Red Lady is a rare example of an audio that could, in theory, be a televised episode, but it is just so creepy that even without visuals the tale is still terrifying. The story introduces new companion Helen, an assistant language scholar for the National Museum in the 1960s, as her, the Eighth Doctor and Liv attempt to unravel a deadly mystery. An art collection featuring a recurring motif of a red woman is donated to the museum, and quickly people start dying.

1 – Night Thoughts

A creepy story set on a remote island in Scotland, Night Thoughts is a wonderful exploration of psychology and the fear of death. When the Seventh Doctor, Ace and Hex arrive at a grand old hall and disturb a group of academics residing in an old house, they soon realise that there is far more at work than the bickering of a few scholars – soon the murders start, and the most obvious lead seems to be a girl who talks with her stuffed rabbit – and the stuffed rabbit talks back. With a plot that seizes the potential of time-travel related stories by the horns, an atmosphere that is steeped in classical horror and twists and turns that keep the listener engaged to the very end, Night Thoughts is the quintessential spooky story in Big Finish’s backcatalogue.

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