Fans of the Doctor Who audio production company Big Finish were faced with some bittersweet news yesterday as it was announced on social media that the Monthly Adventures series would conclude with its two-hundred and seventy-fifth instalment in early 2021, marking the end of the mainline series of high-quality audio productions created in the style of Classic series episodes that have delighted Doctor Who fans for the last 20 years.
The Monthly Adventures, also alternatively called the Main Range or Monthly Range, started in 1999 with The Sirens of Time, a multi-Doctor story starring Peter Davison, Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy, and has continued with one release each month, with each release consisting of four 25-minute episodes that are identical in format to Classic Doctor Who episodes, even down to the cliffhanger and theme music at the end of each part. The setting of each audio story in the Monthly Adventures varies dramatically, much like in the televised series, although the audios take the opportunity to experiment with greater deviations from the standard format of the show such as the reintroduction of ‘pure historicals’, stories that do not feature any aliens or non-humans and focus more on the time-travel element of Doctor Who.
Initially a niche ‘expanded universe’ audio series, the Monthly Adventures (and Big Finish itself) began to gain more popularity with the return of Doctor Who to TV in 2005 and the audios have been elevated to a unique position of ‘B canon’ for many fans due to their genuine nature and care taken for the show’s lore and continuity. Fan-favourite releases from the Monthly Adventures series include Jubilee, Davros, Master, The Chimes of Midnight, The Kingmaker, Spare Parts, The Silver Turk, The Holy Terror and many, many more, with some audios featuring returning villains like the Daleks, Cybermen, Davros but others featuring completely unique villains.
Starring the Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Doctors with occasional appearances from the Eighth Doctor, the Monthly Adventures has continued to grow Big Finish’s popularity as a company, though newer fans had begun to voice their concern over the lack of a distinctive jumping-on point, particularly as the vast range had begun to incorporate story arcs that not only spanned multiple releases but also multiple Doctors.
Fans of Big Finish need not despair, as the announcement of the end of the Monthly Adventures was tempered by a concurrent announcement that the Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Doctors will be receiving their own independent ranges, presumably similar to the fan-favourite Eighth Doctor box set series like Dark Eyes, Doom Coalition and Ravenous. Essentially, it means releases are being rescheduled to four episodes every few months instead of one episode every month, though this is currently speculative. This announcement also extended to every Doctor from William Hartnell up to and including Matt Smith, even the late John Hurt, a considerable reshuffle of releases for Big Finish.
Nicholas Briggs, creative director and executive producer for Big Finish is quoted on the Big Finish website: “As well as making our ranges much less confusing for Big Finish beginners, these changes will allow us more exciting new possibilities and creative freedom. By freeing the Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Doctors from the constrictions of the Monthly Adventures schedule, and giving them their own distinct ranges, we will be able to introduce more surprising cast combinations, different story lengths, and more story arcs.”
The Monthly Adventures Finale
Another silver lining to this apparent grey cloud is the idea that the Monthly Adventures will finish with release number 275, currently listed as ‘TBA’ on the Big Finish website. In theory, this release could serve as a ‘finale’ to the Monthly Adventures series – perhaps it will feature long-running enemies of the series like the Daleks or Cybermen, or Big Finish original villains like the Viyrans or the Eleven. With such a huge range to draw ideas from, there are hundreds of potential story ideas, so it will be interesting to see what direction Big Finish takes the de-facto ‘finale’ of the Monthly Adventures.
Fans speculating on social media appear in favour of the idea of a multi-Doctor story, which would be fitting considering the very first Monthly Adventures audio was a multi-Doctor story with the Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Doctors that release number 275 could revisit. Perhaps the Eighth Doctor will make a triumphant return to the Monthly Adventures, or we will be treated to the first appearance of the Fourth or Tenth Doctors – although they are likely more occupied with their recently announced multi-Doctor special, ‘Out of Time 1’, which gives fans some high hopes for the future of the Doctor Who audios. With Big Finish, the possibilities are almost endless. As a wise Ood once said, “This song is ending, but the story never ends.”
Welcome to this Star Wars Empire at War mod review, this post will cover the Thrawn’s Revenge mod for Star Wars Empire of War: Forces of Corruption, created by Corey Loses. To say that this mod is an overhaul of Star Wars: Empire at War is an understatement. This mod is nothing short than a complete re-imagining of the core mechanics of the game that not only expands on the original idea but improves it in almost every conceivable way.
To break down exactly why Thrawn’s Revenge (also known as Imperial Civil War) is such a fantastic mod, we need to explore some key elements to this project that make it worthy of a mod review here on Sacred Icon.
The Galaxy Far, Far Away
One of Empire at War’s biggest drawbacks was the underwhelming nature of the Galaxy map. Considering the fact that Empire at War is a layered game with both space and ground combat battles coordinated by a greater map screen that depicts the Star Wars galaxy, the layout was uninspired and cramped. Thrawn’s Revenge completely overhauls this by accurately recreating the Star Wars Galaxy from various Legends sources, and the mod adds hundreds of new planets, asteroid fields and other systems that can be fought over in the game. To account for this huge Galaxy, there are also multiple new factions in the game.
Control New Factions
If the mod’s two titles ‘Thrawn’s Revenge’ and ‘Imperial Civil War’ don’t give it away, this mod is set during the post-Endor era in the Star Wars Legends continuity, meaning that Emperor Palpatine is dead (for now) and the Empire has splintered into multiple warring factions. In total, the number of factions in this game varies dramatically depending on what mode you play, and there are lots of new non-playable factions that populate the updated, larger Galaxy. Playable factions include the standard Empire, the New Republic (formerly the Rebel Alliance), the Pentastar Alignment, the Greater Maldrood, Zsinj’s Empire, the Corporate Sector Authority, the Eriadu Authority and the Empire of the Hand. Needless to say, that’s a lot of Imperial splinter factions, and each one is represented by its own colour and distinctive sector of space.
However, there is a lot more distinguishing these factions than just their colour. Each former Imperial faction has its own set of specific ships and units, and with that come specific strengths and weaknesses. The Greater Maldrood, for example, lacks a large starting territory but specializes in heavy-hitting capital ships with lots of firepower. Conversely, Zsinj’s Empire starts off with a fairly large territory – as well as a Super Star Destroyer – but must rely on inferior frigates, even ex-Rebel ships, to maintain its dwindling fleet. This highlights one of the greatest strengths of the Thrawn’s Revenge mod, and that is that it encourages players to use the various tactics and strategies of their chosen faction in order to succeed. The New Republic relies on starfighters and hit-and-run tactics at first as it lacks sufficient capital ships, whilst the Imperial Remnant must cede territory and fortify a specific area otherwise it will be carved up by the greedy warlord factions.
Whichever faction you play as, you will have unique units and heroes to try out, and each faction has a different difficulty rating as some control vast swathes of space whilst others are tiny juntas holding out against the New Republic and Imperial Remnant. The huge swathe of new units and heroes added to the game make each and every faction feel unique and learning the best way to play each one is an interesting process that can make for hours of fun. Specific highlights include the Quasar Fire carrier for the New Republic, an early and somewhat costly frigate that comes loaded with starfighters, the Boarding Shuttle, which lets opportunistic New Republic players capture Star Destroyers. Add to that the huge range of new types of Star Destroyer available in this game and there is a diverse array of fleets to see here, and this is barely the tip of the iceberg.
Build the New Republic
With Palpatine dead, the Rebel Alliance has formed the New Republic and entrenched themselves in various systems across the Galaxy. One of the best things about the Thrawn’s Revenge mod is the era progression, which allows you to start out as the New Republic in its early years and claw your way to power with just a handful of systems, or start out in later eras in which the New Republic is already an established power.
If you do choose to play as the New Republic in a later era, you will see a rare example of post-Return of the Jedi Star Wars Legends content rendered in painstaking detail with high-quality custom models, including the elusive E-Wing – the replacement for the X-Wing, the Nebula-class Star Destroyer of the New Republic, and the MC80B and MC90 Mon Calamari Star Cruisers. There are also a huge array of old Clone Wars ships up for grabs in this game, as several factions rely on older warships from old Republic Venator-class Star Destroyer to former Separatist Munificent-class frigates to prop up their navies. All of these models look fantastic, and the mod itself can run surprisingly well on lower-end computers despite the extensive graphical upgrades.
Hold Out as the Imperial Remnant
Palpatine may be dead, but the Empire lives on. In Thrawn’s Revenge, you can turn the tide against the New Republic by playing as the Empire and attempt to wrestle control back from the fledgling government whilst also quelling multiple treasonous Imperial splinter factions. Like the New Republic, the Empire is capable of era-progression, and as you play through a game the era will advance when a particular goal has been achieved or enough time has elapsed. This means that the Empire can progress from old Star Destroyers to brand new ships, and over time your fleet will evolve and adapt to combat the New Republic tactics.
You can also control the infamous Grand Admiral Thrawn himself, who will aid both the Empire and the Empire of the Hand depending on the era and gamemode. Thrawn is one of the many unique Imperial heroes included in the mod, including some who have their own powerful ships and abilities. A great mechanic to take advantage of when playing as the Empire is that as you progress through the eras your cast of heroes is radically shaken up, so you can afford to expend minor heroes early on as they are gradually replaced as time goes by. Even the great strategist Thrawn himself, is not immune to this mechanic, though rumors of his death in the early-game are greatly exaggerated…
Conquer the Galaxy
One of the best things about the Thrawn’s Revenge mod is its flexibility – there are so many playable factions that you can play out your own alternate version of the events post-Return of the Jedi, and depending on who you play as there can be some interesting results. You can control on Imperial faction that would usually occupy a tiny corner of the Galaxy and make a push for the Core. Alternatively, you can play as a difficult faction like the Greater Maldrood and subvert key trade routes to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat and secure a foothold.
New mechanics added to the game allow for some interesting influence over the Galaxy, from the Galactic elections that, depending on the victor, can influence what ships you can build, or the newly-added boarding shuttle system, which allows the New Republic to capture capital ships of various kinds and build a ragtag fleet of stolen ships to combat enemy invasions. Hours of fun doesn’t quite cut it with this mod for Empire at War – you can sink days into week-long campaigns and find that you have hardly even started.
Download Thrawn’s Revenge
If you’re a fan of Empire at War or even just a fan of Star Wars in general, it is essential that you give the Thrawn’s Revenge mod a go. You can download it now for free from Steam, all you need is a copy of Star Wars Empire at War: Gold Pack (which includes the Forces of Corruption DLC) and a Steam account.
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Although the most common large capital ship used by the Empire in the original Star Wars films is either the Imperial I-class Star Destroyer or the Imperial II-class Star Destroyer, both sharing the distinctive triangular-wedge design that has become synonymous with the term ‘Star Destroyer’ for many fans of the series, there are in fact many other capital ships, both Imperial and non-Imperial, that share the classification of ‘Star Destroyer’. This blog post will explore some other variations of Star Destroyer, and to make things interesting that means that this list will not feature either of the previously mentioned Star Destroyers in the Imperial-class line. We will also not be featuring any Super Star Destroyers either. To begin, we will discuss what is arguably the second most well-known Star Destroyer to fans:
#5 – The Venator-class Star Destroyer
This ship is an iconic Republic carrier from the Clone Wars era, and despite being forced into the role of a battleship despite its specialisation for fighter-carrying, this class of ship proved its worth during the Republic’s conflict with the CIS. As seen primarily in the animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars, fleets of Venator-class Star Destroyers were able to defeat CIS fleets that vastly outnumbered them, due largely in part to their Jedi commanders but also due to the robustness of the ship class itself. Even when critically damaged, Venator-class Star Destroyers were still capable of performing incredibly well, and considering each individual ship is capable of carrying dozens of fighters and transports, even one Venator has the potential to do serious damage to a fleet.
#4 – The Interdictor-class cruiser
The inclusion of this warship is somewhat of a stretch – this ship is most likely a distant technological ancestor of the Star Destroyer, though the ship is not named as such. Nonetheless, from both a practical and a narrative perspective, the ship fulfils the role of a Star Destroyer – the Interdictor-class cruiser is capable of carrying fighters, troops and other equipment, and apparently possesses firepower great enough to level entire ecumenopolises. This ship was in operation thousands of years before the events of the movies, in roughly 3956 BBY (Before the Battle of Yavin) during the events of the Knights of the Old Republic series. These ships, although ancient compared to the other ships on this list, were extremely effective warships in their day, and featured a gravity well projector that prevents enemy vessels from jumping into hyperspace.
#3 – The Pellaeon-class Star Destroyer
From one extreme of the Star Wars timeline to the other, this Star Destroyer is featured in the Legacy era comics, set well after 120 ABY. Though this ship is arguably the most powerful on this list, it is included lower down as it is technically a Super Star Destroyer of its era, as capital ships later in the Star Wars timeline tend to get smaller. However, despite being smaller than the standard Imperial Star Destroyers, it possesses far more firepower. The Pellaeon-class Star Destroyer also makes use of its vertical incline, with guns placed in optimal firing positions on the front of the ship so that they can direct fire at all sides. According to Star Wars lore, this ship possesses a huge number of weapons – 50 heavy turbolasers, 40 ion cannons and 50 proton torpedo launchers, among other things – it is also capable of creating an interdiction field. This ship can also function as a carrier, and due to the more modernised starfighters in the Legacy era, the Pellaeon-class possess far more capable starfighters than the standard Imperial Star Destroyers seen in the movies.
#2 – The Secutor-class Star Destroyer
This ship serves as somewhat of a hybrid between the Venator-class and Imperial-class Star Destroyers at first glance, although its design history is more vague – it was apparently designed towards the end of the Republic era to either succeed or become a complementary starship to the Venator, although the Imperial takeover meant that the doctrine of the now-Imperial navy switched to more firepower-focused capital ships and less carriers, meaning the Secutor-class was pushed to the sidelines. However, it is known that at least some were made, and were possibly used as late as Emperor Palpatine’s return to power in 10 ABY. This ship has the carrying capacity for multiple squadrons of starfighters, in keeping with its role as a carrier like the Venator, but it also possesses significant armament of its own
Honourable Mention – The Allegiance-class battlecruiser
Although it is large enough that it could be argued that it is in fact a design of Super Star Destroyer, the Allegiance-class battlecruiser has an honourable mention on this list because it is a powerhouse. Although completely doing away with the idea of a hangar altogether, and therefore relying on support ships to be fully adaptable in combat, the Allegiance-class responds to any threat it faces with a ridiculous amount of firepower. It features a whopping 12 octuple turbolaser batteries, 3 axial gun-batteries and 6 trench gun-batteries, meaning it not only has a huge array of armament but it also has certain weapons positioned for different situations – the axial guns, for example, serve as effective broadside weapons. Although the lack of a hangar is a critical downside to this ship, the sheer amount of turbolaser fire it can dish out almost makes up for it.
#1 – The Nebula-class Star Destroyer
This ship hails from the era of the New Republic, and it essentially corrects the majority of the issues plagued by the traditional Imperial Star Destroyer. Despite their status as an Imperial ship, the New Republic made extensive use of captured Imperial Star Destroyers in their fight against the various Imperial splinter factions, but eventually a replacement ship had to be created. The Nebula-class Star Destroyer removes the exposed bridge that was a critical weakness of previous Star Destroyer designs, and due to its heavily modernised weapons, armour and technology, the ship is smaller than an Imperial Star Destroyer and yet far more powerful. Capable of carrying several New Republic starfighters into battle, the Nebula-class Star Destroyer is supported somewhat by its counterpart ship in the New Republic fleet, the Endurance-class fleet carrier, which was capable of carrying more starfighters yet also featured several of the downsides present in previous Star Destroyer models, such as the exposed bridge. As such, the Nebula-class Star Destroyer is undoubtedly the best Star Destroyer in the New Republic fleet and was one of the best types of Star Destroyer ever created.
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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 the Asylum Project, 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.
The Asylum Project 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.
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.
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.
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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.
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
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 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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.