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Wake Forest father inspired by daughter’s favorite TV show.
by David Leone
WAKE FOREST — The Daleks are coming.
The quirky and imaginative British SciFi series, Doctor Who sets its hero, The Doctor, against alien hordes menacing planet Earth, often using little more than quick wit, superior deductive reasoning and a futuristic toolbox gadget called a sonic screwdriver to win the day.
Brian Wilson, a hotel banquet manager by day, has taken a liking to the show, after he noticed his 13-year-old daughter Megan was a fan. Now, he’s using his own toolbox and reasoning skills to create a life-size replica of a Dalek, a menacing, if clunky, cyborg race featured prominently in the show.
“I probably should have expected this — it’s what he does,” said Megan, poking her head into her dad’s backyard workshop during his newspaper interview.
The workshop itself, a hand-built shed, meticulously organized, with a place for every tool, is indicative of the type of projects Wilson likes to immerse himself in.
“I like to build stuff. I like to stay busy, I like tinkering,” he said. “My dad was very much into small tools.”
A Connecticut native, Wilson is a gardener, and in the four years he’s lived in Wake Forest’s Cimarron neighborhood, has landscaped his own yard to the point there’s nothing left to do with the limited space.
And he was itching for another project when he discovered Doctor Who, which Megan was working her way through on Netflix.
While she focused her attention on the enigmatic Doctor, played by a series of actors, and his companions — Rose, Amy and Rory are favorites — her father honed instantly in on the mechanical aliens, which some intrepid carpenter, much like himself, had to build for the series.
“It’s just a really neat show,” said Wilson. “I never considered myself a SciFi geek. I had never been to a Science Fiction convention.”
He has since been to Animazement in Raleigh, an anime-based convention which brings out all types of people dressed in costume, regardless of their affiliation to animated series.
“There were Doctor Who people there,” he noted.
Knowing there’d be interest for his creation, Wilson got to work.
So far, he’s built the base out of pasteboard and wood, which, because he’s such a stickler for details, has taken longer than expected — about two months.
Wilson has two sets of Dalek blueprints and building instructions. The official set was purchased online.
The other set, created by one of many Doctor Who construction enthusiasts — there are quite a few of them in Great Britain and some in the U.S. — doesn’t use the word Dalek, but is a spitting image of the alien nonetheless.
A few parts, such as the beacon lens used as a sort of antennae, he ordered. The rest are created by using ordinary items such as deli food container lids, bent metal pieces made using a 3D printer at N.C. State University, where he is a student, and Christmas ornament gazing balls. Those are used for the rounded protrusions on the Dalek base.
“I’ve got the gun already,” he said, holding up an aluminum clothes rod.
When completed, the Dalek will weigh about 150 pounds. In the show, the robotic exteriors house a brain like creature inside. Wilson is building his Dalek to house himself, seated, in its cramped interior.
There will be room to propel it around on wheels disguised by an LED lighted hem. And for the animatronic voice, he intends to use a voice modulator. The electronics will be run off of two 12-volt batteries.
Wilson hopes to be finished in a couple months, and show it off for Halloween, perhaps at a mall, and again at upcoming SciFi conventions.
If you see him there, mothers of inquisitive children should beware, however. The Daleks’ most frequent refrain is to point a laser at their intended victim and exclaim, in an increasingly agitated voice, “Exterminate! Exterminate!! EXTERMINATE!!!”