Our friends, John and Monique, have an amazing son named Drake. This kid has proved, time and time again, to be a creative and resourceful young man who has contributed to some of Aeronaut Productions’ more elaborate ventures. During AP’s production of Legion Fantastique, Drake concocted an idea, on his own, that during our “Squid Feeding Show”, our giant “squid” (nicknamed “Archie”) should “eat” him during the big finale. We went along with it, thinking it would be a fun little trick to spice things up – and it proved to be one of the most popular versions of our show.
Drake is a major Doctor Who fan. Our Creative Director, Peter Overstreet, met up with John by chance at a grocery store. Pete asked John what Drake would like for his birthday. The reply was, “anything Doctor Who“. Pete’s brain immediately began to swirl with ideas. Pete has been a fan of Doctor Who, himself, since he was 3 years old (his first Doctor was Jon Pertwee) and he saw a kinship with Drake – plus he wanted to do something special for his buddy.
Pete then thought that it might be fun if the crew built Drake his own T.A.R.D.I.S. console! We looked through all the scraps of wood, and bits of plastic and metal left over from our Steampunk museum exhibit…and found that we had enough stuff to make this mad dream come true! So, Peter and his buddies Mike and Ryan teamed up over the course of 3 weeks to build Drake’s TARDIS.
So we began the construction process…
First – Pete made a quick model of the prop in MAYA and sent Drake’s parents a schematic of the basic concept. Once he had their approval – the building began.
Next, we laid all the parts out to give ourselves a more realistic idea of how things could be put together.
Then Pete began cutting and laying out the console part using mostly scrap wood.
We were now ready to get into building the console…
Pete assembled the pieces…
…and then realized the console was being build to butt up against a wall, and only needed 3 sides! So he had to modify and smooth-out the sides with automotive putty.
Then, Pete’s friends (Mike & Ryan) helped him with the construction of an IKEA chest of drawers that would serve as the base of the console. Once that was built, an initial coat of paint and texture was added. The crew then set about laying out where all of the switches and dials and other fiddly-bits would go (thanks to Tom D. for his contribution of all the old electronics from a disused power station).
We then began with the painting and decoration of the console. This was a long process as this piece was mostly improvised…and we ran into space, and methodology, issues along the way… But the end results were very satisfying.
A while back … Pete found one of those decorative desktop “bubble tubes”. The pump was broken, and the color wheel motor was kaput – but the tube still held water and the light worked. Mike found a way to hook it up to a fish tank air pump and we installed it into the “Central Column” part of the console. We couldn’t have the pieces moving (not enough space), but the bubbles gave it a sense of movement.
We installed some LED tree lights and a vintage-style “Edison Bulb” into the console…and then fitted the bubble tube with a backing board.
We finished up all the parts and affixed some flexible acrylic sheeting to the column and…ZAP!
After 3 weeks (off and on) we were ready to give it to Drake…but not without some celebration in our crowded little basement. We were trying, desperately, to beat the clock to his birthday party…and we had done it! Not only that – we were starting to get jealous…because the console was looking REALLY cool! With all of it’s lights, working switches dials and levers – all of us Doctor Who nerds were beginning to envy Drake’s childhood…and vowed we’d probably wind up making one for ourselves at some point.
Before we packed things up for the night (the night before the birthday party) we decided to have a little fun (yes, I know the video is sideways…YouTube is processing the video so it will be right-side-up):
Peter’s wife and partner, Cat, provided the transport of “Mr Smith” (the code word for the console…just so the surprise wouldn’t be spoiled). We pulled up to the Woodruff house, where the birthday party was in full-swing. It was Doctor Who themed…complete with “make your own sonic screwdriver” activities, “Pin the bow tie on The Doctor” and an amazing Dalek pinata made by Drake’s mom.
While the kids attempted to “EXTERMINATE” the Dalek pinata, the console crew quickly sprang into action and installed the console in Drake’s bedroom with lightning fast speed!
When the console was ready, John called his son to his room. There was “something going on” that only Drake could deal with. Up Drake came … wearing his bow tie and brandishing his sonic screwdriver…and found Pete awaiting him. Pete was wearing his Tom Baker scarf (and brandishing his own sonic screwdriver) and was blocking the view of the console until…well…maybe you should see Drake’s reaction for yourself…
Pete then gave Drake the note, and read it to him.
The letter read as follows:
I found this TARDIS on an asteroid somewhere outside the universe, and I could think of no better person to care for it than you.
There are a few things to know when you care for a TARDIS -
1. Be gentle with her. A TARDIS is like a pet and a friend.
2. Feel free to travel through time and space – just try not to change history…too much.
3. Fezzes are cool.
4. Don’t blink!
5. Avoid the Statue of Liberty for a while – there’s a good chap.
6. There’s no point in being grown-up if you can’t be childish sometimes!
Good luck, Drake … and enjoy your adventures as much as I have mine.
This was one Doctor Who geek passing on a cherished hobby to a new generation in Pete’s eyes…and this was their shared moment of glory. Drake and Pete spent several minutes reviewing the workings of Drake’s TARDIS….and then we left him alone to get acquainted with his new time machine. Apparently, Drake had been asking his mom if there was any way he could have a console for his birthday. Monique had to keep telling him that the BBC doesn’t make them for just anyone…and that it might be too expensive. Pete had no idea that Drake had been wanting one so desperately. There must have been something in the time space continuum that told Pete that now was the time to build one.
Thanks to Ryan, Mike, John, Monique, Mark, Kathy and especially Cat for helping us in making this special little boy very happy on his birthday.
Photo by John “Smith”