Baring Your Chest

Geek culture is all about the t-shirt. From the days when Superman yanked open his buttons, cool has been defined by the logo between your nipples.

I’ve been trying to work out (Superman’s nipples aside) just where this is going.

Five years ago, at Star Wars Celebration Europe, the Grand Moff Tarkin offered me sixty quid for my Gentle Giant Tour tee – and, frankly bemused, I turned him down.

At Kapow! last year, the ‘who’s got the coolest tee’ battle really heated up with some fantastic contenders – but was won by the bloke with the ‘Han Job’ image. Included here for full impact.

A couple of months back, thanks to the intervention of @loudmouthman and the networking of twitter, I was able to send Colin Baker a sixth doctor costume tee, purpose-made for him by Titan Merch.

And then yesterday, I had a phone call from a financial journo doing an article on t-shirts worn in the City. Three-piece suits are no longer required, it seems – if you work in the high gloss of Canary Wharf, it’s all about your tee.

And that made me chuckle. It also made me think.

The costume tee thing has been a recent stroke of Titanic genius – not just the good Doc, but everyone from Dredd to Venkman has appeared (or will) on chests at Cons all over the world. The Canary Wharf thing, though, implies that this has bust out of the Con circuit and is joining the rise of geek culture in the mainstream.

Look at the Haynes Manual x Star Wars tees – don’t they do exactly the same thing?

Taking this one step further, Threadless has cross-bred social networking with Etsy with geek tee cool and enables you to upload and showcase – and possibly have made – your own tee art. There are companies like spreadshirt and streetshirts which allow you simply make your own. And look at how far our friends at Genki Gear have come!

Where this meteoric rise of cotton cool will end, I have no idea – at the moment neither the sky – nor the neck – are the limit. As the lines between types of genre ‘platforms’ blur – films to toys to garments to games to artwork – the expansion is exponential…

It’s easy to see one thing, though. Whether Geek Chic or Hot in the City, it’s all about baring your chest.

Last Night’s Who Signing

Sometimes, things just work. No matter how big they may be, or how many cats need herding, they reach a kind of social critical mass – and it all just falls into place.

So it was last night.

Outside, we had fans queuing for hours in the cold – clutching dedicated pieces of Who memorabilia they’d treasured for years. We all know the return of Who has spanned the generations, bringing families together on a Saturday evening – my son is seven and no-one feels this more than I do. But to see it really brought to life is quite something. From the girl from the US with the TARDIS earrings and the painted jacket, to the Dad with FOUR eager cubs out there with him… truly, the Doctor spans space and time.

Inside, everything was gleefully organised chaos. Steven Moffat chatted to his gobsmacked fans, Mark Gatiss had a thing about peg dolls, Ben Cook offered very fine scarlet hair and Tom MacRae offered equally fine studded scarlet boots – the writers of Who are a garrulous and colourful bunch. The atmosphere they brought with them was voluble and festive.

Chatty or not, they’re efficient – flawlessly herded by Clayton Hickman and Garry Russell, the whole crew really linked with their fans and put in a sterling evening’s work.

Prior to last night’s event, we’d been a little nervous about accommodating something of that size – that many people, that many fans – but experience tells, it seems, both theirs and ours. Either that, or FP is bigger on the inside.

At the end of yesterday evening, a great many people went home laden with presents and smiles. They’d had a moment, and they’d snagged something cool for Christmas Day.

And that’s really what makes this stuff special.

 

Making Making Daleks

WE DID IT!!!

The Beeb’s answer to LEGO – this one is the Dalek Factory, complete with (whodathunkit) Daleks.

If you have one of these, be prepared to be very dextrous and very VERY patient. They’re (wait for it) extremely Character Building…

Have to say though, despite some swearing this morning, it’s pretty sodding cool now it’s done :D

The Doctor Who Experience

When I was a kid, Doctor Who teetered on a line, the one between fear and exhilaration. It’s the line between your fingers as you peep, thrilled, through them; it’s the line of excitement that has you poised on the edge of your seat..

…it’s line of the crack that runs down the screen as the Doctor Who Experience opens.

But it’s not a crack, it’s part of the event. As it parts to reveal the Experience itself, it has parents laughing and kids open-mouthed – it’s your very own space-time doorway, opening to a mini-story that has you racing to save the Universe, with none other than the Doctor himself as your guide.

The Experience is sensational to the point of being overwhelming, enhanced by Matt Smith’s relentless, almost slapstick dialogue. You’re surrounded by props, yet your eyes are on the main event – you race through the tale almost too fast. Here is the inside of the TARDIS, a wonder to adults and kids alike. Here are the Daleks, right over you and bloody terrifying. Here are the Weeping Angels, lurking the darkness at the edges of your vision. Here is the Pandorica, opening before your eyes.

Walking the Experience with my son, seven, made me remember the thrill of ‘Who’ when I was that age – perhaps one of the secrets to the new Who’s success. He was absolutely testing his limits; other than exclamations of wonder, his only comment was that it was all too fast. I found the same thing – I wanted to linger, and remember, and renew.

Yet as the experience itself races to its 3D ending, you emerge into a hall of props and beasties and costumes and you can wander, and wonder, to yours heart’s content. Here the generations are spanned, and my son can see Who though my eyes, as well as the other way around. The evolution of the Daleks was particularly fine – and made me view the most modern incarnation with new eyes. We have an old one in the lift at FP Southampton… and the new ones are huge!

Of all the things, though, that we saw during the Experience – from driving the TARDIS to watching the invading Dalek spaceships blowing the snot out of everything – one thing has made today magical.

And that’s the expression on the face of my son.

*Pictures in this post are courtesy of The Doctor Who Experience, used with permission and thanks to Susannah Martin.

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Heresy and The Tenth Doctor

Okay, you got me… I never really liked Tennant as Who.

Before you stone me for heresy, though, I’m a child of the Seventies and Tom will always be the Doctor to me. I miss the jelly babies and the scarf; I miss the voice and the humour and his wonderful, powerful presence. Seeing him on stage at the SFX Weekender, last year, was a throwback to my SF roots.

But!!

Having said that, Titan Merch have just released images of their latest 9” limited edition maxi-bust featuring Tennant as the Tenth Doctor – and I might just change my mind. It’s gorgeous. It’s got the pose, it’s got the stare, it’s got the tight sense of dynamism and the posture and the sharp suit. It’s even got the sonic screwdriver.

There’s a strong sense of motion to the flow of the garments – his energy is palpable. Hell, he almost looks like he’d move.

My son is a Tennant Fan – I guess we all fall for the Doc we grew up with. And looking at this particular release, I’m wondering if he might have a point after all.

He’s startlingly contemporary – and I guess you do have to move with the times. He is the Doctor, after all.

The Third Doctor and the Weeping Angels

Once upon a time, there was hiding behind the sofa.

Before I grew big enough to watch Tom’s showdowns with Davros – or to get girly over Peter’s cricketing whites (sshh!) – the Third Doctor was the Main Man of the early Seventies. Elegant, well-presented, with authority, presence and a flair for technology – you got to love a man in frills who takes out the bad guys with Venusian Aikido.

Today, my six-year-old son isn’t having this sofa crap, he’s completely enwrapped in Doctor Who. He’s a Tennant-fan (fairly obviously!) but likes to play games of imagination featuring his favourite Bad Guys. Daleks and Cyberman dominate – but he and I both are tranfixed by a more up-to-date Nasty...

The latest releases for Titan Merchandise, both these characters are now available as 8″ maxi-busts, with the kind of high-quality sculpting that makes me wish I didn’t have two left hands.

Though they do make me think… what would happen if they ever actually met…

The Squeee At Last: Michael Moorcock!


MICHAEL MOORCOCK will be signing his new Doctor Who novel The Coming of the Terraphiles at the Forbidden Planet Megastore, 179 Shaftesbury Avenue, London, WC2H 8JR, on Thursday 21st October 6 – 7pm.

There are no words to describe the massive effect that Michael Moorcock has had on the growth of our genre/s – and on all of our lives. He’s won the Guardian Fiction Prize for The Condition of Muzak, and been shortlisted for the Whitbread Prize for Mother London. He’s best-loved through, for the epic characters he has created Elric, Jerry Cornelius and Colonel Pyat. This is rare opportunity to meet our own Eternal Champion.

Miggea – a star on the edge of reality. A point where space-time has worn thin, and is in danger of collapsing… and the venue for the grand finals of the Arrow of Law competition. The Doctor and Amy have joined the Terraphiles – a group re-enacting Earth’s ancient sporting events and they are determined to win the Arrow. But reality is collapsing, ships are disappearing, Captain Cornelius and his pirates are looking for easy pickings. The Doctor and Amy have to find out who is prepared to kill to get their hands on the Arrow. And uncover a traitor. And win the contest. And – of course – save the universe from total destruction. This is a thrilling, all-new adventure featuring the Doctor and Amy, as played by Matt Smith and Karen Gillan.

Guys – this is going to be big. Please take moment to consider the people in the queue behind you and DON’T come down with a big ol’ bag full of all your Elric novels – there will be restrictions on what you can ask to be signed.

The Daleks and the Geek Mum Win


My son loves Doctor Who.

He’s five – and it’s become his story and his focus. Sod Ben 10, stuff Transformers, and Batman is just so over… Who is where it’s at.

And nothing makes him jump up and down on the sofa (hiding’s for wusses) like the appearance of the Daleks.

I remember hiding from them; they were wonderfully scary. Now I’m having to remember the 1980s plotlines as my son Isaac will quiz me about every decision Davros ever made and who where the Kaleds anyway…

…my job, sometimes, is a life-saver in more than one way!

Now the Daleks (with a little help for Professor Bracewell) have finally machined some help for my plight.

One fully functional radio controlled Ironside with full 360-degree movement and flashing lights and speech and poseable gun and arm and yadda yadda… BUT WE CAN MAKE THEM FIGHT.

Two Daleks, twelve batteries and one very excited small child later…

…there are no more questions about Davros.

And I have a Geek Mum Win.



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