I figure I’d use this space to show off my latest (and most ambitious) build project to date — Creating custom 3D printed action figures for every classic Doctor Who monster not yet available in the official 5" Character Options range, and even cooler, posting the templates online for free so that anyone with access to a 3D printer can print up their own articulated models! I also have a facebook group dedicated to the endeavor, if anyone wants to monitor my progress as I go.

I started this project roughly 6 months ago, after I decided to build a full-sized Auton for Halloween and needed to create a spring-loaded gun hand, but got sick of having to fork out $15 in parking every time I went down to local library to use their free machine. Figuring that most officially licensed figures cost around $20 a piece (that’s a conservative estimate) and that Character Options hasn’t released a new figure that wasn’t a repaint in almost 4 years, I reasoned that if I could create at least 10 figures that I wanted that weren’t available in stores, I could justify the up-front cost of a $200 printer, because I’d be paying the same if someone else was making them. I ended up paying $100 more than that for a mid-ranged printer that came with a larger 7" x 7" build area, but I’ve already blown past my initial goal in just a few months, and I have no intention of stopping any time soon.

Since I’m not a professional 3D designer, and don’t have huge amounts of money to spend on my hobbies, everything I’ve designed so far has been created in TinkerCAD, a completely free online CAD program, that makes up for in user friendliness what it lacks in complicated shape options. All I’m really paying for now is the filament, which generally costs between $10-$20 a spool, but a single spool can easily print 10 or more figures depending on size, so the material cost of most of my creations is only about $1-$3 a piece. (Not counting time and misprints, which I’ll get into later)

6 months of trial and error later, and I’ve learned a lot about what can and can’t be printed on a mid-ranged 3D printer, and how to create articulated snap-together joints for figures printed in PLA, which is far more rigid and less forgiving than the moulded plastic and vinyl used in proper toys. Of course, I’m still discovering new techniques as I go, which also means a lot of going back and tinkering with old figures to improve them and add new features that I didn’t have the ability to create before.

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Unfortunately, 3D printing is a slow process, and it can take between 12-48 hours to print a single figure or a whole week to print some of the larger vehicles, so fine tuning my designs is a long and tedious journey. There’s nothing quite like tying up the printer for an entire week in order to print something, only to discover that two parts that are supposed to fit together are off by a couple of mm, or you forgot to flip part of the design so the detailed side is on top (which prints cleanest), or their was a bubble or filament tangle 36 hours in, so the entire thing snaps in two when you pull it off the build plate.

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For most of my figures, it takes at least 3 printings to zero in the scale, best orientation for a clean print, and to make sure all the moveable parts fit together snuggly enough that they won’t fall out, but not so tight that you can’t force them together in the first place. And then there are the figure’s that simply don’t work at all, like my failed attempt to print up a Dominator to accompany my Quark. (I’ve learned that humanoid faces are simply too detailed to print properly on my machine, and I don’t have the painting skills to provide any level of detail that doesn’t make them look 10 times worse)

At any rate, here’s a peek at what I’ve created so far:

001 - Alpha Centauri

Status: Printable, but needs minor finishing work.
3-D Printer template:

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Notes: This was my first prototype, but I’ve gone back and majorly tweaked the design to remove the old ball joints, and will be tweaking it again to make all the points of articulation fully snap-together. The version available now is about 99% complete. I’m just playing around with it a tad to eliminate some minor problems where pieces don’t fit together exactly as perfectly as they should.


002 - Quark

Status: TESTED COMPLETE. READY FOR PRINTING.
3-D Printer template:

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The “eye tubes” are more like sticks, because my printer gets all wibbly trying to get to that level of fine detail, but overall, this design is pretty much as good as it can possibly get without buying a $2000 resin printer. The arms move, the head rotates, and I’ve recently upgraded the legs to snap-in hinge joints so it can walk and bend over. Printing the head at 100% fill gives a nice clean print without having his spikey tips melt off, which was a major problem before.

I have also added a modular background wall and a Quark drill accessory because both were fairly simple designs.

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003 - Chumbley

Status: Recently updated and untested
3-D Printer template:

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I recently went back and completely redesigned this figure to use snap-in limbs and a complicated layer system that will allow all three sections to raise when you pull up on the head. It’s untested, but I’ll be getting around to it shortly.


004 - SIDRAT

Status: Printable, but needs additional finishing work.
3-D Printer template:

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This is a large, but fairly simple design. The door is on a track so it should slide freely, but not pop out when fully assembled. Based on color descriptions, this one is supposed to be a dark green. Due to the massive size, this model takes almost a week to print in its entirety, and is too large for mini 3D printers. My first test printing worked fine, but the sliding door is a little stiff.

005 - Larvae Gun

Status: TESTED COMPLETE. READY FOR PRINTING.
3-D Printer template:

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Another quick one. No movable parts. I recently saw a color photo and learned that they’re supposed to be brown on top and a sickly yellow on the bottom. I’ve slightly increased the size and shored up the bottom half of the design to help prevent legs from snapping off and give it a smoother underbelly.


006 - Dalek Time Machine

Status: Having problems, needs work.
3-D Printer template:

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This model has a movable door in the front and a pop out panel in the back so you can replicate the “infinite line of Daleks” from The Chase. In practice a lot of things went wrong on my prototype, so I need to make some adjustments. Unfortunately, this one takes a solid week to print, regardless of whether I’ve gotten my sums right, so I won’t be going back to it again right away.


007 - Zarbi

Status: TESTED COMPLETE. READY FOR PRINTING.
3-D Printer template:

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This figure was a major leap forward in terms of quality and range of movement. I’ve wanted a Zarbi for a long time, and am absolutely thrilled with how well it’s turned out.


008 - Dalek Hoverbout/Trans-Solar Disc

Status: Having problems, needs work.
3-D Printer template:

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Someone on Facebook requested a Dalek hoverbout from the old TV Comics, and since it was a super simple design I decided to oblige. While never technically featured on screen, one did menace Susan in 30 Years in the TARDIS, so I went with that as the most ‘canonical’ design. I’ve been having lots of problems getting the railings on this one to print correctly, but it may or may not be because I picked up some bad filament.

009 - Servo Robot

Status: TESTED COMPLETE. READY FOR PRINTING.
3-D Printer template: PRIVATE

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Good news, bad news. I found a premade scale Servo Robot model over on Turbo Squid, that only required minor modifications to transform into a toy: https://www.turbosquid.com/3d-models/servo-robot-doctor-wheel-3d-model/499600. The bad news is, because it’s somebody else’s design, I won’t be sharing the plans on this one. I’ve adapted the design to include see-sawing legs like the Quark, and am experimenting with an arm design that I hope will allow the arms to extend and retreat into the body.


010 - Exxilon Root

Status: Printable, but needs minor finishing work.
3-D Printer template:

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From Death to the Daleks. Once I found a good corrugated tube model this one became easy. The tube part is made out of several interlocking slightly curved pieces that allows the root to be posed in a variety of positions. The finished version will also have a little fake stone base that it can slot into, so it doesn’t have to flop around on the ground.

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011 - Dalek Transmat

Status: Printable, but needs minor finishing work.

3-D Printer template:

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An easy design from Remembrance of the Daleks that I created while waiting for my other stuff to print. The access panel pops open and there are some fake circuits inside. You can add your own fiber-optics. I may create an alternate version that can accommodate LED lights at some point.

012 - Keller Machine

Status: Untested, may need work.
3-D Printer template:

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I had to take a break from tinkering around with connectors that aren’t connecting properly, so I built a Keller Machine from Mind of Evil. I haven’t printed this one yet, but I’ve got some transparent PETG filament that I want to test out for the cylinder part. It comes with a removable evil brain, but I may make a version that has a hollow base for slotting in a LED lego brick. I added a bunch of tiny details to this model that I’m fairly certain won’t actually print, but I’m curious to see how well it will turn out.



My to-do list (in no particular order)

After creating these 12, I updated my list of what I think is realistically possible given the limitations of my own printer (and talent) and was pleasantly surprised to find out that at my current rate of progress, I should be able to keep myself quite busy for at least the next two years:

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  • WOTAN from The War Machines. More or less just a big solid box with a few buttons and tape reels similar to The Master’s TARDIS from the Time Monster set. I figure I’ll tackle this one once I finish the War Machine so they can be part of the same set.

  • Wirrn from Ark in Space. A very difficult build, but made slightly easier since I have a model designed by someone else that has the proportions right but a really low polygon count, which I’ll be able to use as a “skeleton” to create something that’s printable quality. I also want to turn it into a finger puppet, if at all possible.

  • Kroton from The Krotons. Now that I can do articulation, this one is a difficult build, but definite.

  • Cleaner Robot from Paradise Towers. Same as above. Difficult enough that it’ll take some time, but nothing I can’t handle. Depending on the overall size, I may look into making this one GoBrix compatible for RC movement.

  • IMC Mining Robot from Colony in Space. I’ll see how the War Machine movement works out first. Should be very similar, though on a smaller scale.

  • Voord from The Keys of Marinus. I have some rudimentary humanoid bodies that can be adapted now that I know how to do joint articulation. I’m still hoping to eventually find a model of a figure in a wet suit, since that would be perfect. The head will be a little bit difficult, but not impossible, assuming I can get the very narrow forehead prong to print.

  • Bellal/Exxilon Native from Death to the Daleks. My experiments with trying to reproduce human faces to create a Dominator resulted in something that tragically looked about as good as Bellal’s face. Slapping on some “sunglass” eyes and giving him a slightly more “piggy” nose should give me something approximating an Exxilon Native appearance. Smooth out the face a bit, print it dark red, and slap on a burlap cloak, and I’ve almost got two figures for the price of one.

  • Rutan from Horror of Fang Rock. A glowy stringy blob. My print jobs tend to look like this when they fail. I’ll probably end up creating one by accident at some point.

  • White Robot from The Mind Robber. I used to think this one was too complex, but I think it’s just about the maximum amount of detail and articulation I can get out of a figure. The hands may be problematic, but overall, I think this one is possible.

  • Emperor Dalek from Evil of the Daleks. Massive, so I’d have to build it modular in several chunks, but geometrically not that complicated. I’ve got a couple of spare ISD1820 record/playback chips that I bought for another project, so who knows, this one may even end up with voice action! DO NOT FIGHT IN HERE!

  • 80's TARDIS Console. I have a model designed by someone else that is just about perfect, though it needs to be rescaled and have some internal bits added so I can use a spring to make a central column that realistically rises and falls! Because it’s someone else’s design, I won’t be making it public unless I get permission from the original designer.

  • Classic TARDIS Console. This will likely happen as well at some point, but I’ll save it until I’ve figured out a few tricks for movement and know how much fine detail I can realistically add to my models.

  • TYPE 40 Travel Capsule (without chameleon circuit). Another one that should be easy. Pretty much two concentric cylinders.

  • Carnival Head Auton from Terror of the Autons I’ve been downloading free humanoid meshes where I can find them. The face is fairly uncomplicated, and looks not too dissimilar from my test printings. The hard part will be the giant novelty head, but it’s big enough I’m hopeful I can pull off the level of detail required, given enough time.

  • Yeti from The Abominable Snowman/Web of Fear. This is mainly a case of finding suitable fur texture that can be rotated around a large humanoid body shape. I will probably attempt this one at some point, but it may end up looking like crap and having to be abandoned.

  • Krarg from Shada. More or less just a yeti body covered in flat plates. If I create the one, I’ll probably follow it up with the other. Sadly, nobody yet makes a thermoplastic that changes from black/grey or brown to red. It would be awesome to make one that could “glow.”

  • Spirodon from Planet of the Daleks. This one is a cheat. If I pull off the fur of the Yeti, this is essentially just an empty purple cloak that you can (maybe) pop a dead Spirodon face into.

  • Sensorite from The Sensorites If I can pull off Bellal and his Exxilon chums, this one is probably also possible.

  • Optera from The Web Planet It seems a shame to leave out the Menoptera, but I’d never be able to do the wings. Their caterpillar underground brethren may just be possible though.

  • Nimon from The Horns of Nimon. The head would be the hardest part to sculpt. Otherwise, I could adapt a Voord body and slap on some hooves.

  • Raston Warrior Robot from The Five Doctors. Just requires I find a suitable “skinny athletic” humanoid mesh.

  • Mire Beast from The Chase I have a couple of octopus meshes I’ve downloaded. If I find one that works, I may adapt it, but it’ll be a low priority.

  • Ogri from Stones of Blood. It’s a rock. And it glows. This may be attempted if I find some cool semi-transparent filament that looks suitably creepy lit up from within by some easily obtainable LED part.

  • Macra from The Macra Terror Big stupid looking crab built onto the back of a Volkswagen. I have some crab meshes I’ve downloaded, this one may also be possible, but it’ll be a low priority, especially as good source images are hard to come by.

  • The Whomobile. Massive and lots of work (plus I’d have to find a reliable way of printing transparent for the cockpit) but I may eventually attempt it since I’ve always wanted one.

  • Drathro from Mysterious Planet. Angular, but lots of points of articulation and the hands look complicated. Also, some of those curved sections may be hard to pull off.

  • Rills from Galaxy 4 It would be nice for my Chumbleys to have some pals. This one would be entirely dependent on me getting proficient with Scupltris, but the fact that they don’t move at all is a plus

  • Vervoid from Terror of the Vervoids Another ambitious build that’s just about possible if I use all my abilities, but may end up looking like crap and having to be abandoned.

  • Gods of Ragnarok from Greatest Show in the Galaxy Seems simple enough, but there are a lot of folds in their robes. I have no doubt it would print okay, but creating the mesh is the hard part.

  • Kandyman from Happiness Patrol Again, lots of fiddly fine detail that may not work out, but I may attempt it just because it’s another figure I’ve always wanted!

  • Meglos from Meglos It’s just a bloody cactus. If I really start getting desperate for figures, I may make one.

  • Plasmaton from Time-Flight The absolute worst monster ever featured on Doctor Who. I may make one at some point just as an April Fool’s joke.