Thursday, 29 November 2007

K-9's 30th Anniversary DWM Special

"Happy 30th Birthday K9!" says the front page in the current issue 388 of Doctor Who Magazine. The magazine is focused on K-9's 30th Anniversary with several pages on K-9. There is also an article on the Sarah Jane Adventures which I am always sad that he isn't present in. There are a few reference shots of K-9 in the magazine, but sadly not many. There are larger and better photos of Catherine Tate... Grr..

The DWM Website

This is what their web-page said about the issue...
Issue no: Issue #388
Release Date: Thursday 18th October 2007
Pricing: UK £3.99 , US $7.99, AU$13.50

Doctor Who Magazine - Issue #388 DWM Press Release

Elisabeth Sladen, star of ‘The Sarah Jane Adventures’, talks exclusively to Doctor Who Magazine about her brand new series...

“When Russell first suggested ‘Sarah Jane Adventures’, I wondered where they could take her, but she’s opened up and I’ve absolutely relished that. I loved that period of finding things in Sarah Jane, and it’s all come back. I’m so pleased.”

Lis also reveals more about forthcoming stories, including the series’ dramatic conclusion, ‘The Lost Boy’…

“All hell breaks loose! Sarah Jane tries to do the right thing, but then someone shows her something… and it’s not the right thing. There’s someone else who knows about the shenanigans in the attic. And Sarah Jane gets the shock of her life, too!”

Also in the issue, there’s exclusive access to the set of Series Four’s Roman episode with director Colin Teague; new companion Catherine Tate chats about Donna, Daleks and difficult crowds; K9’s birthday is celebrated as the magazine looks back fondly over 30 years of the Doctor’s metal pooch; actor Noel Clarke reveals what happened when he met the Daleks; the Doctor and Martha are deep in trouble in Part 3 of their latest comic strip adventure ‘The First’; acclaimed writer Steven Moffat talks candidly about who he fancies, childhood hobbies and what makes him cross as he plucks questions from Out of the TARDIS tin; and executive producer Russell T Davies writes about the Things You Don’t Write in Production Notes.

All this, plus the latest exclusive news on the new series, plus reviews, DVD previews and competitions.

Monday, 13 August 2007

K-9 Units

Today in my lunch hour I was surfing the net, checking to see if there were any new cool images of K-9 out there. I stumbled across a couple sites in the US for Police K-9 Units, where they use dogs to help them fight crime. I just loved the t-shirts they had, they made me laugh. I looked to see if I could get one, but sadly they are only available in the US. The same goes for the badge. Perhaps I might have to screen my own when I have time. First I better get me K-9 done! :-D

Friday, 10 August 2007

Doctor Who Night At the ABC Store

Tonight is an exciting night. Not only am I going to an art gallery opening that has two of my pieces in it, but there is a Doctor Who night at one of the local ABC stores here in Hobart! The ABC store are running quizzes, and contests including a drawing competition… Of course I couldn’t help but enter… Oh, it is like living in UK in the 70’s with all that is going on in Doctor Who here now, or at least like from what I have read and always dreamed I could have lived through.

Tonight the shop is also showing off the new radio controlled K-9’s for sale. I am guessing from the price that they are the ¼ scale ones, but it will be good to see them. I am tempted to get one myself, but I have to save up for more bits for my full-sized mutt!

Here is a close up of what I entered…

Friday, 20 July 2007


After seeing the R2-D2 websites with their cool logo of the droid it inspired me to make a K-9 logo. Here is the base sketch before I put it into Illustrator. I hope to get it done this weekend. He will have a red paint-brush style stripe through his eyes, similar to what R2 has but in blue.

Tuesday, 17 July 2007


When I started trying to find about Foamex, I was getting a little confused on the web… It seems there is another material that is called Foam-X but it isn’t the same stuff as Foamex! Then when I went to signwriters they were asking me if I wanted foamcore or foamboard (sometimes just by description) and I had to learn very quickly the differences so I didn’t get the wrong thing. I ended up doing a bit of extra research and coming up with this summary sheet. It is an amalgamation of stuff from Wiki, a few signwriters forums, a cool site about Sintra that I give a link below, together with a few things I have found myself.

Closed-cell PVC foamboard
(Foam PVC, Trevacel, Simona, Foamex, Forex, Sintra, Paylite)

Closed-cell PVC foamboard is a light-weight rigid material used primarily in the manufacture of signs and displays, although its material properties have made it extremely popular among model makers and prop builders. Like PVC, closed-cell PVC foamboard is solid and has a very rigid structure. Where it differs is in its closed-cell foam structure, which makes it very light (up to half the weight of solid PVC), highly resistant to moisture and some chemicals, and very easy to cut and shape (similar to balsa). It also has thermoplastic properties, and begins to soften at around 65°C. Typically, closed-cell PVC foamboard can be cut softened and shaped by immersing in boiling water or with a standard heat gun, and painted with standard automobile paints.

Alcan Composites produces closed-cell PVC foamboard under the trade-name Sintra®.

Good sites for information about closed-cell PVC foamboard/Foamex/Sintra and how to use it…


Foamboard is a type of display board made primarily with foam. It generally consists of a foam core in between two sheets of thin, rigid paper; and is characterized by its light weight, and the ease with which it is scored.

Foam board comes in thicknesses of millimetres to inches, and sizes up to the size of a small wall. It is often used as a display board or poster board, and for making models of buildings and objects. Unlike closed-cell PVC foamboard, standard foamboard is not resistant to the elements as the paper disintegrated with water.


Foamcore is a strong lightweight, easily cut material useful for backing, mounting photographic prints, framing, 3D design and painting. It consists of three layers — an inner layer of Styrofoam®, clad with outer facing of either a white claycoated paper or brown Kraft paper.

The original white foamcore board was made in 1/8 inch (3 mm) and 3/16 inch (5 mm) thicknesses for the graphic arts industry by Monsanto under the trade name Fome-Cor. The surface of the regular board is slightly acidic. For archival photo purposes Monsanto produces a neutral, acid-free version. Similar products are now available from competitors in a wide range of sizes and thicknesses.

This material does not hold up well to some glues, such as superglue, and certain types of paint. The foam tends to melt away and dissolve. While Elmer's White glue works well in casual settings, the water in the glue can warp the fibres in the outer layers. Best results are typically obtained from the higher-end spray adhesives like 3M's Super 77. In situations where a craft store is either not nearby or closed, a hot glue gun can be used as a substitute, although the low viscosity of hot glues can show up in finished projects with board warp, bubbles, or other unsightly blemishes.

Friday, 22 June 2007

Building Material for the Body

What to make the body out of? That was a hard decision. Most people on the forums choose MDF, even though it does produce a lovely smooth finish with less sanding than other materials I dislike the material on the weight factor, not to mention the dust is highly toxic.

Fibreglass? Well, you need a good mould and I haven’t worked with it before so I am rather hesitant to start with such a major project when not having a proper workshop, and one with good ventilation.

Plywood? I was thinking seriously about this material. It is lighter than MDF but there is a lot mucking about with the finish. I have worked on a plywood model before, so at least I had the experience.

Then I came across a material on the Dalek Builders’ Guild, foamex, also known as sintra, and closed-cell PVC foamboard, amongst other things.

Dalek Builders' Guild post on foamex K-9

This material is lighter than MDF, but has that smooth exterior. It is easier to cut, and can be cut using a craft knife. The only problem was with the material, where to find it Tasmania!!? It took me three months, but I got there in the end, finding it from a company called Pool Signs from North Hobart.

Pool Signs & Designs
284A Argyle St
North Hobart TAS 7000
(03) 6234 4470

Pool Signs

I bought…

One sheet of 3mm Foamex board 2400 x 1200 @ $92.00 per sheet
Two sheets of 5mm Foamex board 2400 x 1200 @ $134.00 per sheet.

As the sheets were so huge, I had them cut in half (1200 x 1200) and delivered (another $20). It comes to $380 for the body material, but I don’t think I will use it all up. Actually I think I have enough for another project of some kind!!

There is a funny story when I was going to get the sheets… The Phil, the manager, asked me what I was going to do with it all. I said I was building a model over email and the phone and he wanted me to elaborate.

“Do you know the TV show Dr. Who?” I asked him

He beamed. He turned to his wife, also working at the firm. “Call my ‘phone.” He said to her. She did so, and it started up with the Dr. Who theme playing loudly.

Not only was there one excited Dr. Who fan there, but it seemed the whole team was interested in my project. I didn’t feel so geeky anymore. So once I am done I have promised to visit them to show it off. Later they helped me take the sheets to my office where I am doing most of the work.

Thursday, 21 June 2007

Acrylic Sheet

This week I have been hunting down for acrylic sheet (perspex or similar) for K-9's eye's and also side panel. So I needed a transparent red material (3mm/ 1/8") for the eyes, preferably a deep red, and a clear for the side panel. I tried looking on the online directory for where to go... I swear it is getting worse by the day to find something! Supposedly there was nothing in Tasmania that sold the material. This was suspicious to me. I tried just a general web search... Same thing. Instead I came across a couple of companies that sold to the public and I inquired tentatively how much would it be to get the stuff to Tasmania. The reply was...

"Minimum order: $50 + GST + Freight"

!!! I wasn't expecting it to be that much. On the forum they recommend to use a red acrylic clipboard. Unfortunately, the fashion is not for red but for fluro pink and orange, so that was out.

A friend of mine at work knows a lot of industrial type places recommended to me a local place, Eagle Plastics in North Hobart. In the evening, the same place was recommended by an art friend of mine. So today at lunch I drove through the icy streets of Hobart to get to the place and was rewarded by a very friendly man with just the right sort of acrylic sheet I was after. He even gave me advice on how to join two faces together. And the price... Only $10 for both the transparent red and clear! Just goes to show it is so much better to ask around and to shop locally :-)

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

The Background

It is over a year now since I committed myself to building a full-sized replica of K-9 from Dr.Who and it has been a slow process and a big learning curve for me. I have been reading up lots on robotics, materials, and also the history of K-9. I now have a large folio of material, together with some books, at home that helps guide me and I still don't have a dog to show for it. However, I do have a lot of parts and knowledge. I hope to put down some of what I have done so far here for people to access in the future if the want to build a K-9 too. I will also list how much things have been costing along the way... I know it will be scary in the end, but it will be a good thing for people to know if they want to get into a project like this one.

A major site that I have been visiting over this last year is The Doctor Who Prop Builder's Club, and a must for anyone to join if they want to start this project.

For the best plans of K-9 around: