If there’s one thing that Doctor Who fans like to do, it’s collect things – and equally, enthusiasts can be rather fastidious about how they display their collections.
But what do you do if you’re David J. Howe, author of Howe’s Transcendental Toybox and owner of possibly the largest collection of Doctor Who memorabilia in the world?
“I’ve always wanted to have somewhere to display my collection,” says David, “even when I had it all in the house we had shelf units and cabinets to display it all in! Crammed as you can imagine, but sort of displayed!”
But David’s dream was to open a museum dedicated to his accumulation of Doctor Who merchandise, somewhere he could share it with the rest of the fan world. And by the beginning of 2015, David was getting close to achieving that ambition.
“It’s the reason we moved from North Wales to Lincolnshire,” he continues. “We wanted to find somewhere with the space/premises to hold the collection.” Two years ago David successfully managed to find that place, but then disaster struck.
In May of last year David suffered a heart attack. “The plan was always to fund the museum myself, but the heart attack clobbered my IT job, and since then I’ve found it really hard to find work! Not heart-attack related mind, the market is just really hard at the moment, this year.” Although thankfully, “Now I’m fine health wise!”
With David back in good health, it was time to turn his thoughts back to creating his treasury of all things Doctor Who – although he won’t be naming it Howe’s Transcendental Toybox after his book. “At the moment the museum is simply called The Doctor Who Merchandise Museum... that may well end up being the final name. It does what it says on the tin!”
But, “Without the finances to finish this project, I may never see my collection displayed in the way I always wanted. I think this would be a terrible shame. I want people to see it. I want to share it. I also want to be able to see my lifelong ambition become a reality.”
So David and his partner Sam Stone have taken to the crowd-funding website Indiegogo to try and finally realise the project.
With sponsors’ perks ranging from a simple Facebook shout-out for £1, to the more expensive options including Sponsors’ Open Days, signed goodies and even a dinner for two with 1960s companion Frazer Hines, there are a range of donation alternatives designed to raise the £30,000 it is estimated that it will cost to get the building – just outside of Sleaford in Lincolnshire – into the shape required to house the collection.
The Doctor Who Merchandise Museum will undoubtedly be the kind of place enthusiasts of the series would make regular pilgrimages to, but it’s less likely to be an all-year-round attraction for more casual visitors.
“It’s intended as a private museum – so not generally open to the public – in which to hold and display all my collection. Private in that you can't just turn up, that is ... but we would have open days, and also possibly appointments which would need to be pre-arranged. The idea is that it’s a ‘living’ collection, so will be added to, and documents the entire history of Doctor Who merchandise from the earliest days to the present day.”
So what will we be likely to see once the museum finally opens?
“I have literally thousands of items going back to the 1960s, including many of the original 1960s toys like the Berwick Playsuit, Marx Daleks, Give a Show projector, Dodge the Daleks game, Dalek bagatelle ... as well as of course all the books, audios, videos, DVDs, magazines, metal miniatures, jigsaws, plastic figures and all sorts of other ephemera. There's also examples of merchandise advertising over the years which I'd like to see framed and displayed, as well as posters and other elements to decorate the walls!
“In terms of props and costumes, among the items intended for display are a spacesuit from The Sontaran Experiment, one of the Sisterhood costumes from The Brain of Morbius, the Monitor's outfit from Logopolis, an original Time Lord collar from The Deadly Assassin and the Wooden Horse of Troy from The Myth Makers...”
The Doctor Who Merchandise Museum will be a repository for exactly the kind of memorabilia that many fans would find fascinating to experience, but wouldn’t have the resources to collect themselves – material that it would be impossible to see outside of such an establishment, in other words. The campaign page features a short video tour of the premises – conducted by David himself, of course – showing just how much work needs to be done to get it up and running, and giving an impression of where and how everything will be housed once it is.
For more information, if you’d like to contribute to the campaign, or just to see the video, Sam and David’s Indiegogo page can be found here.SHARE YOUR COMMENTS BELOW OR ON TWITTER @STARBURST_MAG
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