1967 Screen Used Original Ice Warrior Head from Doctor Who

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It’s not everyday you find a screen used Classic Doctor Who Prop, let alone one that has such an iconic image as the Ice Warrior. It was the monsters that first cemented Doctor Who’s popularity in 1964/5 and carried it through the earth-shattering change in lead actor in 1966. Patrick Troughton’s era is renowned for it’s monster stories and indeed, his second year is known as ‘The Monster Season’ for good reason. Along with the latest adventures with the Daleks and Cybermen, a parade of new aliens graced TVs everywhere – none more long lasting in impact than The Ice Warriors. They were so successful in their debut story that a return was swiftly arranged for Troughton’s last season in The Seeds of Death. The Pertwee era relied less on the past – despite three Dalek stories, the Cybermen didn’t return until the Fourth Doctor had arrived.  However, the Ice Warrior did return, not once but twice in consecutive years with “Curse of Peladon’ and ‘Monster of Peladon in 1973 and 1974 respectively. And of course, they have returned in the modern series – facing down Matt Smith in Cold War and returning against Peter Capaldi this year.

Keep reading below to find out why we picked Preservation over a full Restoration.

Purchase Doctor Who Magazine 513 for an exclusive interview with The Model Unit – Mike Tucker, and interview by Richard Molesworth

It all started with that first black and white story in 1967, the year Sergeant Pepper was released. This is the story of how one of the very first Ice Warriors survived and has been sensitively and professionally preserved to ensure it survives long into the future.

Above you will see the timeline of the Ice Warrior from its appearance in the show, to the Radio Times photo shoot it had in the 1970’s.

To the right we have shown one area we have matched the front nose area of the Ice Warrior.

As a prop collector and dealer, I often receive emails starting “I’ve got a screen used….” Unlike 90% of these emails, this one led to an incredible discovery – a screen-used Ice Warrior head that could be the only known surviving classic Ice Warrior head in existence. Not only that, but one of the very first made in 1967, the so-called ‘big head’ version.

We were actually on our way back from London, having met up with the lovely Sue Moore (modelling genius behind many 80’s monsters), when I received a call asking me if I’d like to meet up to discuss the Ice Warrior. This was arranged for the following morning. (We had travelled well over 800 miles in the past couple of days buying props for clients, so to cut down on travelling we opted to spend another night at a hotel for a welcomed break and an easier journey the next day)
And it was the real deal – despite clearly suffering the ravages of time, this was one of the very earliest Ice Warrior heads, used in both Troughton’s and Pertwee’s era. This is one of those moments you dream of as both a prop collector and Who fan.

The ice warrior how we received it, picture shows it at the Model Unit, Ealing Studios with one of there custom displays…. head is before work commenced.

Mike Tucker of the Model Unit working on the Ice Warrior

Image (c) BBC – Showing the actual Ice Warrior in the 1974 episode “The Monster of Peladon”

Image (C) BBC – Screen shoot from the Ice Warrior in the 1967 Episode “The Ice Warriors”.

Image (c) BBC – Only two full Big Head Ice Warriors made by the BBC for the 1967 episode “The Ice Warriors”

Preservation or Restoration ?

I needed to know from a collector’s point of view, the best way forward for the Ice Warrior’s head. Should the head be restored or preserved? What kind of reception would it get? I am very fortunate to have a group of friends that I can call upon for advice so I contacted Mick Hall, Colin Young, Graham Flynn and John Tobin (for those who don’t know, these guys are what we call the dog’s dangles of Dr Who prop collectors – the world’s leading Doctor Who prop guys!). After a lot of discussion and thought, I decided the best way (and only way) forward was to call Mike Tucker who I am fortunate to know and proud to call a friend. Mike Tucker was really the only person for the job- a Bafta winner for his work on the series, he’s well respected within the industry having worked for BBC’s Visual Effects department and now owning The Model Unit – and he’s one of a tiny group of people to have worked on both the classic and modern series.

After consulting with Mike, and taking into consideration the collectors of the Doctor Who world, I decided it had to be be preserved (every time we touched the Ice Warrior latex was falling off in our hand) and it hand to be done quick. The worst outcome for this historical item would be for it to fall to pieces and cease to exist so within days of picking it up we drove to Ealing Studios to drop this off so Mike could start work.
If you haven’t had a chance to speak to Mike then do please make the effort and go to one of his public appearances/talks – I promise you will have a most enjoyable time listening to his experiences in film and TV, and both eras of the show we all love.
As any prop collector will tell you, props made to last a few weeks decades ago and which were used more than once, in this case over 7 years apart, are going to suffer damage. Add in that a lot of the Ice Warrior head is latex which doesn’t like hot lights – present in the studio and later at the Blackpool Exhibition – and you’ll see the problem.  The head needed a lot of work if it was to survive for future generations of fans to appreciate.
But if I went down a full restoration route it would mean that the head quite frankly would no longer be 100% original; currently having the odd repair here and there; with a result of bearing no resemblance of what was screen used. And that, was out of the question. Actually doesn’t that turn props into Replicas when most of it has been replaced? At what point does it remove that original factor? Perhaps that’s an open discussion for us over on the Facebook group. A future owner can still go down a restoration route but for me, the focus was on Preservation.

 

Preservation work
In preserving the Ice Warrior’s head, all existing pieces were used, colour matching the age and sometimes having to remove layers of paint. It’s a lot harder in some cases to do this than just fully restore a piece. Here’s a list of some what we have had done and in doing so have kept it’s original aspect.

·    Removed by hand the silver paint which was applied during exhibition, this covered the orange eyes in which it had from it’s time in the 1974 episode “Monster of Pela Don” with Jon Pertwee. – There was actually some of the green film attached to the inside from it’s 1967 Ice Warriors Appearance.

 

·    Using existing latex pieces that had fallen off to repair the side mouth, this meant we kept everything original we used no new pieces of latex.

 

·    Repositioned mouth. Due to one piece of the cheek missing, this had unfortunately lowered the mouth, so again using original latex pieces put back into position, this made the mouth whole again.

 

·    Matching paint to cover where needed. There are two layers of paint on the Ice Warrior; firstly when it was seen screen used, and then a brighter paint colour was added when used for the Doctor Who exhibition in the early 80’s

 

Doctor Who Magazine :
I had a fantastic time talking to Richard Moleworth about the prop, Richard had gone to an in depth review of the Ice Warrior for his article in Doctor Who magazine, and leaving no stone unturned in his research of the ice warrior. It was a fantastic experience and gave me great pleasure in seeing how far Richard went into his research, each day showing me fantastic never seen before images, history on the prop and so much more. Without Richard this wouldn’t have been half as much fun.

At one point Richard was able to even tell me where one scene was shot with the Ice Warrior, Lime Grove Studio D on Saturday 11th November 1967.

A special thanks to the following people:
Mike Tucker – http://www.themodelunit.co.uk
Mike gave me lots of sound advice, and was the biggest part in the preservation into the Ice Warrior, a fantastic person and friend. Be sure to check out his website and the work he does, he’s also a fantastic author so get on Amazon for his books.

Chris Balcombe Photography – http://chrisbalcombe.photoshelter.com
Thanks to Chris for taking the professional photographs for Doctor Who Magazine, even if it was a last minute thing – these come out fantastic.

Graham Flynn
Thanks for constantly letting me pick your brains and the wealth of knowledge you have, another friendship I value hugely is with Graham and for anyone that has the chance to speak to Gray, he’s one of the most interesting people you will meet.

Colin Young
Colin helped me along with Mick when I first got the Ice Warrior in identification with some amazing photos that I was able to screen match the Ice Warrior through its various stages of appearance.

John Tobin
I’d like to thank John for helping me write this article, and polishing it – John has become one of my closest friends and we have Doctor Who to thank for this.

Richard Molesworth
Thanks for sorting out the DWM article Richard, your knowledge is amazing and what you did in such a short period of time was amazing.

Mick Hall
Thanks to Mick for his research into Ice Warriors and helping me identify in the early stages which Ice Warrior was which, it all started with Mick and his knowledge of props and actors from the 60’s Ice Warriors.