I’ve been a fan of Doctor Who since the early-mid 80’s. That was kind of the height of the show’s airing on PBS stations around the United States, and the height of small conventions being held all over the place. In New York, where I was from, there were so-called Creation Conventions that were put on a couple of times a year, usually over a weekend, with one or two guests from Doctor Who, Star Trek, or something similar. And that meant…merchandise!
(Daily Doctor Who #7)
Books, toys, videos, pins, fanzines…all sorts of stuff that invited me to part with my money.
And so I did! At least, to some degree. Sometimes it was worth it, to be sure. And sometimes it was just silly. I remember once buying a couple of boxes of Jelly Babies for some comparatively ridiculous amount of money (maybe $4.00 a box?), just because it was something that the Fourth Doctor used to offer people all the time, and they weren’t common in America (although of course you could get gumdrops and whatever else quite easily).
One of the cooler things that I collected over several conventions were a set of Doctor Who enamel pins.
I started with the Fourth Doctor, went on to the Fifth, and then spread out from there. Recently I saw somebody’s Facebook post about these pins, which apparently could be purchased with a membership in the Doctor Who Fan Club of America (or something). The set at least included the Sixth Doctor (who was the current one at the time), and a few other bits and pieces.
I also bought a toy sonic screwdriver. It was less detailed than the ones one might buy today–just plain gray plastic. But it made a neat little whistling sound when you pressed a button.
Sadly, that thing has been long lost.
Some of the more ludicrous things that I bought was some things that were clearly not “official” or “licensed”, but which totally appealed to me.
They were…photo ID’s!
Yes, that’s me back when I was an awkward teenager. I had my photo taken and chose the UNIT template from a bunch of options. UNIT was a military organization who worked with the Doctor, especially during the era of the Third Doctor, helping him from time to time to combat alien menaces.
For whatever reason I chose to make myself a Captain. Maybe it was because I was a fan of Captain Yates (Richard Franklin), who was one of the UNIT semi-regulars.
I also got one for The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, for which I was even a bigger fan than I was of Doctor Who.
I wish I remember how much these things cost. I feel like it might have been $10 each, which would be about $25 today–definitely not worth it for a cheap laminated passport photo and a clip. But I guess it made me excited at the time, even if they were useless.
Later in life, the American Bible Society gave me one too, but they paid me for it!
This was nearly ten years later, and I’m pretty sure I look even more awkward.
I was still a Doctor Who fan, though, even if I didn’t get to that many conventions anymore. I still bought a few odds and ends now and again.
More on that another time.