When Product Enterprise Ltd. opened its doors for business in 1998 the TV series Doctor Who was several years away from its recent renaissance, and the associated merchandise industry was struggling to maintain public interest in the BBC’s old favourite. But, although Doctor Who was then a ‘hard sell’, Product Enterprise felt confident that the Daleks – the time-travelling Doctor’s greatest adversaries – were as popular as ever.
With a background in product development for companies including Disney, Hasbro and Mattel, Steve Walker had cut his professional teeth on high profile licences such as those for Toy Story, The Muppets and Polly Pocket. The time was right to strike out on his own. And the Daleks were the means by which this was achieved. A licence was negotiated with the BBC for Doctor Who (later referred to as Classic Doctor Who to avoid confusion with the revived series), and first off the production-line was the TV Dalek Rolykin which was hand-made on a modest scale in the UK. This was followed by the Movie Dalek Rolykin, licenced by Canal+ who own the rights to the feature-film spin-offs, Dr. Who and the Daleks and Daleks – Invasion Earth 2150 A.D., produced in the mid-1960s and starring Peter Cushing.
The Rolykins were an immediate success. Easily eclipsing their success soon afterwards, however, were the Talking Daleks that marked the first venture by Product Enterprise into mass-production. Almost a decade on – with a wide range of Dalek lines under its belt, including radio- and infra-red-controlled versions of various sizes.
But Product Enterprise is not, and never has been, all about Daleks. Amongst its most successful lines is that based on Gerry Anderson-created TV shows, with high-quality replicas of figures and vehicles from Supercar, Fireball XL5, Stingray, Thunderbirds, UFO and Space 1999. Prompted by the popularity of their recent Prop Replica limited-edition releases such as the ‘Fab 1’ and the ‘Eagle Transporter’, the launch of Iconic Replicas (incorporating Product Enterprise) represents the company’s deliberate move away from mass-market production of classic toys to a focus on authentic, high-end collectibles for the discriminating enthusiast. This will allow for a greater number of limited-edition releases across each year, an exciting development of the Gerry Anderson and Classic Doctor Who ranges, and an extension into others currently being planned. One amongst them will be the much-anticipated Irwin Allen range of Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea and Lost In Space, collectibles from which will now be released as high-quality prop replicas.