Due to the nature of this sonic it was very difficult trying to find any reference images or dimensions of the actual prop seeing as this is privately owned by Paul McGann himself, this forum had a lot of very useful images which I instantly started working on. I started making a very rough Google SketchUP model which I would use as a size reference for the finished prop and as a guide to make a detailed model.
10 May 2019
After a while I had a size I was satisfied with, printed a basic 2D plan to check the sizes and checking against all the reference images available, I made 4 different sizes of mock-up to try out what size worked best. The below images show only the one that best fit the sizes and ratios from the reference images.
13 May 2019
Once I was happy with the overall length I got started making a detailed 3D model, the colours on the model each indicate a size of tubing and any further detailing. My intention was to make the entire thing from plastic, this is mostly due to the fact I have no workshop, only my desk in the Living Room. For ease of construction I had no choice but go down the ASA plastic tubing route.
16 May 2019
Progressing through the whole model including the wooden detailing, screws, nuts and bolts. Basically making a completely accurate 3D I could make into 2D schematic plans. Lots of fine detail was needed for the ‘fins’ surrounding the omitter, this of course would be pieces I would make a mould and cast for, making it easier to get large amounts of duplicates.
Once the final model was finished I set to work creating all the masterplans showing all the vital elements all to 1:1 scale.
Final checks were made with reference to existing photos and even other fan made props.
19 May 2019
With the SketchUP model finished complete with colour co-ordinated details with all the sizes and positions ready to be translated into a 3D model, here is the full set SketchUP model and the final plans.
Seeing as I can animate the 3D model I thought I’d be missing a trick if I didn’t have a mess around making a 3D model video showing the full scale of the Sonic, I’ve added the video below.
2 June 2019
This was the easy part completed, now onto purchasing all the required materials and to get started.
My go to shop for anything plastic tubing, strip and sheet related had everything I needed straight off their website. With all the basic materials purchased I was now ready to start measuring up and making 3 Sonics.
The first stage was to cut all the lengths down to size for the main body of the Sonic, all these were made using ASA plastic tubing which are the perfect size to slot within each other, this in itself would make the body very rigid but also allows me easily reduce the size and thickness from a larger body to a smaller omitter.
7 July 2019
As well as all the larger lengths I started to cut down and shape the various rings and collars that are needed in all the various tube widths.
Everything here was hand cut, referenced back to the original plans and sanded to a smooth finish. Barely any power tools were used as I wanted control over everything. If there was any slight imperfection I wasn’t happy with I would cut another piece, I had to stick with keeping the highest possible standard.
One of the more interesting pieces to craft was the collar that has 3 ‘vent’ recesses, again everything except a Dremel was cut and sanded by hand. All 3 do have their own ‘personality’ but doing anything by hand will cause variations in the final shape and size.
16 July 2019
After all the larger collars were completed I started on the smaller more fiddly pieces. On all 3 Sonics there are 5 curved profile rings, I did explore using ‘O’ rings or washers but found these would leave an uncomfortable join which could potentially fail over time or would need extensive filling to make a smooth profile. Instead I decided on the more time consuming option of cutting all the rings from a single piece of tubing and using my electric drill with a specially made attachment to hold the plastic whilst I would turn on the drill and sanding, creating the curved detailing.
20 July 2019
1 of the collars needed a bit of further work as I was unable to procure a larger diameter ASA plastic tubing, instead I used strip length plastic, plasti-welding it onto the tubing and wrapping it around to make the thicker rim detail as you can see below. Unfortunately the join was not as tidy as I wanted so I used Milliput filler to fill in any imperfections.
Here are all the various size tubing which will make the main body for 1 of the 3 Sonics, these include all of the extra detailing collars and rings. As you can see some still required a lot of work to make smooth.
11 August 2019
In preparation for staining I cut down all the wood to the correct sizes, I made a spare set just in case something happened to a set during staining. Every wooden strip was sanded with very fine grade sandpaper and the chamfer was added to all sides mimicking the detail from the original Sonic prop. All the holes were also drilled and countersunk again thinking ahead to ensure all elements that needed completely staining were ready.
18 August 2019
The next challenge I decided to look at next was the clear omitter which would be mounted to the top of the Sonic. This was always going to be an interesting and potentially difficult challenge as I knew creating a moulding and casting the piece may not work as I don’t have any kind of vacuum chamber which would remove any of the bubbles. Also purchasing clear cast resin was very expensive. Instead I worked with an inch thick piece of clear acrylic rod, this was sanded roughly into shape. Once I was happy with the initial shaping I started adding further detailing and finer sanding. This process initially took a couple of hours as I used a rotary tool with a small sanding drum. I would later purchase a belt sander which would vastly sped up the process. Even though it would take a long time I did come out with a stunning proto-type for the omitter.
2 September 2019
The next job was to start assembling the larger pieces together including making the metal ring or hook that’s attached to the main lower body.
8 September 2019
To ensure all the pieces had a clean snug fit they were all sanded by hand, the base pieces needed a cover which was the same size as some foam pads I had lying around. I covered the foam with some 0.5mm plastic sheet and filled in the base.
Here is a progression shot of the main rings and collar pieces with a selection of rings and collars attached to the main body.
Finer detail has been added including all the main rings and the metal components at the base, any drill hole details and pilot holes for the screws, nuts and bolt details which would come later.
15 September 2019
After I’d completed all the elements on the main body, something sprung to mind. With the release of the B&M War Doctor, 5th Doctor, 10th and 11th Doctor Sonics I could potentially add working lights and sounds. This was something I had decided against at the time as purchasing these can be quite expensive, and second hand ones may not work. But with B&M re-releasing them this meant they were a reasonable price.
After a trip to B&M I purchased 5 10th Doctor Sonics seeing as they are the correct blue colour. I soon ripped apart the plastic coverings for the electrical components which would include the battery pack, LED light and the Sound chip and speaker. This did also mean I had to cut open the perfectly finished body of each of the Sonics.
24 September 2019
What I thought would potentially be a fairly easy job…well it wasn’t. 4 days of soldering, rewiring and stress to get all 3 Sonics lit and working. What was made difficult was the size of the components and the thickness of the cable, let’s just say they weren’t made to be repurposed. Using my own Sonic as the proto-type I stuck all the vital components into the body of the Sonic only to find the cable had detached, nightmare! This would take me at least a day to fix, even then there were times it would work and then not work. But once all the elements were stuck and forced into place it seemed to remain working. After a while though I was successful with 3 working lit and sounding Sonics.
In hindsight I would have done this very differently if I’d originally planned to install electronics. Maybe something I look at if I make more.
1 October 2019
After installing the button, the lights, speaker and battery pack I sealed all the Sonics back up. Unfortunately if the light does fail these cannot be replaced, as they had to be hot glued into place to avoid any movement in the fragile circuitry. With this in mind I was still happy enough to at least have a light and sound chip that worked.
I couldn’t help myself but see how this looked with my proto-type omitter.
4 October 2019
To clean up all the bare edges all the seams and the gaps between the switch and the body were all Milliputted and sanded to a fine smooth finish, it was like it was never cut up.
7 October 2019
The next detail needed was the supports that would hold the wooden slats. These were made from small ASA Plastic tubing, carefully measured and glued into place.
8 October 2019
Back to the wooden strips, these were all handed over to a friend for staining, the staining was something I knew I wasn’t going to do this myself as I don’t have any strain or varnish from previous jobs, I got a good friend who works in a large construction workshop, and he has access to every stain colour imaginable. After numerous conversations and samples we got a colour which we thought would work perfectly.
Whilst a lot of these details were being added to the Sonics I was receiving progress shots from the staining of the wooden strips. These received a rich red coloured stain and a button polished finish, very similar to the reference images.
13 October 2019
Once the supports had been added to the main body and all the edges cleaned, I started on the ribbing which runs the length of the body and adds a further detail to what would have been a very plain profile. Unfortunately as you can see by the image below I made a mistake when attaching the ribs. The left being the correct positions and the right being incorrect. All the ribs on the right hand Sonic had to be removed and replaced, thankfully this was my own prototype sonic to any imperfections were fine as it would only be me that would see it, the wood strips would had a large portion of these imperfections.
As well as the ribbing I had to install the final button and the housing. This was made from an upholstery pin used in sofas and chairs, I found this had a greater rounded profile than a normal drawing pin. Having fought to remove the pin section I filled in the interior with a layer of Milliput and sanded smooth before finally adding a small round recess which would fit perfectly over the button. I was very lucky to find a piece of ASA plastic tubing that was the exact size of the pin head. To ensure the button didn’t slip from its housing a thin piece of 0.5mm plastic sheet was cut to the exact external size but had to include a 1-2mm lip internally, this ensured the button didn’t just all out.
14 October 2019
What I knew would be a very challenging part of the build would be the top fins, 2 different designs but 3 of each on each Sonic. I knew I wouldn’t be able to build 9 of each design. After a lot of thinking I decided to bite the bullet and try out something new, creating a silicone cast and moulding with a quick drying plastic resin.
To start the whole process I made a single ‘master’ of each design out of acrylic sheets of different thicknesses and some wire for detail.
There is a part of the design that wasn't completely accurate to the original Sonic or the master drawings I produced, this is the wire like sections which 'wave' around where I have only curved them. With how fiddly this piece was working in 1/2 and 1mm thicknesses, I decided to have a bit of artistic license with a smaller detail.
15 October 2019
After a couple of hours of fine detail work and lots of mistakes, I had 2 ‘master’ fin pieces that were a close as possible to the original as I could make them. I can see that the wire isn’t completely perfect to the original but at the time my patience was wearing incredibly thin and I just want it finished. I am aware it’s not completely accurate and to be honest it doesn’t matter every other detail is as accurate as possible I can let this one slip.
As well as the fin pieces I also made various masters for some of the smaller pieces needed on the bottom section of the Sonics, these included some sloped and rounded profile details which required a large number of duplicates.
16 October 2019
Next came the interesting and fun part, creating a silicone rubber mould for all the main elements needed: the 2 fin pieces, and some of the profile details required for the base unit.
Once the moulds were completely set, I removed the original ‘masters’ and started pouring resin plastic into the moulds, creating the first of many duplicate pieces. The full process of making the duplicate pieces would take me 7 days in total, this was mostly due to the amount of time waiting for them to set, any reject pieces that had either not set correctly or had insufficient mixture or even the wrong ratio of the mixture.
18 October 2019
After a number of days I was finally starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel, 9 duplicate pieces for each of the 2 fins and large number of profile details. A lot of these pieces did require a lot of work due to air bubbles or impurities, but all these could be worked out with Milliput and modelling filler.
20 October 2019
With the fins completed I needed to add ASA plastic strips which would form the holder for the omitter. All the mounting and drilling the pilot holes for the omitter piece went without a hitch and I completed all the pieces in a quick time.
It wasn’t until I mounted the fins till I sat back and looked back at my reference drawing. Something didn’t look right. I’d mounted the fins the wrong way up! If you look at the Sonic and the reference image below you’ll see where I went wrong. The worst part was when I reattached them I got it wrong again and mounted them upside down again! 3rd time lucky I got it right.
Once all the fins had been added to all 3 Sonics they was really starting to look like the Dark Eyes Sonics and not just lumps of plastic.
5 November 2019
It was now time to dust off the proto-type omitter and think about making another 3. As I’d mentioned previously I had purchased a belt sander in the hopes this would speed up the process of shaping the plastic. I was right, and after a number of hours of burning plastic and being completely covered in the stuff I had 3 very rough omitters ready for final sanding and detailing.
9 November 2019
Whilst all this was happening I was planning ahead for what would be all the fine details, all the nuts, bolts screws, etc. I found a great place on eBay that sold larger numbers of screws and bolts in the smaller M sizes I needed. To ensure I didn’t have to order duplicate amounts or differing sizes I purchased a selection of sizes and types.
With all the major items sanded, super glued, Milliputted and sanded again they are ready to be painted. Here are all the main pieces ready for its first coat of grey primer.
After the initial 2 coats of primer I added the further detailing on the base unit with the various nuts, bolts and screws. These all needed to be treated the same way as the rest of the sonic.
12 November 2019
Next came the coloured spray paint. I had a number of brown and metallic colour spray paint from other projects, some worked some didn’t but in the end I wanted a varied range of bronzes and browns over a number of light layers.
17 November 2019
After lots of messing around with coats and layers, I had a base colour I was happy with. The lighting here makes it look a lot yellower than what it really was.
To help dull down the vibrant fresh coat of colour, I started to hand dry brush dirty brown and blacks. This helped to remove the instant shine from the fresh coat of paint.
18 November 2019
The left had received a dry brush coat of dirty black and brown as well as dry brush silver and gold detailing to making it look scratched and distressed, the right was its fresh colour.
The spring elements, which adds detail to the omitter and the fins, was an interesting challenge. I purchased a set of tension springs in various sizes and lengths, these were a perfect match to the Sonic prop. I had to find a way to stop the springs pinging off and work out how to adhere them to both elements. To help curve the spring I used a specifically curved piece of wire which would sit inside the springs. These springs were then cut to size and adhered into place.
To ensure the springs didn’t move, the fins required work, there is an added detail visible which has the spring attached to. It shows a nut at the base with the spring protruding, I needed a way to have a nut visible yet holding the spring. I decided to use some of the longer nuts, using a 1mm thick ASA plastic tube washer and then finally the nut. This allowed for enough length for the glue to adhere to the bolt within the fin and enough for the spring to adhere to on the bolt.
20 November 2019
Before I could install the springs I had to attach the omitters, which has to be one of the most exciting part of the build. The omitter was held in with a mixture of super glue, hot glue and small screws. All these elements ensured the omitter will never move.
Small guide holes were needed within the omitters, these were required to hold the wire and springs into position.
21 November 2019
After a lot of force in bending the spring into position, I finally got the first spring in place, glued and secured. One down 8 more to go.
The production line starts with the rest of the springs being cut to length, bending the wire into shape and securing them to the sonics.
The end was starting to look very close at this point, the colour looked great, and the omitter and surface details had been added.
22 November 2019
This was the first time I got to see the whole body complete as a single piece. The bottom section is only held in by itself, it’s a very tight fit. This means the battery pack is always accessible if the batteries need replacing. In the bottom selection of images you can see I’m still installing all the springs to the omitter and fins.
The wooden slates had been stained and button polished giving them a great sheen, I was very grateful to my friend who had put time in to complete this with a quick turnaround.
Here is the first time all 3 Sonics had been constructed as solid pieces, on the left you’ll notice a darker colour to the base. This is my proto-type Sonic which would later become my own personal Sonic. Even though it has lots of imperfections and issues it’s still something of beauty.
Next came the final detail, something that should have been very easy but things are never that easy. I purchased an initial patch of brass screws, these turned out to not be long enough by 5mm. It was by a small amount but it was the single point of failure which would mean all the wooden slates wouldn’t be secured. This meant further purchasing and a delay to handover.
26 November 2019
After 4 days I received my final consignment of brass screws. These were a perfect length and holds the wooden slates perfectly. They also are a stunning contrast to the red wood. The addition of these wooden pieces sounded the end of my build of the 3 Sonics.
Sonic number 1 and 2 completed, Sonic number 3 half way though final construction.
What really finished these Sonics off, was what would stop them being damaged in transit. I commissioned 3 boxes to be made and stained for me to house each of the Sonic Screwdrivers. Finished with brass fittings, a dark wood stain and a padded foam interior these were a perfect accompaniment to the final Sonics.
6 Months and 30 days of construction, 200+ hours of work and 3 completed Dark Eyes Sonic Screwdrivers. It was a complete labour of love but I was so proud of the final result. A Sonic I’d been after for a number of years and I’d finally got the opportunity to make not just 1 but 3. A very proud moment.
It was made even better with seeing the Clients reaction to the Sonics and to the recipient of one.
In January I had the privilege of meeting Paul McGann himself at a Comic Con were we presented all 3 Sonics to him. He loved them and was impressed, it was a shame he didn’t have his with him but he even said he stopped taking his with him as it was so fragile. Here is the final set of images displaying all 3 finished Sonics and the moment where Paul McGann saw them and even Colin Baker had a cheeky look too.