TV & Radio
Some people use their garages to restore cars, set up home breweries or model train kitsets.
Chris O'Connor builds Daleks in his.
Over the last nine months, the Hamilton man has constructed a life-size working Dalek, which he will be unveiling to the public at the Armageddon Pop Culture Expo at the Claudelands Events Centre this weekend.
It's the second Dalek he has built from scratch - he made a "classic" one from the original Doctor Who series a few years ago. It proved a hit when he took it to previous Armageddon expos in Auckland and Hamilton, so he turned his hand to creating a souped-up version of the evil space villains.
This one has side cannons.
The special weapons Dalek, lovingly dubbed Kublai Khan, is mostly made of fibreglass and is one quarter comprised of recycled material.
Dalek building is a widespread hobby, with clubs and networks around the world where the enthusiastic share construction designs and tips for building better Daleks.
"It's one of only 15 like this one in the world. There were no plans available, because not enough of them had been made and that made things difficult. It took a lot of mistakes to get it right."
But O'Connor is no die-hard Doctor Who fanatic. "I'll watch it if it's available. I do this more for fun, than anything else."
O'Connor does not know how many hours he has put into Kublai Khan - "It was a lot" - but he credits the perseverance and support of his wife Raewyn and the help of his son Leslie with the project's success. The Dalek's two motors are powered by a nine-volt car battery and are built around a drive system from an old mobility chair.
The sidearms were made on a lathe and the top drive includes a built-in voice modulater, meaning the operator not only gets to "drive" the Dalek, they can speak through it in the alien's distinctive monotone.
News of O'Connor's creation has already spread far and wide. He was recently offered $10,000 for it, which he turned down out of hand. "It's worth far more than that."
Owning a Dalek is not without its problems. "It's too big to move from place to place with just a trailer. I have to hire a small truck if I want to take it somewhere."
Hamilton Doctor Who fans can check out Kublai Khan up close at Armageddon on Saturday only. In the meantime, O'Connor is on the hunt for a volunteer to operate his other Dalek - The Black Dalek Supreme - at the expo.
WHAT'S A DALEK?
According to Doctor Who lore, Daleks are the armoured, mutated descendants of the Kaleds, the once human-like inhabitants of the planet Skaro. Intensely xenophobic and bent on universal domination after the destruction of their own planet, the Daleks are hated and feared throughout the galaxy.
Although the Daleks look entirely robotic, they are in fact cybernetic organisms, with a biological body encased in and supported by a protective outer shell of Dalekanium – or as the seventh Doctor Who played by Sylvester McCoy once described them, "little green blobs in bonded polycarbide armour".
And, as devotees of the long-running television series will be quick to point out, they can get up stairs.
- Waikato Times