The Collector’s Corner #2: The Cowan de Groot (aka Codeg) Mechanical Dalek

This is the most beautiful thing in the world.

Its sublimity makes me gasp. The Cowan de Groot (aka Codeg) Mechanical Dalek (Strong Clockwork with Realistic Action)! is the summit and crown of all human achievement. Forget Mozart, forget Shakespeare, Manet, Monet, Wordsworth: all that bunch and all their lesser achievements – for they are as nothing to the glory that is the Codeg Clockwork Dalek.

I like it very much.

Dalekmania produced a lot of trash but this is one of the real gems. As it’s highly sought after by collectors and there aren’t all that many of them left, the dodgy characters who sell Doctor Who stuff to them are able to charge ridiculously high prices. A boxed one of these in good nick goes for around £650. (“I got a couple round the back, squire. Can do you a nice little deal. What’s that? Five hundred quid? You’re having a laugh, aren’t you? Listen, it’s got the original sticks and that box – it ain’t a reproduction, you know. You won’t get one nowhere else for less than a K, trust me. To you, cos I like your face (you look a bit cheeky!): seven hundred. No, I can’t go lower than that. Alright, six fifty. I’m robbin’ meself.”)

The Cowan de Groot (aka Codeg) Mechanical Dalek (Strong Clockwork with Realistic Action)! was produced in 1965 by a toy company founded in the early years of last century by a Mr Cowan and a Mr de Groot. ‘Codeg’, you will have worked out, as an abbreviation of these gentlemen’s names.

The box has some faintly risible ’60s artwork on it. Apparently, the reason for using artwork rather than photos on early Doctor Who merchandise was that the technology wasn’t there to make reproductions of colour photos easily or cheaply. You had to use drawings or paintings; I don’t understand the technicalities.

The Dalek is about five inches high. The top half and the sticks are made of heavy duty plastic; wonderfully, as befits the days when toys were proper toys, the bottom half is tin. I think. I did find a rusty one once (or a Rusty one, hahaha), so maybe it was steel. You stick the key in and wind him up. Nothing happens. Then you put him down and a catch is pushed into his base and he trundles off. He changes direction! His head swivels! He zooshes around! He goes like the clappers!

He is marvellous.

The most important thing of all about the Codeg clockwork Dalek is that I’VE GOT ONE AND YOU HAVEN’T. NER NER NER NER NER.

Coming soon: The Collector’s Corner #3 – The Chad Valley Doctor Who ‘Give A Show’ Projector.