My favourite toy wasn’t really a toy at all; it was a box. Not just any old box; it was an empty Easter egg box, held together with tape to keep the flimsy sides in place. What was so special about this empty box? Why did I love it so?
It was a TARDIS Easter egg box, and oh, how I wished it had been bigger on the inside. It was the same blue colour as the TARDIS on TV, but sadly not as strong. There was a picture of the fifth doctor on the side, looking as if he were leaning out of the door, about to be exterminated by a passing dalek.
Back in the early 80’s Doctor Who toys didn’t exist, so I had to make do with this empty box. I stuck layers and layers of tape on it in a desperate bid to prevent it from falling apart. Playing with it always posed the risk of it being destroyed. I remember running around my grandparents’ garden with it, my voice making those whooshing and wheezing sounds as it materialised among the grass. Of course, I didn’t have any Doctor Who figures to put in my TARDIS, so I used stand-ins.
The box wasn’t big enough to fit my Action Men, but it was the perfect size for my Star Wars figures. Luke Skywalker had blonde hair like Peter Davison so he became the Doctor. Princess Leia sort of resembled Nyssa, and a different version of her acted as Tegan, while Obi-Wan was the Master.
I had all kinds of Doctor Who adventures in that garden. My grandad’s runner bean plants became giant, poisonous monsters. The greenhouse was an overheated planet complete with deadly spiders. The gravel path was a barren planet, while the big, concrete back step by the kitchen door was a sterile space station. Whatever perils the Doctor, Nyssa and Tegan faced the TARDIS always saved the day.
I kept that Easter egg box for about two years, until my layers of tape could no longer hold it together and I had long-forgotten what the chocolate egg had tasted like; the flimsy card was torn and battered by too many adventures in time and space. It ended up in the bin, and Luke, Leia and Obi-Wan went back to the Millennium Falcon.