Thursday, 16 January 2014

Run! It's the Yeti!

As Web of Fear creeps gradually closer on DVD, I'm keen to look a bit more at the Yeti themselves.  I've recently bought some old Harlequin Miniatures Yeti hoping they could be used in some sort of Web of Fear game (I've even found 28mm scale tube station scenery online).  The miniatures themselves are fairly generic looking, lacking the pear shaped body of the Abominable Snowmen version (below) and the facial features of the Web version.

The costume was changed for their second appearance after a gap of only two stories since Abominable Snowmen, at least in part because the originals were too cuddly.  They lost a lot of weight around the waist and gained a large mouth and glowing eyes, also bigger claws to hold the web-guns.  Web of Fear as a story seems like the creation of a D&D random events table; "I roll a die, the story takes place in the London Underground...(roll a die)... and it's the Yeti, armed with... (roll a die)... err, web-guns"

The change in costume is clearly shown in episode 1 as the museum yeti is reactivated.  The Discontinuity Guide lists this as a 'goof' commenting "not intentional surely".  It's clearly intentional, as the Abominable Snowmen costume was obviously brought to the studio and a transition scene filmed so that it morphs into the Web of Fear version.  In fact this is one of a very few times that a monster costume changing is actually acknowledged/explained on screen.  It could be to do with these stories originally airing only weeks apart, but compare to Silurians and Warriors of the Deep, or the reworked versions of several New Series monsters which are not commented upon.

Some of the best photos of the Yeti costume come from set photos on location rather than the story themselves.  All were taken around Covent Garden on Sunday, 17th December 1967.  Probably a quiet morning, judging by the fact the only person around is one guy walking a dog.

From this photo though you get a good impression of size, and they are pretty big.  John Levene is probably under one of those.  Long after filming I saw an original Yeti prop in 1993 at the previously mentioned Museum of the Moving Image.  And t'was a sad sight, little over 25 years later it was terribly moth-eaten looking and balding.  It's clearly a Web of Fear yeti, looking at the eyes and overall shape.  It has an energy sphere lodged in its chest, these can't be seen in any photos from Web of Fear I've seen so if the suits all had them hidden among their fur it shows how much hair loss this yeti has suffered.  There are photos from filming of Abominable Snowmen that clearly show them having an energy sphere in the chest when the costume is only partially being worn.

Recently, I thought that by now, this costume is about 45 years old and surely will have nearly completely disintegrated.  Some online searches found recent photos of a yeti at the Doctor Who Experience looking almost in the same condition as my photo, but I'm not sure if it's the same one.  In fact, the Experience one might have more fur on the head.  But either way, there's still at least one survivor, and 60s monster costumes are quite rare.

Family photo; husband and wife?
As great as the Yeti look, I'm not sure they would work on modern TV, they're just a bit too cuddly looking (particularly when one puts his arm around another above) and would seem more like a huge teddy bear than actually menacing.  They don't look like much in Downtime, but that doesn't have the budget to give them a fair crack.  I think the black and white does them a lot of favours, perhaps the atmospheric approach taken to older stories works too especially the claustrophobic gloom of the tube.  They certainly look more imposing in the dark than out in the streets.  Still a classic monster which I'll be coming back to shortly when my miniatures are delivered.

1 comment:

  1. Hi I don't know if you'd be interested but the Doctor Who Miniatures Game has in it's rulebook a 'Web of Fear' scenario :) you can download it for free on their site :D