Building A Dalek For £5 (ish): the pound shop challenge

With a budget of £5 at their local pound shop, we set three of our writers the challenge of building a Dalek. Did they manage it? Er…

Channelling the spirit of summer school holiday classic Why Don’t You?, Den Of Geek decided its writers should just switch off their television sets and go out and do something less boring instead. That thing would be to construct a home-made Dalek to the best of their abilities, using a budget of £5* and items purchased at their local pound shop.

Here’s what happened.

*We were allowed to go up to £7 if required. Anyone that chose to go up to £7 definitely did not cheat – LM

Entry 1: Carley Tauchert-Hutchins – Freelance Contributor/Dawson’s Creek Fan

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Can you build a Dalek for £5 using just items from your local poundshop? It wasn’t a question I was ever expecting to hear but once the gauntlet had been put down, well I couldn’t resist the challenge.

So I pottered down to the high street to discover what treasures I might unearth in my quest to be the winner and overall badass Dalek maker.

Now one thing to know about me – I may not quite have picked up the arty gene, in fact I was actively told that GCSE Art would not be for me and there was that unspeakable incident when trying to make the Blue Peter Tracey Island, but never one to be put off I wandered the aisles looking for inspiration and boy did I find it.

Unpacking my haul at home I was surely about to build the ultimate Dalek right? I mean I had the best items,

  • 2 x Bucket and Spades
  • Packet of Cupcake Cases
  • A Beach Ball
  • Shuttlecocks
  • A Glowing Frisbee
  • A Recorder 

And I had spent the princely sum of £5.10 thanks to a BOGOF and 10p deal!

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So to the build and as any good Dalek builder will know you need to start with the base – firstly I took my glowing Frisbee and attached the two buckets. Solid, stable, surely I was onto a winner? Then came the head and after 10 minutes of blowing up a beach ball (then needing a lie down due to lack of oxygen) my Dalek somewhat resembled the World Cup but I wouldn’t be deterred! 

What my Dalek needed was character (and to look a bit more like a Dalek) and what do all Daleks need but some hemispheres? Thanks to some cupcake cases, they were pretty stylish too. I couldn’t quite stretch to anything mechanical for the domelights, gun and arm but who need those when you have rainbow shuttlecocks?

The heart of any Dalek though is its eyestalk and thanks to a Captain American Civil War recorder this chap is not only scary but can knock out a tune when he feels like it.

So I present my Dalek for judging in the first Pound Shop Challenge – may the odds be ever in my favour.

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PS. Should the BBC want to patent this style of Dalek for the new series of Doctor Who I’m open to offers.


Entry 2: Louisa Mellor – TV Editor/Ayn Rand character

I didn’t come here to make friends. I came here to build a Dalek. 

More specifically, I came here to build a better Dalek than my two competitors, Opponent A and Opponent B. (If I was going to truly focus on a win, I wasn’t about to let personal friendships or names complicate matters. These clowns were nothing to me and they were going down.)

I set about this challenge in much the manner of Skaro’s finest, with one stalky eye on the prize and the other on any advantage I could offer myself along the way. One such arrived in the form of my father-in-law, a man with a glue gun and the means to drill through a stainless steel colander, both boons to any competitive crafting scenario.

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Having spent the maximum allowed budget of £7 (if Opponent A and Opponent B didn’t do the same, more fool them I thought at the Poundshop checkout. What do they think this is, a thriftiness contest? It isn’t, it’s a Dalek-building contest) and with the wind of history’s great inventors and engineers at my back I set about my task.

Initially, my task was to cover a plastic bucket in tin foil. That done, I snipped 15 multicoloured lightweight plastic ‘play’ balls in half along their seam and covered them in the same. I’d bought 5 metres of Turkey Foil. There was going to be ample.

Now came the challenge of attaching 30 tin-foil half-fun-balls to an upside-down bucket. With the help of some Tommy Walsh PVC tape (not included in my budget) and a level of patience only found in the unattractively hyper-competitive, it’s fair to say I ‘smashed’ it.

Here’s where Opponent A and Opponent B may wish to raise a point of order, but I maintain constitutes no rule-infringement whatsoever. The 3-pack of tin-foil trays I’d purchased to form the ‘neck’ of my Dalek were oval (that’s all they had, and adaptability being the heart of crafting, I thought I could make it work). 

My mother-in-law, having spent the last hour watching the woman her son had chosen to spend the rest of his life with sitting in the middle of her lawn folding tiny pieces of Tommy Walsh PVC tape back onto themselves, told me to stop. On a previous occasion, she had purchased a set of 3 silver cake presentation boards at Poundland. Surely those would form a better Dalek ‘neck’ than my oval solution? I readily agreed and handed over the foil trays in exchange.

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Luckily, the Mega Shotz Dart Attack Blow Pipe I’d chosen for the gun came with 5 foam darts, which I chopped in half and glue-gunned into position between the silver cake boards. Then it was a case of asking a grown-up to help me drill a hole in the stainless steel colander I’d purchased for the head and inserting the (fully functioning slimline silver) torch that was to form the Dalek eyestalk. If I’d had the budget for batteries, I would like the judging panel to take into account that this would actually light up. I mean, don’t let that sway you, but also, do.

Finally, I drilled holes in the bucket and poked in the tin-foil-covered Mega Shotz Dart Attack Blow Pipe component parts to form the gunstick and manipulator arm.

(Slightly wonky) Dalek done.


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Entry 3: Matt Edwards – Freelance contributor/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles correspondent

When it comes to Poundland I don’t mess around, except for every single time I go in there. It’s the best place to buy odd films, superhero themed shower gel and ‘never seen those ones before’ bags of Haribo. This time, though, I had to be serious. I was competing against two of Den of Geek’s craftiest writers. No Mercy Mellor and Tenacious Tauchert-Hutchins will be in it to win it. I’d not go quietly into the night. I can’t do arts and crafts at all though, so I might just lose noisily.

I had my head around the challenge. I’d need something for the body, and once I had the size of it I would buy the additional items to an appropriate scale. I soon encountered an additional element to the challenge that I had not anticipated; spending an extended period of time in Poundland made me flustered. 

I had a vague idea of how it was going to come together, but the heat, the crowd and the fumes emanating from the budget cleaning products made me essentially forget what a Dalek looks like. Still, I got enough bits to get the job done and then fled. I spent exactly £5, not counting the tape or the luxury 10p bag I got to take the gear home in.

Before we go any further I will confess that my wife helped me with every single step of this challenge, from purchase through to construction.


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So, to start with I bought a big container for the body and a car funnel nozzle thing for the top. I attached the funnel to the bottom of the container (I ditched the lid and would be turning the container upside down) using a heroic amount of tape. You could hold a garden shed together with the amount of tape I used. I hope that’s not the next Poundland challenge.

Obviously a clear container and a black plastic funnel with the nozzle unscrewed don’t look like a Dalek, which have a painted exterior with a grill. It would need to be covered. Luckily, I’d bought the book ‘My Style’ by Dannii Minogue, so I cut the pages out and taped them on. I’m not a Doctor Who expert, but I’m pretty sure there was a Sylvester McCoy episode with a few Minogue themed Daleks in. 

I had a packet of DIY surface protector pads (no idea), which I used for the Dalek bobbles. I had almost exactly the right amount for a fully round of the medium size pads. Of course, ‘almost exactly the right amount’ is another way of saying the wrong amount, so I snuck a few of the smaller ones on there and will be passing them off as perspective. 

The surface protector pads served a few other purposes, like the…ears? Are they called ears? Anyway, my Dalek’s ears are made of piled surface protector pads. 

I’d kept the funnel nozzle for the eye and was able to attach it using another thirty feet of tape. I used so much tape on this project that I almost had to return to Poundland for another multipack of rolls. I wasn’t even worried because it’s such good value.

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I was almost done. It was time for my final Poundland purchase to come into play.

You just sort of assume you’ll be able to cut through a Poundland shower hose. You can’t, though. Not just using kitchen scissors. I ended up have to essentially crush and tear the thing with pliers. That accounted for the gun and plunger. Again more tape held them in place. The remains of the shower hose made up the ground level Dalek trim thing that they have. 

So here is my improvised, Dannii Minogue themed Dalek that cost £5 to make. I cut myself three times making it. It is badly misshapen and it looks like it is laminated. Exterminevermind.

The Results

Simon Brew, Den Of Geek Editor-in-Chief/Poundshop Challenge judge writes:

Using the strict £5 budget that was outlined at the start of the challenge, before TV Editor Mellor changed the rules when she overspent on tin foil, then all of them cheated. It is with a heavy heart that I must keep the £25,000 star prize, and the two week stay in the Seychelles. Bummer.

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Still, it seems unfair not to offer some reward for the efforts our contestants have put in. It’s Den Of Geek, after all, and nobody leaves empty handed.

The prizes, then: the winner of the challenge is – and lord, am I never going to hear the end of it – Entry 2. The prize in this case is repaying £7 to the petty cash tin.

But there are no losers here. Entry 3 wins a lawsuit from the Minogue family, which we shall reluctantly pass onto Mr Edwards, along with a list of recommended pro bono lawyers. Meanwhile, that inflatable thing with the recorder sticking out of its mouth is this year’s winner of the Turner Prize. Well done all!

If you wish to have a go at the Den Of Geek Summer Holiday Challenge for yourself, please do share the results below. Er, the competition is not fierce (oh yes it is – LM).