Released on 1st February, LEGO set 21347: Red London Telephone Box is the latest in the toy company’s Ideas theme which sees fan-made projects turned into real retail products. Ever since its reveal prior to 1st February, the reaction to the set was fairly unanimous: “someone is going to turn this into the TARDIS from Doctor Who, right?”.
Well that someone is me. I am very familiar with these kind of palette swaps of official LEGO sets and I have already made versions of Nemesis Prime and Ultra Magnus, all based on the Optimus Prime set. Unfortunately not even this experience helps, as I am here today with some bad news.
The build of the set cannot be turned into a TARDIS very easily. On the surface this seems like an easy project to pull off, just swap all the red for blue and you’re good, right? Well that was the original plan but the build of the telephone box has many crucial pieces that are integral to the design that LEGO has never released in a suitable colour.
Back in 2015 LEGO actually released a very small version of the TARDIS (also an Ideas set) in the form of 21304: Doctor Who which used dark blue as the colour of the build. This gives us dark blue as the best option to recolour the red telephone box, but those familiar with LEGO will know that the company’s regular blue is used more often, so we can maybe use that instead thanks to its wider availability of pieces. That was the thought but, unfortunately, some of those key pieces are not available in regular blue either.
Before I get deeper into this little adventure through time, space and LEGO, I do want to mention that, yes, I am fully aware that a telephone box is technically not the same as a police box, and the design of the LEGO set doesn’t really match up with the version of a police box that is used for the TARDIS. This is just some fun with LEGO and we will get to something more accurate near the end of this story.
So to properly see how viable a TARDIS version of this LEGO set is, I booted up Stud.io. This is a free programme offered by LEGO itself that is, in the simplest terms, a CAD platform for LEGO. It allows you to build with infinite bricks from not just LEGO’s current crop of available pieces, but also most of the pieces it has released in the many decades it has been around.
Stud.io does a lot more, such as allowing for the creation of instructions and the ability to render builds right in the software.
By loading up the parts list of the red telephone box, and by following the digital instructions that LEGO also releases for free, I could build the set digitally and check the pieces as I went to see what dark blue or blue options we have for a possible TARDIS conversion.
And that’s where we run into some issues. Below is a summarised list of pieces which are in red in the set but not available in dark blue or blue, that severely hamper this effort given their importance to the build –
- 45 X Brick, Modified 1 x 1 with Studs on 2 Sides, Adjacent: These pieces allow for the corner detailing on the build. It is not available in dark blue or regular blue.
- 45 X Window 1 x 2 x 3 Flat Front: This is the window which holds the “glass” panes. It is not available in dark blue or regular blue.
- 12 X Panel 1 x 2 x 2: Provides the panel / indent details. This piece is available in regular blue but is not available in dark blue.
- 10 X Technic, Brick 1 x 1 with Axle Hole: Acts as the connection point between the main body and the door. Not available in dark blue or regular blue.
These are just some of the problem pieces, but as you can see, dozens if not hundreds of pieces we need are not produced by LEGO in the required colours.
If you just clicked onto this article to see the Red London Telephone Box in TARDIS colours, well I am not leaving you empty handed. Studi.io thankfully allows you to recolour parts freely, even into colours that LEGO has not released. Because of this we can build with and render a TARDIS in both dark blue and regular blue, just to see what they would look like.
At this point some may be asking if it would be possible to engineer around the parts availability problems and use substitutes. Even though the problem pieces are important to the build, as I described in he list, surely it must be possible to create new solutions and keep everything in TARDIS colours?
Unfortunately I am not going to pull an hbomberguy on you and reveal that this article is only half over and we’re only getting to the main topic now. I have done some preliminary testing and small builds to work around the parts restrictions and, yes, I do think we could make a decent TARDIS using the Red London Telephone Box build as a skeleton.
On top of this I think we could also do this while making the build more accurate to the TARDIS with the panels / windows and other sections sticking closer to the police box design.
At some point we do have to ask if we’re just building something new from and the novelty / convenience of using an official LEGO set as the basis simply goes away.
That being said I will put some extra time into this idea to see if it can be done. You will have to check back here in the future to see if that happens. Follow Hypertext on Twitter and Facebook for updates as any finished TARDIS project will be shared there.
For now you can click the links below to find some successful and complete LEGO projects I have already done, all with free instructions so you can make these at home for now extra money.
- How to make a LEGO Fusion Cannon (& more) for Optimus Prime
- Turn a LEGO set into the Patty Wagon from SpongeBob SquarePants
- Make yourself a Classic Space X-wing with just one LEGO set
- How to remake Bionicle’s Boxor for the G3 / GWP modern era
- We fixed the worst part of the LEGO Optimus Prime
[Image background – CC AlexAntropov86]