Since I was my daughters age I have had many passions, many loves in my life, but two have remained consistent, science-fiction, namely Doctor Who, and LEGO. Here I am now, at the grand old age of 32 and a father of four (two when I started this review), sharing that love with the next generation. Whether that’s religiously sitting down on a Saturday night to watch Peter Capaldi’s latest adventure or getting knee deep in toy bricks with my eldest, Evie, those passions are still as strong today as they were two and a half decades ago.
Set Number: 21304
Minifigures: The Eleventh Doctor, The Twelfth Doctor, Clara Oswald
This snippet from my guaranteed best-selling autobiography, available summer 2053, isn’t without cause because a couple of weeks ago the construction toy company announced that finally, after so long, one of my childhood dreams was becoming a reality, an official LEGO Doctor Who set. Expectations were high, excitement levels were higher, I was like a kid on Christmas Eve when I found out that I was getting a copy to review, that next day delivery just wasn’t fast enough.
So many times in recent years, movies and TV shows from my childhood have been rebooted, modernised or been given sequels, most of which failed miserably to live up to the dream my inner child was expecting – as you can imagine I share many fans fears regarding the upcoming Star Wars movies. This LEGO set has a lifetime of expectation to live up to, so how did it do?
For those that don’t know, the LEGO Doctor Who set is the brainchild of Andrew Clark, a digital games artist and Doctor Who fan looking for a new project to try his hand at. When LEGO Ideas, a website allowing fans to submit ideas to LEGO for consideration, announced they would accept projects based on Doctor Who, Clark began work on his design.
After gaining huge support from the Ideas community and subsequently LEGO approving the idea for mass production, Clark was joined by two designers from the company, one of them the nephew of 8th Doctor Paul McGann no less, to finalise the design. The rest, as they say, is history.
I very rarely mention the presentation of a set prior to build in my reviews but given the extraordinary quality the LEGO Doctor Who set deserves the extra detail. Like many of the LEGO Ideas approved sets, the box itself is a lot more sturdy than normal LEGO sets and it can be opened in such a way that won’t damage it with a massive flap on the front.
The box art itself is nothing out of the ordinary, featuring the BBC Doctor Who logo, an illustration of the TARDIS in flight and, of course, the set in action. The background is seemingly void of detail but given how great the set looks, who needs distractions?
The instruction manual is the bonus I never saw coming, it’s quality exceeding the norm considerably. Much thicker paper has been used for this book and featured inside is more than just the standard building steps. The manual can surely be classed as a collector’s item in its own right as opening it reveals a good deal of extra content.
We are treated to a full introduction to the TV show and a high-quality promotional image of the Doctor and Clara before we quickly head into the LEGO universe. Moving on to the next page, each minifigure and buildable character gets their own introduction, a picture of said fig with a bio underneath, it’s a beautifully laid out presentation and makes the set as a whole just that little bit more special.
At the back of the manual, we are introduced to creator Clark and the LEGO team behind the creation as well as some fantastic background art featuring the interior of the TARDIS from the show. Of course, this isn’t the Doctor’s debut in the LEGO universe, our time traveller debuted in September thanks to the LEGO Dimensions video game and so unsurprisingly there is a whole page dedicated to the upcoming add-on for the game featuring a new adventure with the Doctor.
The set features four minifigures, Matt Smith’s Eleventh Doctor, Peter Capaldi’s Twelfth Doctor, Clara Oswald and one of the infamous Weeping Angels. I think it’s safe to say that the minifigures in the set are all exclusive, even the 12th Doctor’s minifigure from the aforementioned Dimensions game features a different design so everything here is totally unique, for now at least.
The Eleventh Doctor in minifigure form couldn’t be any more accurate, from the hair to the bow-tie printed on the torso, this is a brilliant representation of Matt Smith’s turn in the TARDIS. The torso features printing on both sides which eloquently depicts the Doctor’s professor-like look from this incarnation. The checked suit jacket, striped shirt and bow-tie ensemble look superb with a design that, while simple, captures the outfit perfectly.
I’m not familiar with the headpiece used so I can’t accurately say if it is purpose-built or reused but either way, it somehow captures Smith’s features brilliantly. The head is dual printed, featuring two different faces, as is the norm for a number of sets now, one happy, one not so happy. What is interesting if that the design features the cheekbone lines, usually printed to indicate an older character, but if this case they work well to accentuate Smith’s features.
Fans of the Eleventh Doctor will be happy to know that the additional accessory for this particular minifig is a fez, a bizarre fashion choice of the Doctor’s introduced in the series five finale and the butt of more than one joke.
Clara Oswald, the impossible girl and post-Pond companion has, for many, been one of the Doctors strongest partners in time. Unlike the Eleventh Doctor, Clara has featured many different outfits over her time on the show and so there were many choices available for the minifigure design. The final look is an important one as it features a recreation of the outfit worn by Clara in Matt Smith’s swansong episode, The Time Of The Doctor, the conclusion of which sees a regeneration and the introduction of Capaldi’s Doctor. Fans will likely pick up on the outfit choice and for those perceptive few, it’s a brilliant nod to the fact that the set features both Doctors.
The torso and legs feature a design which accurately recreates the tartan skirt, white blouse and cardigan look from the episode. The hair used is fairly commonplace in the LEGO universe, recently used in the Batman sets for Poison Ivy, though in a different colour. The same can be said about the head-piece used, it’s a fairly generic female head, again featuring dual-printing to allow for two opposing emotions depending on the situation. Clara doesn’t feature any additional accessories of her own, but the minifigure itself is a wonderful presentation of Jenna Coleman.
The Twelfth and current Doctor is the only minifigure in the set that I have negatives to point out though they’re minor things that only an exceptionally picky person like myself would pick up on. The outfit design on the torso and legs features a recreation of the post-regeneration outfit first worn by Capaldi in the closing moments of his debut. While the detail on the outfit is fantastic, accurately capturing the longer jacket through the design carrying over to the legs, the colour scheme is all wrong. On close inspection, when compared to his real-world counterpart, the purple is far too light, there’s no hint of the prominent red lining and the shirt is the wrong colour.
Capaldi’s Doctor is the only minifigure in the set to feature only one face on the head, I’m sure I’m not the only fan that sees this as somehow perfect for the 12th Doctor given Capaldi’s steel-faced performance thus far. Again, I’m not certain if this is a reused headpiece or not but either way, it suits the character and along with the grey hairpiece you can definitely see Peter Capaldi shining through. Accessory wise, fans will be happy to know that no sonic sunglasses have been included and instead the latest incarnation of the Doctor features his signature sonic screwdriver, a unique addition to LEGO which looks fantastic.
Ever since the David Tennant episode, Blink, the Weeping Angels have been a prominent part of the Whoverse, featured in multiple episodes and some of the scariest and most interesting, storylines. With that in mind, it wouldn’t be a complete set without the inclusion of one of the best new bad guys in recent years and LEGO Doctor Who doesn’t disappoint. That said, they’ve not been part of the show since the Ponds left the show.
The Angel minifigure is simply stunning, built entirely of light grey pieces to give the figure a stone look. Instead of legs, the fig is supported by a single triangular LEGO piece, the last time I saw a similar design was in the Wild West Wylde Style from the LEGO movie. The piece features printing on the back which accurately simulates the robe-like carvings on the statue in the show. This design continues on the torso piece, both back and front and while simple, it’s effective.
The head is awesome, again all grey, it features two faces, one serene, one mouth open crazy scary (that’s the official description, I’m sure). The hairpiece only adds to the already fantastic look, featuring detailed plaits tied at the back.
No Angel is complete without their wings though and in LEGO form there is no exception. A clear neck bracket is used to attach the wings to the back of the torso with 1×1 clip pieces used to clip the wings into place. They look fantastic, fully realising the Weeping Angel in LEGO form, the transition has been a very successful one.
Speaking of bad guys, none are more prominent throughout the Doctor’s 50-year adventure than the Daleks, the children of mad scientist Davros and the Timelords most dangerous foe, this set includes two of them. Prior to this set being announced, I was always intrigued at how the Daleks might look in LEGO form, let’s face it, they don’t have an easy look to replicate in small-scale LEGO.
That said, Clark and the team have managed to do a great job at creating Time War style, tan and gold Dalek’s which are not only an interesting and easy build but also do the characters the justice they deserve, including a fantastically detailed top piece with a printed design – no stickers YEY!
It’s odd that LEGO Dimensions didn’t use the same design, but the assumption is that given the parallel developments, they each had to come up with their own ideas at different times.
On to the main build, the TARDIS itself, the interior of which is where you will spend the large majority of your building time. The design is a work of genius, utilising many existing LEGO pieces, as well as a few purpose-built, to recreate a very accurate and incredibly detailed control room complete with a stunning LEGO representation of the central console from series 7 and 8 of the show.
For those not too familiar with recent series’ of Doctor Who, during the Christmas Special between series 6 and 7, which introduced the first version of Clara, the TARDIS received a make-over as part of the 50th Anniversary celebrations. While the surrounding decor changed following the last regeneration, the console design for Capaldi’s Doctor remained almost identical. With that in mind, the LEGO design works perfectly with both Doctors included in the set.
From the off, this build is exciting and fun, especially if you’re a fan of the show, as the main platform begins to take shape and you begin the process of constructing the main control console.
Beginning with the central column, construction of the console requires a number of individual builds coming to together. The design uses transparent blue-tinted circular pieces to make up the main body of the column with a fantastic use of three large flat circular pieces with a number of single studs to simulate the rotating component at the top.
As you complete the central column and clip it into place on the main platform, you’ll add pieces to the bottom which allow for clips to connect, this is how the rest of the console will be built. Each panel of the console is built individually and clipped into place at the bottom of the central column. What is fantastic about the design is that every panel is unique, each with its own details included, the attention taken to recreate the controls from the show is no better shown than in the main lever used to start the TARDIS on the show, it’s included here in a simple yet very effective way.
The impressive detail doesn’t end there as once the control console panels are in place and fully surround the central column, additional touches take it to the next level, including the screens which, in the show, swivel around just above the console. Their inclusion in the LEGO model completes the central console perfectly, giving an almost like for like version from the TV show.
A clever use of antenna pieces and clips make up the handrail that surrounds the main platform. Along with two additional larger control panels for either side of the platform, this brilliant work completes the interior model and quite frankly, it’s stunning.
The exterior of the TARDIS is a much simpler affair, creating the blue box as we see it from the outside, don’t forget, it’s bigger on the inside and we’ve covered that part.
Despite the simplicity of building a big blue box, the LEGO version is actually a very intelligent design as it works as both an independent model of the exterior TARDIS but also opens up and connects to the interior model to create the doorway from the perspective of inside the time machine.
To achieve this duplicity, two of the sides of the TARDIS are connected to hinges which allow them to be opened up and reveal the interior scene. The transition is a surprisingly smooth one as the Police Box signs at the top are also connected to hinges so that they can be turned upwards and allow the sides to open.
The build itself is fairly fast as the large majority of it sees you stacking blue tile on blue tile but even so it’s not a dull process as the famous police box takes shape before your eyes. As with the rest of the set, the detail is top quality, including a panel with the “Police Telephone” writing on the front, I do love the small details.
My one and only issue here, and trust me this is just me being picky, is that while the exterior model is connected to the interior, there is no defined place to store the top of the TARDIS. Instead, you will find yourself balancing it on top of the open box purely out of lack of options, especially if, like me, this is a collector’s item to be displayed and not for playing with.
The Set Overall
The LEGO Doctor Who set is, quite simply, a work of art. It is one of the most intelligent designs I’ve seen from a LEGO set, marvellously capturing the “bigger on the inside” element from the TV show.
By creating a set which not only recreates the interior and iconic control room and also allowing you to disconnect the entrance and close it up into an independent model from the outside is pure design genius and it works so well. The minifigures are superb, putting aside my small issue with Capaldi’s colour scheme, and the designs for both the Daleks and Weeping Angel do the popular villains justice, they look brilliant.
This is more than just a LEGO set, this is the ultimate collector’s item for Doctor Who fans and the way to bring something that is already multi-generational into the toy world. My expectations were high, to begin with, I expected only the best for something I’ve been waiting 25 years for and Clark and his LEGO team have realised my dream and exceeded it.
The LEGO Doctor Who set is due for general release in December and if you’re planning on purchasing one then don’t wait around for long because these will sell out fast.
This set was provided for review purposes. However, all reviews reflect the authors own personal views and are not influenced in any way.
- General presentation, everything from the box and instruction book to the completed model is top quality
- Two models for the price of one thanks to the detachable exterior model
- Impressive detail throughout
- The Twelfth Doctor’s colour scheme is slightly off
- Nowhere specifically to store TARDIS roof when opened up