I have been excited for this set for a long time. Most of the time, LEGO keeps a tight lid on their upcoming products. You only officially get to know about what is coming out a month or so before it is released. This, however, is an Ideas set.
LEGO implemented a program wherein they allow people to submit their ideas for consideration. The ideas need to be a fully completed MOC (My Own Creation). Public users of the site can browse all of the submissions and decide if they would support this project. If the project reaches 10,000 supporters within a year, it moves on to the LEGO Group to review. They look at the project and evaluate it a number of ways. This part of the process is somewhat opaque. One assumes that they build the set and see if it is sturdy, if it violates certain building principles, and whether it seems easy or exceptionally hard for the end user. They probably also evaluate the questionnaires that the supporter filled out to see if it matches their analysis. Then they would look at the pricing of the set and what the supporters said that they would be willing to pay.
Doctor Who is the 11th set to be released after going through this process. It was submitted to the Ideas program on February 26, 2014. It was released on December 1, 2015. Anyone who voted for this set has been waiting at least 18 months. You can review the original submission entry here: https://ideas.lego.com/projects/59181
REVIEW: SET DETAILS
Set #: 21304
Name: Doctor Who
Theme: Ideas (Doctor Who)
Before we get to the build, let’s talk value. At $59.99 the price per piece works out to just under $.10 each. This is slightly better than the Star Wars licensed sets that I have done recently. There are 4 minifigures and 2 brick built Daleks. all figures are unique to this set.
Before we get started, I am going to take a moment to talk about something that I never mention, the box. LEGO Ideas sets come in a sturdier, nicer looking box. They really do celebrate the people and ideas that get selected and produced. The cardboard is heavier stock and has a nice opening and re-closing aspect. It's more like opening a treasure chest than a package.
Some people may wind up picking up a set that is open box or, want to verify the box contents before beginning a build. For this set, there are 6 unnumbered bags and a thick instruction book with heavy paper denoting the collectible nature of the Ideas sets.
The instructions have some information about Doctor Who and the characters in the set. There's also a section with information on the developers of this particular set, including the interesting factoid that one of the people from the LEGO Group is the nephew of the 8th Doctor actor Paul Mcgann.
THE BUILD AND EXECUTION
Since none of the bags had numbers, I had to do the last thing I wanted to. I had to open them all up, sort through them and separate them. I dislike this immensely. I hate it when I buy a used set, and it just makes me mad that on a set of over 600 pieces, they couldn't organize it a little better. pieces of each minifigure scattered in 3 different bags shows that they had no intention of making it easier.
For those with a great dislike of stickers, there are no stickers in this set. Every decorative piece is fully painted.
There's a large number of Dark Blue pieces, some of which I think might be new in this color. Dark and Light Bluish Gray dominate the rest of the build
Enough about my sorting. That's not what anyone really wants to read about. First, the instructions have you build the 4 minifigures. You get 2 different versions of the Doctor, his companion Clara Oswald and a Weeping Angel. The set comes with 2 Sonic Screwdrivers, although technically one of them is a spare. The box and instructions indicate that only the younger Doctor is allowed to have a Sonic. I decided to spread the wealth. I guess if they had put any more sonics in there, Clara and maybe the Angel would be pictured with one.
I am not going to go bag by bag with this set, because it's impossible. Because of that, there's probably going to be a lot more pictures than I usually take. Also, the pictures will have more stuff in the background because most of my work space is taken up with all of the pieces I sorted. (this teaches me a valuable lesson to have a work area and a photo area.) I had assumed that they would start you off building the blue box, so I was really excited to get started on that, but they jumped right to the interior.
The first thing that we build is the base of the TARDIS console platform. The designers created a pedestal base to lift the platform up and give the illusion that there is more stuff underneath, maybe more places to go. As a side note, the original submission had a tilt function in this area, but it appears to have been nixed in the final build, as this is very stable.
Now that we've got the base built, it's time to begin working on the console's central column. I like hw they created some little details and hid most of the studs. I don't understand the 8 white 1x1 round plates that are hidden in the upper section of the column. There has to be an aesthetic reason for them, but to me it's just pointless. I did enjoy the way that they built the stairs out of a ladder. it was oddly satisfying to build stairs instead of using a stair piece.
I was curious how they would create a 6 sided TARDIS console. From my own MOC attempts, I know that it is not a shape that comes easily to LEGO. I sort of figured that they would use the same build technique that I finally settled on, but I was wrong. Their way is probably more "legal" as it is fixed into the build and won't move too much. The panels are created separately and snapped onto a series of bars that are pinned into a wheel.
I am honestly somewhat disappointed in the low number of switches, knobs and decorative bits on the console panels. When I think og the console, I think of a mess of stuff sticking up and off, not trans blue plates.
Once you have the console built, then you finish up the working area with a small handful of additional computer consoles, 2 on the outer railing and 2 above the console panels.
Now that the console room is complete, surely we build the outside of the TARDIS, right? Nope, now it's time to EXTERMINATE! We're going to build the Daleks. I'd like to just take a quick detour to talk about Daleks. They are generally rounded, curved and sloped. Rounded is typically difficult to accomplish with generally rectangular bricks. Most MOC Daleks are generally very angular with a dome on top. The designers of this set put some curved pieces on to give the impression of a rounded body shape, but it's more of an illusion than a practical distinction. The design of the arms prevents them from moving at all, but the head design allows the whole top to rotate. I am not a fan of the giant gap created by the way that they designed the eye, but there's not really a better way to portray that without designing a new piece. Putting a piece on top of a dome is no more satisfying.
Finally we begin working on the TARDIS itself. The notorious blue box is the last thing that you build. It took me a while to understand why the ting I most wanted to build was the last thing. It's because builders are likely to stop as soon as they get the TARDIS built and play with that for a while. If it's the last thing you build, then you're more likely to play with everything.
Full disclosure here, I made a building error that I did not catch until the very last picture that I took. This error was very early in the build, but thankfully, in the end very easy to fix. I placed the upper panel all the way in the corner, but it I supposed to be slightly offset leaving a gap all the way around. I apologize to all if this bugs you throughout the rest of the pictures.
Once you have your base, then you need to start creating the box. The exterior is a series of windows with solid panels. This is a pretty nice way to replicate the design of the Police Box. The corners are built separately with Plates used to raise the edges as well as ad detailing to bring the design up from just a simple box.
Just a warning at this stage, you begin putting interior details on the box, but it's very easy to pop out the bottom panel as you are trying to seat the pieces. The reverse image of the TARDIS doorway is a nice detail that I never would have expected.
To finish up, you add the panels that read "Police Public Call Box" these pieces come in 2 sections and are mounted on hinges. This is important to allow you to open up the build. The LEGO designers added a place where the Doctor could fit within the box.
Finally, you can attach the opened TARDIS to the console room platform to allow for the play aspect that it is bigger on the inside. The two separate pieces come together pretty well, allowing you to pick it all up together, but not so firmly that you can't take the 2 elements apart again quickly.
The characters look pretty good. The younger Doctor, Clara and the Weeping Angel all have 2 faces. The younger Doctor also comes with a Fez which looks terrible on him, and exposes the second face. Clara's got the 2 color legs that LEGO has been doing recently. I am not a fan of her hair piece, because her hair is generally straight and darker. The older Doctor is wearing a light purple jacket that I don't recall ever seeing on the show.
There were a lot of small extra parts, Nothing too exciting, except for the extra Sonic Screwdriver, but that's not pictured here.
I like this set. I wanted to like the set before I started, and I wound up not being disappointed. I was slightly disappointed that the TARDIS did not open on the door panels, but it makes sense the way that they designed it. Now the front door is on the front of the build. The reversed image fits in the right place and all is right aesthetically. It's just too bad that in order to have the Doctor peaking out, I'd have to dismantle several panels and remove the roof. The biggest change between the Ideas submission and the released product is in the choice of minifigures. The Cyberman is going to make an appearance soon in the Dimensions fun pack, but the suggested Doctors were set aside for the most recent iterations. The most popular Doctors of them all are #4 Tom Baker and #10 David Tennant. Their exclusion from this set, but inclusion in the Dimensions game play make me really believe that they will be making a later appearance in toy form.
Below, I have added some comparison pictures between the Dimensions set and the Ideas set. I'll probably do the same later on when the Fun pack with the Cyberman and Dalek is released. Sure I have a few quibbles, and some of the stuff that I worked so hard on for my own MOC are more appealing to me, but overall I find this set to be satisfying.
Doctor Who is enduringly popular and tends to draw a rabid fandom. Those outside of fandom either dimly recall bad special effects, or have no knowledge of this series at all. People who don't collect LEGO will and have gone out of their way to purchase this set. Within 12 hours of release online this set sold out and became back ordered on the LEGO Shop At Home site.
There have been comparisons between this set and The Big Bang Theory, I guess because they are both popular TV series that have recently been made into LEGO form. That's somewhat disingenuous. Big Bang Theory doesn't lend itself to fantastic situations or much play possibility. Doctor Who should be compared to the older sets like the Back to the Future Delorean or Ghost Busters Ecto-1. All 3 of these properties have already been slotted into the LEGO Dimensions game with new or modified minifigures either already released or soon to be. With the Ghostbusters firehouse coming to expand that line, we can hope that Doctor Who follows suit.
Short term, this set has some limited flipping potential for Christmas 2015. If it remains sold out, or quickly sells out again before the holiday, people will potentially make 50-100% profit in that shortened time frame. In the long term, this set has some legs. I don't see it languishing like birds or Exo-Suit or even BBT. It will probably be as easy to get as Ecto-1 for its lifetime, but I expect the price to jump as soon as it EOL.
I have expectations that like Minecraft, this Ideas set will become a theme. There are a dozen different Doctors, dozens of companions and bad guys galore. They could create settings out of almost every theme that they have released to show his travel in both time and space. The European and International appeal of this property is pretty stunning. So, I could see this set being the pilot, the taste to get people in the door, and then they would retire it to make their own sets. If this becomes a full blown theme, the initial offering will be the most sought after.
I also think that the part out value for this set will be good. People will want multiple TARDIS(s) to display one with the control room and one free standing. Collectors will want multiple Weeping Angels, and some people will just want the Doctors and Clara. I think that this set has legs. Whether you know and like the show or not, the international fanbase will continue to grow as parents introduce their kids to the show and to LEGO.
Edited by thoroakenfelder