18 October 2015

Doctor Who and the Toy of Doom

Doomed to spend all our Earth credits, that is. What's that, you don't like Doctor Who? Keep reading. You may well need this set anyway.

To say that I'm thrilled to have received LEGO® Ideas 21304 Doctor Who from the High Council of the Time Lords the CEE team would be an understatement. Doctor Who was my number one favourite geek thang from about the age of five until a few years ago when it got knocked off the top spot by LEGO. To have the two together at last is simply pant-wetting. Better yet, all bias aside, it's actually a fantastic set. I'll be reviewing it in the November issue of Bricks magazine, but don't worry I have plenty else to discuss here today! That's because this set is absolutely awash with excellent recolours and a couple of interesting new 2015 parts. Of course for the Whovians amongst us, it also contains printed elements that will just blow your tiny human minds. And zero stickers!

The printed elements that many will be excited by the most are the minifigures. The Weeping Angel has a double-sided face: one innocent and one that will scare the bejeezus out of you. The Twelfth Doctor (Peter Capaldi) wears the outfit which the Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith) wore for his final few episodes but sans bowtie and Clara Oswald wears her outfit from The Time of the Doctor and Deep Breath, suggesting this set covers the period around the time of the regeneration. It's not that specific though because there were no Weeping Angels in those stories, and of course the default outfit of Eleventh Doctor supplied here is his earlier, more iconic one. Graphic designer Adam Corbally has done a superb job. Both the hair of the Weeping Angel and the Twelfth Doctor are new in Medium Stone Grey [TLG]/Light Bluish Gray [BL], I think.

The Daleks are close to minifigure-scale, and brick-built with no custom pieces - those are not allowed in Ideas sets. I love the design. Daleks are impossible to get looking perfect at minifig scale but designer (and nephew of the Eighth Doctor, Paul McGann!) Samuel Johnson has focused on the overall shape and done a spectacular job. They look much better in your hands than in photos, as your mind kind of fills in the unavoidable gaps. They are Sand Yellow [TLG]/Dark Tan [BL] and include a printed part: the Dalek's head, dome, lid or whatever you call it (Element ID 6132557) of which you get two. This design will be useful in other sci-fi applications too. Better yet, they consist of several parts newly recoloured in Dark Tan. There's four 1x2 SNOT bricks with two studs on opposing sides (Element ID 6135609 | Design ID 52107), two doughnut tiles (6132790|15535) and two each of the two modified 1x2 plates which together create a hinge: the bar (6135607|60478) and clip (6135610|63868); all very useful parts.

If you thought that was good, just wait until you hear what pleasures the TARDIS comprises of! Whilst not the most interesting part of the build - that honour goes to the superb time rotor and console inside - the TARDIS exterior is certainly the most thrilling part for Who fans... and for fans of a certain LEGO colour. Yes, the Earth Blue [TLG]/Dark Blue [BL] inventory has just received the most wonderful boost thanks to the Doctor and his time machine.

Again, there's four 1x2 SNOT bricks but this time it's the version with two studs on one side only (6135606|11211). Plates get a look-in too: four pretty 3x3 plates are here (6135597|11212) as is - hooray! - four instances of the hinge plate (6135593|19954). Tiles get an excellent array: we get five plus one spare 1x1 round tile (6132810|98138), eight corner tiles (6103392|14719) and five 1x3 tiles (6132566|63864). There are also eight printed 1x3s; possibly the most thrilling pieces of the set as together they make up the iconic signs (POLICE - 6132564, BOX - 6132567). These signs been divided into two sections because one half of the TARDIS can be split open and attached to the interior - a fantastic play feature.

I'm not done with Dark Blue yet. The 1x2x2 window frame is here (6135595|60592) and there are a whopping 24 of them included! Even more excitingly, you also get 15 window panes in Dark Blue too (6134371|60601). Someone please correct me if I'm wrong, but I think this is the first time that TLG have ever cast this size of window pane in an opaque colour? One of these panes is printed with the St. John's Ambulance logo which appears on the front door of the TARDIS (Element ID 6134374).

Dark Blue is not the only new, opaque colour which window panes appear in; they're also present in White which is a far more useful colour. They're all printed but of course you can reverse the position if you want to use these elsewhere. Eight are printed with the six-panelled window design (Element ID 6132570) which is a pretty design that could conceivably be used elsewhere, and one is printed with the 'Free for use of public' sign (Element ID 6132569). There's also a larger printed pane in White; the TARDIS doors as seen from the interior are printed on a 1x4x6 pane (6132561|57895). This part has appeared in White a couple of times before.

There are a couple of interesting parts, new for 2015, in Transparent [TLG]/Trans-Clear [BL] which have appeared in other sets already, but haven't been reviewed here on New E as yet. One being the part which that cheeky monkey Elspeth DeMontes has named the #TransNipple, and Huw Millington of Brickset Towers called it the 1x1 round tile with nipple. Honestly, I don't know where they get these ideas from. Anyway I won't say more about it right now except that it is definitely more useful than the nipples of a human male. This unassuming but groundbreaking new part will receive its own post in due course. (Honest... I've even starting writing it!)

The second fairly-new transparent part appearing in the Doctor Who set has been named 'Minifig, Neck Bracket with 2 Back Studs' by BrickLink and 'Back Plate W.2 Knobs For Textile' by TLG (6100958 | 18986). In this set it is used to attach the Angel's wings, via clips. It has previously appeared in Superheroes sets and recently in one of the new Force Awakens sets. Obviously it is similar in purpose to the single-stud minifig bracket (Design ID 42446) which has been around since 2002, but it is a bit different in design; it's more 'in System'. 42446 has an unusual thickness; if you stick a part to its side stud it will sit about 3 LDU away from the surface of the minifig (or brick). Compare this to the family of plates with bracket such as 99781, which are 4 LDU thick. That minute difference is a delight to many AFOLs, especially microscale builders who love anything that permits the subtlest of detailing, but the folks at TLG's Design Lab must grind their teeth at inconsistent parts like this. 18986 has been standardised to  8 LDU, i.e. the width of a plate. You can see this in the picture to the right: I could attach a 1x4 piece to those four side studs. It is nevertheless still an interesting part since it creates offset, so will have unique uses. The transparency is an added bonus. As with the single-stud minifig bracket, if attached to a stud rather than a minifig's neck, it covers up most of the stud which prevents further parts being attached.

The TARDIS interior is full of clever and fun techniques, excellent part choices and a couple of nice new printed parts too. Most of the printed tiles used on the console are existing prints but there are also two 2x2 road signs with clip in Dark Stone Grey [TLG]/Dark Bluish Gray [BL] (6132560|15210) and a 2x2 round tile in Light Bluish Gray (6132558|14769). The latter looks a bit like something under a microscope!

I mentioned quantities as I went along but there are some more common parts also worth mentioning because of the quantities they are supplied in: 16 Black 1x1 SNOT bricks and in Dark Blue there are 35 1x1 plates, 10 2x2 corner plates and two 6x6 plates. So this set is a pretty good parts pack, especially for Dark Blue!

If you'd like to read more about the actual set, hang out for my Bricks review or read Huw's review on Brickset.


  1. I had forgotten that I coined #TransNipple, it's a great little part and definitely more useful than the #MaleNipple. I saw the more luxurious #PearlGoldNipple in one of your preview photos of the new modular set Bank-o-Laundromat...much be for those special occasions. :-)

    1. In set 41098 you can find already 4 of the #TransNipple :-)

  2. Some of those parts look outstandingly useful. Of course they'll be too busy being in my TARDIS, but still...

    1. I was think something similar, nice parts but I will need to buy two sets, one to build and one to play with the new parts!

  3. "under a microscope"
    Those are cogs and other 'steampunk' elements, I think. Per the TV show titles ?

  4. Re: 20482 "This unassuming but groundbreaking new part"

    If you haven't discovered this yet, the most amazing use I've found so far is it's ability to transform any modern axle hole into a stud receiver. So for instance you can turn a 135 degree technic connector into a 135 degree stud connector. (Very old axle holes were not compatible with 3.2mm pins/rods.)

    The 1.5mm micro-pin hole fits flower pins, minifig drill tips, the stop/base pins on 6126 flames,etc. Any standard 1.5mm pin feature. For instance, the inner part of a technic universal joint has four of these 1.5mm pins, so you can firmly attach four of these new parts. :)

    The 3.2mm pin on this part is sized perfectly so two of these can fit flush inside a 4081b clip plate. I'm not sure where this pin length comes from, but it is clearly based on some System design feature.

    And since the cost of these new parts is high, a cheap substitute can be had by cutting a 4599 Tap at the junction of the side piece. Use the side piece as a guide for the cut. This gives a 3.2mm pin of exactly the same length as the 20482, so two will sit flush in a 4081b clip plate as above. Of course there is no 1.5mm hole, but that is less useful than the 3.2mm post, I think. The tap's stud holder is not as robust, nor shaped the same, but I find the 10x price difference compelling. If you want the same function but prefer a longer pin, chop up some 2343 minifig goblets which can be had very cheaply.

    Sorry to anyone shocked by my mention of xactos and bricks in the same sentence!
    Love your blog!

    1. You're making my job much easier :D Thanks Brice some great info there.

    2. Thanks! FYI the 3.2mm pin length is nothing special: it's exactly one plate thinkness. So the entire 20482 part is exactly 2 plates tall. I never realized the "thick ring" of the 4081b clip plate is exactly 2 plates wide. (Aside: I've never understood why TLG changed the "thin ring" 4081 part to the modern "thick ring" version, nor why the "thin ring" existed in the first place.)

  5. "a cheap substitute can be had by cutting a 4599 Tap at the junction of the side piece"..... ummm did you say cut then....chop? Call the LEGO Thought Police, there has been some criminal thoughts expressed here ;-)

    1. Guilty! :)

      I seek to liberate all LEGO design elements! There are many sub-pieces which live sub-standard lives in our MOCs because they are forever chained together in arrangements dictated by corporate designers. TLG claims profits and product safety would both decline if individual sub-parts were freed and sold separately. Perhaps, but our creativity is being policed in the name of profits and safety ratings.

      Consider the lowly 87748 Atlantis Treasure Key. Millions have been abandoned and find no place in our MOCs. But imagine the ring freed from the triangle. A few "snips" is all it takes. I have found the liberated ring to be supremely useful. The new 20612 Ninjago Weapon Holder Ring is similar, but just can't compete.

      I look at LEGO parts and try to see the "natural" lines between the different sub-parts. When I see such a line I know there are two individuals being forced to act as one by their TLG overlords. I feel no remorse separating cheap parts along their natural boundaries.

      For example, consider the dirt cheap 15456 Plate, Modified 2 x 2 with Towball and Hole. One careful cut and I have a 2x2 plate with a hole plus a towball on a stick. Both are useful. I can now put a towball anywhere a 3.2mm rod will go. With the advent of the Mixels-era twoball hinges, these towball sticks can be quite useful.

      In the post above I mentioned that the inner cross from a technic universal joint has four 1.5mm posts to which these new nipple parts can be attached. But the universal joint cross also has a ~2mm hole on one side. If you cut the ball off the tip of a whip antenna you will liberate a ~2mm rod of exactly the same dimension. The cross can be placed on top of the antenna and you can then attach four pneumatic-T parts to the 1.5mm posts of the cross.

      Enough! My X-Acto blade grows itchy...


    2. Brice,
      The LEGO new parts designers have made your towball & 3.2mm rod idea a real part now, throw that blade aside!

      Part 22484