Converting a Red Telephone Box Into a Blue TARDIS

Can a LEGO set be rebuilt into something else entirely, perhaps a bit more timey-wimey and blue? Today, we will find out. I recently was able to build LEGO Ideas 21437 Red London Telephone Box. For a very quick review, it is a very satisfying build. From the options for the different types of telephones inside to the clever SNOT techniques and the inclusion of a light, it is a delight to build. It’s also a quicker build than some of the other sets from the LEGO Ideas range.

Although red telephone boxes are less common in the modern world of mobile phones, they are an iconic element of the London landscape. It is still readily found in souvenirs and countless Instagram and tourist photos. For many people, the red telephone box symbolises London just as much as the Tower Bridge or Big Ben. If you love all things London, this set will sit nicely on your shelf next to the 10258 London Bus, 10214 Tower Bridge or 10253 Big Ben.

My original tardis design from 2006

Something Old

As soon as the set was first announced, there were calls for people to alter the set to make a TARDIS from the TV series Doctor Who. It’s not a secret that I’m a big fan of the series, having watched it from a very young age in the 1970s to the current era.

In fact, one of my very first MOCs, as an adult, was a TARDIS. It was back in the time when the availability and range of bricks were very limited compared to today. Using mostly basic bricks, I pored over an old copy of the Doctor Who Technical Manual to achieve the desired shape and design. Over the years, it has been modified and altered to improve its strength and to add printed elements. I had originally intended to rebuild it in the style and colour of the modern-era TARDIS, but I’ve never gotten around to it. So when LEGO announced the red telephone box, I knew what had to be done.

Something New

LEGO kindly provided a copy of the Red London Telephone Box to BrickNerd, and I was challenged to make it into a TARDIS. Challenge accepted!

LEGO IDEAS 21437 Red london telephone box

It arrived a week later than I had hoped it would because of some shipping issues, so there was not a lot of time to play around with the idea before the set became generally available. Firstly though, I had to build the Red Telephone Box as per the instructions just to see what clever techniques had been utilised in the design.

As already mentioned, it was a delight to build. I thought all of the windows would make it a little repetitive, but there was enough variety to prevent that from happening. I particularly liked the texture in the ground and the fence railings.

With the red version complete, it was time to look into building a TARDIS in the same design. When initially given the opportunity, I had thought to use dark blue in the style of the modern-era TARDIS, but sadly my dark blue part selection was inadequate, and I didn’t want to order and wait for new parts to arrive. So I went back to the regular blue as used in my original 2006 TARDIS build and got to work.

compromising with parts of another colour

Something Borrowed

One of the things you’ll notice straight away is that the design of my modified TARDIS is a compromise. Despite their similarity in function and appearance, a Police Box and a Phone Box have significantly different dimensions. The best I could achieve with the available parts and my own personal part limitation was a TARDIS-like design.

It’s recognisable as a TARDIS, but the pedantic amongst Doctor Who fans can see where things are not quite right. There aren’t enough windows, the door doesn’t open and the top is too tall. If you look closely, you may see where I’ve substituted parts of a different colour to achieve the build. Some parts used in the build are not available in blue and others, as mentioned, were in short supply in my personal collection.

The original Red Telephone Box includes a light that shines inside the build when the button on top is pressed. I did include the light in my redesign, but I built it to shine the other way, as per the light on the top of the TARDIS. Alas, the push button light is facing the wrong way to achieve the desired effect and is barely visible. I’m still considering how this can be improved, and I may turn to LEGO-compatible lights as an alternative.

The other side of the tardis showing the issues with part supply

internal shot of the top of the tardis showing the inverted light

Something Blue

To further enhance the build and make it more recognisable as a TARDIS, I added a few custom printed elements.

Tardis conversion of the red london telephone box

The bricks with the “Police Box” printing were originally produced by The Big Brick and were the perfect size for this build. The door and street signs were printed on plain paper and attached to the parts with a glue stick. (I know, it was a necessary evil when there was limited time —I may yet have them properly printed in the future.)

I wanted to keep the style of the street sign but chose to change it to Totter’s Lane, as that was the location of the TARDIS when we first saw it in the TV series. Totter’s Lane was supposedly located in Shoreditch in the London Borough of Hackney. Further investigation suggested that the street signs in the London Borough of Hackney have a particular style that is different from other parts of London—which is why the design varies from the original included in the Red Telephone Set.


Overall, this was both a fun and frustrating rebuild. I loved the challenge of copying the basic design of the original red Telephone Box set and modifying it into a blue TARDIS—and the deep dive into London street signs was fascinating.

Side-by-side comparison of the two builds

It certainly highlighted my personal collection limitations and the surprising gaps in the LEGO palette. I’m looking forward to seeing what others achieve with their Red Telephone Box TARDIS conversions, so I’ll leave you with this morphing GIF, you just have to provide the TARDIS materialisation sounds yourself!

DISCLAIMER: This set was provided to BrickNerd by The LEGO Group. Any opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.

Would you ever convert a set? Let us know in the comments below.

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