(An ongoing writing project in which I catalog and quantify my extensive TARDIS collection.)
Having been kicked in my TARDIS junk (insert customary “bigger on the inside” joke here) by the non-kit, fully-assembled, have-but-to-flip-a-switch-and-yer-done nature of The Doctor Who Light Up TARDIS “Kit”I was pleased, a few months back, to discover on Amazon a new kind of TARDIS kit that actually required assembly. The Fascinations Metal Earth Doctor Who Tardis 3D Laser Cut Model – Blue might be a mouthful to say, but it looked amazing in the pictures and claimed that its pieces were all die cut in two layers of sheet metal which you, at home, could assemble. Sounded delightful. And, eventually, I ordered it.
The kit arrived shortly. I was somehow expecting a box, but it arrived in a thick cardboard envelope containing two sheets of thin metal, indeed die cut and pre-painted with TARDISy details, as well as an instruction sheet. I laid those three items on my desk and was taken aback by the fact that the size of the pieces did not match up to my assumption of how big this thing was actually going to be–or, rather, how small. It’s hard to get scale off a manufacturer’s picture, and I had assumed that the kit would produce a TARDIS that was probably in league with the Sylvester McCoy TARDIS, or maybe the TARDIS Yahtzee set at smallest. Nay, nay. The product dimensions might have listed it as being 6″x4″, but what they really meant was the package it came in was a flat 6″x4″ envelope. Eyeballing the size of the tiny TARDIS doors within their sheet metal framework, it appeared this TARDIS would be closer to 3 inches in height than 6″. Still, it was an amazing piece of engineering and the end-results, as per the photograph, were impressive. I started reading over the instructions and prepared to begin my kit assembly.
After less than a minute, I lay my instruction sheet down atop the intact sheet metal sheets and became distracted by doing anything else. For what I had swiftly realized was that this assembly wasn’t going to be a quick matter of popping the pieces out and quickly sticking them in place, like the old snap together model car kits. Nay, nay, nay. This was going to require tiny tools I wasn’t sure I possessed as well as a pair of 250 strength reading glasses. Because it turns the kind of exacting detail I tend to demand from my TARDIS purchases also require a similarly exacting level of detail in terms of the number of, often, tiny tiny parts in order to achieve it.
Now keep in mind that I am a guy who is not afraid to go to such levels of detail. In college, I was known in certain circles for my ability to paint micro-details onto tiny half-inch pewter figurines for our role-playing games. But that was 25 years and a pair of bifocals ago. I did want to assemble my TARDIS, and planned to eventually do so, it was just a matter of finding the time.
So the kit lay for the next two months or so.
Occasionally, I would pick up one of the sheets and stare at it, marveling at the kind of engineering it must have taken to be able to create a believable looking 3D TARDIS roof lamp and housing out of flat metal. Brilliant. Then I would move the whole thing to a flat surface where it was less-likely to have papers piled on top of it or bent up by a dog and there it sat for more weeks.
This past Monday, the wife’s day off, a mere week after having penned the entry about my shitty Light Up TARDIS “Kit”, I got a wild hair up my butt to finally put my tin TARDIS together. I gathered the sheets of metal from my desk, found where I’d temporarily lost the instructions, and headed downstairs for what I was certain would be two hours of frustration and frequent cursing.
“I’m going to put my metal TARDIS kit together,” I announced for the dogs and wife to hear.
The wife put down the book she’d been reading and said, “Ooh, what if I put it together instead?” And I knew she was serious because she both loves putting things together and also had thirty medical charts she didn’t want to work on.
“Okay,” I said.
Now this might seem an odd thing for a fellow who spent the better part of 900 words complaining about a TARDIS kit that didn’t allow him to put anything together to say. However, what I had long since come to realize is that my desire to have a cool-looking metal TARDIS, fully assembled and on display in my collection had outweighed my desire to actually put such a thing together myself.
“Are you sure?” the wife asked, fearing she . “You don’t want to do it?”
“Well, I wouldn’t mind doing it, but I also wouldn’t mind if you did it,” I said.
The wife set her book down and set to work on the TARDIS. Turns out we didn’t have exactly the ideal tools for doing the job, but between my small tool set and her jewelry making tools we had approximations.
Each of the pieces that make up the TARDIS come as part of one of the two flat sheets of metal and have to be removed. This can take some doing as the metal is shockingly easy to bend in places you don’t want it bent. (In fact, I accidentally dropped one of the sheets as I was trying to remove a piece and in my effort to catch it I wound up bending it across several pieces. Oops.) As such, the manufacturer, Fascinations, saw fit to include doubles of some of the smaller and more easily damaged pieces. The pieces often require folding and sometimes tab and slot fastening to other pieces (and by tab and slot I mean millimeter sized tabs and slots in some cases). For instance the roof section above the POLICE signs is composed of at least 9 separate pieces in order to get the details of the roof approximate to the real thing. Fascinations could probably have gotten away with skimping on some of these details, but they do not. In all aspects, this is a folded metal version of the TARDIS, down to the wood grain on the roof (which is to scale and is oriented in the correct direction). The POLICE PUBLIC CALL BOX signs are all properly recessed, the corner columns look right, the mirror finish windows have a T-shape formed by four of the panes, which are a slight shade of blue, the phone door sign looks correct, and both doors even open.
All in all, she said it was a very challenging and there were some pieces she asked me to help remove from the framework, mostly because there were four of them (the caps to the corners) and removing them was a pain in the ass. I gladly assisted whenever asked. She also apologized later, for in her assembly she’d managed to scratch a couple of the surfaces. I told her it didn’t matter, cause to me the TARDIS is supposed to look a bit banged up.
This is a fantastic kit. Even if I’d had to assemble it all myself, the challenge of it alone would have made the end result (which is a great TARDIS rendition) well worth it. It was even better, though, that I didn’t have to do all that. If you’re looking for a snap together kit, or a kit that a small child could manage, this is not your kit.