2024 is flying by – we’re already in February! A new month does mean new LEGO sets, though. And one of the headline releases for February is LEGO Ideas 21347 Red London Telephone Box, which is available starting today for LEGO Insiders. You’ll find it on the LEGO website where it retails for US $114.99 | CAN $149.99 | UK £99.99. We already talked about the set back when it first debuted. But since then, The Brothers Brick was afforded an opportunity to sit down with the team behind the set and ask some questions. We’ve got a summary below.
Alongside John Cramp, we were speaking with Creative Lead of LEGO Ideas Jordan Scott and LEGO Designer Marina Stampoli as a part of a roundtable opportunity organized for LEGO fan media. Marina is a relatively new member of the design team, and this was her first assignment as a LEGO designer. The final model consists of 1,460 pieces, with a light-up interior lamp and space for the set to be used as a phone stand. There are customization options for the phone inside the box too, showcasing two eras of phone technology and a whole host of Easter eggs. (More on those shortly!)
Incredibly, the Red London Telephone Box was John’s fourth submission to reach the 10,000 votes threshold on LEGO Ideas. The original idea for this set actually came from one of his prior submissions, which included a minifigure-scale telephone box. So how did this one get over the line? The key was presenting something new. Creative lead Jordan emphasized that the best way to tackle an unsuccessful Ideas submission is evolution, not revolution – take your submission and “change it, adapt it, do something else to it. We like to see something new, something that we might not have done before!”.
Jordan also explained how there was a surprising amount of licensing to take into account with this set! The K2 telephone box is licensed by British Telecom (BT), who were involved in the set’s design process. Licensing factors also explains the exclusion of that other staple of British streets, the red mailbox, which featured in the original design. It was also necessary to produce a unique, LEGO-fied crown for the top of the booth.
The model has been downsized slightly as a LEGO set; the phonebox as submitted had a footprint of 16×16 studs, whereas it’s now a more modest 10×10 studs. But why? Quite simply, so it’s easier to display! As John put it: “I built it digitally, where sometimes it’s hard to get a sense of scale because you’re just working at it on a computer. I think originally, I intended the model to be about the size that the finished model’s turned out, so I’m more than happy with all those changes that were made to it”.
Naturally, some compromises had to be made as a result of the change in scale. Both John’s model and Marina’s final design include 5 rows of window panes; although the real thing has 6, it was felt the overall proportions were more correct with just 5, particularly taking into account the restrictions of LEGO pieces. These windows were singled out as the biggest challenge for designer Marina, while the interior light-up brick was highlighted as her favourite feature. She was even able to demonstrate it, and it looks very realistic!
The downscaling did have one interesting upside, though. Marina revealed that this phone box is built to the exact same scale (approximately 1:10, as it turns out) as the figures in 21334 Jazz Quartet! All parties were keen to see how the LEGO community would customize the phone box in this way. Marina was keen to see more figures at the ‘Jazz Quartet’ scale, while John pointed out that many of these phone boxes have now been converted into, among other things, miniature libraries and a toy museum. And if anyone is up for a challenge, Jordan posited an entire street built around the K2 phone box…
Although this particular phone box is not bigger on the inside, it’s still full of fun references! Many of these have been picked up by LEGO fans already – the numbers for the emergency services, for instance, all refer to sets in their respective areas. They extend beyond just other LEGO sets, though. John was able to add some very personal touches, including his wedding anniversary and initials of his children. As for Jordan, he singled out the “Your Ideas here” poster – a clever play on the “your business here” adverts often seen in real phone boxes. Very meta, given this is an Ideas set!
If you’re looking to get your hands on LEGO Ideas 21347 Red London Telephone Box, it’s available now from the LEGO website exclusively for Insiders (for everyone else on February 4th) at a price of US $114.99 | CAN $149.99 | UK £99.99.