“Definitely a Madman with a Box”

As I mentioned in my last post – Thinking Outside the (Blue) Box – I am now the proud owner of not one, but nine incarnations of the Doctor – First through Seventh, with the Eleventh and Twelfth as well. However, in order for whichever incarnation of the Doctor I decide to use to be able to travel through time and space, I found myself in need of a TARDIS.

Now, there was a time (pun intended) that if you wanted a 28mm model of a police box, you had a variety of options. You could buy one from Fenris Games, Hasslefree Miniatures, Black Cat Bases and best of all, the option of having both an opaque and a transparent one from Ainsty Castings, who also did a TARDIS control console. However, this is no longer the case, and believe me I’ve looked. Whether this is due to ‘cease and desist’ letters being issued or the companies concerned sensing that it would be in their best interests to withdraw their products from the market, I don’t know. The end result is the same – you have very few options left if you want a 28mm TARDIS.

So, Option 1 is to purchase an ‘officially licensed’ TARDIS model from Black Tree Design.

Now, as far as I am aware, the set only comes with the TARDIS and the control console, rather than the figures shown in the image above (or the walls). It’s not the most inspiring of models, but my main problem with this set is the price – it’s £26.49! Even taking advantage of one of Black Tree’s 30% off sales, that’s still eighteen and half quid! Outrageous…

Which brings me on to Option 2 – Reaper Miniatures Bones range. In this range you will find 80037: Telephone Box:

I think we all know what this model is supposed to be and at $4.29, it’s a much more affordable alternative, What’s more, it’s also a nicer model. For those living in the UK, it can be purchased from Miniatures Heroes for £3.66.

However, having blown my gaming budget on Doctors and monsters AND being me, I went for secret Option No. 3 – make your own.

Now, having previously built a small model TARDIS many years ago, which was so good (apparently) that someone decided to steal it, I knew I could make one. However, what I failed to take into account during my initial attempts was that the previous TARDIS was not in scale with 28mm figures, being about one and half times bigger. Which meant that when I attempted to use the same materials and technique for a 28mm scale TARDIS, it didn’t go entirely to plan…

The results of this first attempt were duly consigned to the bin, but I did keep a note of the measurements I’d made. As 1mm Greyboard proved too thick for the particular technique I was planning on using, I cast about for a suitable material and found one in my sketch pad.  This A5 pad is “135gsm Pure White Cartridge Paper”, which is similar in thickness to thin card, and as I had a pad of approximately 50 pages, plenty of ‘material’ available, should I muck it up. I actually only ended up using one sheet…

So, the first thing I did was to transfer my dimensions to the cartridge paper and create the initial internal structure, like so:

After scoring the creases, I used a Pritt stick (other glue sticks are available) to assemble the main ‘box’, which you can see below with the Eleventh Doctor, to give a sense of scale:

Obviously a Type 40 TT Capsule, or TARDIS as it is more commonly known, does have a ‘chameleon circuit’ which allows it to blend in with whatever surroundings it might find itself in, but the ‘uncloaked’ TARDIS are a little less exciting, being essentially a silver column with a door, like below:

Related image

However, it’s still a bit more interesting than my plain white box, so we need to add more detail in order to make it actually look like the TARDIS we all know and love. And this is the fiddly and time-consuming bit…

Having previously marked out four further rectangles the same size as the sides of my box, I marked each of these with eight smaller panels, to represent the panels and windows in each side of the TARDIS. Then using a steel rule and a sharp craft knife, I preceded to cut out these panels, leaving me with the sides as shown below:

You may be wondering why I would go to all this trouble…and about halfway through I was wondering exactly the same thing. However, if you’re going to make a three-dimensional model of a TARDIS, you might as well do it properly, otherwise you might as well just print out a papercraft TARDIS ‘box’ with all the detail printed on…which of course IS another option, should you be inclined that way.

After these side panels were completed, the glue stick came out once more and they were attached to the internal box structure, like so:

And now you can see why I bothered, as it now gives depth to the model. Starting to look a little more TARDIS-like now, isn’t it?

Having referred to my reference material, I then cut four strips of paper the same height as the box, to act as corners, four panels to go just above the ‘doors’ and four further strips to act as the central ‘spine’ down each side. More gluing ensued and the additional detailing was added to the model, like so:

Now, as I was getting close to completing the model, I got a bit excited and didn’t take any further ‘work in progress’ pictures, so you’ll have to imagine the remaining interim stages.

The next step was to add four panels at the top of each side, which is where the ‘Police Public Call Box’ signage will go. As these are thicker than the other features, these were cut from 1mm Greyboard (or Brownboard in this case) and glued on.

As I’d decided to not try and replicate a particular version of the TARDIS (as there have actually been about eight different designs), I referred to various pictures to try and get a sense of what I wanted MY TARDIS to look like, utilising the materials I had to hand.

The next step was to add a square of 2mm Greyboard onto the roof, to provide a ‘stepped’ roof. This looked fine, but the next and final ‘step’ on the roof needed to be taller and shaped. A rummage through my bits box uncovered an unused 25mm square slottabase with angled sides, which was duly dry-fitted and turned out to be exactly what I needed. I widened the slot in the exact centre of the base slightly, then covered this with a square of cartridge paper, with a circular hole in its centre. This was then glued into place with superglue.

Into this hole was inserted an appropriate length of transparent plastic tube (could have been a cotton bud stem or an empty ballpoint pen tube – the amount of bits I keep “because they could be useful” is staggering…), which was then super-glued into place. To finish the whole thing off, a GW plastic ‘shield boss’, after filing down, was added as a cap to the roof light.

The final touch was to glue the whole structure to a 40mm square GW base and this is what I ended up with:

And to give a better view of the roof, here’s an overhead view:

Not bad for an evening’s work and the only thing it cost me was time, which is appropriate given the subject matter. All that needs to be done now is to paint it and print out suitable signage for the illuminated panels and external phone door. Thinking about it, I may need to insert a further panel where the external phone door will be, as I think this is not as recessed as the other panels. Oh, and add a door handle.

That’s all for this week, but there will be more Doctor Who goodness next time. The Master is a bit miffed that I’ve only built a TARDIS for the Doctor, so I’ll probably have to build him one to, unless I want to end up on the wrong end of his Tissue Compression Eliminator.

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18 thoughts on ““Definitely a Madman with a Box”

  1. Your design is similar to the one I used when I made mine back around 2000. Except mine’s scaled for 15mm 🙂

    I agree that the fiddly door-panels are a key feature of the build; they add a lot to it.

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  2. Brilliant! I feel an arts and crafts session coming on. I have the Hornby Hobbies version of the TARDIS but it’s 20mm so totally out of scale but I like it and it’s glued to one of my terrain boards.

    I’m blaming you for the large Black Tree order I put in yesterday, that’s going to land me Drs 1 – 8 and 17 companions! You and Simon and all your Whovian goodness….

    Now I need a TARDIS and some monsters

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  3. You and Simon can add me to the ever growing list of ‘Blamers’ as my selection of 4th Doctors and a couple of companions arrived the other day. Love the build and ultimately will have to copy it given the Ainsty have stopped doing there nifty cloaking one! I am staggered by the power of the alleged ‘cease and desist’ letters, which seem to be galvanising me into stating a new diversion, but without the calling on Warlord Games. That said, snap together Daleks, how good is that?

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    • Thanks Michael. At least we did bring the figures to your attention during the sale. And as I said above, I am happy to provide measurements if it helps for anyone else to build their own TARDIS.
      As I’ve yet to see one of these C&D letters, I can’t comment on the contents, but whilst the BBC do own the IP rights for the character of the Doctor or any other characters or creatures that appear in the show, as the police box existed before the advent of Doctor Who, you’d think it wouldn’t be affected. However, if you’re a small company and received a letter threatening legal action from someone with as much clout as the BBC unless you removed one item from your catalogue, you can see why they might decide to do so.
      As for Warlord Games, they first showed off their initial Doctor Who figures at Salute last year, and so far we’ve had two sets of Doctors and companions, Zygons, Judoon, the Silence and a two-pack of the hero and villain from the most recent Christmas special. Yes, we have been shown Daleks and Cybermen, but where are they? And Tetraps? They only appeared in one story – of all the monsters from the original series, why choose these?
      So far, I’m considering getting some of the ‘Time War’ multi-part Daleks, depending on price, but unless Warlord up their game, they won’t be getting any further money from me.

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  4. this is excellent. Rather inspired Jez, and applause for making your own. I always like to see things like this.. and you appreciate them on the `play` table all the more because of it, I always find anyway. Means you`ve got a piece no one else in the world has got, and the self smile of euphoria is like no other.

    Alan, your Tardis is also excellent, and I will take a nice long nose at your site later on as well.

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    • Thanks Hils. As scenery and terrain items tend to be a little more pricey than figures, I will always look at making my own first, as I do appear to have a bit of a talent for it. Plus, as you say, it’s always nice to have something unique and home-made.

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  5. yours (and Alan`s) are two of the nicest Tardis minis I have seen to date. I like the detail you have put into this and am keen to see it finished in all its glory. Scale wise you seen to have nailed it spot on.
    I do so wish modelling supplies were more readily available here; as we invariably have to order all our things and tools on line or if we get a chance to visit craft stores when we pop over to England (and you know how that is, often just not the time to do it). Buying supplies on line can be so hit and miss as you lack that much needed `hands on` and actual `eye` appreciation to judge what you need for your various bits and bobs back in the hobby workshop. Be out on a ball of wire by one millimetre and your barbed wide ends up looking like the links that held the Titanic to its mooring lines. But we muddle through. Shouldn’t complain, we`ve never had it so good really, even here in Ireland. Remember what it was like back in the old days. We all practically had to resort to ideas off Blue Peter and Mum`s empty kitchen utensils lol.

    Never did get a Blue Peter badge though 😦

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    • Thanks Steve. I think Alan’s trumps mine, because it has the same level of detail, but it’s that much smaller! It shouldn’t take too long to finish, as the paint job is relatively simple, although I will be utilising my printer for the signage, as painting text is not my forte.

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    • Not to worry, Tarot, we will educate you in all things Whovian, so I’m certain you will ‘get it’ eventually. And thank you for the compliment, – hopefully once it’s got some paint on it will look even better.

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  6. Your Tardis is superb so much better than my old effort (that I’ve now posted on this weeks blog entry, along with all my other Tardis models), I have the Ainsty versions (clear and opaque), they were gifts from Mike Brooks (the old owner of Ainsty) many years ago, and I wouldn’t replace them for the world.

    Cheers Roger.

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    • Thanks Roger. Given that you used a Denizen Arthur Dent figure, I’m assuming your TARDIS was made back in the mid-Eighties – given your current sculpting skills I’m sure any version you made now would be a lot better, but as you’ve got both opaque and transparent Ainsty ones, why would you need to?

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  7. Thanks Andy. It did come out rather well. I had noticed the police box in your ATZ batreps, but as it was always in the background, didn’t realise it was a smaller scale. I decided not to go for Black Tree’s Eighth Doctor, as I didn’t feel the sculpt was accurate enough.

    Regarding a TARDIS, I am happy to provide you and anyone else who wants them with the measurements I used, as it seems to be the ‘right’ size for 28mm. As for monsters, there will be some inexpensive options shown on my blog during this project, both home-made and bought, so this should offset any amount you have already spent on figures.

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  8. Terrific stuff Jez, and I’m certainly looking forward to seeing the finished blue box. I’m finding the c&d impact of “Warlord Games” acquiring the offical beeb licence extremely annoying I must say, though I fully understand why. But as you say, their own releases so far have been appallingly haphazard and the fact their rule-set/starter box still isn’t out a year on is bizarre!?! Obviously I own and paint their minis, as the sculpts are nice (especially their Zygons imho). But having been around for a year now, you’d have thought they’d have given us Daleks & Cybermen by now. Not a lame Christmas special boxed set and a more Companions than monsters.

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    • Thanks Simon. I had a feeling you’d approve. 😉
      The situation regarding Warlord is rather odd – they don’t want us to buy any other models than their own (hence the scale difference and the C&D letters), yet have offered us crumbs. Given that last year’s Salute saw the launch of their zombie game, perhaps this year will be the big Doctor Who game launch? Guess we’ll just have to wait and see. In the mean time, i will be continuing with inventive ways to game Doctor Who in 28mm.

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