Over the last decade or so Lego has experienced an impressive upswing of popularity in modern culture. Those small multicoloured building blocks have spawned theme parks, cartoons, computer games and a surprisingly existential movie, released in 2014. Thanks mainly to some canny licensing deals — such as Star Wars, Marvel and DC Comics, to name a few — the Lego brand is now one of the most recognisable in the world. So when the company announced a few months ago that it was going to release a set featuring The Beatles Yellow Submarine, the reaction of fans wasn’t so much why, as when?
Released in mid-November 2016 The Beatles Yellow Submarine is a 553 piece set featuring the iconic vessel, and characters, from the surreal 1968 animated film. All four Beatles are included (on their own display plinth) as well as Nowhere Man Jeremy. Each Beatle comes with an accessory that featured in the film: John has a telescope; Paul has a little LOVE; George the submarine’s motor and Ringo has his hole. Jeremy in turn has one of the film’s iconic apples. The multicoloured submarine seems to float above a white Lego cloud and is a well crafted piece, with moving propellers and rudder.
Inside the brightly decorated box there are five bags of Lego pieces and a 144 page instruction manual featuring very large, easy to follow illustrated instructions. Inside each big bag is another smaller one containing the fiddlier pieces.
The completed model (piece? sculpture? I’m not sure of the correct terminology for a Lego construct) measures 25cm across by 18cm high. The model is designed in such a way that the top can be removed and the four Beatles placed inside. There’s even a small hold in the back for their accessories.
The construct took me about 2.5 hours to complete — I’ve never made a Lego model before so I’ve no idea if that’s a typical time. I didn’t rush the build, or dawdle either, so I suspect the time is about right.
The Beatles Yellow Submarine was originally designed by Lego fan Kevin Szeto and then finalised by Lego designer Justin Ramsden. The colours on the model are subtle and there are some nice touches, such the small gears and ‘lights’ inside the submarine’s cab. I also like the noodle chimneys at the top, although the small red sausage-like rail was quite fiddly to get right.
As I said earlier, I’ve never made a Lego model before but couldn’t resist one based on such an unlikely source. Yellow Submarine is a delightfully surreal movie, a genuine icon of 1960’s pop culture, and so not an immediate or obvious choice for a Lego construct. I actually rather enjoyed making it too. If filled a rather pleasant Sunday afternoon and allowed me to catch up on a couple of vinyl LP purchases I’d made the week before. And the two bottles of Corona I knocked back while making the model didn’t hurt either!
The Beatles Yellow Submarine retails at £49.99 and is available from most Lego stockists (I bought mine from the online lego store). It isn’t cheap by any means — and for the price I can’t help but wish that it was a little larger — but overall I’m satisfied with the piece. It won’t made a Lego convert out of me, not unless this is the first in a series based on other iconic Sixties movies (Planet of The Apes anyone?) but it was fun to build, and would make a great Christmas present for even the most casual Beatles fan.