Review: The Beatles Yellow Submarine (21306)

If you are over 30 and your parents start buying you Lego for Christmas again, your life certainly went into the right direction. In this sense my partner Emma can rejoice: she got the Yellow Submarine! And I did let her build it all by herself! What a feat of self-control by me… I think she actually felt a bit bad for me. But joking aside: it was really nice to see her enjoying building it, discovering new techniques and all the strange new pieces Lego has made since the 1990s.

Four Beatles, one Yellow Submarine, one little brown, blue-faced creature called Jeremy: seems the set is complete!

Since the Yellow Submarine is a Lego Ideas-set, it comes with a slightly more elaborate box than the usual ones: It features bright and happy artwork from the film and works very well in creating the feel of holding quite a special Lego set in your hands. It actually looks pretty nice as a display piece by itself as well. The instructions are a bound booklet with some information on the set itself, the designer of the original Ideas-version and the Lego designer, who trimmed the Ideas project into a finished product.

A view from the rear. Please note the railing on the submarine turret. Its made of hotdogs!

Putting the set together went, according to Emma, pretty straightforward and was only slightly repetitive, despite the pretty dense nature of the build. It is, after all, quite a number of pieces on relatively small space. But the instructions helped her to navigate safely through the building process without any brick-misplacement and audible cursing.^^

The finished model is quite heavy and solid – and shows a impressive level of detailing inside and outside. All the bits and pieces on it are spot on and make it really look like it drove straight out of the film. It just has the right colours and angles and curves. Very nice. That’s something the designers doesn’t always achieve. It worked with the two Ecto-1s for example and to a degree with the TARDIS from Dr. Who, but not really with the Back to the Future Delorean.  Having a pretty “round” object to recreate, like the Yellow Submarine, surely made the task for the designers not easier. And the result really shines.

When seated in the Submarine, they look like a bit like a psychedelic bobsleigh team. Of course Ringo is last. You can also see the cover of the luggage department, which is located behind the seats. Interestingly, the instructions wanted two blue 3×2 tiles on the bottom side of the lid. I don’t see a practical reason for this other than giving it more weight and contribute to the solid overall-feel the set gives.

Also a very welcome detail is the absolute absence of stickers: Its all printed pieces! I think this contributes significantly to the positive building experience. It just makes the whole process tidier and faster. A shame really that so many regular sets still rely on stickers. I think the reason is pretty simple: With a price of € 60 / £ 55 the Yellow Submarine is a relatively upmarket set for its size. Its also aimed at an adult audience, who maybe haven’t got a Lego set in many years and who might not enjoy putting stickers on something as much as kids do (and who don’t have the acute eyesight of a 10 year old anymore!).

Some lovely comic-style printing makes the interior really come alive!
These panels, dials and gauges – just wonderful!

Speaking of prints: the four Beatles feature some really lovely and film-accurate printing on their torsos and legs (only poor George Harrison has to make do with plain black trousers!) and their faces are quite recognizable. To emulate the hairstyles they had in the 60s, they got – additional to typical things, like beards and moustaches – actually some sideburns printed on their faces. Together with the hair pieces they create the proper illusion of facial vegetation. Sneaky!

John, Paul, George and Ringo – plus Jeremy, who keeps the doctor away.

Additional to the fab four (to use this silly, overused term), you get also Jeremy Hillary Boob. Yes, that’s his real name! A little brown creature with a blue face and ally of our brave Yellow Submarine-crew. I would have preferred a blue meanie or two instead. But Jeremy looks just so happy that you can’t really dislike him.

Each Beatle also has a piece of equipment and a place on their display stand. While Jeremy shares his with the Submarine itself. Alternatively the four Beatles can sit (pretty tight) in the submarine and store their equipment in the luggage department.

Which shark can resist a Hotdog railing? A member of the local sea-fauna takes a bite, while the Yellow Submarine discovers a shipwreck. (Shipwreck and sea-creatures not included.)
We want photo! The Yellow Submarine compared to the Deep Sea Exploration Submarine from 2015 (also not included)

All in all The Beatles Yellow Submarine is a pretty high quality set, with a solid feel and some neat and whimsical detailing, which makes a great display-piece. Beatles-fans will certainly enjoy it, even if the pricing is a bit on the steep side. People who are more fans of Lego than of the Beatles might find more interesting sets for that price, but may appreciate the unique printings.


Pieces: 553

Rating: 5/5 if you are a Beatles-fan, 3/5 if not