The Nautilus

We have a new guest reviewer tonight - Bryon Stump!  He's here with a rather unique review of a rather unique item.  But I'll let Bryon explain...

In 1954 Walt Disney Studios produced an adaptation of Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. While many have debated the film's merits as an accurate telling of Verne's tale, nearly all agree that Harper Goff's design of Nemo's submarine, Nautilus, was truly inspired. It created an image of a Victorian sea monster that has never been equaled. 

As a small child, I saw the film on television and was fascinated. In my imagination, I traveled to the ocean bottom in the Nautilus many times. The Nautilus ride at Disneyland and later at Disney World that I saw glimpses of on television specials seemed to like nothing short of heaven. When a cousin of mine visited the parks, I begged him to draw what he had seen. 

Like everyone else I have always wanted to own an accurate replica of the famous submarine. Over the years there have been many fan designed garage kits and the like, but never an officially sanctioned, truly accurate model available to the general public. Not until now, that is.

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the film, the Disney Store is offering what they term the most accurate representation of the Nautilus ever offered to the public. Designers William Babington and Rich Allsmiller used the original 11-foot model used in the film as well as well as actual film sets to create an amazing replica. Both great fans of the film, they put an attention to detail into the project that only true Nautilus maniac could appreciate. The result is exactly what many fans have been waiting for since 1954. 

Packaging - *
Other than efficient Styrofoam packing to protect the sub, it comes with no exterior packaging. No pictures, no copy, no display value. Zip.

Sculpting - ****
A thing of beauty is a joy forever! The tiniest details are preserved in the hull of the Nautilus. I have as an adult seen the original 11-foot model used in the film. I took extensive pictures of it when I had the chance. Comparing those pictures to the model shows a level of detail I have never encountered in a model before. Even irregularities in the riveting patterns are recreated exactly. The beast is also quite large. The Nautilus measures 22 inches long and is fairly heavy. It sits on a black lacquered wooden base with one of Nemo's most famous quotes attached via a small brass plaque.

"The sea is everything... an immense reservoir of nature where I roam at will. -Captain Nemo."

Paint - ***
The Nautilus is washed with a Bronze patina, which gives it the perfect Victorian look. It is clean with no bleeding around the windows. Very simple, but elegant. 

Light Feature - ***1/2
Two AAA batteries light the sub. Translucent blue resin forms the windows. When activated the salon windows, wheelhouse windows, and the "eyes" glow in an effective manner. The battery pack is neatly hid under the wheelhouse. Pushing the skiff at the rear of the sub slightly forward activates the light. 

Quality - ****
I really couldn't imagine how to improve upon this effort. It is everything I wanted as a child, but could never have had. Boy! It's great to be an adult! 

Value - ???
This portion of the review is really subjective. It's a perfect replica, but is it worth $250? Ouch!!! When I heard this was coming out, I knew I was in trouble. I prayed, "Please let it be affordable!" or if it wasn't "Let it be a piece of crap!" Well it wasn't and it wasn't. I'm not made of money and I've never paid that much for any toy. Still, it's a once in a lifetime opportunity. There are only 1000 of them and they are selling fast. I pretty much decided against it until my lovely wife convinced me to go ahead and splurge to reclaim a piece of my childhood. Bottom line: Is it worth it? It was to me. I doubt I'll ever regret it. Everyone else will have to decide for him or herself. 

Overall - **1/2 - ***
At $150 the Nautilus would be 5 stars for sure! At $250, well.....

Where to buy - 
The Nautilus is only officially available through or via their latest catalog. When I ordered mine the lady I talked to said they were really selling fast. She thought that by the time the catalog actually came out offering it, it might already be sold out. It has also shown up on ebay for considerably more than its advertised price.


Figures from the collection of Bryon Stump.

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