Childhood memories are of course treacherous, but I had a bit of a déjà-vu when the 1970 Ferrari 512 M (76906) set in the Speed Champions line. It really looked and felt extremely familiar, though I couldn’t tell you from where. Could have been a slot racer car at my cousins’, could have been one of those coveted Matchbox cars we traded on the school yard with other kids who had Western relatives (growing up in Eastern Germany without such relationships was clearly a disadvantage). Anyway, despite me being rather uninformed about all things relating to cars old and new, this struck a chord with me and brought back some memories, false as they may be.
Contents and Pricing
As a standalone Speed Champions set this one falls into the standard 20 Euro price category. For 261 pieces that certainly would be okay in the LEGO realm, but of course you have to make concession to the fact that the majority of the elements are just 1 x 1, 1 x 2 and 2 x 2 items. That being the case, discounts are welcome and as of now you can get this offering for around 14 Euro at a number of outlets like I did. That improves the value perception, though in the end this car still turns out quite small-ish even compared to some others in the series. This is mostly owing to its “open” structure and shape gobbling up a lot of small parts during construction without contributing much to the mass and volume of the vehicle.
As a racing car from the 1970s the 512 M has a very distinct look with the square-ish wedge-like appearance being a design trope shared by many cars of that era. This makes it quite hard to translate into a brick-built model, since a lot of stuff has to be attached at specific angles. This is to a large extent resolved by building the model sideways in both directions rather from the bottom up. As a result, there’s a ton of – shall we say – interesting techniques used to connect all manner of studs, holes and bar elements. This is not only rather confusing at times, but also requires careful execution as everything needs to be aligned quite well so the later steps actually work. Inevitably it also means that the model isn’t always the most stable, as some areas are pretty hollowed out to make things work and some sub-assemblies only are attached by two studs. Once everything comes together it works, but halfway through one sometimes wonders if it will turn out correctly.
A real weak spot that is clearly the canopy. The shape is legitimately wrong and makes it look like the satellite housing at tip of a rocket. I know I bring up this topic every time and complain way too much just as I understand that LEGO just can’t do a new canopy for every car, but I feel that in this case even the equally wrong piece e.g. from the McLaren Senna (75892) would have looked better. The whole matter isn’t helped bei the once more extremely poor print quality, either. The opacity is severely lacking and the Red color just looks completely different from the rest of the model. Really not great.
The aft section is basically one big spoiler wing to provide enough downward push to keep the car on the track and has a lot of overhang, pretty much completely hiding the exhausts and rear lights. They can really only be seen from a very low position.
I also have a problem with the two white winglets. On the real vehicle those are attached on thin struts emanating from the red areas and form kind of an airflow tunnel/ channel. I’m full aware that this would be near impossible to re-create properly with LEGO in this scale, but having transparent grip bars doesn’t sell the illusion, either, even more so since there are still white clip pieces underneath. So instead of trying to cheat it would have been more consequent to make those grip elements also White and just call it what it is. In its current form it just looks floaty and not in a good way – as if the two tiles for the wings don’t really belong there.
Racing cockpits, especially on cars not derived from serial automobiles and built entirely custom from scratch, are always a sparse affair and this is no different. Through the tinted glass and the large covered areas you wouldn’t see much while it’s closed, anyway. Again, though, due to the type of windshield element they went for, the proportions aren’t necessarily exact. You can definitely see the driver inside on real photos sit in the front section before the painted areas, not deeply buried in the rear part.
This set is quite a bit of a mixed bag. the shortcomings of what you can do with LEGO definitely show here and the finished article doesn’t look particularly realistic. Within the Speed Champions series it’s still rather unique, however, so the inaccuracies won’t deter collectors one way or the other. For me the building process was rather insightful and educational, but if you just want a quick model for your showcase, this could try your patience due to the many small parts and slow progression.
The finished model is acceptable and represents the original well enough from a distance, but once you delve into the details it becomes a bit unsatisfying. A wrong cockpit shape and the quality issues with the prints all leave their mark. The latter is even noticeable on the 1 x 1 plates with the Ferrari logo on one of the sides. Some of them look rather munched. It’s good that LEGO at least had the smarts to include all Red 1 x 1 plates in this set as printed ones (to avoid confusion, apparently) and you can pick out the ones with the best printing.
Overall this is perhaps not for everyone and you have to know what you’re getting into. This is neither the most realistic model nor the most relaxing build in this series and your enjoyment will really depend on how you can get over these sometimes not so small annoyances.