Green Goblin Speeder – LEGO Hidden Side, Supernatural Race Car (70434)

For someone who doesn’t know much about cars I sure do write a lot about this type of sets here on my blog, so here we go again with the Supernatural Race Car (70434) from this year’s summer wave of Hidden Side sets.

LEGO Hidden Side, Supernatural Race Car (70434), Box

In my view Hidden Side as a series has more or less tanked and is doomed to be cancelled/ not extended pretty soon. The reasons for this are glaringly obvious, but suffice it to say that the lack of advancement in the world-building and a lot of pretty lackluster sets haven’t helped. It’s still being sold with massive discounts left and right, which of course is nice for me, but speaks volumes about how little consumer adoption and demand there may be. So I’m mostly enjoying it while it lasts and I’m raisin-picking the sets I think will benefit me, or more specifically my parts stock, the most.

LEGO Hidden Side, Supernatural Race Car (70434), Overview

Choosing this particular model was primarily driven by the Dark Green parts and I also thought the the faux white-wall tires looked kind of cool, with another contributing factor being that oddly enough I never even had the narrower rim type used for the front wheels in the first place, regardless in which color. There are some other, less visible useful details, but more on that later. Unusually for me I also liked the minifigures, well, some of them, which is unfortunately yet another point LEGO don’t seem to understand and exploit to their advantage.

LEGO Hidden Side, Supernatural Race Car (70434), Figures

Specifically I liked the leftmost character called Vaughn Geist, an all too apparent word play on van Geist. It’s color scheme with the different brown tones and the overall apparel style would wonderfully fit into a Steampunk inspired setting once you replace the head, a quality shared by several of the “ghost” figures across the Hidden Side sets.

The helmet of the Shadow Hunter in the middle will please knights fans, no doubt, as it was last used in some Nexo Knights sets. Similarly, the Uruk-hai sword has only recently seen a renaissance in Ninjago and as a Knights of Ren sword in Star Wars, so it’s definitely a nice addition. If nothing else, it could mean that prices on Bricklink will drop and you can complete your old Lord of the Rings sets more cost-efficiently.

Jack is pretty much his old self, but at least they gave him a new screen design for the smartphone tile.

LEGO Hidden Side, Supernatural Race Car (70434), Front Left View

The main model itself draws inspiration from an American Hot Rod/ custom car not quite unlike my own humble attempt. It’s designed as one of those compressed, very low suspension type of cars hugging the race track. It manages to convey the idea well enough, but falls short in execution. I’m particularly disappointed that not more effort was put in in actually covering the rear section.

The thing is that I know such cars with their innards exposed exist to show off that expensive carbon fiber undercarriage for instance, it just doesn’t look convincing here. You guessed it – LEGO are essentially screwing themselves by leaving all those grey and brown bits exposed, making for a rather unattractive posterior. If at least they had matched up the colors…

LEGO Hidden Side, Supernatural Race Car (70434), Aft Left View

The rear section also falls short in terms of construction in what I consider a critical area. The wheels are supposed to double as some kind of anti-gravity hover pads as seen in some science fiction movies and thus are attached on a hinge mechanism. So far, so good. Where things fall apart, however, is the way it’s implemented. Instead of using a proper double-beam suspension it’s built in a way that the stoppers of the axles on which the wheels are affixed simply butt against the car’s body.

In the front this isn’t as critical because there’s a pretend drive shaft poking out of the motor and it fits perfectly, but in the aft it makes me go *grmpf*. You could argue that “Whatever works, works!” and clearly kids won’t mind, but I see trouble. In the long run the areas where the two parts are in contact will show a white circle/ dot on the green shield due to the  microfractures from the pressure and eventually the pieces may crack completely or at least fall off because they have lost their clutch power. Point in case: It’s only clever as a quick, immediate solution, but the designer didn’t consider the repercussions for later.

LEGO Hidden Side, Supernatural Race Car (70434), Aft Right View

As usual the set ties in with the Hidden Side Augmented Reality (AR) game on mobile devices and to that effect features a bunch of colored markers that trigger the various ghost and Gloom interactions. The selector wheel on the back is commonplace and exists in the cylindrical form shown here or its flat, disc-shaped pendant on pretty much every model, but in addition there’s a Magenta marker on the inside of the roof. there’s also additional Medium Azure markers on the sides.

These got me excited a bit. As you well know I never use stickers on my models and in the before times this is exactly how LEGO would have done it – a sticker wrapped around a round 2 x 2 brick. This would have sort of worked, of course, but here it would also have been somewhat critical because there’s not much room. The edges of the sticker might have gotten snagged on the edge of the car body, peeling it off in the long run.

That’s why instead we get a new part, which is what you already thought it would be – yes, a 2 x 2 round brick cut in half. It solves the issue perfectly and personally I’m hoping LEGO will include this part in many more sets from here on. It solves a ton of problems and opens up new design options not just for rotating parts, but also protruding faux “columns” on buildings and the like that just need to blend in smoothly. It’s literally one of those “This piece should have existed for forever already!” cases where you wonder why it took them so long…

LEGO Hidden Side, Supernatural Race Car (70434), Game Markers

The rest of the car is very ordinary in every way. It’s built around a double Technic brick center beam, with most of the other parts being plugged on using SNOT techniques and conventional stacking without any sophisticated tricks. The overall slender style doesn’t really allow much more than that, anyway. There’s just not enough space.

A final small little highlight is hidden in the guns on the hood. They are constructed from standard double-barrel blasters and extended in length with Black binocular pieces. Why is that even worth a mention you wonder? Well, those pieces surprisingly haven’t been done in Black like forever. I hardly couldn’t believe it myself at first, knowing that I have tons of the min Dark Bluish Grey and Orange from various Friends, City and Star Wars sets, but yes, the mighty Bricklink says it has now been almost ten years since last they were used and LEGO have only re-introduced them late last year. Go, figure!

LEGO Hidden Side, Supernatural Race Car (70434), Front View

Overall this is an okay model for what it is and it had some positive surprises. However, it isn’t anything you’d miss if you didn’t buy it. It will work just fine as a play set for the intended age range of kids if you don’t mind the shortcomings that will eventually break it. It’s definitely not a collectible, though. Some major work would be required to improve the details and make them withstand the degradation that comes with time like the “white dot” issue I mentioned.

As most of the time, I had my sights set on the parts for use later and I might actually buy a second set at some point to get a complete set of four identical white tires and use the pieces for other projects (including the revelation of now owning one more large green tile modified in addition to the one from the A-Wing (75248)) . Still, there’s no rush and I’m waiting until prices drop further. 24 Euro isn’t that terribly expensive (MSRP 30 Euro), but I feel the value isn’t really there. This by all means would be a 20 Euro set in my world.

Red Flash – LEGO Speed Champions, Ferrari F8 Tributo (76895)

Finishing off my little run of this year’s Speed Champions sets it is time to have a look at the Ferrari F8 Tributo (76895). As I wrote in my last review, this is more a case of getting into a certain habit rather than being a genuine car aficionado, so bear with me if I get a few things wrong and don’t get lost in endless details.

LEGO Speed Champions, Ferrari F8 Tributo (76895), Box

As far as the reasoning behind this purchase goes, the same rationale can be applied that is so true for many of my buying decisions – the combined value of the parts in this outweighs the cost of what it would take to scrape them together on Bricklink plus the simple fact that I have surprisingly few Red parts in my collection, so it never hurts to have a few more just in case you may need them (which funny enough on another recent project already became a self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts).

LEGO Speed Champions, Ferrari F8 Tributo (76895), Overview

The above became even more apparent when I found out the the set had a full nine pairs of my beloved curved slope wedges (29119 and 29120) that are just so useful to give edges a rounded/ gently angled appearance and can be used in so many ways. The 1 x 1 brackets also appear in Red for the first time in this set and provided further incentive. the rest is pretty much standard fare, but as I said for me every single Red slope still counts and makes for a valuable addition to my stock.

LEGO Speed Champions, Ferrari F8 Tributo (76895), Front Left View

That said, the price/ value ratio of the set is perhaps still not the best on the planet. Unfortunately LEGO have been massively ramping up prices on even the simplest sets and Speed Champions are no exception. This is only barely compensated by the switch from 6 stud wide to 8 stud wide construction and thus the models turning out larger.

I’m not saying that these sets per se are overpriced, but 20 Euro suggested retail price still is quite a lot. It’s a good thing that  street prices typically tend to be lower and 15 Euro, while still not perfect, is much more acceptable. Still, all things considered  12 Euro would be even better. At least this particular set includes a fully printed canopy piece, so that is justifiable on some level, even if the print quality is rather mediocre and lacks saturation and opacity.

LEGO Speed Champions, Ferrari F8 Tributo (76895), Aft Left View

Speaking of printed parts, there’s literally just two others in this set and they are tiny 1×1 plates with the Ferrari logo printed on one of the sides. It would have been nice if the other Scuderia insignia on the front and back would also have been included as printed pieces. On the bright side, there is very few stickers and except for the headlights perhaps you can easily go without them and it still looks pretty good.

That is of course a subjective thing and “looking good” to me primarily means that it conveys the overall look and feel of a Ferrari car believably. This is easily the one set that benefits most from the wider build and thus can transport the “flat as a flounder, but strong as a bull” idea quite well. on the other hand, and that’s pretty much the greatest weakness of the model, it more or less looks like any other Ferrari, just not particularly like the Tributo.

LEGO Speed Champions, Ferrari F8 Tributo (76895), Aft Right View

I guess the point here is that it nicely carries over the design philosophy, but due to the limitations of the LEGO system the complex surface curvature is impossible to capture. so in a sense this could be a “whatever you imagine when you squint your eyes” model. To me it therefore superficially looks more like a 488 or even an old F40 that had those blocky, straight sides and strongly defined edges.

None of these criticisms makes this a bad model, though, you just have to be prepared that it may not look the part when e.g. put next to a die-cast model of the same car. In the LEGO universe this is pretty sophisticated. Still there would have been room for improvement. One of those spots are for instance the wheel wells where using a different part or a custom-built shaping could have done a lot to enhance the appearance. The ones used are simply too large and blocky and thus dictate some of that bulky look.

LEGO Speed Champions, Ferrari F8 Tributo (76895), Front Right View

Overall this is an enjoyable set that is easy to build and even to beginners should feel rewarding by offering a reasonably realistic approximation of the real thing and a satisfying overall experience. There are no particularly outstanding features or techniques used, but at the same time it’s very straightforward to put together for that exact reason, making for an almost relaxing one-hour-build if nothing else.

You could definitely do worse and whether you’re a car fanatic, just looking for a nice diversion or any in a broader sense any LEGO set that isn’t too complex and easy to build, this could be your go-to set for a fun time.

Porker Van – LEGO Monkie Kid, Pigsy’s Food Truck (80009)

LEGO‘s new Monkie Kid series has only been out for two weeks at this point and due to some favorable circumstances for once I was able to hop onto the bandwagon of just-in-time reviews, so here’s my take on Pigsy’s Food Truck (80009). Before we delve in, some more general thoughts on the series as a whole, though.

LEGO Monkie Kid, Pigsy's Food Truck (80009), Box

Monkie Kid who?

As should be now be widely known, Monkie Kid is a modern spin on the old Chinese Journey to the West tale that revolves around the adventures of a band of mythical creatures and heroes, including the Monkey King. That’s pretty much where my knowledge ends. I’ve never seen a movie, not one of the older animated series that apparently exist nor read any books or comics. feel free to call me totally culturally ignorant. 😉 This is not made better by LEGO’s own animated series tie-in not having come out yet, so the models can only be rated on their own merits out of context.

That being the case, I have to say I don’t like most of them. Not only had I hoped for a more traditional approach to this series to begin with, potentially giving us some interesting historically inspired stuff, but my real problem is that most sets look like a wild mix of Nexo Knights and poorly done Ninjago. That is they use way too many large, compound parts where one might have preferred to build up things from many smaller pieces, lots of exposed Technic elements and an overall aesthetic, that’s not necessarily appealing to adults with lots of intense colors like Dark Purple and glowy oranges.

The other major turn off is simply the crazy pricing. No way to dance around it, but it really seems with this series LEGO are reshaping their own reality and reaching new heights. It’s not per se bad that sets cost a certain amount of money, but keep in mind that this series is not a collector’s edition, but is genuinely meant o be used for playing. Funny enough it will serve the latter purpose just fine, as most builds in their own way appear to be done well enough to live up to that, but the insane cost will be prohibitive and put it out of reach for many.

On the positive side the series introduces a ton of new parts or parts in previously unreleased colors and brings back some legacy pieces even that haven’t been available for a while. That alone will be motivation enough for some potential buyers. I would in particular go so far and say that the Monkey King Mech (80012) will be extremely popular in the MOC-building communities just for its many Metallic Gold parts and similarly the Dark Green Technic parts in the Monkey Kid’s Team Secret HQ (80013) as long as they’re not available elsewhere.

Finally there’s of course some interesting new minifigures. Even if I don’t actually pro-actively collect them, you have to give props to some of the new designs. They look fresh and truly like they add something new with new color combinations, new hair pieces and overall rather elaborate designs and prints.

What the Pigsy…?!

Based on the factors mentioned in the previous paragraph and some additional ones I opted for Pigsy’s Food Truck (80009) for a hands-on look at at least one set from the series. The reasoning behind this is pretty straightforward.

First, my brother and I have this weird running gag of anything to do with pigs and piglets and as a consequence anything to do with certain shades of pink. That’s why I had to have this for the pig on the roof of the van and Pigsy‘s minifigure alone. On that same note, I’m of course also somewhat into LEGO Friends and thus already have a reasonably large collection of pieces in these colors which I’m always looking to expand and complete in the hopes of one day pulling off some gorgeous custom builds with them.

The other reason to get this set are the many white parts, in particular the arches used on the wheel wells and the large modified tiles constituting the upward-swinging doors on the sides. There’s quite a few of them and if nothing else, they may come in handy as snow-covered roof elements for Christmas-y builds when it’s that time of the year again…

With that in mind, the economics added up and I wouldn’t have to worry about a total write-off even if the model itself disappointed. Knowing that these sets will very likely be exclusive to LEGO stores for a while, I ordered it right away from their online shop. Lo and behold, despite all kinds of horror stories of packages getting stuck in distribution centers due too overwhelming demand in the current crisis, everything worked out just fine and one week later DPD dropped the box undamaged on my doorstep.

LEGO Monkie Kid, Pigsy's Food Truck (80009), Overview

Unwrapping the Van

The set comes with a pretty sizable van, five minifigures and two motorbikes, which even despite my initial criticism makes for a good value. In fact I would argue that out of all the current Monkie Kid sets this is perhaps the one with the best price-to-value ratio overall. I’m not sure if 60 Euro is the best price it could have, but given how surprised I myself was at how large the food truck actually turned out, I feel that it’s still fair on some level. If it only cost 50 Euro it would of course be even better, yet I don’t feel I have paid too much, rare as this is these days.

LEGO Monkie Kid, Pigsy's Food Truck (80009), Minifigures

As written earlier, the figures are pretty nice. Monkie Kid himself (center) stands out the most with not only a unique torso print (apparently he’s employed at Pigsy‘s, if only as a disguise), but also the most elaborate legs I have seen myself to date. They are dual molded wit ha red upper section and black shoes and printed from three sides. Technically this is nothing new, but figures with such complex leg prints aren’t found in every set and i never had one before. My only criticism would be the slight lack of opacity on the white portions.

Pigsy uses a new unique head mold and looks just fine as a comical interpretation of a pig. The single customer is a bit run-off-the-mill and the Red shirt/ Sand Blue pants combo feels a bit overused. Simply too many figures in City and Creator sets use it. The evil guys, called Grunt and Snort in this set, are just clones in the truest sense of the meaning. they all look the same and are contained in every set, so similar to Star Wars you may indeed be able to build a clone army once you have bought enough of them.

LEGO Monkie Kid, Pigsy's Food Truck (80009), Motorbike, Left View  LEGO Monkie Kid, Pigsy's Food Truck (80009), Motorbike, Right View

The motorcycle/ bike is a completely new mold and is reminiscent of certain older types like wartime messenger bikes or the somewhat rustic-looking generations after that until the 1970s mostly. What makes them great, aside from having another alternate design, is the fact that LEGO had the good sense to do them in decent, realistic colors. They are a combo of Pearl Dark Grey , Pearl Grey and Black, making them unoffensive and integrate well into any scenario. even the spoked wheel hubs have that nice metallic sheen.

It’s an ordinary World (very ordinary)

Moving on to the truck itself, you’re kind of immediately taken out of the Monkie Kid world again as – with all respect – it looks very, very mundane and ordinary, give or take the few extras. That is both a good thing and a bad thing at the same time. It’s good because of course this would allow you to use the model in other scenarios easily with only minor modifications. It’s bad because somehow it just doesn’t seem to fit the slightly more crazy other sets from the series.

LEGO Monkie Kid, Pigsy's Food Truck (80009), Truck, Front Left View

Most notably the lack of any variation in the overall White color scheme makes it just look boring. Yes, you can insert the same platitudes about me just not using stickers, but I still feel that this could easily have been mitigated somewhat even without those. Had e.g. the large 6 x 12 tile been substituted with multiple smaller ones and some colored items been sprinkled in to imitate patched or rusty spots, it could have looked more interesting to begin with.

LEGO Monkie Kid, Pigsy's Food Truck (80009), Truck, Aft Left View

And make no mistake – even if you were to apply the large stickers it would not necessarily look better. Both Bright Pink and Dark Cyan are “cold”, not very vibrant colors that do little to enliven the model. The lack of contrast can be extended to the mudguards or the rounded sections of the roof as well. Would have making the roof Light Bluish Grey been boring, too? Admittedly yes, but it would at least have given some contrast and a nice demarcation line.

LEGO Monkie Kid, Pigsy's Food Truck (80009), Truck, Aft Right View

I feel that the the mudguards likewise could have been grey or in the Bright Light Orange/ Flame Orange Yellow as the middle strip on top of the roof. On the bright side, though, they are constructed from the new 3 x 3 rounded bricks first introduced in the latest Star Wars – Rise of the Skywalker Resistance X-Wing (75273) for the jet intakes. That opens up potential for using them in a million different ways on other builds as opposed of having more single-mold pieces with limited alternate uses floating about in your stock.

LEGO Monkie Kid, Pigsy's Food Truck (80009), Truck, Front View

The various appendages, i.e. the red horns, bull catcher and lights to me merely feel like a half-baked, uninspired attempt to make the vehicle look even a tiny bit menacing, but ultimately it does not. In terms of “branding” this seems weird, anyway. Wouldn’t those pieces by Dark Cyan or one of the pink colors, anyway? This also wreaks havoc with the red sausages/ hot dogs. They just don’t stand out enough. I also wish for once we’d get those Wieners in a different color. would it have been too much to ask for veggie spinach sausages in Dark Green?

LEGO Monkie Kid, Pigsy's Food Truck (80009), Truck, Sausage Grill

Don’t be so tense!

When inspecting the driver’s cabin/ cockpit, we have to talk about one fundamental problem with this model. There is a lot of overall tension/ friction and by that I really mean a lot.

The cause of this is easy to pin down – the model uses some very long plates and equally 1 stud wide long bricks on top of a chassis frame that derives its main stability from several 6 x 8 plates on top of a Technic brick frame wit ha few pins. To me it’s all too obvious why this can’t work out. The cumulative shear forces will eventually get so great, you struggle to plug on another row of bricks. This is particularly bad with the yellow decorative strip running down the middle of the roof. Here the issue is exacerbated by the strip being build from 1 x 6 bricks that just won’t fit right due to too much lateral friction. Adding the turntable for the pig figure was a battle. This is definitely not for kids and you may need to have a wood hammer handy.

LEGO Monkie Kid, Pigsy's Food Truck (80009), Truck, Cockpit

The roof of the driver’s cabin is not completely as bad, but still not really good. I guess the most fitting description would be that it’s a case of “It will jiggle itself into the right position”. You literally have to bend and twist the model ever so slightly at the step where you’re supposed to insert the roof and once the bricks have loosened themselves again and released some tension things will work. regardless, it’s just not ideal having to work this way.

Boring™ inside

LEGO Monkie Kid, Pigsy's Food Truck (80009), Truck Interior, Front Left

The boring-ness of the design continues with the interior. One can’t help but feel that you’ve seen this a million times in every Friends or City van of similar ilk already. There’s some boxes, the usual mustard/ ketchup/ salt & pepper dispensers and a workbench. The only real highlights are a fridge and an extra overhead storage cabinet in the roof which admittedly uses a cleaver on-the-side building technique, but even those feel like they merely fill too much space that otherwise would not be used.

LEGO Monkie Kid, Pigsy's Food Truck (80009), Truck Interior, Aft Left

Don’t get me wrong – those elements are just fine for what they represent and even the “sterile” grey colors make sense, it’s just not what this model would have needed. If I had anything to say about it, this would be some insane stuff where once you open up the upward-swinging side panels/ doors you’d see a completely different kind of shop, be that some Chinese pharmacy or mystery items outlet or a full weapons store/ armory. At least the latter thought seems to have crossed the designers’ minds for a minute, as there’s a hidden weapons compartment in the freezer.

LEGO Monkie Kid, Pigsy's Food Truck (80009), Truck Interior, Fridge Secret

The mechanism for the roof swing doors kind of works, but occasionally it does not. More to the point you need to be pretty careful when to push it up and when to swivel it around. This is again an issue with the panels being rather flimsily constructed from only a few larger tiles with some 2 x 3 plates bridging the gaps on the backside. In addition, the actual hinge mechanism doesn’t use any of the inverted curved slopes usually associated with creating a strong connection, further complicating matters.

LEGO Monkie Kid, Pigsy's Food Truck (80009), Truck Interior, Front Right

The matter isn’t helped by once again severe tension problems in the roof. There’s simply too many bulky bricks up there like the big slopes in the middle. Funny enough, though personally I consider it sloppy, it may actually help that those pieces along with some of the arches have their ends loosely hanging in the air. Were they fully counter-locked with extra plates underneath, the friction issues would probably multiply even more.

LEGO Monkie Kid, Pigsy's Food Truck (80009), Truck Interior, Aft Right

Pink Sculpture

As mentioned in the introduction, one of the contributing factors I wanted this set is all that pig stuff and the advertising figure on the roof is part of that scheme. It’s reasonably well put together, though again I wish it would have been a bit bigger and more elaborate. It would have been nice if e.g. the ears had been actually pointed by building them from symmetrical pointed curved slopes. Given how the model is designed in that area already, it seems it would have been easy enough.

LEGO Monkie Kid, Pigsy's Food Truck (80009), Pig, Left LEGO Monkie Kid, Pigsy's Food Truck (80009), Pig, Aft Right

LEGO Monkie Kid, Pigsy's Food Truck (80009), Pig, Face The stud shooter forming the snout is okay, but I’d preferred some more realistic shaping over functionality still. it might even have been funnier to build the pig as a container and have a separate gun inside or at least hide the gun behind a panel on a hinge. Farting out bullets from the opened butt has its own weird appeal, if you get my drift…

Final Thoughts

Overall the set is perfectly okay as a traditional/ conservative van. It’s quite large and there are enough play features and accessibility to keep kids busy. It’s also a pretty good source for some unique and useful parts if like me you disassemble your models again after a while and use the pieces elsewhere. On the other hand there’s a lot of amateurish, bad construction used, which makes the assembly a bit of a pain at times and would have me worried about long-term damage to some of the elements. All that creaking can only mean something is going to budge one day.

With regards to the Monkie Kid series this doesn’t do much to spike my interest. It squanders its potential by being way too conservative and it just doesn’t feel crazy enough. For all intents and purposes this could just as well be a Creator 3in1 model and you wouldn’t notice much of a difference. So ultimately how worth buying this is depends on some very specific details. It’s still good value for money, though, just perhaps not in the same way for everyone…

Lime vs. Black – LEGO Speed Champions, Lamborghini Urus ST-X & Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo EVO (76899)

I have this bad habit of getting into certain patterns. One of those is that I tend to want to have all of my LEGO pieces in each and every color they exist. That’s why it always triggers my OCD when new sets include such items and after the Formula E and i-Pace set it didn’t take long for me to ponder getting the Lamborghini Urus ST-X & Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo EVO (76899) as well, the stupid reason for my desire being some of the lime green and glossy gold parts.

LEGO Speed Champions, Lamborghini Urus ST-X & Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo EVO (76899), Box

Make no mistake – actually buying this set is a different story and I have to admit that my own crooked metrics and self-rationalizations don’t work out in that regard. Why? While the content is about the same as the other dual set in this year’s Speed Champions line-up, the price is significantly higher.

No doubt this has to do with the licensing, but whether this relates to Lamborghini defining exclusivity via high prices or LEGO just squeezing the customer is of course an open question. In any case, paying 60 Euro for this package is insane and even the 40 Euro I got my box for feels unjustified still. This set is just expensive and you can’t explain it away.

LEGO Speed Champions, Lamborghini Urus ST-X & Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo EVO (76899), Overview

Similar to the other set this one contains two cars, two minifigures and a start/ finish gate. The latter one has a different build this time, but still feels utterly superfluous. There’s really not much more to say about that. It would make much more sense if LEGO used those extra pieces to build pedestals or turntables for presentation.

LEGO Speed Champions, Lamborghini Urus ST-X & Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo EVO (76899), Start/ Finish Gate

The Huracán is of course what most people will consider the main build of this set. Being one of them “flat as a flounder” cars, this clearly benefits from the new 8 stud wide build style and the overall proportions are therefore pretty okay, considering the overall limitations of LEGO. Regardless, once you dig into the details, a lot of things just look wrong.

LEGO Speed Champions, Lamborghini Urus ST-X & Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo EVO (76899), Huracán, Front Left View

The first thing I noticed is the color. I’m pretty certain that there is a fully black version of this car, but all my research turned up a very dark grey version with this particular livery. The coating seems to be some odd metallic, yet flat nano-tec thing that looks very different under varying lighting conditions. Still, most of the time it looks like graphite, so methinks Dark Bluish Grey would have been much more appropriate here. Incidentally it also would have made the gold/ yellow parts pop more.

LEGO Speed Champions, Lamborghini Urus ST-X & Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo EVO (76899), Huracán, Aft Left View

The rear section feels to bulky and I think the mistake here is that LEGO once again relied on the large 2 x 8 curved slopes instead of trying to capture the surface curvature with more, smaller elements from that category. That and of course those ugly steep wheel wells. If at a 60 Euro retail price they can’t be bothered to create a better mold for that, than what’s even the point?

LEGO Speed Champions, Lamborghini Urus ST-X & Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo EVO (76899), Huracán, Aft Right View

The airflow splitter/ fin on the back sticks out with its dark grey, which kinda reinforces my previous point. It’s like they couldn’t make their mind up and if they (in my view wrongly) opted for the black version, at the very least this piece should be black, too. that aside it’s a Technic propeller blade used rather creatively, I must admit.

Of course you would be right for blaming me to not use the stickers. It’s perfectly my own fault, but aside from my general dislike for these things I feel that in this particular case it would also be quite difficult to get it looking good. Many of the elements are just bits of the golden trim lines and if they don’t align correctly, things will look quite weird. The same goes for the headlights, BTW, which will definitely look squint-eyed with the slightest misalignment.

LEGO Speed Champions, Lamborghini Urus ST-X & Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo EVO (76899), Huracán, Front Right View

At the same time, and that’s what bothers me, given the poor print quality LEGO have shown in recent time I’m not convinced that printing every decoration would really solve the issue. This is even noticeable on the windshield piece. The opacity of the whites is funny enough okay this time, but the prints feel oddly grainy and rough as if the paint was too dry when it was stamped on. Again not a good look for such a costly set.

LEGO Speed Champions, Lamborghini Urus ST-X & Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo EVO (76899), Urus, Front Left View

The Urus apparently is Lamborghini‘s interpretation of an SUV for the super-rich. To me, however, it looks just like any other SUV out there and whether or not this type of vehicle even needs to exist is an ongoing internal battle between my environmental consciousness, my limited interest for cars in the first place and a few other factors. I guess it’s okay and if I had this kind of money, I’d see things differently, but on some level the concept just feels weird.

LEGO Speed Champions, Lamborghini Urus ST-X & Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo EVO (76899), Urus, Aft Left View

Where the LEGO rendition is concerned, it suffers from the same limitations as the Huracán. Again they opted for a handful of large slopes instead of many smaller ones and for all intents and purposes it makes the car look like a military vehicle rather than an everyday thing. You honestly don’t need to be an expert to tell that it’s really quite bad.

LEGO Speed Champions, Lamborghini Urus ST-X & Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo EVO (76899), Urus, Aft Right View

The “lumped together” look continues with the poorly fitting mudguards/ wheel wells and the sides looking like bolted-on armor plates. Nothing, really nothing, feels right nor bears any semblance to the genuine article. The answer would of course have been easy – just use a ton more of the angled slopes/ wedges (29119, 29120) and sculpt the surface better. Too bad this set is so far the only one containing those pieces in Lime or else I might be tempted to give it a try and a complete workover.

LEGO Speed Champions, Lamborghini Urus ST-X & Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo EVO (76899), Urus, Front Right View

All things considered, this isn’t really a great set. It falls short on so many points and doesn’t live up to the exclusivity it pretends to have. Some of the shortcomings would even be acceptable if it didn’t cost that much, but since it’s pretty expensive on has to wonder how LEGO thought they’d get away with that. I’d only truly recommend it for Lamborghini die-hards and Speed Champion completists.

Azure vs. Black – Round Two

Note: Instruction downloads at the end of the article. / Hinweis: Download der Anleitung am Ende des Artikels.


I must admit that I had ulterior motives when I sneaked in my recent review of the Speed Champions set 76898 with the Jaguar i-Pace and the Formula E car, because at the time I had almost already finished an alternative build for this set. Some people like to call these the C and D models, but since the Speed Champions sets typically don’t even have a B model that seems a bit of a stretch to me.

I don’t usually do this sort of thing, but of course there has to be a reason and what else can it be than possibly winning more LEGO in a building competition? Yupp, this is part of the official #buildtogether / #baumituns challenge whereby official LEGO user groups and associated media outlets run these contests to provide people sitting at home during the ongoing pandemic with more fodder for their addiction. Each can have their own rules and for the particular one I opted to participate in those stipulated that you use an existing set and turn it into something else. An additional provision was that ideally the sets in question should be in an affordable range and not contain excessive large numbers of parts, so as many people as possible could re-create the models.

Having assembled that other set not too long ago and thus being aware of its content things then somehow gelled just like that. Unusually and against my habits I hadn’t disassembled the models yet and sorted the pieces into my collection, so everything was at hand and in a clean state without mixing the parts up with other sets. All it took then was finding a good idea and after a few nights of sleeplessly staring at the ceiling I came up with my “Classic Car”.

Classic Car MOC, Front Left View

The car itself is modeled after classic Rolls Royce or Duesenberg cars from the 1920s and 1930s, but ultimately turned out to be a wild cross breed of a Hot Rod, a Batmobile and said cars due to how i had to find compromises and make do with the parts I had.

Classic Car MOC, Aft Left View

One of the biggest challenges therefore also was getting some “volume”, as the original set for instance does not even contain a single regular 2 x 1 brick and only a few other bricks, most of which weren’t even that useful for the project. As a result a lot of elements had to be stacked together from plates or created as hollow walls. That means that due to layers and layers of plates on top of each other the model is extremely stable for the most part, but of course there also are a few regions where the shortage of pieces resulted in a bit flimsy construction that could be improved.

Classic Car MOC, Aft Right View

Because of this the model pretty much uses every plate in the set with only a handful left after completion. The same applies to the slopes and tiles. When I was done, I only had the surplus wheels, mudgards, some surplus small tiles and a few other pieces left in my box. I’d say about two thirds of the original pieces are used here.

Classic Car MOC, Front Right View

Naturally, the same limitations as mentioned in my review of the source set still apply. This is a very dark model due to the many black pieces despite my best efforts to produce a nice, consistent color scheme. That being the case there are also no “real” lights  and a few other things which you may want to rectify or add based on your own parts collection. Still, I guess it’s okay, after all.

Classic Car MOC, Head-on View Because I knew that the dark model in combination with my limited photographic equipment would make it difficult to recognize details and I didn’t feel like shooting hundreds of photos for people to follow along in the build, I decided early on to create a proper digital instruction. This was another bit of hard work, but ultimately I couldn’t really avoid it.

 

 

You can find the instructions below in a few different flavors. Since I’m still one of the last few holdouts still using LPub I started there, but unfortunately it doesn’t render some pieces correctly and it’s generally not easy to get things working in a manner that is foolproof, so despite my reservations towards Stud.io I whipped up a second version that may work better for a lot of people. Simply choose your favorite version.

Classic Car MOC, Instructions English, Cover

Classic Car MOC, Instructions English, LPub

Classic Car MOC, Instructions English, Stud.io

Classic Car MOC, Anleitung Deutsch, Cover

Classic Car MOC, Anleitung Deutsch, LPub

Classic Car MOC, Anleitung Deutsch, Stud.io

You can also find the model on Rebrickable:

Classic Car

Leave your thoughts and questions in the comments, in particular if you detect flaws in the instructions or bump into unclear steps during the build. Enjoy!

Azure vs. Black – LEGO Speed Champions, Formula E Panasonic Jaguar Racing GEN2 car & Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY (76898)

When it comes to all things cars, I still mostly revel in my ignorance, so unsurprisingly my buying decisions for vehicular-based sets are still mostly determined by how well I may use the pieces for other projects. The LEGO Speed Champions Formula E Panasonic Jaguar Racing GEN2 car & Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY (76898) is no exception. Yes, the set name is quite a mouthful, so I’ll only use it this one time in this article.

LEGO Speed Champions, Formula E Panasonic Jaguar Racing GEN2 car & Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY (76898), Box

The main appeal of this set for me were the various pieces in Medium Azure, several of which are available for the first time in this color with this package. There are of course some other nice parts as well, but more on that later where appropriate.

LEGO Speed Champions, Formula E Panasonic Jaguar Racing GEN2 car & Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY (76898), Overview

The Speed Champion sets have seen a major change in strategy this year with the construction switching from a 6 stud wide design to an 8 stud wide. This alone makes the models larger and requiring a few more pieces, in turn naturally causing an uptick in pricing. This is in this case further exacerbated by this being a dual set. Things are not all that bad, though, as regardless of these circumstances 40 Euro is still an okay price and even better yet the actual street price is typically somewhere around 30 Euro, bringing it back into the price range of the older sets.

LEGO Speed Champions, Formula E Panasonic Jaguar Racing GEN2 car & Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY (76898), Start Gate

That said, LEGO could easily have saved a few pennies by not including the embarrassment that is the start/ finish gate. The logic why they even included it in the first place totally eludes me. It’s way too ugly to be put next to the cars in a showcase and since Speed Champions aren’t really meant as playable toys to begin with, it adds no value on that front, either. It really feels like unnecessary box stuffing and those 50 pieces could have done more good if they had been used for extra detailing on the cars.

LEGO Speed Champions, Formula E Panasonic Jaguar Racing GEN2 car & Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY (76898), Cars Side by Side

Formula E is boring as hell, even more so than what Formula 1 has become. The drivers seem more busy evading each other in order to not crash their precious cars and the driving competition is more defined by conserving the limited electrical energy than actual fights. The designs of the cars are more or less the same, but very recognizable in their own right, with the Panasonic Jaguar indeed standing out a bit due to its black and bright azure-ish cyan livery. Yes, it’s in fact much brighter on the real thing, LEGO just don’t have an exactly matching color for it.

LEGO Speed Champions, Formula E Panasonic Jaguar Racing GEN2 car & Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY (76898), Formula E car, Left Front View

In addition to the color not matching exactly there are other limitations inherent to rendering these shapes with LEGO, so overall the model is a lot more blocky than the genuine article. As you would imagine most places where you see straight slopes, in particular on the wheel well/ aerodynamic wheel covers, should be way more curvy and complex shapes. Personally this irks me a bit because I think that despite the relatively small scale it might have been possible to replicate this better using curved elements and a few more of them wedge pieces.

A similar statement could be made for the nose, consisting of a single long 8 x 2 curved slope as first introduced in Dark Blue on last years Ford Mustang GT (10265). Piecing it together from a bunch of smaller slopes would have allowed to make it more pointed. The “hump” air intake could have benefited from such an approach, too, though I mostly think this particular area is kind of okay, regardless.

LEGO Speed Champions, Formula E Panasonic Jaguar Racing GEN2 car & Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY (76898), Formula E car, Left Aft View

One thing that is easily apparent – and at that not just my limited photographic equipment struggling with exposure – is that this is a very dark model. Granted, I once again didn’t use any of the stickers that would have mitigated the issue somewhat, but even then it would still be very dark. The point here of course once again is the curved body of the original easily producing complex reflections and highlights whereas the straight and flat surfaces of the model can’t keep up with that.

As it is, I wish the LEGO designers had done a bit of “illusion painting” using Dark Bluish Grey, Flat Silver and Dark Pearl Grey for parts buried deeper inside the model. The overall shadowing and adjacent black would have toned it down enough perceptually to blend in, yet there would at least have been some contrast.

LEGO Speed Champions, Formula E Panasonic Jaguar Racing GEN2 car & Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY (76898), Formula E car, Right Aft View

The second model in the set, the i-Pace is a completely different breed and funny enough this applies not only to the original, but also to the small version. This set is pretty clearly a mix of two completely different design philosophies, i.e two different people having designed each individual item.

To most people this will be the less interesting car, but this is actually where the meat of the set lies in terms of the new parts used, beginning with the new 8 wide compact chassis piece and the new windscreen and ending with the re-colored slopes and wedges. There’s also way more to do since more parts are used here and i therefore enjoyed the build more.

LEGO Speed Champions, Formula E Panasonic Jaguar Racing GEN2 car & Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY (76898), i-Pace, Front Left View

Where things fall apart for me are the edges of the roof and the shaping of the rear section. It just doesn’t look particularly realistic at all and in this area the model looks more like an SUV than an everyday electric car turned racing vehicle. To me this is once more a clear sign that LEGO need to come up with some 1 plate thick curved elements like some of their competitors have. It would really help to re-create those gently sloped transitions and blend things in.

LEGO Speed Champions, Formula E Panasonic Jaguar Racing GEN2 car & Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY (76898), i-Pace, Aft Left View

Similar to the Formula E car, this one has barely any variation to its colors and it looks just as much as an uniform blob. Yes, I can once more only blame myself for not using the stickers, but a few more printed elements might perhaps have things easier. In fact it feels rather odd that there are two 1 x 6 tiles with prints, but not single element with the Jaguar artwork has been printed. What makes matters even worse is that the few colored elements used for the head and rear lights are also kind of drowning in the surrounding colors and are barely noticeable.

LEGO Speed Champions, Formula E Panasonic Jaguar Racing GEN2 car & Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY (76898), i-Pace, Aft Right View

All things considered I’m not sure I would actually recommend this set. Don’t get me wrong – for what they are, the models are done nicely enough, it’s just that this will not look the most attractive on the shelf. As a parts source I got my value out of it and given the reasonable price it can still make for a bit of welcome temporary distraction in these weird times. I just wouldn’t put it at the top of any lists I can think of.

Racing Frog – Rocket Rally Car (31074)

Odd as it may sound, but sometimes there’s this lull where I just can’t seem to find something LEGO that would make for a nice diversion after having exhausted other options. That is of course something within my budget, given that many more expensive sets are out of reach for me, anyway. Therefore the Rocket Rally Car (31074) was kind of a filler in an order of three smaller sets.

LEGO Creator, Rocket Rally Car (31074), Box

Even though in this case it wasn’t on top of my list, this doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t have bought it in the long run eventually. I have this odd thing going where I basically still want as many different parts in as many different colors as possible just in case I might ever need them for a custom build. This model has a few of them and the rest of the pieces also appeared useful, so I knew regardless of the sets own merits I’d get some value out of it.

LEGO Creator, Rocket Rally Car (31074), Left Side View

Let me cut to the most important point right away: the color choices. Say what you will, but this is perhaps not the most attractive color scheme they could have come up with. In my view it’s some sort of bastardized Mia-themed vehicle as you would find it in the Friends series (minus the orange bits). That in itself is not necessarily a bad thing when viewed from the other side, as currently there isn’t such a vehicle in that series and this presents an easy option to expand the play value, but for a Creator 3in1 model it’s perhaps not ideal.

This can be spun in a million ways, of course, but something is off. Just like replacing the Lime Green with another color like Red would have worked, using indeed Orange in place of the Dark Azure pieces would have been an option. Personally this reminds me of photo editing work where you have accidentally inverted a single color channel and therefore the complementary colors appear.

LEGO Creator, Rocket Rally Car (31074), Front View

The build turned out more elaborate than the marketing photos and other materials suggested and for me that’s always a good thing, be it just to extend the enjoyment of building by another five minutes. It’s nothing too complex or challenging, but you have to pay attention and keep track of things to not maneuver yourself into a snag. Keeping those brain cells stimulated is always a good thing in my opinion.

LEGO Creator, Rocket Rally Car (31074), Front View with open Doors and extended Engine

The set builds into a reasonably robust model and offers a good selection of movable/ playable features. The doors are built from multiple plates and hinges and are actually quite large, so access to the interior through them is easy and unlike with other models there is no need to remove the roof. In fact the set offers no specific contingencies for this, so removing the top would drag along other items and damage the model. Using the doors is way to go.

The air scoop on the front can be pushed out using a simple mechanism hidden underneath the front bumper or pulled out manually. Unfortunately it never is fully flush with the rest of the hood, so it always looks kinda odd and not aerodynamically optimized as it likely would be on the real thing. I think if I were to build this again I’d simply forego the insert and cover the hole with some parts from the spares box.

LEGO Creator, Rocket Rally Car (31074), Aft View

The rear comes with a fully openable trunk and in its basic form this offers a ton of stowage space. Should you decide to get this set as an ancillary model for some Friends fun, you could stuff a lot of things in there. One of the alternate uses is to tilt down the jet engine at the top and “hide” it inside, which again opens up some play scenarios like a transforming super hero/ secret agent vehicle or in more ordinary terms the engine just being tucked away for safety during transport.

LEGO Creator, Rocket Rally Car (31074), Aft View with open Trunk

Interestingly, while I’m still critical of the selection of color, the Dark Azure parts such as the spoiler wings and the spoked wheel caps are rather unique and more or less exclusive for this set. I have no idea yet what I’m going to do with them, but I’m sure they’ll be handy one day. You could likely even just hang them as decorations on a wall in a Mia-themed house indeed. 🙂

LEGO Creator, Rocket Rally Car (31074), Aft View with Jet Engine inside

In its entirety this turned out a better experience than I had anticipated. The model comes together nicely and due to its play features would be an adequate choice for kids. It’s not worth the 20 Euro MSRP, but in most places you can get it for 15 Euro or lower and that checks out, given the size of the assembled model and perceived volume of stuff. I haven’t built the secondary models, but if I were to guess the Jeep would be quite similar structurally, just with a different outward appearance. the little quad doesn’t seem worth it at all, though, and sure wouldn’t be a reason to get this set.

Grey Beauty – LEGO Speed Champions McLaren Senna (75892)

I’m not a car person by any stretch of the imagination.The subject doesn’t particularly interest me to the point where I couldn’t tell cars apart if their names and logos weren’t on them. Therefore this review of the LEGO Speed Champions McLaren Senna (75892) will be solely based on my perception of the model and some quick looks at photos on the Internet, not an endless discussion about technical details and accuracy compared to the realworld item.

LEGO Speed Champions, McLaren Senna (75892), Box

The set first piqued my interest when the new line-up of sets for 2019 was announced last November. I almost instantaneously liked the orange and dark grey color scheme. This made it easy to decide pro the model, as elements in those colors can be used almost universally on a lot of other builds once the model would be disassembled. It also helped a lot that there’s a good number of newer parts like the curved wedge slopes or even the white arched tiles on the fan.

All this can be had for slightly above 10 Euro in some places, but actually even the full price of 15 Euro is more than okay, given that there are more than 200 parts. Some are larger ones like the wheel wells and canopy, but naturally the majority are smaller pieces. What really adds the value is their uniqueness and the fact that some of those parts only are available in other, more expensive sets otherwise. So for me as a parts scavenger this is really good bang for the buck. Of course if you just want to build the model and keep it around as a collectible item this won’t matter much to you.

LEGO Speed Champions, McLaren Senna (75892), Overview

LEGO Speed Champions, McLaren Senna (75892), Fan Front View As much as I love the set, there is a bit ofLEGO Speed Champions, McLaren Senna (75892), Fan Back View a shadow looming in what I would call a completely squandered opportunity. That is of course the wind tunnel. I totally dig the idea, but not how it has been rendered here quite half-assed. The point is that shooting advertising photos of cars in wind tunnels (or alternatively in coating/ drying chambers) is totally a thing due to the unique lighting conditions in these specialized rooms and a good few parts of the surroundings being blank metal or various shades of white and grey, providing interesting reflections and a stylish cleanroom look. That being the case, it would of course have made for an awesome little vignette to place the car in such scenario. Granted, it would have easily doubled the price of the set due to the extra parts, but it would just have been cool. As it is, the simple frame with the propeller doesn’t do much for me, but I’ll gladly take the white tiles for rounded window frames on other projects at least. Really too bad…

LEGO Speed Champions, McLaren Senna (75892), Left View

The car itself is pretty elaborate and uses quite some interesting techniques to render the details. Some of that trickery is however dependent on using stickers, so forgive for not having used them and the car perhaps not looking as good as it could otherwise. One spot where this becomes a glaring issue are the doors, more specifically the lower parts which on the real car have the same color as the rest of the body, but with a specific transparent window area. On the model this is in fact another windshield element used upside down, locked in place by the upper canopy and some plates and bricks around it. Quite ingenious!

The proportions overall look okay, but are limited by the standard six stud wide construction. It looks a bit narrow from certain angles and perhaps should be just that bit wider like on most of these super cars. Unfortunately it seems in this case this would mean something like two thirds of a stud or at most a single stud and that in turn would presumably cause a ton of issues with symmetry and parts usage, so more or less one will have to accept the decision to go this route.

LEGO Speed Champions, McLaren Senna (75892), Front View

One thing that still puzzles me is the actual color of the orange parts. Apparently the livery represented in the set is a special edition (if the word “special” even has any meaning left when the baseline model already costs a few million) and on images it looks to be neither genuinely orange nor yellow, but more like a bumped up version of LEGO‘s own Bright Light Orange/ Flame Yellowish Orange shifted even more to the orange-y side. It’s really hard to pin down, as every image looks different depending on the lighting conditions. It’s unsatisfactory, so I only accept it with a few reservations. Chances are, though, that unless I see it for real myself I’ll never know for sure. Guess how likely that is to happen… 😉

LEGO Speed Champions, McLaren Senna (75892), Right View

Another interesting technique are the front lights, which actually use Nexo Knights broad axe blades and yes, they are in Trans Neon Orange even. in the strictest sense, though, it’s more of a visual cue to hint at the flat, wing-like headlights than an actual representation of the real situation in this area. Personally I likely would just have wedged in rounded plates or tiles, so this is an interesting example of lateral thinking and a valuable lesson for inspiration.

The rear end uses the Nexo spear heads to similar effect for the respective lights. This isn’t quite as new, as the same approach has been used for a variety of purposes from simulating Ninjago dragon eyes to all sorts of glowing light elements, but this makes it no less effective. The spoiler and aft section themselves are reasonably complex and detailed, though the many black parts make it hard to discern details from a certain distance.

LEGO Speed Champions, McLaren Senna (75892), Aft View

Within the limitations of the Speed Champions line like the need to keep all cars to almost the same scale and combined with my own ignorance I would call this model an all out success. It looks nice and if I were into it, I’d not be ashamed to put it on my collector’s shelf. More importantly to me however it illustrates a certain sophistication of the design and construction. It’s wondrous how many clever tricks have been squeezed into this single small model. For that I give at a big thumbs up. I thoroughly enjoyed building this and it looks the part…

Dinner served Pink – Emma’s Art Café (41336)

A set I’ve wanted for quite a while, yet never made it to the final checkout with one of my online orders (that old budget thing and other sets always being a higher priority) is Emma’s Art Café (41336). Luckily a big supermarket chain had a promo pre-Christmas where you could collect rebate stamps with every purchase and got discounted LEGO sets in return. With the discounted prices matching the then best online pricing and the number of stamps required for eligibility being reasonably low it wasn’t much of a stretch to collect them on the weekly grocery shopping.

LEGO Friends, Emma's Art Café (41336), Box

As I said, the price clocking in at around 22 Euros is very much okay and you can get the set for something along those lines at many online outlets and might even find it in a local store not costing much more. I wouldn’t expect it to go much lower than that, though, since it contains a lot of large parts that simply tend to be more pricey. On the other hand the original 32 Euros MSRP feel like a bit of a stretch.

The point here is that I genuinely wanted the set for its parts, but ultimately if you’re not the person to build stuff with those extremely colorful pieces it is of limited use. That and some parts like the Medium Lavender bricks with the rounded edge are simply not easy to integrate in many builds, regardless of what color they are, due to the limitations they impose.

LEGO Friends, Emma's Art Café (41336), Overview

What makes the set so nice is that it actually represents at least an attempt to capture the real structure and appearance of a small pavilion/ bungalow style café constructed from light materials as you can often find them in recreational facilities and parks, most of the time of course only open during summer/ holiday season. This is not least achieved by including some useful exterior details thanks to some generous space being provided on a large 16 x 16 plate plus some smaller plates as appendages/ extensions.

LEGO Friends, Emma's Art Café (41336), Exterior Corner open

This is nicely illustrated by the small extra corner on the hinge or the cobble stone pavement being hinted at in front of the corner door. as can also be seen the set is relatively rich with vegetation, which when used right can enliven a scene considerably and set the mood (unlike with the many faux trees in Friends sets that often are just a sad excuse). Point in case: You’d feel welcome in such a nicely decorated restaurant or café.

LEGO Friends, Emma's Art Café (41336), Exterior Corner closed

The artsy aspect is mostly carried home by the arrangements with the colored windows, which gives everything a vibe of this being a kind of club where people meet to discuss art, attend exhibitions and watch performances. I never use them, but the irony here is that applying the stickers would more or less ruin that atmosphere, as they look a bit too childish to be taken as serious art. In my view it would have been sufficient to just substitute the white tiles used to represent the image canvases with something colorful and it would have worked just the same.

LEGO Friends, Emma's Art Café (41336), Exterior Wall

Of course they would have had to think of something different for the large panel then, too. Naturally it looks a bit barren with nothing on it and one might need to replace the entire wall to create something interesting without those little adhesive buggers. This applies to the inside just as well.

While at it, I would likely also do something about the color scheme. It kinda bothers me that the Dark Pink is used so extensively. It really should have been reserved for the colored window frames. Most annoyingly even the window blinds are in that color. why can’t LEGO just be nice to us and produce them in a color that would look fine on a regular building as well like Dark Red, Dark Green, Dark Blue or one of the browns. *sigh*

The interior as such is functional, but not much beyond that. It feels like a lot of space has been wasted and the details could have been more refined plus there should be more of them. This should feel a lot more busy and to me it looks like the space is there for a second table or some stools on a longer counter. You should definitely consider pimping this set and rearranging the furniture, in a manner of speaking, should you keep this set around more permanently.

LEGO Friends, Emma's Art Café (41336), Interior

For me it was once more first and foremost a simple way to get some parts in interesting colors that are hard to come by otherwise. If you need some ideas: Those Dark Pink and Light Aqua window frames would look pretty gorgeous on a building in one of the dark colors, weird as it may sound. Yes, Black and Pink go well together as not only Lucy shows in The LEGO Movie(s). And those wedge plates for the sandwich pieces in Medium Dark Flesh are just sexy. They should be super useful on buildings with visible “wood” structures and similar things. Conversely, one can never have enough large plates in Tan.

So at the right price this is quite a well of pieces – within the limitations of any Friends set, that is. That being the case, it’s also one of the better, more useful sets in this series that would be easy to expand and improve upon, most simply by buying a second set and cannibalizing the pieces. Due to the large plate it’s reasonably stable and therefore should also be easy to handle by your little ones and offer a decent play value. As a bonus, this is also one of the few sets that actually has a male mini doll included and one of your girl gang can actually have a boyfriend (though given the terrible overall boys to girls ratio in this series, not every one of them will get a guy most likely…).

The big caveat is that despite my having built it now and being aware of its positives, oddly enough I still don’t consider it a high priority item. The things it does it does very well, but it’s overall a pretty mundane model and I guess I didn’t have that “Wow!” moment when you discover an original building technique or solution you may not have thought of yourself. Or in other words: It’s perhaps a bit too simplistic to tickle your adult nerves. So if you feel like it, pick it up, but otherwise you’re not missing much and can skip it. No big revelations of any kind in this set, just solid, if a tad boring conventional LEGO.

Mission to Nowhere – Olivia’s Mission Vehicle (41333)

Visiting friends for a few days during winter time can sometimes lead to long evenings beginning early in the afternoon when it gets dark, so it was when I was visiting someone who’s handicapped/ with disability like me that I got a little bored and decided to take an excursion to the nearby large supermarket/ grocery store and stopped by at the LEGO shelf. I seriously wanted to take something home and choice was limited, so I settled on Olivia’s Mission Vehicle (41333)

LEGO Friends, Olivia's Mission Vehicle (41333), Box

Due to the limited selection this is one of the few occasions where I actually paid the full MSRP of around 20 Euros, but when you’re in that specific relaxed holiday mood even I don’t mind shelling out a bit more. However, honesty must be served and I don’t think this set is worth this much. The average 13 Euros you can get it for from most online outlets seems to be much more adequate and fair. Aside from my hyper-consciousness for price due to the circumstances there is simply not enough in the box that would justify it – as you will see.

LEGO Friends, Olivia's Mission Vehicle (41333), Overview

The “mission” is apparently some sort of animal rescue, which is set up by the little tree with the cat and the ladder. Aside from the small size not transporting the urgency of the matter very well and the ladder being more like one of those small step ladders you use to put up your curtains at home it’s okay, though. It’s a choice made by the designers, but including a genuine ladder and making the tree taller would probably have done the trick just as well and conveyed the desperation of the kitty not daring or not wanting to come down a bit better. 😉

LEGO Friends, Olivia's Mission Vehicle (41333), Tree LEGO Friends, Olivia's Mission Vehicle (41333), Ladder

The main build is of course the vehicle which also accounts for the bulk of parts. as is evident from the pictures, this takes more than a hint from the Ghostbusters Ecto 1 and 2 cars and as such one could say it successfully captures that vibe. The proportions are about right and it looks bulky and cluttered, yet elegant and driveable at the same time.

LEGO Friends, Olivia's Mission Vehicle (41333), Front View

LEGO Friends, Olivia's Mission Vehicle (41333), Aft View

Despite the model being large enough, there aren’t many functions or details to speak of, which is a bit of a shame. The small door feels like a cheap-out solution when in fact it should have been perfectly possible to build a full-sized one with a mirror attached. Similarly, there isn’t any door for the rear seats nor any way to open the trunk. Again, one or the other should have been perfectly possible as there is enough space to attach hinges of all kinds without impacting the structural stability too much.

LEGO Friends, Olivia's Mission Vehicle (41333), Open Doors

Instead of direct access through doors and flaps you are once more supposed to remove the roof to get inside. This is a two-step affair with the actual special equipment being mounted on a plate that isn’t even attached and just loosely glides into position by ways of some plates and the edges of the 2 x 1 slopes. In turn that of course means that it will simply fall off if you are angling the model too much, but with a little care this isn’t too big an issue and the placement is reliable enough.

At the same time, though, it doesn’t really make much sense as a “palletized mission center” like the military would use it. So from that angle it could just have been affixed to the main roof and instead more emphasis be placed on a proper roof railing and attachments like the ladder. In fact this might have allowed to include even more stuff like some rods, a catching net and so on.

LEGO Friends, Olivia's Mission Vehicle (41333), Map Compartment

Underneath the palette there’s only the standard Heartlake park map “hidden”, which makes this even lamer. It would have been cooler to have an actual hole here so one of the girls could be on lookout while standing in the car as it’s driven around. That would also have somewhat mitigated the disaster that is the actual interior in that it would at least have given some meaning and function to those large empty spaces as a way of providing room for figure placement.

As it is, the inside of the car is the biggest disappointment and the main reason why, after all, I don’t think this is a good set. It’s lifeless, empty and generic and worst of all doesn’t make a lick of sense in the context of the set. Let’s remember: It’s called Olivia’s Mission Vehicle, but the vehicle is just not equipped to even take your granny’s groceries home. Most notably, if this were indeed meant for animal rescue it would have a separate compartment or a transport box for the creatures.

That play fantasy then could have been extended by including a food tray, a syringe for injecting a sedative and so on. The potential is there, LEGO‘s designer just didn’t use it. By extension, this could also have meant that you could have eliminated the footholds for the figures in the back and placed some boxes and drawers there instead to hold even more stuff that would be useful for soothing agitated pets and taking care of their needs. Why they fully decked it out to hold five figures is beyond me, anyway. Even if you actually have more girls from other sets, you wouldn’t necessarily use them here. This isn’t a taxi taking them to the Heartlake Airport

LEGO Friends, Olivia's Mission Vehicle (41333), Interior

In summary there isn’t really much to gain by buying this set. It’s not that I desperately regret it and want my money back as I still will have use for the parts at least, but this is sadly one more example of LEGO squandering the potential of a set. It could have been great had it been fully thought through, but in its current form it’s pretty mediocre. If you will – it’s just another car. At least it’s mechanically robust and thus your little ones may get some fun out of it rolling it on the carpet all day…