Double the C – LEGO Speed Champions, Chevrolet Corvette C8.R Race Car and 1968 Chevrolet Corvette (76903)

I’m certainly not a completist when it comes to the Speed Champions set, but they continue to offer interesting build experiences, often unique parts and a rewarding result even if you are not a car aficionado per se such as is the case with me. So that’s why we’ll have a look at the LEGO Speed Champions Chevrolet Corvette C8.R Race Car and 1968 Chevrolet Corvette (76903), and yes that’s quite a mouthful. I’ll therefore keep referring to the cars in abbreviated form in this article.

LEGO Speed Champions, Chevrolet Corvette C8.R Race Car and 1968 Chevrolet Corvette (76903), Box

Contents and Pricing

As I wrote in my most recent Speed Champions review, I’m rather fond of the single-pack editions for their good value-to-price ratio. The dual packs are another matter with them consisting of two sub-types, one being the equally cost-efficient regular version and the other some sort of ill-conceived “premium” package where you’re mostly paying for the licensed name such as the Lamborghini two pack. Thankfully this one here is in the first category where two models have been packed together for convenience and ease of distribution, not to milk the costumer, despite being an officially licensed GM product. It even has a fancy extra sticker with a holographic silver strip and a QR code on the box for verification.

This being a “goodness x 2” offering, the price is exactly in line with what you would pay for two single packages. At 40 Euro this starts out as very reasonable and even the discounts follow that logic with this set being widely available at around 30 Euro from many vendors. I got mine for 27 Euro on one of those evening flash sales on Amazon you cannot plan for and that you would just miss if you don’t happen to browse their pages or your favorite price guide exactly at those times. That really is a very satisfactory price and one cannot complain even a tiny bit about it for 512 pieces.

LEGO Speed Champions, Chevrolet Corvette C8.R Race Car and 1968 Chevrolet Corvette (76903), Overview

The Minifigures

The minifigures for Speed Champions are usually not worth writing something specifically about, but the grumpy C8.R driver made me giggle, so I had to include an image here. Who knows what technical issue ruined his day?

LEGO Speed Champions, Chevrolet Corvette C8.R Race Car and 1968 Chevrolet Corvette (76903), Minifigures

Sticker Conundrum

I’m generally not great on stickers and even less so when they are not used sensibly. This is the case here, in particular for the classic 1968 Corvette for which the transparent sheet on the left is meant. I’m particularly irked by the two large tiles with the flag symbol because aside from the nonsense of having to paper over a large tile with an equally large sticker these two tiny car logos clearly would look better printed on directly and, which also is sort of a point, would have given the model a bit more of a “collectible” aura. The even larger sheet for the C8.R is more tolerable, with the only real cardinal sin being that they once again expect you to represent the headlights with two stickers split across two elements, but of course the fact remains that there should simply generally be more printed parts in these sets.

LEGO Speed Champions, Chevrolet Corvette C8.R Race Car and 1968 Chevrolet Corvette (76903), Stickers

C8.R Race Car

The C8.R Corvette could be most recently seen in the 2021 Le Mans 24h race, though it had to give up only a few hours in due to technical difficulties. So my memory is still somewhat fresh and while I was aware of some of the flaws in the model beforehand, now these shortcomings and omissions feel even more painful.

LEGO Speed Champions, Chevrolet Corvette C8.R Race Car and 1968 Chevrolet Corvette (76903), C8.R, Front Left View

The first thing that immediately springs to the eye is the car not being wide enough in the rear. Yes, this lady has a fat booty. This is not helped by the aft upper air intake being to flat, either. The LEGO model makes you believe that at best it is a small slit, but in actuality it’s quite bulged out. This is also an area where I feel the stickers won’t help to create the illusion, either. It really is a situation where the designers would have needed to add that half stud or even a full one in extra width on each side.

LEGO Speed Champions, Chevrolet Corvette C8.R Race Car and 1968 Chevrolet Corvette (76903), C8.R, Aft Left View

Since doing so likely would have involved quite some jumper-based construction to transition between odd and even numbered stud layouts it potentially might also have resulted in a better representation of the fastback.

LEGO Speed Champions, Chevrolet Corvette C8.R Race Car and 1968 Chevrolet Corvette (76903), C8.R, Aft Right View

The lower rear section with the exhaust pipe and the reinforced underside of the chassis looks quite odd in that it appears to stick out and stands off the main car body way too much, but according to images one can find on the Internet is pretty accurate. I guess it’s one of those aerodynamics things you really have to be a nerd about to fully appreciate the details.

LEGO Speed Champions, Chevrolet Corvette C8.R Race Car and 1968 Chevrolet Corvette (76903), C8.R, Front Right View

The other critical detail they unfortunately got pretty much wrong is of course the pointed shark nose hood. It’s very distinct and impossible to miss, but totally absent here. Now the thing is that this may be yet another case where LEGO would have had to invent/ design a new piece because basically they do not have anything close to “a 15 degree angle with a bit of rounding”, but given that this is a scenario that actually comes up regularly not just with cars but also for instance aircraft and their wing leading edges it might have been worth to put in the resources. I bet such a piece would be quite popular for all sorts of MOCs if only it existed.

LEGO Speed Champions, Chevrolet Corvette C8.R Race Car and 1968 Chevrolet Corvette (76903), C8.R, Front View

The cockpit is a very sparse affair, but then so it is on the real thing and once you add the tinted glass piece even less can be seen of the interior, so this is sufficient.

LEGO Speed Champions, Chevrolet Corvette C8.R Race Car and 1968 Chevrolet Corvette (76903), C8.R, Detail Cockpit

Classic 1968 Corvette

The 1968 Corvette has become an icon and a classic in its own right and has long deserved its due, but I feel that this model more or less completely fails to re-create the magic. For its time the original had quite some complex curves and in my opinion the designers have been largely unsuccessful translating them into miniature form. On first sight you can kind of get away if you squint your eyes a bit, but once you delve into the details, you begin to realize more and more how wrong some things are.

LEGO Speed Champions, Chevrolet Corvette C8.R Race Car and 1968 Chevrolet Corvette (76903), 1968, Front Left View

Naturally, the thing that stands out the most is the completely wrong windshield. it has the wrong inclination, no curvature, not the typical tapering toward the roof and to cap it of (literally) LEGO did a very lazy job here by slapping on two 2 x 6 tiles with not a bit of corner rounding. The back window is also not great with the real point being that since they already use a 1 x 4 transparent brick as a structural element, the ramps could likely have been much better represented with this wedge plate mounted vertically.

LEGO Speed Champions, Chevrolet Corvette C8.R Race Car and 1968 Chevrolet Corvette (76903), 1968, Aft Left View

By now we all have gotten used to the sad reality the LEGO never (or no longer anymore, to be precise) does real chrome on their pieces, rarely ever metallic silver and even only for some elements Pearl Silver, and without endlessly debating the whys and hows I can accept that, but with this model I felt that hot needle in my head stinging me again with one tiny details: Yes, the rear lights really, really, really could have used that small ring of chrome to make them stand out from the rest of the car. Unlike my more specific gripes with other parts this should have been a no-brainer.

LEGO Speed Champions, Chevrolet Corvette C8.R Race Car and 1968 Chevrolet Corvette (76903), 1968, Aft Right View

On that note – and not trying to bore anyone – someone on Facebook showed a picture with custom chrome wheel hubs and it looked pretty rad, regardless. Just sayin’! ­čśë The printed dishes are perfectly acceptable, though the probably should concave, not convex, i.e. mounted the other way around, to further the illusion of depth.

LEGO Speed Champions, Chevrolet Corvette C8.R Race Car and 1968 Chevrolet Corvette (76903), 1968, Front Right View

The cockpit interior is again full Black and while that may be correct and true to the original, I wish they had gone with a brighter color as you can see on some restored vintage cars with custom colors. Some Tan or Dark Tan for the covers and fake seats would have gone a long way to make this look a bit more friendly.

LEGO Speed Champions, Chevrolet Corvette C8.R Race Car and 1968 Chevrolet Corvette (76903), 1968, Detail Cockpit


Concluding Thoughts

Both car models are serviceable, but regrettably not very accurate representations of their real counterparts. Especially the 1968 Corvette leaves a lot to be desired with many tiny flaws adding up and spoiling the look of the whole model. The C8.R fares slightly better, but overall ends up feeling very generic and too similar to other super cars in the series. It just as well could be a Ferrari, McLaren or even just a souped-up Audi or whatever you prefer. You would only be able to guess what it is supposed to be based on the stickers or when the differences become more apparent in a full line-up next to other Speed Champion models.

On a broader level they are just fine if you’re not obsessing too much about the details. It just feels to me that this is a bit of a missed opportunity. Had they gotten it right the 1968 Corvette alone would have compelled many people to buy the set and they could have re-issued it in a different color in two or three years and sold it just as often. In the current form people will be more hesitant and they’ll likely need to give it a major work-over should they want to bring it out again in the future.

As a way of killing some time and learning a few interesting building techniques I got something out of it and of course in particular the Dark Red pieces will come in handy one day. Many of them are new for this year, but not exclusive for this set, as we are kind of living in “The Year of Dark Red” with many pieces having been recolored in this shade for some Star Wars and Super Heroes sets already. For the right price there’s nothing wrong with that, but serious car fanatics will probably feel let down by this set and the lack of ultimate realism.

Blue and Yellow – LEGO Speed Champions, McLaren Elva (76902) and Toyota GR Supra (76901)

I’ve had a few really bad days this week with my chronic illness having drained all my energy and to top it off one of my cooling fans in my computer decided to quit, so I didn’t really get much done and this weeks review is a bit late. For this article I decided to combine two sets from the Speed Champions line, the McLaren Elva (76902) and the Toyota GR Supra (76901) to keep things a bit more efficient. After all, these models are for obvious reasons always somewhat similar and there’s no point in turning this into lengthy descriptions of every little detail.

Contents and Pricing

The Speed Champion sets, at least the ones with only a single car, usually offer some pretty decent value for your money. I didn’t exactly regret the switch to the wider eight stud format like many others, but of course the price hike associated with that move still had an impact and made these sets a little more expensive.

LEGO Speed Champions, McLaren Elva (76902), Box

That notwithstanding, 263 (McLaren) and 299 (Toyota) pieces for 20 Euro is still an excellent value-to-price ratio in the LEGO universe. Once you figure in the discounts from most major retailers, which push the price to a rather stable 15 Euro or thereabouts, this ratio becomes even better. Of course the mileage still varies depending on what parts you get and how large they are, but overall I have very little qualms with that. If all LEGO stuff was priced that reasonably, we’d live in a better world and could enjoy our hobby more stress-free.

LEGO Speed Champions, Toyota GR Supra (76901), Box

Arguably the economics are a bit worse for the Elva since it doesn’t have a glass cockpit part and a lower number of elements, but that should only be a minor consideration.

McLaren Elva

The McLaren Elva is a super car taken to the extreme and as someone who hasn’t a particular obsession about cars to begin with, this one has me baffled a lot. At the end of the day all of these vehicles are over-designed in the “design for design’s sake” sense as if to prove something, but even by these standards this one is a whole other level. Outside the eternal wank contest of the super-rich you’d probably have quite a WTF? moment if this were a regular car you can buy at your auto dealer simply because it looks so usual. You would likely get tired of it once the novelty wears off.

LEGO Speed Champions, McLaren Elva (76902), Overview

As you may have concluded already, personally I do not think that this is a particularly pretty car, but it’s in an odd way still interesting if only to prove a point. With regards to LEGO the challenge immediately becomes how well you could express the complex surface structure and that is what got me curious.

LEGO Speed Champions, McLaren Elva (76902), Polybag Comparison

Interestingly, there are in fact two models available, with the small polybag already having been available since February of this year. For the photo I actually had to rebuild it, as I’d already sorted the pieces into my parts collection. On its own merits this small model is pretty okay since it has a reasonable number of parts and provides enough complexity, so I can always recommend you get it, if you want to present both versions in your showcase.

LEGO Speed Champions, McLaren Elva (76902), Front Left View

The model is distinctly split into three segments when it comes to how well the details from the real thing have been translated into miniature form – front, middle/ cockpit and the rear. they all have various degrees success in that department. My personal favorite is the frontmost area with the complex cooling intakes/ lip, which are nicely represented using a good number of curved 1 x 2 wedge slopes.

It only loses its appeal once it transitions into the center sections because LEGO did not have nor did not produce a new wheel well with a nicely curved top and then it transitions into the angled side walls, which unfortunately are much too straight and don’t even come close to the faux aerodynamic profiling of the original.

LEGO Speed Champions, McLaren Elva (76902), Aft Left View

The rear end is somewhere between the two other section in terms of realism with the overall shape and stand-out details being recognizable, but the overall shape simply being too straight. The latter is insofar disappointing, as this section already uses a sideway building technique where a whole block of pieces is mounted in a ninety degree angle, which should have made it relatively easy to sneak in a few curved slopes, be it just to create the illusion.

This area also contains the single, most valuable “new” part on the whole model – the minifigure candle in Pearl Silver, used here as the exhaust pipes. This should prove popular for all sorts of piping, rails, gun barrels and so on in custom builds. The Dark Pearl Grey armor plate used in the middle between the humps as the engine cover is not new as a part, having appeared first in the large 1989 Batmobile (76139), but it’s a first for me and I’m always glad if I can add such “realistic”ally machine parts to my collection.

LEGO Speed Champions, McLaren Elva (76902), Aft Right View

The humps themselves are an element where I’m a bit torn. Apparently they are way too angular to pass as the genuine article and my prevailing feeling is that this would have required a different approach like building them up from more gently curved smaller slope and bricks. However, I’m also pretty sure that this would require some major re-engineering of the whole aft section and a lot of experimentation. It would be a major undertaking. Since I cannot offer a simple, better solution I’m therefore giving it a pass for now, but I sure would be interested to see an alternative approach one day.

LEGO Speed Champions, McLaren Elva (76902), Front Right View

The cockpit is a reasonable rendition of the original, given that it goes for a reduced design similar to old open racing cars from the 1930s. That is of course within the given “normal” luxuries in that class of cars like everything being covered in expensive leather. To that effect we even get some printed curved slopes mimicking the white inlay patterns the seats apparently have. I would have preferred them not to be blue, though. Using Medium Nougat or Dark Tan would have provided some contrast and added interest just as it would have disguised the lack of opacity on the white areas. Sadly this seems to become more and more of a theme with LEGO and they really need to fix it.

LEGO Speed Champions, McLaren Elva (76902), Cockpit Detail

Toyota GR Supra

Moving on to more mundane territory, we have the Toyota GR Supra, though of course that in itself is not exactly true. Versions of car are being used in serious racing series, so it’s in and of itself not your mom’s everyday car which she takes you to school with.

LEGO Speed Champions, Toyota GR Supra (76901), Overview

The appeal for me is more or less defined by the color and the weighty appearance, not so much the car’s design as such. Yes, this is my OCD about wanting to have as many color options in my parts portfolio as possible kicking in and I just don’t have any yellow wheel wells yet. ­čÖé We are also getting the 2 x 2 triangular tile in Yellow for the first time here, which is something I certainly don’t mind, either.

LEGO Speed Champions, Toyota GR Supra (76901), Front Left View

As far as I could determine from photos, the overall proportions are just fine, but as usual the devil is in the details. The original is much, much, much more rounded. not as crazy as the Elva, but certainly distinctly enough that compared to that this model feels like a square block. At the risk of repeating myself, but this is one more example where I would have expected more curved slopes and wedges to be used in several places. again, it would take time to figure this out, but I really think it should have been possible.

LEGO Speed Champions, Toyota GR Supra (76901), Aft Left View

The rear section doesn’t look anything like the original, not even in the “Close your eyes and imagine it!” sense. I mean, as stated I’m a moron when it comes to the finer points of cars, but even I can see that the actual shapes are dramatically different and the model does not have the “droopy sad face” appearance of the real thing.

LEGO Speed Champions, Toyota GR Supra (76901), Aft Right View

One thing this model has going for it are the interesting building techniques. There is a number of moments where during the build I found myself surprised by how some things were used in a way I never even considered before. At least from that standpoint there is something to learn here. However, cool stuff never comes entirely free and there is a cost attached to such wild kriss-kross upside-down and sideway building in all directions.

That is the fact that as a result some gaps are wider than they would be with more conventional techniques. This is first and foremost owing to some of the brackets used in the process ending up with free-swinging ends or blocks attached to sideway studs not being locked in place with other elements, in turn causing some push & pull on the tiles used to cover everything. It’s not crazy or anything, but certainly noticeable in some places.

LEGO Speed Champions, Toyota GR Supra (76901), Front Right View

Admittedly, the front got me riled up a bit. The illusion painting of the lower air intake/ spoiler is okay, though the struts appear way too thin and are not angled. However, I completely lost it when it came to the headlights. You are supposed to place three separate tiny bits of sticker on the individual slopes on each side and even then it wouldn’t look correct, because on the real car it’s a long continuous slit. Now I don’t use stickers as you well know, but even if I did , this would have me screaming at the wall. It is just plain and simple stupid. By all means those elements should be printed or this section designed differently so users only have to put up with a single sticker on separate slopes or tiles!

LEGO Speed Champions, Toyota GR Supra (76901), Front View

The interior of the cockpit uses more illusion painting and is apparently meant to ideally be only viewed through the glass piece and/ or with minifigures in place. This actually works, but I still wish this was a bit more realistic and believable and didn’t rely so much on the “black cavern” illusion.

No Tires, but Wheels?!

One thing that has caused quite a bit of controversy and caused a stir in the LEGO community are the new wheels. They are no longer constructed from separate tires and wheel hubs, but are a solid single plastic piece. Whether you like it or not is of course your own preference, but personally I like this move. It makes a lot of sense for something that is supposed to be a display model and eliminates this uncertainty of the synthetic rubber having weird interactions with the plastic (and causing stains on your furniture) as it ages and degrades. You know, when it starts to “sweat” and smear, things can really get ugly. Now the worst that can happen is that the wheels crumble just like the rest of the model after ten years or so.

Naturally, this won’t be used for every model as clearly there are enough cars out there that have wheel hubs in all sorts of colors and different tires that may not be possible to represent with this method even if dual-molding is used, but it is absolutely serviceable for a lot of these cars, even more so since black hubs appear to be sort of a trend currently. My only peeve is that the included decoration spokes (also a new mold) are also completely black and do not have a hint of silver on them. It would have been ace had they those small chrome edges like on the originals.


Concluding Thoughts

The Speed Champion sets always offer good value and building fun on a reasonable budget. However, it feels like they do not seem to be that important to LEGO‘s overall strategy and revenue and thus do not get the attention they would probably need. This is most notably felt in the fact that the designers have to make do with many existing parts and don’t appear to have that much pull to request new custom parts. That however is the crux of it: Many of those models would benefit from a bunch of those small wedge/ pancake pieces like they are available in Mega Construx sets to better represent the complex shapes and curvature of contemporary cars.

As it is, it feels to me like despite their best efforts and some pretty creative building techniques the designers have reached a hard ceiling on what they can do with current parts and it really shows with these two models. The inefficient rendition of the Toyota‘s headlights by ways of segmented stickers is a prime example for this. A single printed slope from Mega could have elegantly replaced this somewhat hacky solution and looked ten times better. The same goes for the humps on the McLaren and its curved posterior.

Regardless of those limitations, the models still look good enough from three feet away and the originals they are based on are recognizable. I also thoroughly enjoyed the building process and had some “Aha!” moments due to the clever construction techniques used. At the same time, however, I’m also teed off by LEGO‘s laziness. It seems just weird that a series aimed at collectors does not put in the effort and resources for printed parts or for that matter a more user-friendly design that avoids some of the issues. So for me it remains a mixed bag. Car aficionados may feel differently, of course.

Explorer-ing… Cars – LEGO Explorer Magazine, August 2021

As I’ve probably already written a hundred times I’m not that obsessed when it comes to cars, bikes and other motorized vehicles, but oddly enough I do watch the occasional race on TV. Summer is of course racing season, so it’s not the worst idea that the latest LEGO Explorer magazine deals with some of that subject matter.

LEGO Magazine, LEGO Explorer, August 2021, Cover

Of course as usual the topic is tackled way too broadly and generically for my taste with everything from actual racing cars to super sports cars to electric vehicles thrown into the mix. Perhaps a bit too higgledy-piggledy for its own good and I maintain my position that a narrower focus in each issue would help. The future of cars could be worth its own edition as could racing cars and then there’s still enough room left to include the fancy cars from Speed Champions.

LEGO Magazine, LEGO Explorer, August 2021, Info Page

There’s some additional info pages with a few tidbits such as the speed records depicted here, though I feel that kids cannot really relate to the numbers. A proper diagram translating everything to relative speeds like you find it in more scientifically-minded literature would probably have helped.

LEGO Magazine, LEGO Explorer, August 2021, Info Page

There’s a small coloring page based on the Lamborghini Si├án, which of course LEGO have in their portfolio as a 400 Euro Technic model, so it’s not hard to see where this is coming from. Not sure, though, whether coloring a plan view is that attractive. A proper perspective drawing shouldn’t have been too difficult to create, or should it?!

LEGO Magazine, LEGO Explorer, August 2021, Coloring Page

The road-based game map offers some potential for creative play outside the original rules, so it’s regrettable that it isn’t actually a separate oversize poster.

LEGO Magazine, LEGO Explorer, August 2021, Road Game

The actual poster presents some specialty machines, including the super expensive LEGO model of the Liebherr excavator, but is ultimately not much to write home about. You know, that old “I’ve seen this stock photo a million times.” thing. They really should put in more work to create their own photos and artwork.

LEGO Magazine, LEGO Explorer, August 2021, Poster

The buildable extra is kind of okay, but at the same time also a bit lame. You know what it’s supposed to represent – a Formula 1 or Indycar car – but it’s way too minimalist to really look good. Mostly it’s simply too flat and I can’t really understand why they didn’t use e.g. this 1 x 1 curved slope for the dorsal spine’s air intake at least, among other pieces they could have chosen to better represent the curved shapes of such a vehicle. 

LEGO Magazine, LEGO Explorer, August 2021, Extra

Overall this is a somewhat lackluster issue of this particular mag. It doesn’t enthuse you and “just exists”. The editors seem to not quite have known what to focus on and what to emphasize, so this feels like a bit of everything thrown in and ending up as an indistinguishable blob of something. Let’s hope that the next editions will be better again…

Pimp my Ride! – LEGO VIDIYO, Robo HipHop Car (43112)

As I promised in my generic overview of LEGO VIDIYO I wanted to try to get some of the proper sets and so here we are with the first of them, the Robo HipHop Car (43112).

LEGO VIDIYO, Robo HipHop Car (43112), Box

As you recognize right away, the packaging shares the same issues laid out in my article with the overly emphasized mobile phone and virtual environment making it hard to even decipher what you get in the package. Really not worth any further discussion and the less said about this terrible artwork, the better.

Pricing and Contents

I was reluctant to even get this set, as even by just looking at the promotional photos it became clear that it wouldn’t be the most attractive, but I kind of wanted the minifigures to add to my line-up of VIDIYO characters (Maybe this will be the first minifigure series ever where I collect them all and get a complete set?) and one has to start somewhere, as it was the cheapest offering at the time. The other sets had not yet dropped enough in price to fall into my affordable range.

This set comes with 387 pieces that build into a sizable model, but one mustn’t be fooled. There isn’t that much bulk, after all, with a lot of small and thin parts being used. This is in part out of necessity due to the car requiring thin side walls in order to allow for room in the interior, in part it’s down to how some things are designed. That is to say that even once completed the model feels relatively light when you expect its weight to be higher.

LEGO VIDIYO, Robo HipHop Car (43112), Overview

I got my set for 23 Euro, but as I’m writing this it already has dropped to 20 Euro on some outlets. That means it is pretty okay in terms of price, even more so when you consider what a single BeatBox costs. I feel that you get a decent return value even if this may not build into the greatest brick-built car model on the planet.

The Minifigures

The set comes with only two minifigures, which is adequate enough for such a small and relatively cheap model. Stylistically they match the theme with silver and gold tones making things look robotic, though that also makes them look a bit bland and cold. The prints are done nicely, though. It’s just that perhaps a hint of red or orange here and there would have made them look more lively. If you feel like it, you can of course complement the crew with the minifig from the HipHop Robot BeatBox (43107) or for that matter a similar looking dude from the upcoming series 2 of the BandMates.

The set comes with two exclusive BeatBits (bottom left and top right corner on the stand in the respective image) and 14 other random ones to add to your collection of these tiles. Based on my analysis of their functionality in my article I’d say that one merely adds some robotic noises and the other an overlay sticker that looks like a spray tag, so nothing special there.

A Color Conundrum

Before we move on to the actual review of the car, allow me to get one thing out of the way: The color. Yes, it may appear nitpicky, but to me it’s clear that this whole car should be in a different livery. The specific point I’m trying to make is that this is a “pimp ride”, i.e. a highly modified and customized car meant tot impress people as it passes by and clearly that would also include the coating. Therefore this model just seems completely backwards as Black is way too mundane. This is not saved by the various golden accents, as in fact they amplify my impression that the situation should be inverted.

Yes, for what it’s worth, the car itself should be all gold and have black details (or any other fitting color for that matter like Dark Red for instance) and my gut feeling tells me that this may have been the way it was originally envisioned by the designers. Naturally, things then inevitably fell apart when everyone came to realize that this would mean that a ton of parts needed to be produced in Pearl Gold extra for this set and there was no budget for doing that. They probably would have needed to team up with the Ninjago team to make it worthwhile and get the permission and funds, as lately they already have been doing a lot of pieces in gold over there already.

In light of that limitation this set already gets lesser grades from me. I’m not even getting hung up on the gold aspect. I just feel that any color other than black would have been better from Bright Green to Dark Azure, including bits of other colors sprinkled in to create patterns. This would also have brought it more in line with the craziness of the rest of the VIDIYO sets.

The Car

As mentioned earlier, this is meant to represent a type of car that wouldn’t even be allowed on the roads in most countries of the world over safety concerns. That being the case, it’s probably fair to say that this is as US-American to the bone as it gets. Still, even there it would be hard to imagine something like this with its large protruding speaker boxes and robot head sculpture driving around without requiring some super special permit and exception rule which you then have to have ready at all times because you so easily catch the attention of police and they check you all the time…

The mentioned big elements are mounted on turntables and have two presentable sides, so you can change their orientation as you prefer. The speaker boxes also serve as part of an imaginary stage, with another such spot being on the car’s front hood. I’m sure this is also more specifically used in the app, but since I don’t have it, I can’t enlighten you on that part.

The rear trunk has been converted into a pool/ Jacuzzi, which is actually a mod you get to see every now, and then and from what I gather it is popular to rent cars that have been converted like this for certain types of parties. Driving around must be a nightmare, though, given how the dynamics of the water would affect stability. By comparison the pool presented here feels tiny, however, as it would barely allow a single person to fit in and stay covered in water if it were real.

More or less this is where the big head sculpture gets in the way and this also somehow prevents the cockpit from looking better. There is no real seat, no steering and no back wall. While the large robot head is kind of cool, perhaps they simply crammed in too much and a “Less is more!” approach might have resulted in something more elegant and believable.

The front view is also spoiled by the model looking overstuffed and the many add-ons distracting too much. If at least the front stage spot was hidden under a smooth bonnet…


Concluding Thoughts

This is an okay car, just not the smash hit that VIDIYO would have needed. At the end of the day this feels more like an oversized Speed Champions model of an old American convertible and as such would likely get passing grades, but it more or less completely fails to convey the bonkers nature of VIDIYO or for that matter even the insanity of those custom cars driving around in the sunny states of the US.

The most disappointing and frustrating fact remains that one can actually see that the potential is there, but that it was thwarted by the practicalities of LEGO being LEGO, meaning general corporate policies and cost consideration very likely prevented┬á the designers from carrying out their original design idea. The way it turned out unfortunately isn’t even on par with some better designed Creator 3in1 cars and since they opted for the most boring color choice, there aren’t any parts to scalp in exotic and rare colors, either.

As such therefore this model has only very limited value both in the VIDIYO series as well as a generic car and I would only recommend this to people who have a very specific rationale like eyeing the minifigures or wanting to modify it into a proper convertible.

Explorer-ing Locomotives – LEGO Explorer Magazine, March 2021

The cold season traditionally is a time where many people dig out and dust off their model trains, at least here in Germany, so it’s actually not the worst idea to make an issue about steam engines and locomotives with the latest LEGO Explorer magazine for March.

LEGO Magazine, LEGO Explorer, March 2021, Cover

While the title purports to be about “crazy vehicles”, it really isn’t much beyond the aforementioned steam-powered machines and some combustion engine stuff. Nothing too crazy, after all. The first info section is more or less a quick rundown of the evolution of the steam engine from its initial conception to its later use in locomotives and tractors with a small bit on power plants as well.

LEGO Magazine, LEGO Explorer, March 2021, Info Page

Other bits of info focus on the combustion engine and even atoms, though I’m not too sure whether that’s not better left for a more scientifically-oriented magazine. At least they could have explained it differently. You know, that’s my nerd territory and those over-simplified, less than accurate explanations make me cringe.

LEGO Magazine, LEGO Explorer, March 2021, Info Page

The poster is weird, given that LEGO currently don’t have any trains to speak of in their portfolio. Wasting half the space to promote the single City passenger train currently available seems just an inefficient use of the space.

LEGO Magazine, LEGO Explorer, March 2021, Poster

The extra this time is a small traditional steam locomotive. Not much to talk about in terms of build, as this is as basic as it gets and this feels a bit like a low effort. It looks okay, but is nothing that you haven’t seen before. It’s more or less the same style you’ve seen in other polybag builds for years. They could at least have tried to include some gold elements to make it visually more interesting.

LEGO Magazine, LEGO Explorer, March 2021, Extra

Overall this issue feels somewhat mediocre with really nothing standing out that much. I find that strange, given how the topic lends itself to exploring all sorts of rich content and also invites play. Just printing some tracks matching the model size on the back of the poster for instance would have elevated things and made this more interesting. Same for other things. How ’bout building the engine cylinder as a cut-out from the back cover? My imagination would run wild with this, so I consider it a missed opportunity. Don’t let this stop you from buying the mag, but just don’t expect too much, either.

Azure and White Excursion – LEGO Creator 3in1, Camper Van (31108)

When it comes to my love for nature, I’m full of contradictions. I enjoy long walks by the lake or in the forest, yet not to the extend where I would derive pleasure from crawling through the underbrush. All the same, I have this weird thing where I would enjoy the solitude of the wilderness in a lonely log hut, but only if I had all the comforts like electricity, satellite TV and Internet. Weird? For sure. That’s probably why I have this odd fascination with caravaning as well, despite very limited actual experience with it and maybe my love for similarly themed LEGO sets is just part of this dichotomy and a way to live out my dream as long as I’m not actually able to afford one of those luxurious RVs. Who knows? Anyway, let’s have a look at the Camper Van (31108) and see what its qualities are and how it fits as a surrogate for my pipe dream.

LEGO Creator, Camper Van (31108), Box

That Money Thing again

I’m beginning to hate it myself, but first we again need to talk about the monetary value of the set vs. its actual content. The proposed street price for this set is 80 Euro, which, to put it directly, is just completely and utterly bonkers for a set of this type in the Creator 3in1 series with around 750 pieces. I’m not much of an advocate for that inaccurate price per piece metric, but anything above 10 Cent a piece is clearly not a good value, even more so if, as is typical for this theme, those pieces are 99 percent common standard elements, not expensive specialized parts.

This is ridiculous and outrageous at the same time and clearly feels like someone at LEGO went completely off the rails when setting the final price. The proof for this is in the pudding – I patiently waited for several months until retailers were desperate enough to reduce the price down to the 50 Euro mark just to get rid of their stock after initially this set recognizably didn’t sell very well. Even the typical news outlets that do their reviews right after release and get their samples free from LEGO were not shy to point out that they thought the set was massively overpriced if you had to buy it.

LEGO Creator, Camper Van (31108), Overview

Now it may sound like I’m in permanent complaint mode, but if you look at the above image you can easily ask yourself: Would the contents be worth 80 Euro to you? I’m pretty confident that most people would say “No!”. I’m not saying that you don’t get plenty of stuff, but the volume/ bulk just isn’t there. You know, it’s that old thing where ultimately something like a Star Wars TIE Fighter feels more valuable simply due to its impressive size, even if it may have a lot fewer pieces and cost less.

Minifigures and Creatures

The perceived lack of value for this set can no doubt also be attributed to the lackluster minifigures. There are just three of them and they are very, very mundane with their legs and torsos having been used a million times in other sets. There isn’t a single new or original print and even the faces and hair pieces feel very run-off-the-mill. It just lacks that tiny bit of originality we all love to see, let alone the numbers. Point in case: Given that there are a number of side builds, there could easily have been double the number of figures ore more to populate those extras. Another group of wanderers passing by and sitting down at the table is really not that far-fetched, you know.

LEGO Creator, Camper Van (31108), Figures LEGO Creator, Camper Van (31108), Critters

There are also a bunch of critters built from bricks, in this case a skunk and a beaver, but on that one I stand by my old criticism: It really wouldn’t hurt if LEGO included custom-molded animals in this series just like they do elsewhere. Yes, extra molds cost money, but it should not be much of an issue in the day and age of computer-based manufacturing processes. And even if they didn’t produce new molds – dragging out an old bear mold or similar would have totally worked for this set as well.

Side Builds

As mentioned in the previous paragraph, the set comes with a couple of small buildable extras, contributing notably to this feeling that something is missing or incomplete in the minifigure department because ultimately they end up being lifeless scene decoration.

The first such bit is a picknick table like you can often find it in national parks and wilderness reserves, either completely built from logs and raw wood, or as in this case, from pre-fabricated concrete elements with a bunch of wooden plates bolted on. in this case it’s apparently supposed to be near the edge of a lake with the fishing rod and all, but this idea is conveyed pretty poorly simply because there isn’t enough of a discernible shore line. The blue parts would have needed to be extended quite a bit along with some more grass or sand beach around the table. That might also have allowed space for adding a trash can and fire cage, which would have made the scene more interesting.

LEGO Creator, Camper Van (31108), Camping Table, Left View LEGO Creator, Camper Van (31108), Camping Table, Right View LEGO Creator, Camper Van (31108), Tree
Undeniably the most superfluous bit of scenery is the pine tree. At this point I really think this has been done to death and there have been uncounted variations on this in every Christmas or nature themed set, including in the various LEGO magazines. On a general level there’s nothing wrong with that, but they really need to shake up the formula. In this case the tree could at least have been part of a group of many such younger trees on a clearing or in the opposite direction, they should have opted for a huge tree. The way it is in its current form feels neither here nor there.

LEGO Creator, Camper Van (31108), CanoeThe canoe isn’t that great, either. I get what they were going for, but to me this is similar to the point I made about the animals: Why not simply throw in one or two of the molded version from City, in new colors if need be to make things more worthwhile and interesting?

 

The Combo

One of the possible reasons for the limited success of this set, and many, many people have already pointed this out, is perhaps that it doesn’t fit the minifigure scale. In this particular case this means that the car/ trailer combo itself is about one third too large at least. This can be seen in the overview image further up. However, once you take the minifigs out of the equation everything looks nice and proportionate in relation to one another.

LEGO Creator, Camper Van (31108), Car and Trailer combined, Left View

Still, you mustn’t underestimate how big the model actually is, especially when both vehicular components are combined. Those approximately 40 cm in length also make it a bit unwieldy when handling things freely, so you may always want to separate the two sections. That’s going to happen a lot, anyway, simply due to the weight and the small tow bar not being able to handle much resistance. Other than rolling around the combination on a smooth surface, the risk of it self-decoupling is quite high as soon as something gets stuck.

LEGO Creator, Camper Van (31108), Car and Trailer combined, Right View

The Car

The car in my opinion is the more interesting part of the whole set and I think if they had sold it standalone as a set would have made for a reasonably popular item. Of course with its white stripes it is on some level reminiscent of the Ford Anglia from the respective Harry Potter sets, but its overall shape is more in line with a Mini Cooper or older Fiat 500 models, I think.

LEGO Creator, Camper Van (31108), Car, Front Left View

LEGO Creator, Camper Van (31108), Car, Aft Left View The main attraction, if you want to call it that, are the many Dark Azure parts, some of which premiere on this model like the 1 x 2 x 1 curved slope. This is of course subject to point of view, as it’s a divisive color. Some hate it for not being blue enough, some dislike it for already being too blue. Personally I’m okay with it, but it’s true: LEGO have yet to come up with a set where they use this color and make you go “Yes, they couldn’t have gone with anything else!”. If you will, it’s kind of too replaceable and unremarkable, both in the good and bad meaning of the word.

LEGO Creator, Camper Van (31108), Car, Aft Left View with open Trunk LEGO Creator, Camper Van (31108), Car, Aft View with open Trunk

LEGO Creator, Camper Van (31108), Car, Aft Right ViewThe car has a decent play value, as both the doors and trunk can be opened and offer sufficient space inside to place your minifigure and load up some equipment. Sadly, though, the set doesn’t provide any of that. not a single piece of baggage or even a spare tire, so you have to source them from your own stock.

 

LEGO Creator, Camper Van (31108), Car, Front Right View

The front hood/ bonnet on the other hand cannot be opened nor is there even a hint of a motor imitation. One thing you will also notice is that all transparent parts kind of drown in the blue surroundings and disappear or turn into ugly dark colors. Here the designers should really learn their lesson and always underpin these spots with White or Pearl Silver elements pretty much like real car lights’ reflectors.

 

The Trailer

The trailer, while recognizably modeled after a larger real world example that may in fact even exist somewhere, is still a lot less interesting than the car, all things considered. i don’t know what it is, but somehow this didn’t click with me at all.

LEGO Creator, Camper Van (31108), Trailer, Front Left View with open Stowage Boxes

From the exterior the most noticeable thing is of course the stripe pattern. It’s done decently enough and flows around the whole perimeter. other than that there is very little to say about the external design, the combined window/ air conditioning unit on the roof perhaps being the most noteworthy. The two integrated stowage boxes above the tow axle are also nice, though ultimately not that useful for actually keeping stuff in there.

LEGO Creator, Camper Van (31108), Trailer, Front Left View LEGO Creator, Camper Van (31108), Trailer, Aft Left View LEGO Creator, Camper Van (31108), Trailer, Aft Right View

On the right hand-side there’s a sun roof. Unfortunately the designers opted, of all things, for the regular green color, which to me makes the whole thing look very unpleasant. they also didn’t bother to at least create an even stripe pattern, further reducing the aesthetic appeal in my view. that aside, what bugs me the most about the roof is that it cannot be stowed away elegantly. LEGO Creator, Camper Van (31108), Trailer, Exterior Sun Roof detachedNeither does it properly butt flat against the side wall nor is there a compartment to slide it in. You have to genuinely remove it if you don’t want it to get in the way, but have no storage option other than dumping it inside the trailer. This hasn’t really been thought through that well.

 

 

 

The interior can be accessed in multiple ways. Naturally, within the play world’s logic there is a door to get inside. This is nice in that it’s the version with the horizontal bars in black which oddly enough is a pretty rare commodity. One would think that since this element has existed for a while it would have been used in a ton of sets, but no, so far only three…

LEGO Creator, Camper Van (31108), Trailer, Front Right View

The second way of gaining access is to simply remove the roof. That is also pretty much the only sensible option if you actually want to change something of the internal layout and reach certain areas. The basic arrangement is already “realistic” in a sense, nicely reflecting the crammed space in these types of vehicles. Funny enough, despite the model being oversized for minifig scale, it feels just as constricted.

LEGO Creator, Camper Van (31108), Trailer, Top View with Roof removed

Finally, you can open the left hand side wall’s rear two-thirds. This is not that different from the Surfer Van (31079), but it has been executed a bit better here. Instead of a very long plate element that cause the whole section to bend multiple shorter plates and bricks are used, allowing for the small gaps from the manufacturing tolerances to balance things out and compensate the tension. Opening up this segment is also the only way to access the bathroom/ toilet. It’s in its own way a cute touch, but somehow always gets in the way and feels a bit unnecessary. If I were to use the model for serious play, I’d probably simply rip it out to free up the space.

LEGO Creator, Camper Van (31108), Trailer, Top View LEGO Creator, Camper Van (31108), Trailer, Left View opened


Concluding Thoughts

I’ve had worse sets in my short LEGO career, but at the same time my enthusiasm for this set is limited. Personally I don’t even care for the minifig scale issue and on the face of it, all components are designed well enough, yet the spark won’t jump over. I suppose it’s a combination of this being ultimately still rather mundane and a bit boring plus the off-putting price. You know, I understand that they need to have this subject covered in every other product cycle, yet after a while it gets a bit stale because you’ve seen it before.

That and the fact that I can’t fathom who they are targeting with an 80 Euro “play set”. If I had kids, I would think very long and hard to get them a set that you also could buy an even nicer collectible car for like the Fiat 500 (10271), which kind of is the point. A collector’s item this set is not, it just has an outrageously insane price. To me it still comes down to that selling the car separately at half the cost would very likely have made for a much more satisfying experience. So if you are considering this one, make sure you get it as cheap as possible. Otherwise take your money elsewhere.

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┬á 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┬á street prices typically tend to be lower and 15 Euro, while still not perfect, is much more acceptable. Still, all things considered┬á 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. ­čśë 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.

BoringÔäó 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 Hurac├ín 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 Hurac├ín 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 Hurac├ín 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 Hurac├ín. 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.