Very Green – LEGO Speed Champions, Lotus Evija (76907)

I’m still anything but a car fanatic, but no matter what, I thoroughly enjoy the LEGO Speed Champions series and always look forward to the new releases around this time of the year. This year is no different and for a particular reason the line-up got me even more excited than usual. More on that later. For now let’s see what the Lotus Evija (76907) is all about.

LEGO Speed Champions, Lotus Evija (76907), Box

Contents and Pricing

Speed Champions sets are like sweets – if you’re not a car aficionado, you could probably do well without them, but they make for a wonderful snack of LEGO on their own merits. They’re affordable enough, relatively quick to build, yet interesting and in a way always rewarding because you end up with something recognizable. Throw in the occasional new/ exclusive piece and some very educational building techniques and there is little reason to pass on these sets unless you really couldn’t be bothered.

At 247 pieces this adheres quite well to the average parts count in this series in the usual mix of several larger elements for the cockpit, wheel wells and so on, but also a ton of small bits. Also an established standard at this point is the single minifigure in a racing/ mechanic suit matching the look & feel of the car (or for that matter the manufacturer’s official branding and design). Is any of that worth 20 Euro MSRP?

Like so often I don’t necessarily agree, but it’s not that bad, either, given that there are two pretty sizeable parts printed with multiple colors plus the ones for the headlights and the minifigure also being printed head to toe. that alone raises production cost and could be worth an extra buck. That said, the typical retail price will of course be around 15 Euro after discounts and with that there’s barely any excuse left not to buy this set.

LEGO Speed Champions, Lotus Evija (76907), Overview

The Model

The model is structurally more complex than its outsides let you think. A good chunk of the first steps in the instructions is actually spent extending the rear end of the chassis piece with some rather complex bracket and SNOT techniques. I’m always game for learning new tricks, but trust me, this one is pretty wild with multiple direction changes. It basically only begins to make sense toward the end once you understand how stuff aligns again for plugging on the outer pieces. Admittedly even I found myself thinking several times that it might have been simpler had they just designed a new custom piece to same effect.

LEGO Speed Champions, Lotus Evija (76907), Front Left View

Inspecting the car’s rear end once again reveals the biggest shortcoming these sets have: The limitations of the LEGO system do not allow to capture the complex curvatures of these hyper cars’ bodies. That is, of course, until they might create new parts for that one day. I already pointed that out when I reviewed the McLaren Elva (76901). In this case this is most apparent by the rear wheel wells being cut off perfectly perpendicularly and lacking any of the transitional zones, minor as those curved blends would be on this particular vehicle. Similarly, the gigantic air intake just doesn’t look right.

LEGO Speed Champions, Lotus Evija (76907), Aft Left View

The faux exit apertures and rear lights aren’t half bad, but inevitably suffer from the same lack of rounding plus LEGO are clearly cheating here, exploiting that due to the dark colors and the “black hole” effect it would be heard to gauge the actual depth. Within reason this is absolutely fine, though. Unlike competitors such as Mega or COBI, LEGO simply doesn’t create one-off unique parts for a set and we have to live with that, as much as we may wish otherwise. At least they found a creative use for the snowboard piece and after years of it being in Lime Green in Friends sets it sure doesn’t hurt to have one more color option.

LEGO Speed Champions, Lotus Evija (76907), Aft Right View

A big point of contention and heated debate is the curvature of the canopy piece and by extension thus the curvature of the yellow trim line and how it may be dictated by technical limitations of the printing process and LEGO‘s internal guidelines. The inevitable truth is that the shape is pretty much completely wrong in the first place and would have required a new mold that then may have been flat and rounded enough, that the line could have been printed continuously from the top direction instead of using three separate stamps. However, even then it would have ended up too high on the model, which is something anyone needs to consider here. Ultimately perhaps the problem is not really the line or the canopy shape, but rather the color scheme chosen by the designers…

LEGO Speed Champions, Lotus Evija (76907), Front Right View

The color scheme is also disadvantageous in that many the details are hard to see because they’re being gobbled up by the dark surroundings. With my shoddy camera and limited photographic equipment I can barely make it visible because there’s no good way to get light into all the crevices. The front view also reveals the new 2 x 3 wedge slopes with the headlights printed on. This is a completely new piece for 2022 and used in several of the Speed Champion sets. It’s reminiscent of some of the larger and steeper curved slopes you find in Mega and COBI sets and from here on should really make it easier to get nice smooth shapes.

Ironically I kind of resent that they are printed, as of course I would have loved to add them to my collection as regular pieces for custom builds. It’s also rather odd that LEGO printed those two large pieces, where sticker application would have been much easier, but at the same time there are several 1 x 2 slopes where you are supposed to apply some rather finicky small sticker bits. The logic here is hard to follow, but I guess that’s ultimately one of those “Can’t have it both ways!” situations where there just isn’t a perfect solution for everyone.

LEGO Speed Champions, Lotus Evija (76907), Front View

Ironically I kind of resent that they are printed, as of course I would have loved to add them to my collection as regular pieces for custom builds. It’s also rather odd that LEGO printed those two large pieces, where sticker application would have been much easier, but at the same time there are several 1 x 2 slopes where you are supposed to apply some rather finicky small sticker bits. The logic here is hard to follow, but I guess that’s ultimately one of those “Can’t have it both ways!” situations where there just isn’t a perfect solution for everyone.

LEGO Speed Champions, Lotus Evija (76907), Top View

LEGO Speed Champions, Lotus Evija (76907), Cockpit InteriorThe cockpit, like so often, is yet another very dark “black hole”, but given that it barely can seen through the tinted glass, anyway, sufficient.


Concluding Thoughts

The Speed Champions cars have gotten quite sophisticated overall, but with this one I’m a bit torn. Once more I find that if it wasn’t spelled out on the packaging, you’d have a hard time recognizing which car this is supposed to be. In this case the problem is two-fold: Not only does LEGO simply still not have enough specific elements to render the complex curvatures, but I also find the color less than ideal. I get that they wanted to honor the typical Lotus British Racing Green, but it’s not the best color here. Interestingly enough if you look it up, you can find many more versions with light grey or yellow bodies, which I think would have immensely helped.

Outside that this is still a nice set that’s a good way of killing an hour of time on a relaxed evening and if you genuinely collect them all, it will not look too shabby next to other such cars. On the other hand the limitations are very apparent and next to e.g. the Ferrari F8 Tributo (76895) the use of the same cockpit piece would be a tad too obvious for comfort. LEGO need to keep investing in new molds and pieces to make the cars more distinctive from each other.

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.

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… ­čśë

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…