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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Azure vs. Black – Round Two

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


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

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

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

Classic Car MOC, Front Left View

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

Classic Car MOC, Aft Left View

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

Classic Car MOC, Aft Right View

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

Classic Car MOC, Front Right View

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

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

 

 

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

Classic Car MOC, Instructions English, Cover

Classic Car MOC, Instructions English, LPub

Classic Car MOC, Instructions English, Stud.io

Classic Car MOC, Anleitung Deutsch, Cover

Classic Car MOC, Anleitung Deutsch, LPub

Classic Car MOC, Anleitung Deutsch, Stud.io

You can also find the model on Rebrickable:

Classic Car

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Weep for the future, Na’Toth!”

I’m always one to sneak in a quote from my favorite sci-fi series of all time, Babylon 5, but sadly the melancholic undertones and the literal meaning of that particular one ring all too true for LEGO‘s first half year line-up for 2020, it seems.

I shared a few thoughts on Hidden Side and Speed Champions already a few days ago and now that images of the sets for City, Creator 3in1, Friends, Ninjago, Star Wars and Technic have been released, I feel like I’m stuck in a “WTF?” loop. The blunt and short version would be that about 70% of the sets are garbage, 20% are kinda okay and there’s only about 10% of sets that I would consider reasonably good. As if that weren’t enough, the ratings aren’t even consistent with what you would likely think, knowing my preferences and tastes.

Personally I’m most disappointed by the Friends sets. Why? To me they feel like a definite step back. This year was quite good with the water rescue theme and an equally sea life inspired fun fair theme, including the occasional interesting crossover of both worlds. Most notably everything was a bit toned down to the point of being almost realistic in terms of colors used. There were sets like the Heartlake City Restaurant (41379) that took this so far they would almost qualify as Creator 3in1 or Expert Modular Buildings with only hints of the typical Friends-related colors giving them away.

Unfortunately it seems this will be no longer the case and it’s back to wacky color combinations, overall flamboyancy and gaudiness plus non-realistic construction of e.g. vehicles. Aside from a few new pieces and recolors there is little to find there that would attract me. I even almost broke into loud laughter at the ridiculousness of the new hair salon looking way too familiar for comfort. To say it would be a rip-off of the one from three years ago would be stretching the truth a bit too hard, but the similarities are to apparent to dismiss.

Ninjago this time around doesn’t do much for me. The new cyber space theme with all the neon transparent colors and overall sharp-edged, aggressive design looks a tad too much like Nexo Knights reloaded. That doesn’t mean I might not buy one or two of the smaller sets just to check them out and get a few extra parts, but I think I’ll mostly pass. The last two years I bought a few sets and I guess that will have to do for now until another Shuricopter or similar comes along to tingle my taste buds.

The same is no doubt going to happen to City – I will try to get the animals in some form, but overall it’s probably fair to say that I don’t care much for the umpteenth re-tread of the police and fire patrol topics. They may be unavoidable standards for every new generation of four-year-olds every year, but on the whole it’s getting a bit stale. I’m also flabbergasted by the insane pricing. I would have loved to have children in my life, but seeing this I’m almost glad I don’t have to put up with my little tykes pestering me over those expensive toys.

Star Wars in a weird and wonderful way this time around isn’t the worst of the lot. Okay, it’s still all very much “been there, done that” and “more of the same”, but I find it oddly palatable. The new Poe Dameron X-Wing in its orange/ white livery with the huge rounded intakes looks pretty imposing and attractive to my eyes. If you already have the current one and the black one before it than this will make a nice third one to add to your line-up.

The smaller, figure-centric sets look okay, too, and, which I find pretty important, are not priced outrageously like e.g. the notorious Snoke’s Throne Room (75216). My favorite set of them all, though, has to be the Microfighter one with the Bantha. Similar to this year’s one with the Dewback it ticks all the boxes with me and I can’t help it. I just have to have it. In fact chances are this is one of the few sets I might buy more than once. It’s just too cute!

In the Creator 3in1 series of course the new building stands out. It’s nice to see LEGO having revived this tradition and the new toy store looks tasteful enough. It just looks awfully small even compared to the pet shop from earlier this year, so I’m not sure if it’s actually worth 50 Euro. This may be a case for waiting for the right discount to come along. Other than that I have set my sights on the set with the Dark Red dragon, though in actuality somehow the alternate scorpion build is what fascinates me most. Beyond that what I said earlier applies – I may pick up some of the other packages if I feel like it, but have no immediate urgent plans.

finally let’s talk about the debacle that is Technic. Yupp, you heard me right. Once again I think they are totally ruining the series. Once you subtract the “big” models like the Liebherr excavator or the Land Rover, you are pretty much left with what can only qualify weak shadows of great sets like the Claas Xerion and similar from only three years ago. In this short time the series has really been run into the ground and now only exists down in the dumps. Even their lame attempt at being funny by creating a super mini version of the aforementioned Xerion somehow misfires. At least I didn’t get that satisfied grin when you hit the punch line in a joke…

Here’s the thing: If you are a complete newbie to the series you are going to love the smaller models. The beach buggy isn’t half bad and neither are the pull-back drag racer and racing truck. Even the stunt show combo thing will go down well with kids. I also like the idea of actually floating boat parts. Sure, they’re too large for your bathtub swim, but will be fun during the summer in the pool. However, after all those sets clearly aimed at the younger audiences there is this terrible, terrible gap of nothing.

Some would call it “Models that define what Technic is supposed to represent.”, but that is perhaps a bit too grandiose. Still, one can’t deny that something is missing and this feeling will not be alleviated by the yellow crane, which itself might leave some unsatisfied due to it’s somewhat simple construction. On the bright side at least it brings back the yellow no. 5/ 6 panels (among other parts) and I’m sure people will buy this set in masses just to repair/ rebuild/ rebrick older sets where this was used.

Still, none of that can cover up the fact that the set itself is not the most attractive. Given the circumstances, this sure wouldn’t lure me into LEGO these days. In fact most of these Technic sets represent what has deterred me from even picking up the hobby for ages – crude, unsophisticated and toy-ish looking models. I know I sound like an old grandpa harping on about the better days, but that’s just how I feel.

So where does all of that leave us? If I were to make it sound positive in a very sarcastic way I would say that I can save lots of money, at least in the price ranges that are attainable for me. That’s good because of course I’m always on a tight budget, but at the same time also just sad. You know, at the end of the day I sometimes don’t know what’s more frustrating about being into LEGO: Not having enough money to buy the sets you actually want or standing in the aisles and wondering what to buy because the available choices are bad. With this cycle I’m definitely going to experience the latter a lot once I have exhausted the “good” options…

 

Hidden Ghosts, Visible Disappointment

It’s that time of year where we’re hit with news about soon-to-be-released new LEGO sets basically every day and while I don’t consider my little blog a news site and try not to flood it with the nonsensical trivialities of LEGO‘s marketing, I feel I need to say a few words on yesterday’s reveal of the first wave of 2020 Hidden Side sets (images and info here for instance) simply because I like the series it so much. That is, until now. And there’s the rub.

If you care to look at the images via the link or your very own favorite news page (they all have them, of course), you might feel a sense of being let down like I did. Compared to the first wave, the second outing sure feels underwhelming. It’s unimaginative, to say the least, and all too obviously some models have been stripped down to the bare minimum again, making their subject barely recognizable. The latter category is most notably presented by the Newbury Subway Station (70430). It’s tunnel and quay are literally just two-brick deep facades. The Lighthouse of Darkness (70431) doesn’t fare much better with it looking like a scaffolding structure with some panels shimmied on.

Finally there’s the so-called Ghost Fair (70432), which to me feels like a rehash of the all too similar Unikitty set from two years ago or for that matter any of the roller-coaster-ish sets, be that the Creator 3in1 pirate-themed version or the one in the Friends boardwalk fun fair. Point in case: They may be relatively large in terms of area they occupy, but without a wealth of extra parts to build additional attractions and landscapes around them the literally look like someone just dumped some old rusty railway tracks in the middle of nowhere. It’s one of those things where I tend to think “Why even bother if you’re not willing to go the full mile?”.

The rest is just as unimpressive. Given that we already have a pick-up truck by ways of El Fuego’s Stunt Truck (70421) there was no reason to already revisit the topic with Jack’s Beach Buggy (70428). Conversely, even now as I’m writing this, there’s still the air show plane from the Friends series available as is the Creator 3in1 stunt plane. Aside from specifics like color scheme and figures there is literally no good excuse for El Fuego’s Stunt Airplane (70429) to even exist at this point.

The only halfway original set it turns out will be the Hidden Side Portal (70427). Not so much because it would be extraordinary in design or construction, but it appears to introduce a new spin on the theme and possibly a new play mechanic for the associated game. All that said, of course I’m still going to get at least some of the sets to scavenge them for parts. After all, there are several unique re-colors for some pieces that weren’t available before. Still, I’m not going to jump at it and will take my time until I get a good price so the economics add up.

That’s also going to be true for the new Speed Champion sets (images here) as well, I’m afraid. For unfathomable reasons LEGO decided that it would be a good idea to bring out more dual sets featuring two cars at the same time and along with the switch from 6 studs wide to 8 studs making the models larger and requiring a few more pieces plus a general price hike this turns what should be good fodder for spontaneous casual into a genuine investment. I dare say that this isn’t a smart move and as some have pointed out it indeed feels like they are trying to dump unattractive secondary models on customers that only want that other hot one. We have to see how that works out…

Grey Beauty – LEGO Speed Champions McLaren Senna (75892)

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

LEGO Speed Champions, McLaren Senna (75892), Box

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

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

LEGO Speed Champions, McLaren Senna (75892), Overview

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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