Welcome to our review of LEGO’s latest set for gearheads. If you’re from the UK and of a certain age, there’s a good chance your first car was one of these. Probably ten years old, falling apart with rust, smoking like the Flying Scotsman… maybe that was just mine, but how I loved it!
I am of course talking of the ‘UCS’ Mini, set no. 10242. This model depicts one of the later 1990s Coopers with much interior finery that my plastic-seated ’70s example may have lacked, but the appeal is the same. So long as it IS a classic Mini, not one of those BMW-sponsored supertankers that should probably be called Maxis, really…
Where were we? Ah yes, 10242, what’s it like?
Comparisons with the 10220 Camper Van (still available but probably not for long…) are inevitable, and 10242’s 1077 pieces for £75 looks slightly worse value than the Camper’s 1332 pieces for £80. Naturally, the model’s smaller as well… still, all those rare pieces in dark green make up some of the difference for MOCers.
The box looks to be the same size as the VW’s, and it looks good, with a tempting pic of the Mini on the front, and the rear showcasing all the opening features and interior detail. Appetite suitably whetted, it’s time to liberate the instructions and get to building.
It’s a fun build, with not too much repetition all things considered, and there’s some neat solutions, especially in the way they’ve designed-in the half-plate gap behind the doors that enable them to close smoothly whilst keeping the curve at the top of the side panel. There’s not quite as much surprise-and-delight in this as there was in the camper, but there is some; the spare wheel under the hinged boot floor may not be realistic, but it is a nice detail that leaves this Mini with probably more boot space than a real one…
After a not-too-taxing couple of hours, you’ll have a good looking model.
The front looks excellent. The lights, grille and bumper are all in proportion and the sloped bonnet opens to reveal the detailed engine. This isn’t quite as detailed as it could be, but what’s there is nice enough. In answer to many a MOCer’s prayer, the headlights are about two and a half studs across which makes them exactly the right size. Hurrah! for that. The silvered pin joiners used for the bumpers are very pleasing too.
Moving rearwards, and things are not quite so rosy; the lower parts of the bodysides are fine – excellent, in fact, with the printed stripe on the curved elements that form the top part of the side panels – but the pillar / window treatment lets the side down, literally… It’s those slope pieces for the ‘screen pillars, with stickers that attempt to black out the portion of slope brick that shouldn’t be there. To my eyes, this doesn’t work at all, and yes I did put the stickers on straight…
Those green wheelarch pieces are brilliant, though. Nice going for what’s really a windscreen piece! The wheels are nice too, doing a convincing impression of the ‘Minilite’ design that was always popular on these.
At the rear, another nice and shiny bumper, above which is an opening bootlid that’s almost but not quite exactly the right shape. It’s a good try, though. Maybe it’s the too-steep angle of the rear screen that does it, but it doesn’t look quite right from some angles at the back.
If the above sounds like nit-picking, blame the VW Camper for setting the bar so high. While this model IS a good representation of a Mini Cooper, there are several areas where it could be better. The one area where the Camper could have been better has at least been nailed on the Mini…
And another thing; when are LEGO going to stop using tiny minifig levers where something three times the size would be better? Answers on a postcard please… It’s the roof-mounted aerial this time and it looks ridiculous.
Inside, it gets better. The roof lifts off to reveal the beautifully detailed seats with their chequered trim, and a perfectly detailed dashboard with the sort of late – ’90s wood veneer that was almost definitely not plastic… The front seats tip forward to allow your imaginary figures into the cramped rear bench. This is a couple of studs too far forward, presumably to give enough boot space for that utterly delightful picnic basket, complete with fabric towel. And a piece of ‘cheese’ that’s actually a piece of cheese; gotta love that Danish humour!
The only criticism inside is the massive steering wheel.
One very nice detail is a choice of number plates according to your chosen European country. The English ‘R’ registration makes this a 1997 model. Also very English is the colour: British Racing Green, no less, and it looks great with the white bonnet stripes and roof.
Overall, it’s a good model. A nice thing to have if you’re a Mini fan. It doesn’t quite achieve the dizzy heights of quality of the Camper set, though.
It’s still a Mini and Minis make you smile. 8/10