When Austin/Morris launched the Mini in 1959, other car manufacturers couldn’t believe the ingenious packaging of Alex Issigonis’ masterpiece.
They also couldn’t believe how Austin/Morris were building it for a profit, and thus Ford bought one to take apart to see how they had done it.
What they found was definitely ingenious packaging, but also that the Austin/Morris profit was literally unbelievable, in that they, well… weren’t making any.
The British car industry was a weird place.
Austin/Morris corrected this rather crucial issue with a price rise (not that their incompetence would disappear of course, causing the companies to do so themselves eventually), and the Mini became one of the best selling small cars of all time, along with becoming a design icon.
If you fancy taking a classic Mini apart yourself as Ford did you can now give it a go, thanks to Pixeljunkie‘s ‘exploded’ Mini Cooper, instructions for which are available so you can explode your own!
There’s more to see at Pixel’s photostream, take a look via the link above, whilst we rue not titling this post something along these lines…
Superman and Lex Luther. Batman and Joker. Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote. Peter Griffin and the Giant Chicken. There are some very famous nemesis, but – in this writer’s opinion – none more so than Mr. Bean and the mystery driver a blue Reliant Regal van. We don’t know why the aforementioned anonymous van-driver enraged our hero so, but we’re willing to go with it for scenes like this one.
Recreating Bean’s arch-rival, along with his own Mini from probably the most famous Mr. Bean scene of them all, is Rob of Flickr – who has encapsulated both cars brilliantly in brick form. The Mini probably deserves to give a nod of thanks (or several) to designs by previous bloggees _Tyler and Lasse Deleuran, but it’s still worth your click. Take a look via the link above!
Being lazy, er… we mean tremendously generous, we’re handing over to another reader today for a review of more LED lighting kits for the 2020 LEGO sets, courtesy of LEGO-compatible LED lighting experts Game of Bricks. John Olive is the lucky recipient/willing reviewer, who has fitted some twinkly lights to his 10277 Crocodile Locomotive, and a few Speed Champions sets too – over to John!
Lights are only good for 3 things. Driving in the dark, for decorating a Holiday tree, and for lighting up LEGO sets. You know that feeling you have when you’ve finished building an official set that cost you an arm and a leg, and you have the desire to take your build to the next level? Well, for a good price it’s time to look to lighting your set or own creation with a good set of lighting kits.
While the current lineup of LEGO lighting kits are few and far between, a majority of builders have to turn to 3rd party vendors for all their lighting needs.
I had the distinct pleasure of getting hooked up with some lighting kits from Game of Bricks. Curious on the build quality and lighting ability, I had 3 kits sent to me in the United States. Two were for Speed Champions sets and the third was for the 10277 Crocodile Locomotive.
While shipping did take a little while, I was pleasantly surprised that when the package arrived, the kits were packaged nicely in thin black boxes. Inside all 3 kits, were the necessary components for each set and all came with a disclaimer packet. I was thrown off for a hot second because there weren’t any installment instructions and I didn’t know which lighting kit was for which set. I was quickly corrected by my 6 year old as he noticed a sticker on each kit with the set number on there. Go figure.
I had to refer back to the website for instructions as the kits didn’t come with an installment guide which was conflicting with their website offer of having instructions in every set. The instructions online were geared towards folks that have built the corresponding set already, so it included tear down instructions prior to adding the lights. This was extremely helpful for the Speed Champions sets and Crocodile. With only receiving digital instructions, I don’t hold that against them as I prefer to use digital instructions. The pictures were clear and provided a close up view of what was happening. I may have been distracted by the model’s fingernail in some pictures, but as I replicated the instructions on my own desk, it was apparent that Game of Bricks had given some thought in this phase of the installment. While the sets I reviewed were somewhat newer, hopefully older sets have the instructions right out of the box. Just in case customers don’t have the internet.
Let’s get to the actual kits.
The quality of the lighting kits was high just by the look and feel of the components. The website promises top notch quality, and while I’m unsure of the specific requirements to that, my experience with lighting kits confirms that it’s true. The extremely thin Connecting Cables are wound tightly and I didn’t notice any unraveling wires when running the cables in between the plates and bricks. Connecting the cables to a light strip has to be done very carefully and will be rewarded with an audible click when it slipped in there correctly.
*Veteran tip: A classic technique requires you to use your fingernail to push the connector into the port when dealing with such small components.*
Once cause of concern when dealing with any kind of lighting kit is the size of the LEDs used, but luckily Game of Bricks comes through with the perfect size. On the Crocodile Locomotive set, there are several 1×1 translucent clear pips that mimic the lights.
The LEDs from GOB fit nicely inside the pip. On the flip side, the light kit for the 75894 Mini Cooper S Rally & 2018 Mini John Cooper Works Buggy came with 2 sets of pips that had small holes that snaked the connecting table inside for you. This was because the Crocodile lights had their clear pips connected to a brick that allowed the cable to be hidden. When it comes to creating lighting kits, attention to the smallest detail allows for an easy installment. Spending time with a set when developing these clever little work-arounds is important because not only does it need to be installed correctly, the cables need to be hidden in order to pull off that realistic component of the set. No one likes a gorgeous set with clunky wires being exposed. With that, Game of Bricks is going to receive good marks when it comes to hiding cables.
While it makes sense to light up a locomotive like the Crocodile, Speed Champions sets like the MINI or Jaguar were a wild card for me. In all my years going to brick shows, it is rare to see those small cars being lit up because it becomes difficult to hide those clunky battery boxes. Luckily the battery boxes provided in the lighting kits aren’t much bigger than a zippo lighter, and comfortably hold 3 triple A batteries. Just make sure that you are hiding that box behind the set as it is clear that these lighting kits are more for display than for running trains on a train layout. A nice little tidbit is having the on/off switch on that battery box and some sets like the Crocodile include a secondary battery box for two 3 volt round batteries. This extremely thin box allows for installment underneath the set and is hidden from view. The finished models shined brightly in all the right places. For example, on the Crocodile Locomotive, the main cabin’s lights shine a dull yellow, mimicking this 1919-1986 model, while the lights at the front and rear “snouts” shone a bright white light. I appreciated the thought behind those decisions.
Having so many options for kits leads to the biggest question that I will leave to others to debate. Are there certain LEGO sets that should be MODed for lighting kits or are there sets that should not be lit?
Game of Bricks throws all that into the wind with their wide selection of lighting kits and says, you shouldn’t let anybody tell you what LEGO set to light up. Their catalog of lighting kits is ever growing, and just by the looks and experience of using their lighting kits, it’s hard to not think of a LEGO set they don’t have a kit for. If they don’t have one available, you can make suggestions which I appreciate as a consumer.
As LEGO continues to pump out new sets, Game of Bricks appear to be doing a great job of creating new kits for them. With their robust catalog of kits, and accessories for your own creations, I believe that Game of Bricks is here to light up the competition.
You’re stuck inside, we’re stuck inside, build us a B-Model to win an awesome prize! Two more TLCB readers have done just that, building alternates from the Technic 42098 Car Transporter and Creator 10242 Mini Cooper respectively. First up (above) is cleansupgood‘s pick-up truck, shown here in digital form but also built for real. Opening doors, a dropping tailgate, a working V8 engine and functioning steering all feature and you can see more of Clean’s 42098 B-Model via Bricksafe at the link above.
This post’s second entry comes from newcomer Jan Geurts, who has repurposed the Creator 10242 Mini Cooper set to build another British classic, the MG Midget. Jan’s 10242 B-Model includes opening doors, an opening hood (with a detailed engine underneath), and an opening trunk complete with an external luggage rack. There’s more to see on Flickr via the link above, and if you’d like to enter your own B-Model into TLCB Lock-Down Competition you can read the contest details here.
Some TV shows are famous for their cars. Knight Rider has KITT, The Saint has the Volvo P1800, Dukes of Hazard the Dodge Charger, Starsky and Hutch the Ford Gran Torino, and Mr. Bean… a Mini with an armchair strapped to the roof.
There was a very good reason for the armchair to be on the roof, which Flickr’s Lasse Deleuran has recreated perfectly with this wonderful 5-wide homage to Mr. Bean’s trip back from the DIY store.
Head to Lasse’s photostream via the link above to see more. Just make sure the head of your broom doesn’t fall off…
They’re the questions we receive here more than other (apart from your Mom calling to find out if we’re free); “Where can I buy this?” / “Are there instructions?”.
We’ve reviewed a range of books here at TLCB (see here, here, here and here) that aim to answer the questions above, providing parts lists and building instructions to enable readers to create real-world vehicles from LEGO bricks. Today we have another, kindly provided by publisher ‘Brick Monster‘ who have a range of both instructional books and downloadable building instructions available at their website, offering everything from BrickHeadz to dinosaurs.
Fast Bricks: Build 6 LEGO Sports Cars!
Overview: Brick Monster’s latest publication, entitled ‘Fast Bricks’, details the step-by-step building instructions and complete parts lists for six real-world sports and performance cars. Each car is designed to match LEGO’s old six-wide Speed Champions scale which, whilst less detailed than the new 8-wide standard, should mean both a plentiful parts supply and that fewer parts are needed.
The book follows the now familiar format that we’ve come to expect from instructional publications, offering a brief (and really well written) introduction to each car, along with a few key statistics – although in this case they are about the model itself rather than its real world equivalent.
Instructions and Print Quality: The bulk of the book is taken by the step-by-step instructions, which are clear and well laid out. Minor sub-assemblies are used every so often and all parts added are highlighted by a contrasting brightly-coloured outline, which is very nice touch. A ‘Bill of Materials’ ends each section, along with the alternate colour schemes available for each build. Unfortunately we have no images of these available to show here, which is something that Brick Monster should look into so that they can showcase this content.
‘Fast Bricks’ is not the glossiest book we’ve reviewed and nor is it printed in the highest quality, but it’s well suited to its purpose, where ultra high quality paper can actually be a hinderance to following building instructions, however beautiful the product looks. On the other hand one area where higher print quality would have been useful was in the instructions for C8 Corvette pictured on the cover, where the dark blue bricks chosen are hard to distinguish against the black lines that surround them. This is never an issue with official LEGO sets and highlights just how good LEGO are at both designing and mass-producing the building instructions found in their products.
The Models: It’s the Corvette that is probably the best model within the book, although all feature a range of excellent building techniques that newer builders may appreciate learning.
However, unfortunately for us in some cases the builds are not particularly recognisable as the car they are purported to be. We could have ten guesses for the Mazda MX-5 and Lamborghini Huracan and we wouldn’t have guessed correctly, with other models having only a passing resemblance to their real-world counterparts.
It’s a shame, because – whilst not really offering anything new – the layout, instruction designs, descriptions, and parts lists of ‘Fast Bricks’ are all pretty good.
Verdict: We wouldn’t have thought there was a need for yet another building instructions book, however the constant requests we receive here at The Lego Car Blog indicate that – as usual – we know nothing, and there remains a significant interest in step-by-step instructions for models.
We’re not sure that any book is the best medium for providing step-by-step instructions anymore, with digital downloads performing the job just as well, but nevertheless ‘Fast Bricks’ take on the book-based instructional formula is another competently engineered addition, utilising well-judged techniques and instructional designs to walk readers from a pile of LEGO bricks to a finished sports car model. We just wish the models found within it looked a bit more like the cars they’re supposedly based upon.
It’s blue Smarties all round today as three Elves returned to TLCB Towers, each with a blue town-scale creation. It turns out all three are the work of the same builder, Flick’s de-marco, who is becoming a regular on these pages. Each has been constructed in LEGO’s classic ‘Town’ style (a favourite here at TLCB) and recreates a well known(?) real-world vehicle in mini-figure scale.
The first of de-marco’s build is perhaps the most true-to-life, a classic Dacia 1300 from a time when the Romanian brand was independent from Renault, but also simply built discontinued Renault products (and fairy badly at that…). It turns out that the Dacia 1300’s ugly blocky sloping shape is perfect for recreation from angular LEGO bricks and the result looks remarkably close to the real thing.
de-marco’s second Town vehicle is a classic Austin/Morris Mini in British police ‘panda car’ specification. LEGO’s ‘Maersk’ blue with white doors and a single blue light (using a piece from LEGO’s 9V lighting sets) works a treat, even if the car looks a little long for the famously small classic car.
Lastly de-marco has built something a little larger, in the form of this excellent Kamaz drop-side truck. As with all three creations the details are spot on, yet simple enough to fit into a Town scale build, and there’s more to see at de-marco’s photostream via the link. There are also video instructions available for each build – you can find a link to these under each image in de-marco’s photostream should you wish to jazz your own Town up with some iconic classics!
Not only does Monaco hold the world’s most famous Formula 1 race (although these days often the world’s most boring too), it’s also the location for probably the world’s most famous rally, the Rallye Monte Carlo.
Held since 1911, when cars would set off from a variety of places across Europe to meet in Monaco, where they would be judged not just on speed but on ‘elegance’ and ‘passenger comfort’, the modern iteration of the race takes cars through the French Riviera and a variety of conditions, including treacherous snow-covered passes, in a series of timed stages.
In mid-’60s this meant one car became a giant killer, the humble Mini Cooper S. Mighty in the snow, the Mini won the event four times* back to back from 1964 to 1967, defeating cars with four times the power.
Taking the Mini from the 75894 Speed Champions set previewed here earlier in the year, Flickr’s Simon Pickard has modified it to Monte Carlo Rally specification and then created one of the most brilliantly life-like roads we’ve ever seen built from LEGO. Ingeniously placed plates create a glorious curve of ice, which a Mini Cooper S is pictured sliding around beautifully.
There’s more to see of Simon’s spectacular scene at his photostream, including an aerial shot showing the complete layout. Click the link above to visit the South of France in 1965.
*This really annoyed the French who, in 1966, disqualified any car that wasn’t a Citroen. Seriously, look it up! Thus we’re still giving the victory to the Mini, which actually won. And came second. And third.
Mr. Bean, one of Britain’s most beloved TV characters, had quite an adventure in his 9th episode. Taking full advantage of the New Year’s Day sales, Mr. Bean bought himself an armchair, paint, brushes and a new mop. Only one problem; his little 1980s Mini was far too small to contain his copious purchases.
Fortunately Bean is a clever fellow, and thus he managed to construct an elaborate driving mechanism from the very items that caused the problem in the first place! What could go wrong? Find out by clicking here, and you can see more of this superb homage to TV gold courtesy of Flickr’s PixelJunkie by clicking here.
A few weeks ago a crack team of The Lego Car Blog Elves were dispatched over the perimeter wall of The LEGO Company’s HQ by way of the office catapult. Tasked with uncovering LEGO’s new-for-2019 sets, those that made it back to TLCB Towers would be revered as heroes, whilst their fallen comrades would be mourned for around 15 minutes, before we all moved on with our lives.
Today the lucky survivors able to out-run a Danish alsatian see the fruits of their courageous mission revealed to you, our readers – and what tasty fruits they are! So without any further pointless preamble, here are the brand new 2019 LEGO Speed Champions sets!
LEGO’s partnerships with real-world car manufacturers is (and we may be a bit biased given the title of this website), one of their best ever decisions. The sets resulting from the tie-ups to date have been almost universally excellent, so it’s little wonder that LEGO and other manufacturers are looking to partner. Dodge become a new addition to LEGO universe for 2019, joining the likes of Mercedes-Benz, Aston Martin, Porsche, Volkswagen, Ford, Volvo, Ferrari and others.
Their first set is 75893 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon & Dodge Charger RT, a wonderful dual car homage to Dodge’s fastest products. A brilliant classic 1970 Charger (complete with a huge drag-racing supercharger) competes against the brand’s latest 2018 SRT Demon at a drag strip, with three mini-figures and the drag racing ‘christmas tree’ lights included. Each car looks faithfully accurate – although some of that accuracy is admittedly due to stickers, and with just under 500 pieces 75893 looks to be an excellent addition to the expanding officially-licensed Speed Champions line-up.
Next we have a vehicle from one of the first manufacturers to partner with LEGO – it wouldn’t be Speed Champions without Ferrari! With 198 pieces the new 75890 Ferrari F40 Competizione set marks the entry point to the 2019 Speed Champions range, and brings one of the most famous supercars ever made back into LEGO form after its last appearance as the 1,158-piece 10248 Creator F40 set from 2015.
Although considerably smaller than its predecessor, 75890 is nevertheless a brilliantly accurate little set. This version of the F40 is the Competizione, or racing car to you and me, and thus it features a mini-figure racing driver, an all-important spanner, and switchable parts to convert the F40 from race to road. 75890 will reach stores in early 2019 and will be a roaring success.
LEGO’s third new Speed Champions set brings another previous partner back into the range; McLaren, with their mind-bending track-only Senna. With 219 pieces the 75892 McLaren Senna set is slightly more complicated than the Ferrari above, as is required by the fantastically intricate design of the real car. It’s an aesthetic that doesn’t seem to translate too well to LEGO in our opinion, and – despite what appear to be a few new pieces to help replicate the real Senna’s shape – 75892 looks to our eyes a bit of mess. Nevertheless for McLaren / supercar fans it’s sure to be a winner when it arrives alongside the other Speed Champions sets in January of next year.
Chevrolet first joined the Speed Champions range a few years ago and they return to the line-up for 2019 with the 75891 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Race Car set*. Another single-car set, 75891 brings Speed Champions into the world of NASCAR, although for licensing reasons you won’t find that link anywhere on the box. What you will find are 198 pieces, some of which are uniquely printed, a mini-figure complete with fuel-refill tank and the ubiquitous spanner, and a wealth of stickers to help recreate the ZL1 in LEGO form.
We’ve bemoaned the over-use of stickers rather than bricks to recreate real-world replicas in the past and the same is true here, but LEGO know their market, and also the most cost-effective way to hit the spot aesthetically. 75891 should be hit – especially amongst NASCAR fans!
*Plus an exciting new addition to the 2019 Technic range… but more on that another time!
The fifth and final Speed Champions set new for 2019 brings another old favourite back onto shelves; Mini, with a pairing of the iconic 1960s Cooper-S and a 2018 John Cooper Works Buggy. A tricky thing to make from rectangular bricks, LEGO seem have done a superb job recreating the original Mini in mini-figure scale, and whilst there are stickers present they’re not used to create the shape of the car – bravo LEGO! The classic Cooper comes in rally car spec, complete with quad spot-lights and a roof-rack, and includes a mini-figure rally driver.
The John Cooper Works Buggy isn’t quite as successful, looking not all that much like the real thing. But we’re guessing that if you’re reading this and you’re eight, that won’t matter one bit! Featuring big rubber tyres, a workshop complete with tools, and some cool stickers, if we were eight we’d absolutely love it!
75894 Mini Cooper-S Rally and MINI John Cooper Works Buggy is the largest set in the 2019 range at 481 pieces including four mini-figures and will join the rest of the line-up in stores from January.
Which set is your favourite? We’ll take the classic Dodge Charger and recreate the train-jump scene from the first Fast and the Furious movie, although we’d really need a Speed Champions Toyota Supra to do it properly. Over to you LEGO…
Gene 3S’s 1966 Mini Cooper S has run into a problem on its way to Monte Carlo. Fortunately the car is well equipped with tools and a spare wheel on the roof. There are some nice details on this conventional, studs up car, plus the neat simply styled scene. The car is based on an actual Mk.1 Cooper S, LBL 6 D. The car is currently up for sale and you can see loads of photos by following this link, which is a great resource for building your own Mini Cooper or modifying LEGO’s official 10242 set.
Sadly Gene 3S’s model was TWOKed by a team of TLCB Elves just after the spare wheel was put on. Apparently they were muttering something about stealing a gold shipment…
Before the Mini Traveller, now called the ‘Clubman’, became a larger rebadged BMW 1 Series, it looked like this. This is the van variant, of which over half a million were produced until the early 1980s, but with a payload of just 1/4 of a ton it wasn’t going to trouble Ford’s Transit.
However, the Traveller van was perfect for light-duty work nipping down city streets, which is what Flickr’s Peter Schmid has deployed his to do, delivering pizza for Al Capone’s pizzeria. Based on the official LEGO 10242 Mini Cooper Creator set, Peter has faithfully replicated the van version of the iconic original Mini, complete with the famous twin barn doors at the back.
Place your pizza order at Peter’s photostream via the link above.
Well, this is a Mini, but not a normal one. Designed to sell to the world’s militaries, the Mini Moke was an ultra lightweight off-road vehicle built for ease of travel and maintenance. And it did those things pretty well, being based on the standard Mini passenger car and being light enough to be picked up by its bumpers.
However, at the one thing the Moke really needed to do well, the off-roading stuff, it was a bit hopeless. Low ground clearance (and low power) meant the little car got stuck a lot, and even the addition of a second engine in the rear to give the Moke four-wheel-drive failed to convince any major militaries to back it.
Looking for a way to recoup their investment, the British Motor Corporation re-marketed the Moke as a fun car for civilian use, and in a few places – notably Australia, the Caribbean and parts of the Mediterranean – turned their initial failure into a quite a success, and the Moke has now become something of a cult car in these markets.
This lovely Lego version of the unusual Mini, built to match the scale of the official LEGO 10242 Mini Cooper set, has been built by Ritto Aydillo Zuazo of Flickr, and it’s a faithful recreation of the odd original. Ritto is hoping that his Moke replica can become an official LEGO set via the LEGO Ideas platform – to see all the images and to give it your vote check it out on Flickr via the link above.