Thursday, December 10th, 2020 at 8:26am by Michael, BZPower Reporter
Building the Bugatti Chiron fanned the smoldering embers of my love for LEGO. BZPower capitalized on this enthusiasm by giving me the opportunity to reprise my reviewing production with the third LEGO Technic supercar - provided I could meet a firm deadline. Among other things, this set features lime green, scissor doors, and a memorable building experience.
From the design of the box to the instruction manual, these are the first things you see before building the set.
This set is clearly designed to be an end-to-end experience for the builder, beginning with the presentation of the box. One side of the box has the expected glamor shot of the model, with only minimal text and graphics compared to a typical set. Flip the box around and it is entirely lime green with only the Lamborghini logo, the color choice a nod to the unique "electric green" paint job used on the flagship SiÃ¡n (although it more accurately imitates the Energy Green of the 2016 Honda Civic Coupe). A closer look reveals embossed lines as though we are looking down at the
hood trunk rear engine covering, a design that extends onto the side with taillights and exhaust pipes.
Only 63 units of the real Lamborghini SiÃ¡n were made, an homage to the 1963 founding of the Automobili Ferruccio Lamborghini company. Thankfully, LEGO has no such restriction on its version.
Opening the box is a "wow" moment: individual set boxes are printed and arranged to imitate the aggressive carbon fiber wings overlying the engine. Like that of a new cell phone, the packaging design creates a feeling while keeping each piece in its place. One downside is that the extra cardboard flaps used to create the overlapping wing effect are in opposite order to that of the build boxes - thus to remove box 3, boxes 4, 5, and 6 also have to be lifted.
Instructions take the form of two very thick manuals placed into an inset at the very bottom of the box, underneath everything else. An image of the car spans both books, while pictures of both the real car and the model are interspersed between the building steps, emphasizing different design elements and the challenges of replicating them in LEGO form. There are also references to a series of videocasts that go into more detail of the development and decision-making process.
Inner walls of the box are decorated with a spot-gloss triangle pattern inspired by the SiÃ¡n's iconic triangle lights, in addition to a quote from Ferruccio Lamborghini written in Italian:
"Questo Ã¨ stato il momento in cui ho finalmente deciso di creare un'auto perfetta." --Ferruccio Lamborghini
Translated to English, it reads:
It was the moment when I finally decided to create the perfect car. --Ferruccio Lamborghini
Half the fun is had building the set. How fun is it to build and how easy or challenging is it?
Perhaps the most difficult part of the entire set is the very beginning, as the core of the model is its eight-speed gearbox controlled by paddle shifters on either side of the steering wheel. These are not to be confused with the central shifter, which motes through forward, neutral, and reverse positions.
Even with help and knolling the pieces before starting, each build boxes took about two hours to work through. At first, progress feels slow, since so much early on is devoted to structural and functional aspects. Once the exterior panels begin to appear, the car's final form quickly takes shape. Some of the pieces are too long to fit in the other build boxes, so the first box contains a lot of things that aren't going to be used until much later on.
It's exciting to "test out" the mechanical portions along the way, attempting to deduce which functional parts of a real car are being constructed. I think Technic as a medium particularly shines here, the gears and control arms enabling a raw physical element that is less common in more traditional LEGO construction.
Now that the set is complete, we can critique how it looks from every angle. New or interesting pieces can also be examined here.
My favorite design element is easily the scissor doors. Non-standard car door opening mechanics fascinated me as a child and, as it turns out, has not diminished with age. There is an "up and out" rotational angle that requires a very unique set of connections I didn't fully appreciate until the doors were complete. Long lever arms connect the doors to two subtly-placed buttons just in front of the engine, allowing them to be opened and closed from a slight distance.
Another interesting piece of engineering is the rig required to create the car's iconic Y-shaped headlights. Rather than being an integral part of the forward structure, each light is a unit built separately and then attached behind the front bumper. Curved pieces attached with short axle rods are used to create sleek-looking exhaust pipes coming off the pistons.
Functional gearboxes are central to this and many other Technic sets, but it is a bit of a shame that they often get completely concealed. In a departure from previous models, this gearbox is open on the bottom and can be seen in action when the car is flipped over. So much of the early work goes into that aspect, it is nice to be able to show it off at the end.
Long helicopter blade pieces in lime green are used to create part of the side body, while multiple lengths of flex-tubing are connected together to create a continuous line from the windshield to the rear. Flat plates are used to create an Italian flag along the rear sides. Gold-rimmed wheels to match the production SiÃ¡n are unique to this set.
I was a bit surprised to see that the interior is built in light gray and lime green colors rather than the orange-brown and black coloring featured in interior shots of the real car. However, given the coloring limitations of LEGO pieces, I suspect that the designers felt the brightness of current LEGO oranges would clash too heavily with the exterior.
Unlike previous entries in the supercar series, there are no stickers in the box. Everything from the dashboard to the Lamborghini logo is printed directly on the appropriate pieces. One of these pieces is a unique serial number or "VIN" for the set that can be used to access an owners-only portion of the website.
It's impossible to talk about this model without mentioning the color inconsistencies in the lime green pieces. While promotional images of the set show uniform coloration, the reality is a bit different, with a patchwork of shades that seems to correspond to the category of element (axle connectors vs flex tubing vs faring). Color variations are best seen on the rear wing, where a number of different element types are used together.
I contacted Customer Service about it and while at least one small piece (6308234) was considered off enough that they sent me a replacement, overall it seems the difference are being attributed to variations in the manufacturing process:
"We use a number of different materials in LEGO elements to provide the best play experiences to those of all ages. Due to differences in the way some pieces are made, itâ€™s possible for slight variations in color to occur." --LEGO Customer Service
This isn't something I have noticed in LEGO pieces before, perhaps because I haven't built many things with combinations of flexible and rigid elements. It also makes me wonder if there is something about the lime green that makes absolute consistency more difficult to maintain.
The other half of the fun is in playing with the set. How well does the set function and is it enjoyable to play with?
The SiÃ¡n FKP 37 is the first gas-electric hybrid vehicle produced by Lamborghini, something reflected in everything from the name (a Bolognese word meaning "flash of lighting") to the color choice ("Electric Green"). With the added boost of the electric motor, it is able to accelerate 0â€“100 km/h (0â€“60 mph) in 2.8 seconds and is currently Lamborghini's most powerful production vehicle. Similar to the Bugatti Chiron, its top speed is electronically limited to 350 km/h (217 mph).
On the LEGO version, those scissor doors are easily my favorite action feature. The control buttons for them blend into the overall design of the car and allow the doors to be swung open without my clumsy hands getting in the way.
Steering is functional, while paddle shifters on either side of the wheel control the gears (which can be seen changing by looking underneath). A lever on the passenger side of the cockpit raises and lowers the rear wing.
There is a nifty hinge mechanism securing the "frunk," which opens to reveal a storage space for luggage. The actual engine is in the rear, which is partially revealed by completely lifting off the back set of fins. Although many of the pistons are still covered, they start chugging away when the car is moved.
Enterprising builders can further enhance the model's playability with a series of mods compiled by user jb70 on Rebrickable, something I would love to do myself if I can ever collect the required pieces.
Once it's all said and done, how does the set stack up? Should I get it?
LEGO delivered another top-shelf model with this set, making use of their ability to engage people in both the construction and engineering of a model in a way that many other mediums cannot. Building it was an incredible experience for my friend, my brother, and myself, and the final product looks beautiful, inviting people to explore the many functional elements.
What's to like?
- Engaging and challenging building experience from beginning to end.
- Impressive finished model for display.
- Functional scissor doors!
What's not to like?
- Even more expensive than previous supercar sets at US $380.
- Color inconsistencies may irritate some builders.
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