The Caterham project has been on Lego Ideas for about two years before reaching ten thousand votes and being approved into an official set. I wasn't expecting it to be choosen, honestly, but i'm happy to be wrong. Lego car lovers will be enthusiastic of this set, that, despite being a different theme, joins the recent wave of similar scaled cars like the F40, the Volkswagen Beetle, The Mini Cooper, etc.
The box is the usual Ideas quality: fancier than the usual lego boxes but not as fancy as, say, the Porsche box. Inside are six polybag and the instruction booklet, which is about half a centimeter tall and uses a classic light blue background.
The booklet contains some non-instruction pages about the real car and the Ideas project.
Contrary to the usual with Lego Ideas sets, which seldom use new or recolored parts, this one has a lot of suprise in its inventory! First off, there are no stickers in the set. That's right: every part with drawings is a printed part, and there are plenty too, ranging from the black and yellow stripe of the bodywork, to the disk brakes etc. Nice! And here's a personal selection of the most interesting parts:
Tile 2 x 2 Corner in Black
Not terribly new, but still a rare and useful part, it comes in black for the fourth time.
Tile 2 x 3 in Black (since 2016)
I had to triple-check this part on all online databases: it's not my mind playing tricks, this part is absolutely brand new! The tiles family aquire a new entry! The long due 3x2 tile is finally here, and we get it in two colours, black and yellow!
Tile 2 x 3 in Yellow (since 2016)
90° tube in Black (since 2016)
Oh yes! This part is a redesign of an old similar part, 71075, which was made up to 2008. After 8 years it makes a comeback in two colors, gray and black!
90° tube in Light Bluish Gray (since 2016)
3.2 SHAFT W/3.2 HOLE in Black (since 2016)
Small, technical parts like this one are super useful and always welcome by the community. This one is no exception! Appeared this year in some sets (notably the Volkswagen Beetle 10252), it made the joy of many small scale MOCer. We get two in this set!
PLATE 1X1 ROUND W/3.2 SHAFT in Black (since 2016)
Just as above, this small, versatile part will make all micro builders happy! It can hinge-rotate on the stud thanks to the rounded plate and still connect a clip.
Plate Special 1 x 2 with Handles on Ends in Black (since 2015)
This appeared last year in Mixels, if i remember correctly, and it's very useful for compact design where the original "single handle" version would not fit.
Slope Curved 2 x 1 Inverted in Black (since 2016)
The inverted version of the Baby Bow is new for this year and it's a part i've been looking forward a lot!
Baloon bottom in Light Bluish Gray (since 2016)
If i recall correctly, this part was first introduced in some Angry Birds sets. Other similar, more rounded design existed before, this one has a gentler curve and studs on top.
4x2 plate with center holes in Light Bluish Gray (since 2016)
Another addition to the family of plates with underside pin holes. This one is four stud long, can be better secured to the structure when used to attach wheels, or perhaps can be used as some form of catapult. Anyway, this is brand new too.
Bar 2L with Towball in Dark Bluish Gray (since 2016)
This game changer part first appeared with the first Nexo Knights sets. If i recall correctly, this is the first appearance in any non transparent color. With a towball on one side (to be used with Mixels ball joints) and a bar on the other, it opens up plenty of opportunity for micro scale free joints.
Friends Accessories Lipstick with Light Bluish Gray Handle in Dark Pink (since 2012)
Not really new or interesting, but i think it's fun to find two lipsticks in the Caterham inventory. How will they be used?
For start, we are instructed to build four identical red.. things. At first i tought they were weird traffic cones, but after some consideration i think they're hidraulic jacks.
I know what you're thinking: do we really need a picture of them? Probably not, but at least i could show you the nifty chromed lightsabre hilts! Anyway, let's move on!
The actual build starts off with the usual strudy technic framework, after which the rear of the car is started:
In the next step we can see the awesome printed technic disks used as disk brakes. They'll unfortunately be totally covered by the wheels, but it's still nice to have them! You can also see how a good portion of the rear assembly is offsetted by half stud by the row of offset plates. This geometry will set the stage for attachment of the rear mudguards, which are built next. Each is made of two sub assemblies, one for the back and one for the front, joined in the middle by a "turtle head" piece.
The result is a smooth curve:
Some controls and mechanicals are added next, including a hand brake and a ball gear shift. The red axle purpouse is puzzling right now, but will be clear later (don't you love when the designer add some little "hook" that he resolves only much later?)
The bulk of the engine is built next. In my review of the F40, i noticed how even the engine was designed to match the real thing as much as possible, given the scale. I've checked if it's the case for this car too, but there are many pictures of different Caterham engines online. Anyway, for example this one looks very similar to the lego version, so probably the designer paid attention to the engine details here too.
Here is it, installed and connected to some tubing (including a whip, NPU!):
The seats are built next, which are a little asimmetrical, as i discovered after building ahead two identical copies.
For some reason, they left two holes under the sideway baby bows. Probably they tried to recreate some hole molded in the real size car, for example i've found this picture who has them,but perhaps the result is not worth the detail. Well you can easily fix them with spare 1x3 and 1x4 plates from your collection (or even better with the 1x1 plate left over in the set). Anyway, on with the building process: the sides are now built. They're attached to hinge plates on both sides to give a "tapered" look, a technique we already saw in other models, for example recently in Poe Dameron X-Wing.
The part is attached and reinforced with some bricks placed over it:
The other side of the car is built with a strange hole in the middle:
The reason of the hole is soon clear: it's where the huge exhaust piping is attached! The build of said tubing it is kind of.. strange. Belive it or not, this... thing is part of your caterham:
Ok, so why the lipsticks? The final build look like this:
The lipstick goes into the 1L beams. They're not super essential, as the build is kept together by the two short pipes. All they do is keep the two long pipes aligned (the 1L beam and the curved tube would otherwise have nothing to connect them, as a pin couldn't fit in the 1L beam as it has a stud inside) and provide some (very weak) strenghtening. Not sure if it was so necessary to have them. Perhaps they had some parts left to add ad the end of the design, or they tought it would be fun and interesting to stumble on them midway into the build, in which case they were totally right: they're so unexpected it made me smile.
Speaking of interesting stuff, the exausts are connected to the body of the car in an unusual way:
One side connects with a clip, the other is just trapped inside the chassis with no connection at all! (well, one could guess that mechanical locking is itself a connection).
Some bricks close the top of the hole and holding the part in place:
Well, this part of the build has been a surprising rollercoaster of emotions, and it's surely one of the highlights of the whole building process.
You can also see the red hinge where, you guessed it, the front of the car will be attached. Next up are the front guard, and it's another crazy surprise:
Look at the geometry! they took advantage of the new bar holder to connect the arches to the bricks. Thanks to the orientation of the hinges, the whole linkage doesn't swing and it's sturdier than it looks. You can also see two vertical bars on the bricks: the bottom one will strenghten the connection to the chassis (otherwise it would only sits there with two studs), while the top one will host the headlights. Here are the mudguards installed:
Love the look of them!
Next is the tilted front section, the part that is attached to the red hinge. It's a small SNOT build with studs on top, front and bottom:
The hood is built now. Just like the sides of the car, it's built with plate hinges. The center rift is then covered with some printed tiles to create a smooth assembly.
The hood is attached to the chassis with only two studs. But some friction with the walls of the car provides extra stability.
Now the dashboard is attached. And here's where the red 2L axle from above is used! The assembly you see is attached exacly to that axle. The result is good but there's a small problem: The finger hinge where the red axle is inserted doesn't really hold the position, it wants to jump back to the lower click, probably becouse of the weight of the whole dashboard or the fact thats it's not completely 100% "clicked in", if i can explain myself. I don't know, perhaps it was designed to be in the lower position, but this leaves a little void space along the hood. Not a major problem, anyway.
The wheels are usually the last step, but not this time. We add them before finishing the car:
The last but one thing is the back of the car. It's attached with clips to keep it a little tilted, and feature many printed parts, including one of the most elusive (look at the top left corner):
We are basically done, the last thing is the back cover with two struts for the rollbars. Interestingly, this assembly is just placed there with no attachment at all. It simply stays in place becouse of some friction on the sides.
And we are done!
The complete model
Here's some pictures of the complete model:
All covers removed:
The manual suggest this use for the red thingies (this is where i deduced they might be jacks):
The bottom of the car, for all you bottom lovers. It look like it calls for a couple of plates to hold stuff more firmly, but the car is sturdy as it is, and the clearance is already super low.
Leftovers. It strangely include two 2x1 plates. I hope it's not me forgotting to place them. Sadly, no extra Bar with Towball spare.
Comparison with Ideas model
This is a picture of the original version of the original model (the author posted many different variants). While from a distance it may look super similar to the final TLG model, zooming in we can find many differences. The most prominent for me, is the lack of steering. I'm not sure if it was functional, but the original model clearly had some form of linkage that allowed to pose the wheels in a steering position, while the final model has no steering at all. Another difference is the windscreen, which is present in the user model but absent in the final model. Zooming even more, we can see that almost all details have different technical solutions, using different parts and different implementations. This is in line with many other Ideas project (just think of the Exo Suit, which was remade completely different from the original). Despite the lost steering, the final TLG version look somehow cleaner to me.
This is an awesome set. The build is always interesting, with plenty of surprises and almost no repetitiveness (even specular subassemblies often have slight differences), the complete model is a gorgeous, super detailed display piece that will look fantastic together with the other recent cars like the F40, the Beetle, the Mini etc. Even the part selection is great!
The only small problems are the issue on the dashboard and a general difficulty in picking up the car with your hands: there's not an obvious place to put your finger. The hood would detach, the exhausts are not attached firmly enought, etc. But these are really minor annoiance that doesn't detract from the model. If you like lego cars, don't miss this set.
The car is not minifig scale, but it is perhaps bigfig scaled. Thanos seems to enjoys a ride on his Caterham.
See you in the next review!
Disclaimer: This LEGO set was provided for review by The LEGO Group. Anything said in this post is the opinion of the author and not The LEGO Group.