If you are a LEGO Technic fan, and perhaps, even if you are not, you must have noticed the incredible media campaign surrounding the introduction, on June 1st, 2018, of LEGO's latest and largest super car, Technic set 42083, the Bugatti Chiron. In the six weeks since that introduction, I have read or watched fifty or more reviews of this super set, and almost all of them, I am sorry to say, got it wrong. They review this set as if it were a regular Technic set; in other words, you build the set as fast as you can, and then you evaluate how good it looks, how good it functions, and how good it plays.
The problem, however, is that the LEGO Technic Bugatti Chiron is not a regular LEGO Technic set. It is not designed like a regular LEGO Technic set; it is not packaged like a regular LEGO Technic set; it is not build like a regular LEGO Technic set, and it is not even targeted to regular LEGO Technic buyers. You can not review this amazing work of art as if it were a BASH! or a WHACK!
So if you want to know what this set is really about, let's begin with some backgrounds.
At the start of this century LEGO was almost bankrupt, as it had diversified in the decade before almost to the edge of destruction. In 2003 the Lego Group lost some 220 million US$ (175 million Euro), and CEO Poul Plougmann was replaced by Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen. In October 2004, after reporting an even larger deficit, Kristiansen stepped down and was replaced by Jørgen Vig Knudstorp, who has come to be known as "The Man Who Rescued LEGO".
Knudstorp's main strategy was simple: bricks are LEGO's core business, and a company can only build one adjacency to its core business every three to five years. Adjacency is CEO-speak for finding new customers. In 2005, LEGO made a small profit again, and for 12 years on a row, LEGO grew like crazy.
So what does this has to do with the Bugatti Chiron? Well, conforming to Kundstorp's vision, the LEGO Group only enters into partnerships with like-minded companies, traditionally founded, long history, and with similar corporate values. So in November 2014, Lego announced a partnership with Ferrari, McLaren and Porsche, that resulted in the Speed Champions introduced in March 2015.
And that was an opportunity for a new adjacency: together with Dr. Ing. H.C.F. Porsche, a LEGO team lead by Senior Design Manager Andy Woodman designed the elegantly packaged LEGO Technic 42056 Porsche 911 GT3 RS, which opened up an entirely new customer group: car enthusiasts who had never build a LEGO Technic model before, who were bewildered and amazed by the complexity and beauty of the LEGO Porsche 911 GT3 RS.
Combined with the fact, that the favorite LEGO set of the current LEGO CEO, Niels B. Christiansen, is that very same Porsche 911 GT3 RS, it is obvious that LEGO decided to repeat the experiment; it is also obvious that they choose for Bugatti, founded in 1909 by Ettore Bugatti, whose main motto was "Nothing is too expensive, nothing is too beautiful". Remember that the Chiron was first revealed at the Geneva Motor Show on March 1, 2016, only three month prior to the release of the LEGO Porsche 911 GT3 RS.
So the LEGO Bugatti Chiron is designed, packaged and marketed specifically for people who love super cars, and who have never build a LEGO Technic set before. This will become more obvious in the next chapters.
According to Senior Design Manager Andy Woodman, the entire LEGO Technic team, consisting of almost a dozen designers, at one time or another worked on the Bugatti Chiron during its two year long design process. LEGO Technic Lead Designer Aurelien Julien Rouffiange, working closely with Bugatti's Head of Tradition Julius Kruta, Director of Design Achim Anscheidt, and Director of Sales & Operations Hendrik Malinowski, dedicated six month to build the outside of the model, another six month to build the inside, and then again six month to fit the latter into the first. Michael T. Jeppesen tried recreating the Chiron’s W18 engine, but ultimately did not succeed and had to compromize; Markus Kossman designed the model’s complex paddle-shift gearing system and the mechanical ingenuity for raising and lowering the rear wing, while LEGO Element Designer Daniel Sri Sudarsono designed the new rims.
The Bugatti Chiron was first announced on January 31th, 2018, at the Nuremberg Toy Fair (Spielwarenmesse) in Germany, scheduled to be released on August 1, 2018. On March 12, LEGO suddenly changed that release date to June 1 on their official website’s Technic pages, without giving any explanation. A possible reason for this decision will be discussed at the end of this review. On May 1st, a countdown clock went live on the Technic web page, and LEGO announced that VIP members might get it as early as May 16st.
On June 1st, the Technic Bugatti Chiron made its worldwide debut in a live stream from the LEGO House in Denmark.
The media campaign has been a tremendous success; only days after the release virtually every auto and motor magazine and blog picked up the announcement, and even national newspapers ran the story. Only six weeks after release, a Google search for "LEGO Technic 42083" results in 311,000 hits, while "LEGO Technic 42056", two years after the Porsche 911 GT3 RS release, results in 607,000 hits.
LEGO Technic set 42083 is available at the LEGO shops:
- Australia: $599,99
- Belgium: €399.99
- Canada: CAD 399.99
- Denmark: 3199.00 kr
- France: €379.99
- Germany: €369.99
- Italy: €399.99
- Netherlands: €399.99
- Portugal: €419.99
- Spain: €419.99
- Switzerland: 469.99 CHF
- United Kingdom: £329.99
- United States: $349.99
Note the strange difference between European prices: €370 in Germany, €380 in France, €400 in Belgium, the Netherlands and Italy, and €420 in Portugal and Spain. Why LEGO is doing this, I have no idea.
Price per Part
I also noticed that some reviewers feel that this set is overpriced, and much too expensive. Now, everybody is entitled to his or her opinion, but in this matter, the facts ought to speak for themselves.
The Bugatti Chiron costs $349.99 in the USA and €369.99 in Europe (LEGO Shop Germany). Given that it contains 3,599 parts, we get a PPP (price per Part) of 9.7c (USA) or 10.3c (EUR).
I took a random selection of twenty 2017/2018 Technic sets and calculated some statistics. An average modern Technic set costs $85.24 (USA) or €69.24 (EUR), and again, on average, a modern Technic set contains 823 parts. The PPP ranges from 6.9c to 17.5c (USA) or 5.5c to 14.8c (EUR), with an average PPP of 11.4c (USA) or 9.4c (EUR). To be sure, the Porsche 911 GT3 RS breaks down to 11c (both USA and EUR).
So, in fact, the Bugatti Chiron is almost averagely priced, and about 10% cheaper then the Porsche 911 GT3 RS. But there is one remarkable issue, here. Usually, the price in euro is about 20% less then the price in dollars. For example, set 42075 - First Responder costs $49.99 or €39.99. With a 0.86 dollar to euro exchange rate this makes a lot of sense. Only in a few cases, the euro and dollar prices are the same. Yet the Bugatti Chiron is 6% more expensive in euro then in dollars. Add in another 14% exchange and the Bugatti is 20% cheaper in the USA.
The set contains 3.599 parts (3.600 if one includes the sticker sheet), in the following 29 categories:
- Bars, Ladders and Fences: 3 parts, 14 quantity
- Bionicle, Hero Factory and Constraction: 2 parts, 4 quantity
- Bricks Curved: 17 parts, 65 quantity
- Bricks Sloped: 5 parts, 20 quantity
- Bricks Special: 2 parts, 3 quantity
- Minifig Accessories: 1 part, 2 quantity
- Minifigs: 1 part, 4 quantity
- Plates: 30 parts, 74 quantity
- Plates Angled: 6 parts, 8 quantity
- Plates Round and Dishes: 2 parts, 9 quantity
- Plates Special: 9 parts, 23 quantity
- Stickers: 1 part, 1 quantity
- String, Bands and Reels: 3 parts, 6 quantity
- Technic Axles: 16 parts, 212 quantity
- Technic Beams: 38 parts, 634 quantity
- Technic Beams: Special 4 parts, 29 quantity
- Technic Bricks: 4 parts, 17 quantity
- Technic Bushes: 2 parts, 40 quantity
- Technic Connectors: 38 parts, 411 quantity
- Technic Gears: 15 parts, 82 quantity
- Technic Panels: 46 parts, 120 quantity
- Technic Pins: 14 parts, 1604 quantity
- Technic Special: 2 parts, 2 quantity
- Technic Steering, Suspension and Engine: 13 parts, 90 quantity
- Tiles: 15 parts, 36 quantity
- Tiles Printed: 2 parts, 5 quantity
- Tiles Special: 4 parts, 56 quantity
- Tubes and Hoses: 10 parts, 16 quantity
- Wheels and Tyres: 4 parts, 13 quantity
and 17 colors:
- Black: 76 parts, 1404 quantity
- Blue: 8 parts, 633 quantity
- Dark Azure: 30 parts, 101 quantity
- Dark Blue: 36 parts, 156 quantity
- Dark Bluish Gray: 19 parts, 91 quantity
- Dark Tan: 17 parts, 83 quantity
- Flat Silver: 1 part, 6 quantity
- Light Bluish Gray: 68 parts, 662 quantity
- Lime: 2 parts, 5 quantity
- [No Color]: 1 part, 1 quantity
- Orange: 4 parts, 25 quantity
- Red: 12 parts, 185 quantity
- Reddish Brown: 2 parts, 23 quantity
- Tan: 7 parts, 45 quantity
- Trans-Clear: 1 part, 8 quantity
- White: 12 parts, 52 quantity
- Yellow: 13 parts, 120 quantity
The set contains five new parts:
2x 35188 - Orange - GEAR SHIFTER, W/ CROSS HOLE
This is a completely new part, that can be seen as a replacement of 6539 (Technic Driving Ring 2L - 1994/2014) and 18947 (Technic Driving Ring 3L - 2015/2018). Instead of moving a driving ring with a 6641 Technic Changeover Catch on a perpendicular axle, the new gear shifter can drive two driving rings from a parallel axle, allowing the design of a much smaller gear box. I am sure MOC designers will love this new part. The average price is around €6.
1x 35186 - Yellow - Technic Driving Ring Extension 8 Tooth
This is an update of part 32187 - Technic Driving Ring Extension, introduced in 1999 with only 4 tooth. The new 35186 has 8 tooth both inside and outside, which will catch on the 18946 Technic Gear 16 Tooth with Clutch on Both Sides (or the new 20 tooth 35185) with half as much backlash, while withstanding twice as much torque. The average price is around €6.
4x 35185 - Blue - Technic Gear 20 Tooth Double Bevel with Clutch on Both Sides
This is a modification of part 32269 - Technic Gear 20 Tooth Double Bevel with Axle Hole Type 2 [X Opening], using a round pin hole instead of an axle hole, with cluth ridges on both sides, similar to the 16 tooth version 18946. The average price is around €2.40.
4x 37383 - Dark Blue - RIM WIDE DIA. 62.3X42 NO.3
The set contains four new dark blue rims, almost six studs deep, and eight studs in diameter, while featuring silver printing on outside (the five-petal flower) and a single stud in the center for the newly printed 1×1 round tiles with the stylized Bugatti logo. The average price is around €20.
4x 35189 - Dark Bluish Gray - Brake Disc
The brake disks are also new and they look excellent! A great upgrade from the disk-less wheel hubs used on the Porsche 911 GT3 RS. The average price is around €4.
New Printed Parts
The set contains two new printed parts:
4x 98138pr0039 - Dark Blue - Tile Round 1 x 1 with Bugatti Logo print
The average price is around €1.90.
1x 2431pr0105 - White - Tile 1 x 4 with Bugatti Chiron Serial Number
The average price is around €2.
New Color Parts
The set contains 27 new color parts:
- 1x 32202 - Dark Azure - Hose Soft Axle 16
- 2x 32235 - Dark Azure - Hose Soft Axle 19
- 4x 13731 - Dark Azure - Slope Curved 10 x 1 [Symmetric Inside Ridges]
- 6x 32192 - Dark Azure - Technic Axle and Pin Connector Angled #4 - 135°
- 1x 64392 - Dark Azure - Technic Panel Fairing #17 Large Smooth, Side A
- 1x 64682 - Dark Azure - Technic Panel Fairing #18 Large Smooth, Side B
- 1x 11946 - Dark Azure - Technic Panel Fairing #21 Very Small Smooth, Side B
- 1x 11947 - Dark Azure - Technic Panel Fairing #22 Very Small Smooth, Side A
- 2x 32580 - Dark Blue - Hose Soft Axle 7
- 1x 38821 - Dark Blue - OUTER CABLE, 34 MODULE
- 2x 41239 - Dark Blue - Technic Beam 1 x 13 Thick
- 22x 60483 - Dark Blue - Technic Beam 1 x 2 Thick with Pin Hole and Axle Hole
- 10x 32524 - Dark Blue - Technic Beam 1 x 7 Thick
- 6x 6629 - Dark Blue - Technic Beam 1 x 9 Bent (6 - 4) Thick
- 6x 32140 - Dark Blue - Technic Beam 2 x 4 L-Shape Thick
- 2x 24118 - Dark Blue - Technic Panel Car Mudguard Arched 15 x 2 x 5
- 2x 64394 - Dark Blue - Technic Panel Fairing #13 Large Short Smooth, Side A
- 2x 64680 - Dark Blue - Technic Panel Fairing #14 Large Short Smooth, Side B
- 1x 64392 - Dark Blue - Technic Panel Fairing #17 Large Smooth, Side A
- 1x 64682 - Dark Blue - Technic Panel Fairing #18 Large Smooth, Side B
- 8x 32009 - Dark Tan - Technic Beam 1 x 11.5 Double Bent Thick
- 3x 24119 - Dark Tan - Technic Panel Curved 7 x 3 with 2 Pin Holes through Panel Surface
- 2x 75c36 - Light Bluish Gray - Hose, Rigid 3mm D. 36L / 28.8cm
- 2x 61069 - Light Bluish Gray - Technic Engine Block Half / Side Intake Panel
- 1x 11946 - Light Bluish Gray - Technic Panel Fairing #21 Very Small Smooth, Side B
- 1x 11947 - Light Bluish Gray - Technic Panel Fairing #22 Very Small Smooth, Side A
- 1x 75c26 - Red - Hose, Rigid 3mm D. 26L / 20.8cm
The box measures 57 x 37.5 x 15 cm and it is stunningly gorgious. It is currently selling for about €17, but I am going to cut out the front, put it in a frame and hang it on my wall. It is worth to be displayed.
Inside we find two instruction manuals (see below) and six boxes with parts, numbered 1 to 6. The first five boxes, together with the first manuals, form an image of the front of the real Bugatti Chiron, and if you flip the boxes and insert the second manual, you will see a similar image of the back of the real Chiron. Like the Porsche 911 GT3 RS, the inside of the box is showinng wire-frame images from Bugatti's history, from the 1930s Type 57 Atlantic to last decade's Veyron.
The contents of the six boxes is as follows:
- Box 1: bags 1, 2, and 3: Engine & Gearbox
- Box 2: bags 4, 5 and 6: The Marriage Process
- Box 3: Bags 7 and 8: Rear Body Work & Deck Lid
- Box 4: bags 9 and 10: Seats & Interior
- Box 5: bags 11 and 12: Front Body, Lights & Horseshoe Grill
- Box 6: bag 13: Rims & Tyres
The two instruction manuals (Bugatti call them "brochures") measure 2.0 x 21.0 x 27.6 cm. The first manual (BI-1) contains 306 pages, the first 23 for the introduction text and photo's, from page 24 onward there are 281 instruction pages. The second manual (BI-2) contains 322 pages, two photo pages in front, followed by 313 instruction pages; at the end four pages parts inventory and two photo pages. In total the Build Instructions cover 594 pages and 970 steps.
When browsing the instruction steps, you get the feeling that the build instructions are very detailed, sometimes even taking single part steps. Considering the target audience being unexperienced builders, this does make a lot of sense. So let's look at the facts.
For the same 20 modern Technic sets I used for price comparison, the instruction manuals range from 48 to 428 pages, and 50 to 550 steps. On average, a modern Technic build instruction contains 157 pages and 200 steps. Compared with the number of parts, we get an average Part on Page (PoP) of 4.8, and an average PPS (Parts per Step) of 3.85. On average, there are 1.28 steps per page.
The Bugatti Chiron has a PoP of 6.06 and a PPS of 3.71 (1.63 steps per page), the Porsche 911 GT3 RS has a PPP of 4.66 and a PPS of 3.16 (1.48 steps per page).
So indeed, the Bugatti has less parts per step, but not as few as the Porsch 911. However, the pages are more dense, with a much higher PPP and significantly more steps per page.
The two manuals are currently selling for about €30. The instruction PDFs are currently not available through LEGO's instructions search function, but they can be downloaded here (English / French edition):
A new feature, and as yet exclusive to the Bugatti Chiron, is the podcast series available at the LEGO Technic website or at Stitcher, the Podcasts app on iOS, or Google Play Music on Android devices.
The podcast, hosted by Danish radio personality Palle Bo, contains 10 episodes and a trailer:
- #0: Introducing the LEGO Technic Podcast (trailer: 2:48)
- #1: Two Brands Coming Together (34:25)
- #2: The Bugatti Design DNA (39:47)
- #3: The Spirit of Molsheim (39:42)
- #4: Engine & Gearbox (33:34)
- #5: The Marriage Process (21:16)
- #6: Rear Body Work & Deck Lid (29:43)
- #7: Seats & Interior (35:14)
- #8: Front Body, Lights & Horseshoe Grill (26:15)
- #9: Rims & Tires (29:26)
- #10: This tenth episode is only available as exclusive content (14:38).
In total, there are more then 5 hours of interviews available, and LEGO is currently working on adding still images to the soundtrack and uploading them to the LEGO FanTube channel.
I must admit I really love the podcast series: the audio quality is perfect, you get to know several LEGO designers and learn much about the history of both brands, the design and manufacturing of the real Bugatti Chiron, as well as the multitude of problems the LEGO design team had to overcome to create this model. Even if you have just bought set 75787, the small 181 part Speed Champions version of the Bugatti Chiron, listening to the podcast while building it is whole lot more fun.
Normally, when I build a LEGO set, I don't really care about different bags: I just unpack everything and sort the parts by size; small, normal and large. However, with a set of 3,600 parts it makes sense to build it step by step, because most people will not be building this set in a single session. So this time, I followed the instructions and only opened the bags when needed.
Build Instruction, Book 1
When LEGO Technic started with set 850-1 Fork Lift Truck in 1977, the only building tips LEGO added was a measurement table showing the length of the different axles in regular studs. However, in 1991, this changed. For example set 8838-1, the Shock Cycle, contains a full page with visual building tips, including the probably most important tip: do not attach gears very tightly, because that creates friction which adds up when multiple gears are connected. If you have some experience with Technic, this might seem obvious, but for inexperienced builders it is not, and this is clearly something that should have been taken into consideration. A set like the Technic Bugatti Chiron should have had a single page with visual building tips, like the one shown on the right, perhaps somewhat modernized.
Bag 1 - Box 1, BI-1, page 24-63, step 1-65 (65 steps)
Just like the real Bugatti, the LEGO model has separated front and rear frame sections, which are joined halfway the assembly. Thus the build begins with rear frame section, essentially a flat plane of normal Technic beams and panels. This allows inexperienced builders to acquaint themselves with the basic Technic building techniques. Then the casing for the rear differential is build. The back of the casing is topped with a 1 x 5 thick beam in Lime, which seems a rather odd choice of color. However, in later steps this makes it easier to orient the model in the right direction, so it is another indication of the special attention for inexperienced builders.
The rear suspension is build twice, incorporating the new disk brakes, and with an ingenious sliding axle configuration connecting the wheel hubs with the differential. Beautifully simple and perfectly working. Finally, the rear suspensions are connected to the differential casing and the entire construction is connected to the rear frame.
And here I ran into a problem. When I finished building bag 1 (step 65 of BI-1), there were still four parts left over. For an inexperience user, this presents a real problem. Did I miss an instruction? Should I go back and check every step to make sure? LEGO should not expect that inexperienced builders are aware of LEGO's spare part policy, and they should somehow inform builders about the type and amount of included spare parts. I actually presumed that those four parts were spare, but I was wrong. A few steps further I noticed a black pin in the instruction that I hadn't added, so one of my spare parts was really a mistake.
"Dear LEGO designers: next time you create an expensive super set, please insert a small piece of paper that lists, for each bag, the type and amount of spare parts you added. We really like those spare parts, but we also really like to be sure, what is a spare, and what is an error. Remember: only the best..."
Bag 2 - Box 1, BI-1, page 64-108, step 66-141 (73 steps)
Bag 2 contains the transmission, and this is probably the most complicated construction of the entire model. On a very small surface (16 x 16 studs) we are building an eight-speed transmission, which is controlled by a single horizontal axle in quarter turn steps. For this transmission the LEGO designers created a new element, the 35188 Gear Shifter, of which two are used in this setup. If you study the transmission closely, you will notice that it could have been a 4 x 4 transmission, but because both the 1st and 3rd gear on one shaft, and the 2nd and 4th on the other share the same gear combination, the end result is a gearbox with 8 gears. When the transmission is finished, it is attached to the rear frame and axle section.
Here again we see the concern of the designers specifically for inexperienced builders. The transmission could have build immediately on the rear frame and differential. That would have taken fewer parts, but it would have been even more difficult to build. Instead, the designers choose to create the transmission completely separate, and they used several smart tricks to make sure that when the builder connects the two pieces, they only fit in one way, obviously, the right way. The entire build is full of these smart tricks, where you first insert lots of pins that don't seem to make sense, and ten steps later you realize that all these pins were just meant to make sure that you connect some beam at exactly the right spot. The sheer amount of attention to these small details is utterly mind boggling.
Bag 3 - Box 1, BI-1, page 109-141, step 142-199 (57 steps)
The real Bugatti Chiron has a W16 engine, which consists of two offset double-row banks of eight cylinders, coupled to a single crankshaft. With bag 3, we build the engine for the LEGO Bugatti, but it is not a W16 engine. As LEGO Technic Designer Michael T. Jeppesen explains in one of the podcasts, the crankshaft elements 2853 and 2854 are simply to big to build a genuine W-16 engine with a single crankshaft in the cramped space available. So instead, we build a regular V8 engine, and then add two blocks with 4 cylinders with a slight offset and each with its own crankshaft. Three gears synchronize the three blocks and create the perfect illusion of a genuine W16 engine.
Even though the resulting engine looks amazing, building it can be, at some moments, pretty frustrating. Getting the three blocks to fit while simultaneously making sure all cylinder heads are still in their cylinders is not as easy as it looks, and it takes some experimenting to get it right. However, when it finally works, seeing it move is awesome, and you really feel you have learned something, and that is what Technic is all about.
After connecting the engine to the rear frame above the transmission, we have finished box 1.
Bag 4 - Box 2, BI-1, page 142-198, step 200-315 (114 steps)
Now we start building the front side of the model, basically in the same sequence as we did the rear side. So we start with the front bottom frame, then we build the front differential (remember, the Bugatti Chiron has four-wheel drive), and finally, we add the two front suspensions and a steering mechanism. At the end of the front frame, almost in the middle of the final model, there is a single clutch gear 76244 behind the gear selector mechanism which controls Forward/Neutral/Reverse. The selector doesn't simple reverse the driving axle, which would have resulted in having 8 gears forward and another 8 gears backwards, instead it uses a double driving axle set, one of which connects to the gear box, while the other bypasses the gearbox to create an authentic 8+reverse gear.
I do admit that, while building this part, I had no idea what I was actually doing, and I just followed the instructions without really understanding the purpose of it all. As this part starts with an image of Aurelien Julien Rouffiange merging the front and rear of the model, I think it would have made more sense to use these two pages to add a few schematic drawings to explain the workings of the gear selector and the clutch gear, because by the time you understand what it is doing, most of the parts are covered and you can't see it function anymore.
Bag 5 - Box 2, BI-1, page 199-263, step 316-421 (104 steps)
Bag 5 starts with extending the front frame, and then we create was is, in my opinion, one of the most ingenious and interesting mechanical contraptions of the entire build, the paddle ratcheting system that controls the gear-shifting axle. Using two rubber-bands to keep tension on four black #3 angled axle connectors, a push on either of the paddles results in a quarter turn of a gear filled with four white pin connectors, while locking the gear when the paddle is released. This allows each pull of the paddles to turn the gear one-quarter, either left or right, which in turn controls the axle that performs the gear-shifting.
When you build it, it looks flimsy and completely unreliable, and it doesn't even work; it pulls itself apart when try using it. However, after you install it on the side of the front frame it become completely rigid and it works like a miracle. I cannot remember I have ever been more amazed by the sheer ingenuity of a Technic solution to a mechanical problem, and LEGO Technic designer Markus Kossman deserves all the credit.
After the paddle system has been connected, the build continues with the first tan interior beams in the middle of the car, and the first dark blue beam which will eventually form the roof of the model. This again seems to be aimed at inexperienced builders, because when those first roof beam are in place, you have a secure place to grab the model and hold it when you need to turn it or flip it upside-down.
Bag 6 - Box 2, BI-1, page 264-305, step 422-479 (56 steps)
Now we extend the front frame on the sides, where the doors will eventually be, and add a few more parts to the interior to finish the entire front part. At this point, the real Bugatti undergoes 'Le Mariage‘, the marriage where the partially completed rear is joined together with the monocoque, and attached with 14 massive titanium bolts.
At step 464, the LEGO marriage is imitated by careful and precise alignment of the four different driveshafts, each of which has to be in exactly the right position. This is excellently shown on two separate pages, making sure that even some of the gears are in the right position, then the two parts slide into each other so easily, and you push a few pins and add a few axles and you suddenly have something that starts to look like a real car, and you are done with the first manual.
Build Instruction, Book 2
The second part of the build is focused on the interior and the outside of the model, and we start using a lot of different parts: panels, some original studded Technic bricks, and an unexpectedly large amount of normal system bricks. Still the most common connection method is based upon friction pins, and as the models grows, it get more and more difficult to connect some pieces. Somehow, you need to squeeze both of your hands into the models, one to brace the parts, and the other to connect the new part. Here is a tip that LEGO should have visualized many years ago: when you connect parts with two of more friction pins, make sure that the splits in the friction pins are all aligned to the length of the parts. If one of the splits is perpendicular to the length of the parts, it is almost impossible to connect them. Again, this is something that LEGO should have shown at the start of Book 2.
Bag 7 - Box 3, BI-2, page 8-59, step 480-554 (73 steps)
Bag 7 contains the parts for the rear body work and desk lid. Just like in Book 1, we start with very easy steps to get a feel for the Technic panels and how they are used. Whenever parts are used that have both a left and right version, LEGO clearly indicates the numbers on the inside of the parts. About half of the sub-units are build twice, for both left and right side of the model, but the instructions cover each sub-unit by itself, as these are all mirrored constructions, and therefor not identical.
We also start the construction of the spoiler and the mechanism used to raise and tilt it, but just like the paddle ratcheting system in bag 5, it not really clear how it should work, and when you attach it to the body, you can't really test it. In fact, I had to take some of it apart again, some steps later, to correct the positioning of the support beams. When everything is braced tightly, again, it works like a charm.
Bag 8 - Box 3, BI-2, page 60-111, step 555-648 (92 steps)
Now we start building the rear lights, including the long red light bar which Bugatti designers commonly refer to as "the kiss goodbye", as this is the only part of the real Chiron you will ever see on the road. There are some very interesting building techniques used here, where two 18677 1 x 2 plates with pin holes are attached to the anti-studs on the bottom of a 50303 7 x 6 boat bow plate which then allows to connect the plate with a 64179 7 x 9 open center square beam. Then four 20482 round tiles with pin are placed on the plate and are connected to four 4274 Technic half pins which forms the base for the left and right red rear lights.
There are several non-LEGO add-on kits available to add LED lights to the Bugatti Charon, varying in price from $50 to $150, and the most expensive of these even seems to capture the elaborate startup/shutdown effects of the headlights when the onboard computer recognizes that the owner is in the vicinity of the car. Search for them at your own peril.
Bag 9 - Box 4, BI-2, page 112-145, step 649-710 (60 steps)
Next are the seats and the interior of the model, and here we start using a lot of stickers. We did use a few while building bag 8, but bag 9 has a lot of them. I know, it is a controversial subject, and I must admit, with some parts, for example the round 2 x 2 tiles used for the instrument panel, it would have made more sense to use printed tiles instead of stickers that you can never position exactly in the middle of the round tile. Those printed tiles could easily be used in other sets. In other instances, I completely understand LEGO's reasoning; if you need a Chiron logo on a 15068 2 x 2 curved slope, one against the left, and one against the right side, it makes no sense to create two printed slopes just for this set.
Here's another tip: when you attach stickers, never touch the surface where they need be attached, and never touch the sticky side of the stickers with your fingers. Skin fat reacts with the sticker glue and create tiny air bubbles that distort the reflection of the sticker surface, and unconsciously, you immediately notice these irregularities. Just use a tooth-pick, or something similar.
Bag 10 - Box 4, BI-2, page 146-203, step 711-777 (65 steps)
With bag 10 we finish up the interior, add the steering wheel and the instrument panel and prepare for the placement of the doors. No difficulty at all, the only thing needed is a cup of persistence and a spoonful of stamina.
Bag 11 - Box 5, BI-2, page 204-239, step 778-833 (54 steps)
The number of steps, and the number of parts decreases as we near the end of the build. We start by building and adding both doors. This is the first and only moment in the entire build where I felt the designers could have done a better job. Granted, the doors look great and they are curved beautifully, but at the cost of a single connection to the main body, which feels rather flimsy when you open and close the door. I would have preferred a little less curvature at one side of the door with a second connection to the main body. It is a design choice, and possibly a matter of personal preference, but because of the overall rigidness of the model, this small problem is exaggerated, and that could have been prevented.
The remainder of bag 11 adds more detail to the front body.
Bag 12 - Box 5, BI-2, page 240-287, step 834-930 (93 steps)
Now we finish the front body, we add the front LED light array and the characteristic horseshoe grill. All kinds of great building techniques, including the use of old Technic bricks and regular LEGO parts, combine into a really impressive front view.
At step 922 we add the 1 x 4 tile with the unique serial numbers, which allows access through the Codebreaker link on the LEGO Technic website to some exclusive content, including a bonus podcast, ringtones, posters, a certificate of ownership, and more. At the moment of writing, the certificate of ownership is not available (server error).
Bag 13 - Box 6, BI-2, Page 288-315, step 931-970 (38 steps)
The final bag, we add the last front body parts, the curved tubes on the sides, the back turbos, the speed key and the rims and tires. The car is ready, but the owner is not. In the final step, 970, we build the Bugatti bag, and we own a super-car.
As the build experience is probably the most important feature of this set, I need to add, in retrospect, another observation.
With every LEGO set I ever bought, Technic or system, I have never doubted my ability to finish the build. With this set, I did. Obviously, it is LEGO, you can't go wrong; if you make mistakes, you can always take it apart and try again. To build with LEGO, one needs manual dexterity and perceptive accuracy. This set adds an entirely new dimension, that of perseverance. I took my time building the set, taking on average three hours over a period of ten days, and probably half of that time, I was trying to correct my mistakes. I went wrong at least a dozen times, and sometimes it took half on hour to find out where. Twice I thought about giving up, and yet, I didn't. The Bugatti is on display in my living room, and every time I look at it, I remember. I did not give up! And that feels good! That's what this set is all about.
The LEGO Bugatti Chiron measures over 5" (14cm) high, 22" (56cm) long and 9" (25cm) wide, and it weighs about 3.7 kilogram. It is huge, and heavy, and amazingly dense and rigid. Admittedly, the bottom of the model is closed, so you can't see the workings of the transmission. The rear lid is closed, and the air vent for the turbos only allows a view of two of the sixteen working cylinders. Some have used this to criticize the design, but I think that is unjust or possibly ill-informed. The real Bugatti Chiron also has a closed bottom, with only two small air intakes, and the rear lid is sealed, so that the owner can never touch the engine. (The car has a gas intake on the left side, and an oil intake on the right.) So the LEGO model is just really accurate, and you can't complain about that.
The model does have great opportunities for modification and enhancement. I mentioned the LED lightning kits earlier, but what to think of motorizing the model, opening up the bottom, and the rear lid, perhaps even a removable top frame. Or even more integration of regular LEGO parts, allowing real glass windows and even smoother curves. The possibilities are endless, and I am really looking forward to see what the fan community can do with this set. To be sure, we already have some of those:
- McLaren 570S - Lego Bugatti 42083 B-Model by Loxiego (using same parts)
- 42083 Pimp up my Bugatti by jb70 (using most of the parts plus some extra ones)
- Custom RC BUGATTI modification by CustomBricks.de (PREMIUM)
(If more follow, I will update this list - last update 08/01/2018 09:50:02 PM)
Here, I can be short. As to technical functions, this model has all the technical functionality of the original vehicle represented in what is probably the most complex and intricate manner ever created in the LEGO Technic line. As to playing functions, this model is not to be played with, it is meant to be displayed.
I am not going to give you any advice. I can't pretend to be objective about a super-set like this, and we are talking about a lot of money, so it all depends on your personal circumstances. One could buy a lot of LEGO for this kind of money; an entire modular street, or a Taj Mahal and a LEGO House, to name a few. What I can tell you is this.
A LEGO Technic set is designed following three basic principles:
- the set must model one or more technical functions as accurate as possible
- the set must look good, and be as recognizable as possible
- and the building experience must be as challenging as possible
By these principles, I must admit, that the LEGO Technic Bugatti Chiron is one of the best Technic sets LEGO ever made. It is also the best possible justification for an adult LEGO hobby: nobody, who sees this set, is going to look at you weirdly and go "what is a grown-up like you doing with a kids toy?". Instead, everybody want to touch the model. They can't resist it, which, obviously, tell you that they want to own it.
This is how far LEGO has come in thirty years, or perhaps, in seventy years. Not by virtue of a single designer, not by virtue of a team of designers, not even by virtue of generations of teams of designers; each part we now know and use has been invented at some moment, each connection discovered, each function enabled. It is a perfect analogue for our technical achievement in general. We survive because of it, and therefor it deserves our utmost respect and admiration. A set like this should be present in every school and every classroom, to enable kids, both boys and girls, to learn to build and create together something both beautiful and functional. Maybe thus we can educate enough engineers to build us all a future, both beautiful and functional.
While doing research for this blog-post, I stumbled into something interesting, but I was not sure if I should mention it. After some internal discussion, we decided we would.
As we all know, Guangdong Loongon Animation & Culture Co., Ltd. is a Chinese children's toy manufacturer, and two of its brands, Lepin and Cogo are producing Lego-compatible brick sets. The worst of these, Lepin, creates pirate copies of LEGO sets, similar parts inventory, similar box, they even copy the build instructions, and their sets cost only 20% of the original LEGO price. Usually it takes them two to thee month after the release of a set by LEGO to release their own pirated copy.
To be sure, these folks are criminals, and their inferior products ought to be burned.
The LEGO Bugatti was officially revealed on June 1st, 2018. However, two days earlier, on May 30th, 2018, alibaba.com showed the Lepin Bugatti (set 20086) for per-sell, and a day later, they started shipping. Considering a preparation period of two to three month, this means that Lepin had access to all the Bugatti design details (including the finished build instruction and details about the new parts), by the end of February 2018.
In my opinion, but this is conjecture, this might mean that the LEGO corporate website was hacked, probably in February, and all the design details for the Bugatti were stolen. It is the only explanation that makes sense, because when LEGO discovered the hack, they had just shown the Bugatti the Nuremberg Toy Fair (in January), with an announced release date of August 1st. On March 12, they suddenly changed that release date to June 1 on their official website's Technic sub-page.
This explains, why LEGO has problems getting enough sets to retailers, why they are still having problems with packaging, and why the exclusive content is still not working properly.
It is not the first time this has happened (to be sure, it also happened with the introduction of Classic Space in 1977/1978), but if LEGO was actually hacked, that obviously, is big news.
More importantly, this creates a really awkward situation for LEGO: as copyright is established at the moment of publication, currently Lepin holds the copyright of the Bugatti building instructions, and LEGO is infringing that copyright. So LEGO has to go to court, and prove that Lepin stole their work. If they can't, LEGO is in big trouble. If more news about this becomes available, I will update this blog-post.
Disclaimer: This LEGO set was kindly provided for review by The LEGO Group. Anything said in this post is the opinion of the author and not The LEGO Group.