How well do the LEGO Speed Champions 2023 sets capture their real-life cars?
The next wave of LEGO Speed Champions sets encompasses Ferrari, McLaren, Pagani and Porsche – but how well do the cars stack up next to their real-life counterparts?
Four more LEGO Speed Champions sets are due to zoom on to shelves on March 1, bringing with them five different cars: a Porsche 963, a Ferrari 812 Competizione, a Pagani Utopia, a McLaren Solus GT and a McLaren F1 LM. They’re another diverse mix of body shapes, classic and modern cars, and colour schemes – but are they accurate and authentic recreations of their source material?
That’s a question that will ultimately need to be answered by reviews (look out for ours in the weeks to come), but even with just official images we can get a general sense of how well they’ve translated the real-life cars into LEGO bricks. First, though, one quick caveat: we’re not approaching these sets as if they were diecast models, but rather artistic interpretations, as per any LEGO model.
Ferrari 812 Competizione
Ferrari shows off its 812 Competizione with metallic yellow body paint on its official website, but the LEGO Speed Champions team has opted for the more traditional ‘rossa corsa’ (or racing red) hue for 76914 Ferrari 812 Competizione. You can see images of the car in those colours here, but even comparing it to the yellow version, it’s easy to see where the LEGO set’s strengths and weaknesses lie.
The printed headlights introduced in 2022 are doing wonders for the car, for example, while the use of slopes and wedge plates along the side of the body give it the depth and texture opened up by the switch from six-stud-wide to eight-stud-wide cars in 2020. The construction around the tail lights and rear bumper looks spot on, too, with inventive use of inverted studs.
The lip beneath the front grill is perhaps just a touch too chunky, but that’s as thin as LEGO plates go, so it’s difficult to see a better solution. Altogether, the 812 Competizione looks like a worthy successor to 76985 Ferrari F8 Tributo and 76906 1970 Ferrari 512 M, another pair of excellent LEGO Speed Champions Ferraris.
A car so new it didn’t even have a name when being developed by the LEGO Speed Champions team, the Pagani Utopia is a curvaceous and futuristic beauty of a mid-engine sports car. It’s also the LEGO Group’s first go at recreating the Italian manufacturer’s vehicles through the eight-stud-wide lens, and on the whole it looks to hit the spot.
Colour choices are again a little divisive: the real car, which is limited to 99 units, has been presented by Pagani in a lighter grey, close to silver. But a drum-lacquered Speed Champions car is probably not in our future, and we already have two light grey sets on shelves in 76911 007 Aston Martin DB5 and 76917 2 Fast 2 Furious Nissan Skyline GT-R (R34), so dark grey is an acceptable alternative.
More importantly: how well does 76915 Pagani Utopia capture those complex curves? Pretty well, thanks in part to the new-for-2023 1×5 slope pieces behind the windscreen. The use of minifigure ice skates at either side of the front grill is inspired, too, though perhaps the less said about the printed headlights here the better: their cartoonish design doesn’t quite match the rest of Speed Champions’ realistic aesthetic.
The Porsche 963’s design conjures up memories of classic racing cars, but it’s actually a brand new vehicle that will make its public track debut at 2023’s 24 Hours of Le Mans. Its name takes inspiration from Porsche’s 956 and 962, both of which raced in the ‘80s, while its engine is based on that of the legendary 918 Spyder.
You won’t find a tiny replica engine in 76916 Porsche 963, though: instead, the LEGO Speed Champions set is all about recreating the dramatic differences in verticality visible across the real car, along with its striking red, black and white colour scheme. The general shaping works to a degree, and the fin and spoiler at the back are especially effective, while the colours are pretty much spot on.
Where it falls down slightly is in those dramatic height changes across the wheel arches: thanks to the limitations of the LEGO part palette, and the angles of its existing slope pieces, those differences aren’t quite as exaggerated as on the real car. But with respect to what is actually possible at this scale, it’s hard to criticise 76916 Porsche 963 too much.
McLaren Solus GT
The McLaren Solus GT is unique among the Speed Champions 2023 line-up for being based on a car originally designed for a video game. The Solus was among the futuristic vehicles conceived for the Vision Gran Turismo program, but has since been made reality by McLaren as a track-only hypercar. It makes for what LEGO Speed Champions Design Lead Chris Stamp says is 2023’s ‘most unique build experience’ – but does it look the part?
At first glance, it’s a pretty reasonable interpretation of the real thing, particularly given the dramatic curves and shaping of the Solus’s bodywork. We need to allow leeway again for the depths and thicknesses of LEGO elements in recreating the subtle shifts in pitch across the shell, while the curved slopes across the front edge of the forward wheel arches are probably the best compromise within the current part palette.
This is maybe the most difficult of the five cars here to transform into a LEGO Speed Champions set, found in 76918 McLaren Solus GT & McLaren F1 LM, but the new windscreen piece goes a long way to achieving its unorthodox shape – as do the new 1×5 slopes behind that cockpit. While they’re effective, though, those pieces arguably do start to blur the line between brick-built remedies and specialist solutions…
McLaren F1 LM
The most retro car in the LEGO Speed Champions 2023 line-up, the McLaren F1 LM was produced in 1995 to honour the five F1 GTRs that completed that year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans race – one of which took pole position. Only five were ever built, so your chances of ever driving one are slim to zero. But hey – building the model included in 76918 McLaren Solus GT & McLaren F1 LM is probably the next best thing…
While the Solus was a tricky prospect to bring to the LEGO Speed Champions line-up, the McLaren F1 LM seems like a much clearer choice: its relatively boxy rear end translates wonderfully to LEGO bricks, while its most recognisable paint job – bright orange – makes for a bold addition to the range. The most complex areas are found in the curvaceous cockpit and side skirts, but the LEGO design team has navigated both with varying degrees of success.
The 1×5 slopes again come into play behind the windscreen, and they pair perfectly with the canopy to recreate the LM’s distinctive cockpit. The slopes, clip and paddle elements all combined for the side skirts are reasonable too, although there’s inevitably too much depth to the negative space – again, a restriction of the LEGO part library, at least within the confines of this particular solution.
We’ll be able to dive deeper into each of these five brand new cars once we get our hands on them for our reviews, which will land online next month. For now, check out the table below for a full recap of every LEGO Speed Champions set confirmed for 2023.
Every LEGO Speed Champions set confirmed for 2023 so far
|LEGO set||Price||Pieces||Release date|
|76914 Ferrari 812 Competizione||£19.99 / $24.99 / €24.99||261||March 1, 2023|
|76915 Pagani Utopia||£19.99 / $24.99 / €24.99||249||March 1, 2023|
|76916 Porsche 963||£19.99 / $24.99 / €24.99||280||March 1, 2023|
|76917 2 Fast 2 Furious Nissan Skyline GT-R (R34)||£19.99 / $24.99 / €24.99||319||January 1, 2023|
|76918 McLaren Solus GT & McLaren F1 LM||£39.99 / $44.99 / €44.99||681||March 1, 2023|
Featured image base: Pagani
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