All five of the new Speed Champions sets coming our way next month were revealed over the weekend, with a total of seven cars between them, covering brands from Mercedes and Lotus to Aston Martin and Lamborghini. And eagle-eyed fans will likely have picked up on the new elements sitting at the front of several of those vehicles, representing their headlights.
In previous Speed Champions cars, the design team has typically recreated headlights using brick-built solutions, or – more usually, given the compacted scale of these tiny replicas of real-life vehicles – stickers across tiled elements. But given how many other stickers these sets usually involve, that was apparently one step too far for the fan community.
“We’ve heard you guys [saying] ‘we don’t want any more stickered headlights’,” Speed Champions design lead Chris Stamp tells Brick Fanatics. “In 2021, the focus was wheels. In 2022, the focus is headlights.”
The final implementation across this year’s Speed Champions sets – including 76907 Lotus Evija and 76909 Mercedes-AMG F1 W12 E Performance & Mercedes-AMG Project One – is a combination of both previous solutions. The LEGO Group has come up with brand new 2×3 bow elements with cut-outs underneath, then printed headlights on to them.
That removes the need for tiny, difficult-to-align decals, while still incorporating otherwise versatile pieces that are designed to ‘get as much buildability out of them as possible’, in Chris’s words. Given they are printed, though, we’ll (ironically) have to wait for them to appear undecorated in other sets for more widespread application.
Printed pieces in Speed Champions might limit the use of those bricks elsewhere, but it does mark a significant shift for the theme in what’s now its eighth year on shelves – and it shows that the LEGO Group is listening to fan feedback, and is conscious of overstepping the line when it comes to stickers.
“We know that six stickers for a Toyota headlight is asking maybe a little bit too much. I personally wanted eight stickers, but you know,” Chris laughs. “But [printed headlights] is a big thing for us in Speed Champions. I know it’s not a big thing in LEGO, but for us it’s a big thing.”
As Speed Champions continues to evolve year-on-year – first with the shift to eight-studs-wide cars, then with brand new wheels and now with printed headlights – it’ll be interesting to see where the theme goes in 2023 and beyond. Until then, there are five more Speed Champions sets to pick up next month, with at least another two rumoured for later this year.