LEGO Ideas Roundup!

We are on record as LEGO lovers around here (fun fact: my first job was operating rides at Legoland!), and one of the Danish toy giant’s coolest programs is the LEGO Ideas process, which affirms that everyone who builds with the bricks is a designer by letting fans submit their creations for consideration to become honest-to-god, official LEGO sets.

Vehicles are always one of the most popular categories in the Ideas program, and it can be daunting to sort through the many submissions to decide which to support. (Did I mention that fans also get to vote for their favorite ideas?) While licensing can be a formidable barrier for car and truck designs between enthusiastic support and actual production, the superb Caterham Seven model currently available in stores is one example of a LEGO Ideas submission that made it all the way.

In this, the first installment in a periodic series, I’ll be your guide to some of the cars and trucks currently open for voting on the LEGO Ideas site. I’ll leave it to you to decide which to cast votes for, but to help you, I’ve given each model a few handy rankings, on a scale from one to five bricks. Click on each section heading to see the description and all of the pictures on the LEGO Ideas site.

Jeep Renegade Trailhawk

The designer of this replica of the little Fiat-based Jeeplet, who goes by the nom de brick “Sheriff,” has a couple of other sweet Jeep models open for voting, but this one caught my eye. The description is short on detail, and the pictures (generated, as most on the site are, with virtual LEGO modeling software) lead me to believe that the model lacks an interior or any opening features, but darned if the little thing doesn’t just look right. I think the tan color is a canny choice, as it makes the little red tow hooks—as much the distinguishing feature of this model as they are of the real thing—really pop.

A bit simple, but the resemblance to the actual Renegade is extremely well done.

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Peugeot 403 Cabriolet

This is one of the most delightful things I have seen in a long, long time. Apparently there is a character in the Wii U Lego City Undercover video game named DaMumbo, an homage to one of my very favorite TV shows/characters, Columbo. User “ThomasW” had already created a replica Peugeot 403 cabriolet; throw in the DaMumbo character in mini figure (“minifig”) form, et voila! To really cap things off, trusty basset hound Dog is included, and the Peugeot may be built with its top either up or down.

columboscreenshots.blogspot.com

Fan trivia: one of the only times we ever saw the top down on Columbo’s Peugeot was when he enjoyed drive-in burgers with Leslie Neilsen in season 1, episode 5, “Lady in Waiting.” Mmmm, larceny! (Actually—spoiler alert!—Leslie Neilsen wasn’t the killer. Of course, you’ll know who the killer is if you watch the first five minutes of the episode, but the alert stands.)

Frankly, the Peugeot is a tough car to replicate in LEGO; it’s a pretty smooth, unadorned, boxy little thing, so I’m not sure I really see it here. But, man, is this a fun set!

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Jaguar E-Type Series 2 Roadster

This is a tough one. The E-Type is such an icon, and in so many ways this fantastic model does it justice—check out the clamshell hood! The exquisite wraparound rear bumper! The Series 2, with its taillights awkwardly slung below the bumper, is less attractive than the Series 1, but those big, blocky lights make it easier to model in LEGO, and this re-creation of the rear end looks pretty good.

I’m struggling with the front, and there are two reasons for this. One, the series of three curved bricks used to create the contour that blends the grille into the hood are probably a smart choice, but give the front end the unfortunate appearance of having gills or whiskers or something. Honestly, it reminds me a little bit of this guy. Two, the fender line is maybe just a tiny bit too long, and definitely too straight. I don’t know how to fix this; this is the challenge of using largely rectilinear bricks to recreate one of the most curvaceous cars of all time, a task that has been mostly admirably accomplished here.

This is a really heroic effort, and it comes so close to being completely sublime. I really do like it a lot.

Also, it’s short a windshield wiper.

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Chevrolet Corvette Stingray (C3)

This thing is just charming as all get out. I want a dozen of these, in every different color, zipping around my LEGO Creator Modular city. It accomplishes the rare feat of being perfectly proportioned in minifig scale, and the hood bulge and the sculpturing on the doors are just perfect. A real delicacy of detail at a tough, small scale.

I’m especially enamored of the guy driving, and the description by designer “Raptor Snakewolf” is perfect: “The minifigure is just a generic random person, although I did style him in similar fashion to many of the people I see on the road driving actual C3s.”

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Volkswagen Karmann Ghia

I guess I threw down a gauntlet when I concluded my comparison of the two existing LEGO Volkswagens by saying, “I think it might be stretching the limits of LEGO’s capability to faithfully replicate rounded shapes to ask for a Karmann Ghia to complete the vintage VW trifecta.” Here it is, and it’s cute and clever…but I’m not convinced I was wrong.

Don’t get me wrong. The way the front fenders fair into the doors—which still open!—and lead into the rear fenders is genius. The engine is a work of art, far better than either official LEGO replication of the VW flat four so far. All of the thoughtful and whimsical little touches of an official LEGO set—the removable radio! The suitcase of clothes for a weekend getaway!—are present and accounted for. And lord knows I love me a two-tone Karmann Ghia.

There’s so much right here, but the overall form is a little…dumpy. My mom may like to say the Karmann Ghia looks like a turtle, but even its turtley shape has a certain lightness that’s missing here. Part of my problem, I think, is that the bumpers are a little to heavy, and sit a little too far from the body. And the front and (especially) rear decklids slope too much and aren’t quite curvy enough. I suspect that if we got the designers of this and the E-Type together, between them they might be able to get both designs a little closer to perfection.

I think this one’s really cute, but it’s not quite ready to sit next to my Camper and Beetle.

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