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REVIEW: 10151 Hot Rod

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Remember the LEGO Legends? For a brief time in the early 2000s, the LEGO Group decided to re-release a number of sets that were popular back in their heyday. Among these old sets was a stylish ride from the Model Team line that was re-released as the Hot Rod back in 2004. The line, while long gone now, was a fantastic opportunity for the younger generation at the time (like me) to experience sets that were first sold years or even decades before. So hop inside, get behind the wheel, and take this baby out for a ride...

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Name: 10151 Hot Rod

Theme: Model Team (Legends)

Year: 2004

Pieces: 421

Minifigs: 0

Price: USD 39.99, GBP 26.99

Further References: Brickset.com, Bricklink.com, Peeron.com, flickr

But before we begin, a little history :sweet: Credit goes to Bricklink.com for the image below.

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The last set to be released within the Legends series, the Hot Rod was a re-released version of set 5541 Blue Fury, originally sold in 1995 as part of the Model Team series. All of these sets used a generous amount of both Technic and System pieces to replicate numerous highly detailed vehicles, mostly trucks and racing automobiles. They were geared to a 9 and older age demographic, slightly higher than the normal 5+ or 7+ age group. Although I was but a wee kid playing with his Duplo when these sets were available (and in some cases non-existent :laugh: ), in retrospect I think that these sets were some of the best that LEGO has ever made. I admire the beautiful details found especially on the trucks, as well as the seamless integration of both Technic and System into these sets. I wish we had something like this today.

Indeed this is a re-released set, however there are some differences between the Hot Rod and the Blue Fury. I will point these differences out along the way. Now it's time to hit the road. :devil:

The Box: Front

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Credit goes to Peeron.com for the image. It certainly lacks all the pomp and flair that you'd find on box art today. Its uneventful design wouldn't make it all that attractive for kids, but in this case it's alright - this isn't really a set for younger kids anyway.

The Instructions: Front

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The art screams 90s :wub: These instructions are unique in that they display photos for both the main model as well as the alternate model on the front. Nevertheless, the design is actually identical to the instructions for the Blue Fury, only that these indicate the Legends series on top instead of Model Team. It's rather plain, but I like that in this case - it's nice to get a break from all the CGI imagery today and just enjoy the simplicity here.

The Instructions: Middle Section

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An overhead picture of the set smack-dab in the middle of the booklet? *huh* Great way to showcase all of the nice features this roadster has. The instructions for the alternate model are conveniently located in the latter half of the booklet. As you can probably tell, the insets for the axle length guidelines are slightly different than what modern sets have. All of the guidelines are located in the very beginning of the instructions as opposed to being located wherever an axle is needed during construction. A well seasoned builder would be able to tell apart the lengths by sight, but this can understandably be a minor inconvenience for someone who is not as well acquainted with Technic elements.

The Instructions: Piece Call-out Insets

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I like how the graph paper background gives the instructions that "engineer's blueprint" feel, but at the same time it's a little difficult to make out the numbers from afar.

The Instructions: Back Cover

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Some wonderful shots of the vehicle. Believe it or not, there is not a single advertisement in this booklet - just these great photos.

The Stickers

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These stickers are the transparent kind, meaning only one thing...they don't crack! Applying them is always a pain as with any sticker, but I've found them easier to remove than the ones on regular paper. The designs are all basic, and do well to act as the finishing touches to the Hot Rod. Find anything peculiar with the license plate number? :laugh:

The Pieces

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Many basic pieces to drool over here. Some of these grey and black pieces will be used to supplement the primary blue color scheme, while the rest are just used for the base of the model.

Grey. The Hot Rod was released in 2004, which was right after the LEGO Group had decided to change the light grey, dark grey, and brown color hues on their palette. While the original 5541 Blue Fury had the old "light grey" colored pieces, its counterpart from the future was released with the new "light bluish grey" colors. This is the major difference between both '95 and '04 editions of this set, and I will give this topic credit for shedding some light on this to me.

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The main attraction here is the copious amount of arch pieces for all the sleek curves on the Hot Rod. It's interesting to note how a significant number of pieces in this set consist of just basic plates, and how these smaller pieces add to the fine gradient levels and details on the finished product.

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Forget about the Technic pieces and just adore that chrome! Actually, there is one Technic piece worth mentioning. This universal joint is the little bit of magic that makes the driving mechanism work so smoothly - you'll see!

Notable Pieces

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As mentioned before, the arch pieces are wonderful to have in high amounts. We certainly cannot forget about those sweet macaroni elements. Very reminiscent of 20th century sets, the printed slopes with odometer and button patterns are cool details for any vehicle. Last and best of all, the shiny chrome which thankfully hasn't gotten chipped away over the past few years. With a total of twelve chrome colored pieces, the Hot Rod clearly has one of the highest number of chrome pieces out of any LEGO set.

The Build

Steps 5, 8

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Designed for an older age demographic, it's needless to say that the build will be more challenging than your typical set. It's important to follow the instructions carefully as there are an ample amount of pieces called for in each step. The instructions at one point even call for 30 pieces in just one step. I won't call this a quick build with respect to the overall time it takes to build the set, but you'll be able to see here how much the build progresses with just a few steps.

Steps 11, 14

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We're already halfway through the build at this point, and the foundations for the steering mechanism have been set in place. The shape of the vehicle starts to come together, particularly in the back.

Steps 17, 20

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Thanks to our universal joint and some clever work with hinge bricks, the steering mechanism is installed snugly into the model. As neat as it is to see the engineering behind it, it's all covered up with an equally neat engine.

Steps 23, 26

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The finishing touches are added (isn't that always the best part of the build?). And now for the unveiling...

Extra Pieces

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...but first, your conventional choice of extra pieces, destined for the sorting bins.

The Design

The Set

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Out of all the LEGO sets I've built, this must be one of the select few sets that really gives that "wow" feeling after completion. In general, the designers did a great job with replicating a retro style that fits in with the designs of real world hot rods that you would see at car shows. As far as I know, this isn't a model of a particular automobile, but instead one of LEGO's original designs. It does however bear a semi-close resemblance to the T-bucket (which is based off of the Ford Model T).

Side Views

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I love looking at this thing from the side. The way it slants towards the front gives it a risky, edgy persona that goes with its robust design. Stickers do actually improve the appearance here, I think - the font that 'Hot Rod' is written in is evocative of a lot of counterculture artwork in the 60s. It seems like the perfect ride for rebellious youngsters back then.

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The colors and design are certainly remindful of American culture in the days of the greasers, although actual hot rods do typically tend to be American cars for the most part.

Front View

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This is a rather clever integration of the mini-ladder pieces into the grille. So seamless that I didn't even notice it at first! There's not too much leeway to work with, but the chrome light reflectors would look even cooler if there were LED lights attached to them.

Rear View

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The trunk is rather small, but I think a large trunk would be unnecessary anyway. The rear view also shows how thick the rear tires are - those are actually two of them placed adjacently to each other! I can just imagine the skid marks this would leave on the road.

Deviations from the Blue Fury

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Another difference from the original model to point out. Instead of using a toothed 1/2 bush, the re-release only uses regular 1/2 bushes. The funny thing is that the instructions indicate to use the bushes with teeth, which implies that they probably weren't updated. Not that it's significant.

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And the last alteration can be seen here. The hinges used in the new version are those of the locking variety, while the older one used a regular hinge that can be moved freely. While we're at it, you can also take a peek inside that tiny trunk that can maybe hold a few bricks at best.

Driver's Seat

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Complete control of this baby right at your fingertips! The steering wheel isn't just there for decoration like most LEGO cars, but this one will actually...steer! Taking into account that this is a one seater, I think it'd make more sense to have the steering wheel located in the center.

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And here we have this flamboyant red chair that stands out in all the blue. Luxury seating for a radical ride.

V8 Engine

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If nothing else screams 'hot rod' to you, then surely this must. The exposed V8 engine is quite iconic of many hot rods, and I think the designers nailed its general shape. It also cleverly covers up the driving mechanism, which isn't obtrusive in and of itself. That's what I like so much about the design of this set - a functional element that doesn't take an awful lot of room and doesn't compromise aesthetics for play.

Side Exhausts

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I've obsessed about the chrome enough already, but hey, how many LEGO sets do have shiny details like this?

Headlights

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The front wheels are completely exposed, deviating even further away from your conventional car.

Windshield

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Salvaging fences to use as the windshield? Now that is customization! There are also windshield wipers, even though it would seriously stink if it rained without the protection of a retractable roof, which I think is represented by the black section in the back.

License Plate

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It's alright if you didn't get it before - it was only until I did this review seven years after I received this set that I finally realized that "MT 5541" was a tribute to the Blue Fury!

Rear Wheels and Antenna

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The arch bricks partially covering the rear wheels help add a little width to the vehicle. I like how the antenna is secured onto the arch with a clip, making it just about impossible to accidentally knock off.

Ladies' Man

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Ain't minifig sized, but -

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- still popular with the lady 'figs.

Steering Mechanism

Just like in real cars, the Hot Rod uses a rack and pinion mechanism for steering. The engine has been removed for viewing purposes.

Alternate Build

The Set

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The alternate model is some kind of street racer. For an alternate build, it's actually very nice.

Side Views

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The side walls aren't very high, so maybe this can pass off as some kind of oversize go-kart too? In any case, the side profile is relatively boring, and it's mostly the chair and engine that makes this look nice from any angle.

Front View

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Unfortunately, the front is lacking in detail relative to the rest of the vehicle.

Rear View

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On the other hand, the view from the back shows off this monster engine and tires. I can almost hear this thing roaring down a racetrack alongside a crowd of raucously cheering fans.

The Throne

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Any chair with chrome is built solely for the kings and queens of the LEGO brick road. It's even attached to hinges so it can move back and forth! Oooooo :alien:

Overhead, Front

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One thing to appreciate is that the color scheme is kept constant and not just a random splash of colors. The black racing stripe here helps break up the monotony of all the blue.

The street racer also uses the same steering mechanism as the Hot Rod.

Engine

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Another shot of the engine. I have no idea what type of engine this is supposed to emulate, if it even is based off a real engine. What does it matter though, it still looks cool!

Overhead View

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Most of the time the alternate builds are never as satisfactory as the main build, but there is a clear difference between alternate builds that could act as regular sets themselves, and models that look like they were just thrown together hastily. This is a cool racer on its own, and I will give kudos to the designers for creating two wonderful models in one set.

Conclusion

It's really unfortunate that the Legends line wasn't one of LEGO's successful lines. As a kid who was unaware of sites like Brickset and Bricklink in the early years of the 2000s (although I am not sure how popularized they were then), the Legends line was my narrow, but only glimpse into many of the company's historical sets. Today, books like The LEGO Book by Dorling Kindersley have offered a wider scope to today's YFOLs about sets that existed well before their time. Even so, the Legends line was still a way that kids could get their hands on some of these older sets, which many in the online community will say are far superior to sets that are being released today.

But now that the dust has settled, let's tally up the scores for this machine:

Pieces: 9/10 - Nothing too specialized, and you get a lot of awesome pieces like the arches and chrome elements. Many of the modified plates such as the clip pieces will certainly come in handy for MOCs. The fact that all the grey pieces are of the bluish grey variant technically doesn't make the color scheme true to the Hot Rod's predecessor, but frankly to me it doesn't make all that much of a difference.

Build: 10/10 - For younger kids this will surely be more difficult than what they are used to, but for older teenage and adult fans the build is very satisfying. Adding on the details is one of the most fun parts of the build, as well as implementing the steering function. You even get two things to build here.

Design: 10/10 - I tried, but I just could not find something to complain about the Hot Rod's design. Everything about it contributes to the beauty of the overall model and nothing acts as a detriment to its design. Stickers are used sparingly as subtle details on the model. There's even steering incorporated without the mechanics being too conspicuous. There's one issue I'd like to address here, regarding the set's playability. I don't think this is a model designed for playing as it is one for display, which is why I left out a playability category. In addition to the more advanced build, the fact that this is more meant for display makes this a set geared more toward an older demographic.

Price: 9/10 - Well worth it for forty bucks. Not just for the pieces, but for the set as a whole.

Overall: 9.5/10

I don't know how well known or popular Model Team is amongst the older LEGO enthusiasts, but from what I can see it spawned some really amazing LEGO sets like this one. A Hot Rod that many car and LEGO enthusiasts would crave.

Thanks for reading :classic:

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Excellent review of a great set. Luckily enough I managed to get a MISB 5541 about a year ago, your review quite well corresponds with the feeling I had when I built the model. Too bad that some of the stickers are across multiple pieces, and that some of these pieces are necessary for the alternate model..

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Great review :thumbup: . In BL original #5541 (the version that I'm interested) is too expensive if MISB, sigh :cry_sad: .

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Awesome review. I wish Lego would do another run of these rereleased Legends sets, but maybe with newer sets.

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This is one of my favorite sets, I have two of the original MT 5541 sets and I've had them on display (the main model + alternate) for a long time. :)

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I own the original 5541, but I wasn't aware of the changes Lego made when they re-released the set. Neat!

My favorite technical detail is definitely the compact steering system, a feature sadly lacking on modern Lego vehicles of this scale. Sets like the Lamborghini Gallardo Polizia 8214 may have more pieces, but they don't have the playability and realism that the old Model Team line used to provide.

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Growing up this was on my "Wish List," but parental units always said that Technic and Model Team was too advanced for me.

So last week I found one used and promptly snatched it up.

Great Review!

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