Beautiful though they may be, the plethora of 6-wide vehicles that have arrived in Studsville are starting to crowd the streets. What the go-getting City entrepreneur needs is a means to nip around town and dodge the traffic. Since many real people have chosen the Smart car to achieve the same end, it seems only natural for Lego people to follow suit. Enter the 3177 Small Car; let’s see if Lego have done a good job of it…
Name: Small Car
Theme: City *
Year of Release: 2010
Price: £3.49 | US$ 4.99 | DKK 39.95 | EUR 4.95 | AU$ 7.99 | CAN$ 6.95
* Interestingly, Shop @ Home lists this set under ‘Transportation’ but the Lego Cache describes it as ‘Airport’.
Shop @ Home said:
It’s time for a fun day of driving around LEGO CITY! Thanks to this compact car’s modern size and styling, you’ll be able to avoid traffic jams and squeeze into tiny parking spaces wherever you go. Includes driver minifigure.
• Includes car and driver minifigure!
• Zip around Lego City in this little compact car!
• Ages 5+.
Links: Bricklink Brickset Peeron Instructions
Priced as an impulse set, this little number has caused ripples of excitement around Eurobricks, mainly because it contains a new unique figure; but also because of the return to a 4-wide vehicle base without the usual monster wheels. The tiny car has resulted in a few compromises, as we shall find out.
The box measures H 90 x W 120 x D 56 mm. It’s a reasonable size for a low-priced set, and is mostly filled by the contents. Using Rufus’ patented Billund Air Ratio, that’s a score of 16 (compare to the Republic Swamp Speeder which has a score of 39). There’s a nice representation of the figure on the side of the box, but TLC has not gone to town on the rear:
‘Choking Hazrd. Contains small parts.’ No alternative models, as is usual these days. The bottom of the box (when standing) tells us that components are made in DENMARK, HUNGARY and the CZECH REPUBLIC.
Inside the box are the instruction booklet, a single polybag, and the base piece loose in the box:
I was pleasantly surprised to find a booklet for a set this size, rather than a folded sheet.
The steps are clear; no piece callouts, and none necessary with only 2 to 3 pieces per step and only 43 pieces to choose from.
The are two scene pictures, one of the town and another of the new airport sets, and the now ubiquitous parts list:
The only real pieces of interest are the minifigure torso and head, which we’ll look at later, and the base piece, which I was surprised to find has been used many times before: see Peeron. There are two leftover pieces: knowing which parts typically come as extras, can you guess which they are?
This little dude – I’ve called him Alec – looks like he’s enjoying life with his little car. He has a new torso – a hoodie! – with a printed rear, too:
Alec’s face has a slightly lopsided smile, making him look happy but not vacuously beaming like some of the latest figs. The torso and head are unique to this set, at least according to Peeron and my quick search of Brickset. I suspect many will buy multiple copies of this set just for the figure. Alec has a briefcase, which we’ll see later.
The build process is simple: the following pictures are a sample of the building steps, with numbers to give you an idea of how little is done in each step. Note the 2x1 green plates which are used as fillers; I don’t know why they are green, but it beats the usual red/yellow/blue mix we get,
I had a bit of trouble getting Alec into the car, solved by moving his hands upwards and leaning him as far forward as possible:
The Complete Set
Alec leaves work, looking forward to the quick hop home in his minicar. I’m not sure what he does; a man with a hoodie carrying a briefcase is either a web designer or he’s stolen it.
Some more shots of the vehicle. You can see the little storage space for Alec’s briefcase, and note the only rear light is the brake-light strip under the roof.
It would be quite easy to modify the set to include rear lights, using one of these in black.
The vehicle is clearly intended to be a Smart car:
I think Lego have done a good job of rendering the Smart car in such a small scale. If I were to MOC one, I’d make a more detailed one in 6 wide, but that would defeat the object of having a small car. The model looks a lot better, when built, than I can demonstrate in pictures; better even than Lego have done on the box art.
The advantages of a Smart Car…
Aside from the easy parking, the little car can nip through traffic to avoid the jams, and even hitch a lift:
A full tank is a lot cheaper: (excuse the dig at UK fuel prices)
The little car has drawn an appreciative crowd:
…And the disadvantage
Little cars are harder for other drivers to see:
This is a superb impulse set. For the price, you get a well-designed little car that won’t swamp your Town layout, and will fit in most garages, and comes with a unique figure. The use of commonly-found parts means that you could build several in different colours.
Design: 9/10 A great rendering of the Smart car for such a small scale. The only thing I would have added is rear low-level lights.
Build: 7/10 A simple, unexciting build, but what did you expect? As I have said, the use of common parts makes it easy to build in alternative colours without a big Bricklink order.
Playability: 8/10 There’s not much you can do with the set on its own, but cars are always fun to push around, it fits in nicely alongside the rest of the City range.
Figure: 10/10 A lovely unique figure, with a useful accessory; I suspect many will buy the set just for the little guy.
Price: 10/10 No complaints here; it’s not the best price to parts ratio in the world, but it’s a good set for a good price.
Overall, 88% It doesn’t look that much on the box, but I’d recommend it to any Town fan – you’ll be pleasantly surprised!
I hope you enjoyed the review. C & C, as ever, welcomed.
Finally, for the fans of the standard bigger wheels, there’s always Pimp My Smart!
[Edit - musn't leave Canada out - Thanks Dr Spock!]
Edited by Rufus, 08 February 2010 - 07:52 PM.