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Review: 21103 Back To The Future Time Machine

Review CUUSOO 21103 Back to the Future DeLorean Time Machine BTTF

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#1 Rufus

Rufus

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Posted 18 July 2013 - 12:00 AM

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'If my calculations are correct, when this baby reaches 88 miles per hour ... you're gonna see some serious shit.'

Dr Emmett Brown, Back to the Future


So here it is!  The long-awaited Back to the Future LEGO CUUSOO winner - and the first 'mainstream audience' model to pass the dreaded CUUSOO review stage.  Few people can be unfamiliar with the iconic DeLorean Time Machine, and the lead characters of the BTTF movie franchise, Marty McFly and Doc Brown; despite having originated in the 1980s, with its fashion faux-pas and wildly inaccurate predictions of the Earth of the future, the trilogy is still surprisingly popular today, and is the sole reason why many have ever even heard of the unreliable stainless steel DeLorean car.

It is hardly surprising then that the BTTF CUUSOO entry was able to garner the support required to enter the review stage, and the popular and family-friendly nature of the model and its parent movie lend it extremely well to conversion to a LEGO set.  On paper, it should sell well; however, early leaked images have led to certain amount of disappointment, partly at the apparent lack of figures, and partly at the difference between the final version and its CUUSOO-winning original.  Rest assured that Marty and Doc do indeed feature as figures in the set; as to the redesign:  well, let's see ....

Thank you once again to The LEGO Group for allowing us this early set review.  :wub:

Review: 21103 The DeLorean Time Machine

Set Information

Name: The DeLorean Time Machine
Number: 21103
Theme: CUUSOO Back to the Future
Release: 1 August 2013 (According to some members, it appears to be available already in some places)
Parts: 401
Figures: 2
Price: GB £34.99 | US $34.99 | EUR 39.99 - 49.99 | AU $69.99 | CA $44.99 | DKK 449.00


Shop@Home said:

Travel Back to the Future with the awesome DeLorean time machine!
Build your very own miniature version of the iconic DeLorean time machine that Dr. Emmett ‘Doc’ Brown and Marty McFly famously used to travel Back to the Future! Selected by LEGO® CUUSOO members, this amazing model features lots of cool details, like opening gull-wing doors, fold-up wheels, flux capacitor, time travel display and 2 license plates. We’ve also included extra engines and wheels so you can recreate the different variants of the time-traveling car featured in the Back to the Future movies! Finally, this unique set also includes a fascinating booklet containing production notes, original images and fun details from the movies. Includes 2 minifigures: Marty McFly and Doc Brown.
• Includes 2 minifigures: Marty McFly and Doc Brown
• Features opening gull-wing doors, fold-up wheels, flux capacitor, time travel display and 2 license plates
• Also includes Marty’s skateboard as well as extra engine and wheels
• Customize the car to match the movie versions
• Step on the gas and prepare to travel Back to the Future
• Open the gull-wing doors, just like the real car!
• Fold up the wheels and engage hover mode
• Jump on the skateboard and pull some tricks
• Build the model that LEGO® CUUSOO members requested!
• Includes building instructions and exclusive Back to the Future information booklet
• Car measures over 2” (6cm) high, 5” (15cm) long and 3” (8cm) wide

Links ... Shop@Home ... Brickset ... Bricklink ... Peeron ... CUUSOO


The Box

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Click for a larger full-frontal image

As I pulled the set from the plain outer cardboard box it shipped in, I was momentarily disconcerted to think I had been sent an Architecture set by mistake, and I'm sure you can see the resemblance.  However, here the usual Architecture austerity gives way to the colourful Back to the Future logo, and a blue-white clock and lightning motif that will be familiar to anyone who has seen the movies, and which continues onto the upper surface of the box.  Any doubt about the inclusion of minifigures is quoshed with a little inset of Marty and Doc against a background which nicely matches the BTTF logo.  The DeLorean itself is pictured in 'flying' mode, as seen at the end of the first and most of the second movie; as we shall see, I don't think this is her most flattering pose, but it isn't helped by the angle of the photograph - click the picture for a square-on view.


The back of the box is rather busier, but demonstrates beautifully the full variety of the set:

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The DeLorean versions of all three movies can be created from the set, though - as you might expect from the piece count - not at the same time.  This is highlighted by the white-on-red text at the bottom right: itself rather amusingly resembling DYMO punch-labels that will be familiar to anyone who lived in the 80s.

Small insets detail the wonderful printed parts which are included in the set, accompanied by explanatory text in English and French.  This latter point - coupled with the inclusion of the piece count on the box front - makes me wonder whether this particular box is designed for the the North American market: the third language, visible on the right side, is Spanish.


French will continue to feature prominently, starting on the left-hand side:

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In case you're not convinced that French is important in North America, the proof is on the box top, along with a wheel that provides the 1:1 scale here.  The bottom reveals the licensing agreement with Universal Studios.  :look:


The box is as wide as the Big Ben box is tall, but it's deeper and taller; in fact it's the exact same size as the similarly-priced Leaning Tower of Pisa.  The contents are rather more colourful than a typical Architecture set, however:

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Sadly, we aren't encouraged to enjoy our building experience.  :sad:  Inside the box are five polybags, three loose plates, and a substantial instruction booklet that we'll look at presently.


The Instructions

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The Architecture resemblance continues with this high-quality booklet, printed on sturdy paper with thick cardboard covers.  The cover image is identical to the box front - minus the text - and affords us a clearer view of the car with its controversial front end.


Inside the booklet, we are treated to a plethora of information related to the movie and the car, replete with pictures, and text in English and French (the latter on the facing page).  Further 'DYMO' headers set the scene; the smart black background unfortunately shows up the dust.  :blush:

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'What - what the hell is a "jigowatt"???'

I wondered at first whether 'jigowatts' is a mistake; according to Wikipedia, it's in the original movie script.  I always thought the figure was 1.21 gigawatts, though with a soft leading 'g', in these times before the prefix 'giga' was rather common.  My prized BBC Microcomputer from the same era ran games like Elite on as astonishing 32 kilobytes of memory; nowadays my 4 Gigabytes is still too little.  :laugh:


Moving onward, we encouter further pictures from the movie with accompanying factoids, and occasional quotes.  I'm not going to spoil all the contents of the booklet, but it is worth showing this wonderful rear-end shot of the 'real' DeLorean ...

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... replete with its time-travel modifications listed as 'Highlights' (or 'Points Forts' if you're French, or Canadian).


Architecture fans will be familiar with the black background of the instruction steps, and with the intermittent 'factoids' which accompany them:

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It can be a little tricky to make out the black parts against the background, but I didn't encounter any problems during construction.  


The build is nicely paced, with occasional sub-builds, as shown here in one of the later steps for the alternative movie versions:

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Here we build 'Mr. Fusion', with its complementary informative text.  I can't wait to get my own Mr. Fusion in two years' time!  :grin:


The rear of the booklet contains the obligatory set inventory; page one in the inside front cover, and page two on the rear cover itself.  Also towards the rear of the book are a page dedicated to the Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research, and the following dedicated to the CUUSOO winning design team:

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It should be noted that 'Team BTTF' have decided to donate their share of the profits from the set to the Michael J Fox Foundation.  If I were ever to have a set pass CUUSOO review into production, I'd be more than happy with just a page like this.  :wub:


The Parts

The 401-strong part selection consists mainly of plates - there are only about twelve regular bricks in there.  :look:  I've managed to fit them all into one picture:

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As expected, black and light bluish-grey dominates the colour palette.  'Useful' pieces - a highly subjective concept, I know - might include the black and bley headlight bricks in reasonable quantities, a sizeable selection of 1 x 'n' plates, jumpers and clippy-hinges; it's nice to see the older-style hinge-bricks with 1-wide top parts in both black and bley.  Greebling fans will approve of the binoculars, and the metallic silver 1x1 round plates and grille tiles; plain tiles appear in reasonable quantities, and they haven't held back on cheese wedges.  For me, the stand-out parts are the 8.5L hoses - the modern version of the Classic Space original is becoming more common, but no other set contains more than three.

Incidentally, I had expected that the red wheel hubs would prove to be an example of an existing part in a new colour; I was mightily surprised to find that it has been included in two sets previously - and Brick Buckets of all things!  Though they are from 2009, and not widely available today; certainly there aren't currently any such wheels available in red on Bricklink.


Taking a closer look at the metallic silver grilles, I noticed a mold difference:

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Some have squarer, thicker edges.  This is hardly a disaster, but the difference is particularly obvious in this shiny colour, and requires you to be careful where you place them if you're particular about symmetry.  :blush:


Finally, the pieces de resistance - the printed parts:

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The detail in the prints on these 1x2 tiles is astonishing - look at the 'OUTATIME' licence plate with its 'California' logo replete with setting sun.  :wub:  I was a little surprised to see the 'destination' date on the time console - I don't recall 28th January 1958 featuring in the movies - but it's all there in the manual: it's the date the first LEGO brick was patented.  Maybe I should have known that.  :look:


And here's the 2x1x2 panel bearing a print of the heart of the DeLorean Time Machine itself: the Flux Capacitor:

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It's a beautiful design, although in my case the print quality isn't perfect.  Note the white-on-red text, true to the movie, that has clearly inspired the 'DYMO' headings in the instruction manual - a lovely touch.  And by the way, LEGO, it's 'i' before 'e'.  :wink:  I wondered if the typo in 'SHEILD' was true to the movie, but it isn't:  see here.  To be fair, I didn't even notice the typo until CopMike pointed it out after member Kez noticed it from the high-res pics sent out by TLG.  :blush:


The Minifigures

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'Hey, Biff!  Get a load of this guy's life preserver.  Dork things he's gonna drown!'

Here are Doc and Marty!  They are the characters of the original film's 1985: Doc in his radiation suit, and Marty in his jeans and 'life preserver'. :grin:  (I am reliably informed that this garment is properly called a 'gilet'.)  Marty has his trademark skateboard.  It's funny to think that skateboarding was a bit of a fad in the mid-1980s, and I doubt the film-makers expected it to continue to be such a widespread phenomenon today (your mileage may vary).  I was a little excited to see a purple skateboard - it's the first I've owned - but it's also available in the new Town Square and one of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle sets.  


Doc wears 'vampire' hair which is new in white for this set.  I had half-expected a variant on this, but the style they've chosen is possibly the best existing mold for Doc's flyaway locks.  

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He has a new, double-sided face print, in flesh for this licensed set; they've captured his expressionn pretty well for the 'surprise/shock' look, which Christopher Lloyd does a lot.  Great Scott!  The radiation suit torso has some nice detailing including a stopwatch; I love the big trefoil 'RADIATION' logo on the back.  It's a shame, though, that we don't get Doc in more 'everyday' wear; but I bet you could improvise.


Marty's multi-layered clothing is captured beautifully, though he looks strangely like Spiderman from the back:

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His new face-print is again double-sided, with a little smirk on one side and a good 'fear' look on the other.  His hair is a reasonably choice; the dark brown is a little too dark for my tastes - in the films it looks almost fair in some shots, and I'd probably have gone with reddish-brown.  It's also perhaps a little too neat and short; 'Anakin Skywalker' hair might have been better.  His legs, like Doc's, aren't printed, but this part in Medium Blue is surprisingly rare.


Here's what they should look like:

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Picture from Futurepedia

I think TLG have captured the pair pretty well, all things considered - particularly Doc's 'surprised' face.  :distressed:  I'm also pleased with the choice of torsos; Doc's radiation suit would probably be the most difficult to recreate from existing parts (though the 'future' garb would be a close second); and it does allow recreation of the scene where we first meet the DeLorean.  Marty's outfit is a no-brainer, and if you want him in a rad-suit, all you need is a Hazmat Guy.  :grin:


The Build

The DeLorean is essentially a big stack of plates, with some minor Technic reserved for the wheels; however, there are some interesting techniques thrown in here and there.  The chassis is built around three long 2x16 plates sandwiching two black 4x8 plates; four identical Technic wheel apparati occupy the four corners:

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Note the red and blue round bricks sitting atop similarly-coloured 1x1 vertical-clip plates: these restrict the movement of the wheels around the car's longitudinal axis, and are vital for the conversion between 'driving' and 'flying' modes.  The surprising use of red and blue has some logic; throughout, 'red' signifies the front of the car and 'blue' the rear, and it can be tricky to distinguish end from end without this visual clue.

In the second panel, 1x8 plates have been added above the 3L Technic liftarms, allowing them the be built upon; there are gaps adjacent to the wheel mounts, front and rear ...


... into which are placed clippy-bricks.  Black 1x2 cheese wedges form the appearance of seat-backs, and again note the use of red and blue for front and rear.

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In the inset, behold one of my favourite ever LEGO techniques: the foot of a headlight brick sits on the side-stud of another, allowing in this case the SNOT-mounting of a round plate and the inversion of a cheese wedge.  Granted, it's not as impressive as Svelte's use (see it in situ here), but it's great to see this technique feature in an official LEGO set.  :thumbup:


Next, the dashboard is added onto hinge bricks, and some Technic pins will enable the SNOT-mounted front to sit at a half-stud offset, at the expense of a bit of wobble.

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Clippy-hinges at the rear allow the attachment of the rear vent-things, shown in the second panel to be constructed from slopes, hinge-bricks, black headlights and tiles.  I'm surprised they didn't elect for the Nice Part Usage of black minifigure legs for this build; however, the lower set wouldn't fit into the slope, and I'm more than happy about the eight headlight bricks.  :wub:  The light bluish-grey jumpers here don't do anything, except add some hard-to-see greebing, perhaps.  The yellow 1x1 round is where the Plutonium goes.  Plutonium not included in set.


The rear-end is almost complete, as we add the Flux Capacitor on its 1x2x2 panel piece, and some SNOT-mounted taps which represent some arcance tubing or whatever.  You can see some similar blue things here.

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Meanwhile, controversial tiles have been sneaked onto the front whilst you were distracted, and the diminutive roof is added.  Clippy-hinges will help to slope the sides; the silver grille tiles represent the strips around the sides which glow blue when the car time-jumps.


Finally, the SNOT front panel is attached, and the 'gull-wing' doors are added ...

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... followed by the SNOT rear, sloping hinged tiles for the windscreen, and wheels.  The last touch is the tubing around the sides, which utilises the various clips and O-ring plates we've been adding, and is surprisingly trouble-free to attach.   And we're done!


The Complete DeLorean

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'Time circuits on.  Flux Capacitor ... fluxing.  Engine running.  All right.'

(Engine cuts out)

First things first: however you feel about the stepped, tiled front, I hope you agree that from this angle the car doesn't look nearly as bad as the rather unflattering views of the preview picture (or indeed the box front).  In 'driving' mode, she has a sporty, low profile, and the slanting pillars forming the 'windscreen', coupled with the narrow roof, help to slope the sides in a manner very difficult to recreate in LEGO at this scale.  I will deal specifically with the question of the redesigned front end later in the review, for now, let's look around the model carefully.


The front end's seven stud-wide SNOT panel helps to taper the car's nose; from this angle, the tapering looks a little severe.  Note that 1x2 trans-black tiles are used for the headlights instead of separate 1x1 tiles; these latter parts are somewhat rare.  The model does reasonably well with the 1x2s, helped by the studs of the light bley plates behind; I was tempted to replace the light bley with dark bley to mimic the darker front panel of the real car, but that would spoil the effect of the headlights.

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From the front, the wheels protude a little uncomfortably far from the sides of the car.   I noticed one or two complaints in response to the revealed catalogue picture about the use of 1x2 and 1x1 cheese wedges for the front panel; this does cause asymmetry, but helps to strengthen the panel, as the 1x2 cheese connects the 2x3 and 2x4 plates behind.  You could easily replace it with two 1x1 cheese wedges with little loss of strength if you desire.


The rear view is one of the best, helped in no small way by the 'OUTATIME' licence plate tile.  

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It's by no means a perfect representation of the original, seen best in the instructions picture above, but it is probably as good as you could achieve at the scale whilst avoiding tricky and fragile techniques.  The big vent constructions help here, though it's difficult to line them up perfectly.  :blush:  They should overhang the rear lights (and have four layers rather than two), but even the CUUSOO original doesn't do this.


The sporty look is particularly in evidence from the side:

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The rake of the 'windscreen' is suitably shallow, if a trifle awkward at the base with the 1x1 clippy tiles looking unaccountably large.  This version lacks the rear sloping stanchions of the 'real' car, but dark bley cheese graters compensate somewhat.  You can see here how the tubing at the sides creates the illusion of wheel arches: one of the few features carried over from the CUUSOO original.  They work surprisingly well, and compensate for the protruding wheels, in most views.  This is a good place to admire the contour provided by the inverted cheese wedges at the rear - a lovely, if subtle, touch.  :thumbup:


Seen from above, the car has a chunky outline which reflects the feel of the model in your hand.  For the most part, she's very sturdily built, and at 190 grammes (6.7 oz), surprisingly heavy.

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As I've already implied, the roof is perhaps a little too small; you have to imagine the side windows would fill some of the gap here; a six stud-wide roof might be better, but it would make the door opening mechanism look odd, and I don't think it's possible to create the gull-wing doors any other way at this scale.


Underneath are the only visible remnants of the 'red and blue' scheme which assists in the build: these clippy plates are as essential part of the wheel mechanism.

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The long dark bley plates make a significant contribution to the strength of the model; some of the light bley plates aren't strictly necessary, but I'm not going to complain.


This rear high view is one of my favourites:  :wub:

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The bulky rear end features a number of small greebles packed into quite a tight space.  The vents take up a lot of room, but they are the most important feature.  The blue taps sit above two barely-visible red 1x1 round plates; an offset cheese wedge in the centre provides a little contouring.  The 'Plutonium Chamber' sits between the vents; it probably ought to be mounted slightly more forward, but that would leave a big step behind the tap bit.   Note the binoculars on the roof; I didn't recall from the movies what this is meant to represent, but you can see whatever it is in this picture, or here (thanks CopMike!).


The Interior

The doors, of course, open in the gull-wing style of the original DeLorean:

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The mechanism works well: it is smooth, and doesn't require you to remove any parts of the model.  It isn't without its problems, though: as you can see, the 1x2 male clippy hinges connect to the door using only a single 1x1 black clippy tile, and that is a source of weakness.  Be prepared for the doors to fall off at regular intervals.


Indeed, the weight of the door itself tends to disconnect the parts here; also, the closed door sits slightly higher than the body, and as you close the door it is natural to put a little downward pressure on the door, making the problem occur more frequently:

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Also, the triangular gap behind the door is a little unsightly.  This is caused by the use of a 1x1 clippy brick and cheese wedge rather than the single 1x2 slope that the CUUSOO original employs.  The clippy brick is necessary here to keep the black tube in the correct position.  I can forgive this gap; it's not too noticeable on the model as a whole.


Let's take a close look at the passenger compartment.

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With the roof removed, we get to good view of the Flux Capacitor in its intended place.  For such a vital feature, it's a little hard to see from the outside, but it looks great.  :thumbup:


Moving upwards, you can see the banked black 1x2 cheese wedges which I presume are meant to represent seat backs, not entirely effectively:

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Their positions, and the studded floor of the cabin, imply that the diver is meant to sit just left of centre, which would make it tricky to place both figures inside ...


... however, the steering wheel is mounted half a stud to the left of this position.  

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Th dash is otherwise very pretty, with the time console and a dial sitting at an attractive angle thanks to the hinge bricks.  There's another dial to the left of the steering wheel.  Note the light bley cheese wedge on the floor, which makes sitting the driver a stud further to the left problematic, but not impossible.


Here's Marty sitting in what is (I believe) the intended position:

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He has to lean back a lot in order to fit his head under the roof, but for a sports car that is probably a realistic seating angle.  With Marty sitting here, you cannot (easily) fit a passenger in ...


... but if you move Marty a stud towards the door - which involves a bit of a struggle as his leg interferes with the bley cheese wedge - you can:

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In this position, you have to sit both figures a bit more upright, else their heads prevent the doors closing: look at Doc's head to see what I mean.  However, the roof here no longer necessitates them leaning back so much.  The sloping 'windscreen' stanchions obscure the view a little, which in Doc's case is exacerbated by the angle of the shot.

Note that in either position, Marty isn't sitting directly behind the steering wheel.  Ideally, there should be some jumper plates in there to allow them both to sit at a half-stud offset; modifying the model to achieve this shouldn't be too difficult, but it would involve removing the long 2x16 light bley plate which runs the length of the car (see here).  I don't think that this would weaken the car too much.


Flying DeLorean - Back to the Future II

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Actually, the Flying DeLorean first makes her appearance at the end of the first film, but she features most prominently throughout BTTF II, and is instrumental in Marty's getaway from Biff in 1985-A.


To convert model one to model two, all you need to do is replace the 'OUTATIME' licence plate with the orange 2015 'barcode' one, add Mr. Fusion, and flip the wheels for flying mode.

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Note that I've left the yellow 1x1 round 'Plutonium Chamber' plate in place under Mr. Fusion; the instructions aren't particularly clear on this, but it might be better to remove it and have the white dome attached directly to the 2x2 round black plate.


Flipping the wheels is simplicity itself.  Here's the mechanism with a wheel removed:

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The red (or blue, at the rear) clippy plate keeps the wheel mount from over-extending in either position, and explains why 3L frictionless pins have been used.  


The set also comes with two trans-clear slopes and 1x2 plates to use as stands:

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Roads?  Where we're going, we don't need ... roads.

This view is similar to the promotional catalogue shot that caused such a lukewarm reaction when revealed.  To be fair, firstly, there were no passengers inside, leading many to think that no figures were included; secondly, this really isn't the set's most flattering view.  With the wheels folded, she loses a certain something.  Partly, this is the width caused by the protruding wheels, but it doesn't help that the wheels don't pivot around their centre, as the original's do.  Achieving such a result isn't impossible, but would require a vastly more intricate mechanism, with resulting fragility and probably a too-difficult build.  I'm going to leave the car in 'driving' mode.  :classic:


'Western' DeLorean - Back to the Future III

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This is the car that Doc accidentally took back to 1885, then hid so that Marty could rescue it in 1955, in order to take it back to 1885 again, and cause your head to explode thinking about it.  It's meant to have '1950s' wheels - big red rims with whitewall tyres - as the originals had decayed over time, and the time circuits burned out during the lightning strike, necessitating 1950s Doc to build an alternative using valves as transistors hadn't been invented yet.  

Check your head.  Still intact?  Good.

Conversion requires removing a 1x4 tile from in front of the 'windscreen', then adding the greebled orange plates that represent the 'valve technology' time circuits, then replacing the bley wheels with red.  There's only one set of tyres included, so you have to switch these too; but if you're anything like me you'll have quite a few spares lying around.  You should also leave Mr. Fusion on.  :blush:


This is probably the car's best looking guise - the front box disguises the stepped front, and the red wheels rather counter-intuitively add to the car's attractiveness, even if they don't recreate the over-sized 50s wheels perfectly.

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I'm not sure why orange was chosen for the 'box'; I'd have thought either dark orange or dark tan would be better choices; certainly the latter isn't hard to come by in 2x4 plates.  The red wheels don't quite match up to the big 50s whitewall tyres of the original, but I don't know how they could be better represented at this scale.


Here are all three versions of the 'real' DeLorean for comparison:

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Pictures from here, here, and here respectively.


Comparison to the CUUSOO Original Model

If you've seen the original CUUSOO entry, you might already have noticed that the final version is a vastly different kettle of frogs.  The most obvious difference - noticed and commented on, mostly disapprovingly, as soon as the catalogue picture was revealed - is the shape of the front.  The LEGO designer has chosen to create the front end from a stepped construction of tiles, rather than using the more obvious solution of a 6x8 sloped tile as the CUUSOO entrants chose.  Why did they make this change?


Part of the reason may be the difficulty in recreating the third movie DeLorean.  Here's the CUUSOO version:

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There isn't an existing LEGO part that would allow the attachment of parts to its upper surface whilst retaining the shallow slope.  The CUUSOO team must have used an adhesive substance here.  I can forgive TLG for not wishing to create a unique, specialised mold just for this set, so an alternative solution would be necessary.  


Is this the sole reason?  To answer that, I had to examine the original CUUSOO entry a little more closely ... so I built one, using the LDD instructions the CUUSOO team thoughtfully provided.

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I've had to substitute a few parts; my 7676 Republic Gunship is packed away, so I've used 1x2 smoke tiles rather than the four 1x1s the original uses, but you'll get the impression.  Immediately you can see that the CUUSOO version is bigger, and taller; it isn't wider, but the straight-mounted 'windscreen' stanchions make the cabin more boxy.  


At the back, the rear bumper is the same ... but that's about it.

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The CUUSOO version has replicated the dark grey area around the rear lights, but the light configuration is no more accurate than LEGO's example, and looks a little fussy.  The vents are similar, but LEGO's are individually tilted; the original has rear slanted stanchions, but, like those of the 'windscreen', they are square to the body.  Mostly, the SNOT-mounted white tiles - which represent the blue-glowing time-travel whojimaflips of the original, and simulated in silver on the LEGO version - stand rather too proud of the model, and look uncomfortably square.  They're also flimsy: attached only via a SNOT stud at the bottom and a 1x1 clip at the top.  

The choice of white for the time-travel thingumajigs explains the white front bumper.  It's interesting that the white bumper has carried over to the LEGO version, even though its side whotsits are silver.  I'd have preferred silver for the front bumper too, but the 1x2 bows don't exist in this colour.  


This is more apparent in the top view.  LEGO's answer to the silvery stripes does result in discontinuity, but it's more subtle, and doesn't affect the lines of the car.  

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As you can see, the CUUSOO version is far longer: a good four studs.  This does allow more room for rear-end greebling, but at the expense of realism: the DeLoraean is a two-seater sports car, and it's dinky.  


CUUSOO's roomy cabin has lots of room for detail - there's even a keypad for entering destination dates, a gearstick, and the Time Circuit switch - the last two mounted centrally on jumper plates, and which interfere with each other.  To be fair, this is a plot point in the original film.  

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The seats are placed at positions 2 & 3 and 6 & 7 of the 8 stud-wide cabin, giving no ambiguity as to where the passengers sit, but they have to sit bolt upright in order to close the doors.  Opening the doors requires you to lift the windscreen stanchions; the 1x1 clippy tiles I've used here are incredibly stiff, making this no mean feat.


Marty and Doc have to keep their outboard arms raised in order for the doors to close, but they sit in there quite happily.  

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The steering wheel is correctly mounted for the chairs.  There is, of course, no Flux Capacitor print in this version.


The CUUSOO version is much bigger, but at 214 grammes, only slightly heavier - its destiny density is less.  This is the result of quite a flimsy structure:

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There's acres of space in there - I'd have strengthened it; perhaps the CUUSOO team decided not to in order to reduce the piece count.  I strongly suspect that the model is originally conceived would not have passed TLG's stringent quality rules.  It's also rather over-complicated; look at the wheel mechanism for an example.  Note that I've substituted a few parts (eg. light bley clippy hinges for black; two 4x4 plates for one 4x8).  Despite being lighter by 24 grammes, the LEGO version feels more heavy, and more sturdy.

'There's that word again: "heavy".  Why is everything so heavy in the future?  Is there something wrong with the Earth's gravitational pull?'


The LEGO version is a vastly different model to the CUUSOO original - there are very few features carried over.  Having built both, I can fully appreciate the redesign, and the reasons behind it.  What results is a far sportier, and far sturdier model; it better resembles the compact DeLorean, and even though the smooth slope of the front end is lost, the result is more gently tapered in both vertical and horizontal directions.

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If you are thinking of replacing the front with the 6x8 slope, it isn't as easy as it looks.  The windscreen stanchions will have to be moved, and the slope will overhang in an ugly way at the front corners.  Mostly, the slope is too steep:  the DeLorean's front end is nearly flat, and using the slope will result in a much bulkier front end than is desirable.  It is because of this - and the excessive size of the CUUSOO version - that to me makes LEGO's version look the part of a stylish sports car converted into a time machine; while, in comparison, the CUUSOO original - despite its extra features - looks more like a Volvo.  I'm glad they redesigned it.


Conclusion

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I've been looking at, handling, and playing with this model for some four weeks now, and I have to say that - despite initial misgivings about the stepped front, I really like it.  Having also built the CUUSOO original, I feel LEGO's version is a far better representation of the DeLorean: more accurate to scale with the minifigures, and much more in keeping with the lines and style of the iconic 1980s sports car.  

It has its flaws: seating two figures inside, while possible, requires some manual dexterity, and the doors have a dispiriting tendency to fall off (a problem shared with the CUUSOO version); even when you inevitably come to accept the stepped front, the use of two 2x4 tiles in the middle section looks a little odd (easily rectified with a simple modification).  However, the overall result is a delightfully compact, sturdy, and playable sporty roadster that you can push around the table, flip the wheels, then swoosh around the room.  Just don't do that above 88 miles per hour...

Marty and Doc are fine representations of the characters, and have unique torsos and head pieces (and hair, in Doc's case).  Add to that the 'Architecture-style' box and manual, and the very reasonable asking price of £35, and you have an affordable playset and collector's piece in one.  I heartily recommend it.

Design & Build 8  Whatever your feelings about the stepped front, I think you have to agree that the designer has captured the sporty feel of the DeLorean well, and succeeded in upholding TLG's quality standards in the process.  I think the car is attractive, and fun, and I would choose the sleek, low-profile design over the Volvo look any day.  The build doesn't exactly set the world on fire, but it is pacey, and involves a few interesting techniques - the headlight-brick attachment; the use of clippy-hinges for the doors; and the combination of clippy- and brick hinges on the vents are the highlights here.
Parts 8  I'm sure many of you would be able to build the car from your own collection, but you'd miss out on the gorgeous printed parts; and the black tubes aren't common in quantity.  I don't think the parts selection would be a major factor in your decision to buy it, but I'm not complaining about the headlight bricks.
Figures 9  Doc's and Marty's torsos and faces are unique, and Marty's wearing the iconic 1980s gear.  You might question the choice of the Radiation Suit for Doc, but it makes some sense - it's the first thing we see him wearing in the films, and you could recreate most other costumes from existing parts (with the possible exception of the 'future suit'.   I'm sure these figures will be sought-after.
Play & Display 10  The opening doors, swiveling wheels and the ability to change the car to match each of the films give rise to plenty of play options; you can push it or swoosh it to your heart's content.  Or, it looks great on the shelf.  I'd also like to include 'collectability' in this section - something I will consider for future Architecture reviews: the attention that has gone into the box art and instruction manual easily rival that of the Architecture range, and truly make this set a collector's dream.
Value 10  Even purely on a parts to pennies ratio, this is good value, even though the parts are mostly plates; add in the licence, the collectability, the figures, and the car's design, and I think the price looks very reasonable.  

Overall 90% My Score 9/10  I'm delighted with this set, and if you're a fan of the films, you will be too.  I urge you to look beyond the stepped front end; if you can't, well, maybe you guys just aren't ready for this yet.  But your kids are gonna love it.



Thanks for reading!  I hope you enjoyed the review.  Please let me know what you think!

Rufus

Resources
Back To The Future wiki:  Futurepedia
Buy a REAL DeLorean!  DeLorean.com
LEGO CUUSOO Winner:  Back to the Future(BTTF) - DeLorean Time Machine
My flickr set

Endpiece

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(I should have used the Lone Ranger train for this.  :blush: )


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#2 just2good

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Posted 18 July 2013 - 03:05 AM

Awesome review Rufus! :thumbup:

The figures in the set are amazing. :wub: The car... well, I like the Cuusoo version better to be honest. Like a lot of other people, the new hood is annoying to me. I don't completely agree with your final rating, but this is still a day one pickup for me. :classic:

Edited by just2good, 18 July 2013 - 03:05 AM.


#3 Kintobor

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Posted 18 July 2013 - 03:12 AM

Yup, it's a must buy. :laugh:
Excellent review Rufus, I can't wait for this set, and now I'm even more excited thanks to your review! :thumbup:

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#4 WhiteFang

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Posted 18 July 2013 - 03:13 AM

Epic superb review! I totally enjoyed it and especially seeing the awesome new minifigures in there, simply give me the smile! Love the three different models which you have done for the trilogy. This is definitely going to be my very first CUUSOO Model! :wub:

Thank you Rufus!

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#5 CM4Sci

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Posted 18 July 2013 - 03:21 AM

Yay! Awesome review, Rufus. I am definitely picking this up. I don't care about the hood.
(Finally, CopMike! :P)

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#6 santos.

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Posted 18 July 2013 - 03:22 AM

 Rufus, on 18 July 2013 - 12:00 AM, said:

destiny density
:rofl:

Excellent review, you went above and beyond building the original! This will be my first non-SW purchase since coming out of my dark ages...gasp!

Thanks!

Edited by santos., 18 July 2013 - 03:23 AM.


#7 TrumpetKing

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Posted 18 July 2013 - 03:24 AM

Thanks for the review Rufus!

Overall, I feel like this is a strong set with spectacular minifigures. However, I'm just not super motivated to buy it. It's not just the front end that makes me not want to, but more so the other great sets that we seem to be getting this year. I may be inclined to purchase it later in the year with my holiday money though, if I can find it for a decent price.
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#8 Super Goblin

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Posted 18 July 2013 - 03:25 AM

I gotta say I like the official set more than the Cuusoo one after seeing the side by side comparison.

#9 Sam892

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Posted 18 July 2013 - 03:38 AM

Thanks for the review Rufus. I love this set and can't wait to get one (or maybe two). Hopefully my nearest store still has one in stock on Saturday. Hopefully like Minecraft this set sells well and we get to see some future Additions this licence.

#10 Bricknblue

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Posted 18 July 2013 - 03:54 AM

Nice to see printed pieces even if no one can spell.  :lol:

#11 melbs

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Posted 18 July 2013 - 03:58 AM

Looking at the side by side pictures of the orig cuusoo and the final release, my vote is the final release, by a wide margin. Just is better looking.

Buying 3 sets so I can display all three versions on my desk.

Great review by the way Rufus

#12 Ridge Montante

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Posted 18 July 2013 - 04:11 AM

Excellent review. I really love this set, I can't wait to get it. Great use of all the movie lines too. :wink:
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#13 lightningtiger

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Posted 18 July 2013 - 04:15 AM

Thanks for the AWESOME review of this AWESOME set 'Rufus' and judging by the US pricing......the Aussie price might be only 10 to 15 bucks more......I hope.
I want this set for the minifigs mostly, but the car is a sci-fi classic.
Brick On Review On 'Rufus' ! :grin:

#14 jonwil

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Posted 18 July 2013 - 04:16 AM

I just LOVE this set and will definatly be buying one. Even if you dont like the design, the printed parts, figs and general parts selection make it well worth buying as a starting point for your own design. Anyone who wants to see other BTTF sets in the future (such as the train) should definatly buy this one as sales of this one will likely have an influence on the "go/no go" decision for any future BTTF Cuusoo sets (either those that reach 10k or if LEGO decides to do what they did with the Minecraft stuff and release further BTTF sets anyway)

#15 SandMirror38

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Posted 18 July 2013 - 04:16 AM

 lightningtiger, on 18 July 2013 - 04:15 AM, said:

Thanks for the AWESOME review of this AWESOME set 'Rufus' and judging by the US pricing......the Aussie price might be only 10 to 15 bucks more......I hope.
I want this set for the minifigs mostly, but the car is a sci-fi classic.
Brick On Review On 'Rufus' ! :grin:

It's bout $70 AUD

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#16 Capt. Redblade

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Posted 18 July 2013 - 05:00 AM

You had me at 88 miles per hour. :wub:

I've loved BTTF since I was a kid and I just know my inner child would never forgive me if I passed this up. $45 CAN seems quite reasonable for such an iconic license.

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#17 blksuperman2

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Posted 18 July 2013 - 05:12 AM

sigh.... yet another set I must get.  Darn you LEGO addiction, why can't I quit you?!!!

#18 TheLegoDr

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Posted 18 July 2013 - 05:27 AM

Thanks for this great review. Very informative. Great use of quotes too.

Seeing them side by side, the final release blows the original out of the water. Very small and sporty and add you mentioned more durable. The hood isn't great, but I'm also not that bothered by it. I will definitely pick up one for sure. I think it was stated as an August 1st release for the states, so I'll get it with some star wars stuff.

But I can't believe they misspelled shield....it'd be nice if they send out a replacement brick.
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#19 Laservampire

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Posted 18 July 2013 - 05:31 AM

Great review mate!

I've managed to reverse engineer an LDD file from Rufus and Brickset's pics, it's not 100% accurate but it'll give you a very good idea on the construction of the set.

Also included is the original CUUSOO model from m.togami

MOC'ers, on your marks, go!

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#20 KristofBD

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Posted 18 July 2013 - 05:42 AM

Excellent review!  Comparing the Lego version to the CUUSOO version is the true test and indeed I agree with you that the CUUSOO version is less appealing from all sides but the front.
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#21 DarkKnight7

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Posted 18 July 2013 - 06:23 AM

This was an amazingly thorough and fun review! Thanks so much for your efforts here! I was psyched when the first pictures were leaked, but this review seals the deal...gotta get this!

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#22 KingPixels

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Posted 18 July 2013 - 06:40 AM

Although I think it looks fantastic, I won't be getting it, because it would cost $70 dollars from the NZ site, plus a minimum $50 shipping charge. $120 is a bit much.

The factoids look really interesting though, I hope someone scans them and puts them online.

Also, wouldn't it be amazing to be a long time Lego fan and have a page dedicated to you in an official released set? The stuff dreams are made of.

Edited by KingPixels, 18 July 2013 - 06:46 AM.


#23 Brickstarrunner

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Posted 18 July 2013 - 06:51 AM

Oh why must life be a cruel mistress? The "Western" DeLorean cannot fit L-Guage track! That...that makes me a bit sad because actually... :cry_sad:


Does anyone know how to build an 8-Stud wide 'Sierra No. 3' 4-6-0 tender wheeler?

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#24 SMC

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Posted 18 July 2013 - 07:07 AM

Didn't know how to vote it is both poor and outstanding, I just get the feeling if lego had made it from scratch rather than making it fit the original design it would have been better. This is where CUUSOO has a problem are we voting for the design or the idea of the theme. But I think I have to get it for the minifigs which look even better now we can see the back of them and the double sided faces, the printed pieces are great too. Rufus your simple modification makes it look a lot better and I am sure we will see a lot more people having a go at moding it. But it shows that it could of been so much better and that is the problem it could have been an all time great.



#25 AndyC

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Posted 18 July 2013 - 07:32 AM

Great review. The side on views of both designs really show how much the redesigned front was needed to get a realistic look and it doesn't look quite so bad in many of your photos compared to the official shots.

I was inevitably always going to buy this, it's Lego and Back To The Future after all, but I'm glad to see that I probably won't be disappointed by the result.
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