- A Review -
Hey there, everyone. If you’ve been keeping up with my reviews (which I know about maybe 2 people have), then you know that I usually start out with a picture of a mountain. The last three reviews I did, after all, started with pictures of beautiful mountains. Coincidentally, this is the point in the review in which I link you to them:
IMPERIAL SHUTTLE / TAKODANA / BRICK BANK
However, I’m attempting to re-think the way people write reviews, more than the usual way in which I re-think them. You’ll notice that I’ve added a nice, slightly desaturated red border around all my pictures. This, as well as replacing the pictures of mountains with pictures of other irrelevant things, are all part of my...Season 2, if you will.
Not that this is television, but it’s just a nice way to organize things.
Anyway, that’s my spiel. Let’s jump right into it!
A bit of a history lesson here, as the picture of Owen Wilson looms down over us - as we all know very well, licensed themes have been a pretty integral part of Lego since the late ‘90s, and a decently large part of those themes have been involved with cars. After all, what kid wouldn’t want to build a little Lego version of his favorite Ferrari. I would say that the cars themes of Lego legitimately competed decently well with toys like Hot Wheels. Of course, as of March 1st of this year (2016), Mattel still had a larger Net Profit than Lego, but keep in mind that Mattel has a multitude of products that have been around much longer than Lego, as the giant company that it is now, has been. And, still, the Wall Street Journal shows that Lego’s net profit is on a steady increase, while Mattel’s seems to be fluctuating in a definite downwards direction. I would guess that by 2020, Lego will most assuredly surpass Mattel in Net Profit.
I don’t mean to make predictions like this straight off the bat, I just want to show where Lego has been to get to the point that they’re at now - over the years, Lego has gotten licensed car themes from all over. I remember the Ferrari theme the best, as it’s been around for...almost twenty years now, but we’ve had sprinkles of other cars over the years, such as for the movies Speed Racer and Cars, the latter of which was quite popular. And we can’t forget about the giant theme that is Racers, which had many, many sets over an eleven year period. Seriously, take a look at the page for Racers. It’s absolutely bloody enormous. But, like most themes (except Lego Star Wars, which seems to be eternal), even Racers had to pack up and end. And Lego Cars (the Pixar movie) ended just at about the same time, which gave us a nice big deficit of Lego cars (the all-inclusive noun, not the theme). Sure, we had cars pop up here and there in City sets, as we’ve always had, but nothing special.
So, in 2015, when Lego announced Speed Champions, with nice, minifig-sized models of Ferraris, McLarens, and Porsches, there was hope again. But they were only getting started. This year (still 2016) has seen an extension into more civilian vehicles, such as Audis, Fords, and even Chevrolets. Personally, I think having an actual little Lego model of a Mustang, and then driving about on the highway and seeing a Mustang is a whole lot cooler than having race cars. Maybe that’s just me, but I’ve never been so interested in Lego cars.
Man, what an absolutely boring intro. Remember when I made jokes? This is starting to sound like a college essay.
Name of Set: Chevrolet Camaro Drag Race
Theme Name: Speed Champions
Piece Amount: Four Hundred and Forty-Five
Minifigure Amount: 3 Non-Descript People
ID Number: 75874-1
Year Released: 2016
Other Random Information: 31 Different Stickers that will not be placed on the models
Was that Brexit joke too relevant? Or too non-relevant? Here’s a little insight into how I write reviews - I write about half of it, read back over it, hate it, delete it all, and completely rewrite it from scratch. About three and a half months ago (I know, almost like I put effort into these) I wrote the Brexit joke in and made the fun little picture, so it might not be too relevant nowadays. I mean, the exchange rate is still pretty damn low. I’m sure you chaps will figure it out. I’ll just sit here in America and try not to become homeless with all these hospital bills.
I do wonder why they’re wearing blonde wigs in the picture. Come to think of it, I’m not even sure if those folks are English. Maybe someone reading this knows one of them? Help me out, here.
Let’s mix things up from the usual formula of a review by starting with the minifigures. Unlike most licensed themes, these Speed Champions minifigures aren’t remarkably impressive, nor a main selling point of the set. Compare this to a thing like Lego Star Wars, especially in regards to things like the Battle Packs, whose only purpose is for the minifigs, really. But, nope, for these sets, which, obviously, mainly focus on the cars themselves, the minifigs are only included as a formality.
Look at the front of the Chevrolet box compared to a few other licensed sets. Instead of the nice lineup as is expected, we just get the big Chevrolet logo. Actually, come to think of it, this might be the only licensed theme in a long, long time to have yellow minifigs.
The minifigures, as per the usual, are divided evenly over the three bags, so you get to see who you get. It’s a big like one of those Christmas Calendars in that regard. You never know who you’re getting. So our Bag 1 prize is this guy, who is as generic as generic comes. Actually, this guy’s name is Eric, because of it. I guess his jumpsuit is kinda cool, but it’s nothing extraordinary. He’s certainly no 2015 Boba Fett. Hell, I could have put a Harry Potter minifigure in the seat of the Camaro, and it would have had the same effect.
The driver of the other Camaro, who I will name Gen (tell me if you get that), is equally as boring and stale. I suppose it says something about the price of the set (£30/$30) - so many pieces, so little interesting minifigures. I seriously doubt that the price of the set would have been affected at all had the minifigures not been included. The likenesses of popular movie characters must go a long way in boosting price.
Finally we get this guy, in Bag 3. Somehow even less noteworthy than the last two, he spots the most basic City outfit. That blue torso has been around for absolute ages, and the light blue pants are nothing special. Honestly, I looked up the parts on Bricklink.
Medium Blue Minifigure Legs: 27 times over 23 sets
Torso Town Blazer: 17 times over 16 sets
Minifigure Cap: 41 times over 31 sets
Minifigures Head, Bearded: 14 times over 14 sets
If that doesn’t scream “this guy isn’t special”, I couldn’t honestly tell you what does. I suppose these minifigure pieces don’t hurt, so I’ll take them, in the end. No real complaints. It’s not like they’ve brutally disfigured my favorite Chevrolet Camaro driver with the minifigure likeness, after all.
I only bring up the picture of the box, not to really talk about it, because, honestly, if there’s one part of a review that I don’t need to actually do, it’s talking about the box, but I bring it up to show you, just this one time, what the cars are supposed to look like. Now, obviously, for a long time, I’ve heard grief from reviewers about the obscene amount of stickers in sets, even coining the term DSS (dreaded sticker sheet), but for all my Lego-ing throughout the years, I’ve never experiences sticker-mania as bad as this. I’ll get into great detail - more detail than you’ll want - about the DSS later, but I just want to pop this picture up here for reference purposes. This is the “intended” way to have the cars look. Here’s links to the other parts of the box - the sides and the back. I’ll let you come up with your own comments for these. While you’re doing that, the rest of us will be moving on.
As per the usual, you pop this baby open and see the shiny sight of the bags - we get three of them, in this case. The cardboard is as good as cardboard gets, in the case of this box, not that anyone was particularly worried about the drop in quality of Lego boxes, but I just thought that I’d say it to totally quash all fears.
Strangely enough, and I legitimately mean that, we get two instruction manuals for this one, $30 set. Obviously, it’s one per car, but it just kind of surprised me. I don’t think I’ve ever seen two manuals for a set this small in my life. This set is pulling all sorts of surprises out for us. And, as a little bonus, you know how Lego likes to do that - the instruction manuals were so badly curled that it was just...oh man. I had a fantastic time trying to lay them as flat as I got them for this picture. Thanks, Lego! Right here is a picture of the inside of the instructions, in case you’re into that kind of thing. Personally, I am not. But I figured I might as well include it in for you.
Here, let me give you another fun behind-the-scenes look into the life of JackJonespaw’s reviewing setup. I name all of my pictures when editing them, based on what I feel at the time. Now, look at the above picture, and tell me what you would call it. Then we’ll compare notes.
What would you name it? I named it Hell. A triple combination of the use of the word - kind of “what the hell” with “oh, hell”, with “Hell, in the biblical sense, in that I have sinned so much that I have to be involved with a DSS for all of eternity”. There’s another word that could work just as well, but Eurobricks doesn’t actually allow me to type it, so we’ll just keep it at H-E-double toothpicks. So, what the hell, man? 31 damn stickers in this set?! Are you kidding me? There’s a time where enough is enough, and guess what, Lego, this is enough! In all seriousness, expecting someone to put this amount (or, if you’re me - any) of stickers on a set is astounding. But, still, I thought about it. After all, I couldn’t just throw it away. There had to be some better use.
So I built a sacrificial altar and burned it.
It worked well. Even that plane caught on fire.
Let’s rip open the Bags and get a look at the pieces inside. Bag 1 contains an almighty amount of red bricks, making it pretty easy to guess which car you make within this one. Bag 2 and 3 both make up the second Camaro, as well as the little gate thing that contains the single play feature of the set. As chuffed as I could act about the lack of play features, it’s not a huge issue, as the cars are (or, will be, since I haven’t built them yet) nice enough just to look at.
And thus, onto the building of the car! Car(s), I mean! Within just the first couple of steps here, you can see the basic structure. It’s nothing complicated, of course, nothing more than creating an extremely tight model (more on that later).
Actually, now’s as good a time as any to discuss the inclusion of random-megablocks colored bricks in Lego sets. According to this old topic by mostlytechnic, who I am reasonably acquainted with (yea, I know, name-dropping. Stand back, fellas, I know a famous person), I’m not alone in this confusion. It still doesn’t make sense, five years after that topic was posted, and I doubt it ever will make sense. Maybe it’s just the Lego thing to do at this point, and it would feel wrong without it.
Anyway, back on the building front, we’re bulking it up nicely in the back - primarily in the back - so much so that it would’ve made much more sense for me to take this picture from a back ¾ angle...but...I’ve already put the backdrop back in the closet, and all the lights are down...and the SD card is out of the camera...so you’ll just have to accept this as “good enough”.
Beautiful, isn’t it? A 2016 Camaro, fresh off the lot. I just had an interesting thought. A 2016 Camaro will run you about $25,700. I’ll just divide the price of this set into two and say that this particular car cost $15. The car (real one) has the dimensions of 188”L x 75”W x 53”H, or a collected volume (obviously not the real volume, as the Camaro isn’t a box) of 747300 square inches. Now, the Lego model is 5.5”L x 2.25”W x 2.75” H, a collected volume of approximately 34 square inches. Now, by setting up a simple proportion of 1/x = 34/747300, we get x = 21979. Now, at this point, I’ve completely forgotten what I was trying to calculate, honestly, so we’ll just move on.
Building the other Camaro isn’t as fun, as all of the excitement ran off whilst building the first one. So, half-heartedly, you trudge on over to the rest of the pieces, turn on some sad music, and begin to melancholily piece the model together. Also, did you know that melancholily is an actual word? It’s the adverb form of melancholy. I had no idea, I was trying to pass melancholingly off as a word.
It’s quite...boxy, this other Camaro. No kidding - you plop a 6x6 plate on there. I guess it’ll all clear up eventually, but from a top view, I can almost guarantee that it looks like a rectangle. This might not be Lego’s fault, actually. The 1969 Camaro (of which this Lego model is a replica of) looks like a box. Speaking of which, the Dodge Challenger series of cars actually look like modern version of this ‘69 Camaro, which, coincidentally, I very strongly dislike the look of. So, this part of the review isn’t sugar and rainbows and other things that don’t exist, like unicorns.
Let’s talk about how difficult it was for me to take pictures of this car! See, whoever had the brilliant idea of making this car black and white failed to take me - JackJonespaw - into account, and for that, they have my hatred. See, focus on the black, and you get a polarizing white (see above). Focus on the white, and you get a totally inky blackness, where you cannot see a single damn thing. Actually, looking at the picture, it’s crappy any way. It’s out of focus, like, really badly. I really don’t know why they keep letting me do reviews with these horrible pictures.
But, there you go, the 1969 Camaro. A modded 1969 Camaro, no less, since in no picture of the ‘69 Camaro could I find a giant engine coming out through a hole in the hood, nor extravagantly large wheels. Either modded, or this was the failed version of the Camaro that no one wanted and only one guy in the world owns.
My question is, when putting the picture on the back, why did they not decide to put the colors of the cars that actually come in the set? Was it because they, too, realized how difficult it is to take a good picture of a black and white object? Honestly, I was going to edit the picture and make the cars the correct colors, but that would require me sitting up in my chair correctly, and I just can’t be trusted with that kind of responsibility right now.
So, uh, this would be the time for an intermission, where I would get you to stop reading and go grab yourself a coffee to wake up from how boring this review must be, and I would put up a commercial, like I did in the last few (except Brick Bank, but that one sucked), but….nah.
See, in a secret review that never saw the light of day for certain reasons, when buying the set for said review, I got a little crappy Ninjago package. I know even less about Ninjago than I do about cars (it it pronounced Ninja-go or Nin-ja-go? Where’s the pause? Who knows?), so let’s see what I can do for you here.
So we get a little red guy and someone else, who I’m assuming is evil, because green and purple generally has the kooky-villain connotation with it. Like...Barney. And...Hulk. There goes that theory. We also get a bunch of little weapons to immediately lose in the rug. Not a terrible haul for the price, but we could’ve done a whole lot better.
This is where they get you - with the wrapping. You’ll notice that most Lego sets come in boxes, right? Or little bags, things like that. Well, Lego might give you the pieces for free, but nothing in life is truly free. We have to deal with this hell - this...this plastic garbage packaging. You like opening stuff easily? Throw that out the window, it doesn’t apply here. You need really sharp fingernails (which, as a biter, I do not have) or innovation on how to open it in a different way.
I chose innovation. Grabbed the biggest, most extravagant knife from the knife thing, and plunged it into the back of the packaging as though it t’were the boar I had chosen for dinner that night, the last boar of the hunt. Then I very unskillfully carved the cardboard until I could wiggle out the stuff. That one wasn’t so majestic, but it worked.
If you’re unclear on how to built a Lego spear or the ol’ knife and ball-and-chain, aka possibly the most unwieldy weapon ever created, you get it here. And it’s very clear who gets what. The evil guy gets the black stuff, the red guy (who, since he has brown hair and a normal face, I will assume is the hero) gets the gold stuff.
So here he is. He looks quite bitter, doesn’t he? Probably because he has about 12 different minifigure versions, and he’s begging everyone to stop. I quite like his hair, if we can be honest for a second. It doesn’t fit a single other minifigure as well as it fits him, which makes it pretty exclusively useless, but as far as potential-that-it-could-be-good-but-it-isn’t goes, it’s a 10/10. His torso and legs are also exceedingly exclusive, and scream Ninjago. Actually, I don’t like him.
Gah, same with this guy, right? It’s like the Darth Vader minifig - you can’t use any of the pieces for anything other than Darth Vader himself. I shouldn’t be complaining, since I got this crap for free, but I’m trying to introduced an unbiased view here. I mean, the trans legs are pretty cool. I don’t think I’ve seen those before, but it’s more of a novelty than anything useful. Kind of like my reviews, wow!
Here’s the other stuff that comes with it. Knives and sticks, etc. I already used up my ball-and-chain knife joke, so I’m not totally sure what to put right here. I can say for certain that I don’t know where that tooth piece came from, because it’s never actually used in any of the things. I seriously don’t know what happened to it. If you really wanted a close up of the ball-and-chain-knife and the longer stick-knife, here you are, love.
Really, that’s all I’ve got to say about that Ninjago set. If you were looking for interesting insight on the character development of red guy and purple/green transparent man, you’re asking the wrong guy. And I doubt you’ll ask the right guy, so let me just ask him for you. Everybody, meet user Gunman, who does reviews in the Reviewer’s Academy (sign up today!), and who has done one single review of a Ninjago set in his entire life, thus far surpassing me in expertise. Here’s his take on what’s going on:
"For the red guy:
He is Jake a guy near 22y old. He is well trained in Bunjikan (2nd dan) and recently got injured during training.
During his free time he loves to parkour.
His dream is to get married with Maria, the sweetest girl in his neighborhood.
For the dark blue guy:
He is Mr. Strange. He walks around city parks during midnight wearing his strange suit. Various stories have been told about him but noone knows whats really going on... Someone saw him hiding between bushes, another guy reported watching him climbing up the trees... Noone knows his real identity."
I think he nailed it. What a gem he is. Love that guy.
So, back to the cars (did you forget that this was a review about cars?), it’s now time for - that’s right - comparison photos! Wow!
Alright, calm down, stop shouting, I can’t hear anything. I went out to Camaro LandTM and took pictures of their CamarosTM, which definitely happened, and I don’t want to hear any doubts about how I could possibly be lying to you.
I flipped a coin (heads for ‘16 Camaro, tails for ‘69 Camaro) and got tails, then decided that I’d rather start with the ‘16 Camaro, so we’re gonna do that.
The main problem, I’ve found, with these cars (well, the 2016 one, which still has potential, unlike the 1969 one, which I just hate) is that they are just too bulky. If everything on the car was down just one plate (a plate is ⅓ of a brick, remember), I feel like it legitimately would look better. Also, without stickers, these comparison pictures really fall flat.
Like here - “oh, boy, look at that red shape! It kind of resembles that Camaro, but not really that much!” Even without the details that the stickers would provide (which I, myself, cannot provide, having burned the DSS earlier, if you remember), the shape is still just a bit off. I understand that cars are difficult to Lego-fy, which is why I’ve never actually made a MOC of a car (or a MOC of anything that anyone would consider “good”), but I’m just going at it from a critic’s standpoint. That’s what I get to do in my job here.
But I will admit that the profile, when compared, looks pretty damn good. Sure, some of the parts of the Lego version are a bit blocky, but it is a seriously solid model nonetheless, and a decent interpretation. And I would be lying if I said that I didn’t drive it around making soft car noises under my breath.
And now we come to this piece of crap - the 1969 Camaro. Everything about this model - building it, looking at it, God, photographing it...it all sucks. Like the 2016 version, this representation is just too tall. Not tall enough to look off when looking at just the Lego model, but enough to notice when comparing it.
See, those rearlights (is that what they’re called? Rearlights?) should have been 1 plate tall, maybe two. That would’ve brought the cheese slopes down and made it look sleeker than the piece of shit that it is.
Oh, man, I don’t think I’m supposed to curse that badly in one of these reviews. Whoops, anyway: I finally thought of a proper analogy to explain the difference between car and Lego. So, you know when you’re editing something, on anything, even something like Microsoft PowerPoint, and you want to scale it up (that means to make it bigger, kids)? So if you click and hold the top-middle square and drag up, you know how the image that you’re scaling gets large only on the Y-axis? And also how it looks stupid and exaggerated? I think I’ve made my point.
As for the carriages (again, I don’t know my car terminology), AKA the place where the driver sits, it’s a pretty tight build for both cars. Of course, the 2016 version is better, but I’ll give the 1969 version props for being almost as good as its pair.
I don’t think I talked about the wheels yet, so here they are. The 2016 Camaro has two wheel types - a star-shape (also called a star), and a Jewish star shape. The 1969 version has a tiny little anus stud. Don’t know what the hell an anus stud is, but I love the fact that I’m laughing at the name, so I’m keeping it.
The 1969 also comes with ENGINES WOW. To attempt to jazz up a clearly inferior model, I would guess. One engine is an actual engine shape, and the other one has a wheel on it, so I’m not sure if you would trust that on your car.
I completely forgot to talk about this earlier, but this set also comes equipped with a fun little gate! Interesting fact - the 1969 Camaro actually doesn’t even fit under the lowest part of the gate. Doesn’t that sound like good set design? Anyway, let me dissolve my cynicism - it’s seriously not a bad model, but it does just feel a bit...unnecessary. I mean, I get that having just cars in a set is something Lego has never done (insert lots of links showing that, in fact, Lego has done this multiple times in the past), but I can’t help but feel like this was just an afterthought.
Despite being an afterthought, the gate includes the actual only play feature in the set. You can kind of see it with this picture of the back of the gate, but that doesn’t tell you much how it works. So, check it -
If you don’t touch that top 4x6 plate, the bottom of the gate looks somewhat like this.
But, if you smash it (not too hard, which, unfortunately, I found, breaks the gate entirely), then this happens. This is crappy commentary, I know, but the gate uses Technic pieces, which I absolutely suck at explaining. I don’t have those cool cut-away diagrams that that other review had a few weeks/months ago. (Was it Jim’s review? I can’t actually remember.)
Anyway, here’s what actually happens when you press the thing - the lights (AKA 1x1 round trans-green/trans-red tiles) move from red to green, indicating the start of the race. It’s a nifty little feature, and I’ll admit that I played with it for a bit too long.
Finally, as another novelty, this set also includes a little trophy stand. Look at it. Real cute.
I also, about four months ago, when taking these pictures, took this one. I’m sure I thought of a clever joke to phrase it in, but I legitimately don’t remember what it was, so I’ll just post it up here and let you guys figure out what it means.
Also, extra pieces! Did I forget about these and shoehorn them in at the last possible moment? Yes!
Alright, boys and girls, this would usually be the part of the review in which I wrap everything up with a nice tidy 37/100 (it’ll come, don’t worry), but first, I’ve decided to actually write something moderately intelligent and thought-provoking in a review, so here we go. If you’d rather not actually read this crap (for indeed it will be crap), then feel free to scroll down past the massive wall of text below.
So this is from the front of the box, showing the amount of pieces in the set - 445. Pretty decent amount of pieces, especially for a $30 set (I’ll be using American dollars here, sorry, non-Americans). Doing the ever-so-popular price-per-piece ratio, that would be roughly $.06 per piece. Which, quite frankly, is phenomenal for a licensed Lego set. If you remember the set I reviewed a few months ago, The Battle of Takodana, a Star Wars licensed set, I expressed a bit of legitimate concern about the set’s high price when compared to low piece count (heavily veiled in sarcasm):
"Sum this set up with one word:
Not a question, actually, but okay. Underwhelming. Think about it - the biggest draws about this set are the rare ‘figs, not the actually set. Therefore, the design can afford to be a bit sloppier in exchange. This generally seems to happen with the minifigs > everything sets, unless both categories are hopeless (lookin’ at you, “Ultimate Lightsaber Duel”. Get outta here with your BS)."
So, obviously, for a Lego Star Wars set, as Lego Star Wars sets have always been, the minifigures drive the price of the set way up, and the rest of the set, generally, especially in terms of battle packs or cheaper sets, has really sloppy design. The price-per-piece for Takodana is roughly $.14. Yea, right. More than twice the amount of the Chevrolet set. Which, say, if the PPP (price-per-piece) was at $.06 for a Creator set (see Brick Bank, where the PPP was about $.07, a pretty decent amount), I wouldn’t be concerned. But for the PPP to be so low for a licensed set, and then compared to another licensed set, where the PPP is twice as much...well, it’s just an interesting thought at how Lego values it’s own licenses. I’m going off of pure speculation at this point, but it seems like these Speed Champions sets are barely hanging onto a license, and, as such, Lego can afford to price these way down. Of course, it could just be two different mediums: Star Wars is all about likenesses of minifigures, and apparently Speed Champions are all about getting the cars as accurate as possible. Point is - I just noticed a strange relationship between these two licensed sets, and just thought it was interesting. It could mean nothing, in which case, we’ll move right along.
I hope that wasn’t too confusing for you. If you skipped that last part, then welcome back! Now, I’m just going to wrap this up with my Q&A, and you can get out of here!
How are you?
“Sweet, glad we’re starting with this nice personal question. I’m doing pretty well, actually, except my left eye. See, I was using body wash in the shower last night, and somehow it got into my eye, and I still had my contacts in, so it hurt a lot. It’s still a bit bloodshot at the moment, but I’m pushing through it. I’ve been through worse.”
You keep mentioning that this review took a long time to write and create. Does that make you feel like this piece of crap review is justified?
“Let’s move on. I don’t need this right now.”
Talk about the set in summary.
“Well, it’s not altogether a bad little set. For how cheap it is, and for what it gets you, I can’t help but recommend it for those Lego car enthusiasts out there. Of course, if you’re looking at this set for good minifigures or good parts, you might want to move right on. It’s really down to taste at this point. Of course, the 1969 car is a load of crap, so you also can take that one into account.”
Are you going to be trope-y and rate the set a 37/100?
“I think you just answered your own question, mate. Of course I will!”
So, after a lot of thought, I have decided to award this set a 37/100, for no other reason than actually coming up with a legitimate score would be a waste of my Saturday afternoon.
Speaking of which, this review is finally over, so go out and enjoy yours. It’s a beautiful autumn day, after all.
Until next time!