We recently discussed the newly released #21307 LEGO Ideas Caterham Seven 620R, including some modifications and tweaks I have done to the vehicle (see: LEGO Ideas Caterham Seven Review, Thoughts, Fixes). The project was first submitted by LEGO and Caterham fan Carl Geatrix, and was selected to become an official LEGO set. 🙂
One of the most interesting aspects of submitting a project to LEGO Ideas is to see how LEGO’s own designers handle the model, using pieces and techniques that are more in line with LEGO’s own standards. Based on the LEGO Ideas sets released so far, it is clear that LEGO designers are quite respectful of the original submission, and will try to stay to it as close as possible. In the case of the LEGO Ideas Caterham, Carl himself changed his submission a number of times while still under the voting phase, so it was not really clear which version we were going to end up getting. Another unique feature of this project was that the manufacturer of the real car also got quite enthusiastic, and was closely involved with the final design. So ultimately the LEGO Ideas Caterham is a beautiful collaboration between a LEGO fan, a LEGO designer, and a manufacturer.
LEGO Ideas sets that are static tend to be the closest to the original submission (as long as the project was well designed). Examples include the #21302 LEGO Ideas The Bing Bang Theory and the #21304 LEGO Ideas Doctor Who set. Submissions that have more dynamic components and movable play-features are usually more heavily redesigned. This may be due to the mechanical features not being in line with LEGO’s own standards, or newer, better pieces becoming available to achieve the same result. In addition, due to the complexity of vehicles and machines, they tend to incorporate more advanced building techniques. LEGO is very open to creative use of their parts-inventory, however if the connections are weak, flimsy, or stress the parts, they need to be redesigned.
So, first, a LEGO Ideas project is designed and submitted by a LEGO fan, then it gets redesigned by a LEGO designer, and other parties (like IP holders) may also get involved at this stage. Then the set finally gets released, and it ends up back in the hands of the original submitter. Some LEGO fans are perfectly content with the final design of their submission, while others continue to tinker with it, usually to find a happy medium between their original idea and the official LEGO set, or to expand on it even further. Thomas Poulsom, the creator of the #21301 LEGO Ideas Birds set, keeps building LEGO birds, and even released a book with instructions for more LEGO birds, titled Birds from Bricks: Amazing LEGO Designs That Take Flight. Jason Allemann, who designed the #21305 LEGO Ideas Maze, released instructions for improving the official set, and also provides additional maze designs on his website.
Supporters of the original project may also continue tinkering with the official set. The #21303 LEGO Ideas WALL-E, originally submitted by Angus MacLane, had some problems with the neck area. While eventually LEGO themselves fixed the problem, in the meantime another LEGO fan, Chris McVeigh, came up with a workable solution. And the #21109 LEGO Ideas Exo Suit by Peter Reid has a large following from the LEGO Space community, and both Peter and the fans of his project keep building alternate models of the Exo Suit.
Going back the LEGO Ideas Caterham Seven, as soon as the set became available, Carl Geatrix started working on it to bring it closer to his original submission. Carl shares in his flickr gallery: “I absolutely love the standard set, especially considering the limitations that the LEGO Group has to work with. Making changes is in no way trying to address what the model should have been… it’s just not possible within LEGO’s constraints. I, however, am able to take it back, and put my mark on it, to get it closer to my original designs. I’ve tried to keep it more in line with the standard set, rather than just completely rebuilding it to one of my original concept designs with a yellow color change… if that makes any sense. But I had to do it first!”
Carl’s first goal was to incorporate working steering again, like in this original submission. (The final LEGO model has fixed front wheels with no steering to make the car more sturdy.) Carl also reduced the total height of the vehicle by one plate, which required to remove the LEGO Technic chassis at the front. The ride height of the front axle was adjusted as well. In addition, the rare arches were brought closer together, the side vents on the hood were changed, the nose-cone was strengthened, and the gap between the hood and the nose-cone was closed. Carl also reworked the headlight assemblies, changed the colors of the seats and added seatbelts, and repositioned and strengthened the dash, altered the handbrake to make it less chunky, and reduced the size of the mirrors to be more proportionate. The internal floor was also strengthened, the floor-studs removed, and gaps in the floor filled. The rare of the vehicle was also reworked slightly, along with the rollbar supports. And more decals were added throughout, because Carl likes decals.
At least to me, it is always fascinating how LEGO fans rework an official LEGO set. This is especially true for LEGO Ideas sets which were originally designed by LEGO fans. I have been tinkering with the LEGO Ideas Caterham Seven myself and made a number of changes to the design. Seeing Carl’s alterations give me even more ideas. While the official set is beautiful already, adding your own changes to it can really personalize the vehicle and enhance your LEGO building skills. If you are interested to get the set and even customize it yourself, you can find it under the LEGO Ideas section of the Online LEGO Shop.
So what do you think? How do you like the LEGO Ideas Caterham? Do you have it already? Or are you planning to get it? How do you like the changes Carl made to the set? What alterations would you like to do? Feel free to share your thoughts and discuss in the comment section below! 😉
And you might also like to check out the following related posts:
- LEGO Ideas Caterham Review, Thoughts, Fixes
- LEGO Ideas Maze Review & Thoughts
- LEGO Ideas Maze – More Alternate Mazes
- LEGO Ideas Birds Review & More!
- New Book with More LEGO Ideas Birds
- Review of LEGO Ideas The Big Bang Theory
- LEGO Ideas WALL-E Now Fixed & Available!
- LEGO Ideas Doctor Who Set Review
- LEGO Ideas Exo Suit Review, Thoughts & Tweaks
- LEGO Ideas Yellow Submarine & Apollo 11