Category Archives: Cars

Dodge and LEGO, a match made in boxy car heaven

I was lucky enough to get my hands on the new LEGO set 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon and 1970 Dodge Charger R/T 75893 for purposes of review. I have been going through a lot of Speed Champions lately. Building the nicely scaled cars for photography with MiniMates. It just happens to be the time when all of the new sets are dropping and they are coming on the tail of one another.

The Dodge lineup of cars has always been a boxy style of vehicle (besides a few notable examples). This is a new drag setup that pits old against new. We have the 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon verses the 1970 Dodge Charger R/T. Two cars from the Dodge family that could not look more different, but somehow still look related.

The Demon totally fits the modern take on the Speed Champion line. New super fast cars that are easily recognizable. This yellow beast is no different. It sports black highlights and graphics. The side decals could easily be left off as the 1:1 car does not utilize the decals. There are a number of decals that make up the front end, and those do have to be used to make the recognizable grille and light package. One thing I was concerned with was that on the real car, there is a special set of wheels that you get in the Demon Crate to make a drag car. I was hoping that since this was a drag set, that we would not be stuck with some skinny tires for the front. What LEGO did was really cool. They left the front tires the way they are, but they added side walls to the back tires to make them fatter and look like drag wheels, without changing a whole lot about the wheel. Pretty neat.
The build of the Demon is really fun. There are a lot of tricks in play, and you have to flip parts all over the place to get it together. Nothing is too tricky, and the directions on this one are super straight forward.

The 1970 Dodge Charger R/T is a classic car like no other. The Charger has been a mainstay in Hollywood for decades. This one comes all black. When you look at it alone, it looks gigantic. The front end looks like it goes on forever. It is a trick of the build, as it is only about a stud to a stud and a half longer than the Demon.

As with many of the Speed Champion sets, there is a way to change the design of the Charger. Push lightly on the middle of the hood, and the piece comes out. Change it over for a blown engine, and you might have a chance against the Demon. Probably not, but at least it will be a fun race to watch. There are also enough parts to change out the stock looking hubcaps for fat drag tires and more modern black wheels in the front that match the Demon. Stock or drag, whatever your flavor, you can make it with this set.

This set comes with the two cars, a female driver for the Demon, decked out in a Demon race suit. There is a male driver for the Charger. He looks more like a weekend warrior with a Dodge t-shirt on under his jacket and blue jeans. This set comes with a third figure, a woman in sunglasses and a grey hoodie. She looks like she would be in charge of a street race. There is also an official looking “Christmas Tree” to get the race started. It would have been cool enough just to have the starting lights, but LEGO went ahead and made it work, where you push down on a slider on the back to raise the lights in the sequence to start.

This is a fantastic set. It is a nice change from all of the curvy European cars we have been seeing as of late. This set stands apart from the rest with the bold boxy shape and more standard street car. This is great for collectors of classic cars, LEGOs, and people looking to fill the streets of their LEGO City with some good looking Speed Champions.

LEGO Speed Champions McLaren Senna

McLaren Senna Side

Well, how about that, two LEGO sets in two days. I was at Target this morning wandering the aisles, and I saw the new McLaren Senna. I had so much fun building the Ferrari F40 the other day, I jumped at the chance for a second build of the week.

I had built the McLaren 720S a while back, but I was not terribly impressed. I felt that there was a lot left to be desired with that build. but I could tell there were some pretty neat parts being utilized with this set. What a difference two years makes.

Senna with 720S

I think one of the best parts of the build was the color choice. LEGO could have gone a lot of ways with the build, but they decided on grey with a touch of orange. Now grey is a bit of a risky move, since it can be a bit on the boring side. But the orange was a nod to the earlier release of the 720S and the car the Senna was based off of.

Senna with wind tunnel fan

The build went really easily. It was a lot of fun, especially at the back end. It took a huge number of parts to make the whole rear of the car. So much detail. There were not too many stickers. 20 for the whole car. One of the best is down at the bottom of the door. In the 1:1 car, there is a window down there. LEGO took a short windshield, flipped it over, added stickers and it is held in place with a piece locked on top of it. Someone sure did have fun working outside the box on that one.

Many of the Speed Champions vehicles either come with a way to change race cars into street cars, or they come with some sort of accessory. This one came with a wind tunnel fan. Not the most inventive, but I don’t think my Ferrari team will let McLaren use their big one, so this one will have to do.

A lot of fun to build and a great looking model when finished. A lot better than the 720S with more of a dynamic feel all around. Get this one for sure.

LEGO Speed Champions Ferrari F40 Competizione 75980

Competizione version.

I absolutely love the Speed Champions line. Engineering in toys is one of my all time favorite aspects of collecting, and seeing how the LEGO designers take their little blocks and turn them into recognizable real cars is always amazing to me.

This particular Speed Champion is the Ferrari F40 Competizione. The Competizione was a special version that only saw 10 having been built based on requests from normal rich people that did not necessarily want to race the cars. The first two were called LM (LeMans), while the rest came with the Competizione name.

F40 Competizione Side

The build of the F40 is pretty straight forward. Since the Competizione was a street car, kind of, they did not come all decked out with sponsors. So this is one of the few Ferraris in my collection that had relatively few stickers. Only about 14 or so. They aren’t too tricky to place either. The stickers are mostly air intakes and badges for the front and back. They could certainly be left off, but you would be missing all of the vents that the F40 is known for.

F40 Competizione Rear

As with most of the Speed Champions single packs there are some variations that can be made. Most have something like a change in the hood or a switch from track to road. Well, this one is no different.

F40 Competizione with parts for standard F40

There are enough parts to change out the Competizione for a standard F40. Smoked headlights, a red spoiler, new exhaust package, and new rims. Not to mention a whole new hood section. Take off the windshield, flip the car, and the Competizione hood falls off and the new hood falls into place. Easy change. The only difference is that the standard F40 had smaller air intakes on the hood. A very minor difference, but LEGO was willing to throw in all of the parts to replace the entire hood section. Very cool.

Standard F40

So, track or street, you take your pick. Two versions in one. This is another great set from the Speed Champions line for LEGO. I have a lot of LEGOs, but I am not a crazy collector. I am very specific about my purchases. In the case of the Speed Champions, I have not come across I have not liked, and most I have loved. This one is no different. Great for all ages to build, and it looks great on display too. The Ferrari collection grows.

Hot Wheels motorcycles for MiniMates

I wanted to see if there were Hot Wheels vehicles that would fit in with the scale of MiniMates. Of course, the only vehicles that had a chance of working were the motorcycles vehicles. Since Hot Wheels are made based on size in the packaging rather than actual 1:64 scale, the smaller the vehicle, the bigger the scale when being made into Hot Wheels.

First off, Nova is riding the Honda Monkey Z50. A strange bike to be sure. It is a goofy bike, so it looks okay being on the small size. The really nice thing about this bike is that it has flat tires, so it can stand on it’s own. This bike can easily be a background piece to a diorama, and it would fit in just fine.

Captain Marvel is riding the 4 Wheeler. This one I was pretty sure was going to be too small, but it was part of a Parks Department set I had, so I figured I would give it a try. It is too small. She can ride it okay, but quad bikes are generally a whole lot bigger than this. Definitely a kid’s size for the MiniMate scale.

The UNSC Gungoose from HALO was really the bike that got me thinking about Hot Wheels vehicles working in this scale. The seat seemed narrow enough to fit the sitting pose of the MiniMates, and it seemed to be quite big. It is a whole lot bigger than the 4 Wheeler, and it’s bulk is helped by the rubber wheels. Silver Sable is sitting on the back for cover. It actually works quite well. It is another vehicle that looks good sitting as a prop piece.

Luke Cage is riding the HW450F. This dirt bike is about as perfect a scale match as you will find with the MiniMates. The only problem is that it cannot stand on it’s own. You will need to find a way to assist the stance. A wire behind would probably do the trick.

This was a fun experiment. The dirt bike (HW450F) works the best for scale, and at only $1.00 a piece, you can outfit a whole squad for not much money. A bit of paint, and you are good to go.

The UNSC Gungoose is a good choice too. They are a bit on the pricey side, since they are a part of the Entertainment series with metal parts are real rubber wheels. I would not expect to see a whole bunch of versions of this vehicle to come out. But the machine guns on the front, and seating for two make for a story all their own.

The hunt will continue for the best accessories to find to make dioramas even more dynamic.

Custom Hot Wheels Datsun 240Z Rally Car

Original on the left, and custom on the right.

This was SO fun to build. I have had the Datsun cleaned of paint and drilled apart for a few years. I knew I wanted to do something with a Datsun 240Z, but I didn’t know what I wanted to do. Then a few weeks ago, I started to get an image of a rally car I wanted to make. I pulled out this car, ready to be modified, and got to work.

For the wheels, I knew that the low-profile Hot Wheels wheels would not do the trick of making a rally car. So I was on the lookout for some off-road wheels. They could not be too extreme. Rally cars are made to drive fast in the dirt, so big ol’ truck tires would not cut it. I had a set of Brush Fire truck tires from a Matchbox truck that looked just about right. The problem was, they were about a millimeter too big around. And when you are working in 1:64 scale, 1 tiny millimeter can be WAY off. The tires were impossible to stuff under the front wheel openings, and definitely wouldn’t look right if the car was jacked up to a height that would accommodate the bigger tires.

I finally found my tires in the form of a Matchbox off-road vehicle called the Four by Force. It has the treaded off-road tires that we find on a lot of Matchbox cars, but they were slightly smaller around. They were perfect. They fit great in the backs, and in the front, I had to do only a little modification at the front edges of the wheel arches.


I used brass tube to hold the axles. I cut a groove in the chassis to get the tube up higher. It allowed a bit too much ground clearance with the tube glued right to the chassis. In the end, the axles were dropped about two millimeters, and I added a bigger tire, and that gave the higher ground clearance.

Then it was time for lights and bars. The classic Rally cars of old had racks on the roof, where they mounted lights, a spare tire, and tool boxes. I knew with this classic car, that was the way I wanted to go. I used styrene tube for the front brush guard as well as the edges of the roof rack. I used a smaller diameter styrene bar to make the lights. The interior of the roof rack is thin sheet styrene cut to fit. Straight rows across the roof, and a bit of more styling design on the back to attach the spare tire as well as make it look a bit stronger.

I also went ahead and made a snorkel, since I think they are awesome looking, and it gives the Datsun and even more off-road look.

It was time for paint. I didn’t want anything fancy this time around. I wanted something a bit more utilitarian. So I went with the matte grey. It is Tamiya Airplane Grey out of a shaker can. I felt that a race car needed a touch of color, so I went with gloss red for the bar work. When I added mud flaps, I carried the red down to the underside of the car too. There is also a touch of red around the front headlights.

A race car team needs sponsors. The decals are leftovers from a 1:24 scale car build from many years ago. I hung onto the decals in hopes of being able to use them some day. For 1:24 scale, these decals are minor sponsors around the wheel arches. On the 1:64 scale, they are major sponsors.

With the car painted, decaled and cleared with matte clear, it was time for assembly. I glued the bars in place, as well as the snorkel. I added the spare tire, a white box, and a roll of fabric.

In all I am very happy with this car. It has really got my creative juices flowing for this small-scale building, and I am looking forward to more projects like this in the future.

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