The third installment of the Cars franchise will be released in a few days' time in several countries and LEGO has accordingly produced a selection of eight sets based on the movie. 10730 Lightning McQueen Speed Launcher is among the smallest of these, containing just 47 pieces and costing £7.99 in the UK or $9.99 in the US.
LEGO has previously produced sets based on both Cars and Cars 2 but the new range forms part of the Juniors theme so the designs are a little simpler than those we have seen before. Nevertheless, the cars themselves seem well suited to this style of building and Lightning McQueen looks great so drew me to this set over the other smaller ones.
The Completed Model
Lightning McQueen consists of sixteen pieces, some of which are fairly specialised. At the core of the model is a red chassis and the surrounding bodywork is printed with accurate designs including the Rust-eze branding, a pair of faux headlights and a confident grin at the front. A separate piece represents the windows and roof which is also printed with extensive detail. The shiny silver of the side and rear windows is particularly attractive, as are the bright blue eyes on the windscreen.
2x4 tiles are fixed to either side of the model. These include flaming designs as well as twin exhausts and the number 95 in reference to the year in which Toy Story was released. The wheel rims are red to match the movie but viewing the model from this angle reveals the most significant inaccuracy as a section of the vehicle is missing behind the rear wheels. Some past models have exhibited a similar issue and I am disappointed that it has not been resolved, although the limitations of Juniors construction excuse this to some degree.
The spoiler is a separate component and could form part of other small cars but at the moment it only appears on the different versions of Lightning McQueen. Unfortunately the rear is left relatively plain and the exposed wheels look a bit odd so I would be reluctant to display the model from this angle. On the other hand, the lack of shaping ensures that the launcher strikes a flat surface, thereby sending the car in a fairly straight line.
Most of the 47 pieces are dedicated to the launcher assembly. This is also constructed around a single large piece but there is plenty of detail, due in no small part to the printed race leaderboard and chequered start-finish line. Lightning is evidently in first place while Jackson Storm trails in second and Reb Meeker rounds out the top three. We know that Jackson will soon appear in 10745 Florida 500 Race Final but Meeker will not as far as I know.
Lightning McQueen slots into position along two yellow lines and the back rests against a 2x4 tile on the launcher. Lights are situated at the top of the leaderboard and a row of textured bricks forms the track wall, topped with yellow railings. A white railing is hidden behind the launcher, ensuring that it only rotates in one direction to propel the car.
The launching function is very simple and works reasonably well. Hitting the 2x2 round tile will send the car flying down the track, although it occasionally gets caught on the 1x8 tiles so is slowed down a little. Furthermore, you must hold the structure in place when pressing on the launcher as it is not heavy enough to stay fixed in place. The more sophisticated mechanism found in 9485 Ultimate Race Set is more effective but this example suffices.
The Cars franchise is typically aimed towards younger children and it therefore seems logical that the Cars 3 sets fall within the Juniors theme. The models are undoubtedly simplified but not to a dramatic extent and the level of detail remains considerable, thanks primarily to the abundant printed elements. I rather like the launching function which is bound to prove fun for younger children while the build is very simple so should be appropriate for fans of almost any age.
Lightning McQueen himself is definitely the highlight of the set for me. The printed designs look superb and it is pleasing to see exclusive versions of the character in each of the seven sets released so far. Furthermore, this inexpensive incarnation is the most recognisable as it features the traditional Rust-eze branding, unlike those found in other Cars 3 sets. On the other hand, Lightning appears in several other sets so you might wish to skip this one if you are intending to purchase a larger model.
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