LEGO has created products for more than forty licensed themes since 1999, ranging from Star Wars and The Simpsons to Ferrari and Winnie the Pooh! Nevertheless, the announcement of 10262 James Bond Aston Martin DB5 surprised many LEGO fans as certain aspects of the James Bond franchise seem poorly suited to the brand.
However, I am an enormous fan of James Bond so have been looking forward to building this set and to finding out whether its designer has been able to recreate the Aston Martin DB5's distinctive shape. Furthermore, the set includes an impressive range of functions, just like its onscreen counterpart, so I am hopeful that they have been integrated effectively.
Box and Contents
The box is slightly larger than that of previous Creator Expert vehicles, reflecting its higher piece count and price. I like the dark background for the model which features the traditional gun barrel imagery as well as the 007 and Aston Martin branding along the edge of the box. The reverse shows the vehicle's numerous functions, including a passenger ejector seat, concealed machine guns and a bullet proof screen that protects the rear windscreen.
Opening the box reveals twelve bags, numbered between one and four, along with a lovely instruction manual. This is designed to resemble the confidential documents which are frequently handled at MI6 and its cover looks like traditional manila paper, despite being made from the standard paper stock. I like the 'For Your Eyes Only' band printed across the manual and the secondary French language seems suitable for an international secret agent.
The first few pages of the instruction manual contain information about both the real Aston Martin DB5 and its modified counterpart from the James Bond films. The page spread below, for example, features a timeline of the movies in which the DB5 appeared, beginning with a prominent role in Goldfinger and continuing until 2015's SPECTRE.
A few more pages are dispersed throughout the manual which show cutaway images of the model, revealing the internal mechanisms for each hidden gadget. These technical diagrams remind me of those found in flagship Technic sets but they feel equally appropriate here, introducing each new section of the construction process.
Seventeen stickers are included, nearly half of which are used on the revolving number plates at the front and rear of the vehicle. Printed elements are usually preferable to stickers but these are easy to apply and serve an important purpose in the design of the model, adding details to certain areas where it would not otherwise be possible to do so.
The building process commences with the chassis, as one might imagine. This consists almost entirely of Technic bricks so feels reasonably sturdy and evidence of several functions quickly becomes apparent as a red connecting rod is linked to the gear lever and one of the exhausts rotates, controlling a light bluish grey liftarm inside the chassis. The true purpose of these moving parts only becomes apparent during the latter stages of construction.
A more substantial Technic mechanism is the focus of the next stage and will eventually form part of the ejector seat launch system. The designer has chosen to use a selection of colourful pieces here which is useful during construction but becomes slightly irritating upon completion of the model as some of those elements remain visible through the rear windscreen.
Fortunately, an impressive exterior conceals the vast majority of these Technic parts. I was somewhat surprised to discover that the 1x3 arch bricks which form the wheel arches are new in light bluish grey and these may prove popular among castle builders. Moreover, the 1x2 half bows laid along the top of the bodywork are extremely rare, having only previously appeared in 10261 Roller Coaster.
Constructing the interior of the vehicle feels more familiar as it is not dissimilar to past Creator Expert vehicles. The doors, on the other hand, are a little more complicated than most as they make further use of 1x2 half bows and brackets, to which the rearmost edges of the doors are attached. In addition, the section in front of the central console is fitted at an angle of about 45 degrees, using clips at the top and bottom. This is not a technique that I have encountered before.
Assembly of the Technic mechanism that connects the gear lever to the forward machine guns then resumes. Several metallic silver pieces form the bumper, most of which are new in this colour. Some people may be disappointed that more of the external bodywork is not constructed in silver, reflecting the appearance of the real car, but to do so would have required an unrealistic number of parts to be produced in a new colour.
The engine is simpler than those found inside previous models in this series but it looks good in relation to the source material, making clever use of hinges to depict the angled cylinder banks. The Aston Martin DB5's distinctive radiator grille slots neatly between two 1x3 arch bricks so is not held in place using any studs, although it still feels very sturdy. The headlights, meanwhile, are fitted with white droid arms and seem similarly fragile during the build but they become quite secure once it is complete.
A single 2x10x3 trans-black windscreen forms the rear window. This is placed sideways using four clips, two of which are hidden within the structure. The windows on either side are even more elaborate as these assemblies are angled to match the rear windscreen. A series of 1x1 slopes line up perfectly with two trans-black 1x4 panels and a couple of stickers are applied, thereby completing the curved window shape.
The boot is also deceptively complex, consisting of two sections which are joined by click hinges. The seam between these sections is almost invisible and matches the shape of the real car fairly closely. Moreover, the designer has left just enough space for the bulletproof screen to rise between the boot and the rear windscreen, using 1x4 half bows which line up perfectly with a row of 1x1 and 1x2 slopes.
Designing the roof of a Creator Expert car must be quite difficult as this area of the model is relatively unsupported. I expect this challenge was particularly significant here as a large section of the roof folds back for launching the passenger ejector seat. Nevertheless, the designer has found a creative solution as the angled front windscreen provides plenty of support at the corners of the roof, securing them with 1x1 clips.
The opening roof panel then rests upon the frame and is anchored to the ejector seat mechanism that was assembled during an earlier phase of construction. This defines the entire building experience as Technic assemblies are often left unfinished over several pages of the instruction manual, only for their purpose to become clear during the latter stages. Such close integration of Technic and System pieces differentiates the Aston Martin DB5 from its Creator Expert predecessors, resulting in a thoroughly enjoyable experience!
The Completed Model
Several large scale vehicles have been released within the Creator Expert theme in recent years, all of which include an array of innovative building techniques and look marvellous on display. 10262 James Bond Aston Martin DB5 continues this trend but is equally focused on the incorporation of many hidden functions, just like the modified vehicle that was introduced in 1964's Goldfinger.
This model measures 34cm in length so is considerably longer than a comparable sports car such as 10248 Ferrari F40. In reality, the cars are of a very similar length and I imagine the Aston Martin's scale has been increased to accommodate its numerous functions. This is slightly disappointing as it might have been nice to display the cars together, loosely recreating a scene from GoldenEye in which James Bond drives his Aston Martin DB5 alongside Xenia Onatopp's Ferrari F355.
Aston Martin cars have developed several signature design features during the last century, perhaps the most famous of which is the unique shape of the radiator grille. This is particularly apparent on the DB5 so is a vital aspect of this model and the designer has done reasonably well in my opinion, making ingenious use of the 1x3 arch bricks that were introduced with the Prince of Persia theme in 2010. The printed 1x2 tiles that form the grille look marvellous and I like the round headlights on either side of the vehicle.
Q Branch has equipped James Bond's Aston Martin DB5 with many gadgets to aid the agent in his activities. The revolving number plates at the front and rear of the vehicle fulfil a relatively simple role, allowing Bond to travel in the UK, France and Switzerland, but fitting a rotating number plate into such a small space must have been difficult. The designer has therefore made clever use of two light bluish grey chairs which provide space for a 1x1x3 brick, with stickers on all four sides, to revolve. The three longer registration numbers are shown in Goldfinger while 'JB-007' appears in promotional images.
The pearl silver alloy wheels are the only brand new element in this set and they look magnificent in relation to the source material, as indeed do the shuriken at the centre of each wheel. I also think the tyres have been well chosen and the metallic silver details around the side vents are excellent as well. However, the DB5's curved windscreen is a vital feature so I think that should have been represented more accurately, even if that meant creating another new component.
Bond damages Tilly Masterson's Ford Mustang using tyre scythes which extend from the centre of each wheel during Goldfinger. Unfortunately, the scythes on this model do not deploy from the axles automatically and you must instead remove the shuriken from the wheels, fitting the black telescopes which are kept inside the boot in their place. The shuriken are then replaced at the end of each telescope, as demonstrated below, producing an attractive result.
Each door opens smoothly on two hinged plates and their motion is restricted by a Technic liftarm inside, much like on a real car. Naturally, the steering wheel is located on the right hand side of the vehicle for UK driving and the height of the steering wheel is adjustable. A series of five printed dials surround the steering column, completing this area of the dashboard.
The door on the driver's side conceals another feature as a compartment opens to reveal a bright red radio telephone! This gadget is not shown on the Aston Martin DB5 in any of the James Bond movies, although it is present on the British agent's 1935 Bentley 3 1/2 Litre which appears at the beginning of From Russia with Love and was included on the Aston Martin vehicles in Goldfinger, despite not being shown on screen.
However, another of the Aston Martin's internal features is exhibited during Goldfinger as Bond tracks Auric Goldfinger's Rolls-Royce Phantom III using a radar scanner. This is hidden behind a dark bluish grey air conditioning vent and can be revealed by turning a black gear on the passenger side of the central console.
A prominent gear lever is also situated beside the driver and this features a red 1x1 round tile on top, representing the button which engages and fires the passenger ejector seat in the film. However, the gear lever on the LEGO model instead activates the twin machine guns which are concealed behind the vehicle's headlights.
During construction, I was somewhat concerned that the apparent complexity of the mechanism which links the gear lever to the machine guns would cause operational issues. In fact, it works perfectly as the headlights rotate downwards and the machine guns attached to the rear of the headlight assembly appear in their place. This has immediately become one of my favourite play features in any LEGO set.
The passenger ejector seat is probably the most famous of the DB5's many functions and I am pleased to report that it has been implemented perfectly on this model. Pulling the central section of the rear bumper will cause the roof panel above the passenger seat to retract, as demonstrated in the image below. The image on the back of the box led me to believe that this panel would need to be opened manually so I was pleasantly surprised upon completing the model.
Releasing the rear bumper will then activate the ejector seat, launching it several centimetres beyond the roof of the car. This height may seem underwhelming but corresponds precisely with the film as one of Goldfinger's henchmen is ejected from the car. The seat slides onto a red Technic axle which holds it in place until the liftarms beneath the seat spring upwards, propelling it through the open roof hatch.
The rear windscreen looks superb from low angles but reveals some unsightly Technic elements when viewed from a greater height. This is slightly disappointing as most mechanical details are hidden very well throughout the rest of the model and a couple of extra pieces may have concealed some of these. Even so, I am glad that the designer chose to use a translucent rear windscreen rather than an opaque one.
Bond's vehicles often come under attack so the front, side and rear windows are all resistant to bullets. However, James Bond can also deploy a metal screen which will provide additional protection to the rear of the vehicle during prolonged assaults. This is activated by rotating the innermost exhaust, just below the bumper. Twisting the exhaust is slightly tricky as it does not protrude very far but the screen works brilliantly, raising and lowering with a remarkably smooth motion.
The rear profile of the Aston Martin DB5 appears fairly simple upon first glance, consisting of a curved panel beneath the rear windscreen and a relatively flat tail section. I appreciate the designer's effort to replicate this shape, using 2x2 diagonal corner tiles, but am not entirely satisfied with the result as the gentle curve of the real vehicle looks rather abrupt here. On the other hand, I am not sure how it could have been improved without the creation of a specialised element and I love how the revolving number plate has been integrated.
Fortunately, the bulbous shape of the boot lid means that its interior is remarkably spacious. There is more than enough space to store the black telescope pieces which are used for the tyre scythes and you could place plenty of additional spy equipment in here if you wish, although no more is actually included in the set.
The Aston Martin DB5 is one of the most famous production cars ever created, due in no small part to its prominent role in the James Bond franchise, so feels like a worthy successor to such icons as the Ferrari F40 and the Volkswagen Beetle. However, this set represents a dramatic departure from previous Creator Expert vehicles, including a far wider range of functions and therefore relying more heavily upon Technic parts. I appreciate these changes but can imagine that some fans might be disappointed by the greater focus upon functions over form, despite the effective integration of the gadgets.
Unfortunately, I think this model reveals some limitations of the LEGO building system. It appears rather square from certain angles and the flowing bodywork of the real car is not captured accurately, particularly towards the rear. Replicating such complex shapes using LEGO bricks is extremely difficult at this scale, leading me to wonder whether a more angular Bond car such as the Lotus Esprit might have been a better subject.
Nevertheless, the functions in this set are fantastic and the model looks pretty good on the whole, taking its challenging curved form into consideration. The price of £129.99 or $149.99 is a little higher than would be ideal but is not entirely unreasonable in my opinion. I would therefore recommend 10262 James Bond Aston Martin DB5 to fans of the famed secret agent, although I can imagine that it might not appeal to some Creator Expert collectors.
I hope you have found this review informative. Let us know by liking this article and share your thoughts on the set in the comments below.
This set was provided for review by The LEGO Group but the review is an expression of my own opinions.
It's available now from shop.LEGO.com priced at £129.99, $149.99 or 149.99€: