The excellent Speed Champions theme is now entering its fourth year and has featured a great selection of vehicles, encompassing many racing forms along with ten different brands. The latest wave is extraordinary in that regard, introducing two new manufacturers and motor racing forms which have not appeared before.
75894 1967 Mini Cooper S Rally and 2018 MINI John Cooper Works Buggy is the largest set from the 2019 range, containing 481 pieces and costing £44.99 or $49.99. Furthermore, the Mini Cooper S Rally has received a great deal of attention as it looks absolutely marvellous when compared with the source material. My expectations are therefore extremely high!
Four minifigures are included, two of whom work on the MINI John Cooper Works Buggy. Both figures are female and they wear identical uniforms, consisting of black overalls that are decorated with some sponsors alongside the famed MINI emblem. I like the light bluish grey stitched detail on both sides of the torsos and the driver comes with a black racing helmet.
The mechanic, on the other hand, features a reddish brown hair piece and her head is double-sided. This design has only appeared once before in 60202 People Pack - Outdoor Adventures and it looks brilliant. I particularly appreciate the realistic dirty marks printed on the alternative face. A selection of tools are included along with a radio, presumably for the mechanic to contact the driver during the rally.
A driver is also provided for the 1967 Mini Cooper S Rally and he is suitably dressed for the period on the whole, sporting tan racing overalls. I love the Morris Cooper logo on the back of the torso and this smiling expression is ideal as the Mini was victorious at the Monte Carlo Rally in 1967! However, the white headgear is not entirely authentic as rally drivers wore open face helmets during the 1960s.
The fourth minifigure represents a race official who comes with a camera and the vital chequered flag. He is assembled using existing pieces but looks great, featuring a pair of sand blue trousers, a jacket and a dark red shirt underneath. The blue jacket features some lovely detail and I like the character's printed facial hair too.
The Completed Model
Exceptional praise has been lavished upon the 1967 Mini Cooper S Rally based upon official images and this model does not disappoint. It measures 9cm in length so appears relatively small beside other minifigure-scale vehicles and its unique shape has been replicated with amazing accuracy. The car is intricately constructed but feels sturdy for play and I love the red and white colour scheme, matching the original vehicle exactly.
Powerful headlights are a necessity for rally driving and the Mini features six, two of which are situated beside the bonnet while four others form a light bar. This configuration looks wonderful and the smooth transition between the bonnet, the lights and the remainder of the bodywork is brilliant. In addition, two black meat cleavers are fitted underneath the light bar, representing the distinctive front mudguards!
These elements line up nicely with a new wheel arch which has been designed for the Mini Cooper. It looks marvellous here, although the same piece would be suitable for many other vehicles so I hope this will become available in more colours. Unfortunately, the proportions between the bodywork and the windows are not perfect, although improving upon this design may be quite difficult without creating a new windscreen.
The interior is fairly cramped but there is enough room to seat a minifigure behind the steering wheel, as demonstrated below. The driver must raise their hands and rests against a trans-clear panel which provides additional support to the roof structure. Nevertheless, the designer has still found space for a dark orange 1x3 panel that represents the back seats, although these are not actually functional.
A couple of spare tyres are strapped to the roof, corresponding with the original competition in 1967. The roof rack makes clever use of a bullbar element which has only appeared in white once before and the tyres are secured using two white rubber bands. Building techniques like this one often appear in fan creations but are very rarely found in official sets. I wonder how rubber bands might be used in future.
Six stickers are applied at the back of the Mini Cooper, forming the rear bumper, the tail lights and the Mini branding. This design is entirely faithful to the winning car from the 1967 Monte Carlo Rally, even including an accurate number plate! The vehicle does feature several stickers but they are only found where required and the red pillars are printed on the front and rear windscreen, nicely completing an outstanding model.
The inaugural Dakar Rally was held in 1979 so this famous event is celebrating its fortieth anniversary in 2019. The imposing MINI John Cooper Works Buggy participated in the 2018 competition and looks great, featuring a striking dark green and black livery that contrasts with the 1967 Mini Cooper S Rally. As one might imagine, this model is considerably larger than most Speed Champions cars but it feels correctly scaled with the minifigures and offers excellent ground clearance.
Dark bluish grey panels prevent sand and other debris from entering the suspension system at either end of the buggy and conceal several Technic pieces underneath the bodywork. The structure above the tyres, on the other hand, looks magnificent. I love the flared wheel arches and the whole forward section is connected upside down, thereby allowing some 1x2 curved slopes with diagonal edges to tesselate neatly around the bonnet.
White stripes are formed using stickers along either flank and several more stickers feature numerous sponsors as well as the racing number. The red roof really stands out against the rest of the car and is formed using a pair of 3x4 bows. This colour scheme of red, dark green and black matches the vehicle driven by Yazeed Al-Rajhi and Timo Gottschalk during the 2018 race which was a wise decision as the corresponding red and white car might conflict with the Mini Cooper S Rally.
The vehicle includes a simple suspension mechanism, incorporating red rubber bands which provide some resistance but allow the wheels to move as they roll over rough terrain. These bright red bands are properly concealed and the function works very well, although independent suspension for every wheel would have been even better. Presumably that was not possible at such a small scale.
Removing the roof reveals a seat for the driver and a steering wheel inside. The cockpit is quite small, despite resting on a large chassis, so there is only space for a single minifigure which is disappointing. However, expanding the cockpit area to include another seat would compromise the exterior so I think the current design is a reasonable compromise.
The rear appears fairly plain by comparison, featuring a couple more stickers which form the radiators and some additional MINI branding. I like the large mudguards and the trans-red lights look good but I think the exposed studs beside these lights are slightly awkward, as though pieces have been missed. In fact, this design is faithful to the real vehicle but these studs still appear out of place to me.
Nevertheless, the MINI John Cooper Works Buggy has certainly surpassed my expectations, perhaps because the angle from which it has been photographed for the packaging is not particularly flattering. A simple jack stand is included so minifigures can reach the underside of the car and the set contains a creeper board for the mechanic as well, both of which look fairly realistic.
Auxiliary models often appear in larger Speed Champions sets and they are usually excellent for play, although some draw attention away from the cars which should remain the primary focus. Fortunately, this pit stop station occupies relatively few pieces and actually provides a superb backdrop for display. The light bluish grey pylons are perfect and rollercoaster track elements have been used between the supports.
The station is constructed on some tan plates so is presumably intended for the desert environment of the Dakar Rally, although its left side feels more focused upon the 1967 Mini Cooper S Rally. This area includes a pearl gold trophy, a selection of tools and a television that shows the Mini Cooper during the event, passing around a hairpin corner.
A similar monitor shows live footage of the MINI John Cooper Works Buggy on the opposite side. This features two tool carts which make clever use of light bluish grey rocker elements to form wheels. The red Jerrycan in the centre looks marvellous too and has been designed at approximately the right size for minifigures. It therefore includes a handle and a black spout.
75894 1967 Mini Cooper S Rally and 2018 MINI John Cooper Works Buggy is definitely my favourite Speed Champions set that LEGO has produced so far! I had high expectations for the Mini Cooper S Rally and this model is even more impressive when assembled than it appears in official images. The car features numerous realistic details and looks magnificent when compared with the original vehicle, especially at the front and rear.
Furthermore, I am equally delighted with the MINI John Cooper Works Buggy. This vehicle does not share the iconic status of the Mini Cooper from 1967 but it looks marvellous and represents a classic motorsport event which has not appeared in previous Speed Champions sets. The price of £44.99 or $49.99 seems reasonable as well so I would have no hesitation in recommending this set.
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This set was provided for review by The LEGO Group but the review is an expression of my own opinions.