When I reviewed LEGO's Speed Racer set 8158 (Speed Racer vs. Snake Oiler) I couldn't help but notice that the Mach 5 model was lacking a level of polish and style that I had come to expect from LEGO's designers. I theorized that it was due to cost-cutting measures - that to make the $20US price point they had to drop a bunch of bricks from the model.

The Mach 5 from the kit is okay - but it really does leave room for improvement. And since I have no life to speak of, I decided that I was just the guy to try and touch things up.

So...you can read the review above to get an idea of where we're starting from, or just take a look at the two
"before" photos posted here. The first is shows the Mach 5 from the side - a view that disguises most of the design flaws...er...shortcomings. The most obvious problem in this shot is the Speed mini-figure can't reach the steering wheel.

The top-down view, however, shows some major gaps in the Mach 5's body. I've always tried to avoid gaps in my models - it just looks sloppy to me. These gaps are needed in the stock design to allow the front wheels to spin. You can also see the complete lack of detailing in the cockpit area. Doesn't it look stripped down?

(The top-down "Before" photo modified from a photo taken by GeneralTarful (via Brickshelf). I didn't have a good photo handy of this angle.)

So ...after a couple of hours of tinkering, I had a revised model that came a lot closer to matching my vision of the Mach 5. There's still a few changes left to make...and I really should take it back apart and document the changes I made so others can duplicate my work if they want to. But for now, let's just look at the finished revision:

From the top angle you can quickly see that I've removed the gaps - I did that by building up the whole model by one plate (1/3 of a brick's thickness) That let me put in additional tiles to remove the bumpy/stud look. I replaced the steering controls, added the side mirror, and replaced the airfoil on the back hood.

The cabin area got a complete makeover - the seats were moved in a half-stud away from the sides and red tiles completed the "carpeting".

As to Speed Racer himself, I added tan racing gloves and a much-needed visor to his helmet.

From the side you can see the slightly taller sides. The tail lights are new as well.

One of the changes I haven't made yet is the replacement of the wheels. Although the hubcaps are a nifty new part introduced in these sets, the concept of a race car with hubcaps is a bit absurd. There's a very nice light gray version of the wheel w/exposed lugnuts that I need to acquire from set 7992 and then the wheels will closely match the cartoon version.

This angle shows the revised controls - a bigger steering wheel, speedometer, and gear shift.

Finally, I added a couple of exhaust pipes to the back.

Yes, Speed Racer is now ready to face the perils that await him! Or he would, if any of the special features of the Mach 5 like the saw blades or jacks were included.



I guess I still have some building to do.



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