Be it the iconic 60s’ scooter, a futuristic 21st-century electric truck or a lovable fire engine:
The diversity of building bricks for all types of vehicles is huge. Adult model builders and collectors are especially enthusiastic about sets that are designed to look like their life-sized counterparts. Even experienced toy designers are feeling this fascination. Florian Müller, Senior Designer at Lego, has this to say about the new Lego set for the Vespa 125: “The part of the design work which I enjoyed the most was the exact reproduction of the details of the original model to give credit to the classic Vespa scooter from the 60s. During the project phase, this model took me to another time and inspired my imagination and creativity.”
The Danish building bricks brand successfully launched a number of sets with a similar theme over the past years. The selection of vehicles included, amongst others, the Porsche 911 and the Volkswagen T2 as a campervan, but also London’s legendary double decker bus, the Routemaster. While car sets of the Technic line come with sophisticated functionalities, these models are not for action-packed playing. Instead, they are a perfect décor item that graces any desk or glass cabinet. The special attraction of them is the delicate balance between recognising the real-life model and its abstraction created via the contours of the building bricks.
Lego’s Porsche 911, London’s red double-decker bus, the Routemaster, and the Volkswagen T2 as a campervan, all by Lego. ©2022 The LEGO Group.
Mattel has been directing its outlook not so much to the past, but to the near future: Its Mega Construx building bricks series includes a complex set for an electric pick-up – Tesla’s Cybertruck. Assembling the model made from over 3,000 components will most likely put you far ahead of the buyers of the real Tesla. After all, word has it that the first leisure vehicles of this angular design produced in series will most likely not be seen on the roads before 2023. Mattel’s designers also showed their sense of humour: The set includes printed components that help to imitate the shattered windows as seen during the premier of the prototype in 2019.
Mega is fully aware of the reach which such cars based on exciting real-life models can have. “Creating collectors’ items with a design appeal is at the heart of Mega”, says Mattel’s Senior Vice President, Bisma Ansari. She calls the cybertruck set “a unique model” while emphasising at the same time that the manufacturer aims to continue “collaborating with innovative brands from the field of design and pop culture” in order to develop sets specifically for collectors.
Next to traditional and innovative new products, sports vehicles are a key topic in model construction. This goes also for the world of building bricks, as a look at the Polish maker Cobi shows. Highlights from its product range include an Opel Rekord Coupe model under license from Opel as a Black Widow racing car version, and an MC20 Maserati (both at a scale of 1:12).
Even larger than the selection of licensed models is, of course, the variety of generally held clamp brick cars. Here, there are numerous models on classic themes such as firefighters at Qman and other younger brands. The selection is so large that there have even been major overview stories on firefighter models in industry media for firefighters.
Such replicas of emergency vehicles used by rescuers and helpers are also highly regarded in the scene of "MOC" builders. The abbreviation stands for "my own creation" and describes freely designed miniatures made of bricks, for which the builders draw from the large cosmos of largely compatible building blocks.
Toys as icons
Mattel discovered a very special, globally known vehicle brand for its cars from building bricks: The Mega Construx lines now feature a number of models based on Mattel’s famous Hot Wheels toy cars. This is how a product segment provides fresh impetus for a different segment.