REVIEW: The DeLorean Time Machine

Set number:
21103
Release year:
2013
Theme(s):
# of parts:
401
# of figures:
2
RRP
GBP 34.99 / USD 34.99

Promotional image
21103 The DeLorean Time Machine promotional image

I haven’t had time to do any set reviews as of late, mostly because I’ve been busy with other ventures (including Project Swapfig), and because I haven’t been down with any of the sets released before August. I have plenty of sets on deck for future reviews, however, and I will try to get as many of them done as possible.

The Back To The Future DeLorean Time Machine is the fourth LEGO CUUSOO release, following its surprise win over three other sets in last year’s “Summer” review, and though it was officially released at the beginning of this month, some of us managed to get early copies, thanks to an error made in the LEGO store’s July calendar.
This set right here has been all over the LEGO community – and beyond – for both good and bad reasons, and just about everybody has had an opinion on it, including myself. Everyone and their dog has gotten on the set reviewing bandwagon, and there have been a number of reviews of this set in the last fortnight – but right here on SilentMode.tv is the one you’ve actually been waiting for.

Quick disclaimer: I haven’t read anyone else’s review of this set, nor am I going to pretend to be a die-hard fan of the movie trilogy. It’s also important to know I’m an ex-CUUSOO member and project owner, and my thoughts about the site have been made known. Neither of these will influence this review.

 

The Box

So for those looking out for the set (hopefully not on feeBay), it will look a lot like this:

Photo of The DeLorean Time Machine

The box is similar in feel to an Architecture set, unlike the previous CUUSOO set (which we do not speak of around here) that came in a flimsier cube shaped box. Fans of the film should be able to immediately recognise the set, with help from the distinctive logo.

You’ll also be glad to know that the DeLorean comes with Marty and Doc minifigures: anyone who had been subjected to pre-release images of the model wouldn’t have known this.

Back of the box

Photo of The DeLorean Time Machine

Here’s something else you wouldn’t have known, if you were one of those people who based their whole opinion of the set on the pre-release image: in a genius move by LEGO, you can style the model on each of the DeLorean variants from the three movies. If there was any debate over which of the three movies had the best design, they can just about be resolved simply by changing the model. (Unless you want all three at once, in which case you’ll have to buy three sets.)

Some of the detail in the model is showcased in the bottom left.

Sides of the box

Photo of The DeLorean Time Machine

The scale reference is one of the wheels, complete with tyre.

Photo of The DeLorean Time Machine

The other long side of the box contains the necessary licensing information, including something called U-Drive Joint Venture: this refers to a collaboration with Universal and U-Drive Productions.

Photo of The DeLorean Time Machine

If you look closely at this side, you’ll notice this set is free from Chinese-made parts. Score one for the Chinaphobes.

Photo of The DeLorean Time Machine

This shoddy picture of the shorter sides of the box shows one with some more information about the detail features on the back of the box, and the basic premise of LEGO CUUSOO. Just replace the word “support” with “fanboys”, and “an idea” with “license”.

Inside the box

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I had no idea what would be inside this box, besides the instructions and parts. To my surprise, inside the box were… instructions and parts. The inside of the box is completely black, and I wouldn’t feel comfortable at all with throwing it away.

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With the exception of some 2×16 plates, everything comes packaged in unnumbered plastic bags.

The instructions

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The instructions for this model are premium: they come in the form of this thick little book, one you could easily be paranoid about opening.

Photo of The DeLorean Time Machine

The beginning of the instructions gives the reader an insight into what the fuss is all about. I had no idea at the time that the first film had been preserved, which highlights its significance and just how good it is.

Photo of The DeLorean Time Machine

Probably the most important spread, in my opinion, is this one for the Michael J Fox Foundation. Michael J Fox doesn’t seem to have aged a bit, but sadly I get the impression many people won’t bother even looking here.

Photo of The DeLorean Time Machine

Throughout the process of building the DeLorean, little nuggets of information about the time machine will be displayed. These usually refer to the detailed elements.

The minifigures

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As mentioned before, the set comes with Marty and Doc Brown minifigures, which this set definitely wouldn’t be complete without. As there are no Chinese parts to worry about, both figures are of very good quality, not having the translucent body part issues we all know and love. You’ll also be glad to know that both heads are double-sided, with a happy and “scared” expression for each.

Photo of The DeLorean Time Machine

And if that wasn’t enough to give this set a standing ovation: both minifgures have back printing as well. I’m not sure where the radioactive symbol comes from (perhaps the second movie?), but the printing certainly adds to the appeal of both figures.

Neither figure has any leg or arm printing, but I don’t think it’s necessary at all.

The parts

There are lots and lots of small parts in this set, so I’m just going to focus on what I deemed to be significant.

Photo of The DeLorean Time Machine

We have these large plates to look forward to, with the presence of 2×4 Orange plates being very striking. I guess we’ll eventually see how those Blue and Red 4×4 plates come into play.

Photo of The DeLorean Time Machine

Particularly interesting in this section are the four hose pieces, which usually fetch a pretty penny on Brick… whichever site you use. I wasn’t even aware of LEGO still making these elements, but if you’re into space-themed MOCs you’ll no doubt find them useful. I haven’t found a reason to incorporate them just yet, but we’ll see.

The Dark Purple skateboard also appears in this year’s Town Square remake (60026), as well as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles set Baxter Robot Rampage (79105) – not an exclusive part as I’d originally thought.

The wheels are allegedly a new mould, and are awaiting approval in the BrickLink inventory: one thing to watch out for if you design your models in LEGO Digital Designer, which was an issue I came across. We know something is up when those wheels show up in Red, for reasons currently unknown.

 

Photo of The DeLorean Time Machine

Tileage is strong in this set: we get a total of seven Metallic Silver grille tiles, and four of those gorgeous round 1×1 tiles in Flat Silver. I’m always happy to see 2×4 tiles in just about any colour.

 

Photo of The DeLorean Time Machine

Even Technic parts are shown some love in this set: the most significant of these are the eight Black liftarms, as well as the double bushes, which the set designer mentions are relatively new parts. Look for the Ninjago set Destiny’s Bounty (9446) if you want [literally] one of those in Red.

Photo of The DeLorean Time Machine

Cheese slopes, rail plates, SNOT bricks and stud pieces make up the rest of the interesting parts. Make note of the eight Metallic Silver 1×1 round plates, and no less than 17 Light Bluish Grey cheese slopes. You can tell there’s going to be some intricate building going on right here.

Printed elements

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Ending this section on some great news for loathers of DSS: there isn’t one in sight. LEGO has opted to include five different printed elements, four of which are unique to this set.

The controversial spelling error the fanboys have been having their nappies changed over involves the word “shield” on the flux capacitor, spelt with the “E” before the “I”. Given where that particular piece sits, I’d say it’s a fuss over not much.

Another panty-wetting feature was one of the dates on the time indicator, which was changed to 28.01.1958. LEGO have mentioned before, and have reiterated within the instruction book, that the 1958 date was when the LEGO brick was patented.

Now that the Pampers have been evenly distributed (or Huggies, whichever you prefer), let’s get to building.

Building the DeLorean

Photo of The DeLorean Time Machine

We start by essentially building a vehicle base, which would understandably be larger than the one LEGO often uses for its City vehicles. This is where the 2×16 and 6×8 plates go.

Photo of The DeLorean Time Machine

The Red and Blue elements are used to indicate which side of the vehicle represents the front (Red) and back.

Photo of The DeLorean Time Machine

Showing my ignorance of the movies in general, I thought one of these might be the mysterious “flux capacitor”… until it became apparent I had to build four of them. These then obviously became the supports for the wheels.

Photo of The DeLorean Time Machine

They fit as such.

Photo of The DeLorean Time Machine

Further along in the build, we build these two things using some of the smaller pieces. Rather cleverly they fit at the back of the vehicle in the blue section, to give the posterior a curved shape. This is some excellent SNOT building right here.

Photo of The DeLorean Time Machine

A little further along, we can see the dashboard in the driving area, which is tilted by way of hinged bricks. We can also see the formation of that oh-so-controversial hood…

Photo of The DeLorean Time Machine

… but switching our attention to the back of the car for a second: the grille cheese slopes are placed over those little parts we placed at the back of the car, to give the illusion of an overall shape.

Photo of The DeLorean Time Machine

One of the most intriguing and fiddly parts to the car are these things (rocket boosters?), which consist of a 2×2 slope, headlight bricks and a couple more hinge bricks. Fitting these on their own is challenging enough, as the hinges have to be at just the right angles – but wait until you have to attach them to the car, by way of 1×2 plates with handles (that have already been fitted to the car).

Photo of The DeLorean Time Machine

Here’s how it should look from the front.

Photo of The DeLorean Time Machine

That flux capacitor sits at the back of the driving seat, and two more 2×4 tiles form the smooth surface of the hood. We’ve also had time to add a steering wheel.

Photo of The DeLorean Time Machine

The front of the car is more or less completed by adding this front bumper. One thing to note is that the bumper is seven studs wide, by way of the 2×3 and 2×2 plates used to construct it.

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One of the last things to add to the vehicle is the door mechanism, which we begin to do by adding a roof structure on top of the flux capacitor.

Photo of The DeLorean Time Machine

Two separate small builds, for the left and right doors, are then very carefully attached to the roof, using those hinge plates. Note the pair of binoculars sitting at the very top!

Photo of The DeLorean Time Machine

The front windscreen is emulated using 1×3 tiles and hinge plates, which sit on top of 2×2 jumper plates and are bent toward the roof. Again, it takes adjusting these to just the right angle to have them sit in place.

Photo of The DeLorean Time Machine

The rear bumper of the car, complete with 80’s style licence plate, is constructed in a similar fashion to the front. Another pair of binoculars acting as exhaust pipes was a genius move.

Photo of The DeLorean Time Machine

The very last thing, as well as finally adding the Light Bluish Grey wheels with tyres, is to connect the hose parts on either side of the car. Be careful not to take off the plates underneath the car as you do so; it might help to connect both ends of each hose before bending them to attach to the hooks.

The completed set

Back To The Future

Photo of The DeLorean Time Machine

What we’ve just built is the DeLorean model for the first movie – the original. And I must say, it’s an incredibly impressive build!

The best part is that it can house a minifigure, although due to the limited space inside the vehicle it can be quite time-consuming. It helps to take the roof off first, fit the minifigure inside and then put the roof back on.

Photo of The DeLorean Time Machine

The back of the vehicle looks like it means business.

Photo of The DeLorean Time Machine

And if you haven’t figured out by now: both doors open, mimicking the behaviour of the car in the movie.

Back To The Future part 2

Photo of The DeLorean Time Machine

Fortunately you don’t have to build the model from scratch if you want one of the other two variants. For the second movie, as well as switching to the Red wheels (I’m still not sure what the significance is), we’re given a small set of transparent bricks to suspend the car in mid-air, while the wheels rotate underneath the car for hovering mode.

Photo of The DeLorean Time Machine

The back of the DeLorean also uses the 2015 barcoded licence plate, as well as playing host to a small reactor (the white thing) that provides energy to the car.

Back To The Future part 3

Photo of The DeLorean Time Machine

The third movie’s version does away with the reactor, and instead adds a mess of components to the hood of the car: probably the main reason a stepped hood was used instead of the original CUUSOO model’s slope. To fit the assembly, just take off the front-most 1×4 tile and use the studs to attach it.

Leftovers

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Excluding the parts used for the variations in models, a good selection of the smaller parts are left over. None of the grille tiles made the cut, but we’re compensated with a Metallic Silver 1×1 round plate and a Flat Silver 1×1 round tile. We would be in trouble, however, if we’d lost either of the licence plates.

A word from the CUUSOO project owners

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A page each is dedicated to Steen Sig Andersen, the man who designed this set, and Team BTTF: the two dudes behind the successful CUUSOO project. Both have a few choice words to say.

The verdict

As mentioned at the time of the results being revealed, I don’t think anybody could have predicted this set coming to fruition: it was up against some fairly strong competition, but the iconic status of the movies was probably what pushed it over the edge. The proof of the trilogy’s popularity is shown with this set’s sales, with many places being sold out before and after its release. Word on the street is that more sets won’t be available until August 20th.

I was one of those people who was adamant I wouldn’t bother with the set, based on the pre-release photo taken from a LEGO store calendar. As usual, as soon as more official picture started showing up – particularly when it was revealed the set would incorporate the designs of all three movies’ cars – I’d changed my mind. It was yet another lesson in not following the hype, especially if it came from leaked or opportunistic sources.

This is the first CUUSOO set I’ve been happy at all about, and certainly the first one I’ve actually built. Whether the it’s the enthusiasm from Team BTTF or Steen’s expertise, I could tell a lot of care went into designing the DeLorean, and this wasn’t treated as just an opportunity to release a set based on Back To The Future – while the same can’t be said about other licenses.
What we end up with is a very solid LEGO representation of the iconic vehicle, and the minifigures are not only a bonus but a necessity. It shows that, with enough knowledge of LEGO parts and what you want to build, you can construct just about anything to whatever level of detail you’re after. If I was one of these die-hard fans of the movie trilogy, I’d consider buying three of these to be able to display each of the variants simultaneously.

And yes, I’d definitely say this is a display model rather than a playable/swooshable one. Because of the building techniques involved, as well as the lack of grip some of the pieces have, playing around with the DeLorean too much will inevitably result in pieces falling off.
One major problem was with seating the Doc minifigure inside the DeLorean, which was made all the more difficult by his hairpiece – this wasn’t a problem I had with Marty. Usually the solution is to take the roof off to place either figure inside the vehicle, especially when trying to fit them both inside… which is possible, but not easy.

It may have been helpful to have a separate rear bumper build for each of the two licence plates, to avoid the risk of losing one of them. At the moment you’d have to take the rear bumper off, prise the old licence plate off and attach the new one, before adding it back to the car. Then again, we’re shown how to build the rear bumper in the instructions, so we can fashion a new one with the other licence plate using spare parts.

But by far the best thing about this CUUSOO set – in my opinion – is that the royalties will be donated to the Michael J Fox Foundation. I’m not a die-hard fan of the movies – I’m more of a Weird Science person – but I am a fan of Michael J Fox, particularly due to Spin City. That to me is what LEGO CUUSOO should be about when it comes to licensed sets: even if you don’t like the set or the movies, something good can come out of it.

Rating breakdown

Design: 9 out of 10
Experience and passion clearly went into making an excellent display piece. I haven't built the original CUUSOO model so I can't comment on comparisons.
Build: 8 out of 10
Lots of building techniques to learn from and get to grips with, which can be tricky because of small pieces. Definitely one for fans of both LEGO and the movies.
Parts: 8 out of 10
Every part in this set has a purpose, whether for detailing or structure. I wouldn't feel great about parting this set out, however.
Playability: 8 out of 10
It feels like a miniature version of the DeLorean, and you can imagine you minifigures driving to get to the right speed to time travel - but don't be too rough with it!
Price: 8 out of 10
Very reasonably priced for collectors and fans of the movie, given that it's based on an IP - especially compared to that other CUUSOO set.

My score for the DeLorean is 8.2/10, and I’d have no problem recommending this particular CUUSOO set to anyone who wants it.

That’s my review of the DeLorean, and thanks for your time (no pun intended).

Photo of The DeLorean Time Machine