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Product:  Lego Speed Racer - Speed Racer & Snake Oiler

Product Type:  Toy / Model Kit

Manufacturer:  Lego

Suggested Retail Price (SRP):  12.99

Purchased from:  Woolworths, Bristol

Rarity:  Common

Reviewer:  Rich (Webmaster)

I don't know why, but I never really thought about there being merchandise for Speed Racer.  Despite it being the first film by the Wachowski brothers since the Matrix trilogy, and getting a huge promotional push by Warner Brothers, it's based on a manga and anime series.  Anime films and films based on anime or manga generally aren't big.  The merchandising for even things like Naruto and Bleach isn't too impressive in the UK, but this is different.  Speed Racer is BIG.  There are toys and figures, there's even a no-brainer collaboration with Western toy car manufacturer Hot Wheels, but for me it all paled into insignificance next to the Speed Racer Lego.

SpeedRacerLego.

You cannot comprehend my excitement, I was mute, stunned.  This was effectively ANIME LEGO, and it was available here.  In England.  In Woolworths.  Once I had sufficiently recovered I bought one of the four sets available, opting for the one that included Speed Racer and his iconic Mach 5 car, as well as one of his rivals, Snake Oiler.

The box contains two bags, one containing the parts for Speed Racer and his car, and the other for Snake Oiler and his car.  There's also an instruction book and a sheet of stickers, which I'll come back to later.  Anyone who has ever built a Lego model will know just what it's all about, but it not I'll quickly explain.  Each bag contains a number of plastic Lego bricks of

 differing colours, shapes and sizes.  The bricks can be clipped together by pushing the raised bumps on the upper side of the brick into the holes on the underside of another brick, allowing you to build pretty much anything from them.  Each set comes with instructions giving a step-by-step pictorial guide showing how to build the model you have bought.

The instruction book in this one is split in two, with instructions for building Speed Racer and the Mach 5 coming first.  Following the instructions is pretty easy, but you do have to pay attention as there is rarely any indication of which pieces have been added in each diagram.  This mean you have to look spot the difference between the current step and the last one, but it's aimed at kids so it's not that hard.  You can pretty much have the car built in about five to ten minutes, but there's one major frustration - the stickers.  Back in the day any detail required for a Lego kit was printed

on the bricks themselves, meaning it always looked good.  Now it seems that you have to add the detail to the car by using the stickers.  This is both fiddly and annoying, especially if you're a bit of a perfectionist and like to get them on straight.  It isn't too much of a problem with Speed Racer's car as there are only six stickers, but on Snake Oiler's car there are more than twice as many.  This makes building it a bit frustrating the first time you do it as you have to apply them all as you go along, and in places you have to make sure you put them in the right order.

Once built though the cars both look good (provided you didn't mess up the stickers on the front), and are decent representations of those in the film.  What's best is that once built the wheels on each car move so you can race them against each other, and you can of course take them apart and rebuild them as many times as you want.  Lego is pretty durable and has the advantage that you can use the pieces to make other things and can combine them with pieces from any other Lego model.  The stickers are a bit annoying, as they leave too much margin for error, and one sticker on Speed Racer's car actually joins three Lego bricks together which will make it hard to take apart and reconstruct.  Nevertheless this Lego set is generally great fun to build and the resulting models are good enough to display or play with (anyone who says that they wouldn't play with them is lying...). 

I'm 27, so the number of years since I last made a Lego model stretches into double figures.  Nostalgia can be a dangerous thing, just because I used to love Lego when I was a kid it doesn't mean that I still would.  However, I happily find out that I do - even if they now have stickers and the Lego men aren't yellow - and I am extremely tempted to get more!  Speed Racer Lego rocks!

Extras

As well as the instruction book, which also contains a list of all the pieces included and a few handy building tips, there's not a lot.  There's the stickers, which are technically optional, plus each kit comes with a couple of spare bricks in case you lose the smaller pieces which is a nice touch.

Ratings

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