01 July 2022

LEGO® Speed Champions interview with Christopher Stamp: Iconic Movie and TV Vehicles

Posted by Kev Levell

We were thrilled to be invited for a chat with LEGO® Speed Champions Design Manager Christopher Leslie Stamp about the upcoming sets 76911 007 Aston Martin DB5 and 79612 Fast & Furious 1970 Dodge Charger R/T, which we reviewed yesterday.
Kev Levell took the passenger's seat as Chris jumped behind the steering wheel and took us for a drive around the new sets and elements! The transcription has been edited for clarity, readability and narrative flow.

Christopher Stamp: The first thing I want to do is introduce the Iconic Movie and TV Vehicles, that you may have seen around the internet…

Kev Levell: Actually, the review samples arrived! I’ve already built the DB5 but still need to finish building Dom’s Charger.

©2022 The LEGO Group

©2022 The LEGO Group

Chris: Ah, so you probably know more about them than me! What I actually wanted to show you was the elements that were made specifically for this model. 

New elements in LEGO® Speed Champions 76911 and 76912

Prototypes of the new LEGO Speed Champions elements. ©2022 The LEGO Group

Chris: The first thing we designed was the large 6 x 9 windscreen for the back. Capturing the shaping of the rear of the DB5, it’s a new and specific element, but it’s always in our minds to try to make new parts as versatile as possible.

Kev: LEGO Speed Champions screens tend to be the smokey (trans-black) screen, but both the DB5 and the Charger use clear windscreens. What was the reason for that?
Chris: Mostly the smokey screens have been for newer vehicles. But because our number one focus is on accuracy, and the older vehicles don’t tend to have tinted windows, it was important for us to include transparent windows.
The next element that I want to talk about is the corner curve for the DB5 headlights. These actually went through a lot of iterations before we settled on these 4-plate high ones. We explored 3-plate high, but this didn’t match the existing element families and minimised the available decoration area, so we felt 4-plate high was the best choice.

Chris: Another part that we ended up introducing was the 1x2 inverted slope with cutout (2310). I’ll happily admit that I had designed myself into a corner and the only solution was a new element. It was the simplest way to secure the headlight piece. As always on LEGO® Speed Champions we wanted it to be something that would have uses beyond this one specific need, so we tried to expand an existing family.

Chris: The last part we introduced for this car were the hubcaps.

Kev: Why are the hubcaps not a family mould this time?

Chris: Again, we went through a few possibilities. We actually looked at having two parts; a new hubcap and a plant-like piece to secure it in place. And recreate the iconic wheel function. The actual spokes on the car are reflected (if that makes sense) so making left and right variants in a family mould was a possibility, but we could see the problems in conveying the correct assembly. Ultimately we felt that it was the simplest thing to do it with a single element.
Kev: The 1x2 rounded tile is also new in its printed form, isn’t it?

Chris: We didn’t design it, it’s actually in four LEGO® Minecraft sets but yes this is the first time it’s been printed.

Is LEGO Speed Champions 'Iconic Movie and TV Vehicles' a new theme?

Kev: What came first; the idea to do the vehicle itself, or to do a vehicle from a movie? For example was it the plan to do James Bond's car from the start, or did  the end product come from a desire to make an Aston Martin?

Chris: A vehicle from a movie. Definitely. As you may have noticed, over the past few years I have been trying to expand the idea of “What is LEGO Speed Champions? Why can’t it be more?”, by including more and more new types of vehicle each year. Iconic movie or TV vehicles were just the next type on my "dream garage" list.

©2022 The LEGO Group

Kev: Hopefully we will be seeing other iconic TV and movie vehicles over time then. Would that be an extended line or a broadening of the scope of the theme? There are a long list of iconic movie and TV vehicles that are included on my wish list, some, like the GMC van driven by B.A. Baracas in the A-Team aren’t stereotypical ‘LEGO Speed Champions’ material, would that prevent their inclusion as potential products?

Chris: To be honest, it’s just an extension of the overall LEGO Speed Champions theme and by that I mean an 8-module wide IP vehicle collection. I don’t want to exclude any vehicles. Although, I tend to think it is essentially a vehicle collection - but that’s not all it could be! If the fans like these iconic movie and TV vehicles and the sets are well received, then we will probably add more to the collection. Do the fans want more? Do you like them?

Kev: The DB5 is a joy, I’d definitely like to see and build more. I had a number of favourite cars as a kid – the Lamborghini Countach and the Porsche 911 Carrera were two, and both of those have already been wonderfully recreated as LEGO Speed Champions. The challenges that you faced in creating these iconic shapes is apparent in the complexity of the techniques you used. However, the prospect of creating some cars at the 8-module wide scale seems almost impossible to me, such as the Ferrari Dino 246 GT. Would you naturally try to stay away from that kind of vehicle, or is it the kind of challenge you’d welcome?
Chris: We are always looking for challenges, it’s one of the ways we keep moving forward, by pushing ourselves to create models that are as close as we can get them to the real vehicles. I’d like to believe that nothing is impossible. So, never say never!

Designing LEGO Speed Champions

Kev: LEGO Speed Champions don’t usually have play features like opening doors and instead primarily focus on recreating the forms of each vehicle as accurately as possible within the constraints of the medium. Were play features considered for either of these?

Chris: Initially an ejector seat was considered for the DB5, but in a LEGO Speed Champions model, every module counts. Doors are always on the dream-list to be included. With the Lamborghini earlier this year we wanted to do the scissor doors, but it’s a very complex snowball effect and wouldn’t mean just one new mould. Steering is another complex issue, and when space is tight it’s always a compromise where we are trying to get you guys the best-looking model.

©2022 The LEGO Group

Kev: LEGO has (in the past) made cars with pullback motors or friction drives and has recently introduced the Stuntz range with impressive speed and performance from the simple flywheel mechanism. Have you ever considered adding one of these methods of propulsion to LEGO Speed Champions?

Chris: We are always considering what to include. It’s always going to be a compromise though, and aesthetics is the primary goal. Yes, it’s still a toy, but LEGO Speed Champions 8-wide are mainly for display. If we had kept doing the 6-wide vehicles, then I think the flywheel or a pullback would make more sense, as the aesthetics were compromised by being a only a toy.

Kev: Elements whose prints need to be aligned with each other have been a challenge in the past; what has changed between then and now to have the prints be aligned and extending to the very edge of the elements?

Chris: We heard what fans said. The expectations you have of the prints lining up is absolutely right. It’s disappointing when things aren’t right and we’ve worked hard to try to bring you the best we can with these new models. That includes printing on edges of plates and trying our very best to make the vehicles look right.

©2022 The LEGO Group

Kev: The prints on the edges of the plates are really crisp, and are printed right to the edge on both the Dodge and the Aston Martin, aren’t they?

Chris: Yeah, getting that right was really important. The headlights on the DB5 went through lots and lots of variations to get them right, too. Getting them wrong just isn’t an option, like if the headlights are looking in two different directions it throws the whole look of the vehicles off.

Kev: Thanks for taking the time to talk to us, Chris!

READ MORE: Kev's review of the new, exclusive and rare parts in these two iconic vehicles

There's also a bonus factoid about the DB5 in our latest Patreon post for 'Vibrant Coral' patrons! Help New Elementary keep publishing articles like this. Become a Patron!

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  1. Personally I usually prefer NOT to have "hollywood" vehicles, as they are very specific to that franchise and because of licensing costs. That said, I fully support speed champions hollywood vehicles that can otherwise be used generically. I LOVE getting a DB5. (I'm meh on the charger). If doing more hollywood stuff means we also get cool cars that otherwise would get skipped by Speed Champions I'm all for it!

    The A-Team GMC van, the Fall Guy GMC 4x4 pickup, Mad Max Ford Falcon (or a Holden Sandman!), KITT, Wayne's World Pacer, James Bond Lotus Esprit, Bullitt Mustang, Smokey and the Bandit Trans-Am, Herbie VW Bug...

    1. My list looks very similar! KITT and B.A's GMC would really complete my nostalgia trip. Another new DeLorean would also be nice at this scale again... but we might be in for a long wait for that!

  2. While we're on the subject, I will also say that Speed Champions hit a real sweet spot for me in terms of more of an "adult" subject, great engaging build techniques, and good value in terms of qty of part and also the types of parts you get in a typical set. The only thing close in recent memory is the smaller batmobiles (76181, 76239, 76188).

    I'd love to get a basic city or creator set with these kinds of techniques but it seems like the age range or other issues must prevent those sets being built with Speed Champions methods. I can appreciate that City(for example) also must balance play features, and that's what keeps me coming back to Speed Champions when I want a quick fix of Lego!

  3. The build experience rarely disappoints with a Speed Champions set!

  4. Great interview. Mr. Stamp's enthusiasm for the subject matter and his passion and curiosity around what can be achieved is such a key factor here. I really appreciate his desire to push the sophistication and satisfaction of a build experience at this scale. It continues to be really wonderful to see and keeps me buying every set they release!