06 February 2023

LEGO® Speed Champions interview: Christopher Stamp discusses new parts 3385 and 3387

Posted by Thomas Jenkins

Previously, we teased several new LEGO® Speed Champions elements that will be appearing in the March 2023 lineup. Today, we share another excerpt from our discussion with the theme's creative lead, Christopher Leslie Stamp, discussing another two new moulds in depth: a chassis and a wheel arch. 

Chassis 6x12x1 1/3 No. 1, design ID 3385

This new chassis element has allowed the LEGO Speed Champions design team to bring their cars lower to the ground- as low as possible, in fact: when paired with the wheel base (Wheel Bearing 2 x 6 x 1 1/3 with Axle Holes and 2 x 4 Cutout, design ID 65635) there is only a half-plate ground clearance. It retains all the functionality of the existing chassis - and more - as the central sunken jumper area has been expanded to 6 x 6 modules and the element features cut-outs at the front and back to increase building options. 

Mudguard 2x4x2 No. 2, design ID 3387

As you'll read in our interview below, the LEGO Speed Champions design team has rid their new elements of as much bulk as possible. This new element improves upon the existing one (Wheel Arch, Mudguard 4 x 2 1/2 x 2 1/3, design ID 18974) by reducing the height of the element by an entire plate. This allows builders to tile the area above the wheels and produce smooth bonnets on their cars. It was a juggling act for the design team to create functional elements that were still structurally sound. Topmost studded surface is ridiculously thin!

In our talk with Chris, he stated that these new elements are not intended to replace existing parts.

Interview with Christopher Stamp

During our time at LEGO® Fan Media Days in Billund, Denmark back in September 2022, we had the opportunity to talk to a number of LEGO designers about upcoming LEGO products. We have shared our conversation with LEGO Senior Designer Rok Žgalin Kobe about 10307 Eiffel Tower and we included some insight from designers César Soares and Jens Kronvold Frederiksen in our set review of 75331 The Razor Crest

More recently, we shared the first part of our discussion with Chris Stamp, where he talked about a fascinating new element (3386) which we have affectionately nicknamed “baby D-SNOT”. Here is another excerpt from our interview with Chris about two more new elements from the theme coming in March. The transcription has been edited for clarity, readability and narrative flow. 

New Elementary: Could you start by telling us about this new chassis? Because it doesn't feel like it's been that long since we’ve had a new chassis. 

Christopher Leslie Stamp: One of the things we wanted to do, since we went to eight-wide [module car width] from six, is to focus on proportions. We wanted the cars to be as low to the ground as possible, but then also as wide as possible. So we went for eight-wide, but we couldn't really get the cars lower than the existing wheel arch and the existing chassis. 

When we developed the first chassis for the eight-wide cars, there was connectivity underneath. We needed that for cars like the Audi [76897 1985 Audi Sport Quattro S1] we did at the time. But now that we've done three or four launches of cars in eight-wide, we’ve realized that we don't actually need to build off the bottom, and we can go even lower if we lose the buildability underneath. This allows us to get extra close to the ground. It's half a plate lower than the wheelbase is; we can't physically get lower than that to the ground, so this is literally as low as we can go.

New E: It looks like this is another element that you’ve poured as much functionality into as possible. 

Chris: What we've done, compared to the previous, is we've hollowed out more of the center. So now you get a 6x6 module ‘hole’ in there, which allows you to build in a front and, in some scenarios, a back seat. We’ve maximized its use by getting rid of all the excess. 

It's also got the jumper in that recess [i.e. all studs are offset from the regular grid], so you can sit your driver in front of your steering wheels. It also allows you to get two figures next to each other.

Plus, it's also got the holes underneath, so if you put a plate or something in, you can pop it out with a cross axle. 

New E: Why did you round off the corners of the 6x6 recess? 

Chris: We needed those for stability reasons. If you were to remove them and design it as a perfect square corner, then you would create a breaking point. So we needed to curve it in so that it fits, and give us the stability for our sidewalls. 

New E: And what’s the reason for this extra cut-out at either end of the element? 

Chris: If we’d have kept that in, we’d have removed buildability options. What you'll see, especially in the F1 McLaren [a new set coming this March: 76918 McLaren Solus GT & McLaren F1 LM], is that you need that cut out to be able to build in from the front. We've really cut away everything you don't need, to maximize stability, but not limit building options. 

The chassis is kind of a two-part element though, because it teams with the new wheel arch. 

New E: More new parts! Please tell us about this new wheel arch. 

Chris: We've cut out a whole plate on top: the previous wheel arch was one plate higher. To do that, we had to think carefully about how we'd make the brick portion of the element behind the arch. You can't just have this studded area on the top as structurally; it’s too weak.  This top area isn't a plate thickness underneath, it's actually much thinner than that. 

New E: Wow! It seems there's barely any plastic there. 

Chris: This is actually the least amount of material you need for it to be stable and to build on without damaging the element. You need those corners in there for support and this is the minimum that we can do without the arch interacting with the tyre. Once again, on LEGO Speed Champions, we're cutting away literally as much as we can, so that we can allow these cars to get as low and as accurate as possible. 

We would have shrunk this down even more- so the back area is not two plates high but one plate high- but structurally it's just impossible. This is this is the best that we can do. 

New E: Those are two more elements that we are now eagerly waiting to get our hands on! Do you feel the new cars really benefit from these new parts?

These two elements combined allow us to make the cars even lower down and closer to the wheels like you can see with the Pagani. I think this is a real game changer for LEGO Speed Champions. I'm really excited about what people think and how they react to that.

What do you think about these new elements? 

We can't wait to get our hands on them and, while not as universally useful as the “baby D-SNOT” we talked about before, we think these new parts really enhance the new line up of cars in the LEGO Speed Champions line. 

There are still more elements to discuss from the upcoming March 2023 LEGO Speed Champions sets - as well as the sets themselves! - so come back very soon for more.

READ MORE: New LEGO® parts for February 2023

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  1. I think cars should go back to being 4 studs wide.

    1. Some cars still are, in the City theme. But for a theme like this that's focused on accurate detail, four studs wide would be pretty much impossible to work with. A four stud wide car has to be incredibly tall compared to its width to even fit a single minifigure.

    2. Well, they don't make 'em like they used to, that's for sure. There's merit to both but you'd be hard pressed to fit as much detail in to a 4 module width as the new Speed Champions vehicles have managed, even with all the fantastic new elements they're giving us :D

  2. Stamp's showing off both the 3D-printed prototypes and the actual molded parts, it seems.

    1. I appreciate it, particularly since not only does it give a little peek at the development process, but it's also a little easier to make out the details on the light-colored 3D print than on the black-colored finalized part.

    2. Indeed! And this chassis comes only in black!

  3. The half-stud bottom layer reminds me of part 4212 from the 80s and 90s 4-wide cars

    1. This, I presume. https://www.bricklink.com/v2/catalog/catalogitem.page?P=4212a#T=C

    2. I was going to say the same thing.

  4. Fantastic new pieces - Christopher clearly has a passion for this theme which in my opinion is almost unrivaled currently for the price point. Though I think this wave I'm more excited about the actual elements than the sets themselves!

    1. I have to agree with you, he brings something special... and then, I'm always more excited about elements :D

  5. Great interview and insights, thanks! I wish they'd take a similar approach to the wheel base part (Wheel Bearing 2 x 6 x 1 1/3 with Axle Holes and 2 x 4 Cutout, design ID 65635), abandon having antistuds on the bottom in favor of smoother operation over carpeted floors.

  6. I don't understand why the arch piece needs those 2 studs, though. Since they're thin & feeble, it doesn't seem to be there for solidity. It could have done without them really.

    1. I feel like having those to block off the wheel well would probably help prevent more amateur builders from accidentally obstructing the rotation of the wheels with other parts.

    2. Just have a look at the forthcoming sets and you'll see that those studs are very much needed.