As many discover at single-digit ages, Danish toymaker Lego has stringent requirements for those who wish to design the sets it sells worldwide.
Many of Lego's model designers have a background in—you guessed it—design, though the artistic disciplines from which they hail are as varied as the products on the shelf in Lego stores. Inside company studios, specialties run the gamut of industrial design to sculpting and carpentry. Experts of all kinds build on the foundation of Lego's interlocking brick system, forming the basis for every product from its versatile, iconic Lego Minifigure to scale models of global landmarks like the Eiffel Tower.
Anyone to clack together a Lego set can feel the influence exerted on each piece by the profession that is mechanical engineering, and there is no place where this influence is more apparent than the 3,599-piece Bugatti Chiron licensed set. At this size, the Chiron is the 16th most complex set ever released by Lego, and the second most complex licensed vehicle behind two separate takes on Star Wars' Millennium Falcon.
Most wouldn't dream of dropping $350 (before tax) on what is largely seen as a children's toy, but like 2014's The Lego Movie, this set justifies its price of admission by arguably catering more to adults than kids. Also like the brilliant, subversive film, it's relatively good value for money. According to a 2013 study of Lego prices per piece by Reality Prose, the average licensed set came in at about $0.12 per piece, which means that this Bugatti should cost more than $430. But at the price listed on the shelf, the Chiron's cost per piece is $0.097, or almost a cent less than the 2013 average for most of Lego products, and almost two cents less than the average for licensed products like this.
Further justifying the set's price tag is the package in which it comes. It's not a phrase often uttered, but even the cardboard box in which this Lego-tti comes is luxurious. Wrapped in quality cardstock, the box features photos of the completed set from all angles, and prints of historic Bugatti models on the inside of the lid, where few will notice. Arranged neatly in the bottom half of the box are six smaller, numbered boxes of varying sizes, each containing bags that are themselves numbered.
Nestled in a deliberately-sized space are the set's two volumes of instructions, together more than 600 pages in length. These pages encompass almost 1,000 steps toward the constructed car, and are printed on responsibly-sourced paper. Compared with previous Lego Technic car sets like 2002's Williams Formula 1 car, which stormed through 1,484 pieces in under 100 steps, building this Chiron makes it almost feel like one of Lego's toddler-oriented Duplo products due to its relative ease.
Volume one walks the builder through the assembly of both the front and rear subframes. Together, these house the steering, suspension, differentials, rotating W-16 engine, and functional paddle-shifted transmission. Lego says it's an eight-speed box, and they aren't technically lying, though four of the speeds appear to be reverse. The fore and aft halves of the set are joined toward the first book's finale, on step 465. Come step 479, your half a hypercar will already weigh three pounds and one ounce, but you will find only two of the six build boxes empty.
From there, volume two launches headlong into clothing the naked Chiron with bodywork, and appointing its interior with seats that I'm sure would be comfy were I Stuart Little. Step 521 sees the adjustable rear wing complete, and on 813, everything but the front bumper and hood will be together. A frunk lid complete with a serial number unique to every Lego Chiron can be closed on step 930, but hold off on that until step 970, when the fitted overnight bag is complete and can be installed up front.
A kitchen scale reports that the completed Chiron weighs six pounds and one plus one-quarter ounces. At that weight, it can't be displayed anyplace it may haphazardly roll over top of a toddler or small dog, but at its size of 22 by nine inches, they ought to see it coming. It'd be best showcased in a place where people can poke at its myriad functional features, and roll it along for enough distance to see its pistons reciprocate. Ideally, this'd be on the Volkswagen Auto Group's Ehra-Lessien test track, where the Bugatti Veyron Supersport made its top speed run (and where the Chiron won't), but we don't advise playing in the road, private or not.
Construction shouldn't take much more than a few days, rather than the weeks it took me to build the model and take photos to make the above time-lapse video. With enough free time, Adderall, or both, 3,599 pieces ought to fly by like the scenery does in a real Bugatti Chiron, as The Drive's Mike Guy discovered when he spent time with the full-scale, $3 million Bugatti Chrion.