We’re so close to the official release of 10300 Back to the Future Time Machine on 1 April, and to get you excited about the highly anticipated launch, I managed to participate in a roundtable with set designer Sven Franic, and LEGO element designer Yoel Mazur, alongside other LEGO publications – Brickset, New Elementary, Brick Fanatics, Blocks Magazine, Hello Bricks.
Be sure to check out my review of the LEGO Back to the Future Delorean if you haven’t already, or check out reviews from the publications above, to see what they thought of the LEGO BTTF Time Machine!
What were your personal experiences with the Back to the Future movies before you came to design the set?
Sven Franic: I wouldn’t call myself a super fan, but I’ve seen the movies multiple times. As soon as I got the green light on this brief, and it was on Netflix at the time, so I could watch all three movies in the same night.
Yoel Mazur: Back to the Future 2 was the first movie I saw with my dad at the cinema.
First movie, ever. For an eight/nine year old kid, it was very confusing, the second movie. But, the moment that the hoverboard thing happened, I was hooked and I’ve been a big fan since.
This inspired a lot of what I do today, that trilogy for sure, and especially the second movie. Over the years it was a huge inspiration for me, so, yes, I’m a fan!
What kind of material was made available to you to help with the design?
Sven: That’s the cool part with IP (intellectual property) partnerships – we had Universal Studios to talk to and there are some really cool people there.
We were fans of the movies and they were fans of LEGO. It was great sharing a lot of the material. They had access to the Petersen (Automotive) Museum in Hollywood, so they would send pictures.
Because of Corona, we couldn’t actually go to LA, but we talked and exchanged material as much as possible.
Were you able to give some specific requests to them say, “I need this particular thing photographed.” Or “have you got this particular dimension?”
Sven: Well, it was also them giving us input. They would suggest little changes, like could this be a different colour. We oftentimes push back because we don’t have that exact shade in LEGO, so it’s a lot of negotiation but in the end we both have to be happy with what we end up with.
Yoel: Locally, we have a physical Delorean – one of our colleagues actually drives one, and it’s in the LEGO parking lot, so there was a physical reference pretty close by.
Unfortunately, we couldn’t go back in time with it or forward, but. But it was pretty handy, to have one around.
What was the starting point when designing a model like this?
Sven: Well, luckily, we had a we had a concept that was built several years ago by, I believe, you know, this guy, his name is Mike Psiaki.
He’s figured out some of the cool things, like there’s a specific angle on the door, but because it’s been several years since he’s built it, and it was a concept model, there was a lot of new stuff that we could do with it to make it really cool.
From the very beginning, did you know that you were going to do a version that could be adapted for all three movies?
Sven: We were we were discussing that a lot, and what would it take to do this? Which movies, if we can do only only two, which should be prioritized, we can do only one, which we should prioritize and in the end, who are we to say which one is the most important?
We wanted to have the function with the wheels flipping. So obviously number two was on the table. It was a pretty strong idea there.
But then in the end, like, yeah, let’s just do all three, c’mon.
We put everything on the table. We didn’t want it to make it too difficult for you to rebuild. So luckily, just by nature of the of the vehicle, all the stuff is kind of easily accessible.
The biggest challenge was putting the circuit board for the third movie on the hood, because how do you get these studs in the centre of the hood when you want a very smooth surface? So we just flipped the brick upside down for the other one.
What was it like working from that legacy of wanting to offer something different from what had come before?
Sven: Well, I’ve actually looked at that model (LEGO Cuusoo) a lot before we started. We wanted to make a bigger a bigger model.
I never had the first one from Lego Ideas, but I can tell you that it definitely influenced our decision to use minifigures from Back to the Future 2, because, well, you may already have these and we thought that was a good opportunity to bring something new for minifigures.
That was the only influence that that model really had.
Why is the whole thing not drum-lacquered silver?
Sven: So far we have we still don’t have the right technology to do every part and every material in that in every colour.
Compared to the other Creator Expert vehicles, this one feels very simple, and not quite a complicated build. Was that a deliberate decision?
Sven It’s interesting that you think that, becauseit’s kind of an internal goal of some designs to try and simplify models as much as possible.
It’s kind of a positive simplification – I don’t mean simplification in the in the way it looks, but in the way it’s built. We try not to complicate things if you don’t need to.
How how challenging was it to create and get the wheels flipping into hover mode right?
Sven: That’s definitely the part that took us the longest to develop. We have other departments that deal with quality and they do robot tests on this model, so they would put it in the robot and they would use the function I don’t know how many times.
I had at least five different iterations. I believe the first one, the wheels didn’t quite go 90 degrees. They went like almost. There was a lot of downsizing because the original function used system elements, and then there was some friction, so we tried to optimize the function to take as little space as possible and also be buildable in the same way.
How did you decide where on the model to include the lever for switching it between hovering and non hovering modes?
Sven: We we went through several iterations of the lever. At one point, we had it separated for front and back wheels.
We had a little thing in the middle. In the end, we thought it would be cool to have this large lever that was more satisfying to use.
I also tested it with several people to see if it could be activated with one hand when you hold the model. It’s more of a magical function for me, when you couldn’t actually see what’s happening – it just flips the wheels.
Previous large scale Creator Expert vehicles have not included minifigures even when they’re licensed. What prompted you to include them with this?
Sven: That was a big discussion because we realized that another team that makes the superhero models and some vehicles there, they prefer to include minifigures yet we because we in the Adults team we would usually make vehicles that were licensed with the vehicle brand and didn’t really have any affiliation to characters.
This was a good opportunity where we, we had a vehicle that was also associated with, with a movie IP – it was a good opportunity to also include minifigures, just like superheroes does.
Let’s give him one of those things from the outside. Like maybe, you know, the team that works on those sets doesn’t like to include something. Probably not. Yeah, the actually one was before my time, so I don’t actually know what the decision behind that one was. I think that. Okay. This is one which you may not be able to answer because you may not know. But it’s interesting that the word DeLorean doesn’t appear in the set name or anywhere in the instruction manual, as far as I can tell. Is there any particular reason for that? Is it just not considered worthwhile to get the license? Maybe it’s pretty. Um, I’m not, I’m not sure what the, what the limitations of the licenses are, but that’s really not my I’m sorry.
The windscreen was wrapped in plastic to protect it from scratches. Is that something we can expect to be standard for large windscreens?
Yoel: We’ve been seeing, some scratches on some previous windscreens that we had, so this was sort of the new solution that I think is temporary.
I don’t necessarily think this is going to be the solution moving forward because we want to be sustainable,
Paper, at least for now, was still not good enough to prevent scratches from the windscreen.
It’s not going to be a long term solution, but we are looking into it, how to make it better for everybody and avoid scratches.
This may be the first LEGO set for fans of the movie, who may be drawn to this set. What are you hoping that those who are new to LEGO get to experience?
Sven: We are seeing a broadening of consumer base with people who haven’t necessarily built with LEGO bricks before.
So the simplification of the build is also something that’s kind of a priority for us. We don’t want to challenge any part of the aesthetic of it, but if we can make something simpler to build, we will.
If it’s easier to build on the table instead of your hands, then we’re always going to look into that. So that’s part of something that we prioritized.
For new consumers that would be fans of the movies and haven’t seen the LEGO interpretation before, the minifigures will be a great draw for them. I don’t display a lot of stuff at home, but I would love to have my favorite characters.
Are there any Easter eggs or personal flourishes that you guys have hidden within the model?
Sven: It’s just my personal thing but I never liked to put personal Easter eggs, especially in an IP model because I feel it’s very personal for other people – they connect with this IP, they love this movie.
I feel like if I put something of my own, I might contaminate their memories or something. I personally avoid that, but that’s just my thing.
Despite not being called a Delorean, we’ve got the DMC logo printed in the front. Why was that printed, and everything else stickers?
Sven: We try to prioritize prints for small parts or anything where it’s easy to make mistake or put it on upside down, or if it’s a round shape.
If we can, we also prioritize prints. That’s the face of the vehicle and when you don’t have that logo,it seems to lose a lot without it.
Sometimes we actually prefer stickers. Sometimes it’s also due to margins. With printing, you have certain limitations with margins and stuff. With stickers, sometimes you end up with a better result.
Why wasn’t it possible for the doors to stay in the open position?
Sven: We tried several things to make the door stay open but it was just the limitation of the weight of the door that just didn’t have any elements that would have sufficient friction or wouldn’t break the door if we ever did.
We prioritized stability over that function.
If you had a time machine and you could go back to any year and pop into a toy store and pick up a LEGO set. Which year and which Lego set would you pick?
Sven: That’s a great question. I’m a big fan of Paradisa sets, if you remember them from the nineties, so yeah, probably like 92 or something like that.
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