Carl Greatrix’s LEGO 21307 Caterham Seven 620R is the 14th LEGO Ideas Project to roll out of the shop and it’s one heck of a set. The model is a wonderful homage to the legendary Caterham 7, a very unique (and British) sports car that has an instantly recognizable shape, and is known for the simplicity of its design and driving experience.
I recently received a review copy from LEGO, and initially, it didn’t particularly excite me as I’m not a HUGE car person, but after building it, my perspective of the set changed almost immediately – this set is a treat for any automotive LEGO fan.
Special thanks to LEGO for sending an early review copy for the purpose of this review!
Name: Caterham Seven 620R
Set Number: 21307
Price: AU$129.99 (AUS LEGO.com link) | US$69.99 (US LEGO.com link) (Amazon link)
Exclusive to: N/A
Year of Release: 2016
Instructions: 21307 Caterham Seven 620R
Like all LEGO Ideas sets, the box itself is part of the entire experience. It was a lot larger than I had expected, and is the second largest Ideas box, dwarfed only by The Maze The black and yellow colour scheme gives it a very attractive look and the box art does a fine job of showing off the final model.
I have to say that the packaging is quite possibly my favourite one yet out of the LEGO Ideas theme yet. It’s slick and oozes class, and actually made me want to open it up right away to start building.
Here’s a look at the instruction manual booklet for 21307 Caterham 7. It bears the same design motif as the box, and like previous Ideas sets, has a glossier and more premium feel to it.
If this is your first foray into LEGO Ideas, you’ll be excited to know that the booklet is more than just a step-by-step instruction manual. It’s packed with all sorts of information about the Caterham Seven, giving fans and builders who may not be familiar with the car an extra avenue of appreciation of the sports car’s legacy.
I think that the Caterham Seven makes for a very good fit as a LEGO set. Did you know that one of the big draws about Caterhams is that there are some models that you can order your own kits to assemble on your own?
There’s something quite poignant that the LEGO set mirrors the real-life model not just in looks, but also how you actually assemble it. I suspect that this feature will especially appeal to Caterham fans.
I also particularly enjoyed the section at the end of the booklet, with a mini interview with the Ideas project designer Carl Greatrix as well as Henrik Andersen, the LEGO Designer tasked to transform Carl’s Ideas project into a retail LEGO set.
One of the greatest discoveries about the LEGO Caterham 7 set was all the gorgeous printed elements included. I seriously did not expect so many printed pieces in the set!
This was a really reassuring sign for me as I’m not the biggest fan of stickers, and it instantly showed that LEGO have (finally) understood this set’s target audience’s disdain for stickers.
It also signals that LEGO does have the capabilities to produce printed elements galore and even though I think this may have factored into the (relatively) high price of this set, I would gladly pay a premium each time if it guaranteed printed parts.
Building the Caterham 7 was a delight. I didn’t snap any build progress shots, only this look at the Caterham Seven’s engine. The build experience was equal parts entertaining and interesting – I really enjoyed some of the techniques employed to achieve the Caterham’s unique shape.
The build in itself isn’t particularly complicating or challenging – if you’ve had experience with Creator Expert like the Volkswagen Beetle, you will feel like you’re in familiar territory.
The end result is rather stellar, and a lot larger than I had expected. Firstly, the yellow really screams at you in the nicest of ways, with the black details providing some much needed breaks to all that brightness.
The Caterham Seven’s classic shape is rendered quite accurately into the LEGO form – the printed elements do really help bring out the finer details of the car!
One of my favourite features about the Caterham Seven is the bonnet, specifically how the designers managed to nail the slight V-shaped curves. The diagonal lines meld so well with the black racing stripes that streak down the middle.
It’s a very subtle visual effect, but combined with the curves on the edge of the bonnet, it gave me a deep sense of satisfaction that I could use LEGO to pull this look off.
The Caterham’s nose is equally as stunning. It’s packed with printed elements, from the curved slope with the badge to the grills with the seven logo emblazoned on it.
The nose is also angled downwards and there’s quite a large gap where it breaks away from the body. The gap doesn’t really look nice and if I were one to criticise, is possibly one of the more noticeable flaws of the model.
It’s a little hard to make out, but Carl’s original designs had a more seamless connection – although LEGO might have opted for this design to improve the structural stability of the final model.
Another curious change from the original is the front wheel arches which are black instead of yellow. I Googled some photos of Caterham Seven 620Rs and it does seem like this design change was made to align it closer with the real world model, but visually, I think it would’ve looked much better if they were yellow – which were also Carl’s original designs.
Here’s a look at the other side of the Caterham, where you can see its signature oversized side exhaust erupting out from the body. The exhaust looks pretty decent, although it tends to be quite fiddly and I found that I dislodged it pretty often as I was moving it around, so watch out for it.
The grey colour is all right, but I do wish that LEGO had given us a chrome version!
Here’s another look at the side, which gives you a better look at the front wheels, and the Caterham name printed on the side of the brick.
The Caterham Seven looks equally as good from the side. I really like the slight downward slope of the car’s bonnet that you can see here.
The interiors of the Caterham are pretty minimalist – you do get a steering wheel and a few printed speedometer tiles. There’s also a stick shift and a hand brake which can swivel up and down.
Also on the dashboard is a rear view mirror, and a few clips which are supposed to be those little switches that are in the real car.
Here’s a look at the seats which can tilt backwards and forwards slightly.
Here’s a look at the Caterham Seven from the back. The Caterham license plate in a darker shade of yellow is a very nice nod to the colour of the plates in the UK.
Also spot the printed round tile that acts as a cap for the petrol tank.
Another surprise that I found in the set were these printed ventilated disc brakes, which add an extra touch of realism to the LEGO Caterham Seven.
What I like about these disc brakes is that when the wheels are on, you can barely see them at all, so you only really get to appreciate them as you put the car together. It’s a very minor feature that doesn’t alter the overall look of the car, but just by being there speaks volumes of LEGO’s dedication to getting tiny little details like these right for motoring enthusiasts.
Speaking of hidden surprises, let’s pop open the bonnet and see what lies underneath.
For automotive enthusiasts, there’s nothing more satisfying than opening up the car for a peek into its insides, and the Caterham Seven does this brilliantly thanks to the removable bonnet. The motion is very satisfying as you just lift it up as you can see in the GIF above.
I love how the engine and innards of the Caterham Seven looks. There’s so much going on in there, firstly with the engine which is easily identifiable thanks to the printed tile.
There’s a ton of unconventional pieces on the inside, such as the revolvers in the engine and a whip for wiring. I like how it looks really busy on the inside.
At the back there’s a small storage compartment that you can easily open by lifting up the back panel. Those “handles” are really useful for lifting it up!
Inside the compartment are four red jacks. I initially thought they were traffic cones until I got to the end of the manual and the instructions pointed out their function.
It’s a pretty nice touch by LEGO to include them, given the Caterham’s reputation as a car that’s made and designed to be tweaked and modified.
When the photos of the Caterham were first released, it looked incredibly tiny and I was very worried that we were going to get some miniature version that was devoid of detail and would look bad on display.
Thankfully, the end result is a thing of beauty. The best part is that the scaling ensures that it looks great when placed next to the other Creator Expert vehicles. And yes, if you’re a fan of LEGO cars, the Caterham Seven looks really good on display.
Initially, I also wasn’t sold on the yellow colour as I had much preferred the British racing green variant, but after lining this photo up, I kind of understood why LEGO decided to go with yellow.
It’s really bright and vibrant and there isn’t a Yellow car in the Creator Expert series, and my guess is that they wanted it to stand out from the Mini Cooper.
What I liked:
- So many printed elements (no stickers!)
- It’s a really nice size and looks great on display
- The design is quite faithful to the car
- It’s like no other Creator Expert LEGO car
What I didn’t like:
- Black wheel arches
- Some parts of the car are quite fiddly
- Price is relatively high
Final thoughts: I’m the kind of person that usually judges a book by its cover, and early on, I had written the LEGO Caterham Seven off. I’m so glad I got the opportunity to build it on my own as I’ve now done a completely 180 and have somewhat become a fan of this curious yellow racing machine.
The LEGO Caterham Seven 620R does plenty of things right. The design is absolutely gorgeous and the designers have turned what is a really unique looking sports car into LEGO while preserving it’s signature appearance – a feat that I’m very impressed by.
For fans of LEGO’s mini-theme of iconic Creator Expert cars (T1 Campervan, Mini Cooper, Ferrari F40 and VW Beetle), the Caterham Seven is almost a must-buy as it’s pretty much a part of the family thanks to the similar scale and how well they all look together. I also thought it was clever of LEGO to use an Ideas set to slip in another Creator Expert-esque car this year.
For LEGO motoring fans, 2016 has been an exceptional year.
I found myself enjoying nearly everything about the Caterham Seven – the build was just nice, not too long and repetitive and kept me entertained with some really interesting techniques squeezed in to achieve its look.
The inclusion of printed elements was a masterstroke by LEGO, proving that they can (and will, for the right set) pull out their big guns and free us from the tyranny of stickers. I’d really love to see this treatment extended to every Exclusive/Hard-To-Find set. I really hope the Caterham Seven sets a precedent in this department.
That said, the LEGO Caterham is not without its flaws. There are some very minor visual features such as the black wheel arches that I don’t really like – but its nowhere near as bad as I had expected.
The price does feel a little high for an almost 800-piece set, but given the premium materials such as printed elements, packaging and instruction manual, I do think it’s mostly justified, especially if you treat it as a member of the Creator Expert car family.
This set also has quite a narrow appeal – if you’re not a fan of LEGO cars or Caterhams, there’s very little that will excite you. It’s not as iconic as the other Creator Expert cars, and appearance-wise, it definitely won’t be as recognizable, given the carmaker’s very niche market.
I collect the Creator Expert cars and they’re one of my favourite sets that I look forward to each year, hence I’m very happy to display the Caterham next to its brothers. The LEGO Caterham Seven is an incredibly eye-catching car, thanks to its bright colour scheme and does fairly well when placed aside the Creator Expert cars.
If you enjoy cars and motoring history, I would highly recommend picking this set up but if you gravitate more to playsets or minifigure-themed sets, your money would be best spent elsewhere.
The Caterham Seven 620R is one of LEGO’s finest sets this year, and yet another testament to the strength and versatility of the Ideas platform.
Thank you so much for reading this review – I hope you enjoyed it! I’ve been thinking about revamping my photography style slightly and was pretty happy with how some of these shots came out.
I’d love to know what you thought of this set and the photography. Is this a style that you’d like to see for my other reviews?
The LEGO Ideas Caterham Seven 620R is available on LEGO.com. I also believe that it will be coming to Australian retail in November, so keep an eye out for it!
Special thanks to LEGO for sending me a review copy. All thoughts are of my own and are not influenced in any way.