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Review: 21103 Back To The Future Time Machine

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Review: 21103 Back To The Future Time Machine

Postby Staff » Wed Jul 17, 2013 6:00 pm


QO5C2671


I've already received flak for expressing my negative reaction to the set. So you should be forewarned that if you were one of those people that were offended by my previous opinion, you should stop reading right now.


Front Back Right Left


Boy, how excited were we when Masashi's DeLorean model not only garnered the 10,000 votes needed to achieve review status on CUUSOO, but that it was actually approved by everyone that needed to sign off on it? That was a happy day indeed since NO ONE thought it would make it as a set. Months went by between the time that the CUUSOO team announced their decision and recently when leaked images of the set began to surface. LEGO has been sending out kits to media outlets for review purposes and set an embargo time to coincide with San Diego Comic Con Preview Night. Now that the embargo has lifted, I can share with you my opinion and some pictures I took to better give you an idea of what to expect.



My opinion: It sucks... and here's why.


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Let's get the obvious out of the way: the front half of the car looks nothing like the DeLorean DMC-12 that the model is supposed to be based on. There is no slope on the hood. The original model featured this slope element which is a perfect fit for the low angle of the car. The final model got rid of the slope and replaced it with layered tiles. This wasn't without reason. If you look closely at the Part III version of the car on the CUUSOO project page, the 1955 time circuit on the hood isn't really attached to any studs since that slope doesn't have any on its face. So as a workaround, the designers replaced the slope with layers of tiles and plates so that you can easily convert the Time Machine into the Part III version and back to Part I or II by simply removing a 1x4 tile. Changing the hood in this way was probably the most significant detraction on the model's appearance. All the other issues, as uglifying as they are, seem like minor offenses compared to this.


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Another issue: The front bumper. I actually watched the Back to the Future movies while building the set and writing this review and not once did the DeLorean ever have a white bumper. It does have a plastic bumper that's slighly opaque, but I don't think it's enough to make the bumper white. If anything it should be light gray to match the rest of the car as that is how it appears on screen.


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And don't even get me started on the doors. There's not much to describe about the doors because there's not much door to describe. The door has a single one-stud connection point to the lifting arm. I do give kudos to the designers for achieving the gull-wing doors.


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The next issue: The wheels are exposed. There is a distinct lack of fenders and wheel wells making it look like the wheels are just sticking out of the side of the car, which they are. The tubing used to simulate the wiring that runs along the sides of the car distracts your eyes just enough to not notice the poor execution of the wheels. They do however rotate down to achieve the hover effect when the DeLorean is in flight mode.


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Moving to the inside of the vehicle, you can't seat both minifigs inside the car at the same time. You can fit Marty, or Doc, but not both without getting creative. Seating is already an exercise in patience with Marty but Doc Brown by himself is nearly impossible to fit without pulling the roof off simply because of his hair and the lack of head space, which is due to the lifting arm of the door being at such an angle. You almost think there's room to fit both side by side, but there isn't because of said lack of head space.


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The model as a whole feels fragile. The doors kept popping off, the A-frame kept popping off, the greebles all around kept popping off. I admit this may not be a valid complaint as this model is definitely a show piece more than a play piece. In the case that someone does want to play with it though, to say, swoosh around the living room or office, that someone should be careful as any sort of grip has a high potential of popping some pieces off. Even as I was gently handling it for photography, I found myself reattaching something every time I touched it.


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My final complaint goes to the time circuit display panel. There's only space enough for two dates, but that's not really the issue. My complaint lies with the date they used. One is October 26th, 1985 which is fine. It's the day that the DeLorean first time travels, or the "present" time. The other date, the "destination" time, is set to January 28th, 1958, the date that the first LEGO brick was patented. And see, I have a huge problem with this. Out of all the dates they could have used that actually appeared on the display panel, like November 5th, 1955, or October 21, 2015, or even September 2, 1885, they chose a day that is only relevant to LEGO. It's extremely narcissistic and self serving. It has no relevance to the Back To The Future trilogy and to put it simply, it just doesn't belong. They took a set about a movie and found a way to make it about themselves, as if trying to retcon themselves into the trilogy's legacy. So annoying.

This review isn't all negative though, as there were some fun parts to it.


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The rear assembly was quite satisfying to build, especially the exhaust ports. I failed to notice that I didn't press the driver's side port all the way down while I was taking pictures, so forgive me on that detail. And attaching the famous "OUTATIME" license plate to the bumper assembly made me a bit giddy.


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The minifigs were a nice surprise. Initial leaks didn't show or mention any minifigs and not only do we get one, we get two: Marty McFly and Doc Brown as they appear at the beginning of Part I. They each have an alternate face and back printing. There is no detail on Marty's skateboard, and I'm a little bummed they didn't include Einstein.


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All of the printed elements are awesome. Stickers would have been okay and are par for the course when it comes to LEGO, but printed elements are a rare commodity these days, so seeing all of the key elements as a printed piece really brings up the overall quality of the set. Don't get me wrong though, it's still a terrible model.


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It should be noted that the packaging of the set is unlike any other LEGO set other than the Yoda Chronicles teaser promo set that was sent out ahead of the New York Times Square X-wing event. The instruction booklet was also pretty nice. Not your usual stapled fare, but it looks and feels like a thick booklet. I don't own any other CUUSOO sets so I'm unsure if this is how their instruction booklets are usually.


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Overall, a disappointing set and not really worth picking up unless you're a speculator, have a thing for licensed themes, or are building your own DeLorean and want the printed elements and minifigs to complete your model. No one thought this set would become a reality, and just the experience of building the time traveling DeLorean from one of the best 80's science fiction movie franchises was pretty satisfying and nostalgic. It's just too bad the final model sucks.

But you know it will still sell like gangbusters.


21103

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Permalink: http://www.fbtb.net/2013/07/17/review-21103-back-to-the-future-time-machine/
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Re: Review: 21103 Back To The Future Time Machine

Postby Sharpie Clone » Wed Jul 17, 2013 7:07 pm

Honestly, when I first saw the official photos this week, I was underwhelmed. I agree that the hood of the car looks horrible compared to the CUUSOO version (and many other versions also). To me the redeeming factor is the minifigs as Marty's torso looks spot on and both he and Doc are about as well done as they could be.

I'll pass.
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Re: Review: 21103 Back To The Future Time Machine

Postby Woodkeithl » Wed Jul 17, 2013 9:21 pm

Love how this post was posted, then rescinded (due to breaking LEGOs "street date"), then fully reposted again. I have literally lost respect for FBTB In general..for breaking the date!
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Re: Review: 21103 Back To The Future Time Machine

Postby lego the hutt » Wed Jul 17, 2013 9:48 pm

I appreciate the honest review. Often times we all give Lego glowing reviews just because we are fans. We all understand that exceptions to the model had to be made in order to make it 3 different builds.

I will still pick one up if I ever happen to see one in stores just because I like the theme, but I'm not going to go out of my way and pay an arm and a leg for this set.
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Re: Review: 21103 Back To The Future Time Machine

Postby onions » Wed Jul 17, 2013 9:54 pm

My excuse? It was five am when I finished writing and at that time 1600 hours military time sounds a lot like 6 pm in my state of mind at the time. Whoops.
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Re: Review: 21103 Back To The Future Time Machine

Postby Brainslugged » Wed Jul 17, 2013 10:10 pm

This was probably going to be a pass for me, but the combination of figs and printed parts means i'll probably get this at some point. I may wait till a decent $75 bonus figure/set and use this as padding for my order if need be.
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Re: Review: 21103 Back To The Future Time Machine

Postby cantlego » Wed Jul 17, 2013 10:49 pm

I love this review! I couldn't agree more. The loss of the slope/hood makes this unfortunately look like a cheap knock off. I just can't believe that Lego couldn't figure out a way to keep the 6 x 8 slope on there AND still make the 3 builds work. If you have a piece that fits the model THAT well, you've got to make it all work out. I would probably buy it if they just let the 3rd model work with the tiles and call it a day. Still love Cuusoo though!
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Re: Review: 21103 Back To The Future Time Machine

Postby wyldjedi » Wed Jul 17, 2013 11:03 pm

At one point in my Lego 'career' I would have picked this up for the exclusive minifigs. However, even though I grew up with the BTTF trilogy, and still have a major love for Lego, I am much more discerning on the things I buy. This thing is just too ugly to be a display piece and looks way too fragile to be something to play with. The date printed on the part should be all about the movie, not Lego and that too annoys me. As great as the figures are this would only end up being a parts pack or possibly something to resell in a few years as an investment. While the figures do look like the actors from the movie, there are no alternate costumes either for the different time periods. Like a neon hat from #2, some sort of hoverboard would have been nice, or even an old west set of costumes. I will pass
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Re: Review: 21103 Back To The Future Time Machine

Postby onions » Wed Jul 17, 2013 11:56 pm

while i was writing the review, i had this whole paragraph written up on how they could have done this release differently other than fix the front hood issue and i was thinking what if they released three separate sets, one for each movie version of the car? the differences between the models would be very very minimal, but we could at least see the slope piece used in Part I and Part II versions. And the other benefit would have been more minifig options for Marty and Doc. How about a Pink Cowboy Marty? or Wild West Doc?

Now that Minecraft is more or less a theme, why not do the same with BTTF? Maybe a BTTF Train Time Machine set? fun to speculate such things...
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Re: Review: 21103 Back To The Future Time Machine

Postby Marty » Thu Jul 18, 2013 12:14 am

I have been awaiting this set with great interest, so it is no surprise that the pictures have been finally released. I read with interest the misgivings on the set, and although I agree with just about most of what you have said, there is one thing no-one has yet spoken about. Where and when can you buy this set?
I was told it was on the 18th of JULY! Well, the day has arrived, and I've checked the UK, US & AUS sites and this still hasn't shown up. I see FBTB got the set, no-problem, but what about the rest of us?

As for set it's self I'm after the pieces, as I reckon there yet to be a better one out there, but thanks for the review, Marty
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Re: Review: 21103 Back To The Future Time Machine

Postby Oky Wan Kenobi » Thu Jul 18, 2013 12:17 am

You just don't get it, Ace. The flak you received earlier was not because of your opinion, but because of biased journalism. It's perfectly fine to voice your opinion in a review, but when you're just reporting about the surfacing of pictures it is not very pleasant to read about you saying that the said pictures suck as if it were a fact, especially when it's in the first sentence of the article. We love to hear your opinion, but please try to be unbiased when posting news.

That said, I for one think this is a great set and will get it as soon as it's available. I like that they made it small so that it is affordable and easier to integrate into a City layout. Every complaint one might have about the car is compensated by something: The hood is ugly, but it allows you to convert it into the BTTF3 version; the doors are flimsy, but at least they are working doors; the wheels are exposed, but they flip down and are covered by the wiring enough not to notice; and the greebling may fall off easily, but it makes the model more detailed. And complaining about the color of the bumper is quite nitpicky since it's such an easy fix. Besides, most of the problems with this set were already inherent in the original CuuSoo project. If anything, TLG actually made the model more stable. Granted, it's a shame that you can't seat both minifigs in the car and the choice of the date is a bit odd, but if the car was any larger then it would be too big compared to other minifig-scale cars, and who cares what date is on the display as long as there is a display.

I'm just glad we actually got this set. A flawed BTTF set is still better than no BTTF set. As you said yourself, it is worth getting for the minifigs and printed parts alone, and you get all three versions of the DeLorean in one, complete with flight mode and working doors, for just $35. A stepped hood seems like a small prize to pay for such a good deal.

By the way, if you want more BTTF sets, I encourage you to support Team BTTF's latest project, the Train Time Machine: http://lego.cuusoo.com/ideas/view/35422
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Re: Review: 21103 Back To The Future Time Machine

Postby onions » Thu Jul 18, 2013 1:01 am

Marty wrote:I have been awaiting this set with great interest, so it is no surprise that the pictures have been finally released. I read with interest the misgivings on the set, and although I agree with just about most of what you have said, there is one thing no-one has yet spoken about. Where and when can you buy this set?
I was told it was on the 18th of JULY! Well, the day has arrived, and I've checked the UK, US & AUS sites and this still hasn't shown up. I see FBTB got the set, no-problem, but what about the rest of us?

As for set it's self I'm after the pieces, as I reckon there yet to be a better one out there, but thanks for the review, Marty



i found out today that it is being sold exclusively at the lego booth here at san diego comic con. the rest of the world will see the set on sale starting august 1.
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Re: Review: 21103 Back To The Future Time Machine

Postby Marty » Thu Jul 18, 2013 1:36 am

Thank you for the quick response, I'll be putting my order in on one of these on August 1st, you can count on it.

Like I said I'll be getting it to make a custom version, and I look forward to anyone else to share ideas on this, Marty
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Re: Review: 21103 Back To The Future Time Machine

Postby rifflestein » Thu Jul 18, 2013 2:01 am

The thing that gets me about what pretty much everyone is saying, is that they apparently don't know how to count studs. The slope piece that keeps getting suggested is 6 studs long, correct? Okay, now where is the windshield attached? 4 and a half studs from the front. The only way they could use the slope is if they completely reworked the design on the windshield or messed with the scale of it. The original CUUSOO model definitely looked more like a Delorean, but it was a bit big for the minifigs.

Don't get me wrong, I think they should have used some slopes (I would've gone for 2x4 slopes instead), but the big slope everyone seems to want them to use doesn't work with their model.

EDIT: Just took a look at the original CUUSOO model, and boy do I feel silly. Turns out pretty much none of what I said is valid. Oh well, live and learn.
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Re: Review: 21103 Back To The Future Time Machine

Postby Marty » Thu Jul 18, 2013 4:16 am

Hello again,
A couple of things to take note off, looking at the Cuusoo set, it's does use a unique piece which is the front bonnet, but it's not that hard to come by it's currently in the Lone Ranger mine set as part of the roof.
As for an idea on the way this thing is put together, Eurobricks has a few pictures in stages of the way its build, it also has picture of the complete parts that are use in this construction, this should tie a few of you over until the set is released.

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Re: Review: 21103 Back To The Future Time Machine

Postby Flynn » Thu Jul 18, 2013 4:25 am

Oky Wan Kenobi wrote:Every complaint one might have about the car is compensated by something: The hood is ugly, but it allows you to convert it into the BTTF3 version; the doors are flimsy, but at least they are working doors; the wheels are exposed, but they flip down and are covered by the wiring enough not to notice; and the greebling may fall off easily, but it makes the model more detailed.


Well, yeah...a flaw in a design is usually because they're attempting something that happened to necessitate a sacrifice elsewhere- The issue is whether or not the compensation is worth the sacrifice. In the case of the hood and the detailing, I would argue that getting the shape of the hood right is much more important than a fannish BTTF3 mod and that stability and playability is much more important than the model being detailed.

The latter point is what irks me the most because it highlights just how nebulous the audience for this model is...I mean, just who is this supposed to be aimed for? If it's for adult collectors, then it's hugely weakened by the inaccuracies to the car, and if it's for kids, the extremely fragile nature of the model weakens it as a play toy. It's an odd little set that has no real placement and is flawed no matter where you try to put it. At least it's an interesting failure, though.
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Re: Review: 21103 Back To The Future Time Machine

Postby bigospedros » Thu Jul 18, 2013 5:52 am

Marty wrote:I was told it was on the 18th of JULY! Well, the day has arrived, and I've checked the UK, US & AUS sites and this still hasn't shown up.


It has now ... available from 1st August. Seems to be available on most country sites. I've linked Australia, since that's where you are.

http://click.linksynergy.com/fs-bin/cli ... 253D615734

I see FBTB got the set, no-problem, but what about the rest of us?


A lot of press and Lego sites have got copies early to do reviews just like this, rather than wait.

As for me, thanks for the review. The key issues do bug me, but I will buy it and perhaps try to modify it. Design issues apart, what annoys me most is the mispelling of "Shield" on the Flux Capacitor printed tile. I was so annoyed, I got out the Blu Rays to check it wasn't a movie accurate mistake. Sadly not. This is just clumsy and shows a lack of respect to the buyers and poor quality control.

I hope they take this on the chin and issue a Service Pack with corrected spelling, a bit like they did with 7665 when it came with the wrong head of Qui-Gon Jinn.
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Re: Review: 21103 Back To The Future Time Machine

Postby Gingerbeard Man » Thu Jul 18, 2013 6:00 am

The packaging is in fact just like that of any LEGO Architecture set, as is the instruction booklet.
(And those Architecture boxes and booklets are quality stuff compared to what you get with "regular" LEGO sets.)
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Re: Review: 21103 Back To The Future Time Machine

Postby wegj » Thu Jul 18, 2013 8:10 am

Good review, I do look forward to getting it though and making it better, I quite enjoy doing that with models.
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Re: Review: 21103 Back To The Future Time Machine

Postby dWhisper » Thu Jul 18, 2013 8:58 am

Wow, so with the dates being awful (and narcissistic), typos on printed elements, and the fact that the set makes Kre-O look good... when can we start calling this the worst set around?
If the above post didn't offend you, you're probably reading it wrong.
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