By on August 5, 2015


I suspect there’s more than a handful of Transportation Design students finding employment in the toy business and I know my fellow design classmates at CCS collected diecast model cars. They’re inspirational, personally helping me render light/shadow reflections on the vellum.

Visits to (Pasteiner’s) Auto Zone happened regularly, sometimes with the same higher regard than local religious institutions. So spare me, oh mighty autoblogosphere, from the manufactured excitement of Lego’s F40 kit.

I reckon it’s a designer’s 8-bit nightmare.


This Vellum Venom isn’t a slam on Lego, their Creator Series or people behind them. Their Architecture series gives me a special feeling: plastic bricks make for great scale models of postwar architectural treasures from around the world.

Just not for cars. Never.


This Vellum Venom is a reminder of the diecast’s superiority in representation, dollar value and as a foundation to admire and/or seek inspiration. Get your kicks by turning an F40 diecast under a desk lamp to see how light reflects off Pininfarina’s coachwork. Clip the springs on a few Miastos and your studio gets transportation design cred for cheap.

Call it drafting table design porn. My diecast F40 joined me for my CCS misadventures. Some 10+ years later, I was honored to ride shotgun in a real one. To wit:

That 100 dollar, Nintendo-y, Minecraft-lookin’ pile of plastic dots insults The Machine’s beautiful stamped body. It’s an affront to the legacy of Mr. Pininfarina. Who knows, maybe even the aerodynamics hatin’ Mr. Ferrari would kick it out of the office. 


Even worse, availability of diecasts in mind, Lego’s kit is less automotive connoisseur and more garden-variety geek…back when that was a bad thing.

A proper scale model, a tasty Bburago reproduction (while out of production) is much cheaper on eBay. I know, I know: Bburagos are the Trader Joe’s of scale model cars. My budget remains tight, I hold no delusions there.


There’s the simply stunning Pocher 1:8th scale model, even Kyosho and Hot Wheels make better interpretations. However, as the purchase price rises, the benefits of finer diecast details are a sliding economy of scale.


And much like a customizable-ish Lego model, Bburagos are easily disassembled for painting its casting details to a respectable level of accuracy — like proper black trim on the beltline, window pillars and more accurate interior colors. Repainting takes less time than it would to watch the first half of a Nashville Oilers game. my typical study break back at CCS.

Unlike the Lego, sorta like the upscale diecasts, the Bburago F40 is beautiful on its own — especially above the smexy intake runners of my SHO-coffee table, but I digress…


To my design-savvy readers: Don’t sell yourself short with Legos. You loved ’em as a kid. The Internet says this F40 kit is totally awesome. The extensive assembly time is not without its charms. But no…no, do not worship this false idol.

The vellum demands you do justice to the Ferrari F40, get a Bburago F40 for 50 percent less cash or go big with the premium diecast brands. And insist your friends do the same!

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34 Comments on “Vellum Venom Vignette: Diecasting A Designer’s 8-bit Nightmare?...”

  • avatar

    Disagree. The Lego kit isn’t intended to be a true representation of the F40, it’s a Lego interpretation. Once you pass that mental hurdle, it’s easy to enjoy. I don’t even own any Lego kits but I understand and follow the appeal – it is a high-quality assembly with 1,000 small pieces that all fit together so very well, with plenty of little surprises for building and display. If anything I’d say car guys (mechanically interested) should pick it up, it’s only $100.

    • 0 avatar


      They are two different things, used for different functions! Don’t dog the Lite Brite because it doesn’t produce as detailed images as the Etch-A-Sketch.

  • avatar

    #1 I don’t like Ferrari. BORING.

    #2 Lamborghini’s products are SUPERIOR. One of my partners has an Aventador, another has a Murcielago, another has a Huracan and two others have Gallardos. One of them has an Italia – but I don’t even look his way. It’s UGLY.

    (And to back that statement up, I have videos)

    #3 type Lego Aventador in your browser and You’ll see a FAR SUPERIOR product.

  • avatar

    I agree. I think Legos are overrated. I LOVED building and construction toys as a kid, but Legos never did it for me.

    • 0 avatar

      Sorry you are banned from the internet, because everyone knows LEGO is awesome!

      As far as brand awareness goes Ferrari was just edged out by… you guessed it LEGO:

  • avatar

    This strikes me as a bit like saying you shouldn’t get a tablet computer because TVs are better for watching movies. So what? The two products serve different purposes despite their being superficially similar.

  • avatar

    They could do a Range Rover Lego with either the 70’s one or the mid 00’s one, and it would turn out just fine.

    Or a Defender!

  • avatar

    You completely miss the point of the creator series. The draw of the Lego F40 is in the assembly of the blocks to create. The end product is just that… the end of a process. I own this set an it was pure joy to assemble. The techniques they employed to make the engine cover, NACA ducts, and the widening from the monocoque to the rear wheelbase are some that I’ve never seen before and it all comes together much better than you’d expect from rectangular blocks. The pop-up lights and removable rear bumper so the engine can pop out drove home how clever this model is. I halfway wanted to stop and take photos before I’d even built the engine or the front and rear covers because it was so pleasant to just inspect and feel the partial assembly. That is the joy of building Legos Creator sets. You get to walk through their thought process and the clever ways in which they “manufacture” the set.

    I have AutoArt diecasts as well, but the Lego Creator Mini Cooper and F40 were far more satifying ways to spend $100, IMO. I can tear it apart and rebuild it with my kid someday, too. When she grabbed my AutoArt Toyota 86, she bent the antenna. Doh. When she pushed the F40 off the couch, I simply put it back together.

    In general, I’m not in love with the direction that Lego is heading with their regular sets. They’ve gone to a philosophy that reduces the part count by replacing what used to be 3 parts cleverly arranged to one part in their mainline sets and I think that doesn’t facilitate creativity the way it used to, but the Creator sets and the modular building sets are always super well done.

  • avatar

    My view of legos is that they were great when there were no kits to make specific objects, and a kid’s imagination could go wild with them. This business of lego blocks that are for one purpose only, whether a bridge, a ferrari, or whathaveyou, seems like cheapening the brand down to the lowest common denominator.

    I still have my childhood dinky (very few, and the ’60 El Camino and the Rolls disappeared), Corgi, and Matchbox cars, as well as a few diecasts I’ve acquired in adulthood (two Peugeot 404s I got on Ebay, a beautifully rendered 1/24 Boxster, a matchbox Citroen DS a would be lover gave me, and an ’80s matchbox Citroen.

    • 0 avatar

      “This business of lego blocks that are for one purpose only, whether a bridge, a ferrari, or whathaveyou, seems like cheapening the brand down to the lowest common denominator.”

      When my son gets a set (he’s seven now) he’ll build the thing on the box and play with it for a while, and then it gets taken apart and added to the giant pile, which he then remakes into various fantastic objects of indiscernable purpose: Just as it should be. Before I started actually seeing the sets in person again when he hit three, I thought as you did; it looked like the designs were pretty much single-purpose. But it turns out that they’ve just gotten REALLY GOOD at designing the things so they LOOK that way. I can count the number of single-purpose bricks we have on a couple of hands – out of thousands we have. So it’s not as bad as it seems.

  • avatar

    Sajeev that is some coffee table!

  • avatar


    First, I apologize for the incoming wall of text. I respect a lot of your opinions, but you’re on the wrong side on this one, mostly because it seems like you’re missing the point of the model. The Lego F40 is not the only interpretation of the F40 and a die-cast scale model is a completely different beast compared to a construction set. They can both share space in your garage without fighting each other. It’s not a 1:1 replica; it’s an interpretation (of which some concessions are made for mass-production purposes). There are some self-made Lego F40 replicas that are more accurate than the Creator set, but they either have too many parts, use illegal construction methods, or would be too expensive to maintain the $99-ish Creator Advanced price point. Earlier examples are the Mini Cooper, the VW Camper Van, and the VW Beetle.

    I collect both replica models and Lego sets because they scratch two different itches. While I do not collect diecast cars, I do collect aircraft models, and those models come from all stripes. I own diecast metal aircraft, plastic molded aircraft, model kit aircraft, wooden aircraft, and yes, Lego aircraft. Certain classes of model go for different prices and different looks. I’m terrible with decals and paint, but the best models I own have always been kit-built, thanks to the skills of my model building friends. Diecast aircraft can vary wildly depending on manufacturer, and the molded plastic aircraft tend to have the best liveries but mechanical might be lacking. Admittedly those have improved a lot over the past few years (with working engines, landing gear, etc) but they are the only way to get reasonably priced large-scale models. Diecasts are far too heavy for most models above 1:200 scale for narrowbody aircraft, and 1:400 scale is the most common.

    My Lego aircraft are of different stripes. The Creator Blue Power Jet (which is a fantastic set both for construction, display, and play) is clearly based on the F-35 Lightning II, but is legally distinct enough by the fact it has a dual-crew cockpit. But it has working elevons, flaps, speed brakes, and good engine detail. A child or adult aviation enthusiast would love that set, and it was an absolute joy to put together. The Lego 787 is not a perfect replica (the wing join could be better and the cockpit/nose shape is kind of :effort: ) but it had a lot of clever use of parts. It’s also my only 1:100 scale model. But it’s not my ONLY 787 model; I own true replicas of the 787 as well. The Sopwith Camel has working control surfaces via cables controlled by a cockpit yoke, a spinning radial engine, working suspension, and it’s a fairly faithful replica of the shape and style of the aircraft. But it’s not a perfect replica, because there is a kind of artist’s interpretation going on because you’re limited by the construction materials.

    Half of what makes a Lego set a Lego set is the construction process, and the creator sets like the F40, Mini Cooper, Sopwith Camel, and so on feature a lot of clever build techniques that get put back into the general Lego construction knowledge base. The F40 itself has a super neat construction for the engine and transaxle, and was my favorite part of the build. Using revolver guns as headers, and technic Y-brackets for the (shaking) cylinders? Very cool. The intake manifold looks insanely great, especially because it’s made with so few studs. There is clearly a care and respect for the design of the Ferrari engine given the materials they had to construct it. Here’s an image of the engine:

    Does the Lego F40 capture the spirit of the car? I’d say it certainly does; the construction techniques used to make the car are quite clever and it represents the major features of the design quite well. The curves of the hood, the windshield/roof join, the fact that it’s built monocoque first and then the rest of the body. Is it perfect? No, those C-pillars are a kludge and the interior doesn’t have enough resolution for full details. The louvered design of the rear hatch glass is love-or-hate (though most seem to love it). Using a combination of stickers and brick-build for the black stripe is poor form, as is the sticker for the rear NACA vent when all the other ones are brick built. The sticker content is still relatively low, though. The popup headlights are also a single super-lame sticker when they deserve a custom part.

    The TL:DR is that no one’s gonna take away your diecast cars and half the fun is building the damn thing. There’s room for more than one interpretation of form in our wide world of cars.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s not that I disagree with you, its just that the intended purpose of the Lego F40 makes no sense to the design side of me.

      Maybe I should actually buy one of these insanely expensive things and do a Piston Slap about it instead.

      Nah, I’d rather have a Kyosho.

      • 0 avatar

        $99 is not “insanely expensive” for a lego set. Especially so for the F40, whose part/price ratio is pretty good. The VW Bus and the Mini Cooper were of similar price/part ratios as well.

        I’m a designer too, but I’m not an auto designer. The intended purpose is to render the car in another medium. It’s like a painting versus a photograph. Every medium has its strengths and weaknesses. Other comments have elucidated on those strengths and weaknesses enough; but the point is that you have to look at it within the context of the medium upon which it is designed.

  • avatar

    Are diecast models really in scale? I know from what I’ve read about the Hot Wheels design process and what goes on in car design studios with 1:8, 1:4, and 1:1 clay models, that at each size the proportions need to be fine tuned because in real life things don’t necessarily scale well.

  • avatar
    Compaq Deskpro

    This is awesome, thank you for bringing my attention to this. I think I’m going to go buy one.

  • avatar
    Compaq Deskpro

    This is awesome, thanks for bringing my attention to this. I think I’m going to go buy one.

  • avatar

    It appears that Lego Love > Panther Love on TTAC!

  • avatar

    I’m more interested in your SHO intake table than the die-cast F-40. Tell me about it.

  • avatar

    That picture on the box cover is actually quite flattering. I don’t think it would even look that good in person, based on this picture:

    I’m with you on this one, Sajeev. That F40 looks terrible.

    I had a ridiculous amount of Lego growing up. That and Playmobil were easy to convince my mother to buy, as she thought they were good toys. I’m used to a Lego model being a collection of basic materials that can be used to make many other things, not a bunch of customized pieces that combine to form an ugly version of a simpler toy. I just don’t get modern Lego, and I even had a couple of fairly large Technics vehicles.

    That said, I’d probably have been happy to build it and play with it if I found it under the Christmas tree as a kid. But give that kid the choice between that and a decent radio-controlled car and it’s not even close. The RC car is both more fun and more educational, in my opinion, especially if it’s one you build yourself.

    My Lambo wasn’t nearly as pretty as I remember it though.

    Some big wheel gaps there. It may have had more suspension travel than the actual Countach. Pushrod setup on the front.

    I also had quite a few Bburagos. Unfortunately, no F40. My favorite was probably my dark blue Diablo. It’s been awhile since I looked at my 1:18 model collection. I’ll have to go visit my father and see them sometime. Maybe I’ll even find the Tyco Countach.

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