One of the most exciting sets from LEGO of late is the 21108 “ECTO-1” car from the movie Ghostbusters. This is the first LEGO IDEAS set that I’ve purchased (21109 Exo-Suit, which I’m even more excited about, is being shipped to me as I write this). For those who haven’t heard of LEGO IDEAS, it’s LEGO’s crowdsourcing platform, enabling fans to design sets and put them up for votes. It started off as CUUSOO, originally only in Japan but later expanded to the whole world. This set was designed by Brent Waller and submitted to CUUSOO in March of 2013. It got 10,000 votes and was turned into a LEGO set. There is a blurb in the back of the instruction book that tells the story.
This set comes in much nicer packaging than most LEGO sets. The box has a hinged lid that can be reclosed. It’s great for keeping the set in the box after it’s built (It fits if you take the roof off).
The building instructions are unusual too – they come in a nicely bound book which starts off with text – a few pages about the movie and the car, in English, French, and Spanish. Throughout the book there are scattered quotes, in all three languages of course, from the film. Most LEGO sets have instruction booklets that are staple-bound, not book-bound like this, and have few if any actual words. The book is nice quality but it doesn’t stay open very well, and the pages are printed with a black background which looks nice, but it can be very hard to pick out the details of the darker colors (at least the black parts have white outlines). For example the first thing you build (as always) is the minifigs, and it’s very hard to tell the different dark brown hair pieces apart. Also since the book is rather small it only has one or two steps per page typically, so it has over 110 pages (which is part of why it doesn’t like to stay open). It looks nice, but a larger page size would have easily fit in the box, and a lighter background would make building easier.
The first thing we build is the minifigs and a little stand for them, with yellow and black stripes like in the ghost trap from the film. It features a 2×2 curved slope with the Ghostbusters logo printed on it, mounted using a clever combination of headlight bricks and one of the new 1×2-1×2 bracket pieces, a SNOT (Studs Not On Top) technique I will have to remember – the first of many in this set I think.
After that you build the car, starting with the chassis. For the most part it’s a pretty ordinary car, as far as LEGO building techniques go, though there are a few interesting parts uses, SNOT side panels, and the side windows are mounted in a novel way – see below. The front and back include printed “ECTO-1” license plates (yay no stickers!) and metallic silver grille and bumper parts. I wish LEGO still made chrome parts though, as those would be perfect for this model.
New parts / colors
The 1×1 round plate with a hollow stud, which I’ve only seen before in white in LEGO games, appears in this set in dark red. It is used in the minifigs’ ghost guns, and inside the vehicle where the windows are mounted. This part is only allowed to be used in places where a solid-stud 1×1 round plate can’t work, but I’m glad to see it is still being made. There are some situations where it’s really handy for mounting parts together in odd ways in a confined space.
The 3×4 plate with 4 studs, which I’ve only seen in black in collectible minifigs, is now in light stone grey, used inside the car and not just to pose minifigs. I am not sure how useful this part really is, but it’s always fun when the designers give us something novel – really, 4 2×3 plates would have worked just fine instead of 2 of these.
The car has side-facing studs all down the length of it, and I was struck by the clever arrangement of the brackets used to provide a uniform studs-out surface to build the side panels on. For most of it, this is done using brackets, but above the rear wheels there are some side-facing bricks that are situated to line up smoothly with the brackets. A brick with studs on the side, with a regular brick attached, is equivalent to a panel mounted one stud further outbound, and this allows space for the rear wheels. Nice.
The side windows are attached with a clever technique. In between panes there are plates with L-shaped bars, which are the only attachment point. These are connected to clips inside the vehicle, allowing the windows to be mounted at an angle.
The last part of this build is the roof, which is full of great greebling. Just like in the movie where the roof of the car is piled high with paranormal-fighting gear, the LEGO model is packed with brightly colored equipment. The techniques behind them are fairly simple, but the effect is really good.
If you enjoy the movie Ghostbusters, 1950s era ambulances, or just like clever SNOT and greebling techniques, this is the set for you.