Ciao bella! The Lego Vespa brings a hint of Italy to your living room
With the 1960s Vespa, Lego is bringing an Italian lifestyle icon into living rooms. Beautiful details and a special colour make this set a showstopper.
The 1960 release of the 125cc Vespa in Pontedera, Italy, hailed the birth of not just a new mode of transport, but a symbol for vitality and carefreeness. Legend has it that Enrico Piaggio, upon seeing the sketch of the prototype for the first time, said: «Sembra una vespa!», or in English: «Looks like a wasp!» When the engine was later heard for the first time, it became even more apparent that the perfect name had been found.
The Lego Vespa is 22 centimetres high, 35 centimetres long and 12 centimetres wide – an ideal size for a display piece. It’s small enough for you to find a space for it, but big enough for its details to stand out. Lego fans should be thrilled about one thing in particular: the model’s pastel blue colour. It’s the first time Lego has used a shade like this in a set.
When building the last Lego sets I tried out – Formula 1 race car and BMW motorcycle – I was practically drowning in sticker sheets. With this in mind, I was a little worried when I opened up the Vespa box. My concerns, however, turned out to be unfounded. There’s a reasonable amount of stickers this time: there are only ten.
There’s usually a short story on the first page of a Lego instruction manual. This one describes how Vespa has become a style icon over the last 75 years, all the while providing an affordable way for young people to get around. After an overview of the upcoming construction steps, it’s down to the nitty-gritty: the assembly.
The blocks included in this set tend to be on the larger side, which means the plastic bags empty out quickly. As the left and right sides of the motorbike are almost identical, most of the construction steps are unfortunately duplicates. This leads to the build becoming rather repetitive and unexciting. In my case, the Vespa took just under three hours to complete.
Since the blocks are only slotted together, every now and then a piece of the structure falls off. The seat and handlebars are especially fragile. That said, you can pop the parts back into place no problem. If you’re looking for a plaything, the Vespa won’t cut it. It’s a display model, designed to be admired. And boy is it worth a look!
While the construction of the Vespa is lacking in thrills, the aesthetics are in a class of their own. The designers have accurately transferred the proportions to the small-scale model. Senior Designer Florian Müller reveals this was a hard nut to crack: «The biggest challenge was recreating the Vespa’s curves with Lego bricks.»
Although the Vespa is meant for a display case, it has a few interactive gimmicks: the ability to pull down the kickstarter, swivel the handlebars, or remove the engine cover for an inspection, for instance.
Other details – and for me the icing on the cake of this set – include the flower basket on the luggage rack, and the helmet complete with goggles. These two additions bring the motorcycle to life and add a dash of colour to the blue and grey. Lego Designer Florian Müller hits the nail on the head: «The removable flower basket and helmet are a homage to that mid-1960s Vespa Dolce Vita spirit.»
On the same day as the Vespa, Lego also launched a BMW motorcycle. And yet, the two bikes couldn’t be more different. The Vespa, with its classic Lego bricks, focuses on southern flair and comfortable cruising. The BMW, on the other hand, which is made of Technic parts, injects a racetrack vibe into your living room with its raw sportiness. Although Lego launched them at the same time, it’s pretty remarkable that the petrol cap on the cheaper Vespa is printed onto the block, whereas the more expensive BMW has a sticker. I’ve no idea what Lego was thinking here.
It was fun to build, but repetitive at times. The Vespa is one of the simpler models in Lego’s Creator Expert line. Personally, I’d hoped the build would challenge me a bit more. In this respect, the BMW motorcycle from the Technic range was far more sophisticated. Seeing as the assembly is simple and takes just three hours, however, the Vespa is well suited to Lego beginners. Don’t let the 18+ age recommendation throw you off: as ever, all this does is target a particular market segment – it says nothing about the model’s difficulty level.
As far as the aesthetics go, Vespa really delivers. It looks deceptively similar to the original and cuts a fine figure thanks to its 60s design. The designer’s attention to detail is apparent when you first set eyes on it. Whether you’re a motorbike buff or not, with the Vespa, you get an Italian lifestyle icon for your living room.
Despite a hefty price of almost 130 francs, I’m convinced that Lego fans will love this set. Lego collectors who use the blocks for other purposes are also bound to snap it up. After all, the new colour of the parts inside will be of interest to them. If you don’t belong to either of these target groups, I advise you to wait until the price of the set drops under 100 francs. It might take a while, though. Pro tip: put it on your watch list. That way, you’ll get a notification when it goes down in price.Lego gave me this product to test out. The editorial team’s articles aren’t influenced by manufacturers’ interests, and we aren’t responsible for sales targets.
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