As a boy, I loved LEGOs. The bigger and more complicated the set, the better. The satisfaction of seeing that pile of disparate blocks turn into a brand new creation was one of the most satisfying experiences young me had ever had. As an adult, I’d lost that. Then, I discovered Time 4 Machine’s latest kickstarter: beautiful, stainless steel construction sets that double as modern art pieces. That LEGO loving little boy inside of me about burst. This is my experience with this gorgeous yet somehow approachable adult construction set.
Since the Kickstarter is still ongoing to fund this latest round of models, my choice of model was limited. I wound up trying the Glorious Cabrio 2.
It’s a beautiful model of a classic car. What’s more, it’s fully functional. Using a hidden drive train and a coiled spring, it’s able to move on it’s own, including a working steering wheel and transmission. Just looking at it, you can tell there are a lot of parts and a lot of craftsmanship. I admit to being a little intimidated. This is no kids’ LEGO set and it’d been 25 years since I’d even tried one of those.
Thankfully, T4M does a great job of making construction approachable. Inside the small cardboard box, all of the parts come in metal sheets, each numbered, and every step of the build process shows which parts will be needed.
I was also happy to see that they included a set of pliers right in the box, along with a file if you come up with any sharp edges (I didn’t but can easily see how it’s possible), and a polishing cloth to give the final product that picture perfect shine.
All in all, I have to say, the package felt extremely classy. You can tell you have a specialty product here, not something being mass produced for the lowest possible dollar, so good on T4M for some premium presentation.
The actual building process is mostly straightforward but there are points where technique becomes important. The instructional manual uses very brief written directions and very detailed illustrations that allow you to take in each step visually. Completing each takes time and patience to get your bends just right and to lock pieces in place. Inevitably, you’ll be making small adjustments as you go, so I had to learn to leave my perfectionism at the door. It’s better to bend things once and adjust them when you’re making connections than to rebend them repeatedly from the outset.
Where things get tricky is when you’re bending small but thick pieces to lock pieces like gears. This can be flat-out hard unless you know the right way to do it (and even then is tricky). The videos are very helpful at points like these but I do wish there were more details in the written instructions for people who may not have internet access while building.
A couple things I learned along the way:
- Have a second pair of needle-nose pliers on hand. This makes some bends and adjustments much easier.
- Don’t try to do it all at once unless you have a good long time to build. I spent about five hours one evening and was 75% of the way done.
- Pay special attention when assembling the spring mechanism. I missed a small piece of the illustration showing how to anchor the spring and so didn’t. Having to disassemble and then rewind the spring is hard.
- Use the polishing cloth to guard your fingers when working with springs. They’re pointy!
- Check your gear mechanisms as you go. Make sure each moves freely every step of the way and you’ll have a much more satisfying (and long!) first run.
All in all, I was very impressed with this set on multiple levels. It’s stunning, number one, but more importantly, they somehow made it easy enough for an out-of-practice builder like myself to jump in with both feet. I didn’t do it perfectly by any means. I had to bend things back into place multiple times and I’m sure made things harder on myself than I needed to. But I did it.
And this is the end product. Well, this is their end product which has a few less corrections than my own. It really is stunning, though. Wind it up and it drives. It has a working steering wheel and transmission. The hood and trunk open. With more than 100 custom parts, it was a two day project for me but one I’m definitely glad I took and one that’s definitely worth the cost of entry.
Time 4 Machine brought me back to my childhood, piecing together a custom LEGO set. What they’ve delivered here is so much better: it’s classy, beautiful, and eminently premium. It’s a construction set, an art creation set, an eye-catching conversation starter, and a trip I’m definitely happy to have taken.
Find out more and consider backing their Kickstarter drive here. The normal pricing on these kits is already good but the early backer prices have me considering picking up a second set myself. Go check them out and lend your support.