We Build The LEGO Back to the Future DeLorean Time Machine

LEGO is making direct overtures to Generation X and older Millennials – the adult groups that grew up in the ’80s and ’90s, and now have the disposable income for an emotionally rewarding, yet pricey hobby. The Ultimate Collectors Star Wars sets, the Ghostbusters Ecto-1 set, and the Nintendo console replica were the most prominent examples of targeting this demographic. Now, we have another.

On April 1, LEGO will release its most anticipated set of the year thus far: the iconic DeLorean time machine from the Back to the Future trilogy. It will not be the first time that LEGO has released a Back to the Future DeLorean; that was in 2013, in response to a fan campaign through its budding LEGO Ideas initiative. But this latest rendition is bigger and accurately proportioned. It has three branching build options to reflect its three distinctive appearances in the three Back to the Future films. Great Scott, indeed.

We Build the LEGO Back to the Future DeLorean Time Machine

The set comes in a black box that opens from its broad face rather than from its side paneling–opening the box is akin to opening up a laptop, clamshell style. This is likely an accommodation for adult LEGO Collectors, who frequently save the box as a keepsake. Inside the box are multiple bags of plastic bricks, numbered from ‘1’ through ’11’ to correspond with the building instructions’ steps. The instruction booklet, plus the set’s stickers, is enclosed in a separate bag and has the iconic ‘OUTATIME’ California license plate emblazoned across the front of it.

The set includes two LEGO mini-figures: one of Marty McFly, wearing his “life preserver” vest and blue jeans, and another of Doc Brown, wearing his yellow suit and red shirt/tie combo. I particularly liked the hair on the Doc Brown figure–it is shorter in the front than it is in the back, creating the impression of a receding hairline. Both minifigures have reversible heads. Marty can switch between a grimace and a smile, and Doc can switch between a shocked look and a smile. For the latter expression, Doc wears the silver sunglasses from the end of the first film.

You begin by building the car’s foundation, which is constructed from bricks rather than the Technic pins and rods that LEGO has favored in recent years. The bricks are directionally color-coded to orient you, so you don’t get the front and back of the build confused with one another.

The set has two prominent, mechanical functions. The first is that the wheels fold up and in, just like they do in the movies when the DeLorean takes flight. You pull a lever, hidden on bottom of the model, to switch modes. The second function is the Flux Capacitor, which lights up orange when you press a button on the car’s roof.

The model is a wonderful marriage of function and form. The designer did not graft the fan service elements onto the car after the fact. Rather, the designer baked these mechanisms directly into the set’s foundations. You don’t realize you’re building the underlying structure at first. But gradually, you see that this gear turns that gear, which turns that rod. You see that the designer planned for two separate, independent parts of the build to interlink, so that when you put it together, those three pins line up with those three holes. You see that this brick and that brick are at an exact distance from one another to slide a mechanism through, or lie at the right height to overlay a second element. These are moments of joy, like watching a comedy routine, arriving at the punchline, and recognizing the callback from several minutes prior. It was planned all along.

There are a couple of moments that demand patience and steady hands. Longtime LEGO builders might know what I’m talking about; there are several loose elements in the build that need to be anchored to make them sturdy. And until they are ‘locked,’ you need to hold them in place at the proper angle while completing another task with your free hand–it’s the LEGO equivalent of patting your head and rubbing your stomach at the same time. But they are manageable and ‘fair,’ for lack of a better word—you have just enough hands and fingers to make it work.

There are a couple of moments that demand patience and steady hands.


I’ve built one other massive LEGO car prior to this one: the Batmobile from the 1989 Tim Burton movie. That model looked physically imposing but fell apart too easily — the fins and external elements were not enforced, and the tires were too soft, collapsing on themselves when you tried to roll them. It was for display only, which was a great source of frustration for my five-year-old, who didn’t understand that a massive Batmobile wasn’t meant to be touched or played with.

The DeLorean, while also a display piece, is much more durable. It has harder tires, which allows it to roll smoothly along the ground. And its plating is closer to its body, which makes it more difficult to come off when you’re pushing the car around, or when you’re moving it from one part of the house to another.

The Easter eggs are well-placed and thoughtful. There’s a large graphical element on the car’s dashboard, which displays the Destination Time, Present Time, and Last Time Departed. There’s a green trunk that holds the plutonium canisters. There’s a pink hoverboard from the year 2015. And lastly, there’s a banana, which Doc uses to fuel the DeLorean at the end of the first movie. All these loose accessories fit under the DeLorean’s hood, which provides a great way to store them; speaking from experience, it’s easy to lose any elements that aren’t anchored down.

It takes about three minutes to switch the LEGO model from one movie’s appearance to another’s. The first rendition features a massive conductor rod and hook mounted on its roof; in the movie, this rod absorbs the 1.21 gigawatts from the lightning bolt that hits the Hill Valley Clock Tower.

The second rendition includes the Mr. Fusion energy reactor, which eliminates the need for plutonium to create a nuclear reaction. The third rendition swaps the traditional tires with whitewall tires from the 1950s, and mounts vacuum tubes onto the DeLorean’s hood. I prefer the second rendition; I have it set to ‘fly mode,’ and I mounted the car on top of clear bricks to make it ‘hover.’

I have it set to ‘fly mode,’ and I mounted the car on top of clear bricks to make it ‘hover.’


It’s strange how some memories are sensory, because I remember where I was when I watched Back to the Future for the first time. I was seven, and I was in my house’s den; I had the movie on video cassette, which my parents taped off a TV broadcast. I had finished eating either macaroni and cheese or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch; my mom alternated between them. And certain moments from that film stood out to me vividly, and continues to stand out three decades later. I remember Marty riding his skateboard while holding onto the back of the car, while “Power of Love” played on the soundtrack. I remember the fire trails that the DeLorean left in its wake. I remember the electric bolts that sputtered and sparked before engulfing the vehicle, sending Marty back to 1955.

Getting this LEGO set in the mail brought those memories back, and I decided to watch the entire trilogy, back-to-back-to-back, while building this. I would recommend the same to anyone else. This is a wonderful build experience–a figurative trip to the past, to a time when our lives felt simpler and the stakes felt lower.

The LEGO Back to the Future Time Machine, Set #10300, was created by a design team led by LEGO Designer Sven Franic. It’s composed of 1872 pieces and retails for $169.99.

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