LEGO Technic 42123 McLaren Senna GTR [Review]

McLaren Senna is one of the most advanced track vehicles designed and manufactured by McLaren so far. They say, only 75 copies of the car will be built, so if you missed a chance to get one, LEGO has something for you. The new LEGO Technic 42123 McLaren Senna GTR is yet another licensed LEGO Technic set, joining the winter wave of sets along with 42122 Jeep Wrangler and 42125 Ferrari 488 GTE. The 830-piece building set offers a 1:15 replica of the world-famous supercar. It will be available from January 1, 2021, for US $49.99 | CAN $69.99 | UK £44.99.

The box & packaging

There’s nothing extraordinary about the box, which is a typical example of packaging for an 800-piece set. However, I find the choice of the title picture on the box’s front quite arguable. The car isn’t instantly recognizable from this particular angle, so, were it not for the branding and logos, I doubt I would have recognized the car. The real McLaren Senna has a distinctive rear anti-wing, but it is hardly seen in the title picture; this makes the model look like a generic endurance car.

A glance at the back of the box is enough to start thinking that the designers made everything to avoid a direct comparison of the LEGO version to its real counterpart. A small rear view of the original McLaren Senna is all you get. Compare this to the 42125 Ferrari 488 GTE’s box design; the back of the packaging includes not one, but two different pictures of the real car.

Besides 830 pieces divided into 3 groups of bags, the box includes building instructions and a sticker sheet. This is not the busiest sticker sheet we’ve seen, but it has more than 45 stickers, which means that every 18th piece of the set is decorated with a sticker (not to mention two front wheel arches with prints on them). If you plan to use all the blue panels, you’d better leave the stickers on the sheet.

One of the best things about the 42125 Ferrari 488 GTE set was the pure amount of bonus information about the car, the racing team, and the car’s design. Unfortunately, 42123 McLaren Senna’s building guide has almost no extra content. Obviously, this is the difference between the 18+ sets and the regular ones, but just a single page with more than basic facts about the car could save the impression. At the very end of the book, you’ll find a simple unconvincing comparison of the cars.

New and interesting parts

A solid reason to get the set would be all the blue panels the set brings. If you are short of basic Technic panels in blue, this set will help you fix the situation. McLaren Senna gets bonus points for the new small 1×3 panel in blue, which we’ve already seen in yellow in 42122 Jeep Wrangler and in red and black in 42125 Ferrari 488 GTE. Flexible axles in blue are also a nice surprise.

Another remarkable feature of the model is two different pairs of tires. You’ll find regular tires on the rear axles, but the front wheels are narrower 43.2 x 14 ones. As of today, they can be found in eight other sets.

The build

The assembling consists of three stages, with the first one being about the chassis and the engine. By the end of the first stage, you’ll have the chassis finished, with both wheel axles and a fake V8 engine.

The fake V8 is standard for cars of this scale. It looks great and works smoothly, which is more than enough for a relatively simple set like this one.

A differential in the middle of the rear axle is what we could expect here, but this is not the case. Instead, only one wheel is driven through simple 90-degree gear transmission. My initial impression was a total disappointment in the design of the car. Even a same-sized 42093 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 came with a differential, which created a more realistic play experience. But after some time playing with the new McLaren Senna, I must admit that this solution is actually very reasonable. The playability is just the same as in any similar set, but a simple 90-degree gear combination saved a ton of space inside the car. In turn, this allowed for impressive exterior design.

As you progress with the build, you start using more and more panels. But before you place panels in the back of the car, a combination of flexible axles and angle connectors form a very nice-looking shape above the rear wheels and around the back of the vehicle.

By the end of the second building stage, everything behind the cockpit is pretty much finished, including the signature massive wing. At this moment, I started to realize how unfortunate the choice of the title picture is. The actual model is a lot prettier than the official pictures, and the panels create some exquisite shapes of the supercar.

Even the new smaller 1×3 panels didn’t manage to escape stickers, but they fit the model so brilliant. Actually, this almost looks like the highest level of detail achieved with Technic elements in an official set of this scale.

As expected, there’s nothing to see inside the cockpit. However, please note that the steering wheel is actually placed at an angle to the seats. This is impressive, especially considering that even in the massive Ferrari 488 GTE, the steering wheel has no angle at all.

The finished model

The final result is a little bit boxy, but still a pretty nice replica of McLaren Senna. First of all, it’s the exterior design and detailing level that makes a very positive impression.

Comparing the front to the back of the car, it’s hard to ignore that the rear wing is one of the car’s best parts. Its shape is as detailed as possible for this size and scale, and with the stickers on every side of the wing, it looks great from nearly every angle.

A side view reveals the car’s very low ride height. Unlike the said Ferrari, McLaren Senna has no suspension, so there is almost no space between the wheels and the wheel arches. The overall shape is also great, considering the scale of the car.

One of the biggest complaints about the Ferrari 488 GTE’s design was about the printed headlights. Readers keep telling me that those must be brick-built instead of prints. I tend to think that the design team does consider multiple versions each time they work on smaller design elements like the headlights, and the final result we see is the result of long and hard work. McLaren can offer a couple of headlights designed with transparent System pieces for those who believe in brick-built elements. Although they sit deep under the panels, you can see them when looking from the front. In my opinion, this is yet another excellent piece of designer’s work, which puts the model above many other toy sets.

Playability isn’t the set’s strongest feature. Steering through a gear on top of the roof, a fake V8 in the back, and the opening doors are all the model can offer. Nevertheless, it’s the doors that wowed me. The hinges are as simple as they can be, but it’s their placement and the angle that makes the doors open, just like on a real car. The mechanism works great, and the panels fit smoothly.

Conclusion and recommendations

All in all, the new LEGO Technic 42123 McLaren Senna GTR, by all means, is nowhere near the perfect LEGO Technic vehicle of the scale. It has a bunch of drawbacks, although most of them don’t make it less playable or less displayable. What is important is that the new McLaren Senna shows amazing improvement over 42093 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1, which belongs to the same category of models. And most of the improvements promise the theme’s very bright future.

LEGO Technic 42123 McLaren Senna GTR includes 830 pieces and will be available starting January 1st, 2021 from the LEGO Shop (US $49.99 | CAN $69.99 | UK £44.99).

2 comments on “LEGO Technic 42123 McLaren Senna GTR [Review]

  1. winstonheard

    Smaller technic cars haven’t done it for me in the past, but I think I like this. Plus I can’t binge on new speed champions sets like I’ve done at the beginning of the year previously…

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