Back in 2009, LEGO released two sets (8183 and 8184 ) that got me pretty excited. The reason for my excitement was that these sets contained a car chassis that could be remote-controlled using a Power Functions IR-remote. This would make it relatively easy to build your own relatively compact remote-controlled car. I bought one, but it had about as much directional control as a puppy on a wet floor; it constantly bumped into walls or bits of furniture. It was fast, though.
Curtis D. Collins (curtydc) has now used a similar chassis to build his “little big rig”. He too reports that the steering isn’t great, but also that it is a zippy a little RC. I believe that, certainly with those big wheels. I also think it looks pretty cool. Like Barry Bosman’s Monster Masher, it has a certain toy-like quality to it that reminds me of the RC cars that were around when I was a child.
Peter Dornbach (dornbi) has built a very neat model of a Cold War classic: the British Sea Harrier. The Harrier has a somewhat odd-ball appearance, which is captured beautifully in the model. The odd shape is largely due to the aircraft’s unique Rolls Royce Pegasus engine, which allows the aircraft to take off and land vertically. This ability is why it is sometimes known as the Jump Jet.
During the Cold War, many air forces worried about the vulnerability of their airfields to enemy strikes. Fighters that can operate from a much smaller strip, at a time of crisis, can be dispersed to smaller and better concealed locations away from their main base. Building a jet that can take off and land vertically is a big challenge, however. A whole range of different ideas were tried, including having additional lift engines mounted vertically inside the aircraft. This obviously was a very heavy solution. Using rocket boosters to launch a conventional jet from a short ramp worked, but left the jet in question with no place to land. The only successful design was the British Harrier, whose Pegasus engine has four jet nozzles that can be swiveled down to direct the jet’s entire thrust upward. Despite its diminutive scale of only 1/48, Peter’s model has these swiveling nozzles.
Its ability to operate without long runways made the Harrier an attractive choice for shipboard use. British Harriers gained most of their fame (or notoriety) in the 1982 Falklands War, where Royal Navy Sea Harriers, operating from small aircraft carriers, racked up about 20 air-to-air kills against the Argentinian Air Force and Navy, including against far faster Mirage fighters.
”We are the Borg. Lower your shields and surrender your ships. We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own. Your culture will adapt to service us. Resistance is futile.”
The Borg figure and bust built by Shawn Snyder aren’t about to inject nanoprobes into your bloodstream that turn you into a cyborg drone in their collective, but they definitely look the part.
The professional builders from Bright Bricks have a reputation to uphold for building big things for Christmas. In 2011 their 38 ft brick-built Christmas tree dazzled travelers passing through St. Pancras Station in London and set a record for being the world’s largest LEGO tree. Last year they built the world’s largest LEGO Advent Calendar for Covent Garden. This year they’ve built a fantastic collection of London landmarks to go inside the world’s largest LEGO snow globe. It measures an impressive 3m x 3m x 3m (10ft x 10ft x 10ft). It’s quite possibly the only LEGO snow globe and neither the snow nor the globe are made of LEGO, but who cares?
Snow gets blown through the globe and it has a tunnel down the middle that visitors can walk through, to be pretty much surrounded by it and to possibly feel a bit like London mayor Boris Johnson did in Feb 2009, when one of the largest snowfalls in recent history dumped 20 cm of white flakes on his city, bringing it to a stand-still.
I had the pleasure of visiting the Bright Bricks workshop in early October, when this project had just gotten underway. It must be tempting to cut some corners (perhaps even literally) here and there when building professionally for an audience that largely consists of people who don’t build with LEGO and who may not appreciate all the intricacies, but these are high-quality models. Having seen some of the builds at an early stage, I was very impressed by the level of detail and the clever build techniques that went into them.
The snow globe is on display at Covent Garden London until early January.
This 19th of November marks the 150th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. The Battle of Gettysburg, which took place several months before, was the bloodiest battle of the American civil war and many of the dead were hastily buried in temporary graves. They were subsequently reburied in what was to become the Gettysburg National Cemetery. The Address was one of several speeches that marked the official consecration of the cemetery.
Gary Brooks (Gary the Procrastinator), who is no stranger to TBB, has expertly recreated the scene of President Lincoln giving the speech. At the time, the reception of the speech was mixed, but it has gained a prominent place in the history and culture of the United States.
For some reason, a lot of military builders choose to build their military vehicles in dark grey. I suspect that it is because more suitable colors, such as tan, dark green or olive green, are expensive and because relatively few parts are made in them. Of course, if you do want a color that is available in vast quantities, you could always opt for a United Nations color scheme. This is exactly what Project Azazel has done for two of his new vehicles: an M113 Armored Personnel Carrier and a Armored Infantry Fighting Vehicle (AIFV).
The M113 was developed in the mid-fifties, when the US Army needed a new Armored Personnel Carrier. It had to be smaller and lighter than existing vehicles, so that it could be transported aboard the then-new C-130 Hercules airlifter. The key to keeping the weight of the M113 down was a new welding technique that allowed using aluminum for the armor instead of steel. It first entered production in the 60s and is still in use with the US Army and many export customers all over the world. It also spawned many different versions, including the AIFV. This was a more modern and more heavily armed version. It wasn’t adopted by the US Army, but was further developed for export customers, including the Netherlands, Belgium, Turkey and South Korea.
One thing I like about the model vehicles, besides their refreshing white paint scheme, is that they don’t appear to be ridiculously large.
Back in June, I posted a collection of Eighties film and TV vehicles, which at that time consisted of four cars (and fifth one that wasn’t in the picture). Lots of people offered me suggestions for which vehicles to build next and I kept going.
Top row from left to right: American Graffiti, The A-Team, Back to the Future, Batman (1989), Blues Brothers, The Dukes of Hazzard; middle row: Ghostbusters, Gone in 60 Seconds (2000), Inspector Morse, Knight Rider, Magnum P.I., Miami Vice; bottom row: Mr. Bean, Only Fools and Horses, Starsky & Hutch, Terminator II Judgement Day, Tomb raider and Top Gear.
By now, a few months later, I’ve got 18 vehicles. They are not all from the Eighties anymore and a few British ones sneaked in. I am really enjoying building these. Unlike many LEGO car builders, I don’t have it in me to come up with my own cool or custom car designs. I tend to build scale models of existing vehicles and most are bog-standard production versions. The cars that are the stars in movies and TV series, however, are often a bit more flamboyant. Building them means I still get to build the scale models I like so much, but with a few extra sprinkles on top and the often funny characters that go with them. There are a few obvious vehicles still missing from my collection, such as cars from any of the James Bond movies, but I am not about to stop this any time soon.
I am currently enjoying reruns of Star Trek The Next Generation on Belgian TV. When I saw the first episode a few weeks ago, many years after I first saw it, I was a bit surprised at how dated the series looks nowadays and how young most of the actors were. Of course, many Trekkies consider Captain Picard, Cdr. Riker and their crew to be young upstarts. The real Starship Enterprise is captained by Kirk, with Spock serving as his first officer and Uhura, ‘Bones’ McCoy, Chechov, ‘Scotty’ and Sulu making up the rest of the cast.
Ryan Ziegelbauer (rionz) has recreated all of them in miniland form. Despite the limitations inherent to building miniland figures, to me they are all instantly recognisable. The only thing missing is a cardboard set that wobbles slightly!
As a child, back in the Eighties, I had a poster of Lego set 5580 Highway Rig, above my bed and I know I’m not the only LEGO car builder who fancied that particular model. However, if there would have been poster of the Lamborghini Countach built by Rolling Bricks back then, I might have replaced the poster with its image.
The Countach was the maddest supercar of the Eighties. It was super fast and hugely impractical and had a shape that was out of this world. The LEGO version is pretty much super too. Check out the clever half-stud offsets for the front fender and the SNOT work used for the rear one as well. In fact, every time I look at this model I notice some clever combination of parts and it wouldn’t be complete without working scissor doors. It’s hard to imagine this car being done better on this scale.
Back in 1975, long before the classic eighties Model Team sets that I had as a child, LEGO already made a series of realistic models of real vehicles, in the so-called Hobby sets. One of these was Lego set 392, Formula One; a model of a race car that, considering the limited parts that LEGO made at the time, was remarkably detailed.
Of course, with the fancy newer parts that we have today, it’s possible to make it smoother and more detailed, which is exactly what LegoExotics has done.