Proving that there is life after building a monumentally large Star Destroyer, Polish builder Jerac put together this stylish little Auriga Mk III speeder in just a couple of hours. With its concept-car curves and wraparound canopy, this design would not look out of place in some futuristic thriller (…so I’m assuming that’s a Tom Cruise mini-fig!).
No, there is no spelling error; it’s the deliberate result of me, a Dutchman, trying to mimic Jeremy Clarkson impersonating a Dutch person speaking English. I know that this is perhaps confusing, but bear with me. It was prompted by the great Donkervoort built by Vinny Turbo.
Donkervoort is a small Dutch manufacturer of sport cars inspired by the classic Lotus Seven, and I’m pretty sure that if Top Gear were to review one, there would be lots of tire smoke and Clarkson would try to speak in a mock Dutch accent. The overall look of the model is somewhat reminiscent of the great Caterhams built by Carl Greatrix, but at a smaller scale.
Friends of mine in the US used to own a Japanese minivan and it was reliable, comfortable and great for road trips, but about as exciting as wet noodles. When I think of Japanese cars in general, the first ones that spring to mind are tiny little boxes on wheels that seem more suitable for a shopping trolley and the second ones are competent but boring sedans. However, this impression isn’t fair at all, as shown by the Datsun Z240 by LegoMarat.
Z-cars are exciting. The 240Z had the looks of a classic long-bonneted sports car, but without the dodgy electrics that plagued similar endeavours from England. The roof on the model looks a bit too flat to me and the wheel arches are a bit awkward, but the model has presence. This is helped by its dark blue colour and the nicely curved flanks.
It doesn’t just look good; it too has some very clever engineering inside. It drives, powered by two Power Functions motors and using a servo motor for the steering. These are controlled via a nifty third-party Bluetooth controller, called an SBrick, which is specifically designed to interface with Lego Power Functions. It allows the user to operate them via an app on their smart-phone or via the internet. Its development was funded via a kickstarter campaign that Nannan reported on in July last year. You could be forgiven for thinking that this too must be Japanese, but it was actually designed in Hungary.
We tend to focus on LEGO system on this blog, in part because most of us are not really into the aesthetics of Technic models. However, as the Alfa Romeo 4C Spider by Jeroen Ottens shows, sometimes a clever combination of curved Technic panels and soft axles can be a really effective way of capturing the shape of a voluptuous car body.
The Italian tricolore striping also adds to the model’s visual appeal.
A lot of people start their builds by fiddling around with a few pieces until they find an interesting-looking combination. This then becomes the starting point for a cool new mecha or spaceship. That’s not how I do things. For most of my models, I start by planning, followed by a lot of procrastination and getting side-tracked into building other (easier) things and then some more planning, lather, rinse, repeat. Once I start putting parts together things move quickly, but the planning process can take several weeks or, in the case of Airwolf, as long as two years.
In the eighties, starting with Knight Rider, there were several shows that featured some sort of hi-tech vehicle as a central plot device or even as a character. Both Blue Thunder and Airwolf featured helicopters, but Airwolf was definitely the better show. It had one of the best theme-tunes in the history of television and, though they now appear terribly dated, the plots were a bit darker and more interesting than in most of the other shows, often dealing with espionage and the Cold War. Furthermore, the helicopter itself was based on the super-sleek Bell 222 and was armed to the teeth, with retractable guns and a ventral missile launcher.
The reason why the process took so long is that I don’t start building until I have convinced myself that I can build the model to a suitably high standard, which in this case meant building that sleek shape and those cool retractable weapons. What finally sealed the deal was finishing Blue Thunder, the realisation that I could replicate the shape using various new curved parts and by hinging the cockpit windows, as well as a video I saw of the missile launcher retracting on an RC model.
If you are millionaire and think a Porsche is just a bit too ordinary for you, perhaps the Ruf CTR3 is just the thing you are looking for. Ruf is a German car manufacturer that specialises in building supercars using mostly Porsche parts. Supercar builder/super car builder Firas Abu-Jaber used to be featured on this blog on a regular basis, until real life took over for a bit. However, he has recently resurfaced and, judging from his spectacular version of Ruf’s current model, is back to his old form.
One of the outstanding features of Firas’ models is how every LEGO element seems to fit in place as though it was designed with just that use in mind. On this one, I particularly like the angled door and flared side panel just behind it, to give the car a bit of a coke-bottle shape. It looks completely natural and comparable to a die-cast model.
I must be on a car kick today.
These classic little cars are just adorable, well designed, and have so much character. Chris Elliot‘s got quite a few of them in his photostream; I couldn’t pick just one.
So, dear reader, chime in, in the comments: which one is your favorite?
“These are not the bricks you’re looking for!” Given that this is only Aaron Fiskum‘s second build, we are very impressed. Using almost 3000 bricks and measuring about 2 feet (half a meter) in length, this Star Wars “X34″ landspeeder was designed to match the scale and style of LEGO’s Ultimate Collectors Series (UCS) sets, that have become much coveted by LEGO’s more grown-up fan base.
Every detail has been faithfully recreated, right down to the very comfortable looking cockpit shown below. Make sure to check out Aaron’s Flickr album for loads more close-up shots.
This sweet low-slung ride by Jeff Churill looks ready to get into all manner of trouble, and do it with more than a bit of panache. Jeff started a business, Cooper Works, a year or two ago making stickers for LEGO models, and he’s proven that’s he’s got the building chops to put his own products to excellent use.
Our resident Lemur recently got asked how contributors to this blog are selected. Of course, much of the process is top-secret, but I’m pretty sure a contributor should add something new and distinctive to the team, even if that something new and distinctive is a cute bushy tail and a willingness to take care of the paperwork. However, most of us share that we got into this because we like building our own models. Fan-built models are the bread and butter of this blog and knowing a thing or two about building definitely helps.
In the last two years, I have been working on a large collection of movie and TV vehicles. I have close to fifty of them now, but there are still plenty of cool and interesting examples left that I haven’t built yet. I already had a jet, but I did not yet have a helicopter, for instance. With Blue Thunder, that has now been rectified.
Blue Thunder was a fictional high-tech police helicopter that starred in the eponymous 1983 movie. Its pilot was played by Roy Scheider, who is probably better known for his role as the police-chief in Jaws. The movie lead to a short-lived TV series, which I used to watch religiously as a child. Although the plots of the episodes and the dialogue were undoubtedly cheesy, the helicopter was one of the coolest things ever. It didn’t talk or have a red light scanner bar, but it had a tail-mounted fan instead of a conventional tail rotor and a Gatling gun that was slaved to the pilot’s helmet. Two flyable helicopters were used in the filming: Aerospatiale Gazelles, painted in a largely dark blue colour scheme and modified with a nose-mounted pod housing sensors and the Gatling gun, an ‘armoured’ cockpit canopy consisting of flat panels and a few other gadgets.
The cockpit canopy was the trickiest bit of the build. Building a rectangular structure is fairly easy. Building something that is rounded is also doable, by stepping plates or by using combinations of slopes. Building a faceted structure, however, is just plain awkward and getting it more-or-less right took a lot of trail-and-error.