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?
1899 Kastner Stadtauto
1958 Bruegger-Radnor Centaur Taxi
1992 Ace Roadster Concept
“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.
By his own admission, in terms of LEGO builds Vibor Cavor didn’t have a very productive 2014, building just one model. As far as I am concerned, however, quality trumps quantity and his new year is off to a good start. His latest model, the 1935 Auburn Boattail Speedster from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, has quality in spades.
The Boattail Speedster is a prime example of thirties American luxury cars, with sleek Art Deco styling and high performance to match. I is also rare, with only a few hundred built before Auburn went bust in the Great Depression. Arguably, the original car looks even sleeker and more curvaceous than the model does, but to me it is not at all obvious how one could actually achieve that. With its beautifully sculpted mudguards, angled panels and working steering, this is one stylish build.
While not on the grand scale of Lino’s Hot Rod to Hell that we featured last month, this entry in the recent LUGNuts Steampunk Motorworks challenge by CaptainSmog still manages to hit all the right Victorian notes:
For hard-core Star Wars fans, even LEGO’s latest incarnation of the iconic X-34 landspeeder leaves something to be desired, with all it’s studs and tubing. Over the years, various builders have crafted their own versions, often with entertaining results. But now expert car builder Calin has created probably the classiest minifig scaled version of this vehicle to-date.
At first you’re drawn in by the color scheme, patterning and smooth surfaces. But then the details hit you: the brick-built turbines, the exposed wiring, the front hitch, and the use of a bucket handle piece for the pilot’s controls. Of course, the builder has chosen to keep that sweet curved windscreen piece, for which there’s just no substitute.