If you’re a Ninjago fan, this vehicle may look familiar. After all, it was inspired by the official set 70654 Dieselnaut, which we covered in our news roundup of summer wave Ninjago sets. But there is a lot more to this steampunk behemoth by Mishima than a black paint job. Every detail from the official set has been re-built to fit the steampunk aesthetic, from brass and steel pipes throughout the tank, to the side and top mounted turrets. Even the crew have been custom fitted to the steampunk theme. Two smokestacks in front of the top turret look like they might have come straight off an old steam locomotive, along with the curved side panels that lift up to reveal more guns.
Although I have never played the tabletop games, I have always admired the aesthetic of the Warhammer 40k universe, particularly the vibrantly colored hardsuits and tanks. Simon Crocker has created an excellent Warhammer-Nexo Knights mashup with his razorback tank, which is based on a heavily armored variant of the Rhino APC from the Warhammer games.
Although the build may initially appear straightforward, closer inspection reveals the complex shaping and techniques used to make the front and back of the APC look so smooth, and to achieve the light bluish gray accents in just the perfect places. Although I overlooked it at first, the use of dark bluish gray panel pieces sticking out by 1/2 plates distance on the front viewports of the tank is particularly clever. As a finishing touch, custom stickers are used to add the fine details and make it especially accurate to the source material.
As fun as building something from your own imagination always is, recreating something from history can be particularly challenging. On top of creating a great-looking LEGO M4A2 Sherman tank from World War II at 1/18th scale, Tommy Styrvoky has added a mine flail, and then motorized the whole thing. Watch the video here to see it in action.
Tommy’s Sherman includes the following features, powered by LEGO Power Functions:
- Turret with full 360-degree traverse
- Elevating gun in turret
- Two-gear transmission with electronic braking
- Torsion bar suspension
- Elevating flail arms
- Spinning flail chains on drum
Christmas is in the air, colored lights and holiday shoppers everywhere… It just makes me want to jump into a 60 ton tracked vehicle and go defend Poland. Forget nativity scenes; all I want for Christmas is a massive diorama of the North African Campaign.
Serbian builder Milan Sekiz created this fearsome trio of steampunk hardware entitled Steam Party. Individually each piece stands out on its own. But with the addition of some greenery, wreckage and tire tracks, the whole ensemble is definitely greater that the sum of its parts.
I particularly love the tank (aka “Mr. Rust and two smoking barrels”) with it’s earthy color scheme, brick-heavy studs-hidden design, aggressive details, and of course those tracks! Check out Milan’s Flickr stream for lots of hero shots and closeups…
Here’s a creative take on a tank by Luke (LukeClarenceVan). You don’t see white tanks every day, and especially not monotracked ones. I particularly love the way the armor sits all the way down on the sides, and all those little antennae make me think of a caterpillar. Luke also makes great use of stickered and printed pieces on the sides.
Before I hand things over to Keith for the weekend, I think I owe our readers a somewhat more adorable chaser to follow all the super-serious discussions about LEGO and the military this week. This “MK45-Toad” is brought to you by Pate-keetongu.
The use of binoculars for the tank treads is brilliant, and even the minifig includes some interesting part combinations, like the modern/space visor on the LEGO Castle helmet.
For a long time, the T-72 was the Soviet Union’s main battle tank and it was widely exported, basically to whoever could afford it, including wonderful holiday destinations such as Iraq and Syria. The T-72AV, which is the version modelled by Chris Lee(Babalas Shipyards), is an upgraded version fitted with explosive reactive armour to defeat shaped charges.
You can’t hold the base upside-down without bits falling off, which may not be to everyone’s liking, but I like the effect. Iraqi T-72 units got comprehensively clobbered in the Gulf War of 1991 and the invasion of Iraq in 2003 at the hands of American tankers and British tankers, with their far superior M1 Abrams and Challenger II tanks, but this model is a winner in my book.
Brian Kescenovitz‘s (mondayn00dle) Tachikoma style tank was inspired by Deviantart user flyingdebris’ concept art. It is beautifully done and elegant in its execution. It almost appears to be a Mondrian inspired work of art. Notable design elements are the deft use of sticker remnants, the smooth clean lines, and the use of the chainsaw elements to create a one plate stud reversal in the turret. The offset mounting of the white half-domes of the legs/ wheels is also an impressive bit of design work. This “tank” is so esthetically pleasing and friendly looking, I think it would actually make any town it invaded that much more pleasant for it.
After reviewing the Brickmania M4 Sherman and WC54 Ambulance custom LEGO kits last week, I’m going in a bit of a different direction by reviewing something I haven’t managed to build myself — the M2A4 Light Tank in United States Marine Corps livery.
For comparison, here’s Dan Siskind’s M2A4 Light Tank next to the M4 Sherman I reviewed last week, with a Citizen Brick Marine for scale:
The M2 Light Tank was produced in limited numbers in the years leading up to World War II — only 375 left the assembly line — and they only saw combat on Guadalcanal, with the US Marines. Nevertheless, the tank was an important evolutionary step along the way to the subsequent M3 “Stuart” (photo below) and M5 light tanks. (The M2 Light Tank never entered British/Commonwealth service during WW2, and thus didn’t get a nickname like the Stuart, Lee, Sherman, Chaffee, and so on. It was only later that the US military formally adopted the British convention for naming US tanks after American generals.)
For me, though, I love the M2/M3/M5 tanks because they’re so small. Modern main battle tanks like the M1 Abrams or Challenger 2 are like battleships on land, with low profiles that give them a distinctly sinister look. We drove past Fort Lewis on our way from Seattle to Portland recently, and I pointed out an M2/M3/M5 sitting on a plinth near the highway to my wife. “Oh, what a tiny tank! It’s adorable!” she exclaimed.
My sentiments exactly. Yes, the M2 and its immediate descendants were machines of death and destruction no less so than a Merkava or Leopard, but they are just a teensy bit more twee. (The adorably tiny light tank has also influenced popular culture, in games like Advance Wars and movies like Tank Girl.)
So, the M2 Light Tank would seem like a perfect fit with LEGO. I tried building an M3 Stuart a couple years ago, but I failed miserably (though I still have my tablescraps in a little plastic bag). Thankfully, Dan Siskind has managed to fit nearly every detail of the M2 into his custom LEGO kit, at a scale that fits neatly on my 1/35th schematics for the M2 Light Tank in World War II AFV Plans: American Armored Fighting Vehicles. (Still slightly too tall, but I give LEGO tanks a pass for that at this point.)
The Brickmania M2 Light Tank includes a rotating turret with a gun that can move up and down, proper bogies and road wheels, a BrickArms M1919 machine gun, nicely angled glacis armor plating at the front, and even rear engine doors that open and close.
The single-chain tracks work very well for a smaller tank like this, and enable Dan to keep the tank’s height manageable without losing too much detail. The suspension is interesting because Dan has built the first layer of the tank’s body using 1x plates rather than a larger plate, allowing him to attach 2×2 plates with Technic pin holes to the underside using their hollow studs. This creates a half-stud offset that gives the road wheels the correct spacing — definitely something I would never have thought to do.
The angled antenna gives the tank a jaunty look, and deserves a brief discussion on its own. Internally, Dan achieves the angled antenna by inserting a clip/claw into a 1×2 brick with a Technic pin (and then clipping on a telescope for the antenna to attach to). The clip inside the 1×2 brick’s Technic pin is, of course, an “illegal” connection. Apparently, there are actually two different molds for the 1×2 brick element — one with a fairly open Technic pin, and another with much thicker walls on the pin, preventing you from fitting anything inside the pin. Because BrickLink doesn’t distinguish between these two very different parts and Dan sources all the parts for his kits on the secondary market (like all adult builders and purveyors of custom kits), my kit happened to include a brick that wouldn’t accept the clip piece.
I contacted Dan about my problem, we identified the cause, and he promptly shipped out a “service pack” with the correct part. I bring up this minor issue in my review for two reasons. First, I just think it’s really interesting what kinds of challenges a custom kit maker has in assembling their kits in quantity. Second, I was impressed by Dan’s customer service. And it’s not just because he knew I was reviewing his kits for TBB — it’s something I experienced years back when I picked up a couple older kits to review (though my actual review was extremely brief), and when I’ve bought smaller items through his store over the years. Like Will Chapman of BrickArms, Dan is just a plain good guy, and it’s clear that that comes through in his interactions with fellow builders and with customers.
At 473 LEGO elements, this is a surprisingly substantial set for such a small tank — the completed model has a nice heft to it worthy of the name “tank.” It’s also sturdy enough for play, and fits nicely in my hand compared to larger models. If tanks could be swooshed, the Brickmania M2A4 is definitely swooshable. (What’s the non-flying equivalent of “swooshable”? “Zoomable?”) At $150, the price is comparable to other custom kits on the market.
Overall, Dan’s M2A4 may just be my favorite Brickmania kit yet. Going small can be substantially harder than going big, and Dan has pulled it off wonderfully. Ultimately, though, my positive experience with the Brickmania M2A4 Light Tank was influenced as much by great problem-solving and customer service as by the excellent design of the model itself.
Chris (Ironsniper) has been working on a near-future tank he’s dubbed the ADT100 “Coyote”. Of particular note is Chris’ use of a Technic ball joint to connect the gun to the turret.
Chris also posted a follow-up tank dubbed A2N8 “Anubis”, accompanied by a nice diorama, but I prefer the sleeker turret on his Coyote.
And in case Chris’ tan troops get injured, Project Azazel comes in from the desert with this medevac Humvee, bulbous in its capacity to bring comfort to the wounded:
Despite their square shape, Humvees are notoriously challenging to build properly in LEGO. Also notice how both builders have placed their models on a simple brick-built base, which adds a lot to the presentation (I assume it’s coincidence that they’re both dark tan).