For LEGO’s upcoming gift with purchase, 40370 Push-Along Steam Engine, they are diving deep into the archives to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the release of 7180 The Push-Along Steam Engine set. This set was introduced in 1980 at the dawning of the 12v train era, and it’s quite a rare find these days. If you can find one still in a sealed box, you can bet it will set you back a bit. Lucky for you, this updated version of the model will be free with purchases over $99 / €99 / £99 available March 1st – 15th in LEGO Stores and Shop At Home. We got our hands on a copy before it hits stores to see what it’s all about.
The average person now carries more computing power in their pocket than what it took to put the Apollo 11 astronauts on the moon. However, Johan Alexanderson takes us back to a time when ties were wide, comb-overs were a thing, ashtrays were piled high with cigarette butts, and data was stored on reel-to-reel. This is the kind of vintage computer room my dad worked at in the 70s. A vehicle door makes an excellent spool of continuous feed computer paper. The green screen, the big cabinets, the data reels, even the color aesthetic and the utilitarian swivel chair all seem clunky and outdated to us, but at the time it all went together like swingers and fondue.
It should come as no surprise that Johan is a computer programmer who also seems quite inspired by a retro aesthetic. This wouldn’t be the first time he had delighted us with computing nostalgia. Check out this free-to-play “Classic Space Adventure” LEGO-inspired computer game he created utilizing over 400 pages of programming.
1967 was the year Formula 1 changed forever, as the birth of the Lotus 49 set the bar not only as the car to beat, but also to replicate. Fifty-two years on, Pixeljunkie has presented us with a gorgeous homage to this feat of engineering mastery. Sporting the classic colour scheme and markings of driver Jim Clark, this brick rendition has some stunning custom chrome pins as well as some nicely employed stickers to really bring the realism to the fore. Working within the Minifig scale can be an obscure challenge that restricts an amount of detail. I feel Pixeljunkie has made some excellent compromises without straying too far from the source material.
Looking at the rear of this beautiful build, we find a minifig hammer head used ingeniously as the gearbox. I’m not sure another piece could have been used so well in this application. I’m also a massive fan of the many uses builders find for the rubber tread attachments. Using them as wheel hubs on top those metallic silver dish rims, has really captured the era well.
If this open-wheel beast inspires you, check out another of Pixeljunkie’s classic race machines, the Alfa Romeo P3.
Builder Joe Maruschak has got something to put a smile on your gigglemug, something to really blow your wig over. Everyone from wisenheimers to anklebiters can appreciate the swagger of this vintage race car with its inline 4 engine and old square pistons. You’d have to spend a bit of happy cabbage to get these macaroni pieces in black. And my favorite bit, a pond hopper as a hood ornament, is a gas. Be sure to peep this moving picture to see and hear the ratta-tat-tat of the engine. A hayburner like this is sure to take the egg at the racetrack. Now if you’ll pardon me, I got to twenty-three skidoo and see a man about a dog.
Route 66 is the mother of all highways in the USA, cutting across the nation from coast to coast through small towns and scenic vistas. Though it’s since been eclipsed by the interstate highway system, it’s captured a special place in history for making the trans-American highway a reality. LEGO builder hachiroku24 brings us back to Route 66’s glory days with an awesome rendition of the highway marker sign, part mosaic and part sculpture. The excellent use of the 4×4 quarter-circle macaroni tiles lends both the numbers and shield outline just the perfect curves.
Back in 1961, an American car designer, racing driver, and entrepreneur called Carroll Shelby wrote to AC Cars to ask if they would build him a car modified to take a V8 engine. Ford happened to have a new, lightweight V8 ready, and when Ford provided Shelby with two engines, the AC Shelby Cobra was born. -lichtblau- has revised his previous AC Shelby Cobra design with this fantastic black and white version. The shaping is superb, especially the use of the short mudguard at the front to depict the curved nose.
This particular model has an attractive dark orange leather interior with a chrome rollbar, held in place simply via the friction between the seatback and the trunk.
Cassette players scream eighties so loudly that it seems kind of redundant to mark tapes as “80s mix”, but Jarekwally still decided to bring out the nostalgia even more. The builder was inspired by his father’s stories of how they used to pirate music nearly forty years ago with a radio and a tape deck. Cassette players are so iconic, you don’t even need to have 80s nostalgia to be inspired by them.
Jarekwally’s build is not the first time we’ve seen cassette players in LEGO, which kind of makes sense, as tapes are just blocky technical items with a limited variation of texture — which translates into bricks very well. What I love about this particular version is the use of chrome silver around the cassette slot and the underside of a plate as the speaker mesh. Simple indeed, but inspired.
Check out these other LEGO retro audio instruments:
Some of our younger readers will not remember the experience of scrolling the camera film forward after taking a photograph. Indeed, before the automatic whirring that signalled the end of the film, cameras had little turning levers to manually winding the film back into its protective housing. This LEGO version of an old camera in 1:1 scale was built by Andreas Lenander as a gift for his dad. While it is not a specific model, I did think it was reminiscent of the old Leica cameras with their black and silver bodies, and a selection of turning knobs and switches on top.
The king of awesome little LEGO camera’s must be Chris McVeigh, who also generously shares instructions for his builds on his own website. If you like the camera we highlighted above, you will definitely enjoy Chris’ LEGO Polaroid camera.
Coca-Cola first went on sale at Jacob’s Pharmacy in Atlanta, Georgia 1886. The world’s favourite soft drink was invented by Dr John Pemberton, but it was Dr Pemberton’s bookkeeper, Frank Mason Robinson, who came up with the now world-famous red-and-white logo. Pixel Junkie’s latest LEGO creation is a vintage delivery truck bringing cases of Coca-Cola to the local hardware store to be sold for a nickel each.
The background has some nice retro details. I love the gumball machine with advertising, the Coca-Cola vending machine, and the little crate sitting on the hand cart ready to go in the fridge. All-in-all, a great nostalgic scene built in LEGO.
The digital era has pushed a lot of state-of-the-art technology into vintage obscurity, and one such piece of audio equipment is the reel-to-reel tape recorder. Imagine the tape removed from a tape cassette and wound onto a reel, press a button and twiddle some knobs and voilà, your slightly crackly audio recording will be transferred onto the reel. Yul Burman has built a great looking LEGO version complete with reels, buttons, twiddly knobs and some bygone bling!
I want this on my shelf next to Carl Merriam’s vintage LEGO movie projector.
It’s time to put your smartphone camera back into your pocket and embrace the wonder of the Graflex Speed Graphic camera. Back in the 1960s, Graflex cameras were the standard camera used by press photographers (before some were renamed paparazzi). Milan CMadge has built a LEGO version of this famous camera that is remarkably accurate compared to the real thing.
The method of building the flash housing is particularly clever, as Milan has used 3mm flexible hose to shape the reflector and a couple of curved cockpits for the bulb. Interesting bit of trivia now: the 3-cell Graflex flashgun was modified and used as the prop for Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber in Star Wars: A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back.
As my two teens head off to high school today for the start of another school year, I’m pretty certain one of the things they won’t see in their laptop / smart board / PowerPoint saturated academic environment is an “overhead projector”. And in case any of you are scratching your heads wondering what that is, how it worked, or what “transparencies” might be, Jeffrey Kong of Artisan Bricks has kindly created a miniature version of one using LEGO to give you a rough idea…
Presented without comment or explanation and leaving Chris McVeigh wishing he’d thought of this first!