The Soviet Union, for all the terror, oppression, and poverty meted out on its inhabitants, achieved some amazing things. Uniting almost all of Eastern Europe, it spanned over 22,000 square kilometres and eleven time-zones before its collapse in 1990, heralding a freedom long-awaited by millions.
The two largest countries within the bloc were the Russian SFSR and the Ukrainian SSR, where collaboration on military, vehicle and aircraft manufacturing was particularly close.
Which makes it all the more awful that Russia has decided to invade and bombard its brother, despite a shared history, language, people, accomplishments, and that Kyiv is actually even older than Moscow. It’s a war to revive the Soviet Union, in a time where – thankfully – such oppression is incredibly hard to achieve, and is – we hope – doomed to fail.
Today’s creation captures the shared history of Russia and Ukraine beautifully, being a Russian Lada Niva constructed in Ukrainian colours. Flickr’s PalBenglat is the builder, answering our call to build in blue and yellow, and there’s more to see on Flickr. Good luck Ukraine.
The Soviet Union was full of terrible cars. This is not one of them.
The Lada Niva / VAZ-2121 is unibody 4×4, capable of going as far as a Land Rover (only more comfortably, as it had proper springs) and able to be easily worked on with limited tools. And it’s brilliant.
Unusually, the Niva was an in-house design – rather than using left-over bits of old Fiats – and so successful is it that is still being built today. Not for long though, as the Niva’s days are numbered, after which it’ll be replaced by a re-badged Dacia Duster courtesy of Lada’s parent company Renault.
Now we quite like the Duster, but it’s not a Niva, and it certainly can’t go as far as a Land Rover off road. Which means we suspect the original Niva will become quite a sought-after vehicle once production stops, not something you might expect of a Communist-era Lada.
This rather lovely Lego version comes from previous bloggee Legostalgie, who has evolved his previously featured design and has now made building instructions available. If you like the Niva as much as we do you can check out all the images of Legostalgie’s update, and find a link to building instructions, by clicking here.
We often mock Communist-era Eastern European cars for being slow, highly polluting, ageing designs built for far longer than they should have been. Because we’re so much betterin the West…
So here’s a Communist-era Eastern European car that’s a slow, highly polluting, ageing design that’s been built for far longer than it should have been. And we absolutely love it.
No, we’re not consistent.
Anyway, this is the Lada Niva / VAZ-2121, a wonderful compact off-roader that was not only more advanced than the famous Western offerings of the time (cough Land Rover Defender cough), it’s still in production without becoming just another enormous luxury SUV (cough Land Rover Defender cough).
This lovely Model Team recreation of the Niva captures the real car brilliantly, with opening doors, hood and tailgate, a detailed interior and engine bay, plus some suitable over-landing accompaniments mounted on the roof.
Flickr’s Legostalgie is the builder and there’s more of this superb Soviet 4×4 to see at his ‘Lada Niva / VAZ-2121’ album – take a look via the link above!
We’ve often mocked Russian vehicles here at The Lego Car Blog, and rightly so – they’re largely crap. However modern Ladas are essentially just Renaults and Dacias, making them now perfectly respectable, if thoroughly boring.
That said we probably wouldn’t trade a modern Renault with a Lada badge on the front for one of their old catastrophes, apart that is, for one car. Launched in 1977 the VAZ (now Lada) Niva was a superbly capable off-roader, more sophisticated than a comparable Land Rover of the era, likely more reliable, and a fair bit cheaper too.
The Niva is still being built today too, and is infinitely better than the monstrosities that the G-Wagon and Range Rover have become. This most excellent Technic version of Russia’s iconic off-roader comes from TLCB favourite Horcik Designs, who has recreated it in Technic form, both with and without Power Functions components.
It’s the remote control version we have pictured above, complete with suspension, all-wheel-drive via an XL Motor, Servo steering, a Li-Po battery, and third-party tyres.
There’s more to see of Horcik’s Technic Niva at both Flickr and Bricksafe – take a look via the links.
Lada have come in for some stick here at The Lego Car Blog. Now owned by the Renault-Nissan alliance they’ll be making good cars soon enough, but their legacy is one of reheating the leftovers from Fiat, badly. Apart that is, from one car…
The Niva was not built from bits of old Fiat, but was actually rather sophisticated. Launched in 1977 it was the world’s first mass-produced unibody car, featured independent suspension, and with permanent four-wheel-drive and locking differentials it was as good as a Land Rover off-road.
So good that the design is still being produced today, almost completely unchanged in over 40 years. Despite this it’s a car that doesn’t appear much in Lego form, so de-marco‘s brilliant 4-wide version of the iconic 4×4 makes a refreshing change from the usual Land Rovers and Jeeps. de-marco has captured the design superbly in mini-figure scale and there’s more to see of his little Lada on Flickr via the link above.
It’s a bumper crop today at The Lego Car Blog! Previous bloggee de-marco has been very busy of late, building a plethora of 5-wide Town-style vehicles.
Ranging from beautifully constructed classic pick-up trucks above, through a Humvee, an airport luggage tug, and even a Baywatch-esque coastguard vehicle (allowing us to get Pamela Anderson into the tags), de-marco’s small-scale creations are wonderfully life-like replicas of their real-world counterparts.
You can view each of the 5-wide models featured here, plus lots more besides, courtesy of de-marco’s Flickr photostream. We’ll get you started with the Lada Niva pictured at the top of this post, which is our favourite – but then we’re a bit weird like that. Choose your own via the link above!