Tag Archives: Soviet

Cotton Communism

From one iconic classic to another, although this one perhaps for very different reasons…

The Trabant 601 was a reasonable little car when it first launched in the 1960s, despite the shortage of metal in post-war Europe forcing its construction from cotton, and its two-stroke 600cc engine.

The cotton body meant that it didn’t rust, which – combined with a near monopoly in East Germany and a production run until the collapse of the Soviet Union some thirty years later – led to well over two million Trabants being on the roads at one point.

That number quickly fell once East Germans could buy Volkswagens and Opels instead though, as even by the ’80s the 601 was hopelessly outdated, such is the folly of Communism.

Cue this excellent Model Team version of the Trabant 601, built by Flickr’s Legostalgie who has recreated the classic cotton car superbly in brick form. A detailed interior, engine bay, and opening doors, hood and trunk are included, and there’s more to see at Legostalgie’s ‘Trabant 601’ album by clicking here.

Vintage Erection

If the content of TLCB’s spam folder is to be believed, we’re in for a future of certain erectile disfunction. However, not all old things have trouble getting it up, as this unusual GAZ-AA ‘Tower Wagon’ by Kent Kashiwabara proves.

The GAZ-AA was effectively a Ford Model A constructed under license in Russia, long before the two countries hated one another and the Soviet Union began buying everything from Fiat.

This particular GAZ-AA is based on the Model-A pick-up, but features an extending platform tower mounted behind the cab that can whir skywards, in Kent’s model thanks to some cunningly concealed Power Functions motors.

Remote control drive and steering also feature and there’s more to see of Kent’s erection at his ‘GAZ’ album on Flickr. Click the link above to get it up.

Back in the Dnepr

This wonderful creation is a KMZ-Dnepr K650, a Soviet Ukrainian motorcycle based on the 1930’s BMW R71. Whilst this version is 650cc, early bikes were fitted with a 98cc Wanderer engine design taken from Germany as part of reparations for World War 2, before KMZ’s own much larger 650cc was used for the rest of the design’s long production run.

Of course the BMW bit of the KMZ-Dnepr pre-dates war reparations, as the Soviet Union officially licensed the design from Germany before the two countries later went to war. In fact Germany and Russia held talks about becoming allies, with only Hitler’s ideological greed preventing Stalin from agreeing. Had they found common ground then this TLCB Writer would probably be typing this in German.

Fortunately Hitler and Stalin didn’t team up, and Germany invaded the Soviet Union just a year after the deal to license the BMW R71 was signed. This led – rather oddly – to the bike fighting on both sides of the conflict; the BMW version for the Axis Powers and the Soviet IMZ-Ural copy for Russia.

Production of the KMZ-Dnepr version shown here commenced in Ukraine in 1946, and continued right up to the fall of the Soviet Union, with both civilian and military versions produced. This beautifully presented replica of the KMZ-Dnepr K650 comes from KMbricklab, making their TLCB debut, and depicts the German-Russian-Ukrainian bike in both civilian and (awesome) military two-wheel-drive sidecar variants.

Gorgeous detailing and clever building techniques are evident in abundance and there’s lots more of KMbricklab’s superb build to see at their ‘KMZ-Dnepr K650’ album on Flickr. Click the link above to make the jump to Soviet-era Ukraine.

*Today’s lightly butchered title song.

Nice Niva

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 better in 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!

Slowly Sovieting

Some might think today’s title could refer to Russia’s creeping direction under its definitely fairly  democratically elected President, but – fortunately for us as we don’t want to experience Novichok poisoning – it also relates perfectly to this; Sariel’s amazing fully remote controlled pneumatic and motorised Ural 375D 6×6 truck.

Sariel‘s latest astonishing creation is a spectacularly engineered replica of the mighty Soviet military truck, built entirely from Lego pieces, plus a few choice third-party-supplied enhancements.

The first of these is an SBrick bluetooth controller, which allows the four-motor 6×6 drive, steering, servo-powered 3-speed gearbox, three pneumatically locking differentials, and Brickstuff LED lights to all be controlled remotely via a mobile phone or other bluetooth device.

Sariel has further enhanced his model with RC4WD ‘Rock Crusher’ tyres, fitted to Lego rims and mounted to live axle suspension on axles 1 and 3, with pendular suspension on axle 2. A motorised rear winch, working V8 engine, opening doors and hood, and a canvas load cover complete the build, and make Sariel’s Ural one of the most realistic and technically accurate trucks of the year so far.

There’s a whole lot more of this incredible creation to see at the Eurobricks forum, plus the complete gallery of stunning imagery is available to view on Flickr, where there are even a few images that seem to depict a TLCB Elf in shot, but we might be imagining that.

You can also check out a video of the Ural 375D 6×6 in action below, in which the working functions, bare chassis, and a pug named Muffin can all be viewed.

YouTube Video

Whole Lotta Lada

We like crap cars here at TLCB. The office car park features several. OK, by ‘like’, we mean ‘own’, but we do genuinely like it when they’re built from Lego bricks.

This is one such crap car, the Lada 1200 / VAZ-2101, and whilst the car-based efforts of communism were almost uniformly terrible, there is a lot to like about the Lada 1200.

Developed from the then decade-old Fiat 124, the Lada 1200 actually had a throughly excellent base, as back in the 1960s Fiat were one of the most forward-thinking and technologically advanced manufacturers* in Europe, with the Fiat 124 winning the European Car of the Year award in 1967.

The Lada 1200 was therefore actually quite a good car when it was launched, with a strengthened chassis, more advanced overhead cam engine, and the Fiat’s one key foible – rust – almost eliminated by Lada and VAZ’s use of much thicker steel and paint.

Of course decent engineering can be very much undone by poor build quality, limited competition, and corner cutting, which sums up communistical manufacturing nicely, and thus the Lada (and Soviet cars in general) quickly became known for being total crap. And that was even when compared to rivals like the Austin Allegro.

We’ll much rather take this one then – which features build quality on a level never achieved in Lada factory – from TLCB newcomer Legostalgie.

Legostalgie’s Model Team recreation of the Lada 1200 / VAZ-2101is superb, with opening doors, hood and trunk, a detailed engine and interior, and infinitely better build quality than the real thing.

Neatly pictured on a grey sofa (we think!), Legostalgie also proves you don’t need a professional set-up to Photo like a Pro, and there’s more to see of his wonderful Lada 1200 / VAZ-2101 model on Flickr by clicking these words.

*What the hell happened?

Heavy Metal

This is some heavy metal. The Ural 43206 features the usual terrible Soviet name, but otherwise it’s a most excellent heavy-duty off-road truck.

This Model Team recreation of the Ural 43206 is equally excellent, and it comes from previous bloggee Krzysztof Cytacki (aka dirtzonemaster).

Featuring a full remote control drivetrain, Krysztof’s model deploys two XL Motors to drive all four wheels, with impressive suspension on both axles, and a Power Functions IR receiver mounted in the cab.

Of course as anyone who’s put XL Motor torque through a LEGO UV-joint will know, off-roading with a driveline made from plastic can cause a few issues, usually in the form of a UV-joint exploding.

This isn’t something that will afflict Krzysztof’s Ural however, as he’s replaced the LEGO UV-joints in his model with custom metal ones, allowing for proper off-road ability.

A canvas load cover, opening tailgate, and detailed cab complete the build, and there’s more to see of Krzysztof’s metal-enhanced Ural 43206 off-road truck at both Flickr and via the video below, which includes a suitably metallic soundtrack. Click the links to take a look!

YouTube Video

It’s Not Easy Being Green

Green has traditionally (and logically) been LEGO’s colour of choice for flora, being used for trees, plants, and grassy baseplates. It also features as a stripe in fictional energy company Octan’s livery, but that’s about as far as it went for green pieces for decades.

In recent times though, LEGO’s range of green hues has expanded massively, with ‘sand green’, ‘lime green’, ‘dark green’, ‘blueish green’ and, as here, ‘olive green’.

Despite increase in variety of greens however, the pieces within each hue are often still rarer than evidence of humility from Donald Trump, which explains why Rolands Kirpis took a year to find all the olive green parts required for his Ural 375D. Find them he did though, and his 12 month search paid off as his Ural looks stunning.

Underneath the olive green exterior Rolands’ truck is fully remote controlled, with three L motors driving all six wheels, a Medium motor powering the steering, along with working suspension, opening doors and hood, plus a detailed interior and engine bay.

There’s loads more of Rolands’ brilliant build to see at his photostream – click the link above to go (olive) green.

Soviet Snowrunner

This is a UAZ 3151, one of the Soviet Union’s many fantastically-boringly-titled, but actually very capable off-roaders. Built by Keymaker, this stunning fully RC recreation of the Russian off-roader not only looks the part in both standard and off-road modified forms, it’s absolutely packed with brilliant Technic engineering.

Drive for all four wheels comes from two L Motors whilst a Servo controls the steering. A Medium Motor operates front and rear remotely locking differentials, and not only are both axles suspended, the suspension height can be adjusted via an L Motor to vary the ground clearance.

These off-road mods are apparently inspired the video game ‘Snowrunner’, and Keymaker has gone further with his Technic model equipping it with a removable hardtop roof, removable bodywork, folding rear seats, an opening glovebox, opening and locking doors, a working inline-4 engine, and LED head and tail lights.

It’s an incredible build and one that’s definitely worth a closer look. Head to Eurobricks for full details and a video of the UAZ in action, and to Bricksafe for the complete image gallery, where you can find outdoor shots and pictures of the model in various states of off-road modification.

Skies over Suez

We love a ’50s MiG. Sure they were a symbol of the oppression of millions, a regime seemingly intent on causing nuclear annihilation (not on their own we might add), and the terror of the Cold War, but they looked so cool!

In service from the early 1950s, almost 11,000 MiG-17s were built for use by a wide variety of scumbag dictatorships, and – somewhat unbelievably – three militaries still operate them today, some ’70 years after the design first flew.

This particular recreation of the Soviet fighter is an Egyptian Air Force unit, as built by John C. Lamarck, and it looks every bit as cool as the real thing. A removable tail-section reveals the jet engine inside, there’s working landing gear, accuarate Egyptian Air Force decals, and a range of exciting-looking weaponry that was used in Egypt’s defeat of the British, French and Israelis during the Suez Crisis in 1967.

What were we saying about the MiG-17 and scumbag dictatorships? Yeh, in this case TLCB’s home nation might not be able to hold the moral ground…

Head to John’s ‘MiG-17F’ album on Flickr via the link above to blow something British up in 1967.

A Canadian in Siberia

Canadians are known for their politeness and generosity. Although that might just be in comparison to their noisy neighbour in the basement. Still, even Canadian inventions demonstrate this altruism, with the country responsible for insulin, the pacemaker, the garbage bag, the electric wheelchair, road lines, and the Wonderbra, all of which – we’re sure you’ll agree – have been massively beneficial to mankind.

Cue today’s creation, a Ural 5920 tracked off-road truck, based on a design shared by the Canadians (of course) in the early 1970s. The Soviets took another decade to copy re-engineer the Canadian design, fitting a Ural 375 cab and starting production the mid-’80s until the collapse of the Soviet Union.

This magnificent fully remote controlled Technic recreation of the Ural 5920 captures the Canadian Soviet tracked truck brilliantly, including the two huge track bogies that swivel thanks to motorised linear-actuators. An XL Motor drives each pair of tracks (plus the V8 piston engine under the hood), and each track wheel is suspended by an individual torsion beam, allowing the model to traverse a landscape as varied (albeit smaller) as that travelled by the real thing.

Previous bloggee Samolot is the builder behind this amazing creation and there’s more to see – including a video of the model in action and detailed photos of the remarkable drivetrain – at the Eurobricks discussion forum, plus the complete image gallery can be viewed via Bricksafe here. Click the links above to head into the wilds of Siberia.

The World’s Most Expensive Recovery Truck

This astonishing creation is a fully working replica of the U.S Glomar Explorer, constructed by Master MOCer and world-renowned builder Paweł ‘Sariel’ Kmieć, and you’re in for a truly remarkable story…

It’s 1968, and the Soviet ballistic missile submarine K-129 has been lost with all 98 crew, plummeting over 16,000ft to the ocean floor. It’s just a few years after the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Cold War is very real indeed. The Soviet Union is looking for its lost submarine, but 150 miles in the wrong place. The U.S. however, knows where it is…

And so begins one the strangest and most expensive recovery efforts in history, as the CIA commission the building of a ship designed solely to pluck the wreck of K-129 from the seabed to learn its secrets, without the Soviet Union knowing.

Costing $1.4billion, it was one seriously expensive recovery truck, although of course its true purpose was hidden behind a ‘drilling for magenese’ cover story, fronted by millionaire aviator and film-maker Howard Hughes.

Six years later and the 50,000 ton 600ft long ship was ready. Named the Transocean Glomar Explorer, it was positioned above the wreck using radio beacons (GPS being some way off) and the CIA began the enormous recovery of the 330ft, 2,700 long ton (before it was filled with water) nuclear-armed submarine.

A giant claw dropped through a moon pool in the centre of the ship, gripping the wreck of K-129 and winching it to the surface. However during the 16,500ft ascent a mechanical failure occurred, and two thirds of the submarine broke loose and sunk back to the ocean floor, taking with it the sought-after nuclear missiles and code book. However, two nuclear-tipped torpedoes and cryptographic machines were recovered, along with the bodes of six crew members, which were not returned to the Soviet Union, but back to the sea.

The Glomar Explorer was purposeless after the mission was (partly) completed, and in 1976 it transferred to the U.S Navy for storage in a dry-dock. In 1978 however, the ship was leased to test prototype deep sea mining equipment, before being converted to a drilling ship in the 1990s. It was finally scrapped in 2015.

Recreating this incredible feat of engineering is Sariel, whose floating brick-built replica of the Glomar Explorer measures over 3 metres in length, uses 60kg of LEGO pieces, and can really (partly) recover a lost Soviet submarine, thanks to a fully working recreation of the monumental grapple crane fitted to the real ship.

We won’t write too much more here as there’s really only one way to appreciate this spectacular build – take a look at the video above (or click here to find it in the Eurobricks discussion), and watch how one of the most impressive Lego creations of all time was built, and how it can recover nearly all of a brick-built submarine from the bottom of a swimming pool…

Sideways in the Soviet Union

Matthew Terentev’s Volga/GAZ-2402 station wagon has appeared here before, being a somewhat unusual choice for a Technic ‘Supercar’, with working steering, engine, and suspension. He’s now gone a step further though, replacing the miserable inline 4-cylinder engine with a V8 (which the real 2402 was actually available with), and he’s added a whole host of other exciting modifications including lowered suspension, aero, and – most importantly – racing decals and stripes, which are worth at least an extra 200bhp on their own.

We’re not sure how suited a Volga/GAZ station wagon is to drifting (about as much as your Mom is to the 110m hurdles we suspect), but because we’re rather sad here at TLCB we love unlikely cars turned into racers. Plus the Elves would’ve have rioted had we not blogged a drift car with racing stripes.

There’s more to see of Matthew’s drifty GAZ-2402 station wagon (and the unmodified permit-only family car on which it’s based) at his photostream. Go sideways in the Soviet Union via the link above!

Soviet Station Wagon

The Soviets may have hated America, but they sure liked its cars. This is the GAZ-24, specifically the 2402 station wagon produced from 1971 all the way up until the mid ’80s, despite looking like something straight out of America in 1963.

Powered by either a 2.5 litre four cylinder or an American-aping 5.5 litre V8, the GAZ-24 was famed for its toughness, and whilst limited numbers were exported, it wasn’t really available to the common Russian man, being reserved only for those with a special permit that allowed its purchase. Because Communism.

Matthew Terentev has got himself a 2402 though, by building this most excellent Technic recreation, complete with accurate leaf-spring rear and independent front suspension, a working inline 4-cylinder engine under the opening hood, ‘Hand of God’ steering and a working steering wheel, plus opening doors and tailgate.

There’s lots more to see of Matthew’s superb Soviet station wagon at his photostream on Flickr – grab your special permit, click the link, and pretend you’re a 1980s Russian pretending they’re a 1960s American.

Fireman Gaz

Classic British children’s TV show Fireman Sam will always have a special place in our hearts, despite the fact that we don’t remember Sam actually putting out many fires (they’re quite perilous for a show aimed at the under sixes), and the fact that fire’man’ is probably a bit old hat these days.

Still, we’re sure there are plenty of firewomen called Sam, and plenty of firefighters called other things too, such as Gaz. Although that’s a bit colloquial for the title of a kid’s show.

Anyway, it is the title of this post because this is a GAZ, although it’s short for ‘Gorkovsky Avtomobilny Zavod’ rather than ‘Garry’. Built by Danifill of Eurobricks this GAZ 3307 fire truck features working suspension, twin L Motor drive, Servo steering, BuWizz control, LED lights, and opening everything, and there’s more to see at the discussion forum via the link above.