Tag Archives: Soviet

Black Russian

Luxury cars behind the Iron Curtain were not a common sight, thanks to the automotive drudgery created by Communism. Which was probably a relief to most citizens, as the sight of one could mean things were about to get very unpleasant indeed. Fortunately there are no KGB agents (or bodies)* in Legostalgie‘s wonderful recently upgraded Volga GAZ-24, and there’s more to see of his splendid creation on Flickr.

*We can’t see in the trunk though…

Green Wart

The Soviet Union united multiple nations, languages, cultures and peoples into one giant bloc of automotive misery.

The Union’s ‘planned economy’ meant that those that could get their hands on a private car, after waiting over a decade for the privilege, could choose between a polluting two-stroke econobox, or another polluting two-stroke econobox. This was the ‘other’ one for East Germans between ’66 and ’88, the Wartburg 353.

The Wartburg 353 wasn’t a bad car when it was launched in 1966, although the engine coming from a 1930s design wasn’t a high point, and was even exported to the West (TLCB’s home nation included).

It was a bad one by the 1980s though, as the Communistical restrictions on the populous meant it didn’t need to keep pace with the Western cars that were unavailable behind the Iron Curtain. If you needed a car in East Germany it was this or the Trabant…

Previous bloggee Legostalgie has recreated the Wartburg 353 sedan beautifully in green bricks, following his brown estate version that featured here last year. The doors, hood and trunk open, there’s a wonderfully life-like interior, and there’s more to see at Legostalgie’s ‘Wartburg 353’ album on Flickr, where a link to building instructions can also be found.

Jump back to Soviet East Germany via the link above, plus you can check out two of Legostalgie’s previous communist cars via the bonus links.

Soviet Six

This glorious Kamaz 4310 6×6 truck was discovered by one of our Elves today, and a number of them are now merrily riding around in the load bed, following the removal of the tractor pictured within it here.

The Elf at the controls had other plans of course, but previous bloggee Vladimir Drozd’s creation is a bit too slow to mete out any smushings.

It is nevertheless still excellent, with remote control steering and drive via LEGO’s Control+ app, all six wheels suspended and driven, dropping flatbed sides, and an impressively detailed cab.

High quality decals add to the authenticity, and although one is full width Russian flag, which might a little contentious currently, we’ll use this Russian-transporting-a-tractor to link to today’s other build, which happily depicts the very opposite.

Back to the Kamaz, and there’s lots more of Vladimir’s fantastic fully RC 6×6 truck to see at both his Flickr album and the Eurobricks discussion forum – click the links in the text above to take a closer look!

Bukhanka

Grey, ugly, and slightly depressing. Most Soviet items, whether architecture or vehicular, seemed to follow these designs rules, but at least the UAZ-452 got a good nickname.

‘Bukhanka’ means ‘bread loaf’*, and became attached to the UAZ-452 thanks to its slightly loaf-like aesthetic.

The 452 has maintained said shape since its launch in 1965, and it’s still being sold virtually unchanged today, even taking until 2011 to gain seatbelts and anti-lock brakes.

Used as a van, ambulance, pick-up truck, military vehicle, minibus, and countless other applications, the ‘Bukhanka’ is common sight across Eastern Europe, and has been recreated brilliantly in brick-form by previous bloggee PalBenglat.

Pal’s 6-wide ‘Bukhanka’ captures the design of the original wonderfully and there’s more to see at his ‘UAZ-452 Bukhanka’ album on Flickr. Click the link above to loaf on over.

*And not, as it turns out, when several gu… nevermind. Google carefully kids…

MAZter Builder

Russia, and its puppet regime next door in Belarus, really know how to make a heavy duty off-road truck. It’s just a shame they’re currently using them for such evil.

Nevertheless, the Belarusian-made MAZ-537 8×8 military truck is a seriously impressive piece of equipment, and so too is gkurkowski‘s spectacular recently updated remote controlled Model Team version, which captures the real thing brilliantly.

A suite of Powered-Up components equip the model with an accurate 8×8 fully suspended drivetrain, along with a powered V12 piston engine underneath the detailed cab too.

An extensive gallery of images display the MAZ-537 on-location and in render, and you can take a closer look at this amazing machine on Brickshelf via the link above.

And finally, if you’d like to help the Ukrainians affected by the Russian MAZs like this one that have brought war to their home, please do take a look at the Disasters Emergency Committee, the Red Cross Ukraine Crisis Appeal and the UN Refugee Agency Appeal, where donations are desperately needed.

Soviet Synergy

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.

Yellow Niva

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.

The (Very) Cold War

It’s freezing cold here at TLCB Towers, but it’s not as cold as Siberia. Not even close. Which is where this amazing ZIL-E167 was designed to operate, in one of the harshest environments on the planet.

An idea explored for the Soviet military during the 1960s, the E167 featured six wheel drive, no suspension (but balloon tyres), two 7.0 V8 engines, the ability to cross water, and a five ton payload. That all sounds rather good to us, but production never progressed beyond one working prototype due to transmission issues.

Built by TLCB Master MOCer Sariel, this (nearly) mini-figure scale recreation of the Soviet-Era arctic explorer encapsulates the weird but deeply cool vehicle wonderfully, with BuWizz remote control drive on all six wheels, steering on four of them, and an enhancement to the real truck in the form of working suspension.

There’s more of this amazing machine to see at Sariel’s ‘ZIL-E167’ album on Flickr, plus you can watch it in action in the cold via the video below.

YouTube Video

что-то странное в окрестности

If there’s something strange
In the neighbourhood
Putin’s gonna call…
Ghostbusters!

If there’s someone gay
Or gender misunderstood
Putin’s gonna call…
Ghostbusters!

He ain’t ‘fraid of no ghost
He ain’t ‘fraid of no ghost

But he’s hearing things
That should not be said
Putin’s gonna call…
Ghostbusters!

A political threat?
Then you’ll end up dead!
Ow, Putin’s gonna call…
Ghostbusters!

Have we butchered the classic Ghostbusters theme song by Ray Parker Jr. just to tenuously link to Vladimir Putin’s human rights record? Yup! But to be fair it’s been ages since we received a good death threat.

Plus, of course, this rather wonderful creation is a VAZ/Lada 2104 estate that has been brilliantly converted into a Soviet Ecto-1, which makes re-writing that song almost mandatory.

We also happen to think it might just be cooler than the original Ghostbusters’ Cadillac ambulance. OK, no it isn’t, but it is a Lada converted into an Ecto-1, which does probably make it the coolest Lada ever.

Flickr’s Tony Bovkoon is the builder who has brought Ghostbusting to Russia, and there’s more to see of his fantastic Lada Ecto-1 on Flickr.

Click the link to call…
Ghostbusters!

My Other Car’s Also a Classic Truck

This is a UAZ 452-3303, one of many imaginatively named Soviet off-road van truck thingies designed during the Communist era.

The UAZ 452 was launched in 1965 with a 75bhp 2.45 litre petrol engine that could run on fuel as low as 72 octane (basically spicy water), and it’s still in production today, with nine different variants available.

This one, the 3303 dropside pick-up truck, is affectionally know as the ‘tadpole’, because it looks rather like one, and has been recreated beautifully in brick form by ArtemyZotov of Eurobricks.

It also continues our run of B-Models, being constructed entirely from the 10290 Creator Pickup Truck set. Opening doors, dropping bed sides, and a load of fruit and veg all feature, and there’s more to see – including a link to building instructions – at the Eurobricks forum via the link above.

Messing Up Afghanistan Since 1978

The news coming from Afghanistan at the moment is heartbreaking. A rare case of successful international cooperation, the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan and subsequent defeat of its Taliban ‘government’ brought freedom, equal-ish rights, and prosperity to millions of Afghans.

It also brought about a fantastically corrupt (although democratically elected) government and the deaths of tens of thousands, but despite this it would be hard to argue that many Afghans – particularly women – weren’t better off for the intervention.

Which makes it tremendously sad that all of those gains (and the blood spilt to achieve them) may now be lost thanks to a hasty politically-motivated Western withdrawal, with the Taliban regaining power even quicker than they lost it twenty years ago.

More tragically, it’s not the first time that foreign powers have put their own politics before the lives of Afghans…

This is a Soviet BTR-80, a remarkable 8×8 amphibious armoured personal carrier, as used in the Soviet-Afghan War.

Back in 1978 a coup in Afghanistan overthrew the presidency, replacing it with the ‘Democratic Republic of Afghanistan’, a puppet Communist government supported by the Soviet Union, which many of the Afghan people resisted via a brutal guerrilla war.

The UN ordered the Soviet Union to withdraw, which they ignored and engaged in a 9 year war in support of the Communist government, razing villages, destroying farmland, laying millions of landmines, and committing rape and torture.

Sanctions and a mass boycott of the 1980 Moscow Olympics followed, but worse was to come for the Soviet Union, who ultimately lost the war to the Afghan Mujahideen and the international community supporting them, which – many argue – hastened the collapse of the Soviet Union itself.

The BTR-80 used towards the end of the conflict was still a mighty impressive piece of hardware though, and so too is this spectacular fully RC recreation by Sariel.

With eight-wheel-drive, four-wheel-steering, all-wheel suspension, a three-speed gearbox, motorised hatches, a remotely operable gun turret, rotating and lit searchlight, a working winch, and powered propellors all controlled via bluetooth thanks to three SBricks, Sariel’s BTR-80 is an engineering masterclass.

You can watch all of those incredible features in action via the video below, plus there are more stunning images of Sariel’s creation available to view at his ‘BTR-80’ Flickr album. Click here to make the jump to a pointless war in Afghanistan sometime in the late ’80s.

And back to that disastrous piece of Soviet foreign policy; even after the Soviet Union withdrew defeated, peace in Afghanistan was not forthcoming. A civil war continued to rage, taking the death toll to as many as two million Afghans.

Eventually, after years of turmoil, it was the Taliban who ended up in power, which brings us right back to 2001, the international intervention, and now – twenty years later – the rapid undoing of everything that was won.

Donate to Unicef in Afghanistan here.

Why Do Skodas Have Heated Rear Windows?

To keep your hands warm when you’re pushing!

Skoda might produce some rather good (if fantastically dull) cars today, but it hasn’t always been that way. Prior to Volkswagen’s ownership, Skoda were, um… let’s just say ‘not highly regarded’, causing the Czech brand to become the butt of a million mostly-bad jokes.

Part of that unwanted reputation was due to this car, the 105/Estelle, built from 1976 to 1990.

Designed for poor quality Eastern European roads, the 105 had its engine in the back for better traction, and because the Soviet Union refused to let Skoda built it in a more modern front-engined front-wheel-drive configuration, as it would have been better than all the crap made elsewhere in the bloc. Communism literally preferred to build a worse car than to allow the inequality created by progress.

Quality was also woeful, even if the design was actually OK, but at least that meant is was consistent with the other Soviet Union products of the time.

Today though, the rear-engined rear-wheel-drive layout makes the Skoda 105/Estelle something of a curiosity, with a reasonable following that it probably wouldn’t enjoy if it had been built as Skoda originally intended.

This excellent (and very orange) Model Team replica of the Skoda 105 comes from Legostalgie of Flickr, who has captured the car in its rear-engined rubbishness wonderfully in brick form. A detailed interior, opening doors, front trunk, and engine cover all feature, and there’s lots more to see at Legostalgie’s Skoda 105 album.

Click the link above to view all of the ace imagery, and to warm your hands on the rear window.

The Dissappeared

Revealed, somewhat oddly, at the 1970 London Motorshow, the Volga GAZ-24 was a large luxury car produced by the Soviet Union for – as was often the case – its own military and Government officials.

A special permit was required to purchase one (because Communism), which meant that we’d have been rather nervous if we saw a GAZ-24 driving behind us; by the mid-’70s there were an estimated 10,000 political prisoners in the Soviet Union, and there was a lot of space in the GAZ’s trunk for bodies…

This stunning recreation of the Volga GAZ-24 comes from previous bloggee Legostalgie, who has captured the classic American styling brilliantly (the Soviet Union may have hated America, but they loved its cars).

A detailed engine bay, realistic interior, four opening doors, and an opening trunk large enough to enable a few ‘disappearances’ all feature, and there’s much more to see at Legostalgie’s ‘Volga GAZ-24’ album on Flickr. Click the link above to obtain your special permit.

Call the Emergency Serv… Oh

It’d been a peaceful week here at TLCB Towers. Sure there was an Elf fight to break up after one of them found an almost empty (but evidently still delicious) glue stick in the bin, but otherwise creations have been found, meal tokens have been awarded, and no-one has been squashed. Until today.

This is a GAZ 66 fire truck, an all-wheel-drive Soviet water tank on wheels that is still used in Russia today. Well, this one isn’t, being rather smaller, but it’s just as impressive as the real thing.

Built by Danifill of Eurobricks, this fully RC Technic recreation of the Soviet-era fire truck proved to be a throughly capably Elf-smushing machine.

Lured in by the functioning flashing blue lights and the fact that, well – it’s a fire engine, the Elf at the controls drew in a crowd of Elven admirers, before promptly squashing them thanks to the GAZ’s genuinely surprising turn of speed.

An RC Buggy Motor, Servo steering, a BuWizz bluetooth battery, live-axle suspension, and four-wheel-drive deliver equip Danifill’s creation with impressive Elf-smushing performance, whilst a tilting cab, V8 engine, opening and locking doors, and detailed fire apparatus add nothing to that, but do look most excellent.

There’s lots more of Danifill’s remote control Technic GAZ 66 Fire Truck to see at the Eurobricks discussion forum, including further imagery and a link to a video of the model in action, plus you can see one of the builder’s earlier fire engines to feature here by clicking this bonus link.

Take a look via the links above whilst we apply some Elven first aid…

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.