This is not a car, as was pointed out by the reader that suggested it, but it is incredible, and we quite like trains.
Built by TLCB debutant Rouven’s Legoeisenbahnen this amazing creation is a Union Pacific EMD DDA40X Centennial locomotive, and it is unfathomably lifelike.
Wonderfully realistic decals add to the accuracy, as do the twenty-four huge container trucks, each carrying two containers, and the second EMD DDA40X locomotive used to pull them.
All in Rouven’s build is easily the longest creation that this site has have ever publicised, and you can see just how enormous the complete train is via the link to Rouven’s ‘EMD DDA40X Centennial’ album above.
Being lazy, er… we mean tremendously generous, we’re handing over to another reader today for a review of more LED lighting kits for the 2020 LEGO sets, courtesy of LEGO-compatible LED lighting experts Game of Bricks. John Olive is the lucky recipient/willing reviewer, who has fitted some twinkly lights to his 10277 Crocodile Locomotive, and a few Speed Champions sets too – over to John!
Lights are only good for 3 things. Driving in the dark, for decorating a Holiday tree, and for lighting up LEGO sets. You know that feeling you have when you’ve finished building an official set that cost you an arm and a leg, and you have the desire to take your build to the next level? Well, for a good price it’s time to look to lighting your set or own creation with a good set of lighting kits.
While the current lineup of LEGO lighting kits are few and far between, a majority of builders have to turn to 3rd party vendors for all their lighting needs.
I had the distinct pleasure of getting hooked up with some lighting kits from Game of Bricks. Curious on the build quality and lighting ability, I had 3 kits sent to me in the United States. Two were for Speed Champions sets and the third was for the 10277 Crocodile Locomotive.
While shipping did take a little while, I was pleasantly surprised that when the package arrived, the kits were packaged nicely in thin black boxes. Inside all 3 kits, were the necessary components for each set and all came with a disclaimer packet. I was thrown off for a hot second because there weren’t any installment instructions and I didn’t know which lighting kit was for which set. I was quickly corrected by my 6 year old as he noticed a sticker on each kit with the set number on there. Go figure.
I had to refer back to the website for instructions as the kits didn’t come with an installment guide which was conflicting with their website offer of having instructions in every set. The instructions online were geared towards folks that have built the corresponding set already, so it included tear down instructions prior to adding the lights. This was extremely helpful for the Speed Champions sets and Crocodile. With only receiving digital instructions, I don’t hold that against them as I prefer to use digital instructions. The pictures were clear and provided a close up view of what was happening. I may have been distracted by the model’s fingernail in some pictures, but as I replicated the instructions on my own desk, it was apparent that Game of Bricks had given some thought in this phase of the installment. While the sets I reviewed were somewhat newer, hopefully older sets have the instructions right out of the box. Just in case customers don’t have the internet.
Let’s get to the actual kits.
The quality of the lighting kits was high just by the look and feel of the components. The website promises top notch quality, and while I’m unsure of the specific requirements to that, my experience with lighting kits confirms that it’s true. The extremely thin Connecting Cables are wound tightly and I didn’t notice any unraveling wires when running the cables in between the plates and bricks. Connecting the cables to a light strip has to be done very carefully and will be rewarded with an audible click when it slipped in there correctly.
*Veteran tip: A classic technique requires you to use your fingernail to push the connector into the port when dealing with such small components.*
Once cause of concern when dealing with any kind of lighting kit is the size of the LEDs used, but luckily Game of Bricks comes through with the perfect size. On the Crocodile Locomotive set, there are several 1×1 translucent clear pips that mimic the lights.
The LEDs from GOB fit nicely inside the pip. On the flip side, the light kit for the 75894 Mini Cooper S Rally & 2018 Mini John Cooper Works Buggy came with 2 sets of pips that had small holes that snaked the connecting table inside for you. This was because the Crocodile lights had their clear pips connected to a brick that allowed the cable to be hidden. When it comes to creating lighting kits, attention to the smallest detail allows for an easy installment. Spending time with a set when developing these clever little work-arounds is important because not only does it need to be installed correctly, the cables need to be hidden in order to pull off that realistic component of the set. No one likes a gorgeous set with clunky wires being exposed. With that, Game of Bricks is going to receive good marks when it comes to hiding cables.
While it makes sense to light up a locomotive like the Crocodile, Speed Champions sets like the MINI or Jaguar were a wild card for me. In all my years going to brick shows, it is rare to see those small cars being lit up because it becomes difficult to hide those clunky battery boxes. Luckily the battery boxes provided in the lighting kits aren’t much bigger than a zippo lighter, and comfortably hold 3 triple A batteries. Just make sure that you are hiding that box behind the set as it is clear that these lighting kits are more for display than for running trains on a train layout. A nice little tidbit is having the on/off switch on that battery box and some sets like the Crocodile include a secondary battery box for two 3 volt round batteries. This extremely thin box allows for installment underneath the set and is hidden from view. The finished models shined brightly in all the right places. For example, on the Crocodile Locomotive, the main cabin’s lights shine a dull yellow, mimicking this 1919-1986 model, while the lights at the front and rear “snouts” shone a bright white light. I appreciated the thought behind those decisions.
Having so many options for kits leads to the biggest question that I will leave to others to debate. Are there certain LEGO sets that should be MODed for lighting kits or are there sets that should not be lit?
Game of Bricks throws all that into the wind with their wide selection of lighting kits and says, you shouldn’t let anybody tell you what LEGO set to light up. Their catalog of lighting kits is ever growing, and just by the looks and experience of using their lighting kits, it’s hard to not think of a LEGO set they don’t have a kit for. If they don’t have one available, you can make suggestions which I appreciate as a consumer.
As LEGO continues to pump out new sets, Game of Bricks appear to be doing a great job of creating new kits for them. With their robust catalog of kits, and accessories for your own creations, I believe that Game of Bricks is here to light up the competition.
We can be accused of many things here at TLCB, but not reading isn’t one of them. The mass of emailed complaints our inbox receives don’t read themselves…
Requests for building instructions also land here with frequency, and as such a whole industry has sprung up to provide the online Lego Community with step-by-step directions to build all sorts of creations, from realistic real-world supercars to tiny micro models. Today we have another addition to this increasing pool of instructional resource, thanks to Charles Pritchett and the guys at No Starch Press, this is ‘Lego Trains Projects‘.
Running to 200 pages, ‘Lego Train Projects’ brings seven rather lovely train creations to life via step-by-step building instructions, with everything from a coal hopper to a hefty diesel locomotive. Each is compatible with LEGO’s own 6-wide train system, and matches their more advanced models – such as the 10020 Santa Fe Super Chief – for detail, only without the need for stickers.
Whereas previous No Starch books have offered small descriptions or backstories to the builds within them, there’s little pre-amble here, as Charles gets straight down to the building steps. A title page for each model displays the number of pieces, whilst a bill of materials (aka a parts list) and alternative colour suggestions finish each section.
The instructions themselves are fantastic, equal to LEGO’s own with clear steps, sub-assemblies, additions to each step highlighted in yellow, and probably a touch more complexity. The models aren’t necessary more complicated than the more advanced of LEGO’s own offerings, but they do pack in a variety of techniques that are probably above those within the grasp of the average builder, thus ‘Lego Train Projects’ could be a worthwhile educational aid for those wishing to up their game beyond basic studs-up construction.
The result is a set of train-based models that will up the realism of most layouts considerably, and which can be easily tailored to suit the preferred colours of the owner, with our favourite of Charles’ seven designs probably being the milk tanker, which could easily be converted to an Octan tanker if you prefer petrol over cow juice by simply switching the coloured rings.
As we’ve become used to with No Starch Press publications, the quality of both print and paper is superb; ‘Lego Train Projects’ not only looks great, it feels great too, with a soft matte cover and beautifully crisp pages within. Whilst we personally don’t always understand the need for building with instructions, if you’re looking to use them to build yourself some really rather lovely train creations, they don’t come much better than this.
Not the running bird type (we’re not sure why things are avian-themed today), but this rather beautiful Japanese National Railways 583-series ‘EMU’ train, built and photographed superbly by TLCB debutant Orient R. Minesky.
Orient has eschewed the usual plain background set-up (that admittedly we usually prefer) for gorgeous (and incredibly life-life) outdoor photography, making his stunning EMU train appear almost real.
Head to Orient’s photostream via the link above for all of the wonderful on-location imagery.
This is the most interesting Lego creation that you’ll see this year. By a mile.
Built by newcomer Alfred Boyer, this huge Technic steam locomotive really works, and is built from 100% standard LEGO pieces. Of course fire and plastic bricks don’t mix that well, so instead of superheating water to generate steam, Alfred’s astonishing creation uses air pressure to drive pistons, which is essentially exactly the same operation as a real steam engine, only without setting fire to coal to generate the energy.
Four LEGO pneumatic cylinders turn the eight drive wheels, with two speed ‘gearbox’ – if you can call it that – controllable from the cabin. Also controllable from the cabin are working brakes, with shows that press against each wheel through pneumatic pressure, and -amazingly – a working whistle, which diverts air pressure through some hollow bricks to create the sound. It’s a good thing the Elves haven’t figure this out otherwise it’s all we’d hear all day.
It’s a phenomenal piece of engineering and one that probably takes LEGO’s pneumatic system further than any model before it. The only way to really appreciate Alfred’s creation is to take a much closer look – head to Eurobricks by clicking here for the complete build details (where you can also find a link to it on LEGO Ideas), and definitely watch the video below!
Ah the age of steam, when no-on had to worry about catching a deadly virus named after a beer, and idiots vomiting ‘advice’ on social media in the name of clicks were just idiots vomiting advice down the pub that could be quietly ignored. There was polio, consumption and no National Health Service though, so on balance today is probably a better time to be alive, however romantic the past may look.
This particular piece of romantic looking past is a Thompson Class L1 steam locomotive, produced between 1948 and 1950 and run – in this case – by the London North East Railway.
Built by Britishbricks it’s a breathtaking replica of one of the ninety-nine Class L1s constructed, with custom valve gear and beautiful decal work too. A convoy of superb trucks follows and there’s more to see of the complete train at Britishbricks’ Album on Flickr. Head to a romanic looking past via link above. Toot toot!
Today’s creation probably goes a bit beyond what many of us think of when building with LEGO. Newcomer Britishbricks’ beautiful LNER Class P2 steam locomotive is almost entirely wrapped in custom vinyl, from the bespoke wheels to the smokebox, with many parts coloured or – look away purists – cut, in order to replicate the real locomotive as accurately as possible.
Whilst not to everyone’s tastes Bristishbricks’ creation shows what is possible in pursuit of perfection, and you can view an insight into how this model was made via his LNER Class P2 ‘Prince of Wales’ album on Flickr, which not only shows the finished locomotive that you see here but also the digital and pre-wrapped steps along the way.
Thomas the Tank Engine has had enough! Fed up of shunting along the stupid Ffarquhar branchline, rescuing the hapless James, and taking orders from the authoritarian Fat Controller, Thomas has grown himself mechanical arms and legs purely from the rage burning inside his boiler, he’s about to get mad, and Vicarstown isn’t going to know what hit it.
Flickr’s Dvd owns the somewhat unhinged mind that has managed to turn a children’s classic into a steam-powered automaton and there’s more to see of his frankly terrifying Thomas the Mech Engine creation at his photostream. Now will someone please build a car so we can blog without having nightmares.
We don’t really know much about trains (we are a car blog after all), but we do still like them. Especially when they’re as detailed and colourful as this one is. A PKP ST44-1112 ‘Comrade Gagarin’ (apparently…), it’s been built by Mateusz Waldowski of Flickr, and it is quite wonderfully made and presented. An assortment of five beautifully-built trucks are in tow behind the locomotive, making Mateusz’s model really rather large indeed, with lovely attention-to-detail throughout. Head to Flickr via the link above to see more of the train tribute to the first man in space.
Extinction Rebellion wouldn’t like this. Steampunk, that odd mashup of Victorian tech applied to modern inventions, is thankfully pure whimsy. Sure the brass, iron and wood look damn cool, but that’s a whole lotta coal, and however many times the orange man-child in charge of the free world puts the word ‘clean’ in front of it, coal just isn’t.
Fortunately most of the world (we said most, and we’re looking at you China…) have moved off burning the black stuff, and its use in the modern world is now solely a retro throwback for train and traction engine enthusiasts. Which in a way makes dioramas such as this one all the more magical, as coal is now largely a historical relic.
This gorgeous (and enormous) steampunk display has been built for the Lego World Utrecht 2019 show by builders Brick Rebel and Monstrophonic and is certainly the most stunning display we’ve seen this year. An assortment of delightfully impractical vehicles feature, including airships, a monorail, a steamboat, and even an elevator, all powered by coal in the imagination and by Power Functions electric motors in the display, bringing this spectacular collaboration to life.
There’s loads more to see of this incredible display at both Brick Rebel and Monstrophonic’s photostreams via the links above, plus you can see their ‘Lego Steam Company’ build in person at the Lego World Utrecht 2019 show.
But a pair of Abt locomotives that are, well… beautiful. We thought Abt were a motorsport company specialising in Volkswagen Group products, but then we are a car blog after all. Sharing a name but otherwise totally unrelated are these Abt locos built for the Mount Lyell Mining Company’s narrow gauge railway on the Tasmanian West Coast. And they really are built for Tasmania’s West Coast, as builder Alexander (aka narrow_gauge) was commissioned to create these for The West Coast Wilderness Railway who now run the real restored locomotives. Custom decals, 3D printed valve gear and motors complete the realism, and there’s more to see at Alexander’s photostream via the link above (or at the The West Coast Wilderness Railway Museum).
This is definitely, positively, not a car. In fact we don’t really know what it is (OK, a train, but beyond that…), but what we do know is it’s one of the best examples of LEGO presentation we’ve yet found. Brilliantly superimposed on a real-world background, Sergio Batista‘s rendered train includes a little dirt and grime, plus a lovely reflection effect where the light hits the top of the train carriages. There’s more to see of this image plus the others in Sergio’s collection on Flickr.
Yes you read that right. The guys over at BuWizz, who have designed a rather clever fully LEGO-compatible bluetooth control/battery, have decided to showcase the power of their little brick by a pulling train! With standard LEGO motors (and only three of them!). Don’t believe us? Take a look via the video above!
TLCB Elves haven’t brought much back over the past few days, but fear not readers, we have some cracking cars for you tomorrow! Until then, here is something that is definitely not a car, but it is rather lovely. This usually-scaled steam engine is a Prussian T3, as built by previous bloggee Nikolaus Lowe of Flickr in 12-wide Lego form. There’s more to see of this neat German steam locomotive at the link above, and we’ll see you tomorrow with some particularly awesome cars…
We do not understand steampunk. Effectively what sci-fi would look like if it were devised in the late 1800s, it’s a genre so alien to TLCB staff it may as well be the plot of ‘Keeping Up with the Kardashians’. The creations that steampunk produces however, are not like the Kardashians at all. They’re wonderful.
This is one such build, the Moon City originating from the mind of Dwarlin Forkbeard, which is filled with such gorgeous detail that we want to move straight there and get a job mining cheese. Complete with a marvellous motorised train (although the journey does look a bit samey), working elevators, and a rotating orrery, Dwalin’s city is packed with ingenious movement too. Click on these words to head to the moon sometime in the 1880s…