Batmobile Posts

We Built a List of the 14 Coolest Lego Car Kits Ever!

Ron Ruelle

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

The earliest Lego blocks did not lend themselves to building vehicles. In fact, wheels were kind of an afterthought at first. But as different size wheels and tires became available, all you needed to build an awesome car was some imagination and maybe a few special new bricks. There have been many automotive building sets offered over the years, but these are the coolest Lego car kits (and maybe a bus or two).

lego auto chassisTechnic Auto Chassis (Set #853) – Hard to believe this set debuted in 1977. Though the technology is a bit primitive by today’s standards, the first Technic sets were mind blowers and game-changers with their gears and side-locking bricks. This car had moving pistons, a two-speed transmission, working steering, and a few other features. Assembling it gave you the sense of how complicated a real car is. It remains one of the largest car models Lego has ever offered, even if it’s not a complete car.

lego volkswagen bus camperVolkswagen T1 Camper (10220) – The Creator series of Lego models has led to some incredibly detailed brick versions of of iconic vehicles. They’re not cheap, but they are glorious. The Volkswagen Splitty Bus is one of the most recognizable vehicles ever, and Lego captured its simple elegance with some complex engineering. The camper interior with pop top is a sight to behold.

lego mini cooperMini Cooper (10242) – Just about everything said about the VW Bus can be said about this model, except… just look at those plaid seats! Wow!

Shelby Mustang (10265) – This is one of the newest entries on the list, and one of the few American cars Lego has made. It captures just enough detail that it can’t be mistaken anything other than a ’67-68 version of the car, which is a really impressive feat.

lego friends party busFriends Pop Up Party Bus (70828)The Lego Movie and its sequel are a couple of ridiculous adventures made even more fun by the presence of models designed or inspired by kids. Among the most bonkers is this crazy party bus. It’s the product the kind of giddy imagination that makes Lego toys so popular in the first place.

lego city carSmall Car (3177) – One criticism of recent Lego vehicles designed for Minifig size is they have gotten really huge, to the point of being way out of scale. This tiny marvel looks a lot like a Smart Car, and at only 4 studs wide and 8 studs in length, it feels perfectly scaled for the Doctor Minifig which is included. Sometimes less is more!

lego cactus canyonCactus Canyon SUV (1720) – This rugged-looking compact off-roader came with all sorts of accessories that could attach to the sides, be tossed inside, or ride along with the included quad-runner. Throw in a kayak that could fit on the roof, and this was truly an adventure in a box.

lego ghostbusters ecto 1Ghostbusters Ecto-1 (21108) – On the other hand, among Lego cars that grew a bit larger in scale, this 1959 Caddy ambulance still shows remarkable restraint size-wise. And it has just enough blockiness to capture that “Lego” feel.

lego harry potter whomping willowHarry Potter Ford Anglia (75953) – The wonkiness of the Anglia’s design is captured perfectly in brick form in the Whomping Willow set. In fact, Lego has offered three slightly different versions of this car in other sets, as well as by itself (not branded as a Harry Potter set).

lego 1989 batmobile1989 Batmobile (76139, 40433) – Y’know what… to heck with proper scale for movie cars. This enormous beast, made of over 3,300 bricks, is huge and impressive. It comes with Minifigs of Batman, Vicki Vale, and the Joker and doesn’t even pretend they’re supposed to be anything more than decorative accessories.

lego burton batmobileSpeaking of accessories, this kit originally came with a bonus set, a smaller Batmobile that actually was properly scaled to those Figs. Where do you get those wonderful toys?

lego city porsche 9111974 Porsche 911 Turbo 3.0 (75895) – Scaling things back a bit, this small 911 model comes in at just 6 studs wide (and it’s based on a car with fender flares, so it should be kinda thick). There are some really clever design solutions, especially around the headlights, that make this a perfect Lego car. And it comes with tiny orange traffic cones to drive around.

Porsche 911 GT3 RS (42056) – On the other end of the 911 spectrum, some people though this gigantic model looked a bit crude for its large scale, but Porsche is really about the performance. And this model really delivers…

lego technic porsche 911 transmissionHow about a working 6-speed (!!) transmission operated by paddle shifters (!!) behind the steering wheel? Yikes! Hard to believe the humble ’77 Auto Chassis eventually led to this monster.

System I Leg Cars – The very first plastic cars made by Lego weren’t kits, but nicely proportioned HO-scale models. Apparently they didn’t think kids would want to build cars, so they considered them accessories to the houses and other buildings those kids would be creating. They did come in “garage” cases that were compatible with the bricks, however. These models were all based on European prototypes, including such classics as the VW Karmann Ghia. and T1 Bus.

lego wooden busWooden Articulated Bus – The oldest vehicles made by Lego weren’t even plastic. From the 1930s through the early 1960s, Lego made chunky wooden vechicles of all types including this bus. Wooden it be neat to see a modern plastic recreation of this one?

Lego cars span a variety of styles and complexity, providing great fun for builders of all ages. What are your favorites? Let us know in the comments!

Antique, Vintage, Classic? Depends On What You’re Collecting

Christian Braun obsesses over collectibles and antiques and toys more than the average person, but in a productive way.


 

“Antique, Vintage, Classic Batman Clock, Correct Twice a Day. $50.”

Aside from parsing that description to determine that this clock doesn’t run, but will be accurate at 8:58 AM and PM, what does that mean?

janex batman robin clock

Holy Gimcrack!

What about the words “antique,” “vintage,” and “classic?” As collectors, we see and use these terms often, sometimes interchangeably. What to they mean, exactly? As it turns out, there is no “perfect” definition for these trems. But they do hold meaning relative to each other.

Historically (and there’s another word we’ll need to parse), “Antique” has meant objects that are 100 years old or more. “Vintage” has generally meant older than 15 years. So “Classic” must mean… well, it’s more complicated.

“Antique” and “Vintage” carry a set time frame, regardless of historic or aesthetic value. “Classic,” on the other hand, just means “it has stood or will stand the test of time,” regardless of age.

And “Historic…” what about that? “Historic” is often used as a positive term, but really means that something was a game changer, a revolution, a show stopper for some reason. And not necessarily for good reasons. The Edsel by Ford has to be considered a “historic” car because of its massive failure. And over time, it has also achieved “classic” status. Whether the car is remembered for being good/bad/ugly/beautiful remains debatable. “Classic,” sure. “Historic,” absolutely.

Consider another conundrum. Boulder, Colorado (the scenic home of hobbyDB Headquarters), passed a law several years ago requiring houses over 50 years old to undergo an approval process by a city board if the owners wanted to do extensive renovations. At the time, it made sense, as houses of that age were built in the 1940s or before, many of them having timeless charm and significance. But with the passing of each year, a “50 year old house” was less and less significant architecturally.

The hobbyDB office built in 1968…

…and a 1968 house just down the next road.

Entire suburbs of more or less identical houses of that age just don’t seem to need that same kind of designation and protection. Sliding time frames like this don’t make a lot of sense after a while. The city realized this and altered the designation.

Also, consider what is a “classic” car. Again, in Colorado, it used to be that a driver could get official “Classic” plates for any car over 25 years old. The plates were less expensive and didn’t require modern emissions requirements, a great deal for muscle cars and anything earlier. In 1994, that meant cars from 1969 and older, most of which arguably stood the test of time to be called “classic.” But in 2018, that means a car from 1993.

Nothing against that Mercury Sable wagon, but calling it a “classic” is kind of head scratching.

So there’s now a set date for the “Classic” designation, to be updated as needed.

A Facebook group called “Vintage Toys and Action Figures” only allows posts regarding 1994 and older collectibles. Why that designation? That doesn’t exactly fit the 15 year rule these days. It likely has to do with the age of the founders and moderators, and toys of that age hit a sweet spot with them emotionally, and later ones do not. If you don’t like it, you can start your own Facebook page.

Some categories or brands have their own distinctions that fill in those gaps between antique and vintage. Comic books, for instance, are generally divided into several ages:

  • Golden Age, 1938-1950  (from the debuts of Superman and Batman to the middle of the century)
  • Silver Age, Mid 1950s to 1970  (new advances in art, writing, and production values.)
  • Bronze Age, 1970-1985  (more serious, mature content and styling)

A few notable things… Why 1938 as the start? That was the time Action Comics (Superman) and Detective Comics (Batman) ushered in the more or less current definition of a “comic book.”

The Granddaddy of all comics.

Also, what about comics released in the last 30 years or so…are they worthless? No, they just need their own designation at some point, often just referred to as the “Modern Age.”

But what about 1951-1955? Turns out there is a gray area between the Golden and Silver ages, so something in that range could be considered to fall in either group depending on your tastes. Also, new self censorship guidelines debuted at this time, transforming the content considerably.

Hot Wheels is celebrating their 50th anniversary this year. Original cars sure seem old and rare. But by that definition, they are only halfway to “antique” status. On the other hand, calling them “vintage” seems unfair, which lumps 1968 releases in with 2003 releases.

Luckily, a brand such as Hot Wheels carries its own distinct eras… Redlines (1968-77) and Blackwalls (1977-94) cover the first two historic waves, and the rest can be broken down by various other distinctions such as Mainline or Treasure Hunts.

So back to that Batman clock… it’s from 1974. It’s undeniably cool. It’s not an antique. It’s certainly vintage. It can be reasonably called a classic. Your desire to own it and how much you are willing to pay will depend on a lot of criteria. But golly jeepers, you really should hear it!

Sergio Goldvarg (and possibly Batman) are on the hobbyDB Advisory Board

sergio goldvarg

Do you like waffles? Of course you do! And model cars? You bet! Then you’ll love Sergio Goldvarg, one of the members of the hobbyDB Advisory Board. He is lending us his considerable expertise on model cars, both as a manufacturer and a collector.

To say Sergio collects model cars is an understatement. He’s been featured in the Guiness Book of World Records for having the largest collection of large scale model cars, over 14,000 and counting.

waffleworks

Oh, we mentioned waffles earlier…Waffleworks restaurant in Hollywood, CA, not only serves fantastic breakfast all day, it also displays a good chunk of his collection on the walls, in cabinets, between the comfy booths. Waffleworks also hosts frequent car shows in the parking lot, where Batman sometimes shows up.

Sergio has a thing for the Batmobile, specifically the 1960s TV car built by George Barris. His collection includes several versions of it in different scales from 1:64 to pedal car size to… well, is a real 1:1 scale Batmobile considered a model? Because he has one of those as well.

sergio goldvarg

We’re not at liberty to say if Sergio is also Batman, but no one has ever seen the two of them in the same place. So jump to your own conclusions.

He’s owned many other interesting cars over the years as well, including a BMW Isetta, an Alfa Romeo 2600 Sprint Bertone and a Renault Gordon. You can see photos of them on his blog.

goldvarg collection mercury

As an architect, he has a keen eye for detail and thinking in scale, so it’s no surprise that he has also dabbled in his creating own line of model cars. He is the founder of Miniturbo Toys, makers of simple, colorful vehicles for young kids in the 1980s. And his Goldvarg Collection series featured highly detailed 1:43 scale white metal models of American cars from the ‘40s through the ’60s. Sergio has also served on the advisory board of model car manufacturers Buby and SunStar.

Sergio a founder and member of the the Diecast Hall of Fame. So far, there’s no Waffles Hall of Fame, but he should be a shoo-in for induction there, too.

Goldvarg collection

Here’s a good sample of the variety of cars offered by the Goldvarg Collection.

Earliest known officially licensed Batmobile sells at Auction

1963-Batmobile-side

…….and it looks different from what you are picturing. On December 6th, 2014, Heritage Auctions sold what is believed to be the first officially licensed Batmobile. The style of this early Batmobile resembles the 1940s and 50s DC Comics version of Batman’s ride, rather than the 1960s television show version. With a single dorsal fin and a distinctive bat nose, this little known vehicle was designed in 1960 and completed in 1963 by a 23-year-old who was experimenting with a material called fiberglass. Forrest Robinson designed the car, then built it in his family’s barn with the help of his friend, Len Perham. They started with the frame of a 1956 Oldsmobile 88 with a powerful 324 Rocket engine and completely customized it.

The 1963 Batmobile is shown in this photo released by Heritage Auctions, HA.com   

The car was originally silver until a few years after it was built, when the ABC Television series became a hit. It featured the iconic Batmobile created by legendary designer of Hollywood vehicles, George Barris.  His version of the Batmobile became part of the American culture and is the oh-so-cool rendition that we all know. Robinson soon changed his car to the new “official” Batmobile colors and it became the first car ever licensed by DC Comics. This unique car was touring as the official Batmobile at least year before any of the famous Barris Batmobiles came on the scene.

An ice cream company traveled New England and beyond, promoting their business with this first Batmobile. After a time, the car was retired and Robinson sold his prized creation for $200. It soon ended up in a New Hampshire field, where it lay deteriorating for nearly 50 years. In 2008, the car was discovered and rescued from further decay. It changed hands a few times before being completely restored. Recently the car was offered for sale by Dallas based, Heritage Auctions, the largest collectibles auctioneer in the world. It sold for $137,000.00. to an undisclosed buyer.

In case you are following Batmobile sales as they make Bat history, the more widely recognizable George Barris Batmobile sold in January of 2013. After he built it, the car remained in his possession until it was sold at auction for $4.62 Million. Holy fat-stacks Batman! Although the original Batmobile was eclipsed in price by the later one, it still looms large in the hearts of true DC Comics fans.

Last but not least, if you want to know when it comes up for sale next add the 1963 Batmobile to your hobbyDB Wishlist!