domela

Long live the 4-stud wide [MOC]

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I first wrote this post about my obsession with 4-wide, 80's town style cars a couple of years ago. I got some nice comments and checked out the works of others (de-marco in particular, go see his work, that man is a LEGO car genius) and that gave me an awful lot of inspiration, thank you very much for all the tips! Some fellow builders commented on how 6-wide cars are more detailed or 5-wide are a real challenge but, after all, I've found real pleasure in building good old 4-wide, like when I was a kid. I only do this as a hobby, with little time and resources, and I'm also into other things (like town scenes or custom Microfighters) so new models come slowly, but I now have a bunch that are worth showing, so...enjoy :)

 

I had the good luck of being a kid in the 80-s, the Golden Age of LEGO Town. Back then the great majority of town sets were vehicles and the concept of town vehicles was simple: 4 studs wide, seats one person and, due to the proportions of the minifig, fairly tall compared to its length but otherwise perfectly recognisable for what it is: a CAR.

Then I went to high school and uni, started my adult life, and with all my LEGO packed away in a box I only followed the juniorisation of the late '90-s and early 2000-s with a mild shock form a distance. However, in the middle of the decade the miracle happened, Town suddenly found itself and, as it coincided with my son growing old enough to fall for the brick, I started hunting the toy stores once again. But alas! The new concept was 6-wide! Everything 6-wide! A simple ambulance van as wide as a train! And even the few 4-wide cars had tires sticking out a mile with the odd fenders that were everywhere. To me it didn't look right at all. Meanwhile, my son grew and got very seriously into the MOC trains' business (strictly 8-wide) and needed a lot of scenery for his train layouts, so I decided to restore the glory of the 4-stud wide with some MOC-s of my own.

My first was a little follow-me-car for an airport project which was heavily influenced by the work of fellow builder pjotr. Here is my version:

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Next came a small tanker truck for the same project. I just love the way SNOT techniques became part of even the smallest sets, but I tried to still keep it in line with the 80's style. I also tried the smooth, "studless" look on this truck but I'm still undecided whether I like it or not. And the petrol company is Shell, no matter what Octan says.

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This truck looked very cute, but it also looked ridiculously small, and at this point I had to realise that the correct scale for trucks was the 6-wide after all…so I reverted to passenger cars.

Like this still somewhat crude attempt at a colleague’s New Mini:

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When the 10242 Mini Cooper came out a much smaller version also came with it. And I didn’t like it: you couldn’t even seat a minifig in there! So I made my own version:

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Ok, I admit, it doesn’t have doors, but only because dark green doors are so horrendously expensive. Anyway, I designed it so that as soon as I can get a pair of real doors they will fit right in.

While I was about it, I also made my version of perhaps the most famous Mini ever:

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Which brought along another classic movie car from the 80's:

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and this...

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...and this...

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...and this (ok, this is a 70's movie but it played a lot on TV when I was a kid in the 80's :classic:).

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I also tried various stereotypes.

A Land Rover Series III:

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A Trabant 601 with custom sticker. Growing up in Eastern Bloc Hungary these were all around at that time. Today the few surviving ones are prized collector's items. The colour is absolutely authentic, you either had this, or a grayish white. But mostly just this.

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(Side note: being patient pays. In more than one ways. The first version of this model had round taillights which were factually incorrect, but the more correct "stadium" tile was not, at that time, available in trans red colour yet. Nevertheless, I put it on my Bricklink wish-list and two years later I got an email that one store has them. It must have been a pre-release, at an exorbitant price, so I let it slip. A few more months and, Hey Presto!, it's available in the right colour at a reasonable price at a whole selection of nearby stores. Like I said, patience.)

Another iconic Eastern-bloc car, the Polski Fiat 126. This was a Polish-made, licensed design that was so small, it hardly seated two adults with two kids in the back. Yet, it was relatively cheap and my aunt had three in a row, so there is some personal connection here.

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I always try to build models that are also playable. As much as I can do (or afford, see dark green doors) it, wheels should roll, doors should open and it must be possible for the minifig to properly sit inside the car. Just like in the official 80's models. This next one is a VW beetle cabriolet, that very elegantly sidestepped the fact that I just couldn't fix a proper roof for it. With some custom stickers and chrome parts:

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As time went on, I picked up more and more tricks of the trade and became more confident with placing bricks in unusual ways. One of my latest is a Citroen DS that I'm rather proud of, as this is a car that has very few straight lines. Yet, I think I managed to capture all those curves and bulges with abundant use of SNOT-techniques. Here's a wealthy French couple from the 1960's with their DS, in front of their holiday chalet.

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Sometimes I just can't help the urge to soup up one of my old sets with the new parts that weren't around back then. Here is my pimped 6650 Fire and Rescue Van :

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And this is an oldtimer postal delivery truck to complete my rebuilt 6362 Post Office.

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While we are about it, here is a somewhat off-topic, truly 6-wide truck, an homage to the Model Team set 5580 Highway Rig, the set literally every kid wanted when it came out, but very few possessed (guess what, I wasn't one of them). It is a nice addition to the town and, again, the size is also more correct then a 4-wide truck of this type would be.

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I also enjoy building generic cars and trucks just for the fun of it. Here's a small delivery truck (I know, I know, I said trucks are 6-wide but I just couldn't resist the colour, only baseplates and vegetation was available in green in the 80's).

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In one of the old (maybe 1989) catalogues I quite liked a close-up photo of a truck using the then-new spring-suspension wheels. Many years later I actually bought a pair of these and was looking for some good use for them. In the end I just built a generic pick-up truck.

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And here's an old sports car, also greatly influenced by some photos I found on the internet, I just had to modify it a bit to include minifig.

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And here's something really crazy to finish with: my son built a truly amazing 8-wide Albatross steam locomotive (it works!) and I couldn't help but make a 4-wide, microfighter-style version of it:

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Well, this is it for now, more as I build. As I said, I know many people here praise the 6-wide as those models can provide more details and a better scale to real life vehicles, but I always held that the proportions of the minifig are so screwed up that it is a futile effort at best anyway to build scale models for them without sacrificing the play factor. For me it's a fun journey down memory lane and I hope you enjoyed it too.

For more photos you can visit my Brickshelf page.

If you liked my models please, leave a comment below. Better yet, if you liked them try your hands at the 4-wide business yourself! It's fun!

Edited by domela
More models available.

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Nice cars, but I've never understood the desire for four wide cars. Five wide cars on the other hand are absolutely perfect! I've made a couple myself, and the size is perfect. You should make some! :sweet: You should check out @de-marco's five wide cars! 

 Here's his YouTube channel.

 

Edited by LegoMonorailFan

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Nice, my approach to building cars is different than yours(5-6 wide) but I enjoyed looking at these 4-wide ones. My favorite is the Shell truck, love the upside down studs in the back tank.

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Very nice! I was just thinking recently about how much I like the old 4-wide cars. Sure, they might not be nearly as detailed as the new 6-wide ones, or even the sort-of-4-wide ones (4-wide with the sticking-out mudguards and wheels), but they have a real charm. Plus, it's easier to make and modify them, I find, than to do so with the newer ones (perhaps because fewer specialized pieces are needed to capture the look?).

Anyway, you've done a great job here! Everything looks fantastic! I'm particularly fond of the Land Rover (I can just see Sir David Attenborough standing next to it and narrating) and the Trabant. And KITT, of course--amazing shaping for that scale. Very nicely done!

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There's nothing wrong with old school.  These are very creative!  I like them.

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Nice!. Some of these are brilliant especially the smaller cars. In 4-wide they work really well. The bigger cars in 4 wide seem a bit odd nowadays but nonetheless these are fantastic cars!

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I, like you, grew up on 4 wide cars of the late 70s and 80s.  I’ve just got back into minifig scale building after the last 2 ½ decades being a technic only builder, and have found the “new” 5 and 6 wide vehicles quite hard to design and build.  I’ve ended up buying city sets just to learn techniques and have a parts stash, although I don’t think they fit in well with the Modulars, which is what I build now. Does anyone else have any thoughts on this.

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Wow! Please, do you have instructions for the Series 3 Landrover and the Mini? My brother, dad and I own both as a family venture and I love to make them both these as a stocking filler for Christmas.

I love the Mr Bean one too, absolutely fantastic!

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1 hour ago, StormtrooperEll said:

Wow! Please, do you have instructions for the Series 3 Landrover and the Mini? My brother, dad and I own both as a family venture and I love to make them both these as a stocking filler for Christmas.

I love the Mr Bean one too, absolutely fantastic!

i think you can see how they are build just by looking at the picture.

that is the beauty of these builds. simple but great.

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Excellent stuff, especially that Beetle!

Being somewhat from that era before that juniorification began i can definately relate. However, if you check the Spiderman sets from the early 2000s they did have quite a few excellent 4 wides right there literally going "back to the roots" and using TT wheel sizes again!

On 4.11.2017 at 9:41 AM, jus1973 said:

I, like you, grew up on 4 wide cars of the late 70s and 80s.  I’ve just got back into minifig scale building after the last 2 ½ decades being a technic only builder, and have found the “new” 5 and 6 wide vehicles quite hard to design and build.  I’ve ended up buying city sets just to learn techniques and have a parts stash, although I don’t think they fit in well with the Modulars, which is what I build now. Does anyone else have any thoughts on this.

 

Mhm, if you want my thoughts on this:
No matter how hard 5 and 6 stud cars are, its worth it. I mean i once did a thread here for modular cars 2 years ago or so which has been updated in other threads of mine with new ideas (quite sure u'll find it if you look for). Since i see modulars as "puzzeling" full of detail, i expect cars to be the same simply to fit the critera of being "expert" series like the modulars themselves. That does also include some technic parts from time to time and PU thats a bit unusual. The biggest issue i see with City sets is the different style and also scaling. There simply aint none with City Series cars (trucks are more or less ok), literally ending up to have your modulars look tiny. As quoted above, DeMarcos approach is genius - its simple and cheap in parts, yet very cleverly executed definately upgrading any modular layout. Like him, i also dont use any mudguards for cars -  thats where the whole "oversize" issue comes from anyway. Too big tires, just place a fig next to those wheels and try to compare to your real life counterpart...
I can only suggest using the good ol TT wheel diameter of 14mm from the 4 wide cars, just widen the things to 5 wide and you are good to go imo.

 

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Gotta say the Mini Cooper; simply perfect! Reminds me of Charlize Theron in The Italian Job. :laugh::thumbup:

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Thanks for all the tips and support everyone, I refreshed the post with my new models.

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Hi domela!
Thank you for showing your wonderful creations!
I've been socialized with Lego myself in the early eighties and love the 4-wide-vehicles!!!
I think for children the small vehicles are much easier to design themselves, more handy and the need for bricks, especially for garages and houses, is also much lower!
I am happy to see something from you again,
kind regards
Mario

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