MKJoshA

[REVIEW] 76161 - 1989 Batwing

76161 - 1989 Batwing  

17 members have voted

  1. 1. How Would You Rate This Set?

    • Campy (Poor)
      0
    • Nostalgic (Below Average)
      3
    • Bat-tastic! (Average)
      2
    • Utility Belt Level Amazing! (Above Average)
      4
    • "Let's Get Nuts!" (Outstanding)
      8


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“Why didn’t anyone tell me he had one of those... things?” - The Joker

Set Information
Name:  76161 - 1989 Batwing
Theme: DC Superheros
Year: 2020
Pieces: 2363
Minifigures: 3
Price: £179.99 / $199.99 / 199.99€
Resources: Brickset

The amount of Batman media is astounding. From comics, to tv shows, to movies; Batman is everywhere! And this prolific superhero has been represented in countless ways. From dark and brooding to comedic and campy; there’s a version of Batman for just about everyone. This reality is what allowed The Lego Batman Movie to make so many successful jokes. But arguably it is the 1989 Batman movie that started the journey that has brought us to this point. Tim Burton brought Batman to the big screen with a film that set a serious tone for the caped crusader. The movie asked us to take Batman seriously in a way the 1960s never did. The 1989 Batman opened the door for Christian Bale, Ben Afleck, and the Arkham games.

In 2019 Lego paid homage to this ground breaking film with their Batmobile set. This year Lego continues to show their love of Batman by adding to his fleet of bat-themed vehicles. But is it worth the $200 price tag? Let’s find out.

This set will be available for VIPs on Oct 21st and the general public on Nov 1st.

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The front of the box is very similar in style to the 2019 Batmobile set. Last year Lego had not launched their 18+ specific rage yet, so the age bracket for the Batmobile says 16+. Perhaps it’s just the marketing difference or maybe you really need those extra 2 years to be able to build this set without help from your parents :wink: The 18+ rage also comes with the black greebling stripe at the bottom of the box. Lego has done a white version of this greebling background for Star Wars sets for awhile now. It’s nice to see them continue it in other colors.

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The back of the box gives us more of an action shot, shows off the minifigures, and announces that you can mount this beauty on your wall… that is if your wife will let you!

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We’ll look at the wall mount feature in more detail as we go through the review.

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The side of the box has a silhouette of Micheal Keaton...I mean Bruce Wayne with his armored face disguise, I mean Batman! This is the same silhouette that we got on the Batmobile set.

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Inside the box we have 22 numbered bags covering steps 1-13, 3 unnumbered bags, and the hefty instruction booklet with the sticker sheet.

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The 3 unnumbered bags hold the longer elements and the transparent pieces for the cockpit.

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I love it when Lego keeps their instructions and stickers protected. I always feel lucky when I open a set that doesn’t take care to keep their instructions and stickers safe and find everything flat and unwrinkled! And I feel cheated when I open a set and find things crinkled.

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It’s nice that the sticker sheet is so small. But it’s unfortunate that Lego uses stickers at all in sets this large. This is especially true for large stickers like the description plaque. There is so much room for error, and the last thing you want is to display a $200 model with a crooked sticker. I know Lego is known for being good about replacing stickers if needed, but why even have the option!?!

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Inside the first page of the instructions we find that bags 1-12 will build the Batwing. Lonely bag 13 builds the display stand for the flying vehicle and the one for the minifigures. In contrast, the Stranger Things set had you build the display stand first and then the rest of the set second. Minifigures were gradually added to the display as the build progressed. I wish the set designers had done that for the Batwing. Batman is included in Bag 1. But he has to just stand on your table watching you build. In the grand scheme of things, it’s a minor complaint.

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The next few pages of the instructions share thoughts from the set designers on the design process. They include a great image of the Lego Batwing in front of the moon. A replication of probably the most iconic shot of the Batwing in the 1989 movie.

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They also show off the Batwing next to the Batmobile. The set designer shared that they started by matching the cockpit of the Batwing to the existing Batmobile model and then built the set from there. So they are sized to match in scale. If you don’t already own the 2019 Batmobile set, this picture will make you want to run out and buy it now! Displaying these two sets side-by-side just looks great.

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As we get into the building process Bag 1 is entirely filled with technic beams and pins + Batman. Once we’re done with the first bag we have the initial framework the gives the Batwing stability. I ended up with 2 extra technic pins. Normally Lego provides 1 extra of each of the small elements in a bag. But not 2! Did I miss a pin or did I just get lucky?

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The only piece of note (besides the Batman minifigure) in Bag 1 is this mounting bracket. First introduced earlier this year in the Lego Art mosaics, this piece is specifically designed to help hold up your Lego bricks against gravity.

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Completing Bag 2 adds plates to our frame and the contours of the Bat-symbol start to take shape. You can see there are a total of 5 16x32 plates in black. The most of this piece in any set since this part debuted in this color back in 2015 in the UCS TIE Fighter which had 12. This plate has only been in 10 sets before now, almost all of them $100+ or Lego exclusives. I doubt anyone is going to get this set as a parts pack, but it’s nice to have a way to get more of these plates.

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There are a few cool pieces in Bag 2. We get the new-ish 2x6 bracket in both tan and black. Tan has been in a number of sets, but this is the first time we get it in black. The curved cut-out plates have been around for awhile, but are still nice to see. And the 6x4 wedge plates have only been around since 2019.

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Bag 3 adds bricks and plates to the top of the model. This continues to strengthen the overall build and gives it quite the hefty weight.

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The only pieces of note in Bag 3 are the newer style brackets.

Up to this point the build has been pretty basic. But we hit Bag 4 and things start to get… pink?

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That’s right, Bag 4 has 2 pink heart plates. We get some more of the new brackets. We get some more 4x6 wedge plates. But pink hearts? Are they really necessary for a Batman build?

“I only build in Black. And sometimes very Dark Gray.” - Batman

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I really think the set designer either lost a bet or just set himself a particularly hard challenge to use these pieces. This is where they go during the building process. On the left you see how they initially hold some plates together. But a simple 2x3 and1x2 plate could have done the same thing. On the right you see them right before they get completely covered by other plates. Once you’re done with this step, you can’t see any of the pink from any angle. So my guess is he lost a beat and had to use them somehow.

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Moving on from the crazy color pallet and back to Batman-normal we start in on some of the crazy SNOT and bracket work used to make the curves on this ship. This particular part is a beautiful piece of Lego geometry.

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And it fits so perfectly!

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Here’s where we’re at after finishing Bag 4. It’s really taking shape.

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Bag 5 has a few noteworthy pieces. The printed 2x2 tile is an interesting inclusion since it gets completely covered up. If you wanted to use the pieces in this set to re-build it into something else I could see them being used to make a Bat-signal. But again, who buys this set to do that? Ultimately I think it’s just a nod to Batman focused pieces Lego has produced in the past.

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Bag 5 is used to add the edging to the left wing. It’s an amazing feat of Lego engineering and geometry.

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This is what some of the building steps look like.

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When we’re done attaching everything in unique ways, the finished product is stunning. It’s a smooth, nearly perfect curve.

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Bag 6 is the exact same, but for the right wing. What’s interesting is that while I had extra pieces after Bag 5. I had 0 extra pieces for Bag 6. Was this another accident, or did the production team think we only needed one set of extras for the two bags combined?

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Bag 7 begins the detailing process for the surface of the Batwing. A lot of tiles and grill pieces get added.

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In fact, so many grill pieces that between 2 steps you apply 86 of them!

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Bag 8 adds more to the top of the Batwing and fleshes out the tail. The tail is my least favorite part of this build visually. The rest of the ship is smooth and neat. The studs on the tail really make it stand out in a negative way. I don't know how they could have avoided this without creating a new element. But it's a shame there's such an eye-sore on what is otherwise a beautiful build.

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Bag 9 gives us a few cool pieces as we work on detailing the bottom of the Batwing. The Batman specific fins came out in 2017 and have only ever been used in Batman sets. The inverted 1x3 tiles started as Unikitty neck attachment points. But have since been used in a number of different capacities. It first showed up in Black in the 2019 Batmobile. It's also been used in the Ideas Grand Piano and the Mickey and Minnie Mouse Sculptures. So this is only the 4th set it's appeared in in Black.

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Since the Batwing is a display model the set designers made the bottom look as polished as possible with all those anti-studs. And if you display this on it’s stand you will see the bottom as we’ll discuss later.

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Bag 10 has a couple interesting elements. The 1x4 inverted slope is fairly common now, but it’s still a newer piece. I had to look to see if the 2x8 slopes were new since I’ve never come across them before. They showed up last year in the Ford Mustang set and have been in 4 more sets so far in 2020. They are very similar to the 1x10 slope I included in the photo. Just without the 1x2 plate extension off the back.

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All the slopes are used to polish off the front of the build and give it it’s smooth curves. The bat shape is now complete. If you wanted, you could just tile off the cockpit area and display this as a giant bat-signal.

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Bag 11 adds detail to the cockpit including the engine compartment, command chair, and steering levers.

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There’s not a lot to note in Bag 11, but we get the new bracket in DBG and 2 of the candle pieces in black. This is only the 5th set to include that piece in this color.

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Bag 12 completes our Batwing model! Fins, windscreen, and weapons finish off the building process for the main model.

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These sections use a number of rare/cool elements. The back of the cockpit uses the 6x3x6 cone piece. This was first introduced in the giant Lego Movie 2 Rexcelsior set in Dark Blue. And now it debuts in Black. I love this piece and really hope it shows up on Bricks and Pieces. We also get some of the ice cream cones in LBG, a relatively rare color. The nose cone pieces in Dark Red are noteworthy since they are the only splash of color on the completed model. We also get the 1x1 modified tile with shaft and 1x1 modified round plate in DBG to make the guns on the wings. And lastly, we have the 1x1 modified round plate with bar in Black! We got this element in black in the Super Mario SNES set earlier this year. Here they are used to attach the flag fin on top of the cockpit windscreen. I love that we are getting this element in a color besides its original trans-clear! It’s such a great piece for greebling and small detailing. I hope we get it in other colors in the future.

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Inside the finished cockpit it actually looks unfinished. I feel that the exposed technic beams should have been covered with tiles.

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But when you put the windscreen on you can still see the exposed floor. It's a small thing, but it seems like for a model of this size they should have been able to add a few more tiles.

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The main model is finished, but we still have Bag 13 left. It's contents create the posing display stand...

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And the minifigure display stand. The Batwing display is simple, but looks great. The LBG really pops against all the Black. The minifigure display is the same as the 2019 Batmobile. It represents a piece of Gotham rooftop with the textured brick and gargoyles. The gargoyles work, but feel a little off to me. I think the wings could be better constructed.

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The back of the display shows off how crazy the texture on Batman's rubber cape/cowl piece is! This is the same Batman as the 2019 Batmobile, so a lot of the shock and coolness factor have probably worn off by now. But it's still an amazing piece.

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Under his molded cowl we see a standard Batman head with "sweat-band." His torso includes a utility belt, textured muscles, and no bat-insignia on the chest! The symbol is present on every other version of Batman as far as I can tell. This gives the torso a little more versatility but seems mostly unnecessary. You could print it on the cowl piece and the torso.

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The back of the torso is printed, another mostly unnecessary choice. But it shows the designers were dedicated to getting details right.

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If you display the head the other way we get a smirk displayed through the cowl. This doesn't strike me as a very Michael Keaton-y look. So why didn't Lego go with a different head? And why use the sweat-band head at all?

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This question led me to compare my $200 Batman with a $30 one. On the right you can see the Batman included in 76119. He uses the newer goggles head which is a great improvement over the sweatband.

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And that kind of head works with the molded cowl and cape. So I don't know why they went with the old sweat-band look when they could have used this instead.

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The instructions label him as Boombox Goon, but we also know him as Lawrence. He makes a split second cameo in The Lego Batman movie but is far better known for carrying the boombox through the art gallery as Joker and his goons "improve" the art while blasting Prince music 80s style.

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He has 3 Joker cards printed on his sleeve.

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And detailed printing on the back.

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Everything matches his on-screen appearance to a "T"!

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Joker was in the 2019 Batmobile set in a much more classic outfit. In the Batwing he's wearing his mime costume that he uses to get up close to Vinnie Ricorso. He uses a quill to murder him which is here represented by a feather plume.

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Overall the minifigure very closely resembles his on-screen counter-part. Though I would have been nice to get some green printing for Joker's hair.

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The back of Joker is printed in detail. The skirt piece works okay for coat tails. But it poofs out quite a bit when viewed from this angle. Not the most flattering of poses!

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Getting the Batwing up on it's stand you can see how the underside becomes so visible. You could display it on a lower shelf or a coffee table. But otherwise you'll be looking at the bottom of the ship more than the top. I couldn't mount it on my wall for various reason, and I'm sure many other people will be in that boat.

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Displaying the ship backwards fixes this initial problem. But that means we can't see the display placard.

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If you are able to display it on the wall, the instructions dedicate 2 pages to instructions and warnings.

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Final Thoughts:

So is this set for you?

Playability: 7/10 - This is a tough category for this set. It's a display model, not a play-function heavy one. But even though it's a huge set, it's still very swooshable! It can be wall mounted and you can use the minifigures in other scenes if you choose.

Building Experience: 8/10 - There are a lot of fun techniques used throughout the whole building process. The level of detail is great. And it's a fun model to put together. But it is very repetitive. The right half of the ship is identical to the left. Not much that can be done about that though.

Design: 10/10 - Design-wise this set is perfect. It's very sturdy and can even be swooshed around the room.

Aesthetic: 10/10 - It looks exactly like the Batwing from the movie and you can tell how much work went into getting every little part right. I'd knock a point off for the unfinished floor of the cockpit. But rounding up, 99 still comes out to 100 so I give it 10/10.

Minifigures: 10/10 - The key minifigures were done in the 2019 set. This allowed the designers to stretch out and include others. You obviously have to include Batman. And they really could have picked any of the background characters to equal effect. I would have like to see Harvey Dent as played by Billy Dee Williams. But I'm sure everyone could come up with someone else they would have included. You can't please everyone! I don't know why they went with Lawrence and Mime Joker. But it works, and they designed them very well.

Price: 10/10 - This is well under the $0.10/piece threshold. One doesn't normally buy this kind of set because it's a great value for parts. But this ticks that box as well as being a good value for the set itself. I like that they were able to lower the price by $50 compared to the Batmobile and yet retain the level of detail. I think that will draw more people to buy this set.

Verdict: 9/10 - This set is nearly perfect. If you're a Batman fan you'll love it. It makes for a great display piece either on your shelf or hanging on the wall. If you have the 2019 Batmobile it will look amazing next to it, but it also looks great on its own. If you have the budget and the desire, go get it!

Thank you to The Lego Group who provided a copy of this set to review. All opinions expressed here are my own.

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Great review and quite an impressive display set.

With that boxy technic frame, it has to be very swooshable. Yes, I really think that it will be a great playable model but I am very sure majority of the buyers will keep this as an ornamental piece in their living room. That is why it has to have that mounting bracket piece.

As for the build... do you think they could have gone away with using that white rubber band? I've used enough LEGO rubber bands  and I know they will somehow be deformed permanently and cause some slack because over time it won't be as flexible as before -- unless of course they are way below the elastic limit of the rubber band to cause permanent deformation (it rarely happens).

 

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Great review of a great set!

I love the idea of a wall mount.

It's not uncommon to have more than one extra Technic pin, at least in Technic models. On the other hand; it's easy to miss one of them during the build :tongue:

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Good review, now I know for sure I don't want it.:grin: Though the technique for the wings is quite good and TLC delivered a decent set. For me it's just a lot of expensive black. I do love the minifigs though. Maybe for the right price....

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Very complete review!

Definitely a purchase as far as I'm concerned. I had hoped that LEGO would make this set for several years.

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I see that it is currently out of stock in the US.  We stopped by the Lego Store in Frisco today, and there it was!  I definitely had to pick one up after seeing the pictures and reading the reviews.  I am amazed how big this thing really is.  They had an assembled one in the store window, and that basically sealed the deal.  I will probably wait until around Christmas to put it together, but it will be fun to build and watch it come together.  This is definitely a solid set, and might possibly back it in a "Best Set of 2020" competition at the end of the year.  

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On 10/17/2020 at 7:18 PM, makoy said:

As for the build... do you think they could have gone away with using that white rubber band? I've used enough LEGO rubber bands  and I know they will somehow be deformed permanently and cause some slack because over time it won't be as flexible as before -- unless of course they are way below the elastic limit of the rubber band to cause permanent deformation (it rarely happens).

I haven't taken apart the wing to remove the rubber bands yet to see if it'll hold it's shape. But if you are just hanging it on the wall I think the wings will stay in the correct position. That said, the designers used so many different connection techniques. I feel like if they could have avoided rubber bands they would have.

On 10/19/2020 at 1:01 PM, Ecclesiastes said:

Good review, now I know for sure I don't want it.:grin: Though the technique for the wings is quite good and TLC delivered a decent set. For me it's just a lot of expensive black. I do love the minifigs though. Maybe for the right price....

Yeah, it's a giant black parts pack if you don't want to display it. If only black weren't so hard to photograph!

On 10/24/2020 at 7:28 PM, AFOLguy1970 said:

I see that it is currently out of stock in the US.  We stopped by the Lego Store in Frisco today, and there it was!  I definitely had to pick one up after seeing the pictures and reading the reviews.  I am amazed how big this thing really is.  They had an assembled one in the store window, and that basically sealed the deal.  I will probably wait until around Christmas to put it together, but it will be fun to build and watch it come together.  This is definitely a solid set, and might possibly back it in a "Best Set of 2020" competition at the end of the year.  

The set seems to be getting mediocre reviews online. I'm glad to know it's sold out in some places! It really is a great set with some phenomenal design and engineering. Not sure I'd put it in the Best of 2020 category. But it's a great model if you like Batman.

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I finished building mine the day before yesterday. I am particularly impressed by the respect of the shape of the Batwing. Definitely an interesting build!

On 10/26/2020 at 10:05 AM, MKJoshA said:

The set seems to be getting mediocre reviews online. I'm glad to know it's sold out in some places! It really is a great set with some phenomenal design and engineering. Not sure I'd put it in the Best of 2020 category. But it's a great model if you like Batman.

I can understand those who are a little disappointed. I think that paying more attention to detail would have helped a lot. Definitely missing some nods to the Tim Burton film. No possibility to hide the miniguns in the fuselage? No retractable "scissors" at the front? Where is the aiming device in the cockpit?

Still more than satisfied with my purchase. A must for all Batman fans!

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