Book review: Kaneda's Bike

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The Hispabrick magazine team has sent me a copy of a new book that's just been published by the Arvo Brothers and which contains instructions for building Kaneda's bike.

Before receiving the book, I was aware of the model (I think it's been featured in the magazine) but it didn't really mean anything to me because I am unfamiliar with the source material. Apparently, according to Gizmodo, Kaneda's chopper from Akira, a 1988 Japanese anime film, is "the most famous bike in sci-fi comic and cinema history" so it seems like a worthy thing to model and judging by the feedback on various AFOL sites, as well as Gizmodo, the Arvo Brothers model has been well received and has now resulted in this book being produced.

The 180-odd page 28 x 19cm paperback book, printed in Spain, is extremely high quality, semi-glossy and heavyweight paper. It contains four chapters. The first discusses the original model from the film and the thought process behind translating it into LEGO. The second chapter considers the design and construction of the model. The bulk of the book, the building instructions, make up chapter three and finally the last chapter contains a lot of cool photographs of the finished model.

The instructions themselves are second to none: very clear and concise. At the back of them, a full bill of materials is provided for the 1091-parts used in the model, broken down by colour and type.

book_04

The model would not look the same without the stickers, so it was fantastic to see that a sticker sheet is included with the book, tucked into the back cover.

new_kaneda_03

There's no doubt that the bike is a stunning model and this is an equally stunning book. Should you wish to construct the bike, buying the book is a no-brainer given that it's being offered for a very reasonable €19.99 + shipping.

I have nothing negative to say about the book at all. My only concern is the practicalities of actually sourcing the parts for the build. The key part, one that set the scale for the model, is the red X-Pod lid which has been out of production for 10 years and is not currently available on BrickLink. Six are needed so if you don't already have them, you're out of luck.

Nevertheless, it's a joy to flick through, to learn design and construction techniques, and it makes a very nice coffee-table book. It even caught my wife's eye, and she's normally not interested in LEGO books.

If you wish to order a copy you can do so directly from the Arvo Brothers, arvobrothers[at]hotmail.com.

Thanks to Carlos for providing a copy for review.

33 comments on this article

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By in Singapore,

AKIRA! The best sci-fi anime ever!

On a related note, I think Cloud's bike in Final Fantasy VII is also way up there in the "best sci-fi bike" category " :-)

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By in United States,

AKIRA is my favorite ANIME of all time!!!!

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By in United Kingdom,

Never heard of it, so cannot be that famous. I have heard of other bikes in sci-fi comic and movie history though, for example ghost riders bike, batmans bike and the bike from Tron.

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By in United States,

I agree with jockosjungle. I've heard of "Akira", but not this bike. The speeder bike from "Star Wars" and the bike from "TRON" are much more famous.

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By in United States,

I got my book a week or two ago and I was extremely impressed with the quality. I contacted the authors and they sent me an XML file with the parts inventory, suitable for uploading to BrickLink.

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By in United Kingdom,

I saw this film about 20years ago on tv- i think if i remember rightly that there were 3 bikes in the story and akira was a mad child that had telekinetic powers that destroyed everything- the bikes where owned by three other characters who made friends with akira- though i can't remember how it ended- i think it was a 15 certificate and on very late at night- alot of gore and death- very violent film indeed.
however the technology shown in the film was very futuristic and the bikes at the time had never been seen before- as for the lego pieces, this would be a very difficult build as mentioned above, some pieces are no longer available- might have to resort to ebay and junk sales for those hard to find bits.
10 out of 10 though for the design!

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By in United States,

There was a thread on BrickLink a few weeks ago from a seller asking if anyone knew why he was having a run on the same red parts. The answer was this bike. My guess is that more than just the x-pod lid are going to be hard to find.

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By in United States,

@jockosjungle I know a lot of people who have never heard of Top Gear. Guess that show can't be very famous, right?

It's official, the UK has officially lost any right to claim American ignorance anymore.

Not saying there aren't other famous examples, but to claim be a fan of sci-fi or comics/animation and not have read/watched Akira is kind of contradictory. So in that sense, it is arguably the most famous sci-fi bike. Not my personal favorite, but certainly historically significant.

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By in United Kingdom,

i don't recognize the tyre design or the red cup thing just before the back wheel on the left side (piece number 6942? i got a clear one with ucs star destroyer- never seen one in red though?- not that they don't exist...)

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By in United Kingdom,

Ordered mine as soon as I heard they were producing this book.
I'd already started to build or replicate their first version of this bike as the Akira bike is a fantastic design.
This is a gorgeous book.
All the parts needed for the bike are listed inside with bricklink part numbers.
Even comes with a set of stickers.
Lots of cool building techniques which will spark ideas in even the most experienced builder.
Highly recommended.

All the parts listed in the book can be obtained from bricklink - a few parts like the x-pod lid might be a bit hard to find but they do come up for sale.

A big thankyou to the Arvo brothers for such a cool and concise book.

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By in United Kingdom,

@DanRSL Nope just never heard of it, I've seen plenty of sci-fi but not seen this. I;ve heard of Top Gear but that doesn't actually claim to be the most famous car related thing in the history of the world of all time.

As I say, never heard of it. I'd argue that the Speeder bikes from ROTJ are slightly more famous

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By in France,

Some parts are difficult to find but the effort is at the level of the building techniques and the result is just wonderful. A fantastic book that reflects a superb work ! Highly recommended. Thanks again to the Arvo Bros for sharing with us !

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By in United States,

Love Akira! Big fan of the comic and movie. Love the bike. And to have instructions is just fantastic. I want to get building this right away! Great scenes especially in the comic...But I have to disagree with the Gizmodo folk. The most famous bike in comics is Ghost Rider's bike (some will argue Judge Dredd's bike), in anime it's definitely Kaneda's bike, in sci-fi movies I'd say it's Tron's cycles (Bat-Pod is right up there and I don't count the Speeder bikes cause they have no wheels) and for overall cinema it's Easy Rider's custome chopper with the American flag paint job on the gas tank.

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By in United Kingdom,

Most famous bike in cinema history - Steve McQueen's in The Great Escape (or the Light Cycles in Tron).
Most famous bike in sci-fi comics - Judge Dredd's Lawmaster.
The only Akiras I've heard of are the character voiced by George Takei in The Simpsons, or the class of starship in Star Trek during the Dominion War (DS9).

Nevertheless a very cool MOC. But one thinks that if you intend to offer instructions in publication, of a MOC, you'd at least mod the design so all the parts were not merely available but current. X-pod lids, really?! They're rocking-horse poo these days.

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By in United Kingdom,

I am utterly stunned at how few people here have heard of Akira, it is undoubtedly the most famous Japanese Anime of all time, I am not great fan of Anime but even I saw it on CH4 about 25 years ago and remember this bike.

Oh and you're all wrong, most famous motorcycles in film are clearly the choppers in Easy Rider.

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By in United Kingdom,

What about the bikes from ET?

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By in United Kingdom,

Streethawk !

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By in United States,

I've heard of Akira, but I've never had any desire to read it, much less be exposed to the bike in it. I'm with jockosjungle, I'll take a speeder bike over this.

Plus, what's the deal with releasing an entire book on one single model? To continue the comparison, would people buy a book that focused on nothing more than a "UCS" speeder bike? This in addition to the fact that you can't even build it, because a key part is unavailable.

I can't see anyone but the fanboys (and I use that term lovingly), wanting to buy this.

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By in United Kingdom,

I got my pieces messed up- i was looking for piece number 4288058 in red (not the xpod lids) and the actual tyre make/piece number too- very hard to find, let alone identify- hope it helps anyone trying to make this model.
i found the piece in a star wars set: 8038 but this one is clear not red....bugger!

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By in United States,

Nice bike and all, but I am pretty sure that "the most famous bike in sci-fi comic and cinema history" is a "bit" of an overstatement.

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By in United States,

@recce:
The Tron lightcycle has to be up there, too.

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By in United Kingdom,

Soooo, the squabbling over whether this bike is famous or not... does this illustrate what is meant by the term "cult classic"? ;)

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By in Australia,

Anyone who knows anime, knows Akira. Anyone who knows Akira, knows Kaneda's bike. Whether or not it's "famous", "popular" or "cult classic" is irrelevant. This book is obviously the best way to replicate the bike in Lego. So if you like the bike, buy the book.

That's what i did.

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By in United Kingdom,

Excellent MOC but €20 for instructions and a sticker sheet to replicate a single build seems a bit steep, no matter how nicely presented. Especially considering the rarity of the parts required.......

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By in United Kingdom,

^^Er, what exactly is irrelevant? You started by saying "Anyone who knows anime," so you're admitting that this caters to a very niche market (unless you're in Japan!).
I think the point people are trying to get across is that if this niche bike gets its own MOC book, so should the all other however many just-as-famous iconic bikes.

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By in Australia,

Love Akira and this is a great replica Lego version of Kaneda's bike...however, shipping of the book to Asia costs more than the actual book. Total is more than €40...ouch.

For a book review article, I'd love to be able to see what the book looks like and some more photos of it as well as the model bike (against something for scale perhaps!).

Thanks!

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By in Australia,

^^ The irrelevant bit is people arguing about whether or not this bike is "famous", "popular" or "cult classic" enough to warrant it's own book. Does it matter? :/

If you think there are more deserving vehicles out there to have instruction books made of them, let's see them. Go ahead and build it. Do like the Arvo Brothers have and actually produce a book! No one is stopping you. Hey, if i like the MOC enough to wish i could build one (and the book is as polished as this one is), i'll even buy a copy myself, regardless if i love the subject or not.

I'm not big into TRON, but i'd love a large scale, detailed Lightcycle. Same for a Speederbike. Or even an amped up Yoshi (is that still a vehicle? :P ). I can still appreciate a good design. Who knows, i might learn a new technique. :)

And as for these comments i read about "key pieces being unavailable"; that's just laughable. Get in there and find a workaround. See what you can modify to make it happen. Swap pieces here and there. Last time i checked, that was one of the beautiful things about Lego.

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By in United Kingdom,

^Fair enough, discussion after the event doesn't ever change anything. Still, what else do you talk about, when it is both culturally iconic and niche? ;)

I think you're being a little harsh on the key pieces thing though. The whole bike was scaled around the x-pod lid, and as it's only ever been available in the x-pod series, and in red in one set, so that is quite a key limitation. A workaround would either be rescaling the entire build which defeats the object of buying the instructions, building it in a different colour and losing the iconic-ness, or find substitute pieces which I don't imagine is all that possible given how key the pieces were to the Arvo brothers' approach.

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By in Australia,

^You never know, this discussion could spur someone on to making those instruction books we mentioned. :)

From a purist point of view, i know those red X-Pod lids are kind of critical in the construction of the bike, but there's plenty of white ones for sale on BrickLink (well, six less than last week :) ), and i know they'll take some primer and paint very nicely. :D

I understand painting/modifying Lego pieces can be seen by some to be sacrilege, but in this instance where neither an 8 x 8 or 10 x 10 Dish (the closest relatives to the X-Pod lid) is available in red, AND the somewhat obscure, limited-usefulness of the the X-Pod lid in the first place, i feel it's worth upsetting those people in order to build this bike.

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By in United Kingdom,

^Wouldn't that be good!
Yeah, I didn't mention painting it because finding the right shade might be tough, and as you say, it's sacrilege! I think you've got a point though, it's a pretty good option in this case.

So, shall we keep arguing until a UCS Speeder Bike book comes out? What should we argue about next? :P

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By in United Kingdom,

Ah yes, that one's a beauty! It kept coming up as a (fake) UCS set when I was searching for early 2014 summer wave pics a few weeks back.

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