Review: Amazing Vehicles

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The LEGO Build-it Book Amazing Vehicles by Nathanael Kuipers and Mattia Zamboni has just been published by No Starch Press, who have sent me a copy to review.

Nathanael has worked for LEGO as a designer of Technic models, and prior to that he was well known in the community for making fantastic alternative models from Creator and Technic sets, which you can find on Brickshelf. This Formula 1 car made from Creator set 4404 was one of my favourites at the time.

Mattia produced the 3D rendering of the models in the book, and his website has some background information on how this was done.

The best way to describe this book is as '5867 Super Speedster: The Missing Manual' because what Nathanael has done is basically what he used to do: take a Creator set and make alternative models from just the parts in the set. The ten models in the book can all be made with just the parts in 5867 from year 2010.

Amazing VehiclesThe models, which include an off-roader, a classic car, a rescue truck and a wheel loader, are all fantastic and many are superior to the official models that LEGO provided instructions for. What's most impressive is that, although they are all 4-wheel vehicles, there is a surprising variety, from racing cars to trucks: even a baby stroller.

The instructions and model renders are extremely well done, as you can see from the sample spread on the right. In fact if you didn't know they were renders, you'd think they were photographs, they are that good.

This book is successful at showcasing Nathaniel's talent of taking a specific selection of bricks and making multiple models from them, and also demonstrating how incredibly versatile LEGO Creator sets are.

There was a time, back in 2003, when LEGO would have provided instructions for ten or so models and inspiration for ten or so more with Creator/Designer sets (4101 Wild Collection immediately comes to mind) but unfortunately that stopped in 2008, for reasons I have explained before: because customers were complaining that instructions for all the models shown were not provided. For this reason, the book really can be described as 'the missing manual'.

So, is this book for you? If you have 5867 to hand and you'd like to do more with it then, yes, without doubt this is a fantastic book to have that will provide hours of entertainment as you build and rebuild the models in it. If you don't have that set, well, you can always assemble the parts yourself, or buy it on eBay or BrickLink where it can be obtained for not much more than its original RRP.

Even if you don't intend building the models, the book is so well produced that you'll have pleasure flicking through it and seeing the amazing potential of a pile of LEGO bricks.

There's a volume two in the works which is due out in September. Guess what: it uses the same set of bricks to create ten more vehicles! Nathaniel certainly has talent!

The book is available from Amazon, and volume two can be pre-ordered. You'll find them on our Amazon LEGO book list.

13 comments on this article

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By in United Kingdom,

I suspect the aftermarket price for 5867 is about to skyrocket.....;-)

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By in United Kingdom,

It is a good idea to have such a book giving alternative builds for one set of bricks. But a shame that the set of bricks is no longer available at retail. That is going to cut down on the number of general readers that do not know about bricklink, etc.

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By in Canada,

It's funny that too many people were complaining about no instructions for alternate set (images). I remember as a kid whenever I received a classic space set (especially the larger ones) the box had up to 6 alternate models printed on the back or inside the cover. we never received instructions then and it was up to you to try an reverse engineer them; I doubt in my youth I got any of them right but wasn't that the point to learn to build with the bricks as opposed to just copying instructions all the time. Damn I wish I still had all those boxes.

If I can actually build all these models then perhaps I'll have to purchase 5867. Thanks Huw for bringing this to my attention.

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By in United States,

This is a pretty cool concept for a book. I love making alternate models for sets, though I typically work with smaller ones. Every time I would get a Brickmaster or Master Builder Academy set, my twin brother and I would challenge ourselves to make something from the parts, usually something thematically similar to the original set. My brother made a frog from 20015, I made a crazy sci-fi starship from 20016, and we've made all sorts of things with the MBA kits.

These days, LEGO MBA has something a bit similar to the "ten models in one" concept, though it's not ten complete models. The first three MBA kits had directions for three models each. Later kits would have directions for the main model and for a handful of "springboard models", with lots of pictures of other springboard models you could make. For those who don't have the analytical skills to rebuild a model from a picture alone, directions for the other springboard models are made available on the MBA site.

Sometimes I feel bad for not taking LEGO MBA more seriously. It's an awesome service and I'm sure there are dozens of fantastic goodies on the website that I could unlock if I'd just put more effort into completing each kit's building challenge. But I really haven't paid much attention to the web content at all...

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By in United Kingdom,

5867 was already a great set. It had more pieces than the yellow, green and blue Creator cars, and you can still download a 4th model instruction booklet from the Lego website:

http://creator.lego.com/en-gb/BuildingInstructions/5867%20group.aspx

On the brickpassion website, there is a 30% off code, but I haven't checked if it just cancels out delivery charges or not.

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By in United States,

UK shipping is $24, which is more than the book. So you're better off buying it at a book store.

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By in Australia,

I have mixed feelings about this. I am very impressed that people have the imagination and skill to make up these designs and produce a smart looking book. However they are using an existing Lego set as the basis. Does that mean they are breaching copyright if they expect to make money from someone else's intellectual property? I think this is different from a book about, for instance, generic trucks and cars you can build from Lego. I don't mean to rubbish the work they have put into the project, I just worry that it is going too far to use an existing design as the start.

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By in United States,

I made his sports car a few months ago by looking at his MOC pics. Very interesting techniques. Glad I bought the set.

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By in United States,

Nathanael Kuipers is in my opinion, the best technical designer in the world(in both system and Advanced Technic) that builds using legal methods... His work is second to none... If not for Nathanel Kuipers, I wouldn't be building...

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By in United Kingdom,

@AddictedToStyrene, the only thing 'copied' from the original set is the inventory of parts and I'd be surprised if LEGO can claim any copyright on that.

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By in Australia,

I agree in this case. I don't think this specific book would be legally challenged in the real world, because it would be expensive, take longer than the time the book is likely to be on sale, and not gain any money or goodwill for Lego. IANAL but I think Lego is happy for fan works to be published (with the usual disclaimers). So the main thing I am worried about is that line between someone publishing a fun book for fans, and making just enough money to make it worth doing (any profit spent on Lego, of course), and someone using a company's works to make money. I think they would be less keen if a book was published that said 'Alternate Models! Build different things from Lego Set XYZ!'

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By in United States,

Great review Huw! I'm assuming the vehicles are minifig scale, so it seems like a great book!

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By in United Kingdom,

I admit: I'm trying to find a second hand 5867-set just so I have a reason to buy the book and put it to good use. But I guess this guy could publish a similar book for about every other Creator set. Truly amazing! Any of the models looks as if it could been a set on its own. Great showcase for LEGO!

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