|"Does it come in... black, gray, tan and purple?"|
Finally, my minifig version of the dynamic duo is ready to take on their arch-nemesis in style!
|Holy Headroom, Batman!|
7888 The Tumbler: Joker's Ice Cream Surprise. Needless to say, the prize of that set was not the charming ice cream truck nor even the armored Batman minifig made to resemble the suit worn by Christian Bale in the movie, but Christopher Nolan's epic tank-like version of the Batmobile, known as the Tumbler. In all, the set included 449 pieces, was priced at $49.99, and was available in stores for just over six months.
At that time in my life, a very different person must have occupied the skin-bag of my body, because that's the only explanation for why I don't have no fewer than three copies of this set at home; one fully assembled on my shelf, one scavenged for spare parts, and one mint-in-box, calmly appreciating to 15 times its original market price. (Set 7888 is currently going for $800 on Amazon and even more than that on eBay.) I don't know if that past person was not yet a fully fledged AFOL, or if he just didn't think of a LEGO set as a worthwhile investment. But either way, I've had to live with the disappointment of not having that set every day for the last four years.
This year, to coincide with The Dark Knight Rises, LEGO, DC, and Warner Bros. came out with a new movie-themed set: 76001 The Bat vs. Bane: Tumbler Chase. While both sets include a LEGO Tumbler, the model in 7888 compares to the model in 76001 like the full-sized drivable version compares to the miniature prop scale model used for effects shots. I mean, the new Tumbler (with the lame camo color scheme) barely has enough internal space to fit the Bane minifig, let alone Batman with his oversized cowl. Last month, I spent some time with 76001, including swapping out the brown and tan pieces for black ones and making some custom alterations, which got me thinking: why couldn't I try to re-create the Tumbler from 7888 using my own resources and the ones LEGO makes available to me?
After this somewhat labor intensive process of making my own inventory, the next step is to figure out how I can get my hands on these pieces. Most of them can come from my own personal stock of LEGO bricks (albeit not all of them in exactly the right color) and for the pieces that I don't possess, there's the LEGO Shop's Pick A Brick feature. All you have to do is type in the Element ID (the six or seven digit number accompanying each piece in the instruction's inventory) and the search engine will give you the price and the option to buy it. There's a way to circumvent some of the rare bricks that don't exist in Pick A Brick by using the Design ID, a shorter number that refers to the same type of brick but in a different color. To find that number, which is not listed in the instructions, I can use the more detailed inventory provided on the truly amazing Brickset site. Clicking on the "Parts" tab brings up a visual inventory where every brick has a link to every other color and every other LEGO set in which that brick is available. Is there nothing the internet can't provide to us obsessive AFOL's?
But hang on... there are still some pieces that just plain aren't available in ANY color from Pick A Brick, including the piece you need for the VERY FIRST STEP of building the LEGO Tumbler from 7888. I must admit that I was about to despair the prospect of ever completing this project... until I noticed a link to the LEGO Customer Service replacement parts page. This hidden feature requires you to make a list of every brick you want, send it to LEGO, and wait for a personalized invoice from a real-life customer service representative telling you how much those bricks will cost. Then the only way to actually place your order is to call in and give your credit card number to a real person. It's more expensive than Pick A Brick, but it's much faster (since each order doesn't have to clear customs on its way from the warehouse in Poland where they all originate) and includes a much wider variety of available pieces.
|The gang waits for the last shipment from Wayne Enterprises.|
The first discrepancy between the instructions and my raw materials came in step 8, which calls for black 1x10 technic bricks, but I only have them in medium stone gray. So what if the very front of the vehicle is a different color than it should be? It will only set the tone for how the rest of it will look... On step 11, I actually had to replace some dark stone gray pieces with black ones, which will be totally unnoticeable. Then on step 16, some of the big plates in the cockpit that are supposed to be yellow will have to be substituted with red. You know, Batman's original costume was supposed to be red-tinted, but they decided it would look too much like Superman. We can just say this change is an homage to Batman's history. Plus, with the replacement red plates and light green 1x8 bricks, the cockpit is getting a decisive Robin-esque flair, which is appropriate, cuz he'll be riding shotgun most of the time.
Step 26 is the first spot where I needed to use a piece from the Pick A Brick order. Having to wait 13-18 business days after they receive your order is a real buzzkill, but my spirits were lifted at Step 28 when I used the last of the replacement gray 1x2 roof tiles. I'll be free to use the black ones that are called for in the instructions for the rest of the build. Ditto on step 31 for the dark stone gray lamp holders. The first real hard choice came in the next step, where I have to decide what to do with a brown 1x4 roof tile that has to be right up front. The instructions call for six, and I only have two black ones and two dark gray ones, so the rest have to be an out of place earth tone. I've tried to hide it behind the front tires, but until the Pick A Brick package arrives, I won't know how successful that strategy will look.
I had to stop at step 3 of instruction booklet 2 which calls for covering up a Pick A Brick piece that has not yet arrived. So I pause now to wait outside for the mailman and will post an update when the whole thing is done.
|Batman and Robin admire their handiwork so far.|