Scaling it Up 4×4 Part 1: 31040 Desert Racers

One of the great things about LEGO is the way in which the same model can be built in different scales: some times, equivalent models in different scales are available simultaneously.  This is the case with the sub-minifig scale 31040:Desert Racers and Jack Stone Scale (I’m not afraid to go there…) 31037:Adventure Vehicles.  Each of these is a 3-in-1 Creator Set.

While travelling along this path, I thought we might have a look at forced perspective, as a way to give images the impression of greater depth.


Let’s Start Small

Lets start today by looking at 31040 Desert Racers: this set has 65 parts, costs $AU 9.95 and is a 3 in 1 creator set.  The presented models include a 4 x 4;  a dune buggy  and what appears to be a quad bike.

The thing I love about building at sub minifig scale is that pieces take on brand new roles: here the short ladder becomes a roof rack; the motorbike handlebar becomes a bullbar and the round tile with a hole in the middle becomes a spare type, strapped on the back of the vehicle.  The build takes around 5-10 minutes and measures 4 studs wide, around 4.5 bricks high and  6-7 studs long.

triptic vehicle1

I was fond of the use of hanging and raised brackets on the back wall of the vehicle, demonstrating the proper use of these pieces for SNOT work.  Another bracket forms the bank of spotlights above the windscreen; and another makes the front grille and headlights.  This set also punches above its weight for an enthusiastic oversupply of transparent 1 stud round plates and tiles. The 8-spoked wheels, more prominently featured in the ‘Cars 2’ sets, fit the role of an 4 x 4 wheel well. This is a neat little build, with a great selection of interesting parts.  The great thing about this sort of vehicle, is that you can easily use a forced perspective technique with a minifigs, to make it appear in further away than it is:


In the picture above, our friendly neighbourhood ninja appears to be standing well in front of the 4 x 4.  However, due to some judicious blurring to enhance a depth of field effect, the Ninja APPEARS to be larger



Here we have the model almost in front of the minifigure.  In order to make it appear distant, I have blurred the vehicle using the tilt shift function in Instagram (there are some light corrections that have been performed in photos beforehand).

1: Shooting in aperture priority moe (Av), I set the aperture to f10.  This will ensure a fairly even spread of the depth of field.

2: In Instagram, I applied a high level of tilt shift, with the linear effect running vertically , over all of the figure.  This blurred the vehicle. We normally associate this sort of Depth of Field with being behind the subject, so we are left thinking that we are seeing a larger vehicle in the background.


And then halfway through writing this article up… Instagram updated in a controversial way.  The look is fine. They have, however,  broken my timeline.  Let’s try the same trick as above, with new look Instagram, and the dune buggy (Buggy being what I consider the new algorithm applied to the time line:

This vehicle is a little more fun than the 4×4- and it’s not as tall either.  All images for this vehicle were taken and processed in phone. Here is the ‘making of’ image:

While the 4Wheel Drive is well done, and a more satisfying build, the Dune buggy has a lot to recommend it as a secondary build:  it still has the spare tyre on the back and a roll cage.  The spotlights off to each side make it look quite speedy and well suited to off road work.  It loses the water bottle/fire extinguisher from the back, but has a visible , possibly air-cooled engine, under the rear housing. Being a little shorter than the primary model, it is more readily useful for the forced perspective effect.

This set is good for what it sets out to achieve: become the lego equivalent of a toy car, on a similar scale to a regular Hot Wheels vehicle.  I think this is a neat set. I appreciate the level of detail able to be included at this reduced scale, and some of the neat parts usage.  The inclusion of SNOT techniques beyond a headlamp block was an unexpected bonus.  It is a quick and simple, versatile build.

I had no disappointing features, although I was less than inspired by the ‘build a quad bike’ option.

I  give it a solid 3 out of 5 Arbitary Praise Units.

Jay looks out to see a different vehicle looming over the horizon…

In the next part: I will look at the larger of the currently available Creator 3-in-1 Off Road Vehicles: 31037 Adventure Vehicles.


Play well

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