BTAS Batmobile®

A UCS brick built model of the Batmobile ® from Batman the Animated Series®.


When a client approached us at PlayWell Bricks late 2022 with the request to make a UCS version of the Batmobile® from Batman the Animated Series® (BTAS), I really wanted to do this commission project. Vehicles are already my preferred theme, but this Batmobile® seemed a perfect match for the brick medium with the basic shapes and many straight lines. This specific style in the series was referred to as Dark Deco, a darker tone of Art Deco, which was popular in the 1920’s and 1930’s and combined ancient art with modern art using mostly geometric shapes. Personally, I still find the designs from this era good looking even a century later, which to me says something about its relevance and influence. When creating this model I have looked at a lot of reference material, and then tried to create something in that spirit where I take some artistic freedom, rather than replicating something accurately.


Normally I prefer to design and build my models using physical bricks, but because I didn’t need to limit myself to the resources I have available at home, it was considered more appropriate to design the model digitally. However, the biggest disadvantage with designing digitally is that I find it much harder to assess if something works properly, is strong enough, and can be built. Furthermore, you have to make sure that every piece you pick is actually physically available. Now, with a color like black in this case this was fortunately not such a big problem, but if you want to design a model in let’s say lime then the available parts in this color are limited.

The first step when designing a new car in bricks is deciding which wheelsize to use, because this will set the scale for the rest of the model. Another deciding factor is the windscreens that are available. With the wheels as starting point and then testing with different screens I try to get a feel for the overall shape and proportions. Here it is an advantage to design digitally, because parts do not have to be connected to anything and can just float in the digital space. The first image below shows a very early draft in which I explore the width of both the bonnet and canopy, which in this case was considered too big. The other screenshot depicts the final direction after several design iterations. However, note that in this stage nothing is connected yet and that the model just consists of floating modules.

Once I was happy with the overall proportions, the next step was to design a solid base to which all the loose modules could be connected. This chassis had to be very rigid and very strong considering the overall size and weight of the model. Because it is such a big model I wanted to incorporate a few functions as well, like a secret rocket compartment behind the cockpit that can be raised and lowered, as well as a working piston engine that is connected to the rear axle and spins when you push the model around. To access and see the engine, an opening bonnet feature had to be implemented as a consequence. Here I took the liberty to include an inline 5 engine, which is more visible under the hood but of course not realistic. But then what actually is realistic in BTAS!? I also decided to ditch a steering function, because looking at the 76139 Batmobile® from LEGO® it would be considered useless anyway when you try to maneuver such a long vehicle with a minimal steering angle and huge turning radius. Adding steering would also compromise the shaping of the front wheel wells too much, which in my opinion is an essential aesthetic feature. The image below shows an earlier stage of the chassis which uses a lot of Technic bricks to create a solid base to build on.


As an engineer who has worked for LEGO® Technic I also always want to make sure that every function is “fool proof”, meaning that they are completely locked in place by the surrounding structure, avoiding popping or skipping gearwheels. However, because I was designing purely digitally I had to use all my experience and knowledge to assess if everything was locked in place and would work as intended. Still, I could never be 100% sure if this was the case until the model was actually built. Another major structural headache was the bonnet when you open it due to its weight and length. The bonnet is front heavy but has its rotational point at the rear end. Due to its length this results in a large momentum which, without some heavy reinforcement, will likely result in the bonnet splitting under its own weight or popping of. I also didn’t want to build the whole bonnet with Technic bricks because this would jeopardize the slick look I was after too much. I ended up putting some Technic beams under the bonnet in strategical places which function as its spine.

The function for the rocket compartment was also a little tricky to implement with a lot of moving elements in a small space going in several directions. Having a differential connected to the engine adds another function in the same area. In these situations it’s always best to keep the function as simple as possible. So turning the thruster at the back spins a worm gear, which is connected to a gear on an axle. On the same axle are 2 other, smaller gears that when activated move a pair of gear racks up and down to reveal the rocket compartment. It is a tight fit and was a bit of a puzzle but I think I managed in the end.

Another challenge was the slightly angled side structures. Also in this case the side structures had to be solid but the beginning and end had to be in the Systems “grid” as well. Here I actually did some physical tests to see if my math matched up. A problem when using angles is that you always end up with some ugly gaps which I wanted to minimize to keep the slick appearance. Here a combination of wedges, slopes and curves was used. The same type of parts were used to create the angled air intakes, but this section was much harder than the long side due to its intricate shape and details. Here my main concern became interference between parts and sections, which can be detected with digital programs, but seems not always reliable. So again I couldn’t be 100% sure until the model was built.

The biggest challenge, however, was getting a sliding canopy to work, which was a strong wish of the client. Unfortunately the space is limited, and the movement complex; first the canopy has to go up and then move forward. I had a look at the way it was done in the UCS Batmobile®, but discovered that it was heavily simplified and wouldn’t work anyway in my model due to its size and shape. I also looked at strings and chains, In the end I tried designing something similar to the sliding door in the 10279 VW T2 camper van. This was by far the feature I was most concerned and doubtful about in my digital design, and again we had to wait and see if it would work as intended in real life.


So, in the end, did everything work out as anticipated without having built anything physically? Well, almost… The sliding canopy turned out too difficult to get to work, but everything else was exactly as i had planned. The client was luckily also very happy with the result. With the help of a review from Tips & Bricks we had big plans to make this kit available through a limited production run if we would gather enough support on Kickstarter. For this occasion CJ Hendrix (another PlayWell Bricks member) even created this amazing animation of the Batmobile® which you should definitely check out below! Sound on is recommended.



Unfortunately we never reached our goal, probably due to the steep price point, but I still believe there is a market for niche products like this if we would have reached the right target group. In this case we had an extra hurdle to take, because we couldn’t use the name Batmobile® or Batman® in our promotional material due to licensing issues. That’s why we called it Crusader’s Night Cruiser. Below are pictures of the actual real model which I finally was able to build for myself. Building instructions that CJ Hendrix was also heavily involved are now available on Rebrickable!

4 thoughts on “BTAS Batmobile®

  1. says:

    Hi Nathanael, what a fantastic model. It would be great to have building instructions of this or a complete model. I am curious to see how your ideas will turn out.

  2. Tania says:

    Hi! Wanting to download the instructions but is there a way I can find out what bricks are needed? Is it in the PDF?

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