Lego Week Pt 2 - 404 Universal Building Set

The 404 set was just about the most exciting lego set I ever got. It was huge, it had lots of special parts, and it had a frikkin MOTOR! And since it was released in 1976, the 404 set made the black and yellow color scheme cool before Stryper made it gay.

The 404 set came with tank tracks, which almost made me weep with excitement.The first thing I did  was to build a tank using the motor and tracks. This was the set that introduced into my collection the "+" axle and wheels. You can see them on the bulldozer above. To my mind, this was the first hint of the now-super-complicated "technic" line of lego sets.

This set came with the first generation of minifigs, but hilariously, they were a torso, a legs piece, head and hat. No arms. No articulation.

Yerf and Horffdahl seem pretty happy with their hovercraft and crane. I don't think all the things in that picture could be built all at the same time. That hovercraft consumes a lot of pieces.
The instructions that came with this set definitely show their common origins with Ikea. No words and simple line drawings. I'm not sure what those colored dots represent, but it kind of looks like they would be numbers if not for the "Whatever you do, don't include words!" rule of Lego Inc.

A few months after I got the 404 set, I had a leap of understanding. I realized that if you put bigger wheels on the motor, it would go faster. So, when I picked up the 851 tractor tecnic kit, I took the giant wheels from the tractor (about 4" diameter), and put them on the motor, along with some absurdly tiny front wheels. It was a dragster that required a brisk walk to keep up with (The motor's remote was a wired unit.) When I shut it off to stop it, I sometimes put it into reverse by mistake, and the weight of the car combined with the diameter of the wheels would loudly grind the gears inside. This horrified me, so I chose to be more careful in the future with my precious motor.

I can't be sure, but I think the No.2 idea book came with the 404 kit. Maybe my folks gave it to me on the same christmas? I dunno, but those kids on the front are named Brint and Vivny. Brint grew up to be Adam Rich's stunt double on Eight is Enough. Vivny now curates the Stockholm Museum of Modern Art's new Linjer och Torg wing, where she performs her "Nude Danze in Cubizm" every Wednesday evening.


craig f. said...

I might just as well have asked for a pony for Christmas, circa 1976.

That thing was like a hundred bucks, which equals $31,400 today.

The Lego Finance Company of Denmark would offer a lease on the 404, or 12 percent financing for 60 months.

I wanted that thing in the worst way, but my dad worked for Sears, so I think I got a shop-vac instead.

Stupid fancy kids and their 404 sets.

Bowler said...

I'm pretty sure you can't find the 404 set on the internet anywhere now.

HA HA HA yeaaahhhstillgotit.

craig f. said...

While Phil-Are-Go was playing with his awesome 404 set, Craig-Are-Go was wearing one of those non-officially licensed baseball jackets, with the felt baseball patches with team names like "Red Socks" and "Yonkeeys."

Phil Are Go! said...

Well, I can tell you the following, Craig A.G.: that Christmas, the 404 set was about all I asked for, and that was fine with me. I had a damn motor, people!!! I think it retailed for like $50 or something.

Steve: I was hoping someone would make a "not found" joke. You didn't let me down, soldier.

Thanks for posting, chums!

bigcharlie1000 said...

I recently uncovered one of these sets in the original box by the way and it appears tob mostly complete. Including the motor.
What do you suppose it would bring at auction???

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