6 Mind-Blowingly Huge Versions of Things You Loved as a Kid
Believe it or not, there was a time not too long ago when playing video games, watching animated shows and worshiping Batman were things that only children could do, or were interested in doing. Think about that for a second: If Arkham City had come out 30 years ago, you'd have only noticed when you showed up at your nephew's birthday party.
Well, if we have so transformed the world that our childhood obsessions are now perfectly acceptable at age 30 and beyond, we have a few other things we'd like to bring back. Luckily, some other adults have gotten a head start with ...
The Giant Hot Wheels Track
Part of the appeal of those Hot Wheels tracks that 99.98 percent of the males reading this article played with as a kid is that there's no way they could exist in real life. Those insane twists and loops you sent tiny die-cast model vehicles whipping around looked like something resulting from M.C. Escher's brief stint with NASCAR. And even if they did exist, any race car driver would have to be certifiably insane to agree to ride on even the tamest of these things ...
"You've taken out an insurance policy on me, haven't you?"
All right, we stand corrected.
That's a life-sized version of Mattel's V-Drop Hot Wheels set, a toy track that is designed to be suspended from the top of a child's bedroom door -- so naturally, they had to build a 10-story-high giant door in order to use it. The bizarre monolith was constructed at the infield of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway during the 2011 Indy 500, as part of a publicity stunt aimed at recapturing the attention of lapsed Hot Wheels fans and insane people in general.
The stunt ended in tragedy when a giant parent walked through the door and stepped on the car while barefoot.
While, sadly, they did not include the ring of fire at the middle (because that would be too dangerous), they did recreate the awesomest part of the set: the 332-foot jump across the infield, which actually broke the previous car-jumping world record by 31 feet of distance and 57 points of sheer holyshitness. You can watch a video of the whole thing here.
If they're anything like us, they went through 10 stunt drivers before getting this to work.
It took more than 100 tons of steel and 500 gallons of orange paint to complete the 45-degree ramp, and instead of a little Hot Wheels car, a masked driver drove a specially designed Pro2-style truck, which hit the ramp at over 100 mph. The mystery driver turned out to be X-Games gold medalist and Top Gear co-host Tanner Foust, who said he said he was fulfilling a childhood fantasy: "As a kid playing with Hot Wheels I could only dream of experiencing something as outrageous as a life-sized V-Drop track set, and today it became reality."
"For my next stunt, I will melt the face of a real-life G.I. Joe."
Insanely Huge Lego Projects
Judging by the number of Star Wars-based Lego kits we've seen lately, we have a sneaking suspicion that most Lego users today are a few decades over the recommended age on the box. And some of them have a lot of time on their hands, apparently: We've told you about the British TV presenter who commissioned a house made out of Lego, but how about the college professor who built a detailed replica of the Ohio Stadium completely by himself?
He has to live there now.
It took Paul Janssen a million Lego pieces and two years of planning, building, tearing down and rebuilding to complete the stadium, and he didn't even like football when he started it. He just really, really likes Lego.
Something similar happened to Malle Hawking from Munich, Germany, who saw a documentary on aircraft carriers one day and decided to make himself one out of 300,000 tiny plastic bricks.
"Each Lego stands for a time I didn't have sex."
The model is actually a replica of the USS Harry S. Truman, one of the largest ships in the world, which he says he copied down to the tiniest detail, including 85 warplanes and more than 5,000 Lego crew members. Hawking and his aircraft carrier attended a Brickworld convention in Chicago in 2007, in which they conquered Lego Poland.
But not all Lego replicas are built to scale -- some of them are full-sized, like the Lego Jesus that stands in a church in Vasteras, Sweden (which probably cost them as much as buying an actual statue).
It's either Jesus or Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Not inspiring enough for you? How about an actual-size Lego car? This Lego Ford Explorer, unveiled at Ford's Chicago assembly plan, was created by 22 Legoland experts and took over 2,500 hours to complete.
And it took those children five minutes to tear it apart.
The crazy part: it's not even the only one they've done. The Legoland California staff created an exact replica of a Volvo XC60, and then proceeded to replace their general manager's Volvo at the parking lot as an elaborate practical joke.
That night they did the same prank with his wife.
These cars aren't completely accurate, though, because obviously there isn't a reconstructed Lego motor and Lego seats in there -- that would be crazy. Apparently no one told that to the next guy, though ...
An Entire Car Made From Folded Paper -- Inside and Out
Jonathan Brand from Brooklyn, New York, spent five years restoring a 1969 Mustang, only to sell it so he could buy a diamond engagement ring for his girlfriend. While this decision may baffle some, it makes perfect sense when you think about it: You can't just grab a computer and print yourself a new girlfriend, but you can do that with a 1969 Mustang, apparently ... because that's exactly what Jonathan Brand did. This faithful replica of his old car is made entirely out of folded paper, putting every single paper plane you ever made at school to shame.
He saved a lot of money by printing in fast draft mode.
The whole thing was drawn up as a digital blueprint on a computer, then printed out as numbered and labeled shapes on a large-format inkjet printer. From there it was just a simple matter of folding and gluing the myriad of shapes together, like a huge 3-D jigsaw puzzle. Our point is, the dude printed an entire car and then assembled it. And we mean the whole thing, right down to the (literal) nuts and bolts:
In addition to the body, Brand crafted replicas of the motor:
The entire thing is a crumple zone.
They're probably tougher than Firestone.
And the seats, plus other auto parts we do not know the names of:
Great effort went into making sure the mysterious stains in here looked just right.
The replica was constructed for an art show entitled "One Piece at a Time," inspired by a Johnny Cash song about an auto worker who can't afford to buy one of the cars he assembles and so steals one, piece by piece, in his lunchbox and puts it together at his house. Which wouldn't have been necessary, if only he had a printer.
The Biggest Treehouse in the World
Ever wonder what would happen if a kid continued working on his backyard treehouse for his entire life, rather than, you know, eventually hitting puberty and finding better things to do? It would probably look a little like this:
Wait until you see his parents' house.
Yep, that's a treehouse -- the sprawling, 97-foot-high structure is supported by an 80-foot-tall white oak and six other trees. There are 10 floors, with ceilings ranging from nine to 11 feet high, and it even includes a small basketball court. The hidden porn stash in this thing must be magnificent. Or not, because it was built by an ordained minister.
Horace Burgess of Crossville, Tennessee, has been building and expanding this massive treehouse since 1993, and it doesn't look like he's planning to stop any time soon.
Eventually the whole state will look like this.
Burgess says that the exact specifications of the treehouse were revealed to him in a four-second vision from God -- and yes, that includes the basketball court, which doubles as a sanctuary. The podium is positioned directly in front of the hoop, in case whoever is performing mass at 22 feet above the ground feels the need to punctuate a verse from the Bible by performing a dunk.
Which is odd, because Jesus was more of a lacrosse man.
According to Burgess, God's exact wording was, "If you build me a treehouse, I'll see you never run out of material" -- and he hasn't, but that's probably because the treehouse is made mostly from recycled materials scavenged from garages, barns and storage sheds. Burgess estimates that he has only put around $12,000 into the project, which is pretty good if you're looking for a new tree mansion and have 17 years to spare.
Also, unlike less tolerant treehouses with their oppressive anti-cooties stance, anyone is free to come hang out at "God's Treehouse" (as its creator calls it), as long as they don't act like dicks. One guy crashed for three years in this structure that will surely be a source of bafflement for future archeologists.
"Ah yes -- the habitat of the early 21st century Southeast monkey people."
And if this seems too much like a boy project, the ladies have their own version ...
The Life-Sized Dollhouse
Imagine you're driving in the middle of nowhere and you run out of gas or are forced to stop for directions ... right in front of a house that looks like this:
Also you are a group of hot, oblivious teenagers who have just had copious amounts of sex.
Yeah, we'd shit our pants, too. However, all it takes is one look at the back of the house to realize that it's actually less Texas Chainsaw Massacre and more Barbie's Rural Dream House.
See? Just a perfectly normal giant dollhouse in the middle of a field!
Like most of our female readers and an important sector of our male ones, Canadian artist Heather Benning has fond memories of playing with dolls during her childhood. So when she came across an old abandoned farmhouse in a field in the Canadian province of Manitoba, her first instinct was to knock down the north-facing wall, replace it with plexiglass and transform the place into a human-sized version of a dollhouse.
Also known as "a house."
Benning spent 18 months painstakingly restoring the inside of the house to what it must have looked like in the '60s, when it was abandoned, complete with candy-colored walls and staged furniture dating from the period, while deliberately leaving the exterior in its decadent rotted-out condition to "show the passage of time" and "freak the holy hell out of stoners."
So from the highway, the house looks like just another one of the many abandoned farmhouses in the southwestern area of Manitoba near the Saskatchewan border; but step around to the back of the house and things take a sudden turn for the fabulous.
It looks like it was raided by the cast of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.
Benning explains that her family used to have an abandoned farm and as a girl she liked to "play inside the house and set it up and stage it and things like that." So let this be a lesson to all you overcautious parents out there: Sometimes allowing your kids to play around in unsafe environments can result in something far more impressive than broken bones or tetanus. But usually just the broken bones or tetanus.
Extreme Snowball Fights
"Yukigassen" means "snowball battle" in Japanese, and that's exactly what it is: an adult version of a snowball fight played as a professional sport across Asia, Europe and more recently North America.
Violence and balls? This sport was made for America.
And as the fact that it has a Japanese name probably made you guess, it can get pretty hardcore.
During a yukigassen game, snowballs are "launched hard enough to knock you off your feet," which might be explained by the fact that some players are off-season baseball pros. When a match gets, um, heated up, you can see players ganging up on rival team members or knocking the protective helmets right off their heads with well-placed snow projectiles.
At least we hope that's his helmet there.
And since the game is played exclusively in cold weather, the snowballs tend to freeze like ice and turn "hard as billiard balls," getting to the point where you can stand on them and they don't break. If one of those things hits you in the head, it's gonna hurt like hell even if you're wearing a helmet. At times yukigassen stops resembling a good-natured sport that you play for fun and turns into, well, hockey.
Cold brings out the worst in people.
The rules of yukigassen are pretty simple: Each team is given 90 snowballs (created with the game's official snowball-making apparatus), and whoever reaches the other side's flag without being hit or manages to eliminate all the members of the opposing team is the winner. So basically you're hitting the other guys with snowballs while doing your best not to get hit -- yeah, this is pretty much an after-school snowball brawl with a fancier name.
Oh, and while you can wear protective gear, the official rules somewhat irresponsibly encourage players to dress lightly. The English translation of the Japanese yukigassen website warns: "Only your shelter and the snowballs in your hand will protect you from the snowballs thrown by your opponents ... Unknown battles and dramas are waiting for you on the snow-covered court!"
"To die by a snowball is the greatest honor."
Yukigassen was created in Japan but has over the past two decades spread into a worldwide phenomenon. Today, teams from all over the world participate in tournaments in Finland, Norway, Sweden, Australia, Holland, Canada and Alaska (by "all over the world" we meant "places where the yeti might live"), culminating with a world championship tournament in Japan. At the 22nd annual international yukigassen championship, 128 teams participated in the general section and 25,000 visitors showed up to witness the snow-fueled carnage.
Soon we'll have a whole channel for this, won't we?
For more awesome updates to our childhood, check out 8 Old School Toys That Got Badass Makeovers. Or checkout some hobbies that'll put hair on your chest, in 5 Manliest Hobbies You've Never Heard Of.
And stop by LinkSTORM to see which columnist still plays with his Barbies.
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