16 November 2021

Forbidden Elementary: Car Sandwiches

PaulvilleMOCs (@paulvillemocs) joins us for a guest post today, we are excited to say – but he selected a rather terrifying area of the LEGO® parts inventory to explore: promotional tie-in vehicles. Specifically the "cereal cars": a range of LEGO® Racers promotional sets for General Mills and Cheerios. What MOCs can he make from these highly specialised parts?

Imagine yourself way back in 2009. You are at the grocery store, in the breakfast aisle. You can choose between the cereal with a LEGO® race car in it, or the cereal without. Most likely, knowing New Elementary’s audience, you would opt for the one with a LEGO race car. Because of this, a number of these odd car parts have been floating around my LEGO collection for the past 12 years.


In the U.S. in 2009, LEGO released 8 promotional sets in conjunction with food manufacturer General Mills. Six of them were randomly packed in with their cereals Cheerios, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Cookie Crisp, Lucky Charms and Trix. The other two were cross promotions with Cheerios and Hamburger Helper. While these final two aren’t from the same collectible series as the other 6, I have included them here because they are built in the same style and utilise the same parts as the rest of the line up. 

The sets depict various types of cars and use exclusive parts that were only ever available in that line. The sets do not have typical set numbers and are considered “Gear” by BrickLink, who use their own numbering and naming system:

  • GMracer1 General Mills Racer Car 1 - Blue on Blue on Black - Knobby Wheels 4 x 4
  • GMracer2 General Mills Racer Car 2 - Yellow on Green on Dark Gray - 5 Spoked Wheels #14
  • GMracer3 General Mills Racer Car 3 - Red on Yellow on Black- Slick Wheels #33 

  • GMracer4 General Mills Racer Car 4 - Black on Red on Light Gray - 5 Spoked Wheels 2Fast4U
  • GMracer5 General Mills Racer Car 5 - Orange on Orange on Light Gray - Slick Wheels #23
  • GMracer6 General Mills Racer Car 6 - Black on Black on Dark Gray - Knobby Wheels Police Car
  • ffracer1/ffracer2 Racers Cheerios Promotional Set / Racers Hamburger Helper Promotional Set

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The Parts

Though I did not seriously collect the 6 cereal cars at the time, I ended up having 4 of them and so was able to finish off my collection in a single BrickLink order. Months later, I found the additional Cheerios-branded one, and the Hamburger Helper-branded set is nearly identical (the only differences being the sticker sheet and packaging) so I decided I didn’t need to get that one as well. 

At this point, you might be saying “The title of the article promised car sandwiches, and so far you’ve only talked about cereal cars! I want sandwiches!” I’m getting there, I’m getting there. 

Each set is packaged in a thin plastic bag with a flyer and a sticker sheet. In my copy, the car was already assembled, however photos of this set on BrickLink show the car disassembled within the bag. 


Each car consists of 3 parts sandwiched together: a wheelbase, a middle body section and an upper body section. Across the entire line, the sets include a whopping total of 15 unique moulds and 21 unique mould/colour combinations. The cars all have “CHINA” embossed on the bottom, suggesting these are not a typical LEGO product. The parts do seem to be somewhat off, with slightly rounded edges and slightly more translucent plastic, but the difference isn’t too noticeable.

The Wheelbases


The line introduced 3 unique wheelbases. Each one has a central body of 2x7 modules, but contrary to the BrickLink part name they are 1 module thick, rather than two plates. This is still very much ‘in System’, but it makes them interesting to build with. The bottom does not have any anti-studs, which does limit their use.They each have 4 hard plastic wheels attached with metal axles. 


Fast Food Racer Vehicle Base 2 x 7 x 2/3 with Black Wheels (Bricklink ID 85559c01) appears in two different colours:

  • Black in GMRacer1 General Mills Racer Car 1 - Blue on Blue on Black - Knobby Wheels 4 x 4
  • Dark Stone Grey / Dark Bluish Gray in GMRacer6 General Mills Racer Car 6 - Black on Black on Dark Gray - Knobby Wheels Police Car

This variant has simulated balloon tyres with off-road tyre tread, reminiscent of the wheels used on RC cars.


This variant has no tread, simply a smooth tyre surface and 5 equally spaced spokes around a central hole. Fast Food Racer Vehicle Base 2 x 7 x 2/3 with Slick Black Spoked Wheels (85559c02) appears in 3 different colours:

  • Black in ffrac1 Racers Cheerios Promotional Set and ffrac2 Racers Hamburger Helper Promotional Set
  • Dark Stone Grey / Dark Bluish Gray in GMRacer2 General Mills Racer Car 2 - Yellow on Green on Dark Gray - 5 Spoked Wheels #14
  • Medium Stone Grey/ Light Bluish Gray in GMRacer4 General Mills Racer Car 4 - Black on Red on Light Gray - 5 Spoked Wheels 2Fast4U


This variation is the simplest of the 3, with smooth tyres and a smooth front.  Fast Food Racer Vehicle Base 2 x 7 x 2/3 with Slick Black Wheels (85559c03) appears in 2 colours:

  • Black in GMRacer3 General Mills Racer Car 3 - Red on Yellow on Black- Slick Wheels #33
  • Light Bluish Gray in GMRacer5 General Mills Racer Car 5 - Orange on Orange on Light Gray - Slick Wheels #23 


I used the toy-like hard plastic balloon tyres to create this little model of RC from Toy Story.

In my opinion, these wheelbases are the least useful part of these vehicles. However, the middle part of these car-sandwiches has the potential to be much more useful. 

The Middle Bodies

This line introduced 6 unique moulds for the middles of the cars, with 7 unique mould/colour combinations.


All of these parts are very similar. Their dimensions are 8x4 modules and are designed to be easily interchangeable with any of the cars from this line, so each can fit over any of the wheelbases. 


The underside has 6 anti-studs with 4 tubes. It straddles the wheelbase from 3 sides with a rectangular 1x3 module overhang on each side and a bumper across the front, each extending down 2 plates. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any axle plates that fit beneath the chassis smoothly, due to the slight overhang around the sides that interferes with the wheels and axles. The overhang has gaps for the axles, so the body can only fit on the base in one way, which makes it more pain-free to build the cars as intended and more painful to use them for anything else. 

  • Fast Food Racer Vehicle Mudguard 4 x 8 with Headlights in Black (85450) appears in GMRacer6 in Black
  • Fast Food Racer Vehicle Mudguard 4 x 8 with Front Bumper and Tall Extended Rear Fenders (85451) appears in ffrac1 and ffrac2 in Bright Red/Red and in GMRacer2 in Bright Green
  • Fast Food Racer Vehicle Mudguard 4 x 8 with Front Bumper, Headlights and Curved Rear Fenders (85452) appears in GMRacer5 in Bright Orange/ Orange
  • Fast Food Racer Vehicle Mudguard 4 x 8 with Front Bumper and Tall Rear Fenders (85453) appears in GMRacer4 in Bright Red/Red
  • Fast Food Racer Vehicle Mudguard 4 x 8 with Front Bumper and Tall Curved Rear Fenders (85454) appears in GMRacer3 in Bright Yellow/ Yellow
  • Fast Food Racer Vehicle Mudguard 4 x 8 with Headlights and Rear Vents ( 85455) appears in GMRacer1 in Bright Blue/ Blue. 

The defining features of the black middle (85450) are an unusually shaped bumper and square rear fenders that rise up 2 plates above the studs in the centre. 


The shape of the wheel well is similar to the common 2x4 vehicle mudguard (3788/60212, shown above in white) but not quite the same.

The shape of the front fenders with headlights, or rather indents that suggest headlights, are identical to those in Vehicle Mudguard 2 x 4 with Headlights Overhang (44674, above in lime). 

The green middle (85451) is quite blocky and one of the least interesting shapes in my opinion. The rear wheel wells have the same shape as the black middle but have an attached fender. The fender is 2 plates tall with a top 1.5 modules long, sticking out over the back. In BrickLink’s database the part is labeled as Dark Green/ Green, however the part is most definitely Bright Green.   

It’s not easy to use the middle parts within small cars of your own creation without using the wheelbase, but it is possible:

This Sport SUV chassis is way more complex than necessary, but it looks cool. 

The orange middle (85452) comes in the sporty orange racer, so naturally it’s the sleekest of the racer middles. Both the front and back fenders are quite rounded. 


The red middle (85453) is very reminiscent of the green however it sports a handful of small differences. It has 4 headlights across the front that barely protrude from the bumper, and it  lacks the lip on the spoiler and the angled supports. 


The yellow middle (85454) is similar to the orange but features a slightly differently shaped front with no indentations for lights. The top surface of the spoiler on the back is slightly convex, which matches the shape on the paired top.


The blue middle (85455) is probably my favourite due to its interesting and unique textures. The front bumper has a number of little ridges which would be hard to replicate otherwise. The front lights of this part initially appear to be the same as 85450/44674, but they are actually slightly different. In order to make space within the 4 module width for the slight lip of the fender along the edges, the lights and the bodywork around them are shifted slightly towards the centre. The rear fenders have the same shape as the black middle but the flat top features 3 slightly engraved grooves.

I’ve actually used this part before, in a microscale Neo-Classic Space MOC back in 2016

The Tops

Like with the middles, this line introduced 6 unique moulds for the tops of the cars, with 7 unique mould/colour combinations. The tops of the cars vary a bit more in shape, and can be more useful as they are a smaller form to work with. Each top is 2 modules wide at the front and rear, and all but two feature a 4-module wide section through the middle. 


Each of the top pieces has a lip at the front that dips down into the middle section. This and the little axle grooves underneath the middle piece ensure that the 3 parts of the sandwich can only be put together one way… unless you get a little creative. 


This is where my Car Sandwich naming system starts to break down, but bear with me. The Black Top #1, 85456, has a number of simple curves: a slight one down the hood, up the windscreen and a little fender in the back. The curve of the windscreen somewhat matches the 2x1 curved slope (Plate W. Bow 1X2X2/3 - 11477) but is offset vertically by half a plate. The front grille does not match any existing parts that I know of.


The yellow/white tops (85457) and the red are the only two moulds of Car Sandwich tops that are uniformly two modules wide. The majority of the part is two plates tall, but the back is one brick and the spoiler is one plate higher beyond that. The front has two extruded headlights with a slight chamfer at the edges. The back spoiler sticks out a half a module behind the rear.

This is the only part from these cereal cars I have ever seen used in someone else’s MOC. It was used as architectural detailing in the third installment of Hoang H Dang’s Vietnamese Facade Collection.

The orange top (85458) has a bunch of unusual shapes. The instantly recognisable part is the windscreen and the spoiler which are reminiscent though not identical in shape to 2 x 2 Curved Slope with Lip (30602) and 1 x 2 x ⅔ Curved Wing End (47458) respectively. The side bits have grilles on the front and back, however the slight slope of the top there does not seem to match any other parts. The front hood has a little intake.


The black top #2 (85459) is undeniably the most boring of the Car Sandwich tops. There’s not much to say about it. It’s flat and unremarkable. The windscreen doesn’t even match the curve of the 3x1 curved slope (50950)! Disappointing to say the least. 

Despite it being simple, I used the black top on this little station wagon, and I think it’s kinda cute!


The red top (85460) is also only 2 modules wide, making it marginally more useful as a part. On first inspection the windscreen is reminiscent of one of the original Speed Champions parts, Windscreen 6 x 4 x 1 Curved (18973) - but once I thought about it a little more I realised that I was wrong and that they only look similar because they are trying to be the same thing: a race car’s windscreen. Nothing else is particularly notable about this part.


The final Car Sandwich part is my personal favourite: the blue top (85461). It gives me Hummer vibes and looks cool. The front features what I think is a winch and intake. The windscreen is slightly thinner than 4 modules and slopes at a 45 degree angle. The roof has 3 simulated lights. The sides have what appears to be 2 bars in relief, but their diameter is slightly smaller. The back has a textured surface. This part seems too detailed to be LEGO, but I guess that’s part of its appeal to me - it gives you shapes and details that are unusual.

I used this one in a 6-wheeled truck inspired by Jurassic World.

 
There's a breakdown pic of this build available to our Vibrant Coral and Medium Azure supporters on Patreon.

More original builds by PaulvilleMOCs using the Cereal Cars

 

X-wing

As I was trying to figure out what this could be used for besides a wheelbase, I found that it could represent the engines on a mini X-Wing model. Due to the large and awkward shape of the wheelbase, the pivot point cannot be in the correct spot and the wings cannot close. 

 

Space Speeder


This spaceship was inspired by the yellow middle; it allowed me to create an interesting shape for the oversized engine block. I imagined this as the space equivalent of NASCAR.


“Cheerios” is featured on the stickers from the Red on Yellow on Black car, so I decided to build my model in the same jarring colours. This allowed me to use the top from that same car as shaping along the inner front wings. 


The decals declaring their sponsorship are custom printed, but I feel they add a lot to the model. It’s not quite as covered in sponsorships as a NASCAR one would be, but I prefer it with slightly less visual noise.


The windscreen is removable to reveal the seat, inspired by LEGO Creator 5767 Cool Cruiser. 


This model was inspired by the wheel arches on the yellow middles forming the engine block on the back of the speeder.


The wheel arches fit a round 2x2 brick in them, so I was able to build the 4 forward-facing engine pods and have the yellow part surround them neatly.

Conclusion

In summary, these really aren’t the most useful of parts. I don’t recommend going out to buy them. But they exist, so if you’re buying from a BrickLink store that has one or two, you might as well try the challenge of using them in something! Let us know what you do with them!

And finally, what would an article about car sandwiches be without a sandwich car?

Today, Medium Azure and Vibrant Coral supporters on our Patreon can enjoy additional insight from Paul about the development process of the MOCs he created including work-in-progress pictures, a breakdown and even a model that didn't make the grade! If you enjoyed this article and would like to help New Elementary publish more, please consider supporting us as well – Become a Patron!

Credits: Release information from Eurobricks. MOC feedback from Ralf Langar, Ariklego, Yodamann, and iChocoTiramisu. Editors: Áron Gerencsér and Tim Johnson.

READ MORE: More MOCs with old parts: 4 builders use Bionicle elements in original creations

Massive thanks go to our 'Vibrant Coral' patrons: Rebranded, Chuck Hagenbuch, Joe Fontana, Elspeth De Montes, Megan Lum, Markus Rollbühler, Mevits Bricks, Baixo LMmodels, Andy Price, Anthony Wright, Chris Cook, London AFOLs, Gerald Lasser, Big B Bricks, Dave Schefcik, David and Breda Fennell, Huw Millington, Antonio Serra, Beyond the Brick, Sue Ann Barber & Trevor Clark, and Kevin Gascoigne. Vale Iain Adams, a great supporter of New Elementary.

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All text and images are © New Elementary unless otherwise attributed.

9 comments:

  1. I had one of these as a kid! I always thought it was some sort of knockoff.

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    1. I can totally understand why. They feel slightly off in a number of respects, color, opacity, texture, but sure enough, they have the LEGO logo!

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  2. There was a similar 2009 promotion with McDonald's that contained even more variations as well. While it still used 3 layers, the bases in particular were much more specialized than these, becoming similar to the midsections here. They're also on BrickLink under the gear category, if anyone's curious.

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    1. Very cool! I saw those as I perused the fast food racers category on Bricklink. I don't own any currently, but if New Elementary wanted me to write a follow up article...

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    2. Yeah, I have a bunch of McDonalds parts from various bulk sales. (Possibly General Mills ran in the USA, and McDonalds in Europe, or something...) I have struggled to come up with any usefulness for them outside their intended purpose, though...

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    3. There was a separate McDonalds line of cars in both the USA and Europe, with 8 cars. They were in a different scale than this Cereal one with an incompatible sandwich format. To the best of my knowledge, this General Mills line of cars only ran in the USA, and only through General Mills.

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  3. This is particularly timely as I was just looking into which wheel/axle (or spindle) combination had the lowest rolling resistance. I'm pretty sure the train wheels with metal axle are about as fast as you can get, but I bet these are equally as fast, and are much easier to build gravity racers out of!
    (along with the McDonald's vehicle bases mentioned above).

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    Replies
    1. Ah, I knew I missed something from the review! I should have tested the friction on the wheels! These are fairly fast, faster than any sort of axle or wheel combination I can think of, but train wheels are faster still. Unfortunately, I don't have either with me currently to do any sort of testing.

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