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Saturday, September 20, 2014

Aftermath of August

So, it's been a while.

I didn't advance to the second round of Steam Wars, and that's okay.  I had to work a metric ton of Overtime at my job and wouldn't have been able to compete anyway, but the overtime equaled the combined value of all the prizes...and no matter how I look at it I'd call that a win.

But I prepared one other entry for Steam Wars alongside the X-Skorpus FeatherWing.

Here's my Tie Fighter

So yeah, July was a fun time of creative building and then I had to disappear and go help my employer/Alma Mater prepare for a new school year.

I hope to have some free time soon to show you some more Futuron alternates, but the big news is M: Tron

I've been collecting the theme and have completed gathering the sets as of mid August.  This is a very special theme for me.  My first Space set was M-Tron after all.  Beacon Tracer was a gift from my Dad who had come home from a military deployment way back when George Bush was President of the United States.

So gather round, for soon we shall delve into the magical world of antifreeze, magnets, retro cool, and walkie-talkies.

Peace out,

~The CureAllPill

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Steam Wars Update

The Steam Wars Contest has entered its voting period.

You can see all the contest entries here
Steam Wars Poll

I am impressed by the wide variety of styles and excited to see what else is coming down the pipeline.

If you choose to take part in the voting you can register for FBTB forums and vote for your 10 favorite entries.  It'd be hard to choose just one.

For my Money the UCS size B-Wing by Markus is the most impressive piece on display, I'm so glad we don't have to vote for just one entry.
B-Wing on Flickr

There are a lot of Tie Fighters and X-wings that look very nice, but overall this was my favorite.
Flynn's X-Wing on Flickr
This X-wing is just a very attractive design.
But make no mistake.  There are some heavy contenders in the X-Wing and Tie Fighter crowd.

Incidentally, I also made an X-Wing, and it went through a few phases, none of the pre-builds were completed.  If you ever wondered how you could make these things...just think how much had to change from the initial idea to the final creation.

The result was the X-Skorpus Featherwing
My Entry

So, I hope this will inspire you as you pursue your own creations.  And as I like to say...creativity and self discovery are greater prizes than the thing you get if you win.  I always build my best when I know I'm going up against other people.  So, have a good day, and have fun building.  If I manage to enter the next round I'll continue sharing my entries.

I hope you'll look forward to it.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Steam Wars Returns

To all my regular readers,

I apologize for the lack of recent posts and I invite you to compete with me in:

Hopefully you've already seen this and are starting on your own contest entries...fbtb contest

This is a very special contest for me, I entered the previous Steam Wars back in my College days (Exams pfft)  I faced great adversity in the competition.  I chose to compete even without my main collection at my side...and so with the meager assortment I had on hand, I approached the competition like a writer...revise revise revise.  Sometimes having fewer parts helps to better inspire the builder, (That's what I've discovered anyway)  So don't worry about the size of your collection, or whether you have the steampunkiest bits...your parts will inspire your options...follow your intuition and build what you can; if you can't build what you want.

I will be competing, but I don't intend to win, this is merely an opportunity for me to exercise my creative energies in a challenge against the other internet denizens.

To get you inspired I will share my losing contest entry...(no seriously, I got last place in the first Steam Wars voting round.)

First I drafted an idea.

Is it recognizeable?  Maybe, but perhaps not.  Is it a contest worthy entry...no, not really...but it's a start.
Build time: under two hours.

Phase 2

At this point, the inspiration should be obvious, but can you guess which Star Wars Vehicle this is?
When this model phase was finished I was becoming un-enamored of the rigid propellers.
And those Bionicle Rhotuka Spinners are incredibly fussy to work with.  Why'd I use them...why they were the only propellers I had at the time...and by golly I made them stay put.  I think they look pretty good, but they took a lot of thinking to keep them in place without ruining the look of the model.  The spinners have a hexagonal underside...can't attach them...they had to be floated and braced.
Elapsed build time: 5 hours

3rd phase
There are no pictures of this phase, but imagine the above model with functions added.  At this point I was still using the above color scheme, but beginning to realize that brown was not going to be a winning color.
Elapsed build time 8 hours.

Final form

In the end I dropped the brown parts and made red and dark bley (this is bluish grey for people too young to remember the color change) the main color.  In my opinion this makes the model really pop.  I used almost every silver colored piece I had; and check out those technic bits holding the props.  This was the contest entry.  My choice of parts for steam was a hack (1x2 white plates!)  I didn't have any other good option.
Final build time: 12 hours
Verdict: Worth it!

Odds and ends.  With the entry completed I tossed in a few extras for good measure.

This was a ground crew to demonstrate the Steam 1's play features.

Loading coal.

What would a Steam 1 be if it couldn't lay on its back...now you see why those propellers can rotate in their mounting points.

When I think of all the Lego models I've built, this is one of my best.  I didn't have all my parts with me, but the result was some of my best work.

Now I'm rising to the challenge again; and I hope you'll join me...I do enjoy a bit of friendly competition.

Brace yourselves...the competition will be stiff.

Sincerely, Cure-all Pill

Monday, June 23, 2014

Auxilliary Patroller + Orion II Hyperspace = Tri-Orbital Transporter

Today's post is a combo effort.  Ive chosen two models: a 1987 Futuron set, and a 1989 Futuron set.

Galactic Starship; also known as, Roboprobe Transporter; also known as, Orion II Hyperspace

Auxiliary Patroller

As previously mentioned, Futuron is an outlier theme in that of the Golden Era Space Lego themes it was the only theme which had a strong continuous presence over the course of three years.  Over this period of time the Lego system's part selection continued expanding; allowing for Futuron's design scheme to evolve with the parts available.

The only other Space themes to exceed this 3 year spread were Classic Space and Star Wars..

Recent Space themes e.g. Galaxy Squad, Space Police III, and Mars Mission have managed to replicate/exceed the size of Futuron's theme over two year or two wave releases, but none of them have as yet managed to match the three year/wave pattern.

All that aside here's the thoughts behind my construction; and results of my mashing these two sets together.

The design is reminiscent of Blacktron: Future Generation in the reverse.

I placed a pod at the back; developed to approximate said bubble cockpits from that toy range.  After that I already had a general idea of the window at the front, and so I just had to develop the middle pod to bring the model together.

I really got underway once I decided to utilize the Octagon window frames.

I attached wings and engines to the door to fill out the middle pod design and gave it the old school aircraft running lights in the Classic town colors.

The car was assembled from available parts and snuggled inside the bubble.  The robot was inspired heavily by the 6885 Crater Crawler robot.  Though looking at it now I can see that the new result was actually quite removed from its source material.

And so I have created a space craft which could be described outside of Lego terms as three spherical pods attached end to end.  I find the result to be quite pleasing, and I consider this to be my best Futuron alternate built to date.  I've derived the name Tri-Orbital Transporter from a twist on the Latin translation for three spheres.

Overall I suspected that 6893 and 6850 would synergize well, but I'm actually blown away.  They have proven to be a very compatible pair of sets.

While it is to the side, I have recently gotten a new camera...could you tell?  I'm taking one or two pictures of each shot now, as opposed to fifteen.  The old camera was lower resolution and exceedingly finicky with slight movements...which was frustrating.  I hope you like the clearer images going forward...I certainly appreciate the reduced time needed to photograph and adjust the pictures.  We're talking magnitudes of work flow improvement.  I've probably cut two to three hours of work per blog post with the removal of reshoots, digging through gobs of pictures trying to find a useable image, editing said image, and then jotting down notes about which filenames to use.  This should hopefully result in more consistent updates; since I've removed an evening's worth of work from my posts.

I don't even want to think about how much time I spent on 6990's pictures.

Until Next Time~CureAllPill

Friday, June 20, 2014

Futuron 260 and etc.

When I went to college one of my very first actions after class was to open up an obscure little website called Lugnet and peruse every Lego Space set ever made. 

The Lego company had accidentally printed the lugnet website domain in one of the Mania Magazine comics, and I took note of its presence when Lego issued a statement in the back stating that Lugnet was not officially recognized or endorsed by the company...(see kids, it pays to read the fine print.)

Note the Computer

Following issue

And accompanying legalese...this is what led me to Lugnet, and the AFOL community.

For many years prior to Lugnet and the Internet at large I had subsisted on fanciful visions of what Lego Space could be from scraps of instructions and random brochures.  I never threw out anything I didn't have a copy of somewhere else, so when my 4 year old brother shredded my ancient 1988 catalog I kept it...except for the part he ate...

Exhibit A

Beautiful aren't they?  Even Classic Space was getting in on the Futuron color scheme.  I was carrying around old Lego brochures on car rides through High School. Eventually the Internet made their daily use obsolete; so now I just keep them for nostalgia value.

Before I received that pamphlet the Lego Idea book 260 was, in particular, my go to guide for Golden era Space sets through much of the 90s and early 2000s.  I conjectured about getting the sets some day but didn't really have a solution for the how of it all.  Ebay was just starting and Bricklink wasn't a thing, and I didn't know anything about either of them.  

Due to the obscurity of information for all things old the 260 Idea book was a childhood favorite of mine.  I received it from my best friend for a birthday in the distant yester-years.  There were many things hidden away in the book like Pirates, Town, Basic, Castle, Space. All the usual themes.  Given the era I was born in these are still 'the' themes that come to mind when Lego is mentioned.  Wild West, Time Cruisers and Aquazone felt like wild departures, but they were only what seemed to me to be the beginnings of a new wave of ideas from the Lego company.  Pirates was new at the time I got into Lego, but I wouldn't discover that reality until much later.

So for many years this was the source for what I knew about the Futuron theme, the Black-tron theme, and the Space Police theme.  M-tron was during my time; I loved M-tron and knew all the set names; but that was as far back as my paltry knowledge really went.

Futuron managed to hold out through M-tron's 1990 arrival via a constant three year stream of new sets, and a persistent presence of 6990.  I think part of Futuron's appeal is just the sheer size and diversity of the theme.  Black-Tron only had six sets, as did Space Police, and M-tron only managed eight.  None of that is obvious in the 260 idea book.

The undiluted Futuron aesthetic in 260 inspired me in the absence of the real thing.  I cannot begin to count the number of iterations of that front buggy I made in my youth.  I just loved the concept of a suspension no matter how basic it was.  I'm pretty sure I even built the Radar buggy at least once.

The back truck's SNOT design mystified me until recently when my grown up self had an aha! moment and assembled this blue version two or so months ago.  I had always just assumed the section below the driver's arm was one piece, and it was only when I realized what specific parts were used that I could finally complete the design in my head.  (Read: I realized no such mystery piece exists!)  Eventually I want to build the true color scheme.

Here's a spaceship that seems kind of like a flying saucer.  The downward pointing engines and lack of wings were intriguing in a time when the sets themselves sported consistently straightforward construction techniques.  SNOT (Studs Not On Top) wasn't really talked about back in those days.

Within the Space section lay some wonderful ideas that would inspire a generation of Space Lego enthusiasts...some of us anyway. Looking back on it now I can see that the models don't hold too much appeal for crazy skilled builders, but for casual enthusiasts, and archivists, this is a classic tome.

Below you can see a bustling Futuron spaceport with a base, news anchor, trucks, spaceships, and the radar tower from the front spread.  This was, aside from 6990, everything I knew about Futuron for much of my childhood; with the aforementioned old catalog filling in some information for me in late junior high.

Oh yeah, and instructions.  This is the Space sections largest alternate, though compared to some of the other sections, like Castle and Pirates it seems small.

Hey, wait a minute, who put those sticker borders there???!

RAWR!... sadly, that was probably my fault.

This Base is unfortunately obscured, but there's enough visible structure that the imagination can go wild with it.

Some Spacecraft, Radar, and a Space police Guy...but you know, a Black Futuron Spaceman doesn't appear in this book.  Interestingly, they use more Futuron red spacemen than were actually released in sets, giving a false sense of their presence in the product line.

News Anchor...in case you doubted me.  You can see some M-Tron bits and even a few Classic Space pieces in this image.  

But let's get back to those instructions.  

You'll need three pieces that aren't in any of the Futuron sets.  
2 of these in black
1 of these in black

Other than that, Futuron can supply all the parts.

If you have 6990 you practically have 75% of the model already...subtle advertising much???

Well I should hope we've got most of the model from the flagship set.  Okay, here we go.

After the three Black parts listed further up you can see we've got a pile from Monorail Transport System, three bits from Strategic Pursuer, four parts and a Blue spaceman from Orion II Hyperspace, four parts from Star Defender 200, one slope and two dots from Laser Ranger, and two window frames with the Red Spaceman from Cosmic Laser Launcher.  In this way the Lego designers spread the part selection out to encourage kids to buy more sets.  From this we can determine that Marketing has never been a parent's best friend.

Here is the Inventory










































On the positive side, this model uses lots of common parts, so Bricklinking it won't break the bank.

And here we have the finished product, a small rocket ship on a launch pad.  I've always liked this design, but I never thought I would ever build it...until it occurred to me recently that all the roadblocks were gone.  

It's actually kind of nice, I'd say it's more attractive than half the Futuron line.

And that closes this post, but we haven't seen the last of this mythic archive.