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Saturday, May 20, 2017

Legoland Triple Pack 1675

One Blacktron set for gen 1 appeared in 1990 as part of a collection.  I guess the sampler sets were all about giving kids a taste of the themes making their exit.  Last call for amazing; if you will.  I mean... just look at this selection.  Blacktron, Forestmen, A pretty awesome looking digger truck... what's not to love?

To get this party started lets take a look at that Forestmen wagon.  Full disclosure, this is my favorite castle theme, and I am pretty sure I'm not alone in that opinion... I mean have ya seen the asking prices for sets in this theme?   This wagon was the pinch point to make this triple acquisition complete... I waited until I could score one for a price I thought was reasonable and the condition was... well it was acceptable.  There is another version of the wagon with 1 more Forestman that was sold in the U.K. -source Brickset.

The wagon, which is called Crusaders Cart-(clearly it has been stolen) has a neat little stowaway function to boosts its appeal, which is good because I think it's rather plain on top.

What Crusader would question a forestman about hidden forestman passengers... the one implies the other... the jig is up.  Oh well it was a nice gesture.

The hay comes off and the pitchfork makes for simple past times of baling hay and feeding Chester the pale white stallion his victuals...  And since these Forestmen couldn't bother to bring along a Forestman shield we get a handy dandy trashcan lid instead, and I'm not feeling grouchy about that at all.  In fact I really like the inclusion of this shield.

The key highlights besides the 2 minifigures are this dark grey round shield and the old brown pitchfork.  They're highlights for me because as a kid nothing on the shelves had that shield and I didn't really know what sets it came in... I only knew that I needed it... not really, but that's just how being a kid is... ooh shiny, find me a find, catch me a catch and then my collection will be complete!!  Similarly the Pitchfork was a scarce commodity, but I didn't build much that would require it... partially collection limitation... partially prefer other themes.

There's quite a lot to this model and several ways to take it.  The horse gets the requisite three way back brick/saddle/cart, and the pitchfork lets you make hay with the set.

For whatever reason new Lego molds don't grab me like the old ones do... I think it's really a product of the time, we're once young, fresh, impressionable, we have to scratch the early itch... some of us move on... I never got over the early itch and the price is that no other thing can scratch that longing. I have the shield now... it's been a year and I haven't done anything with it til I put the saddle on the horse and popped it into this guys hand.  Getting older means more divides the time and even my favorites get short shrift in the question of what must needs be done.

'Nothing' can approach the earliest longing... But Forestmen are nearer to my earliest memories than most other things.  My youth and they are forever entwined.  It's apt to say my childhood daydreams were often of a world where these characters exist... and the more well defined the newer themes became, the less comfortably they could mold themselves to my subconscious.  Castle was a theme with 5 subthemes when I first knew it... Black Knights, Black Falcons, Crusaders, Forestmen, and Wolfpack.  Lest I be a spoilsport and call everything since then crap... I really liked the Fantasy Era Castle and Kingdoms; which followed... I have quite a bit of these newer themes from my College period, but as I was telling Zoli... I don't have a strong Castle Builder under my skin.  I most benefited from Castle sets by turning the pieces toward Steampunk purposes.

It's a fine cart. Technically a Forestman in peasant disguise would make it a more convincing sneaking model, but I get two forestmen... what complain?  Me?  Nah, I'll take this.

 Let's now move on to the town set: Soil Scooper.  This one comes with the big technic wheels used in Futuron, and the big town wheels used in the last batch of Classic Space.

The truck has a large greenhouse of glass all around and a sunroof up top.  The front has a pointy exhaust on the hood and simulated engine bay using 1x1 cylinder bricks.

Soil Scooper was very easy to come by in great shape for a song... memo to self... town is the budget conscious collector's theme.  For all the love the internet denizens, namely us, may shower on the Forestmen... this set is the aesthetic gem of the 1675 triple pack.  The cab is austere with a steering wheel and a backrest... par for the course in 1990.

This model comes with 2 Construction workers and a shovel.  The blue shirt appeared in quite a lot of sets and has a long history from the dawn of the minifigure up til the legends line of the early 2000's.  The black coverall shirt only appeared 14 times from 1985-1994 and appeared in a board game in 2002.

The digger bucket is a large size which I'd never really realized was different from the smaller  4 wide element.  I think this digger bucket is a much better size, especially considering the 6 wide scale the modern city theme uses these days.

I'm rather pleased that the digger came with this clear 1x4 brick.  It appears to have had a long and illustrious career, from the 1960s to '91 but this set is probably the only model I'll get with it, and it was one of the last sets to appear with the color.  For Space collectors it would make an interesting element in Classic Space or Unitron theme MOCs, where the clear color saw some use.

Finally we come to Meteor Monitor, which is a cross between gen 1 and Future Generation,

please kindly note the usage of yellow in the model... insofar as how there isn't any.  What have they done!

I guess they threw in whatever they had lying around and what they had lying around was excess Futuron and Space Police stock.  OK.  I like the white color better anyway... but we could've had yellow rocket bricks and they would've been special.

For what it is - the free model that comes with this set, this is a good little add to the Blacktron forces. The parts are a solid mix of Classic Space era rockets, chair, wings and dishes.  Its only weakness besides the recolor is its lack of a finished rear.

Extras for the blacktron Line-up are mostly the 5 types of white pieces,

2 White Camera Bricks... these were found in 6 sets and are not as widely available as I'd expect them to be.  They're slightly more common than the blue color.

The White hingetop shows up in a lot of Classic Space and Futuron sets, so its inclusion here doesn't add much to the collection... but hey, you get 4 of them, and if there's one thing I had to learn as a kid... sometimes having more than 1 quantity of a part color is the difference between a decent MOC and a really good one.

2 1x2 white plates, there are a lot of these in the Space theme.

1 1x4 white plate

2 two finger hinge plates in white

the black wings are a cool addition to Blacktron gen 1 though they are also found in M:Tron and Space Police.  You get 2 of these.

The back of the box shows various ways to recombine the individual sets.

Here's what I did with the whole lot of em.

First up we have this fun drag racer complete with a wheelie bar.  I had a bit of fun slamming parts together to see what would happen.

And there was the concern with Blacktron not being properly colored... there's something closer to what I'm expecting.  The trans yellow is still not quite accurate to the theme... but I like how this Hover Dozer turned out.

My final impression is that this is a really great town set with some interesting underdeveloped extras.  The other two models lack that eye-catching appeal, though they do have good parts or play features to overcome their aesthetic deficiencies.  There are some areas where expansion on the original idea could have made them better, but if you have other sets these deficiencies are a simple remedy.  These are starter toys and collection extenders not really meant to stand alone, but capable of providing a small taste of the models we'd all have rather gotten.  I will add, of the collection oriented boxes from the time I've always liked the looks of this one.  I don't think anything else in the mixes quite rivals Soil Scooper for all around good looks and part selection.

Overall: B+
Pros: Digger Truck is an A rank model, a good selection of useful pieces, The trashcan lid shield, the pitchfork, clear 1x4 brick, 5 minifigures including three popular vintage figures.
Cons: Wagon lacks character, Meteor Monitor is recolored to half gen 1 half gen 2 Blacktron mashup. Digger could use some grey 1x1 plates to simulate broken concrete and increase play value

Sincerely I bid thee adieu until I regain my composure and compose the final Blacktron codename* BIG 1.

Cure-all Pill

*kidding, we all know it's Mess- communication intercepted

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Lego Space 260: Big Wheels -and an ASIDE

Hello everyone... I'm distracting myself from that review I'm working on by taking up Zoli's request in the comments of 260 You're Under Arrest

As with anything where instructions aren't available I ask that you take my approach as a possible approach to what was.  Since the wheelbase is obscured by wheels... I winged it.

 On this model I noticed the front wheels tapered in, but at first I had the front two even more narrow... that didn't look right so I widened the wheelbase in front.

I couldn't see the base but I felt it should be worthy of its wheels, so I added some unseen bulk and bolstered weak connection points.  I really like the radar dish inclusion on this model.

In the main image which is not big I couldn't see a computer or controls of any sort... and left that oversight alone.  Love the quarter dome windows... a sore oversight of my childhood collection.

But Zoli... I will not leave it at that... Have some more 260 Big Wheelers!

The red grille print is not in the M:Tron theme... I picked one up loose on Bricklink and wanted to use it.  So that's why it's there.  I think it's a good add even if it's not accurate.

The magnet's a little too low to be useful.

As a kid I really loved the tapered space window piece.  As a grownup I find it to be a smidge too long for my inner MOC Artist... The 1999 X-Wing canopy slayed me and became one of my favorite canopies... I bricklinked the red and the blue ones from Alpha Team and hope to do some fun stuff with them in the vast possibilities of someday, one day, soon-ish.  I've had the blue one for a while now. 

Now this one!  I love this one... The eloquent transluscent electric blue color, the clean white and black lines, the twizzler accents... and those big svelte technic wheels.  Also as a kid the way they built the middle absolutely baffled me... I thought it was a special piece... got all of Futuron and there was no special piece to be found... so I figured it out.  Expensive soblem prolving for the winsome.

I like how the nose is built on.  It really is a simple and elegant build.  Technical and tricky, yet clean and elegant.

The camera brick and everything you didn't see in the main pictures from 260 is my embellishment... I felt we needed a satisfying engine for such a rover and had to build it in such a way that it could actually really be there based on the available images.  

More to say have I? nope.  

Three Big Wheelers... I considered the Blacktron Big Wheeler, maybe I'll add it later... I'd like to finish the theme set reviews before getting 260 stuff for the theme assembled since I don't want to complicate the fact that the parts are where they should be for now.

And as an ASIDE... The Spaceship I just built Sunday night after a very long building dry spell (outside of the Blog related ones.)

Because I'd like to show you something you haven't seen before.  This was a quick build... 3-4 hours, no backtracking and I'm happy with how it turned out.  My brother's been using the flat-plate hinge devastatingly well and making me feel like a has been... so I built the tapered cockpit with them and expanded outward and downward.  I tend to build from the top when I don't know what I'm doing... it's one of my eccentricities.  It didn't work for that castle project though... might go back and alter my approach on that one.

Check out the crosshair reticle of the long nose.  I was quite happy that it placed so perfectly without any adjustment.

And very soon there will be another review... just a few alternates and I will put it up... hopefully before next Monday... but maybe I'll delete this hopeful comment if the reality is elsewhere.

Until next time...

Cure-all Pill

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Blacktron: 6954 Renegade

Have you ever played Star Control II: Rise of the Ur-Quan Masters?  It's a cool game and there's a cloaking ship called  Ilwrath Avenger in the multiplayer that looks kinda like Blacktron's Renegade without the assymetry.  It's kind of awful because the flamethrower doesn't play well against most of the other spaceships in the game, and the cloaking doesn't make up for the weapon's shortcomings, but if an aesthetic could be deadly, then consider the achievement unlocked.

And with no further distraction I present Blacktron's U.S. exclusive from 1987; here's Renegade.

I may be incorrect, but I get the impression that this is one of the more venerated Space sets in the AFOL community, and I didn't really get the appeal just by glancing at pictures.  I was mostly annoyed that it was going to be expensive and I kept putting it off in the acquisition phase, and off... and off.  This and Message Intercept Base were the two sets that caused me to drag my feet on the Blacktron theme until the end. 

Renegade shares some superficial similarities to late era Classic Space sets in the cockpit, but the frame of the spacecraft is a clear departure offering neither a fully detachable rear, nor a solid main structure.  It's not a question of what is the main structure, but more... what doesn't detach from the skeleton of Renegade?  On my first round of photography I forgot a few removeable bits.  They were discovered during disassembly after the first photoshoot was supposed to be done.

I would liken Renegade to a two headed mechanical dragon, except that one cockpit atrophied into a silly robot face.  It's kinda fantasy-esque in a way no other spaceship from the Lego group can evoke.

Here's another view from the short neck robo-faced side.  For uses, I see the robo face as a satellite array, or probe, or smart computer that can take over control of the ship if the cockpit were to detach.

The ship is very long.  And the inclusion of the passenger makes it seem a little bit lopsided no matter where he sits.  He's riding astride a tiny flying platform.  Technically a third Blacktron man wouldn't be out of place in this model.

The cockpit and roboface array can alternate spots, though you do need to swing the cockpit wings forward to snug it in.  It looks more balanced, but the cost is its dashing good looks, I mean evil looks, well... the clean lines are lost.

Essentially everything comes apart, and it can be jumbled into different shapes.
Here's a longer slower looking form.

I've magined one of the rockets to be cargo and reduced the Renegade's power in exchange for expanding its cargo load.  In effect, you can make this a merchant vessel if you add more containers.

The full complement splits up into 4 small vehicles, a platform, 2 rocket stages, a cargo hold, and a satellite array.  I've removed the cargo's two blasters, and there are two more blasters on the small cockpit craft.  A handlebar plate in the back keeps the rear rocket doors closed.

Let's start with the container.  It sports three prints and carries two blasters and a moonrover.  The lid is hinged and the cap is built from two castle wall corners.  The lid can be opened on or off the platform.  This little buggy that comes inside it is 7 studs long.  I've mounted the driver's blaster to the truck to offer a play suggestion.  The yellow grille on the car's front may not seem important now, but it was the first year for the piece, and this car was the only place to find the yellow version of the new element.

Here is the container with the cap closed and one of the blasters attached to the mount point.  The car has two of the yellow dots, for fuel cell texture; they were used as gold pieces in castle sets of the period.

The rover is almost twice as long as the smallest Futuron car and sports 3 times as many elements.

To remove the container a hadlebar must be detached, and the rocket gates caused to swing outward

The container is locked in by technic pins and those same technic elements allow for further modular play.

The container is 1 stud longer than the car inside, which allows for flying platform storage.  Here the container and robo array are repurposed to be a smart depot, a facility to receive and return vehicles to the Renegade by communicating the coordinates.

The platforms have the multidirectional loudhailer/rockets brick.  I'd imagine that these can spin on a dime and make a great escape craft through a killer canyon.  The Blacktron troops are outfitted with blasters from the cockpit this time.

The platform can be flown standing or sitting, might want to sit down for fast escapes, but if you're scouting for outposts or surveying a new moon then standing up may be preferred.

The mobile platforms mount to the mainframe via the same pin on plate element Space Police used later to mount holding cells to their ships.  Sometimes the ships slide right up and off and other times they take the plates with them.  It's a cool mounting solution and an imperfect play feature; at least with aged vintage elements.

The platforms can mount to the mainframe to take flight control and fly the Renegade's exoskeleton as its own ship complete with a pilot and copilot.  This would be a cool way to fly across a moon in style and track down the beacon for that previously conceived smart depot and moonrover.

The back of Renegade's box shows off a few of the combo possibilities instead of alternates.

The roboface array is the weirdest section of the ship and creates the most nonsensical combinations and surprisingly useful structures.  It features one print and a hinge brick.

The 2 rockets are detachable from the main ship.  The red antenna could double as a laser battery if you turn the rocket on end and mount it to a turntable.  As is it's the motive power source to all the combinations which follow and others.  The rocket cones are a rare color, but I tend to favor black and grey

This particular iteration features on the back of the box... otherwise it might not have even occurred to me.  I think it looks like a cartoonishly proportioned deepsea anglerfish.  The Blacktron man stands on the rocket assembly, but it's not very convincing.  The little platforms from the main craft have got to be better than this.

I spun the rocket around and upended the thing to make a more useful and convincing, (to my tastes), satellite tower.  You can set up a small outpost and radio in to Message Intercept Base.

The previous smart depot can mount the rocket assembly to create a smart cargo rocket.

Just fire your trusty rocket through an asteroid field and let the smart computer guide fishbox 3 to the desired coordinates.

The Renegade's Main cockpit is the most attractive stand alone piece of the complex.  The wings swing forward and back.  This triangular sweep is convincing for solo flight and is almost good enough to be its own set.

The pilot exits via the top hatch, and can use one of the mounted blasters during his moon bound sojourn after jettisoning from the mainframe during a freak Space Police fight accident.

The fighter/escape craft can hook up to the rocket assembly to make a submarine shaped fighter rocket.  It's a pretty slick shape.  The designers managed to make the disparate elements all line up neatly and the result is a new and attractively proportioned toy from the bigger spacecraft.

The spacecraft features a very simple console design.  This print, like the other striped bricks is a yellow on black riff from the black on (red,white,blue,grey) prints which preceded it.  It was made to fit the Blacktron color scheme and never appeared anywhere else.

The rocket assembly sports a trans red antenna and uses a space chair to achieve one of the early SNOT techniques.  A robot arm adds some greebling, but the gap between the massive booster and the main unit does strain the limits of believable design.

As with the roboprobe face, the fighter craft can be mounted to the cargo hold and turned into a respectable freighter.

The swing wings look better swung back to match the 6 stud width of the container, and the camera bricks lend heft to the look.

The full Renegade complement contains enough play for one child and 2-3 friends.  I would compare it to a fire station for play value.  It's a set with multiple vehicles, a central unit i.e. the station, and multiple designed in mod options.

As a mercenary fighter for the dark forces of Blacktron, the bearer of the upside down Triforce can hold its own against a Space Police cruiser.  The set is capable of a pincer attack without support from other starships, and can continue fighting after the pilot has made his escape.

Renegade sports one unique print, and an uncommon rocket stage color.

This is the unique element 
2 yellow 2x2 tiles with printed black grille lines.  For its size this is an expensive piece of plastic.  Message Intercept Base has several unique elements... only one of its pieces rivals this one.  Don't drop more than 60-70 on a Renegade without these.

Renegade debuted 2 copies of this printed grille element which was a space theme exclusive in 3 sets and a spare elements pack.  This was an element in my first childhood space set from M-Tron, but for the most part it's colored specifically for the Blacktron color scheme.  Its release period covered '87-'91, but the black on other color print which inspired it covered the period 1984-2003.

2 Yellow 4x4/\2x2 Rocket bases with axle hole.
20 years passed between the 2 sets that have this piece, and it's been almost 10 years since the more recent Mrs. Puff's Boating School set appeared.

Now... there is a catch, this yellow Rocket has an older variant without the axle hole.  You can find it in these other sets.  This no axle hole variant saw use in the earliest waves of Classic Space.  Given the length of time some of these older models were released for there may have been some mold overlap between flat top and axle variants.

These elements are more common, but are specific to Renegade in the Blacktron gen 1 theme.

1 black 1x12 technic brick  This large Technic element first arrived in the space theme in 1981 in 6927 All Terrain Vehicle which shared Renegade's usage of the black color.  The element graced several larger Classic Space sets in the blue color before 6972 Polaris 1 Spacelab debuted the element to the space theme in white shortly before Renegade's release in 1987.  

4 black Loudhailer bricks.  These are very common during the period when Renegade came out, but it's the only Blacktron set with the element.

2 black studless wheelwells.  These were used in Classic Space during the early waves in the grey color, Blacktron Renegade introduced Black to the Space theme, but the color dates back to the first wave of minifigures.  It may be passe for Lego now, but the cars that don't hold minifigures are kind of awesome.  You can really appreciate how the brick evolved in fits and starts making more sense of itself as the toy's individual components were developed.  

4 Black control levers.  This lever first appeared in 1985 and showed up in several classic space sets prior to Blacktron.  For Blacktron, a yellow stalk became synonymous with the theme, but Renengade's scooters were equipped with the black variant. 

 6 Black 1x2 plate with '6 mm' elbow bar.  This element made its first appearance in the 1984 wave of Castle sets.  It first appeared in 2 small Spacecraft in 1985.  The first black elements in Space appeared across 3 sets in 1987.  Every Space theme of 1987 had one set release this element in black.

1 black 6x10 plate.  Renegade was the first space set to release this common part in black within the space theme.

1 black 3x4 slope brick.  The famed Galaxy explorer debuted this piece to space in '79, Renegade was the second Space set to debut this element and the only space set from the golden era ('87-90) to receive the element.  It would start to appear more frequently in the space theme in '93, '94, and '95

2 yellow corner plates.
These elements were new for 1987, Renegade was the only space set and one of three sets to release this new element color.

4 yellow 2x2 round plate with axle hole.  This element was introduced for the 1980 train product line.  It first appeared in the Space theme in 1981 aboard Starfleet Voyager.

1 yellow grille plate without base groove.  Renegade was the very first set to ever sport this element in Yellow, and the element is from the year of Blacktron's release.  The element would later be modified to make removal less difficult; yeah progress!  The yellow color grille appears in M:Tron's lineup via the red racecar in the bonus pack.  

I only built the spaceship from the box.  It's a bit flimsy, and I'm sure I missed something from box to final model.  The robot was hard to see because of all the black elements and I came to dislike it as it was built up, so after gobs of time I busted it up and took a pass.  If you have a box who knows... maybe it will be easier to make out fine details.

This spaceship is very long, and the front is only just attached... heavy play would shatter the nose.

The ship is very wide and suffers a feeling of incomplete structural effort.  Not sure if that was me or the designers who gave it that flimsy quality.

And I built a Classic Space nostalgia imbued work, so this is a MOC that works very well one way, and can do something more, but not nearly as well.

The Spaceship is a subtle nod to Twin Starfire and Cosmic Cruiser.  The little car is based on Surface Rover, and the Droid is from...

A familiar XT-5 spacecraft appears!

XT-5 and Droid redux... which I also did for 6990 back in the day.  I am and always have been a fan of the original, like Alienator from before XT-5 and Droid was something I would build from my parts at any chance I got... mostly because I could and it scratched the unreachable itch to have older space sets in my childhood collection.

The Surface Rover fits, but I would not call it a brilliant design.  It's just a bit too exposed and the cockpit must break off to get it in there... it's a clumsy form of remove-able vehicle play.

Overall I'm quite impressed with the full scope of this one toy which can combine with three other toys to varying degrees.  It's sleek and convincing and full of fun things to do.  It's comparable to Invader and if you want to one example to sample these sets I really suggest going with Invader... but Renegade is better than I anticipated.  Dare I say there is not a bad set in Blacktron's gen 1 bunch... but Renegade really pushed the boundary for aesthetically integrated functions that are fun and numerous

Final Score: A+
Pros: Intense play value as is, lots of special printed elements, 2 blacktron minifigures, multiple toys in one.
Cons: Popular in the collector market, some rare elements have steep aftermarket prices if replacement becomes a necessity-so double check interesting listings for specific prints and elements.

Until next time, Cure-all Pill