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Friday, November 29, 2013

Lego 6828

Behold the chibi monstrosity 6828 Twin Wing Spoiler.  A veritable treasure trove of exceptionally good components that does not quite equal the sum of its parts.  Is it a hovercraft?  Robot?  Spaceship?  Chicken?  Pants?  I'm not entirely sure.  From the picture it is clear that the primary function of Twin Wing spoiler is not quite walking, not quite flying, maybe it's a jumper (Useless).  It's the Futuron theme's jack of all trades master of none study in tedium.  Sure I suppose it does something very okay, but wouldn't you rather have Strategic Pursuer if you're hankering for a robot? Or maybe you fancy a spaceship?  I suppose Space Patroller has got you covered.  What's that?  Not enough cool pieces you say, lacking in blue spacemen?  Well, Twin Wing Spoiler has got those.  That will have to count for something.

The legs sit flush with the 1x2 striped tile 
allowing the vehicle to stand without wobbling.

So, I suppose you're all waiting with baited breath for me to tell you about this thing.  Okay.  Twin Wing Spoiler has four moving sections.  Two control sticks, and two wings/legs that look bad either way, but hey, those feet are in a unique color.  And that is something, unique parts for cheap, sign me up.   The model is little more than a la-z-boy with rockets strapped to it and chicken wings, yes both kinds.

I cannot, in good conscience, overlook a good thing, I don't often photograph the bottoms of these sets because I don't see the point, however, this set has some good work going on with offset construction.  It's not often that we see this technique used, but I feel like the Lego company was more willing to use odd techniques in the past, whereas now it seems they develop parts to perform strange connections in an official capacity.

This is the worst model in Futuron, hands down, but as a parts pack it certainly has what the kids want.  You get a Blue spaceman, six printed tiles, and thirteen transparent bits.  Let it not be said that this set was miserly with its offerings.  All I needed to sell it to me was the Blue Spaceman and this train signal bracket in white.

4169 / Peeron

The Grey Train Signal Bracket was released in sets from 1980 to 1987.  It was only available in train sets.  In 1988 the piece was made available in white, exclusively for Twin Wing Spoiler.  The set has two of them.  After 1988 it was never released again.

There are no other Futuron unique parts aside from the truly unique part.  Sorry.  I personally think the train stands are worth it, if only because the full complement of parts makes for a good assortment, and the set is among the cheapest most plentiful Futuron sets in the aftermarket; providing an easily obtained example for the cash strapped enthusiast. 

With all that aside I shall now attempt to make something better than the main model.  

This is that model, sometimes I do more alternates, but I'm content with this, it's pretty cool for my money.  

Final Verdict: C- 
Pros: Great parts pack, blue spaceman, lots of prints, great prices
Cons: Confused model design

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Lego 6893

6893 is a Lego set I have known by two names.  For some of the world it is called Orion II Hyperspace, and in America it is better known as the Galactic Starship.  Additionally, I've discovered another name for the set; Roboprobe Transporter...for once it sounds apt.

The ship is a three part vessel with a detachable middle seat that can serve as a distinct vessel.  The starship can be split into two space vehicles, a garage, and a ground robot car/transport.   Overall this set could reasonably support 4 Futuron Spacemen, giving you something to do with 6703 Minifig Pack.  This is the largest space ship in Futuron without the giant angled Space Station Windows. 

The first segment of 6893 is a two man carrier with matching moveable motorcycle style windows for stopping space lasers and asteroid dust.  It's a very open design compared to the other big Futuron space ships. The Futuron theme's standard black stripe accents are heavily used on this portion of the model across three separate parts.  While the stripes were merely accents on Classic space they were often the only consistent designed print across much of the Futuron range and go a long way towards representing the theme's austere color scheme.  Okay, okay, you've caught me, the arrow prints are equally present.  But then we would have to call it arrow-tron: onward to the future; or some other nonsense.

In the middle we've got a rocket chair with hefty controls for such a tiny seat.  It's by design just a bit unfinished looking when unpaired to the larger vessel, but it does give the overall model some nice accents with the white rockets, computer slope, and blue dishes.

The Two man carrier and command chair can each take over carrying the garage.  This thanks to careful design of the segments to ensure a snug fit.

The back Garage carries Rover inside.  Rover is a self propelled car that has two too small claws for examining who knows what.  He's got what appears to be a removable bot aboard as well as a handy set of wrenches, ahem, bigger, better claws for use by the spacemen, or for automated examination of crashed moon rocks, or destroyed Black-tron spaceships. 
The garage uses two of the octagon canopies for the walls as well as the octagonal wall clips to give the back section a cool globe look.  The biggest transparent piece sits atop the front of the garage and a door in the back drops down to let the rover roll out.  There are two transparent green pieces on the garage, making this one of the two Futuron sets to contain trans green as an accent color.




There's a spot for the spacemen to stand on rover, although he appears to not have any controls.  Perhaps he is to be operated via the middle chair's oversized controls?  Once again he's got a striped print.

The garage design was heavily borrowed from for a later starship in Blacktron Future Generation's main base 6988 Alpha Centauri Outpost.  I consider that Blacktron spaceship, as seen to the left in this image, to be a slightly better design, but the sameness of the Blacktron II cockpits across that theme means Orion II Hyperspace stands out better by having a unique front and middle design.

This is one of Futuron's most iconic spacecraft, as it struck out in a new direction with its design, and was never truly copied in whole.  It still feels refreshingly different after all the many iterations of Space that Lego has put out over the years, and I can't fault anyone who considers this to be their favorite Lego set. It really is a wonderful toy.

I suppose we should get to the parts now.

Here's an exciting piece.  The part itself is actually pretty common, but the print, while well used, only appeared on this piece in one set.  That's right.  This part and print combo is a Galactic Starship/Orion II Hyperspace exclusive.  There are two of them, and they are a great addition to the collection.

While it may not look like much, this piece here is quite special.  It is the rarest color variant for the 2x2 standard axle plate.  11 parts are available across the entire Lego production history; primarily within town.  In the entire space theme these two pieces are all we've got.
Here we have a holdover from classic space brought in for one use in Futuron.  It's a nice window.  This was its last transparent entry in the space theme, and for the original space ship canopy it was a fitting sendoff.  The transblue window's next and last appearance in a set was 11 years later in 1998 for the then new theme Res-Q before it was retired for good.
The piece appeared in the space theme once more when M-tron came out in 1990.

While not especially interesting this part does represent the scarce use of trans green within Futuron.  The only other example being 6770 Light and Sound Magma Carrier.  The part here is different, albeit also available in white and trans red throughout the theme.  To some degree the use of trans green parts in this line feels confused as if blue would have been a more apt choice, but that was the designers call, I am merely making an observation.

This piece is the original variant of the octagonal window, which was updated in 1994 for Spyrius to allow for a technic axle to go through the top of it, or a minfig tool.  The original white version appeared in 1 castle set that was issued twice (Knight's Challenge), and two space sets from 1987.  One of those space sets was Polaris 1 Spacelab, which looked very similar to the futuron theme with its color scheme, but belonged to classic space.  The final entry for this piece was with the axle hole in the Star Wars Tantive IV  There are 11 of these parts available across the five sets including the repeated castle sets.  All in all a very desirable selection of sets, and a very nice piece.

2418a / Peeron

I've brought these together because they work in unity, there are two of each and Galactic Starship/ Orion II Hyperspace has the black color to the exclusion of Futuron's other sets.  These are fairly common otherwise, although given the Lego group's current fondness for clickity hinges these are no longer in production.

 That's a grand total of 13 pieces which Galactic Starship/Orion II Hyperspace brings to the Futuron collection.  All in all, an excellent showing.

And now for a selection of alternate models.

This thing carries a robot inside it.  I would liken its movement to that of a crater jumper.  It jettisons upward and lands somewhere else.  Kind of weird, but cool all at the same time.

The token transport rover and scooter.

This is a great little surface speeder that could fly either way.  And of course I had to give it a robot.

Here's a space fighter.  It's got a very quirky look due to my shortcuts to integrate the octagon canopy.

If I keep up at this rate there will be nothing left to build.  As it stands the set has a few parts that are big, namely the octagon windows and frames.  These gave me some trouble given the Futuron theme's heavy reliance on plates.  The set has a nice selection of parts with decent part repetition to provide many intriguing options.  I kept building new things because unlike a certain Aero Module... it was a fun set of pieces to work with.  This is a well balanced assortment of parts and colors.

Final Grade: A
Pros: Two colors of Spacemen, lots of printed parts, lots of transparent parts, excellent main model, varied part and color pallete
Cons: Hard to find

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Lego 1616 Combo

I have a special double review today.  I give you 1616 Special Two Set Space Pack; the Futuron bundle.  The sets contained within are 1620 Astro Dart, and 1621 Lunar MPV Vehicle. 

Bundles were an exciting part of my childhood.  Kids always felt like they were getting away with buying lots of Lego when parents said choose one.  My childhood bundle was 1729 Barnacle Bay Value Pack.   I actually bought this with my own money.  I remember paying exactly 10 dollars for it.  I was so excited too.

I mention it because it's the closest example to this kind of set I had as a kid. It was theme specific (Pirates), rather than containing a more motley collection of sets such as seen here in 1967 Five set Bonus Pack

The theme specific bundles were a great way to assemble additional mini-figures while allowing for a greater spread of subject matter.  In 1616's case the combo has a flying craft and a car.
These are not the only Futuron sets to come bundled; In 1988 the 1530 Space Value Pack contained 6848 Strategic Pursuer with the Classic Space set 6808 Galaxy Trekkor.  This bundle contained sets that could be obtained separately.

I feel it is worth mentioning that the 1989 Double theme pack was not limited to Space.  In 1989 you could also get 6200 Pirates Double pack Buried Treasure and Harbor Sentry.  These sets could be obtained separately.

Not to be outdone 1515 Town Value Pack was yet another theme specific double pack from 1989, although...the Town value pack looks like a cheat as the sets are meant to go together...the trailer is empty without that race car.

In a curious twist Castle contained no value pack of its own for 1989, and overall 1989 was a down year for Castle with only three sets released in what appears to have been a major push for the new pirates theme.

Overall 1616 is a pleasant combo set, perhaps it is one of the better combos.  On its own Astro Dart is underwhelming, but paired together with Lunar MPV Vehicle, they become a very desirable package.  As it stands currently Astro Dart is vanishingly rare and Lunar MPV Vehicle is very expensive relative to its size.  It's probably not coincidental as the bundle was an American exclusive, so it stands to reason that ardent enthusiasts of the Futuron theme may be dealing with a more limited pool of sets to divy out among themselves internationally.

I've spent enough time grousing about bundles though, what say we have a look at the sets in 1616?

Up first is 1620 Astro Dart.

At 30 pieces Astro Dart is the smallest Futuron set.  It contains yet another Yellow spaceman, oh joy, and it is little more than wings strapped to a rocket powered booster seat. 

 Despite the small size Astro Dart manages to pack in a some fun features.  It's got two computer tiles, moving wings, and moving rockets.  It even comes with a handy dandy walky talky.  Given that Futuron's sets all have moving parts it's just to be expected that such features would appear here.  Besides that the set does have a good look to it, it's just right visually and it manages to pack in a high concentration of black pieces relative to white.  Overall it's a well balanced little set.  It's not quite on the level of Laser Ranger or Space Patroller, but it's not bad by any means.

For parts junkies Astro Dart doesn't bring anything new to the Futuron theme, however, there is at least one piece that merits our attention.

This is what I like to refer to as the alarm computer.  It came in 9 sets; seven of which were space theme specific, and it contains three including one extra part (Although I highly doubt you will get the extra from resellers).  This is important, because it is the only space set containing more than one.  Even the mighty 6990 is relegated to just one of this excellent computer tile.  Half of the Futuron theme's selection of this piece is found within this one itty bitty Lego set.
Six additional alarm computers are found within two of the Lego Train Stations...which aren't within the purview of our study.  I just thought you should know.

Here's an alternate model of Astro Dart for your amusement.

The back thrusters make me think of the X-wing, and the result is not bad, but it doesn't pack in a lot of zing either.  It is acceptable, and just a bit cute.

Final Grade: B
Pros: Computer Tile, high concentration of Black pieces
Cons: No unique pieces, Yellow Space man

One down, one to go.

Next up we've got 1621 Lunar MPV Vehicle.

This is the smallest space Truck available within Futuron as a distinct model, however it is comparatively large next to the little cars available within the larger Futuron Space ships.
It comes with a small robot, that's not especially interesting, and a pair of tools including the walky talky, again, and a signal holder with a transparent blue brick on it.

Lunar MPV Vehicle stands apart from its Futuron brethren in the movement department.  It's not content to merely twist in the middle.  The set's steering is better described as a function.  It has a lever in the back of the vehicle that tilts left and right to steer the front wheels.  It's an awesome trick that adds massive levels of enjoyment to playtime.  Of course the black exhaust pipes at the back do tilt in the classic sense of movement.

Overall this set may be the most satisfying Futuron set to play with.  It's got a spot for the robot to sit, and the Blue spaceman; which adds a nice counterpoint to Astro Dart's Yellow spaceman.

Despite the massive potential in the steering system it was only used in one other set, also released in 1989, 6895 Spy Trak 1 from Space Police.  Although similar, Lunar MPV Vehicle only has half of the steering system in front of the lever, whereas Spy Trak 1 has a full steering system built around a central lever.  The sad truth of the matter is that the steering function, while clever and fun, lacked the elegance to be naturally integrated into models.  It's cool, but clunky.  One only has to see the models up close to realize the limitations this design imposed upon the construction of the two trucks.

Next up we'll have a look at the special parts 1621 makes available to Futuron junkies such as ourselves.

First up we have a rather ordinary piece that is easy to come by, but somehow only got into one Futuron set.  There is one 4X6 Black Plate available in 1621.

Next up is the Signal Holder in black.  Outside of Futuron it's the rarest piece in this selection of parts.  It came in 11 sets with 15 of the piece in total.  It was last seen in 1992.  There is one signal holder in the set. 

The set contains two of these slopes.  Outside of Futuron it's had a solid run, so it isn't too hard to come by.

This is another rather common piece, but once again the two you get here are all Futuron has to offer.

This part only showed up in three distinct space sets, it's unique to Futuron, but if you purchased Strategic Pursuer as part of the 1530 bundle it could be argued that you would have two of these in total via the classic space set Galaxy Trekkor.  It also appeared in a space set called 9320-1 Journey into Space; this looks like some kind of educational set under the purview of Dacta, and so it is of dubious value in our overall consideration of the space theme.


Finally there is the otherwise ubiquitous 6 stud long axle.   It's handy to have given its usefulness to the set, but it's such an easy piece to come by it's almost a misnomer to declare it worthy of consideration.  It is unique to Futuron, but otherwise it can be found in excess within 600 sets or more.  Let's not bother with it any further.

Overall, the selection of unique parts for Futuron's theme is 8 pieces.  For a set this small that's exceptional.  It's more than enough to make up for the absence of such parts in Astro Dart. 

Now let's have some fun with an alternate build for Lunar MPV Vehicle.

I've built a robot.  He's technically rather primitive, but he can open his mouth, turn his head, move his arms across two planes, and roll wherever he needs to go.  Just don't ask to see his back side.

 1 2 3 Balance like me

 Hi five!

Final score A-
Pros: Great function, Blue Spaceman, Multiple tools, part selection
Cons: High prices on Ebay

I've been looking forward to the opportunity of combining some Futuron sets; without further ado I present my combo alternates.

Because I'm having so much fun I've even gone and given you a second alternate from the combo

Final Score Overall: A
Pros: Good models, Complementary part selection, Excellent play value
Cons: Rare U.S. Release, hard to find/expensive