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Sunday, February 23, 2014

Updates and mission statement

I have updated the post for LEGO 6830 to better reflect my desire to make this blog fun to read and look at. 

This is a passion project of mine which is nearing the end of its early stages, but I will update old posts as I have the time and equipment to do so.  Consider these blog posts to be living blog posts, I may not always note changes, but I do hope that any changes I make will improve your experience.

I also wish to express my apologies to the regulars, as I will be missing my weekly posting.  This week has held some surprises for me, various family issues arose and I am currently tied up at the moment with the spontaneous happenings of life.

Lego 6770 is currently written, but lacking in photos.  It will go live sometime next week.

Declaration of purpose: It is my desire to bring the Futuron enthusiasts a central hub that goes beyond the statistics of Lego Futuron and instead, provide a lively discourse on the theme.  I will be expanding outward into the other Space themes eventually, but, each theme post will help to focus the conversation.  I am a lifetime Futuron enthusiast and I spent a good chunk of my childhood perusing the old scraps of brochures.  Last year marked my shift from admirer to collector.

Please feel free to link to your own Futuron creations in this post, and if you have remakes of sets from the existing lineup, attaching those to the appropriate posts would deeply broaden the utility of this blog for readers in ways that I could never hope to accomplish on my own. 

I hope this blog has been as fun for all of you as it has been for me, I wasn't sure what I was undertaking when I started, but now it's something I look forward to each week.

Until next time, Cure-all Pill

Monday, February 10, 2014

Lego 6703 Space Minifigures

There were things planned that led me to do a small post this week, but those events are not to be.
Goes to show you, don't go celebrating anything until it's signed, sealed, and committed.

So I thought it best to quickly tackle the 6703 Space Minifig Pack to take it off our checklist of Futuron. 

When I was young, this was the Space Minifig collection I wanted most of all, even today this collection has a timeless quality that feels inviting and cohesive.  Just to be clear this was the first collection of all the available Spacemen types with new visors and modern helmets from 1987 with the additional inclusion of one Spaceman who was new for 1988.

The Black Futuron Spaceman was the new must have minifig in this package and also appeared in 6885 Crater Crawler for the year in, he was a fresh color for the Futuron theme alongside a select handful of new parts.  He would also appear in the 1989 collection with 6810 Laser Ranger.  In total there were 3 of the Black Spaceman available.  I suspect he's more common than the red spaceman because I have a hunch the smaller sets sold in greater numbers.  I could be wrong though.
The 1989 white helmet figure from Star Quest was a variant of this minifig.
You can also find four copies of the shirt in 1990's Dacta 9355-1 with a unique build.

The rest of the collection featured:

The Red Spacemen had only previously appeared as a pair in 6953 Cosmic Laser Launcher in 1987.  This Minifig was not released again and consequently this is the rarest spaceman in this pack with 3 examples available.
You can find four copies of the shirt in 1990's Dacta 9355-1 with a unique build. 

The Blue Spaceman was fairly common and appeared four times in 1987, Once in 6884 Aero Module, once in 6893 Orion II Hyperspace, and twice in 6990 Monorail Transport System.  In 1988 along with this set the figure also showed up in 6828 Twin Wing Spoiler.  Finally, in 1989/90?  The Blue Spaceman made his last appearance in 1616 Two Set Space Pack within the set 1621 Lunar MPV Vehicle; There's some confusion about whether 1616 was a 1989 or 1990 release.
In total, there were 7 Blue Spacemen.

Finally, the Yellow Spaceman was the super duper ultra prevalent Futuron Spaceman.  He was pretty much the spokesperson for the theme, which bothers me greatly, because he's my least favorite, unless we count the weird looking Dacta spacemen.  So, in 1987 Yellow showed up in four sets: Once in 6893 Orion II Hyperspace, once in 6953 Cosmic Laser Launcher, twice in 6932 Stardefender 200, and three times in 6990 Monorail Transport System.  That sure is a lot, but let's continue; In 1988 alongside 6830 Space Patroller, , 6848 Strategic Pursuer, 6875 Hovercraft, 6770 Lunar Transporter Patroller, and two spacemen in 6925 Interplanetary Rover.  In 1989 the Yellow Spaceman made two final appearances in 1616 Two Set Space pack as part of 1620 Astro Dart, and then once more in 6850 Auxilliary Patroller.  In total the Yellow Futuron Spaceman received 15 copies.

Now I come to these two Black spacemen with grey jumpsuit prints.  These happen to be the Black-Tron Minifigures, greatest nemesis of Futuron, and for now you can see them, but I'll talk about them in detail later.

As far as extras go you get 6 tools in either grey or black.  This is the only set showing a Futuron minifigure carrying a grey tool.  In general Futuron had Black Tools, with a smattering of white items
to pad out the supply.

The Classic Space Colors almost all carried over; the lone departure was the white spaceman who wouldn't have worked as well with the new white shirt and patterns.

This set was in low supply when I was getting the Futuron sets, so I actually don't have it.  Everything in the set is available elsewhere, and so I gathered up the necessary parts from my collection to show you the assembled figures and tools.  I hope you enjoyed it.

Final Score: A
When it comes to the Golden age it really doesn't get better than this.
Pros: Red Spaceman, 2 Black-tron (Assimilate, Surrender, or be destroyed)
Cons: One More Yellow Spaceman...

Saturday, February 8, 2014

The Lego Movie


I've just been out to see the Lego Movie, and everything was awesome!  Somehow I missed this trailer, but it is very indicative of the movie you will see.

The folks who made this movie brought their A-game, we got a movie with Morgan Freeman, Liam Neeson, Jonah Hill, and Will Ferrell.  What a supreme cast list, Can you believe it, I was looking up the rating on Rotten Tomatometer before I went and the movie was getting 96% from the critics.

Prior to release I was wondering how badly the Lego movie would bomb, but once I saw it, I learned something, the movie was made with the same care and attention to detail and quality that has been a perennial goal of this company since its founding.

I had few hopes when the Teaser came out, it was shaky at best, some scenes felt too long, and the jokes felt stale...okay, I liked Batman's line, "I only work in black, and sometimes very very dark grey."  As it turns out, Batman was a very big part of this movie, and he was not the only good thing that was on offer.  Memo to self...don't trust a teaser.

My main reason for going was to see Spaceman Benny
because Spaceship...Spaceship...SPACESHIP!
I will be getting this...count on it.

There's also this character named Princess Unikitty.  I saw it in the toys and was taken aback to put it gently.  But after seeing the movie this character stood out as a very fun and inventive twist on what I can only assume is a send up to My Little Pony.  Not too sure though as I am not a Brony.

This character is responsible for my favorite moment in the movie, but you'll have to see it for yourself to find out why.

Remember these words,"Only the Best is Good Enough."  I felt those words coursing through this movie, Ole Kirk Christiansen would be proud.

If there was one area where I might express some concern, I felt the still images that referenced each dimension were a bit too product placementish, and I would have appreciated a classier approach, but at least they served a storytelling purpose.

Unfortunately I can't say much without spoilering the ending, but take it from me, a decidedly old school Lego fan, this was awesome, and at least for me, its toyline is the most exciting new original product line I've seen since Aquazone debuted in 1995.
There's so much I could talk about, so grab the DVD and check this movie out before I get a chance to spoil it for you, it's not just a good Lego movie, it's a fun film for the whole family.

The LEGO Movie (Blu-ray + DVD + UltraViolet Combo Pack)

Final Grade: A
Pros: Everything is Awesome!
Cos: Dimensional travel exposition is littered with product placement.

Lego 1974

Greetings Ladies and Gents, today we're going to delve into one of the most cherished Futuron sets, it's the kind of model which, when mentioned, is followed by a trail of forum posts which offer nothing but effusive praise.  Its success may be due in large part to its bundled method of release, but even on its own merits, it is a lovely little ship.  Give it up for Star Quest.

Now, since we're on the topic of bundles today, I struggled with the decision to review the bundle or just deal with Star Quest, because getting the full product is a bit fussy.  In the end, I determined to complete the remainder of the set and finished that up last week.  Here's a picture of the full collection.

See that wagon?  That little wagon easily gets $30 dollars these days, and sometimes more.
Mercifully, the helicopter only commands $8 dollars on Bricklink, though keep in mind.  This box was a $10 dollar bundle at retail.

These days Star Quest alone fetches $10, that's like infinitely more expensive than it was in the box, because the arrow helpfully tells us Star Quest comes extra for free! 

It's amusing to me that the helicopter is the cheapest set in the bundle at resale.  Just goes to show you, Danish brick fans in general hain't got no love for the town...pity, I like the old town theme.

Fortunately for me, I didn't have to buy any of these sets...sort of.  A friend of mine walked into his house and brought out his old Lego sets and bricks, and Tyco pieces (Ew!) promptly burned with fire and otherwise incinerated.  So, I got roughly 90 percent of these sets handed to me just by opening my mouth and raving about Lego too much.

This led me to a quandary.  All these incomplete sets; and the desirable 1974 was buried in the midst.  Here's the price I could get 1974 for online: $48 give or take $5. 

Using Bricklink I ended up spending something north of $30 over two years.  Space first...and the rest after overcoming my shock at how much it was going to cost when I decided to get all of it for this review.  I'm ignoring shipping; it's just a pesky byproduct of the online marketplace.
Unfortunately; I probably would have gotten a better deal buying these sets outright...and they'd have been in better overall condition...mine are 3/4 ratty and 1/4 spiffy.

BrickLink - Online LEGO MarketPlace

Somehow, my friend lost or broke the rare and uncommon parts and minifigs, but the ordinary parts survived...WHY?  So be careful when eagerly accepting old Lego from a friend; completing them could be costly and only half as styling as buying them outright.

If you haven't heard of Bricklink yet and you have missing pieces the Lego company can't replace, (You've tried) then you are about to bust a gasket for joy...assuming you love your danish bricks as much as I do.
When you visit make sure to guard your cash...because Bricklink is an amazing resource.  You may only realize how much you've spent after it's all said and done.

First up we have Star Quest.  Here's the picture again in case you forgot what it looks like.

Star Quest comes with a unique Futuron Minifigure.  He's got a white helmet.  There's nothing special about any of his parts, although he could be turned into a black Futuron dude if you felt the need.

Like all Futuron sets Star Quest has moving parts.  The special function here is rising and lowering wings with transparent landing discs. Up front there are two transparent red lasers that enhance the scooters length, and complement its colors.

Overall Starquest has five printed parts and is one of only two Futuron sets to sport the Classic Space logo on a brick; the same brick as before, so it's not unique. 

Unique parts for Futuron include

This helmet in white.  Peeron says black, because someone made an error; deal with it.

And that's pretty much it.

Next up we have FlyerCracker U.S.A.  This helicopter sports a red white and blue color scheme.  Did I mention this three set bundle was a U.S. Exclusive?  Well I did now.  I wonder if its name has diminished its appeal overseas?  Oh well, for whatever reason this is the least expensive classic of 1974.

As helicopters go this one is actually pretty nice, it's got some cool drums behind the cockpit, and an angled hinge plate that together appear strikingly similar to a Bell 47G; as seen below.  I'll grant that the cockpits are different.

Taken from Wikipedia

Flyercracker U.S.A. has the requisite rotating blades and opening cockpit.  In a twist that I've not experienced with my other Helicopters, the sticks are mounted to the window, rather than the main body, I'm not sure I like this as it's harder to give control to the little smiling Lego guy.  But it's a cool tweak to the design.

Perhaps the best feature of this set is its oil drum and tools down on the ground.  We get a handy wrench and a 'whatever that nozzle is supposed to be' with a stand.

Like with Starquest, the Helicopter operator is a unique build.

Since this is not a Futuron set I'll just mention some noteworthy parts.

This shirt is featured in 9 sets, and it had 11 copies available all told. 
 This bar is the hollow stud variant in white, it showed up in 8 sets and 15 were available.
Flyercracker U.S.A. has two, and as it happens they are complementary to the Futuron theme.
Flyercracker contains 1 of these blue hinge plates, available across 5 sets with 6 parts available.

That's it, no super duper rare parts, but there are some nice additions to your Lego collection, and the handful of white parts will blend in with the Futuron collection if needed.  Perhaps its low price is just an indicator that its parts are easy to find.

Finally, the gem of the 3 pack, Smuggler's Hayride

While restoring my 1974 pack with Bricklink this Castle set took most of the necessary funds.  Somehow all the cool parts had been lost or destroyed. 

The Smuggler's Hayride is from the venerated Forestmen subtheme, and it's basically a horse and cart with a treasure chest, and hay.  There's a nice forest-man who can either guard the disguised cart, or demand the cart owner to show that he hides nothing...and pay the penalty if his ruse is discovered.  For some reason the whip is green...okay?

An attempt to replicate the box art sunset with Lego

The cart comes with some nice extras.  There's a pitchfork, a spear, a bow and quiver, and a saddle with one clip, not two.  The spare feathers were also included on a wheel, but if you don't get them from the reseller, there's a reason for that.

The wagon features rickety swaying bars, and the horse's head swings up and down.  The wagon wheels roll; well, that's a given.

Compared to the other two sets this one has a lot of figures; 3 counting the horse.  Assembling them from bricklink set me back just over $10.  The peasant and forestman are unique builds, and some of their parts are not common.  Even worse...a significant number of people like Castle themes more than other series, so they drive up prices for a Spacer like me; who just wants a complete pack.
Like with all Horses, this one has a plate and brick to fill in its body; extra bricks are always a good thing.

Special parts include this old brown pitchfork.  5 were available in 5 sets.  It has recently been released in reddish brown, but if you want the old brown prepare to pay for it.  I got mine for $4
4496 / Peeron
The other special parts come from a feather wheel.  You get 3 special black feathers; available in four sets.  Their rarity is compounded by their small size, as they were easy to lose.  I paid $20 to get my now you know where the money went when I restored this set to 100%.  I have never paid so much for so little.  :(  Unfortunately resellers typically substitute the color when they're being stingy, or only provide the small feather; when they're being polite.  If you see this set for a reasonable price with all the feathers the seller's being generous, or they have no idea what they're giving you.
4502b / Peeron
4502c / Peeron 

 4502a / Peeron (350x306)

Overall the heavy use of black helps to combine Smuggler's Hayride into the Futuron theme as needed.

For what it's worth, I consider 1974 to be one of the best multipacks Lego has ever produced.  And yes, Robin Hood is about to steal a helicopter; Because that's just how he rolls.

Well, that's the bundle, and now I'm ready to build some alternates.

After a hard day of battling Black-tron the Futuron forces send up the 
Boombox Scooter so everyone can chill out to Starman

Do your carrots keep getting eaten?  No worries, because now the Laser guided horse will get you where you need to go in this futuristic new conveyance.

Brick Wars...this is what I did with my Lego as a kid.
I happen to really like Robin hood's laser field cannon.
I had a motley brick collection as a kid, which is partially to blame for my fixation on themes these days...The picture above is indicative of everything that is wonderful and frustrating about Danish multipacks.  There's no need for restraint with creativity, but sometimes too much variety can restrict attempts to finesse things.

Despite the excellent models contained in this collection, it was sold as a sampler pack for new Lego buyers, and cash strapped kids.  It offered a great entry point into three themes and yet it stood the test of time much better than many other multi packs.  No one at the time could have known that the black feathers were going out of production, although they might have guessed Futuron was about to be decommissioned.  In the end 1974 turned out to be a keeper.

Final Score:A-
Pros: Excellent Futuron set, Unique Spaceman, 4 unique minifigs, rare parts
Cons: Pricey, Motley part mix