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Monday, March 31, 2014

Futuron: Box Retrospective Part IV


Today's post is a showcase of the art for the electric Futuron sets.  It took some time to track down 6770's alternates, but like all things, it eventually surfaced on the interwebs.

From Peeron: Lego 6770 Magma Carrier















And here is the sealed contents with flip up lid.  The lid gives details on how the light system works.
















From Steelerstiv on Ebay, thanks for bringing this picture to the internet.
In general, the heavy use of wheels and tendency toward long generic vehicles go a long way towards hinting at the spare options for this set, but as alternates go, these look pretty fun.  

If you go to http://kockageneracio.blogspot.com there's an, intense, excellent looking blog review of 6990 which I can't read without Google Translate.  He's the source of these other sourced images, check it out, it's a great, and in my opinion, superior companion piece to my own post.  I feel a great desire to upgrade my camera now; which has happened since, and I am whittling my way through this blog updating.  Anyways, check his photographs out.
Doboz Fedlapja (Flickr)

Underneath the lid is a panel showing off the various features of 6990.
Fedlap belső része (via flickr).

Here's a sealed copy of 6990 with all the parts in the display layout.
Egyszerűen tökéletes! (via ebay.com)

The alternates present more stations with more trains.  It's impressive, apparently, all the designers could make with the set was more of the same.  Though, there are a few hovercraft models around, and the use of the train bogey on a smaller car is intriguing. 
Doboz hátoldala. Tömény (via flickr)

Once again, that's all for this post.

 Peace out, Cure-all Pill 

Friday, March 28, 2014

6990 Monorail Transport System

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  I'm not sure whether I saw the Epcot Monorail or the 6990 Monorail first; I was so young.  By the time the Lego Monorail was leaving retail shelves I was turning 5.  I remember sitting in a Toys'R'Us cart looking at the glass case that held hostage a working Monorail Transport System.  Funny thing is it was sold in the electronics section; not with the rest of the Lego.  I thought that was wrong, Lego should be with Lego.   I don't even remember if I had any Lego yet, but I knew what the Monorail was, so I'd seen the brochure for it somewhere.  Most likely; it was this one with my favorite sets in the image. 

http://img.thesun.co.uk/aidemitlum/archive/00839/epcot-280_839669a.jpg

To me, Monorails have always been a future tech, even though Ivan Elmanov had conceived of one as far back as 1820.  Source Wikipedia's page for Monorail.

File:Elmanov.gif

It's hard for me to wrap my mind around how old this transportation concept is.  Perhaps it is the nature of modern designs, the absence of it in my locales, or the spaceyness of the Epcot designs.  For whatever reason though, it's undeniable that Monorail trains are amazingly cool.

Final destination, 6990 Monorail Transport System.  This is the Futuron theme's flagship model.


Lego had built hand operated Monorail straight tracks before in Classic Space sets such as 6970 Beta 1 Command Base from 1980.


In 1987; alongside 6990's electrified Monorail, 6972 Polaris 1 Spacelab sported two stubby monorails, but these were short little straightlines that barely got off the 32x32 baseplate.  


Monorail Transport System was not the first electric space set, nor was it the first Lego train, but it revolutionized the Lego company's toy line with a far flung vision of space trains on moonscapes.  Can you imagine how daunting that project would be?  Furthermore, what are the potential reasons something such as this might be deemed necessary?  A monorail on the Moon boggles the mind.  It's still hard enough to find them on earth.  Needless to say, only one year after the 9V system was introduced lightning struck the Space theme.  Lights? check, Sound? check, Monorail??? Dun dun dunhh.

The Monorail is an impressive beast, unlike anything else on offer in the Space product line up to 1986.  The train brought beautiful symmetry to the generally back heavy Futuron designs.  Besides the Stardefender 200, nothing else in Futuron comes close to this sheer overwhelming impression of sci fi, coolness, and beauty.  The squared off design of the train could be described as ordinary, but every little detail on it manages to come together in a package that screams speed and elegance.

The Monorail system has switches that can reverse the train, stop the train, or let the train through depending on how you turn the dial.  I've provided a video from Youtube to let you see how this is accomplished, and to share that buzzy motor noise.  Note that power is also sufficient for the Monorail's single red light.
















The Monorail is composed of two stations at different points of the loop, a train, two radar stands, an archway, a hovercraft, two crates, and a small scooter.  The set is accompanied by an entourage of five mini-figures; 3 yellow and 2 blue.  Now let's delve into the different pieces.

First up I want to talk about the part of this set I love the best; the train itself.  The design is faux symmetrical.  The designers managed to make the two sides similar, while building the cockpits differently.  On one side the cockpit is two hinged windows that extend to the battery.  On the other side the cockpit stops before the scooter storage portion; which has window panes, and carries cargo.  You could change out which train portion carries cargo and battery by turning the central motor around.  Additionally, you can also take the battery off and load both crates, although I'd hesitate to push the motor along while it's off.  Note that only one side of the central motor has electricity conducting studs.  I learned about this aspect of the motor when I held it in my hand for the first time.  Topside, the train battery has the single red light brick that can flash intermittently or stay on constantly depending on which way you turn the brick.
























The small scooter inside the train is a little hovercraft.  It's not terribly inspiring, but it provides a neat play feature in keeping with the theme's penchant for itty bitty vehicles inside big vehicles.  As with Crater Crawler and Interplanetary Rover the mini ship from the ground vehicle is a flyer.















The set has a slightly larger scooter transport that can carry crates from the train.  It has two hinged arms which swing up to sort of grip the box, I found that these grips have a tendency to shift, or flop down if not held, during movement.  The arms have indicator arrows printed as a visual aid.
Incidentally, this is one of only two vehicles in Futuron that sports no transparencies.  See 6884 Aero Module for a little buggy that also features zero transparent parts.  Despite the lack of color this workhorse feels complete.  
















The raised end of the Monorail contains three small assemblies made up of two radar dishes and a center gateway.  While the radar stands aren't anything special; the arch contains some parts in unique colors along with two prints that appear nowhere else in Futuron, which gives the track some additional visual excitement.























































The small station is a loading area with one of the giant arch windows that were introduced by Futuron.  The track runs right through the station and contains one of the switches.  There are two computers on the backside for the minifigures to use, and a loading lift for transferring cargo from the small transporter to the train.  This would be the supply transfer station for sending off tools and victuals to the frontiers of Futuron's moonworld, or for taking in packages containing samples found by those more distant members of space.
























Note the cargo crate on the lift.  The radar dish draws attention to the lift while disguising the shaft.






















Finally we come to the dome.  The dome contains giant quarter windows which were new and unique to Futuron in 1987.  One of the quarterdomes slides on its base and  and contains a command chair and tray for cargo.  The other quarterdome swivels 90 degrees to either come alongside the crate or move back to form a detached half dome with the other window.  It has a computer slope, but lacks any other interactive elements.  This is the cargo drop point at which supplies originate or get dropped off.  This is the Futuron theme's central command facility.  I wish it had a little bit more to it, but what with size limitations it is sufficient to its purpose.  Beside the base there are two little dishes with unique color pennants supporting them.  This is also the place for the second switch to ensure the train actually stops in the right place to drop its cargo.  This model is not wanting for mobility.












































Note the black bricks to the right.  It looks like a catwalk from the base to the track, but unlike the cargo docks it doesn't line up with the train properly.  I'm still not quite sure what was intended with this design...?























Note how the train stops exactly with the loading dock.  If there is one thing I would have liked to add to this set, it would be magnetic control arms to grab the boxes and hoist them onto the train from either base.  M-Tron was just around the corner, but it didn't come soon enough.











6990's unique trans blue pennants support two ground communications dishes.  My seller sent me solid blue pennants so I had to buy them separately.  It's just one of those expensive parts that would get lost because of the small size.  Yay!  Despite their special status they feel tossed in as an afterthought. It sure would be nice if they had appeared elsewhere.  As is they feel like a thinly veiled attempt to give extra value to a very expensive toy.



















The random white gangplank behind the base is actually a nice loading dock for the hover truck.
Just park and unload.


Well that was fun, now lets check out all the interesting goodies inside.  There's a lot of them so set your watch and scroll.

2 Transparent blue pennants.  It's a shame that these are unique to this set, but as unique parts go, these are pretty awesome.  Also available within Futuron in Transparent red, black, and white.
http://media.peeron.com/ldraw/images/33/3x/3957.png

1 grey 16x32 baseplate.  This part only appeared in 3 space sets, but was somewhat common in other themes.
http://media.peeron.com/ldraw/images/7/3x/3857.png

1, the Cosmic Laser Launcher contains one of these in white, this part isn't common in any color, but black is about as common as they come with 8 parts appearing in five separate sets.
http://media.peeron.com/ldraw/images/0/3x/2422.png

2, although this is the only Futuron set to have this part, it is actually the most common color variant in circulation. Also available in white.
http://media.peeron.com/ldraw/images/0/3x/3062b.png

2, This is the most common color of this print, but it hasn't been in production since 1992.
http://media.peeron.com/ldraw/images/15/3x/3004p06.png

4, a very common part, unique to Futuron's collection in any color.
http://media.peeron.com/ldraw/images/15/3x/3008.png

2, grey, now there's a color you don't get much of in Futuron.
http://media.peeron.com/ldraw/images/7/3x/3941.png

2, a very common piece.
http://media.peeron.com/ldraw/images/0/3x/3002.png

1, with a special note.  This is the rare version of this electric wire.  Note that it is only one plate in height.  This set would sometimes come with a version that was two plates in thickness.  Although this is a rare part with few releases, the two plate thick wire version is much more common, and as it so happens, that is the version I have.  the thicker version is less apt to break, which is why it was redesigned.
5306ac015 / Peeron

1, another light brick.
http://media.peeron.com/ldraw/images/15/3x/4767.png

2, within Futuron it's also available in black.
http://media.peeron.com/ldraw/images/15/3x/4315.png

4, as above also available in black.
http://media.peeron.com/ldraw/images/15/3x/73590a.png

1, this is a pretty common piece, and as a kid, I had to have this...but it took a while.
http://media.peeron.com/ldraw/images/0/3x/4360.png

1, within Futuron it is more prevalent in the color white
http://media.peeron.com/ldraw/images/0/3x/3959.png

2, this part is rare, it showed up in three sets that were all very expensive.
http://media.peeron.com/ldraw/images/0/3x/2687.png

2, according to Peeron, this is unique to 6990, and the next two Monorails got a longer version.  I can't confirm this, but I also don't know if my version is the old or new type. It's part of the motor assembly.
http://media.peeron.com/pics/inv/custpics/2685a.1167619387.jpg

1, this is the motor base.  It has a toothed metal gear that pulls the train along the track.


2684 / Peeron

Here's the whole assembly.
 

4, as Monorail pieces go it's pretty common, which is still very rare.
2672 / Peeron

2, this is a rarer track piece as it didn't appear in any of the supplementary track packs.
http://media.peeron.com/pics/inv/custpics/2677.1092233003.jpg

2, also rare
2678 / Peeron

2, a straight track
http://media.peeron.com/ldraw/images/7/3x/2671.png

2, this track piece is what you use to stop the train.  Turn the knob to stop the train and change direction.  Also available in a supplement pack.  Rare.
http://media.peeron.com/pics/inv/custpics/2774.1092233018.jpg

2, these parts are rare.  There are 2 metal axles.
http://media.peeron.com/ldraw/images/0/3x/2686c01.png

2686c01 / Peeron

2, this part is unique in the white color.
http://media.peeron.com/ldraw/images/15/3x/2448.png

1, this part is fairly common
http://media.peeron.com/ldraw/images/0/3x/4175.png

24, these are grey, and hold the track together.
http://media.peeron.com/ldraw/images/7/3x/3710.png

3, this is an ordinary plate.
http://media.peeron.com/ldraw/images/0/3x/3035.png

2, this part is rare in general, but the white variant used here is unique.
http://media.peeron.com/ldraw/images/15/3x/2428.png

1, this part is ordinary.
http://media.peeron.com/ldraw/images/0/3x/3298.png

4, this part is ordinary
http://media.peeron.com/ldraw/images/15/3x/4460.png

4, as is this part
http://media.peeron.com/ldraw/images/15/3x/2449.png

2, not super common, but still available in quantity.
http://media.peeron.com/ldraw/images/15/3x/3684.png

1, the more common color.
http://media.peeron.com/ldraw/images/0/3x/3940.png

8, a less common color; ironic isn't it.
http://media.peeron.com/ldraw/images/15/3x/3940.png

6, this is also available in black, white is the most common color.
http://media.peeron.com/ldraw/images/15/3x/4476.png

2, this is an uncommon piece.
http://media.peeron.com/ldraw/images/0/3x/2680.png

8, one is extra.  This is a more common support than above.
http://media.peeron.com/ldraw/images/0/3x/2681.png

1, this is the technic plate with holes between the studs.
http://media.peeron.com/ldraw/images/15/3x/3738.png

2, this is a rare print on gray, the only other pack it came in was a supplementary switch track piece.
It is somewhat less rare on a white plate.
http://media.peeron.com/ldraw/images/7/3x/4150p04.png

2, this is a somewhat less common part.
http://media.peeron.com/ldraw/images/15/3x/4035.png

1, only one set will contain any given color of this piece.  It was new here, and appeared in 8 sets.
http://media.peeron.com/ldraw/images/33/3x/2337.png

2, this was the very first set to feature these enormous windows.  They were never widespread, but this is the most common color.


I hope you've enjoyed this blog as much as I have.  I have a few ideas to keep posting little weekly updates, but this is the range, all the Lego Futuron sets have been listed.  It is my hope to eventually blog about other Lego space themes in the nearish future but currently I don't have any other complete themes. Rest assured I am making every effort to rectify this problem.  The only question in my mind is which theme will be ready first.  In the meantime I will indulge you all with a bevy of alternates made out of 6990

And now, alternates.  I've taken an immense amount of time finishing the post, so I won't keep you waiting, but rest assured, more alternates will be posted here as I get them ready.  This set is too big to be satisfied by one small base.

First up is this delightful little satellite station complete with a tribute to 6809 XT-5 and Droid
























Final Score: A
Pros: Heavily functioned playset with mechanical and electrified play options, multiple vehicles and buildings, 5 Minifigures, several tools and crates, great unique pieces (transblue pennants, etc.)
Cons: Expensive, electric parts can wear out, takes a lot of floor space, some functions seem slightly ahead of their time.