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Friday, May 30, 2014

6990 Alternate: Lunar Scooter Dock'n'go

My favorite feature of the Futuron line is the little cars and scooters that hide in the big ships.  Given the fondness I have for this feature I built a station for docking scooters that can be transported by a little Monorail train. 

I designed two scooters for the train to carry as an added play feature.  In addition, I added a small robot and its own personal holding cell. 

The back of the train is the particle wave reactor, or in layman's terms it's an engine.

The Monorail secures its scooters in a pocket behind the driver.  The driver himself has tools at easy arms reach.

The robot rides in the back and services the Particle wave reactor.

The doors drop down for unloading the robot. 


I used the dome windows on the station.  They're massive as Lego pieces go.  I love this piece, and the idea of this piece...but I find implementation of the part to be restrictive with 6990's available part selection.  I went for the most basic use of the parts to save on frustration.  The result is an attractive half dome rising up above the lunar surface.

The dome is surrounded by a catwalk and I've added a stairway for my astronauts to get up into the control center.  

Overall I'm satisfied with the construction options offered by 6990.  Like previous Futuron sets it is over encumbered with plates as this is the theme's primary weakness.  Fortunately the selection of bricks is better than average, and the number of funky transparent, printed, and spacey bricks makes for a wide spread of options.

This now ends the segment for Futuron set alternatives.  Future models will be some combination of parts from the entire theme. 

Until next time.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Lego AAT Microfighter

Recently the Lego company has added a new range of products to their perennial Star Wars line up...

I speak of the Microfighters.

Here's their chibi interpretation of the AAT.

A lot more information goes on the front of the box now, and sadly, the packaging is full of licensing mumbo jumbo for Lucasfilm, Google, Apple, websites, choking hazards, and stuff...yeesh.  I won't be taking pictures...just pick up a box of Lego off the store shelves and you'll find that the sides are plastered with crap that's about as child friendly as a law school textbook. 

Lego has changed quite a bit from 1987 through to 2014.  Criminy...I've been talking about toys that are 27 years old!

I've taken this moment to revisit an old Lego box.  You can see the package has a message to the new owner inspiring them to build and create...additionally, the name and part count are shifted to the side for inquiring minds to search the box for extra information, which keeps the front image from appearing cluttered.  The other areas of the box are focused on showing off different reference points for the model.

This is the bottom of the old Lego box...which has minimal legalese, and production info hidden under the message "Use this box for storage."  So minimalist...things were much simpler back then.

So I guess there's this promotion going on whereby you can use a smartphone or tablet and play a Star Wars Microfighters game.  It sounds like a fun idea, and as you can see below there's a small selection of toys to choose from.  The primary image shows off the droid figure and a firing function that's been around for a bit.  And there's a link for the main Lego website.  It's got some good marketing coverage for a small box, but I miss the old alternates images on the back.  I don't see a push to inspire creativity.  Everything here is focused on something else that I'm supposed to want.
Even worse: The AAT is always posed the same way...what if I want to see more of the parts?

Take this early Landspeeder from the original Star Wars product line, there's an image of the model being built up, and a small vehicle that you can build with it.  As a means of showing off parts and possibilities this was a great layout; whether the alternate is worth its space is debatable.  The box takes an opportunity to show off more of what's inside the box and it aims to excite children with the further possibilities the set can add to their existing collection.  I also happen to be fond of the original Lego Star Wars logo.  Hey remember that time when there weren't Lego Stormtroopers?

Functions have been appearing on the backs of Lego sets for a while now; here the Exploriens' Scorpion Detector's alien detection equipment is demonstrated at the top right corner.  There's all kinds of fun ideas on the back of the box, and nary a marketing tie-in to be seen.

One improvement the new box has is the inclusion of a scale minifigure from the set shown on top.  Apparently this battle droid is new but it actually first appeared in 7929, Battle of Naboo, which came out in 2011.  I think they mean the tiny handgun it carries makes it a new figure...I call shenanigans.

Anyways, that's my review of the box...oh wanted to see a review of the set?  Well, I've got that too.  But I've added a twist.

Bam!  Futuron!  with a Futuron robot to boot.  Is this a Futuron review?  No; I tried something new.  I kept the Futuron theme's quintessential front mandibles in my 1980's Futuron purist rebuild of AAT.

The quarter round bricks were substituted out for castle corners and corner roof slopes.  This is an area where Lego has improved our options for sleek design.  Love those curves.  Incidentally, they're why I picked up this particular Micro Fighter.  I have plans...big plans...muahaha!!

The firing missiles had to be abandoned in favor of a brick built gun.  I'm not sure mine is better...too much white.  Say; wouldn't it be great if we could get transparent firing pins?

Adjustments had to be made for part limitations and on Futuron you can see the rocket boosters I used to fill some gaps.  I only used available parts from Futuron sets and didn't allow for parts outside the range...which did force me to keep track of my options...when you only have two of a piece things can get dicey.

The newer Lego sets frequently get flick fire pins.  The technic grip in this model doesn't let them go very easily.  I had to shift the pin forward to give it a chance of breaking free.  These have shown up in so many sets that if you don't already have've probably just forgotten where they shot off too. 

A lot has changed in the past 27 years.  Parts have come and gone, some for better, and some for worse.  You can mostly still make a droid like the old days, but now you can also have the droid you're looking for. 

The quarter dome brick comes in a brand new color which is currently unique to this set. 

As unique color bricks go this isn't bad.  I bought the set specifically for these...and then decided to blog about the AAT for fun.

Back in Futuron's heyday, and for many years after the Lego company molded the individual parts from specific colors of plastic granule.  One of these 2x2 plates was molded in the old manner.  The newer parts are molded from an opaque granule which has the color added later in the process.  The Lego company has at times struggled with color variation problems since the new method began, and the tan plate below has a milkier color compared to the older example.  Additionally I noted that light was visible through the newer plate, but totally blocked out by the older one.  For photography purposes there's not a big enough difference to care.  Can you tell which one is the older plate?

Gun emplacement.

Small Mech.  I like this result. 

Overall the Microfighter AAT proves to be a solid toy with a strong selection of parts and especially curved bricks.  As a Star Wars set it is a bit different, opting to miniaturize a recognizeable vehicle.  It is nice to have small Star Wars set options.  I know the pain of not being able to buy big Lego sets and this will fit the bill for those with small pockets.   You get an uncommon Battle Droid and a unique color of sloped brick.  Buyers who favor more challenging construction might do well to consider this parts pack for its potential uses; such as facial sculpts.

If tan is not a favorite color of yours, this set won't hold much appeal.  In fact, if you're not getting this for the tan bricks, I'd spend the money on something else as the rest of the parts are very ordinary.

Final Grade: B
Pros: Lots of good Curved tan bricks, uncommon Battledroid, good part variety, great price point, nice concept.
Cons: Tan is the important color, mostly ordinary parts, movie accurate it ain't, box is an advertisement.

No Vintage Lego pieces were harmed in the making of this review.