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Sunday, September 28, 2014

Lego 6833 Beacon Tracer

Starting today, I'm adding M-Tron to the list of Space themes you can read about here at Futuron of My Youth.

This is a special theme to me.  M-Tron's 6833 Beacon Tracer was my first Lego Space set, and unlike everything I've reviewed up to now, this set has been with me since I received it from my Dad after he came back from a deployment in '91.  It has always held a treasured place in my collection; and this despite its diminutive size.

Back in 91 Space, and Castle were the two themes I most wanted, but by and large I was given a good selection of town sets for birthdays, Christmas, and rare treats, and it wasn't until I was able to go into the Toys'R'Us, the same one where I saw 6990 spinning merrily around its track, and hand select Beacon Tracer, that I was able to alter the course of my collection.  For better or worse 6833 Beacon Tracer and 6059 Knight's Stronghold would only appear as a blip in my collection.  As a result I logged countless hours playing with these sets specifically.  I most certainly had Beacon Tracer investigate a strange fortress when the castle was new.

Beacon Tracer is a small set, but it's not M-Tron's smallest.  Beacon Tracer was priced above 6811 Pulsar Charger, and it's larger than 1478 Mobile Satellite Uplink (from 1476 Five Set Bonus Pack)
The antenna, which was a new part mold, makes the model feel tall.

Transparent Neon Green was the hot ticket in 1990.  It was the first new transparent color to grace the space theme since Transparent dark blue showed up in 1981 (I had to look that up).

In a sense M-Tron was the herald of change.  Much of what the Lego company had previously established in the space theme was uprooted and the new theme was wildly different in its aesthetics, functions (which we will get into later), and prints from everything that had come before.  Neon green would go on to define much of the 90's color palette for better...and for worse.  But it would seldom look cooler than it did here.

Beacon Tracer has scant play features, The Window comes up, which is pretty standard for all canopied vehicles of the time period, and it has a moving console print.

The Console print was a new M-tron design for 1990 and it replaced the long held standard Space tile from 1985.

M-Tron: 1990, 60 white tiles available across 46 sets through 2004.

Classic Space: 1985, 14 blue in 11 sets, 20 white in 15 sets, 29 old grey in 19 sets, and 7 yellow tiles in 3 sets.

Here's a selection of Beacon Tracer's unique piece, and parts specific to it within M-Tron.

This Space window is the only Trans Neon Green canopy with the M-Tron logo.  Remember that this is a 3-4 dollar set from the time period.  This is Beacon Tracers number one piece of appeal.  When I was a kid I tried to use it on everything.

The red chassis was common in town, and somewhat present in castle, but in M-Tron, and Space at large it's a unique color.  

Here's a Black-tron Yellow Grille slope.  This part first appeared in the highly desireable Black-Tron 6954 Renegade, and later in Black-Tron II 6988 Alpha Centauri Outpost.  Only one appears in M-Tron and aside from a decorative elements pack this was the best source to acquire the print.  It was always a space piece, but never a common print.

This handlebar was the second version of a piece which first appeared in '78, but this version appeared in '83; it lowered the handles a third of a plate compared to the first design,  This part color only appears once in M-Tron, but would later appear in two Spyrius sets.  

Now it's tme for my favorite part of the post.  The alternates.  

I had faint recollection of the box, so I chose not to copy the designers.  Interestingly they chose not to utilize the canopy.  I rather like the bottom model and its moving mandible.  I built all of these back in the day, but I eventually lost my box to the passage of time.  

Here's what I have chosen to create.

There aren't many parts in Beacon Tracer.  The window and chassis are very large and present in the model, so I chose to eliminate both parts for this little buggy.

Look closely at the middle and you can guess my tricky connection between the wheels.

I brought the window and chassis back in for this low rider.

During the late 90's/early 2000's the Lego company made a lot of windows that had to be removed, rather than opened on a hinge.  It may have been a good idea for the youngest builders, but as a process of design evolution, it felt like a step backwards.  All hail the hinge!
Final Score: B-
Pros: Unique print, balloon tires, two hinges, compact design.
Cons: two parts form crux of the model and stymie creativity.

There's a Polish blog called Lego's Soul where I found this image of Beacon Tracer redone in the different themes from 1987-1991.  If you have some time, I recommend running Google translate and having a good read.  There are several posts about the old Lego Space sets.
Until next time.

The Cure All Pill