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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

M:Tron in 260 Idea Book

We've returned to the wellspring of building wisdom known as 260 Idea book.

This time I'm back with commentary for M:Tron; just another theme in a panoply of Space themed goodness.

I really like the repair tool that guy on the bridge has.  Besides that, there's a crane, a crane car, a small space scooter, and a hovercraft.

I was actually quite versed in M:tron's toy line, having chosen to be born at such an optimal time as was amenable to their purchase.  ;)  Which is how I ended up with Beacon Tracer...and no other M:Tron at the time.  What? you thought a 5 year old came preloaded with money???

Anyways; notably we see that the really big bits from Multi-Core Magnetizer were curiously left out so as to leave room to view the rest of the parts which could be used.

Here we see a tiny security detail surrounding a Black-tron wayfarer who stumbled into the wrong neighborhood...or the right neighborhood???  Good is bad when bad is in it?  But maybe they're making a deal unbeknownst to that yellow futuron Astronaut who's hanging out at the flying garage where his ship is getting fixed up; for a 'reasonable' fee.

This is the main garage; as close as M:tron had to an officially sanctioned base.  There's the Cure-All Pill getting his latest busted spaceship restored to category three condition.  Another Futuron type buggy is getting lifted by crane, and a pair of spaceships do a flyby of the perimeter.

The leftmost vehicle received instructions for the budding enthusiast.  The following parts were sourced from Stellar Recon Voyager, Particle Ionizer, and Lunar MPV Vehicle.  Always keep a Brick separator handy when disassembling fiddly bits.  I prefer the original myself...Old dark grey; woot!  I got it from a friend.

The instruction panel.  This little model incorporates a blue Futuron Astronaut...Cool!

And now for the finished model.  The bed in front floats above the ground.

Overall the model is simple, easy to build, and pleasing to look at assembled; but the little front pod seems lacking in the way of further use.  It seems like a simple mechanic's taxi to drive the Futuron astronaut to the garage while his ship is towed in.  Coincidentally, why are there two pilots for this craft??? Copilot? on something this small?  Okay.

 Wow...short post; it's a simpler affair than my Futuron 260 post by comparison.

These days the really big themes are Ninjago and Chima, and in 10-15 years time I think they'll be fondly remembered for the sweeping variety and unity of their themes.  It had started to feel like every theme that came out was separate from everything else and the unity of the System was lacking.  A great part of Star Wars' license success was its constructed world.  5 sets won't cut it, but 25 we're talking.

This is a collection from another time; a time of unity, a time of singular purpose, and yet, a place that was remarkably colorful and varied.  When I see Chima going strong I no longer scoff at it; that world opened up into something wild and expansive.  Chima has earned its place and will be remembered for its breadth of play.  I'm happy to see the return of these larger themes even if they're not the themes I favor.

What are some of your favorite themes that didn't hit the big time???  We're talking Divers, Time Cruisers, NBA, and Slizers.  Chat it up!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

MOC: Parallax Mitigator

This is a different kind of post;  but not entirely out of the subject matter, as you will see.

There's this thing called a Vic Viper that was popularized by Nenn a good while back...This guy was seriously cranking out Vic Vipers when I was in College until it seemed like everyone had caught the craze and followed suit; leading to NNovvember, a Vic Viper building month.

I wanted to build a Vic Viper too. The bandwagon effect was fading and Nnenn was gone; but he'd inspired everyone, including me.

Nnenn's flickr contained these simple directions which draw attention to the important features.

This M:Tron derived Vic Viper was the result, mind you this is from June 2013...a scant 2 months before I actually began writing this blog.  You may have seen it in passing on flickr, but I wanted to showcase it here.

I built my Vic Viper with Multi Core Magnetizer, Stellar Recon Voyager, and Beacon Tracer. At the time, that was all the M:Tron I had.

I took a cue from M:Tron's naming conventions and called it the Parallax Mitigator, perfect for a dogfighter spacecraft.  Read as: Lessening the difference in the apparent position of an object viewed along two different lines of sight.

This is the previous use of the Honeycomb brick I mentioned earlier in the M:Tron reviews.

I chose to keep with M:Tron's schtick for Magnets and small stored vehicles and went with an assymetrical approach for it.

An engine was incorporated in the back because I had this open space and needed to do something with it...which necessitated making the fin movable as well.

This is not the greatest Vic Viper in the world; no, this is just a tribute.

Vic Viper Flickr Group

nnenn's flickr stream

Nnenn writeup by Gizmodo

Sunday, February 15, 2015

The M:Tron Mystique

As with Futuron from before, I wanted to show what M:Tron brought to the builders table in 1990.
It was a bittersweet theme, the old classic space pieces were passing away, and preexisting parts were being presented in new ways.  M:Tron was a smaller theme than Futuron, primarily spanning 1990, and receiving one set in a bundle, super secret instructions and 2 additional figures in 1991.  I haven't discussed the 6704 Space Minifigures yet because of  the 4 shared themes within it.

So, let us proceed to revisit this magnetic theme and ask ourselves; what made M:Tron tantalizing and new to us as kids?

I will proceed in this order: New molds, followed by old parts in new colors and finally new prints; As I go I will try to offer insight into the element histories.

And here we go!

Ah yes, the slender antenna from 1990...hard to believe this was once new.  Every single M:Tron set showcased this antifreeze green piece in 1990.  Additionally, a black variant was available from a series of yellow technic sets at the same time.  These antennae were a big deal.

This big brick came with studs on 3 sides.  It was the only part of its kind for one year, but to this day Red is unique to M:Tron.  This piece would rise to prominence when BlackTron: Future Generation made it integral to their bubble cockpit designs.

The Lattice plate had an update from the previous version and became a very different part from its 1980 predecessor.  Red has continued to remain unique to M:Tron

And here is the 1980 plate that was used to assemble a mirror.  I wouldn't mind using one of these, but it appears to be hyper rare.

This printed hinge panel was a new element in 1990, and in addition to M:Tron, you could find a white variant aboard 1682 Space Shuttle.  The print would remain unique to M:Tron and a later variant with click hinges would send this part vanishing into the nether after 2004.  The final set was a reissue of 6597 Century Skyway, in yellow, one decade after it knocked the 90's kids socks off; the airport didn't seem to fare as well the second time and was the last reissue released by the Lego Group.

The diminutive clip plates received a new addition in 1990.  The new sideways design broke more often than the flat ones in my collection.

The chainsaw body was introduced in Black, and is still the most common color for this part.  Early versions have a more open neck for pushing pennants through, but at least as early as 93 the design was choked in the middle somewhat.

This medium sized plastic tire was all new and expanded the available sizes of the hard plastic space tyres from 1 to 3 in one year.

These are the Jumbo tires from Multi Core Magnetizer...brand new and promptly retired until a new color appeared in 2002 (A 12 year gap).  Black is unique to M:Tron.

Magnets had appeared in train sets from 1980 onward, but in 1990, the space theme had a new gimmick, and to make it happen, 2 new elements were introduced.

Due to ongoing safety standards magnet use in toys has been geared toward making them too big to swallow, thus we likely won't see this particular gimmick again anytime soon.

New colors
80...This 1x1 round plate used to come on a two piece sprue as seen here.

87 M:Tron was the 4th space theme to introduce a visor color and the Antifreeze Green was the fifth color introduction overall.

85 If the piece was antifreeze green it was basically guaranteed to be a new color.

84 the delightful classic space rocket tip added antifreeze green to its repertoire

85 As a kid I used to think these had suction capabilities, until I finally got some in Beacon Tracer.

78 Antifreeze green was the first transparency for the 4x4 Classic Space dish.

87 Yet another unique color was made for this uncommon windshield extender.

These long tapered windows had only just dropped in 89 and M:Tron's antifreeze green became the second available color.

88 This prefab space wall was used primarily on vehicles in M:Tron.

The giant quarter dome circa 1987 received the antifreeze green treatment for one set release.  This part color would remain unique to the theme after its passing.

89 This flat clip was made available in grey

89 This plate seems perfect for engines, sci-fi, robots...etc.  Curiously enough it was exclusively designed for the two new sailing ships from Pirates and one pirate island in its first year.  One of their first uses was to hold flags and cover the cannon ports.

This classic space jet pack from 1985 was new in black for 1990, with one additional appearance on an M:Tron figure in 91...we thought the part was gone for good, until a yellow variant appeared in '05...followed by several reappearances of the black version in Batman and Mars Mission themed sets.  Best comeback ever...seriously, I really like this criminally underused part mold.

88 This was the second color available for this technic piece.

This part from 1983 received 2 new color additions from M:Tron in 1990.  A newer design would supersede this piece after 1991.

81 This would be the last appearance of the inverted classic space slope.  For its final appearance the color red was introduced.

81 This second gen plate with pins was the first appearance in red.  In this version the pins sit lower than the plate.

Here is the first version for reference.  Note that the pins are flush with the plate.

87 A red variant of this handlebar piece was added to the lineup.

87 This red variant was a new color.

88 This red 1x2 brick with technic hole was a new color for a young piece

86 This short lived piece ended its run in 1990.

86 This 2nd gen inclined stanchion received its first red variant.

New Prints
75 M:Tron got its own computer surface to work was the first space theme to begin breaking away from the Classic Space era computers, but it did continue to borrow a handful of Futuron's Classic Space derived 1x1 tiles

A new arrow print was added to the selection of hint bricks available.

83 The box lid received a special print and to this day it is one of my favorites.  The design is a pulldown lever to open a bank vault type box.

78 A new shirt was printed for the M:Tron theme featuring the M logo.

58 The M Logo was everywhere...behold the choices.



79 The Classic Space window became yet another printable surface.

86 This printed variant of the Space nose sports the only red variant of the brick.

88 even the Prefab Space Wall got a print.

This 88 piece had been used as a blank radar dish before in Space, but the designers bestowed a cool logo on it for M:Tron.

As I've worked on this post, and after working on Futuron's post: Building the Future, I've become increasingly aware of the slow steady progression of design in these building toys.  More Lego toys come out each year than ever before, and with the increase in sets comes an increase in available colors at the outset.  It really is incredible to see how much has changed over the years in construction toy development.

And that's a wrap.  If you notice an omission please share in the comments and I'll revise the post with credit given.

Until next time,

Cure-all Pill