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Saturday, December 26, 2015

Cleaning 9V Electric Bricks

Before I review this mysterious unnamed set I'll need to clean off some dust and grime.  It's very likely you'll run into the problem of grime when collecting or displaying construction toys.  I have a basic regimen to work my way through this quickly.

Today we'll talk about the electric side of things.

Sort out your parts to be cleaned.  In this case dusty parts with an emphasis in this post given to those battery powered bits.

Take electric pieces and set them aside... these Golden Era (1987-89) electric elements should not be cleaned with water.

But what if the part gets dusty or grimy???  I'm a cleaner! I gotta clean.

First use a #2 soft bristle paint brush from Linzer or whoever for hard to reach spaces in between studs.  I suggest Linzer because that's the only thing I could find at the local brick and mortar store.

And for a Hail Mary play use a 1/2 black bristle for grimy sections.  Keep this to a minimum... it will leave scratches.  This is your last ditch effort before invoking moisture... on second thought... let this be a warning... don't use this brush if you can avoid it.

If you're a kid reading this... the next part should be done with a parent present... and away from any heat source.

A scenario: You know those times you've been eating Siroopwafel (my favorite snack) and you just have a hankering to play with some electifyingly awesome Lego?  Well good job... now your favorite model is all gooey.  A paint brush won't fix this; time to get the gloves on.

If you do use moisture... you should only take a Q-tip and dab/wipe (Don't soak!) with Isopropyl alcohol and air dry the pieces.

A good adage: If it's Metal never meddle with the water and be sure to pass on Ethyl.

warning! Ethyl Alcohol is bad for kids and plastic, it's almost worse than that soapy dishwater, so unless you want a mess or toxic toys your last ditch weapon is only Isopropyl alcohol.

Given the state of my parts... I will use no alchohol today... but I have this handy for those pesky little scrapes and abrasions... (it's 50%...ok...nope nope nope)  There's something better.

I suggest getting 91- 99%  Isopropyl solution for electric bits.  Water is our enemy when cleaning these electric bits if we want to keep them working long term, which we do.

Quality Choice ALCOHOL ISOPROPYL 91% 16OZ

Final inspection.  Check for any tougher spots of grime,  to dab at the spot and in most cases you're done.  Otherwise repeat the steps/ get the paintbrush.

I did a bad thing :(  Let me re-iterate that the bristle brush is not your main brush of choice... those light scratch marks are new... whoops.

Ta-da! Good as used.

If the lights don't come on don't panic, press the inner metal studs up internally... reset the battery and check again...

You're building a circut... one row is positive and the other is negative... so you must build across the narrow width of the battery brick or you won't complete the circuit.  That or the light brick is dead. Don't throw them away... I'll discuss repairing dead light bricks another day.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Space Police: 6955 Lock-Up Isolation Base

The USA received an exclusive Space set in 1989.  Space Lock-Up Isolation Base.

It's inventive, extravagant, odd, charming, eye catching.  There's something deeply eccentric, yet classical and familiar about the way it's built.

The shape of the prefab wall pieces gives the Hangar an excellent corridor shape.  Cost metrics and play value got in the way of producing a fully enclosed hangar and so what we received was a very skeletal representation of a lock down facility.

All said I think the final product conveys its corridor very well.

As a kid I recognized the pieces yet never really understood the finished product.  It looked like a corridor with little in the way of apparent play-action.  Since I couldn't see the space scooter the whole hangar and slide hid in plain sight.  The colors are nice but for many years it just looked like space prefab walls with a jail cell up top.

Until I saw the box that came with my used copy I didn't even know what it did.

 Like Message Decoder; Lock-Up Isolation Base lacks the tapered 12 stud window in trans red, but the base shares a few prefab wall elements with the theme's flagship Mission Commander.  It also continues the trend of containing yet another prison cell.

Commence shameless reuse of my own photos~ for those of you who just got here.

For all intents and purposes this is my favorite container from the danish toymaker of all time.  It conveys its nature as a jail cell, by simple bars and basic prints.  But what really makes it pop are the colors.  Black, Blue, Trans Red, and silver highlights.

The prongs in back aid in locking the jail cell to any tiles with a gap beneath it.  These brackets have changed length over the years so if you have some, you still might not be able to pull off the simple locking trick

The Space Station's quirkiness lies in its hidden function, the entire length of the structure provides the base with room to extend/retract/raise/lower an inner launch pad/ prison elevator/ radar array.  It's not that it does all of these things, but that it achieves every bit of it at once which gives the set a magnificent weirdness.

Here it is looking like a reasonably nondescript hangar structure as advertised.  The heavy use of panels around the scooter is a nice accent, but the walls aren't consistent all the way across.  On the plus side the open structure does grant easy access to the small control room.

Trippy!  The entire function relies on yet another one of the rack and gearbox assemblies which appears in many of this era's larger models: Cosmic Laser Launcher, Monorail Transport System, and Mega Core Magnetizer.

And this is the hangar slide/prison shelf fully extended.  Now the space scooter and the prison are accessible and ready for the next hidden play element.  I don't think I'll ever really love that radar dish rising into the night sky.

Space Police usage of the rack and gearbox emphasized making a vehicle appear from within a larger sturcture.  The scooter sits on a launch pad and features a hinge lock to keep it stable during the base action.  In the case of this base the scooter appearing is only one small step in the play function.

With the prison elevator lowered, the prison cell is oriented to the scooter, and can be taken away to load aboard a conveyance, or delivered, to be processed and stored on one of the base's two holding platforms.

The station is equipped to hold three cells all at once, or half of the collection.  This element of play takes the model a step past the likes of Futuron's bases.  6990 Monorail Transport System and 6770 Light and Sound Magma Carrier could work together, but for the most part having additional Futuron sets didn't give Cosmic Laser Launcher or Monorail Transport System much further play value until broken down into component parts.

Lock-Up Isolation Base brings remarkable synergy to the entire Space Police theme.  The sole exception is Message Decoder, although it's not uncommon for a Space Station to just have a rover included.  This was a fantastic sales pitch to encourage kids to collect several sets to play with.  It's just a shame that the base was a localized product, not intended for the global market.  Fortunately the secondary market now exists to rectify this problem.

Spy Trak 1 delivering a cell for processing.

The full assortment of minifigures and accessories provides a small modicum of conflict, though the Black-Tron's best bet is to steal the scooter for a quick escape.

Ack!  He's gettin away.  Chase down the prisoner!

Ya had a good run, but once again, ya couldn't get away from the long arm of the law.
I would have gotten away with it too if it weren't for that startup sequence error!

But the windows and beams strewn through it are my kryptonite.  As a parts connoisseur this set is the heavens, as it's strewn with components I've drooled over since time immemorial.  
Here's a pile of the good stuff.

Here's the special Space Police piece lineup for this set.

The set has no exclusive components, given its U.S. exclusivity it was most likely not given any especially rare bricks to keep development costs down.

almost exclusive
Black Pre-fab walls... These first appeared en masse with Black-Tron's giant Message Intercept Base, and then this set added 3 more for a total of 13 in all.  Rare by set count, but there's a sizeable selection of them in those two sets.

common parts which don't appear in other Space Police sets include.
Signal tool
This Classic Space component appeared 15 times in 11 sets/accessory packs.  It can also be found in Space Police's nemesis theme Black-Tron

Hinge plate top 2x4
This uncommon hinge appears in 4 space sets and has 17 pieces spread across 14 sets.

Hinge plate flat 2x4
This companion hinge piece has a few more uses (connecting to excavator buckets) and thus appeared in 17 sets with 21 parts.

radar dish black 6x6
Uncommon, but all 11 parts of this type 1 dish appear in 9 space sets.  The base is round and can spin with resistance on studs.  The type 2 dish is 3 times as common in a greater variety of sets and can be identified by its locking base.

Black Fence, this is a pretty common component, but you won't find any others in the space theme. This part has some good SNOT techniques associated with it.

1x1x5 black brick
This part appears in 5 space station sets, and outside of the theme it's the second most common version of the piece.

Inclined Stanchion
This is a common component in space, Space Police overloaded this one set with 8 of them.  There is an older thin variant which appeared in Train sets circa 1983.

2x2 black bracket
Common, this part appears in a lot of Space sets,  It's a great tool of the SNOT method.

Tapered black cone
Extremely common piece, this part is prevalent in Futuron, and also easy to come by in Classic Space and M-Tron.  Newer sets have a modified mold of this cone with a lip at the stud to prevent bricks going too far down and developing stress cracks.

1x3 black brick
getting one of this piece is awkward, fortunately it's not rare.

2x2 black brick
there are a lot of these pieces in a lot of sets, but this is the only Space Police set with them.

Motorboat impeller Hinge
This is the most widespread version of this bit, due to its popularity in boat engine assemblies.  It also features in quite a few space sets.  All around a very good hinge/impeller/accessory.

Black flat top hinge 1x2.5
a common piece, it shows up several times across the space themes.

Black 1x1 vertical clip type 1 and 2
Fragile, I am not a fan of these parts and their tendency to wear out, but I do like their function.

2x8 black plate
A very common plate, easy to find in the space theme outside of Space Police.

Black 4x10 plate
very common plate, but it has a thin spread across the older space sets for its level of availability.

4x8 plate
More common than the black 4x10 with a somewhat better spread in the Space theme.

Grey baseplate 16x32
Appears in 3 space stations.  Modest Dispersal of 21 parts across 18 sets.

1x8 blue tile
a whopping twelve blue tiles in this set, they are the frictionless surface this set relies on for its function to slide the full length of the model.  It's a fairly common piece which can also be found in Classic Space and Unitron.
Blue Crosshair Computer print
This was the last appearance for this slope computer in blue.  It was a common Classic Space bit, and appeared in a few other models during its 12 year lifespan '78-'89.

The Box alternates provide ideas for 2 spaceships, a flight simulator, and a tall space tower with a pair of scooters.  It also shows off the full accessory compliment of spacemen, prison, and scooter in the corner.  Overall these models look pretty weird by the standards of everything else we've seen before.

For my first attempt with the parts I built two Police Pursuit spaceships, and a Blacktron Hovercraft.

I like how the big ship's cockpit turned out, let's expand on that one for a moment.

And here is a retake on the cockpit, I had a lot of parts to play with so I went big.  The main model emphasizes tall parts and flat parts so it's easy to get hung up on an alternate build with just these elements.  It will force you to develop your SNOT (Studs Not On Top) skills to get any kind of sleek design.

I considered rebuilding the prison pod and mounting it to my model, but instead I made a built in holding cell to see what else I could achieve with these pieces.

Initially I only used the inner set of support beams as wing like structures, but I thought to try the extended wing shape and the shape turned out to be a perfect size for this spaceship.  I like how they turned out, and the two wing sets are each only attached to the main frame by one fence brick utilizing SNOT methods.

The Prisoner has escaped, chase them down with the Pursuit pod!

This is one of the rarer Space Police sets, the last Golden era Space Station, and a great source of pre-fab walls.  The parts require a few minutes to grow accustomed to as bricks are scarce, but there are good options in the mix for builders and lots of component repetition for expanding your tile and support beam supply.

Final Score: A-
Pros: Many pre-fab walls and windows, loads of support beams, eccentric function, combines well with other Space Police sets for added play value. accessories, Black-Tron Spaceman
Cons: Outsized Plate supply, rising radar array is an odd aesthetic, Space Scooter looks plain

I hope you've enjoyed this review, if you are looking for this set or others you see on this blog try Bricklink, Brickowl, and Ebay for used copies.

Peace Out, Cure-all Pill