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Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Space Police: 6781 SP-Striker

SP-Striker is a big bad space police cruiser, with lights.  This was the model that showed up in the big foldouts in my friends piles of old pamphlets and magazines back in the early 90's.  I didn't even know there was a bigger Space Police craft for the theme until college, circa 2004.

I was desirous to get my hands on this ship as a kid, and then as a grownup I had a falling out with its design...To the point that when I did get one... I prioritized price over condition and took the cheapest copy I could get to complete the line.  I have always been a parts monkey and In the ensuing years certain pieces were more irresistible to me, such as these prefab walls.

Compared to Galactic Peacekeeper this spaceship has twice the part count and commands at least a 3x markup when comparing the lower asking prices of either one; that is, if you can find the Striker.

6781 is frequently coming into and going out of availability. Mission Commander has the availability problem too but often their prices are equal and Mission Commander is twice the size/part count. i.e. a better deal for builders.

The main draw of this set is the light and sound system.  It's a vivid trick, and it makes for an impressive magazine display and flashy performance.   Catch-22: 9V parts can drive the price into the heliosphere and most of the non-electric bricks are typical across the space range or in several other space police sets.

The parts are all fine and good, but in the full scope of the Space theme a large share of these elements seem average for the price.  Upon Close inspection I found there to be quite a lot going for this set within the theme, but unless you're hankering for wings, plates, bricks, and slopes aplenty I'd put this dead last on the Space Police shopping list, Not that it ain't cool, because as it so happens, it's dazzling!  But you're gonna pay for that brilliance.

Peeron catalogue link

All Space Police Spacecraft feature canards in their wedge shaped profile with a wide octagon shape somewhere down the chassis as seen here.  A point of conjecture; the designers appear to have had a list of guidelines for the spacecraft which were written in stone.
Wikipedia: Canard

Allow me to illustrate.  These features are in every spaceship from the first Space Police wave.

Taking a closer look at the ship now, SP-Striker draws upon the forward swept wing for its shape.  Wing pattern implies maneuverability, but the built up design of SP-Striker gives the spaceship a heavy look. It looks swoopy, but it doesn't doesn't feel like it should be swoopy.
wikipedia: Forward-swept_wing

The wings are also bi-level like a bi-wing.
Wikipedia: Biplane

There's secrets in all these wings.

The bottom wings can drop forming a K-wing shape.  I imagine this would change the flight dynamics in a pitched battle.  Prepare to dive on my mark!
Wookiepedia: BTL-S8 K-wing assault starfighter

While we're on this pose, take a close look at the firepower!  SP-Striker is heavily armed for a Space Police vessel.  8 forward facing lasers/turrets can be inferred from the 4 mounted blasterguns/fin guns and the 4 laser cannons.  In a pitched battle with Blacktron this ship would take point ahead of Mission Commander and unload while 2 Galactic Peacekeepers attack from the sides trapping our pitifully cornered Blacktron craft in a turning swallow strike!

But wait there's more!
You can eject a second spacecraft.  Raise SP Striker's lower wings up and prepare to give chase at maximum speed.

This secondary unit is built around the battery module.  It's got a unique lamp cover mold serving as a computer.  The main computer tile is a Classic Space print in blue.  The function arrows point to two removeable laser guns, and thedirection to slide the craft into the big ship.  Compared to other space sets their meaning seems more vague.

Deprived of its secondary ship the main body's design begins to descend toward the back evenly,  Now we see that the sum total is greater than its parts.  Both ships are just adequate.

It's very hard to design a small space craft around a battery box... the designers tried, and the fact is it looks pretty ok for a battery box spaceship, but only just good enough to get by.  While we're here. The blue dots disguise the grey button on the box without preventing it from locking in the on position as a plate would.  This was the third set in 3 years to get the blue dots; I elaborate more fully on this in Futuron 6885 scooter base alternate.

A front view doesn't do many more favors, but at least we might get distracted by the shiny computer light and the firepower!  Hey, what's that over there?


Oh, I guess it was nothin.  Anywho, it's a good thing airtanks are required to fly this thing because the captain's cabin just depressurized!  It's fully exposed through that corridor.  He's gonna shoot out there into the vacuum of space and there'll be trouble.  But we can save him.  Just don't imagine that particular problem and, phew, that was a close one.  

I wonder what's in there?  

Fully loaded, The cockpit contains an absurd number of computers for one pilot.  Which is good; just wait til we get to Mission Commander's computer selection.  The front computer is the same as what appeared in Galactic Peacekeeper; it's another example of quaint 1980someting technology in blue.

And now, back to the battery.

To access the battery itself a few blue plates will need to come off and you'll want to reset the internal metal plate connections in the studs so all lights come on.

The secondary ship stows like a hand in the glove with the big ships' fuselage.

A latch on either side seems intended to hold the secondary ship in, but the result barely catches the unit and really only offers perceived function; I like the inclusion of hinges.  Now we also see the flat tray at back where our prison pod will lay.  I don't much care for the steep drop off.  Every time these Space Police ships are left flying bobtail they look weirdly unfinished.  It looks great with the prison attached, but without a cell the design quickly falls far too low to fit with the rest of the design.

Once seated in its pocket the secondary ship is permanently locked aboard by sliding on the familiar Space Police prisoner pod.  

And on that note let's return to the recursive prison pod review for those who've just found this blog.  Oldtimers can scroll along; nothing to see here.

While jails aren't by their nature something to be lauded, TLG really nailed this design out of the park.  It's immediately apparent what this is, the colors are striking and despite the tight build, its pedestal feet, police print, cell lights, and red translucent laser bars give it a heavily detailed and compact design which would have been at home in a late 80's sci fi movie.

The prison cell was presented as is within the Lego idea book 260, and it has basically burned itself into my brain as a concept.  However, I didn't know the hooks were back there until I started acquiring the sets two years ago.  I'll elaborate on them shortly.

Of course, nice as a holding cell can be, our Blacktron spaceman has decided to try his luck in that great white nothingness that stretches as far as the edge of the page.

End Recursive Review portion...

If you want to get the minfigs into a laserblaster fight the little black torches on the battery assembly can be taken off and are perfect for 1v1 battle.

I fought the law and the law...? something something... darn those forgettable lyrics... New song!  You're not the boss of me now and you're not so big!

Buy SP-Striker for the electric system, or get both of these for less.

The light system has one problem which requires finagling when it happens.  The top plastic is thin so when you press the parts on at the top the metal conductors can get pushed away and thus fail to complete the circuit.  To solve this unload the battery and press up internally while securing the electric plates to the top.  When you're finished reset the battery and slide it aboard.

When you do get the light system running this set is by far the most impressive display of lighting in the Space range.  It uses 3 bulbs to emit light through 2 sizeable light bars and inside a milky white computer screen.

On the topic of that light up computer... this is the most unique component in Space Police... not color... not print (though it has one)... this brick is an '89 one off... and if you like the light and sound system... this light cowl is one of the 9V system's coolest light covers.  It's technically a readout of the ship, so its other uses will require a little forethought to truly give it a sense of place in your builds.

For comparison's sake here's the set's standard slope computer.  Note the plate high extension, and the opaque silky color of the screen on the white brick.

Uncerneath the white unit has a standard plate/trio of connection points as opposed to the brick's standard square and tube.

Here's the light unit which slides into any one of those three gaps in the brick.

And with that out of the way let's proceed through the SP-Striker's unique colors and bricks in theme and otherwise.

The special elements are actually many and varied despite my earlier fussing about them, There's a lot to get hyped for provided you're excited about the electric light and sound system.

These pieces are unique colors for the entirety of the Lego hobby.

4 black electric plates 1x2
The more prevalent color is white.

the double Hinge window extender Trans red.
This component always appeared in 1 set in one color.  8 were released in all from 1987-2001.

rare part with 1 set/1 brick pack distribution
transparent-red 1x6 brick hollow.
This other uncommon trans red brick was available in a bag of translucent bits.  Overall it's a great part for getting that old school classic space cockpit look with the hollow inside.  It's a light cover here and it does a magnificent job at spreading 2 tiny bulbs out over 4 unbroken inches of awesome. Beond that the part seems kinda eh.  It's the height of an ordinary brick maxing out its cool points.  As a transparency the element appeared from '78-'91, but a solid white variant dates as far back as '57

Uncommon bricks with limited distribution in Space Police theme
2 of these bricks always appeared in the 4 sets/1 lighting pack which appeared with them.  The part had a limited run from '89-'93.  It is an extremely effective light spreader and space enthusiasts can expect to collect 4 of them.  I highly recommend this piece for 9V lighting enthusiasts.

1x2 light brick
This part appeared in 7 sets, and 3 light packs, 5 sets of which were space sets.  Based on dispersal expect to end up with as many as 7 of these if you're going after the full Space theme... half of the available distribution.  The part appeared in '86 and ended new release after '93.

1x4 double light brick white
This brick is the more common variant of two.  15 appeared in 13 sets /2 light packs.  available 1986-1997.

2 2x4 black electric plates
This black plate received the best distribution in this set,  It appears 5 times in 4 sets in the black color and was the cheapest set to receive the part.  years of release '89-'96.  It is the second rarest of the 3 colors: white, black, and yellow.

black 9V battery box
This ties with the white box for the most common box in the 9V system.  It appeared in 8 sets and 1 battery box replacement pack. from '89-'98.  4 can be picked up in the space theme.

ordinary parts with limited distribution in Space Police theme.

Inverted slope brick blue 2-4x6
Released 1985 ongoing development

inverted fuselage brick black
Released 1985-2014 new variant has 2 technic holes in the base and began appearing in 2008.

black tail
Released 1974-2001 phased out design.

slope 1x3 black

Inverted slopes 1x3 black

round studs blue

Black hinge base 1x2
Despite TLG's hinge redesigning efforts across the board 1 hinge keeps on running.  it's been developed around and had top components and bottom components come and go, but let's all take a moment and appreciate this humble part's longevity in the face of ongoing hinge developments.

torch black
released 1979-2010 a complete redesign appeared in 2008.

6x8 black plate

blue 1x2 panel
1985-2014, since 2004 some have begun sporting rounded edges which could frustrate clean lines in MOC work.

Black Brick 1x16
1988 to present day.  

Finally we come to my favorite part of the review.  It's time for alternates.
This model provides ideas for 1 robot, a spacecraft, and a light up outpost with a patrolcraft.  Overall an attractive selection of builds are suggested and some of the play elements are showcased to good effect.

For my first effort I've built a light-up dogfighter.  It's got a brick built light cluster which distributes light evenly with a vivid red hue.

For this model I took influences from the flying wing and Biplane concepts.  The battery is bulky and if you use it the block is going to define the ship's shape whether you like it or not.

The second attempt is a slender craft with the transparent extender used as the only canopy.  There's some simple SNOT going on with this one, but it's fragile.

Final Score: B+
Pros: extensive 9V kit, main craft design, unique colors and parts, high wing count, minifig weapons, Blacktron figure, cell design, 3 computers
Cons: Repetitive use of parts from the theme, separated ship design, high demand/low supply

Conclusion: Take away the cost hurdle and this set gets an unreserved A for awesome.  Watch for a good price and you'll find a lot to like here if you take a shine to these old Space sets.

Sincerely, The Cure-all Pill