Constructive Criticism: Get out the stick, it’s time to Lindbo

Welcome back to the Manifesto’s regular feature where I provide a builder with some feedback that is hopefully both entertaining and helpful.  The format is simple: a reader submits a MOC for evaluation, I come up with at least one good thing about it, at least one bad thing and one random observation that falls outside the first two categories. Today’s volunteer victim on the rotisserie spit is Duncan Lindbo (AKA donuts_ftw) you may remember him from such interesting and popular builds as: Necron Tesseract Vault (my personal favorite), Reaction Core Blue and Dracomech Cerulean.  Duncan’s most recent model, entitle “C-Space Zero G worker” is the subject of our conversation.  I would never have selected this build for the old format of this criticism series, because although it’s clearly well-built, it didn’t do much for me when I saw it posted to the big Lego group on Flickr.  It wasn’t bad enough to need much help, but it wasn’t good enough to capture my attention either.  Although mecha is Duncan’s go-to theme, I actually find his non-mecha work far more inspiring, but it is my policy to review the builder’s latest work.  So let’s talk about “C-Space Zero G worker“, what went right, what went wrong and my enduring dislike of all things Classic Space.

the good the bad and the ugly - 1966 - the good

The concept of a maintenance or construction robot designed to operate in a zero-g environment is a tried and true winner and has motivated many builders over the years.  You can tell this isn’t Duncan’s firs mecha right away, it’s constructed very deliberately, with good technique and a high degree of polish.  The basic proportions are good and although you’ll read my impression of the color scheme later, it is blocked very effectively: gray for skeleton, blue for the armored sections and a few highlights.

My favorite detail is the extended shoulders, I like the way the comparatively delicate maneuvering thrusters are positioned out and away from the body and I really like the part-selection for the red and green caution lights.  Even though they are huge and might easily be broken in a construction type environment, the red and green lights look great and catch my eye every time I look at the mech.  The long arms are well done and a builder really can’t go wrong with magnets, so it was really nice to see that extra pair of extending arms that deploy them.  I can imagine the magnets making a satisfying noise as they contact with the metal hull of a starship, holding the robot in place while he welds.

Mecha, for better or worse, tend to be judged by their articulation, which is kind of unique to that genre of building.  The flexibility of the worker robot worker is pretty good, a function of the ball and socket frame that allows it to kneel and bend it’s arms at the elbow. I kind of wish there was some articulation at the head and waste (they don’t seem to be able to turn or bend), but overall it gets good marks for articulation.

Although the head looks kind of standard, undersized fare at first, it rewards a close inspection.  The use of the Nexo Knight shield is inspired and I’m not sure I’ve seen those blue crowbars used as antenna before.  Both instances of NPU are very well integrated into the design and don’t seemed tacked on just for the sake of NPU.

I’d like to finish this section with a word of praise for the builder’s presentation skill, I really  like the photo with some of the blue sections removed to reveal the exposed frame.  The photo quality is pretty good and there ar the right number of photos to show off the model without overkill.

The_Bad

Even though the concept is solid, I’ve got an issue with the basic form, right out of the gate.  I don’t think a bipedal humanoid shape makes sense in a zero-g environment.  I think you’d want something with more arms and without the clumsy leg appendages.  I can sort of understand it if there is a human operator and the interface makes it more efficient to design it that way, but otherwise it looks kind of odd, like the maintenance robot might suddenly start kung-fu fighting at any moment.  The human form may be the most boring, boilerplate choice for a mech design.  Why do you need feet in outer space?  There have been so many great designs produced over the years that if you’re going with a biped you better do something to make it special and stand out.
Speaking of feet, constant readers of the Manifesto are quite familiar with my mecha foot-fetish, it is the feature by which I determine the quality of giant robots and mecha.  In short, can’t abide these feet, there is nothing remotely sexy about them.  They are simultaneous fat and blocky in the heel, with what appear to be wheels stuck on the sides.  I don’t know why such a device would need wheels in outer space, but maybe it like’s to zoom around on the outside of big starships?  If they are not wheels, then I’m even more perplexed, they look like something that would cause the robot to stumble and constantly bang into things.   The mono-toe isn’t any better, it is attached by a fragile looking, exposed hinge that looks like it would snap off at the first sign of stress or stop working when debris fell into it’s mechanism.  These shoes are neither sexy, nor practical and they would cause the robot great shame when they were hanging out in the bar after work.

There are very specific choices that bug me, like the use of those triangular flags on the chest, they look like they would inhibit the arms and just seem superfluous.  Interesting parts use aside, I’m not a fan of the blocky little head either, with it’s trans-yellow beak and pointy ears.  My final specific complain resides in the chest, where that center cheese-grater and dark blue tile just disrupts the flow too much.  When you have a complicated design you have to give the eye somewhere to rest amdist the chaos and the chest would have been a good spot for a smooth expanse.  Also, any time you’ve got two studs on the chest-plate like that, it draws the inevitable comparison to nipples.  Maybe that’s what the builder wanted, but to me it just looks silly and distracting like nipples on the Bat-suit.

4072429920_9547811c22

I think I would have enjoyed this model more if it were not decked out in Classic Space livery.  When you use those colors and call it that name, you conjures images of official sets and a very specific design esthetic.  This giant robot could never exist in the same universe alongside the sacred, never to be mocked #497 Galaxy Explorer, the pretend-technology is different, the style is different…it just doesn’t work for me.  If Duncan had tweaked the color scheme just a little, I think it would have made a big improvement, maybe more yellow would work since it’s supposed to be a high-visibility working robot.  As you know, safety is no accident and the Classic Space thing is just a distractor from what is otherwise a pretty cool robot.

So, Classic Space enthusiasts, this is your guy?  Benny?  This is your guy….it says everything you need to know about a very specific segment of Spacers.  Benny is the ultimate broken toy, a special-needs cosplayer who is destined to take up residence on the Island of misfit toys.  He’s the Lego equivalent of the choo-choo-train with square wheels.

benny-lego-movie-1920x1200-request

Just a reminder, if you’d like to have one of your models get the (good/bad/whatever) treatment, just sign up in the comments below.

 

27 thoughts on “Constructive Criticism: Get out the stick, it’s time to Lindbo

  1. I really appreciate that Duncan is showcasing the frame his mecha is build around. And this frame for me is the highlight. Except from the not bending torso it is well thought.
    The wheels on the sides of the feet are some kind of steering thrusters for me. But I’m with you legs are superfluous in zero-g. An additional pair of arms would fit the purpose better.
    All in all it is a good mecha IMHO. Although it doesn’t reach the quality of the Dracomech Cerulean.

    Like

  2. I agree. Marco is spot on as well, especially about Dracomech, that one is pretty cool.

    You hit on something prevalent in the spacer community that may be open for further discourse. Classic Space livery seems to carry a massive amount of baggage with it. If you go blue/grey with a yellow/black/yellow accent somewhere, then you fall under certain rules that govern the aesthetic more so than the color scheme. Good and bad.

    The one I think applies most here is the practicality of the mech with regards to CS. CS is totally impractical first off, and the Galaxy Explorer is the best example. Explore the GALAXY with no head room or seats? WRONG. That thing would be fine for a quick ride through a parking lot but nothing more. Same here with the mech and its purpose. I can agree about interface and human form to an extent, but for practicality’s sake the human form sucks in general. Exo-suit I can buy, but then we are not talking about a repair mech. Arthroscopes aren’t shaped like hands because hands won’t fulfill the purpose efficiently. Same with a mech like this. Repair work is welding, positioning, grinding, coating, and that’s just the meaty work. Repair is also delicate and precise; circuitry, carburetors (maybe not), conventional engines, fittings. In short my problems with this mech are my own preconceived notions and it’s the livery that is deciding that along with the platform.

    However, I must say that proportionally it is excellent; and, as said before me, seeing the frame underneath is satisfying. I think if the blue were exchanged for high visibility colors like yellow and black, I might buy it as a repair mech. I also think that if its purpose was NOT repair, I might also buy it as an exo-suit. And in spite of the impracticality of a mech in CS colors and how that would seem to qualify to my prejudices, Keith’s point that this would not exist in the CS universe seems to be an unavoidable truth. CS is happy, mechs are usually not.

    But in the end, as a mech, I actually like it. Even the wheels on the feet as I register also as thrusters. It is a bit too busy and definitely needs an eye rest as Keith pointed out. Just a bit more refining would help immensely here. Still a great start and kudos for putting it up for critique.

    Like

    1. That’s a good point, maybe they are thrusters, that would certainly make more sense than roller-skates. Gad to have your take as a welder too, that specific criticism did not occur to me but it makes perfect sense. Great feedback for the builder dude, even though you don’t post regular columns, you’re like an unofficial contributor in the comments. People just don’t get this kind of feedback on their work typically so thanks for contributing as king of the commentariat.

      Like

  3. Bravo Mr. Lindbo!

    I applaud both your skill as a builder, and your guts in seeking critique on your work.

    Giant human shaped machines. They never made much sense to me. Transformers (when they are shaped like people), Shogun Warriors, and of course… the Japanese movie called: Giant Robot. All seemed strange to me. Always have. But in the end, I have to say that is pretty arbitrary… and it does not preclude awesome depictions of giant human shaped machines. And that is what you have given us here.

    I dig this: The proportions. Pretty good. Looks like a guy in a space suit. The shoulders that stick out… yea. Retro-rockets on the ends, so he can zip about and rotate and all that zero-g stuff one imagines would be important. I also especially like the Port and Starboard navigation lights. I imagin that the lights are actually much smaller, and that what we are looking at are actually large solid plastic lenses… that can be bashed into things over and over, never breaking, perhaps scratched and deformed after months of use, but always protecting the small lamps within. Totally cool. I also like the big hinged toes. Yea, stuff might get stuck in there… but maybe not… maybe he could just flex his toes and the wreckage “robo-toe-jam” would just spin off into space. but I think they look cool.

    I don’t dig this: He has a little tool that he holds? Like a regular man? It’s not built into the limb? He could just drop it, and it would swing around on a cord behind him? Get caught on stuff? Even that cable that connects it to the main chassis… that would tangle and get caught on stuff. I bet this design fails to meet OSHA standards! Also the ankle wheels. If they are wheels, then that seems odd… if they are little engines… then they should look like the engines on his shoulders and hips.

    Then comes the head. I neither like nor dislike it. Save that it’s a new design, and I do think the flat blue plate on top looks sort of “hard core” like a construction helmet. A helmet for a robot? Maybe silly… BUT… it LOOKS COOL!

    As for the CS color. I’m not afflicted with Keith’s simmering distain for the CS theme. He is right about a few things though. CS spacers can be kind of militant in their defence of an odd culture that seems to be: 2 parts nostalgia, 2 parts color scheme, and only 1 part creativity. I mean… CS… they get there hackles up pretty quick! Just try this quick psyc test out. Who would you rather drink 4 beers with: A CS fan… or… an original Blacktron fan? Or even better… who would you rather have as a wingman at the clizub: A CS guy with a bucket helmet, or an original Blacktron guy? (Yea… I have to qualify Blacktron with the word “original” because that dork with the big green B on his sweater? He’s right OUT!)

    And again, yea… Keith is right when he points out that the guys who designed, assembled, and deployed fleets of Galaxy Explorers is not from the same world as this cool daddy blue repair mec. The esthetics are way to far apart. But when I see a MOC like this mec from Mr. Lindbo, it seems like he is answering the question: What if Classic Space was modern and cool? THEN… it works again.

    Great build, and good job pushing it out for the acid bath Mr. Lindbo! I hope for our sake, that more talented builders take your cue and put there best foot forward on the Manifesto for critique!

    Attack!

    Like

  4. Thanks for the feedback Keith!

    Yeah, humanoid robots are impractical, especially giant ones. But still, they’re pretty damn cool, so I keep building ’em. The things on the feet were intended to be thrusters. Obviously, the design doesn’t quite work: They’d probably look better if I used conical pieces and oriented them towards the back or bottom of the feet.

    As for Classic Space, it was all before my time, so I don’t have the same kind of nostalgia for it and thus the reverence for its aesthetics that some Classic Spacers have. What I like about Classic Space is that a lot of the designs seem to sit in a middle ground between “civilian machinery- completely defenseless” and “military hardware- guns and lasers out the wazoo”.

    Now, the real question: Who’s next?

    Like

    1. My pleasure, thanks for signing up and I hope you stick around and comment from time to time, the blog can use your insight in future constructive criticism posts if nothing else. Those assemblies make much more sense as thrusters than wheels.

      You are quite correct, the real question is: Who’s next?

      Like

    2. Who’s next? Oh, a man after my own heart! Good call there. Who indeed!

      I would also suggest critiquing your own work. We all do it as we build usually with simple phrases like, “well, that looks sweet.” But we all mainly focus on the things that work as that is eternally satisfying. But I would suggest, not just for you here but for everyone, to also imbibe of the harsh realities that you as the builder know better than any of us about your piece. What was the stuff that stood out to you as you built and when you finished that you thought just plain did NOT work? This is the toughest part of criticism in that we force ourselves to fall under our own microscope. No escape now! And to top it off, you are the best authority of how YOU will take the harshest of criticisms.

      Be that critique before anyone else has a chance to let the wind out of your sails or start dropping horses overboard. If you can self critique through the building/creating process effectively, it will save a whole lot of hassle and time in future endeavors. What is your opinion of your mech? Where could it have been better or more fully realized outside our own observations? It will always be difficult to take the rose colored glasses off when looking at our own work; but when you do, it only gets better. Be honest and don’t hold back, fear is the mind killer. I would assume that there was some aspect of this that was not working in your mind that you felt that you couldn’t quite put your finger on, that’s why you signed up first to drink the Kool-Aid. What do you see working and NOT working about this? And of course, whatever.

      And then most importantly, what’s next and what will you take from this? This is to be answered only in your own head. We’re not in there, so you’re on your own in that respect. All we can do is answer specifics, the canvas is entirely yours. You control the action.

      Like

      1. Oh shit yeah!

        Actually, this is not a bad idea for a base comparison. Who the hell are we to be critiquing others? Time to put the metal in the mold and the steel to the flame. I approve!

        Count me in the rotation following you.

        Like

  5. I don’t mean this as a rail against CS, but I think it’s unfortunate that any sci-fi build in that color scheme can’t escape the association. It makes it that much harder to stand on its own merits.

    As for the mech having nowhere for the eye to rest, I agree and I think it’s a fairly common problem. I blame the popularity of Transformers (the Michael Bay films, not the 80s toy franchise). I can’t even tell what I’m looking at in those movies. Scrap metal?

    Like

    1. I couldn’t agree more with about the Michael Bay Transformers. Those are some of the worst robot designs I’ve ever seen. After a long day of public hours at a con, I often feel like shouting “They’re not Transformers! Jesus, people, not every giant robot you see is a Transformer!” at the next child or parent to point at my MOCs and say “Oooh, look, Transformers”.

      Like

      1. I loved it when we had a bus stop set in the near future labelled Bus Stop in Bucharest and people asked if this was Hunger Games. Yes, yes ma’am. This was that scene when they were all waiting at a bus stop. You sure nailed it, good eye!

        We also had the issue on the same build of people asking if it was an airport, again in spite of it being labelled Bus Stop in Bucharest, because there was a SINGLE Rutherford ambulance VTOL on one of the roofs. Yes, yes ma’am. All the planes are in hangars or flight at the moment. You nailed it again, not much gets by your keen eye!

        Bay movies remind me of modern pinball machines, they’re loud and obnoxious, blinding and impossible to visually understand, and then it’s thankfully over and you consider it money well spent because you’re not going back.

        Like

      2. Ted Andes and I got that with our tech west speeder bike rally. “Look, Mom! Podracers!” I think people don’t realize that we build in non-licensed sometimes.

        Like

      3. That Tech West Rally deserved more love! Considering the short time you guys took to make it AND BE DISTINCT FROM THE DAMN PODRACERS was incredible. I loved walking the floor with Ted, you should join in next time!

        Great example of the preconceived notions and biases of the general public. It’s as if their brains can’t fully fathom the possibility of an original idea. Or something not labeled as property of Michael Bay/George Lucas/Steven Spielberg/James Cameron/current hack with a shit ton of money and complete indifference to plots. stories, and characters.

        Like

      4. Well, that was really Ted’s baby; I only contributed a few vehicles here and there. He was responsible for all the buildings and 90% of the speeder bikes.

        I think I lost track of Ted and any other familiar faces during that “lights out” event. I heard about the fun you guys had after the fact and I’d definitely like to join in next time. I’m out of the country now, but I should be able to make it next year if I play my cards right.

        Like

    2. The color scheme is tragic because the blue and grey work fantastically together. I’m currently building a SHIP that will be primarily blue and grey but I refuse to use the trans yellow because it is such an awful color. But I am going to have to deflect the zealotry to a certain extent because it will have an LL designation. I just can’t use that yellow, it’s terrible.

      Like

    3. You and me both, brother, I dig giant robots but those things hurt my head. Over-detailed, always in motion…it gives me a headache trying to figure out what they are supposed to look like. I’m glad to see that style went away, for a few years it was in every sci-fi movie.

      Like

  6. I’d sign up for the rotisserie, but seeing as I’ve built exactly one MOC this year (that is posted online, anyways), I don’t know that it would be that exciting. It does happen to be in your house though, Keith, so if you want to take a crack at me feel free. Might be interesting since you have it on-hand, you could really shred me.

    As for this mech, I agree that the color scheme predispositions the MOC in a way that is unfair; outside of the builder’s control. Classic Space was after my time as well, and I don’t understand the bias. Growing up in the Blacktron 1 / MTron / SP 1 era (and beyond), I don’t have hard-set opinions on those themes (even though I have much reverence for them) and I don’t feel as though I’m super-fanatical regarding them, the way that some Classic Spacers are. I find your critique otherwise spot on, as well as Rutherford’s insights.

    I really appreciate this series, and again, loving the format you’re getting to here on the Manifesto. Regular articles, establishing series…everything is working well.

    Like

    1. Dude! The firetruck would make for a lousy edition of Constructive Criticism, it’s just about flawless, and you know it bitch! I will hear no false modesty about the fire truck, there is nothing to shred, with the single possibility of the studded floor boards on the inside of the cab.

      Big Gulp

      I’ll keep you in mind though, next time you build something you’re in the queue! Thanks for the feedback on the blog, I’m stoked to know you find it entertaining. It’s still a work in progress but I think we’re headed in the right direction.

      Like

  7. All the comments about growing up AFTER CS are making me feel old. Or like I’ve made some poor life choices. Actually, that last one’s a given. And so is the first. Maaaatango!

    Like

    1. I grew up with it, sort of, I remember my rich cousin had multiple copies of the entire series of sets and it covered his bedroom floor. I really hated my cousin so my hatred of all things CS is probably linked.

      Like

  8. Suicide Squad is David Ayer’s conglomeration of villains that doesn’t spread the love. It’s a hit and miss with this 2 hour trek though Midway City. On one hand, the pace is on the quicker side. On the other hand, the pieces of the plot don’t mesh nicely together.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s