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 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.
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.
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.
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