The Siren Song of SHIPtember 2016 [Volume 2 of 4]

Today is September 8th and I’m already falling behind schedule on Matango!  I made the admittedly strange choice to begin with the legs, and it’s been an uphill battle from there.  The conventional wisdom, as Simon indicated in his recent SHIPtember article, is to begin with a sturdy Technic frame and build out.  My mind doesn’t work that way though, I have a tendency to start from weird places, like building a temple from the roof down.  And as for the Technic frame, I’ve managed to build 4 SHIPs over the years and not one of them has used a Technic frame.  I’ve got nothing against them, or the people who use them, the proof is in the results, the process works and has resulted in some of the best SHIPs in the community armada.  My plan is to use a Technic frame at some point, but not until I know how big the entire vessel is going to be, and not until I have some of the major features roughed out.  I’ll connect everything at the end, which is probably a shitty plan that will leave many of you shaking your heads, but I’m a special snowflake and this is how I roll.

So after I finished prototype of the leg, I duplicated the leg and began a Bricklink order for the parts I need to make them entirely orange.  Once the legs were finished I wasn’t sure what to tackle next so I picked what I thought was the easiest feature to replicate, the huge octagonal cargo containers.  My initial design was two studs wider and the pattern on the door looked better, or more like the concept art in any case. I was pretty happy with them at first, and they fit snugly enough that I didn’t have to brick them in, which could pay off later by allowing for a photo of the cargo container open. However, when I compared the containers to the legs it was very clear they were just too wide and I had to make an adjustment.  The containers are hollow except for one beam that runs across the center from top to bottom.  There are no matching rear doors at this time, but I have the parts on hand to replicate them if need be.  I’m still not convinced I’ve got the dimensions of the containers quite right, but I’m done tweaking it for now.  I still have no idea how to treat the back of the ship, the concept art leaves that entirely to my imagination, which is kind of liberating within the broader concept of trying to recreate another person’s design.

As promised in Volume 1, here is my first Bricklink order, placed a couple of days ago and apparently it has already shipped from Illinois.  I mentioned a projected budget of $60 and I bragged about being good at sticking to my budget…because I’m an idiot.  Clearly I’ve already crushed the projection and I’ve already started looking at a second order from a different vendor.  I have a lot of orange, I’ve been collecting it for years, but not nearly enough to satiate hungry Matango!


The next section I tackle will be the nose, it’s probably my least favorite feature of the design so I’ll probably take some liberties there too.  I want to figure out how wide Metango is going to be, so I can start adjusting some of the proportions and begin figuring out a frame.  Feel free to leave me your sage advice and well-earned mockery in the comments, your feedback is always valued at the Manifesto.

The votes have been tallied and the official theme song of SHIPtember 2016 is…

Wish me luck, constant reader, I will certainly need it.  These challenges all come down to time management and how I decide to split my free time between the blog and the SHIP will make all the difference.

17 thoughts on “The Siren Song of SHIPtember 2016 [Volume 2 of 4]

  1. Curious how you are going to tackle the nose. I didn’t have much issue with it. It is flat and honest, like a cab over engine truck, or a tugboat. Sleek and dishonest vehicles with more aerodynamic noses that come to mind are F1 racers and the Ferrari FXX. I like to think that this SHIP is rugged and hardworking, all the while blasting Earth, Wind and Fire on its (perhaps illegal) cargo runs. I do hope you add on a speaker system ala Mad Max Fury Road.

    On that thought, a recent trend in larger vehicles is to add on motorized functions and aftermarket lighting. It is beyond the scope of this project, but it would be neat to add on a small music player to this beast, allowing one to play September, Boogie Wonderland, and other fan favorites.

    Another observation, this one technical, is how the legs will support the weight of the SHIP. Larger mecha occasionally need an unfortunately placed pole to support their weight, as their legs cannot do it alone. On top of that, these legs have wheels as feet, like a Tachikoma. Hopefully they don’t splay out on you during final integration of the upper half.

    I sincerely wish you the best of luck with the Matango! This blog is the best thing to Lego since cheese slopes.


    1. I’m curious how I”m gonna handle the nose too, so far it isn’t going so well, and I’m considering abandoning the nose from the source art and going in my own direction, There simply are not enough hinges and slopes available in orange to make it work, at least not with my skill-set. I hadn’t considered an external speaker system, but I’ll give it some thought, it would look pretty cool on a ship like this.

      If I was taking this beast to a convention I’d definitely look into adding sound and light. I have an old Iphone that would easily fit into one of the hexagonal cargo pods, so I could rock Earth Wind and Fire. Good call!

      The legs will definitely be a challenge and I’m considering adding two legs to the mix, I think it will add more support and make it look a little more like a beetle, which is cool. I’m trying to avoid that nasty support pole boilerplate, it would take away from the entire vibe. The tires don’t actually turn, the axle is fixed so the wheels shouldn’t be too much of a disadvantage.

      Thanks for the well wishes, and the props for the blog, I appreciate it!


  2. Keith, I’m a bit worried about your cargo box design, mainly that the sides are smooth. At least Mauro doesn’t show too much texture, but the way you’ve done it may essentially prevent you from attaching the legs to any meaningful structure. I’m sure you’ll redesign if necessary, but I see those containers as opportunities for some vital structural reinforcement. They could carry the forward cockpit and link to a structure near the tail. I think the way you have them now, as solitary units, will allow for some cool modularity, but push all the sturdy bricks into tight places.

    As a plus side, you designed some excellent caps. Though I wonder if on the original artwork they are meant to be airlocks.

    Do you know what Mauro designs his art for? Is it used in movies? Scrolling through his repertoire, that’s a webpage full of brilliance.


    1. The cargo boxes are probably the last thing I’m worried about, the smooth sides are easy to fix with some snot-bricks and such, I plan on adding a little texture later, after I figure out how to affix them to the frame….that I have not built yet. The legs will attach to the frame, not the boxes so I think I’m good there.

      I think they are supposed to be giant cargo pods, they would make for huge airlocks, but who knows? It kind of looks like there is a hinge on one side so I think the doors swing open. Mine, of course, will not.

      Mauro most famously designed ships and such for Elysium, which was almost a good movie. The visual were much better than the actual plot.


  3. Its good that you figured out the containers were too big now than later… haha 😉
    This is looking really nice so far though!
    I love the white on the legs, its adds some nice visual interest.
    I’m interested in how you’re going to do the air intakes on the sides, too.

    Best of luck to you dude!


    1. Indeed, Thanks Josiah! Those containers may still have to shrink by a stud or two, so I’m not sure “figured out” is the right word to use. Nothing about Matango is figured out. Maybe I should have made a Homeworld SHIP after all, it’s looking like a better choice all the time. I’m Not sure about those intakes yet but they seem like easy money compared to some of those compound slopes I’ve got to deal with eventually.

      I appreciate the encouragement dude, I’ll take all that I can get.


  4. I still have not built such a large ship, but basically I’m building exactly like you. First I resolve an exterior area and working my way up to the hull. The paths are different but the result still the same. I think everyone decides the best way for themselves. That’s the way


  5. I have similar tendencies when it comes to large builds… I often start with small details, and only start working on a frame once I think I have enough small details to fill/cover a frame.

    I’m really digging the Matango!, you’ve picked a cool looking design to base it on.


    1. It’s good to know I’m not the only one who builds that way, we’ll see how it goes on this scale. I know it can work, but I’m not sure it’s the best approach for a 30 day challenge. Thanks for the comment!


  6. When running behind, crank up the EW&F and everything will be alright!

    Love the boxes, VAk is spot on regarding an opportunity to add structure there. With those legs splaying out you’ll need direct support underneath because this thing will weigh quite a bit. That’s the nice thing about a technic frame is that it’s structural and light rather than the normal masonry style of additive building. And cantilevering can only go so far with clutch power.

    I love how Juan described the nose like a cab over. The Matango! is a utilitarian truck, not an F1. Celebrate the bulky! Celebrate the orange!



    1. I totally agree with you and VA, I’m just not ready for the frame yet, I’m working on establishing the basic wingspan and the cockpit now, and the frame will come next. Matango is Matango! and no single adjective can really describe it. Matango!


    1. Even on the little stuff? That’s interesting. In all these years of building I don’t think I’ve ever used a Technic frame for anything. I have plenty of Technic parts but I tend to use them in a purely decorative way. I have nothing against them, I’ve just never really taken the time to explore the possibilities.


      1. Well, “little” compared to SHIPs. I don’t work out from a frame or anything like that. I just find it’s usually stronger than system when dealing with relatively heavy assemblies with only one or two connection points. There’s a lot of Technic in the tech west stagecoach, for example.


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