MOC: “Forager” Mech at a Garden Party

“Forager” class mechs are heavily used by the Classics as a light enforcement tool. Protesters? Send in a Forager. Hostage crisis? Send in a Forager. Drug smugglers? Send in a few Foragers. Tax evasion? Send in a Forager… OK, maybe not then. Maybe…

Due to their overpowered legs they are capable of some impressive feats; jumps of 20 meters for example, or parachute-less deployment from over 100 meters and a ground movement speed of around 150 kph. Thus they get used for many odd jobs, but they excel at light enforcement, reconnaissance and anti-infantry roles.

Unlike many larger mechs they don’t have a separate “head” or true “arms”. For this reason there are sensors in the “chin” and rear, and light manipulators capable of carrying around 100kg are equipped to reduce the need of the pilot to exit the safety of the cockpit.

Weaponry varies according to the role, but common equipment are missile pods either side for anti-armour, twin machine guns aiming up for anti-air duties, and another machine gun and grenade launcher for anti-personnel. Against an anti-armour mech Foragers will generally do hit-and-fade attacks; their armour is strictly designed to handle small arms and a single hit (via either physical or weaponry) will result in the loss of the unit. Foragers do not have an escape system either.

Even so, pilots usually like piloting Foragers, and races are organised regularly. In this role the missile pods are normally removed.

On the subject of this photo, it’s unclear what’s going on here. The Classics refused to give an official image, so these one were sourced via a contact. This could be a terrorist camp attack, or it could be just that the pilot wasn’t invited to a party and decided to do something about it. What happens next is also unclear; the pilot may have gone home after he grabbed the croissant, but that turkey looks mighty tempting….

MOC comments

The story of this MOC is long and complex. Hinckley from Eurobricks asked me about 2 years ago to make something for Brickworld. He asked one thing, I read another, and I made the wrong thing. I then got caught up in details, didn’t like them, and then moved house twice. Last month I decided I’d finish this, and a few weekends back I did!

It uses a lot of parts from the Midgard Serpent in 7018; using these parts was part of my personal challenge for this MOC.

The head is used as the base, and the back is the cockpit. I then made something around that. When that was roughly finished, I then went onto the legs. At that point I made a silly decision; I want suspension! I then messed around for a bit but never made anything that I liked so the project was “shelved”. (Actually boxed.)

But in the end I did make something I was happy with. My main issue at the time was that I wanted it to be reasonably compact, strong, and smooth. After about 20 prototypes I ended up with this. Here it is uncompressed….

…and compressed.

(This will be used as a De-Classic-Space MOC.)

Space Update Episode 4: Shuttle Sadness

“supposedly regular” eh? In any case…


Discovery has been retired. It’s last mission it seem is a trip to the Smithsonian Institute. It’s a logical call since she’s the oldest and has been the most active orbiter, but it’s sad news just the same. As much as I am opposed to the retirement of the shuttles, the fact is Discovery and Atlantis are in need of major refurbishments. Personally I think they should get them, but at this time it seems to not be an option. Atlantis is due for one more mission prior to being sent to a museum (no decision yet as to which one). Endeavour also has one mission left (the now second last one), but she was refitted in 2005 so there’s no hurry to retire her.

My preference is to make two+ new orbiters with minimal upgrades (new computers, chairs… the kind of stuff that doesn’t require too much testing) and keep the fleet active for another 10+ years as is. During that time a new booster and launch method could be developed to reduce costs. (Electromagnetic rail boosters for example.) That tech could then be used on the next new shuttle and then we’d at last have a good system. To retire the shuttle now when it’s been so useful and has taught the world so much would be rather insane.

Dreaming I might be, but it’s not impossible; there are some proposals to extend the program for another five years to fill the gap. I’m not convinced five years would be enough, nor am I convinced that Atlantis will last that long without a major refit, but it could be a good start. The fact is Soyuz is the only other active vehicle, and it’s due for a replacement as well, and… it’s a lot smaller.

Space Shuttle vs Soyuz

As a final point, it’s important to note that even after being donated, NASA still can (and has) taken back things on display for use again.

…and in old news

X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle Returned on the 3rd of December last year after over six months in orbit. No released details of her mission due, but there’s been plenty of speculations. My favorite is testing the ability to track from orbit hypersonic craft; the Hypersonic Test Vehicle 2 (also funded by DARPA) was launched with similar timing. A second X-37B launch occurred on the 5th of March using the second prototype. No details on this one either…

IKAROS Passed Venus on 8th of December last year, and thus its primary mission is now over. There is a similar mission in progress now called NanoSail-D2.

COTS Falcon 9 is making good progress; a second launch with the Dragon orbital capsule was a success. The next flight will involve a ISS approach, and possibly even a docking. This should be around the mid year mark. Taurus II has still yet to launch; it’s due to do so in the next few months.

Hayabusa Samples have been confirmed but not much analysis has been done at this stage as they are still working out the best way to transfer and test the particles.

The Bogfloater

For years many people laughed at the idea of a floating dump truck. “Why would someone want that? The power needed to lift any heavy machinery like that would make it impractical. Wheels are a far better solution.”

But everything changed when Talrtre 4 was discovered. It was a vast planet that was a virtual gold mine of everything; uranium, rare isotopes, jewels the size of heads, methane, gold… everything was there for the taking. But the problem was that less than 1% of the planet had a surface; the rest was a vast bogland of riches, a bogland that was highly destructive to metals and ceramics.

At first people were happy with just sucking up from the side of the small islands on Talrtre 4, but it was soon found that the islands for some reason repelled most of the better resources; a better solution needed. One day a thrill seeker was testing out a new floater-bike and he strayed over the boglands by mistake. Instantly his floater shot up in the air, and he was never seen again. This tragic incident led to some research and it was found that the vapours from the boglands increased the efficiency of most floaters by 500%! Thus the concept of floating refineries was born.

It was soon realised that a way for transporting the processed goods to the spaceports was needed, so reluctantly tenders were put out for a floating dump truck. In under a day most truck companies revealed that they had a design ready, but none wanted to discuss why they had one made already.

Today Talrtre 4 is covered with thousands of floating dump trucks, colloquially known as Bogfloaters. (Not to be confused with floating bogs…)

Boring notes from reality land

I bought 7344 soon after my return to the light… but it didn’t take long for me to start regretting it. It doesn’t fit into towns at all, so it was shelved fast. Re-building it into a space-dump-truck occurred to me a year later! Aside from the black beams at the bottom it only uses parts from the set. It’s currently in semi-broken state but the concept is so silly yet semi believable that I plan to re-work it.

Oxygen is for losers!

There’s been much discussion about the possibility of the origin of life on Earth being outside our solar system lately, and that’s one of the goals of the New Horizons mission.

Aside from being the first probe to actually visit Pluto (50 days till the half way point; 1780 days to go!) its secondary mission is to scout out, and hopefully flyby some Kuiper belt objects. (The Kuiper belt is the area where Pluto and other dwarf planets are found. It is believed that there are many thousand objects in that area, totaling around the mass of Earth.) It is from here that some of the local comets could come from (recent research points to the much further out and sparser Scattered disc being the source of most), and some believe that on these are ancient microbes. (It’s possible that Pluto could too; this is to be tested.)

These ideas have been given some strong support recently; on the ISS there was a recent experiment where some microbe samples were placed outside the station and given no protection. (The Van Allen belt would have offered some protection, but I digress.) 553 days later they were brought in…

…and some were still alive! It does make me wonder; if life can continue in space then why not Mars or Jupiter? Maybe the spacecraft hunting worm from Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back isn’t so implausible afterall!

Space Update Episode 3: Hayabusa

After 7 years in space, the Japanese asteroid probe Hayabusa returned with what hopefully is a good sample of Itokawa. Finding out if this is the case will take some time as they JAXA are being extremely careful to avoid contamination, which all things considered is smart. Some scientists believe that life on Earth could have come from the asteroids and thus the results could be quite astounding… or rather disappointing if there is nothing there. (No full samples are believed to have been taken, but some dust is possible.) In any case the mission has been a success considering how pioneering it was and how much techniques have been tested. I’ll be eagerly awaiting news on this one!

…and in old news

IKAROS In transit to Venus. The sail deployed on the 10th of June.

COTS Next Falcon 9 launch is scheduled for later this year. No exact dates as of yet. The first launch seems to be largely successful, however the 1st stage booster was not recovered as planned due to a parachute failure. Since it’s supposed to be re-usable this could be a minor setback. The other entrant in the COTS program, Orbital Sciences Corporation, has a launch planned in March 2011 with Taurus II.

Love Space Ship: Happy Birthday Coll!

What’s better than the Love Boat? Why a Love Space Ship! This being ours it has some special features including side-by-side seating, a control system that requires both of us to work together for the ship to more, an excessive amount of controls, and a triple screen computer with a high speed link to the latest Manga. (Sadly there’s no room for much LEGO on the ship, but most of the time it’s going to a store to buy some…)


Range: Infinite. Love has no boundaries
Speed: Infinite. Love has no limits.
Endurance: …I’m sure you get the idea!

I wanted to make this to celebrate my wife’s birthday, but I only had a few hours to make it so I cheated by taking a design of a heart I found on Brickshelf made by maskatron, I then reversed it and “cut out” the inside. I wanted to make something like this for our 10th anniversary, but I didn’t have the time. Today I still didn’t have the time… but I made this anyway! I quite like how it turned out; I’ll have to put some more work into it later! (It needs more thrusters…)

The Falcon Flies!

After much delays the Falcon 9 has successfully reached low earth orbit!

It is funny though as a few days ago SpaceX seemed to discourage people being overly expectant of a success;

It’s important to note that since this is a test launch, our primary goal is to collect as much data as possible, with success being measured as a percentage of how many flight milestones we are able to complete in this first attempt. It would be a great day if we reach orbital velocity, but still a good day if the first stage functions correctly, even if the second stage malfunctions. It would be a bad day if something happens on the launch pad itself and we’re not able to gain any flight data.

If we have a bad day, it will be disappointing, but one launch does not make or break SpaceX as a company, nor commercial spaceflight as an industry. The Atlas rocket only succeeded on its 13th flight, and today it is the most reliable vehicle in the American fleet, with a record better than Shuttle.

I tried to confirm that statistic but according to me Atlas was successful on the fourth launch so I wasn’t sure what he was actually referring to. In any case Atlas is a bad example as the ones used now has nothing in common with the original SM-65 Atlas used for the Mercury missions. In fact the current Atlas V even has some Russian engines!

But, even though I’m not a fan of the COTS program, I’m still happy that this mission was a success. I’ll be looking out for Flight 2.

Space Update Episode 2: Hypersonic Voyager


While it’s progressing at a crawl, hypersonic flight research does continue. The X-51 WaveRider had a test flight on the 26th, flying at over 5,500 km/h (3500 mph) for about 200 seconds. (This was short of the planned 300.) This isn’t a practical demonstration by a long shot; it’s a one off and disposable (not even a parachute) missile that has to be launched while in flight (via a B-52), and it needs a booster to then get it to Mach 4.5 prior to the scramjet working. But it’s still great news, and a huge step towards a single stage to orbit craft.

Interestingly this project has DARPA funding as well…

Voyager 2

Surprising Voyager 2 made news recently with an interesting glitch; it seemed to be talking differently than expected. Trekkies around the world we probably fearing a V’ger like occurance, but it all turned out being a single bit that was fixed with a simple reset. Darn?

…and in old news

X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle Still in orbit, believed to be on a test reconnaissance mission.

IKAROS In orbit preparing for sail deployment prior to a Venus transit.

COTS The Falcon 9 is still going nowhere. June 2?

10213 Shuttle Adventure: Update

Full details are available now.

10213 Shuttle Adventure

Ages 16+
1,204 pieces
US $99.99 CA $129.99 UK £ 79.99 DE 89.99 €

Blast off on an outer space mission!

Standing 17.5″ (44cm) tall and 10″ (25.5cm) from wing tip to wing tip, this detailed and realistic space shuttle is ready to count down and blast off on its next exciting mission into space! You can take off from the launch pad, separate the detachable fuel tank and booster rockets, and deploy the satellite with unfolding antenna and solar cell panels. Shuttle model features realistic engines, retractable landing gear, an opening cockpit with seats for 2 astronauts, opening cargo compartment with a crane that can hold the satellite and a ground maintenance vehicle. Includes 3 minifigures: 1 male and 1 female astronaut, as well as 1 service crew member.

*Includes 3 minifigures: 1 male and 1 female astronaut as well as 1 service crew member!
*Features realistic engines, retractable landing gear, opening cockpit with seats for 2 astronauts and even a ground maintenance vehicle!
*Take off from the launch pad!
*Separate the detachable fuel tank and booster rockets!
*Deploy the satellite with unfolding antenna and solar cell panels!
*Open the cargo compartment to reveal the crane that can hold the satellite!
*Shuttle Adventure stands 17.5″ (44cm) tall and measures 10″ (25.5cm) from wing tip to wing tip!

If you want more there’s also a LEGO 10213 Shuttle Adventure video and loads of great discussion on Eurobricks.

New set; 10213 Space Shuttle!

It’s a dream come true! At last there’s a new LEGO Shuttle… and this one looks the best yet! I missed the others due to being in my “Dark Ages” and I’m not going to miss this one. A lot of the classic ones were too small, and the others were not designed for mini-figs. But supposedly this one is!

Sure some sizes are a bit wonky (the ET, External Tank, is too small for one) but it’s hard to do it perfectly at this scale. I love how they included the top level of the launcher platform; it’s the perfect way to display it. Any lacking in detail don’t really concern me; this has all the parts needed to build a shuttle at this scale (especially the ET) and anything extra would be fun to make yourself. I’d love to make satellites to scale! Those “fairings” at the rear wing root are wrong so I bet it has a working rear undercarriage there. I don’t like the red trans pieces on the rockets; the OMS (Orbital Maneuvering System) isn’t used at the same time as the SSMEs (Space Shuttle Main Engines) and…

…they burn almost clear. (The “waste” of the SSME is just water.) But that’s easily fixed too! This is the set of the year!