Thursday, September 21, 2006

Sitting on the Beach with Rusted Machines

I think it's too late for me now: I've turned into a full-on train geek. This adorable-as-shit little locomotive was CADded up by one Andreas Weissenburg, and I've kinda sorta become obsessed with it. Just look at the half-stud offset on that roof! However I am kind of disappointed that the windshield doesn't appear to be attached. Is this sort of behavior approved in train circles? Or is this a symptom of CAD: thinking you can get away with sketchy building? Nevertheless, I'll probably build my own version soon enough.

In continuation of tonight's theme, I've got an ostentatious dark green traincar for all you word-greedy readers. Mysterious European dagealka, whose train station I've previously blogged, has resurfaced after a few months with this latest offering. In what is rapidly becoming a signature style for this dagealka fellow, the traincar uses gratuitously byzantine schleim building techniques (surely as much to work around dark green's small part selection as to achieve the look). The schleim is so complex that I'm surprised he was still able to fit passengers. I wonder how long it would last on a train layout before shattering to bits.

"Sekiyama", Japan's freak-train impresario, has recently been playing with a rack-and-rail system for sloped train tracks. I haven't blogged any of Sekiyama's MOCs yet, and I've been meaning to: his ornate, shambling style strikes a chord with me, though I can't tell if it's baroque-y steampunk or a more organic, Wings of Honneamise-y style. His bizarre ornamentation and almost gleeful dearth of color-blocking is refreshing after being immersed in the ordered, precise western Lego community.

Sekiyama's rack-and-rail system uses the new technic motor in the engine and strategically placed technic gear racks on the train track. As he mentions on his blog, (robot translation here) there are a couple innate limitations with using just the motor with a 9v battery box. The most obvious is that it's either off or full-power, not exactly the best for navigating curves at odd angles in what looks to be a top-heavy train engine. The other flaw being that, as far as I can tell from Altavista's thoroughly pedestrian translation, the 9v battery isn't powerful enough and the six-AAA battery box is too heavy. What I don't understand is why Sekiyama didn't just use a proper train motor. It clears the technic racks just fine, and has the electric studs to hook a motor up. Bonus serendipity: the motors would both move at the same speed. He could even put it in a crocodile engine. Sekiyama seems to have thought of using the train motor, but from this phrase:

"Being if ultimately, the demon you can remodel the electricity possible wheel and 9V from the rail could supply, it does, but."

I can't tell if he was too impatient to test the model, or just too lazy to implement the train motor. However I should cut Sekiyama a little slack, as he's breaking new ground. As far as I can find out only two attempts have been made previously, one using a disgustingly non-lego solution. And Sekiyama's the first to attempt a rack-rail system with a curved track. I hope he works out all the kinks; this would be a great boon to train layouts.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Catastrophe Keeps Us Together

So I'm back to blogging after an unplanned 4-month hiatus (which coincidentally started when I figured out you could download animes off the internets. Fancy that!)


Celebrated mecha builder and official correspondant of the Mecha Hub's Japanese bureau, izzo, has once again made surfing Brickshelf worthwhile. His latest is a high mark in his industrial series of izmojuki-like civilian mechas. The new toy is a charmingly overcomplicated street sweeper, part-Lovecraft part-Snuffleupagus. The uncluttered color scheme deftly highlights the MOC's rich detailwork. That said, I'm almost disappointed that the iconic black and yellow striped tile was left out. It might have made it seem too busy, but I probably wouldn't have been able to resist its siren call. Oh, printed tiles, you control me utterly.

A far more mysterious Japanese builder, styling him/herself "sigezo" on Brickshelf, has done up a spectacular sculpture of the popular anime character, Keroro Gunsou of the anime named... Keroro Gunsou. I have caught a few episodes of the show, and it is as bizarre as it looks. The premise of the show, in short, is this: Sgt. Keroro and the frog-people make an abortive attempt to conquer Earth (or as he calls it, Pekopon), and his space fleet leaves him behind. He eventually freeloads off a generic middle-class Japanese family and collects Gundam models. Needless to say, otaku eat it right up. Good job, sigezo! De arimasu!

This next builder is so mysterious, I'm not even certain s/he's Japanese. Brickshelf's "kwi-chang" has improved rather dramatically in mere months. Kwi started from modest beginnings like anyone else, but it didn't take long for him to get good enough to rival some of the best mecha builders around. Did Kwi sell his soul for building talent? Is Kwi a secret group of builders operating under one name, like that odious coven of manga-witches, CLAMP? Well, from the way this Kwi character documents sets he bought, I'm going to guess it's pure purchasing power. Having enough brick to never have to compromise goes a long way towards making good MOCs, and Kwi has probably been steeped in the mecha otaku culture since birth, so it was probably inevitable he'd become a major-league mecha player. And so we have his new "Magatsuhi, version 1.5". The whole mech, while not colorblocked in the Mladen style, has a consistent design and solid detail. I'm also impressed with the combination of red and new trans-orange (trans-dark-orange?) as accent colors; it's a rare choice and it works well in this context. The thing I don't like? The huge, inflamed, missile launcher mecha-junk. Freudian and bad for balance? Wouldn't make it into production. Fuhgettaboutit.

P.S. Moko is colorblind. Fate can be so cruel.