8 June 2014

Speedorz reborn

I'm examining one of the brand new Speedorz sets today, which you may think strange since I usually tend towards discussing parts that are more universal in their applications. But I couldn't resist because a) these new Speedorz have a lot of new parts for such tiny sets and b) some of the parts are really useful, or could prove really cool in the right hands.



The LEGO® Group made one of their occasional Customer Service database updates at the start of this month, which is always exciting news for a geek like me. Huw Millington over at the incredible resource that is Brickset imports this data into his database of parts, instructions and inventories... and lo, I've got a tidal wave of plastic to discuss with you. One of the first new parts to catch my eye was this tiny Technic connector.


It is a single pin hole with a pin projecting at 90° and comes in Black (Element ID 6073231 | Design ID 15100). It's absolutely obvious this is going to be an incredibly useful and common piece. But if you'd like proof of that, consider that it's already being used in ten sets this summer! Five of these ten are the Speedorz sets, and once I'd seen how many other new parts these sets offer I just had to get my hands on one. After some deliberation over inventories, I chose 70150 Flaming Claws.

Speedorz are pocket money sets introduced in 2013's Chima range, containing racing cycles based around a flywheel with a rip cord. I say "pocket money"... in fact they're very expensive for such low piece counts; Flaming Claws has 74 parts for US$12.99/GB£9.99. But that's because they're full of specialised and complex parts.


For summer 2014 the cycles have received quite a makeover. The new parts are smaller, less fussy, and have greater potential for alternate uses. First of all: the all-important flywheel assembly. Shown above is the 2013 version on the left and 2014 on the right, in lovely Trans-Orange [BL]/Trans. Bright Orange [TLG] (Element ID 6073456 | Design ID 15336). It has lost the irritating plate sticking out of one end (which used to seat the minifig) and the Technic housing surrounding the flywheel has been mirrored at either end, leaving a more compact and symmetrical shape for this part. One aspect of symmetry has been lost, however, as can be seen in the side view.


Other changes are less obvious until you start building. The Technic pin holes now sit horizontally instead of vertically - as does the hole for the rip cord. Repositioning the rip cord like this makes a lot of sense, as you're now aligning it in the direction of travel instead of perpendicularly. With the old Speedorz, you had to hold it well away from the floor initially to make space for the ripcord, plus you were left staring downwards at the cycle as it shot off - now you're actually looking the right way, and can pull the ripcord whilst holding the cycle close to the floor. The cog of the flywheel is now housed less openly; I have no idea if this is a change suggested for health and safety reasons... more likely, they've placed it in a housing to make it more obvious where to insert the rip cord. I for one often got confused with the old version! Also new, of course, is the flywheel's tyre in Orange [BL]/Bright Orange [TLG], as is the ripcord (Element ID 6064985 | Design ID 11126).


There are also two axle holes in the new design. In Flaming Claws, one is used to attach the Olive Green printed shell (Element ID 6071606 | Design ID 17462) that decorates and covers the flywheel assembly. These shell parts used to be a lot fiddlier, with pin holes and studs, and generally were a strange shape with a gaping hole in the centre that made it near useless for anything other than a Speedorz cycle. The new shell has a clean shape and can be used as a mask... or perhaps for a xenomorph in a new Alien franchise film I just dreamt up where the Croc Tribe go into space. Aliens v Crocadors?


The other axle hole attaches to the stand for the minifig; another new part. On the 2013 version, minifigs were unceremoniously sandwiched firmly in between the flywheel assembly and the shell. This was necessary to ensure they didn't dislodge during play - these Speedorz shoot off like a Chestburster at a John Hurt dinner party. Problem being, you had to remove the shell whenever you wanted to retrieve your minifig. The new solution is far more elegant... and gives us what could be a useful part for other builds.


It's a sort of J-shaped bracket with an axle hole (Element ID 6069867 | Design ID 15104). The minifig stands inside with the small divider pushing between its legs; but what holds the minifig securely in place are two small semicircular bumps. They're super-clever. If you face the minifig forwards, the straight bottoms of the bumps clip over the top of the toes and if you face the minifig backwards, the rounded edges of the bumps clip into the rear leg holes to do the work. And they work HARD; your minifigure is not leaving one of these in a hurry. In fact, they're a little tough to get out until you figure out the trick. I place my thumb underneath and my index finger on the small depression projecting at the back, and bend the stand back whilst lifting the minifig out with my other hand. Clearly a lot of thought has gone into this design and I think that despite only having the single point of connection, it could find its way into our builds, and perhaps even other official sets - it works quite nicely in my adaptation of the crane from 60026 Town Square. This doesn't look safe, but we know it is.


The cycle is completed by some bizarre appendages that to me look like crustacean claws (Element ID 6069865 | Design ID 15101). Maybe this film is actually Aliens vs. Crocodors vs. Mega Lobster. Maybe failing to name the set 70150 Lobster Thermidor was a wasted opportunity.

I feel the Olive Green of the cycle jars against the Trans-Orange of these eponymous claws, which look better with the colour schemes used in 70149 Scorching Blades, and better yet in Trans-Light Blue (Element ID 6065027) in 70156 Fire vs. Ice. The latter set, along with 70151 Frozen Spikes, also has the flywheel assembly (Element ID 6073455) and minifig stand (Element ID 6069866) in Trans-Light Blue.

This seems an appropriate moment to list some other appendages making their first appearances in Chima this summer. Attached to the Speedorz cycles in 70155 Inferno Pit and 70151 Frozen Spikes are some rather nice wings with pin hole connectors in Trans-Orange (Element ID 6070945 | Design ID 15105) and Trans-Light Blue (Element ID 6065024) respectively... perhaps Fairy Bricks could make good use of these. In fact it seems LEGO are obsessed with wings as well as all those claws; Chima's Constraction subtheme uses this large new multicoloured wing with an axle hole connector in 70211 CHI Fluminox (Element ID 6076585 | Design ID 15370) and 70210 CHI Vardy (Element ID 6074650).

Given I'm more impressed with those sweet wings than the lobster claws, you may wonder why I chose to buy Flaming Claws over the other Speedorz. That's because it has another new part; which once again is functional and very specialised - but it's fun. Strangely, this is the only set using it so far.


Two of these weird Red [BL]/Bright red [TLG] thingies (Element ID 6065019 | Design ID 15108) are joined together with a Technic pin to create a hinge. The ugly groove is there to hold a rubber band, creating a trap when the hinge is opened that snaps shut when the central hinge is poked. The rest of the part is nearly identical to part 2817, the 2X2 modified plate with pin holes underneath, except that one of the pin holes is an axle hole. The trap is then decorated with huge claws that resemble a Facehugger. Yeah I know clearly I'm obsessed with Alien today... but they do. And it's creepy.



The idea is that you shoot your cycle over a small (but attractive I must say) ramp to avoid the Facehugger and hit the target. The target is basic but has great elements; a multicoloured ball sits in the new 2X2 inverted dome in Red, with a base made of a 3X3 dish in Flat Silver [BL]/Metallic Silver [TLG] which has only previously appeared in 70132 Scorm's Scorpion Stinger earlier this year.

Conclusion


I've only bought a couple of Speedorz sets in the past, so can't comment with much authority about how the gameplay compares. But I can say that Flaming Claws is genuinely fun, although I found it more fun to land on the Facehugger trap than to hit the target. If you've never handled a Speedorz cycle, you'll be surprised and excited by their speed. Arranging things to achieve the right trajectory takes a lot of trial and error and doubtlessly has some educational value in terms of awareness of physics. The 2014 revisions to the flywheel assembly are a triumph of common sense and make play much more enjoyable.

Although I'm not a fan of the Olive Green/Trans-Orange combo, I am very happy there's so much trans being used in this and the other Speedorz.

As a parts pack, this is more one for those of you who like to use wacky pieces in MOCs to elicit cries of "NPU!" The new Technic pin connector is obviously a fantastically useful part, but you're likely to own dozens of these in the near future. The hinge trap is fun, but I can't think of good uses in MOCs. I think the new minifig stand is the most interesting part here, in terms of possible wider use. It could be great for all kinds of vehicle cockpits.

The coolest part of all is still the flywheel assembly. Lots of people were very excited about its possible applications when the 2013 version first came out. However I've not come across many MOCs using it and am now finding them hard to locate... does anyone have any great examples? Hopefully this more compact alternative to the 2013 version will inspire some new MOCs.

17 comments:

  1. I think you've helped turn my opinion on these new Speedorz from negative to positive. When I saw the first pics of these new Speedorz from Toy Fair, I was far from impressed.

    For starters, the new shells were not nearly as pretty as the old ones. I still feel this way, to be honest — the two decorated sides on each of the old ones looked much more stylish than the decorated top/front of the new ones, and the decorations themselves felt more elegant — more like an ornate animal-inspired battle chariot than the character's face unnaturally plastered onto the front of a bulgy, vaguely animal-shaped plastic cover.

    Additionally, the switch from clever, diverse brick-built add-ons to specialized, repetitive Technic ones did not impress me one bit. Ten years ago I might have been thrilled with the Technic compatibility of these add-ons, since I've always been a fan of Technic-heavy constraction themes. Today, however, I've accumulated no shortage of brightly-colored giant Technic weapons, and these feel like they'd fit in with the worst of those: parts with very specialized, decorative shapes and just a single, difficult-to-use connection point.

    With that said, this review has helped me warm up to at least two parts I would not have previously given a second thought: the flywheel assembly and minifigure holder. These parts are brilliantly designed, and much more elegant and versatile than the previous flywheel assembly that they replace. The fact that a minifigure can clip into the holder both backwards and forwards proves that it was not designed with just a single, limited use in mind. And the improved symmetry of the flywheel assembly, as well as its reduction to a Technic element rather than an unwieldy Technic/System combination, should lead to lots of creative uses from the LEGO community in general and the constraction community in particular. I had never really been bothered by the way a rip cord was inserted into the old flywheel assembly, but I can recognize after your analysis that this is a big improvement. One advantage that you don't mention but which could be quite useful for MOCs is that you can now feed a ripcord through TWO flywheel assemblies placed one in front of the other, meaning you could potentially make a ripcord-powered bike with two wheels. So while I still can't help but prefer the older Speedorz sets to these new ones, it's clear that there has been a lot of thought put into making the parts more versatile, much as with the Ninjago spinner redesign that took place between 2011 and 2012.

    The "trap" is neat as well. Back when constraction was in its infancy, I owned this Cyber-Slam set ("Competition" to most of the world, but America apparently needed a theme name with more action and futuristic imagery). The scorpions in that set seemed to operate under a similar principle, but it was used slightly differently: when you hit the targets on their tails with a Technic dart, they'd fly into the air and seize up like a dead spider. Of course, since they had no connection points of any kind, this feature was more dramatic than it was useful. The new trap appears to have usefulness in spades, and I can only imagine how it might be used for MOCs and sets in the future!

    I still don't intend to get any of these Speedorz sets, but I can at least now appreciate the changes in their design better than I could from pictures alone.

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    1. Good point, that the decoration was much better previously. I can see your point about the shape too; the old one was very interesting. I wondered if they could be used as gargoyles on a church :O) Would need to be a very large church though...

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    2. Yeesh you weren't kidding about their faces being plastered onto those goofy looking tubs! I like the shape of the parts, those look useful for animal mechs or who knows what, but the printing on the others is really off putting.

      I have to say though, I for one am happy to see more technic based parts from these. That means easier integration into a wider variety of builds as Technic is not that difficult to integrate back into system, while system by itself is trickier to integrate back into technic/constraction. I think this was a smart move on their part(s).

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  2. I think those strange hinge pieces might find an application as a very tiny suspension system for cars, although having a axle hole on one side makes that a bit hard... As for the flying wheel, I'm surprised that no one has made a gyroscope with it yet. And there should be many applications like mini replicas of steam engines...

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    1. Fascinating idea.
      You could put a half axle/half pin in one side and a regular pin in the other?

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  3. i tryed to use the old flywheel and shell in some moc, but it's really hard.. the new ones look much better. And what about using that claw things as a canopy for little spaceship?

    I'm just not very much a fan of all those wings. TLG is making a ton of variations, too many in my opinion

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  4. I tried building a mecha with the old flywheel and it turned out horribly. If I can track down the new sets at a decent price I'll give them a try.

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  5. I also had one of the CyberSlam sets (here in 'Murica), the Robot's Revenge. Unlike the spiders, when you hit the target on this one it would race toward you and snatch its claws around you-a pretty cool set. It's nice to see this kind of play feature come back, even if I don't 'play' any more.

    As for the new wheel attachment and such, I would think the biggest advantage would be the rip cord placement. I took my 5-yr old to the local Lego Store when it opened last year and they had some Speedorz out to play with. He thought they were fun at first, but got frustrated when he couldn't work them easily. I know he falls outside the express age group for these sets, but honestly I had a bit of trouble too.


    For the time being, however, I don't own any of these. If they release them in trans-dark green, however, I will snatch them up in multiples. Seems like trans-light blue and -orange get all the love these days...

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  6. I believe the new lobster mitts are for a new kind of speedorz play.

    All the new speedorz sets seem to involve knocking a ball off a platform. The ball goes loose. Imagine two or three kids with lobster mitt speedorz. One of the speedorz knocks the ball loose. Then the kids run for their speedorz and maneuver frantically to capture the loose ball with their lobster mitts. Sounds like lots of fun to me.

    I think we owe the existence of the new 15100 pin piece to these speedorz.

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    1. Sounds like Hungry Hungry Hippos.

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  7. By Jove! That Technic pin...I've wanted that exact piece for at least a decade...I'm so happy!

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  8. I've used the old shells as hilt for swords/weapons for the larger chi sets. That turned out ok.

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  9. I'm rather surprised to see you do a speedorz set. TBH I don't have any and never got them. Though I've come super close several times when these things have gone on sale at countless locations. During the holiday season they were practically trying to give them away the discounts were so big. I have no lexicon for the old speedors but those parts look great in the new ones.

    I am one of those "use and unwieldy part to cry NPU" MOCers. You don't get any unwieldy-er than the 2007 Toa Mahri canister cover and I used one to make a futuristic Star Wars speedor inspired flying craft. So given that extend of my "find a weird part and use it for a different reason, this is a gold mine for me. I don't like the new head piece compared to the old ones. I have to agree with Scott about the covers. They felt much more "chariot' based than this goofy looking thing. But I'm highly intrigued by the part itself.

    I've never paid much mind to the speedorz in the past but this post has really put a flashlight on them and now I'll have to investigate the rest of the line to see what interesting parts could be beheld from them for MOCing purposes. :D

    Also, I love that you did a post on an action/adventure theme. Chima has grown to be my favorite theme in Lego since HF has been pretty mediocre and Chima has Constraction sets now. I've even gotten a few system sets out of intrigue to. I hope the theme carries on for another few years. Its yielded a lot of interesting parts and recolors. Definitely my favorite theme now. :D

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  10. I have a few sets that contain those 15100 pins, and I have to say, in some instances, sub-builds that use them are extremely difficult to remove without gnashing your fingers up. In one set, Ultra Agents' Infearno Interception, The 15100 pins are used to attach the front wheel assemblies, and are even more difficult to remove as the pins are situated on a 2-stud length lift arm (with axle and pin holes) right next to a pin connector with perpendicular axles, and then those two are JOINED together by a 2x2 plate with two pins underneath. I know this is not the piece's fault itself, but the design of the area, but when I was disassembling the Infearno set, it was very hard to separate the four parts that make up these sections (one for each side).

    Unable to attach a pic, but go to Lego's instructions for that set (pages 41 and 42), and you'll see what I mean: http://cache.lego.com/bigdownloads/buildinginstructions/6093658.pdf

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  11. How did you manage to attach the speedor shell to a minifig as a mask?
    Im intrigued , ive just tried it and we cant do itnat all.?

    Any chance of a tip ?

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    1. Sure... it was highly illegal and pretty rubbish though! I jammed the hole of 60483 onto the neck!

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