12 July 2021

Old Elementary: Eero Okkonen's ball turret and deltoid

Posted by Admin
Eero Okkonen (on Instagram) continues his occasional series of articles today looking at techniques using specialised LEGO® parts he likes to put in his own creations. In previous articles he examined Windscreen 9x3x1 2/3 Bubble Canopy and Wedge 4x3 Cut Back with Cutout; then Wedge 4x3 Open with Cutout and the two 3x4x1 2/3 Curved Vehicle Mudguards. Today's selections, dating from the 1990s and 2000s, have no particular similarity other than being the kind of LEGO part that some people complain about being too specialised!

Cylinder Hemisphere 2 x 2 Ball Turret Socket Base (part 44358) and Cylinder Hemisphere 3 x 3 Ball Turret (44359)

Cylinder Hemisphere 2 x 2 Ball Turret Socket Bases, introduced in 2002 LEGO® Star Wars Episode II sets, are a deceptively useful part. They’re currently available in 37 sets, used mostly as ball turrets as their name suggests, but also as eyes, catapult buckets and pots. Although not common, the piece has received fairly regular appearances in sets and is still in use, last appearing in 2020’s 76153 Avengers Helicarrier. The most common colours are light bluish grey followed by reddish brown, but they have also appeared in old grey and old dark grey, dark blue, lime and tan. 

The original counterpart for the turret socket is Cylinder Hemisphere 3 x 3 Ball Turret (44359). “Cylinder” is quite strange category for BrickLink to have given this piece, which is essentially half of a 3x3x3 sphere (Rebrickable categorise it as a Dome and TLG a Ball). It is available in reddish brown, dark bley, old dark grey, dark orange, dark red and glow-in-dark trans. There’s also a white “eyeball” variant (44359pb01) which, quite interestingly, is used as a bowl in a Scala house in addition to being giant squid’s eye. It is also sometimes used as a bowl.

The ball socket has a weird pin/stud hole and four sort-of antistuds, and has some friction but not enough for limbs on large figures. It’s also hard to connect anything on the underside of 44359, which means the connection is limited to the weird connection points of ball’s surface, and these don’t enable any load-bearing connections.

However, 44359 is not the only piece that fits inside the socket. If you allow very slight stress to pieces (and in fact it’s impossible to fit the 44359 ball inside without stressing the socket temporarily), any round 3x3 part should fit inside. 

Examples above are the straw hat (93059), the 3x3 dish (43898) and minifigure utensil dish (6256). The 3x3 dish is the most versatile, with its bar-hole connection and stronger friction within the socket. The connection is also inside the joint, making it easier to set the limb inside the socket, like on my Dwarvish Dragonguard below. 

And for my Slalom Probemaster robot (2019), trans-yellow boat studs are connected inside the dishes to create goggle-like spotlights:

Using the old small smooth tyre (132) which appeared in sets from 1959 until 1977, you can connect smooth and small pieces like 2x2 dome pieces or 2x2 round bricks. 

Technic wedge belt wheel pulley (4185) fits, but stresses the socket a lot, so I wouldn’t recommend it. Steering wheel (30663) is very loose but makes for an interesting pattern. 

The full socket can also be connected inside the tree stump in old brown (30131) from 1997 Western sets; this connection, I believe, was spotted by Karf Oohlu several years ago.

However some 3x3 parts do not fit, including 3x3x2 cone (6233) and 3x3 dome (49308). The latter piece featured in one of our parts festivals back in 2019 and so you can get further inspiration about using this dome from Mansur “Waffles” Soeleman, Peter Ilmrud, myself as well as Andreas Lenander who was inspired to create 3 builds from it! 

Panel 3 x 5 Solar/ Clip-On/ Deltoid (30034)

One of  the 1990s weirdos is Panel 3 x 5 Solar/Clip-On/Deltoid (30034), which was produced in black and white from 1996 to 2000, originally for the Space subtheme Exploriens but followed by UFO and Roboforce, plus a special guest appearance in Star Wars 7171 Mos Espa Podrace. The piece is usually stickered with holographic chrome detail.

There is a vertical clip on the end and three antistuds on the bottom; the shape approximates a hexagon with sides slightly angled upward. The height on the sides is three plates and the piece is unusually five studs wide. 

Overall, it’s a thin and unusual piece, and I like it. It’s not anything technically amazing, but overlooked and rare in fan models. My applications include a clerical collar on Reverend Frantic (2018) and tucked-into-trousers shirt on Aurora Sievert (2020) above, as well as a neck-strap dress on Zinnia Superfuzz (2019) below:

READ MORE: Which new LEGO® sets contain the most new parts?

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  1. Surprised there’s no mention of using this turret base with, which was actually done in an official set: 10211 Grand Emporium! I suspect that this might be one of the most “legal” of these options, since it’s thinner than the edge of the 3x3 plate or parabolic dish, but not as fragile as the edge of the 3x3 conical hat.

    I definitely remember attempting numerous times to use the Exploriens panel on brick-built figures, even as far back as 2004/2005 before I’d even seen your amazing MOCs! But I was mostly attempting to use it for pleated skirts (for instance, on a “princess” character to accompany my Knights’ Kingdom 2 action figures), which never quite worked the way I wanted it to due to the part’s complex geometry. You have used it much more effectively in the various MOCs you’ve shared here, for types of clothing details that likely never would have occurred to me!

  2. Element #67095 (Tile 3x3 Round/Circle) fits #44358 and provides a 4 anti-stud (2x2) array and a 5 anti-between-stud (cross) array. However there is a very little angle of tilt available before the tile pops out.

    1. Thanks for testing! I love New E readers

    2. Good spot! I don't have any of those, so I couldn't try. Array of 3x3 round pieces is surprisingly large, and has been expanding recently.

  3. The deltoid piece was one of the many pieces I've thrown into a BrickLink purchase in the past. (If I'm buying something from a seller I usually trawl through the rest of their listings to see if anything catches my eye as a possible "I have no idea what I'd use this for but I'd be excited to find out!" piece, as well as to make the shipping more cost effective.) I ended up using one as the top of my brick-built Makuta head, since its overall shape and angular look made for an incredibly simple solution to that problem. Gotta love a good weird part.

  4. The number of pieces fitting inside the turret base is impressive for MOCing, although it seems that once shoved in, some of these would be near impossible to pull out again...?

    1. It is not very hard. The half-sphere piece designed as a counterpart, 44359, has the same 3x3 measurements than the pieces fitting inside on the photos. Popping full sphere (as in official sets) is harder than any of pieces in my experiments, save the pulley wheel, which is 1/2 module thick and stresses the turret base more - as I mentioned in the article. The pieces can turn inside the socket, and are easy to pull out once upright.

    2. For most of them as long as you can get the right leverage to tilt them perpendicular to the base, you ought to be able to pull them out. The housing is somewhat flexible by design.

  5. My parts are buried due to a house move, I am curious if any of these parts would also work with the 44358 ball socket:
    47576 Hockey Puck
    49135 Knob Wheel
    67325 Technic compact steering arm with 3 towballs.
    92910 Technic steering ball joint large with C-frame (and corresponding 92911)

    I'll absolutely try these myself but it might be a while before I can report back.

    1. Interesting ideas. Hockey Puck and Steering arm with 3 balls are too small; Knob wheel connects, but is very loose. I don't have 92910, but it would be very interesting to hear about its geometry!