11 August 2022

Space Tools Parts Fest: Caz Mockett

Posted by Caz Mockett

We're challenging our team of astro-engineers to create original LEGO® models using 'Space Tools' - the minifigure accessories found in Classic Space sets.

I chose to take a look at part 4360: Minifigure, Utensil Camera with Side Sight (Space Gun) which made its debut in black in two 1982 space-related releases, 6880 Surface Explorer and 6950 Mobile Rocket Transport.

The following year this iconic part appeared in white in the largest ship of that year, 6980 Galaxy Commander, and in old light gray in one of the smallest sets, a 4-minifigure pack called 6711 Spacemen. It wasn’t until 2001 that the final colour option arrived, old dark gray, which was included in 7317 Aero Tube Hanger.

Black is by far the most common colour for this piece, having appeared in 139 sets to date, the most recent being in 2021! It’s the only colour currently in production. White lasted until 2002, and was in 17 sets, almost equally split between LEGO® Space and LEGO® Town. The light gray version hung around for one more year; its final outing was in 2003 after appearing in 21 sets across various themes. Dark gray was the rarest incarnation, spanning a measly 5 releases across just 3 years. 

Its shape has always intrigued me, so let’s take a closer look at its geometry.

The main body of the camera/gun has a rectangular cross section. It is 3 modules long in total, 2 plates thick along its widest point, and 1.5 plates thick in its third dimension. 

Positioned 2 plates back from the front “lens” is a side sight which sticks out at a suitable angle for a minifigure’s eyeline, when the camera is held via the 3.18 bar which protrudes from the underside. Stacking elements on the rear stud of this sight gives a distance of just under 5 plates to the rear stud of the main body. It’s a subtle difference but one which can leave builds using this attachment point a little loose when not supported elsewhere. 

The side with the sight has no other features on it at all. The opposite face has two hollow studs with standard 3.18mm holes in the top. Mounting a plate on these leaves the shortest edge flush with the rear of the camera.

One of the thinnest faces has some buttons protruding from it. None of these are compatible with standard LEGO System connections. The opposite, slim side where the bar is located also has 3 holes closely spaced together. The 2 outer holes are aligned with those in the hollow studs on the adjacent side. These deep holes are 3.18 bar compatible, although they can be quite a tight fit if pushed in too far - and consequently a bit of a pain to take apart again. Ask me how I know!

It wasn't long before I wanted to experiment with a few of these elements to see what I could build.

A tablescrap turns into an overengineered spinner MOC

Fiddling around with some of the dark grey examples of the camera, I made this square tablescrap and wondered if the 4 bars sticking upwards would fit into hollow studs on the underside of a plate. As it stands, no, but adding a 2-plate thickness between each right-angled connection did indeed make the geometry work.

So I added those 2 extra plates, some transparent elements as decoration and then attached the whole assembly to the underside of a 4x4 plate. What to do with it now? Somehow, a large 8x8 round printed plate was calling to have the assembly mounted on top of it by means of a frictionless pin, and I added the rubber-rimmed LEGO SPIKE™ wheel below so that it would have some friction when the spinner was spun. Without me noticing, it had turned into an over-engineered fancy die for up to 4 different players! Pointlessly over-engineered, I love it!

Nanoscale Space Station MOC

Another MOC which evolved out of the bar-to-hole connections of this piece is my Nanoscale Space Station. It utilises 13 of the cameras which make up the 2 long trusses of 4 cameras each, joined by 4 transverse modules with an extension beneath. Various pods straddle the length of the Station, some for habitation, others for science experiments and vital equipment. A myriad of small cargo and crewed vessels have docked at the Station - there are many airlocks to choose from. The Station is also equipped with various communications antennas, a robotic arm for wrangling malfunctioning autonomous cargo ships, two observation domes and a couple of large solar arrays to provide power whilst in orbit.

Jade Gorge Resort MOC

I had been collecting some white examples for some time, for a possible MOC, adding a few here and there to my recent Bricklink orders. Once they all arrived, I set to work.
I’m accustomed to the scale of Micropolis builds but was inspired by some of Jeff Friesen’s architectural builds to work in a slightly smaller scale. 

This twin-towered luxury resort spans the imposing Jade Gorge with a high level bridge and viewing pods, providing the perfect place to watch the lazy river winding its way past the Marble Martyr statue deep in the gorge below. 

The surrounding jungle is not allowed to encroach upon the pristine marble-and-gold architecture. There is a private landing pad for high-tech flying craft to pick up and drop off wealthy clients - the only way in or out of this remote location.
Continue to the next article where Tom Loftus grabs his tools.

READ MORE: The introduction to our Space Tools Parts Fest reveals all the seed parts our builders will use

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  1. I'm in love with the Jade Gorge. Can we see more of this world please?

    1. Thanks Kev! :-) I will bear it in mind for future MOCs

  2. One of my favorite parts as a kid! Love the Nano Space station!

  3. "One of the thinnest faces has some buttons protruding from it. None of these are compatible with standard LEGO System connections."

    I think I read once that they're modulex studs. Anyone know if that's true?

    1. Looks like it! https://www.flickr.com/photos/ltdemartinet/8331549172/in/faves-143232344@N06/
      More modulex fun to come in later parts fest instalments ;)

    2. The large end of lego binoculars will also fit securely over the two small studs, but has to be over both to be secure.

  4. the two observation domes on the space station are a great visual pun! love it!