25 August 2022

Space Tools Parts Fest: Tim Goddard

Posted by Admin

Tim Goddard tools up as guest author this week, in our challenge to create original LEGO® models using 'Space Tools' - the minifigure accessories found in Classic Space sets.

In this instalment of New Elementary's exploration of minifig Space utensils, I look at the space guns / torches / loudhailers / blasters / megaphones. Call them what you will, they are certainly classic parts and are still using in LEGO sets today. Here is my collection!

Parts shown above on a grey plate are "Q list" parts; manufactured by TLG but not for sets – for example, for use in LEGOLAND park models. A round stud represents a colour which is available, but I do not have in my collection. The coral flower actually represents Salmon [TLG Color ID 101 Medium Red], found in only one Scala set, 3290 The Big Family House, but I do not own a single salmon part! 

When is a gun not a gun?

When LEGO® Space first appeared as a theme in the late 1970s, guns were definitely not allowed in a LEGO set. Second-generational owner of the company, Godtfred Kirk Christiansen, famously (and in many ways courageously) was against providing weapons of war in children's toys. 

©1979 The LEGO Group

This makes 3959 rather a curious piece, surely it could be nothing but a gun? The setting of the original Classic Space sets was a peaceful one, all about exploration and discovery, but when it first appeared in 1979 the space gun is seen with a transparent-green round brick in the front, being brandished in a rather weapon-like way. The smiling face of the astronaut does rather disarm the appearance though. 

So is it supposed to be some sort of scanning device? Perhaps it could be a torch, although the brightness of the scene on the box art makes this seem rather redundant? As a child, I would have called it a scanner, unless it was held by the Space Police or Blacktron forces, in which case it was very definitely a weapon. Context is everything.

As for the megaphone, it most definitely looks like a megaphone. It is used in LEGO® City sets by the police to shout loudly at criminals, but why would you need a megaphone in space, where no-one can hear you scream? Everyone is in a spacesuit and there is little atmosphere to transmit sound!

Of course this is all over-analysing: as a child of the 'eighties, a walkie-talkie in space did not seem odd to me at all, so why would a megaphone be any different? Minifigs just look cooler holding something, and not everyone can have a metal detector. 

As a child you are free to create your own world and decide what is allowed and what is not, and that could change from day to day. It does make it all the more weird though when, in the late 'nineties, LEGO® Star Wars sets arrived and alongside the fairly-accurate lightsabers, the only weapons were backward megaphones with a transparent-neon orange dot on the end.

SNOT: the ultimate weapon

These parts were rather special in another way back in the 'eighties. In those days, the selection of parts with SNOT and other interesting, functional connection points was much more limited than today. With a 3.18mm bar at a 90-degree angle and unusual connect points, the space gun and megaphone opened up some interesting building possibilities, which are still useful even today.

The front of the space gun (and its less-groovy replacement) allows for the connection of a LEGO® Technic axle, a 3.18mm bar or a stud. it's an impressive array of possibilities. The megaphone does not have the axle hole, but it can easily be built into the standard LEGO® System grid, being 5 plates tall with a hollow stud on top, as shown below right.

The original space gun, above left, is an ungainly 6.5 plates tall, perhaps that is one reason why it was replaced. The newer space gun, above centre, is more "in-System" at 6 plates tall. 

Tim Goddard's MOCs using LEGO parts 3959 and 4349

Superweapon

One of the simplest, oldest and most pleasing connections using these parts is to put them together with a round 1x1 stud in between to create a superweapon! 

6702 redux

To show how these parts can be used to create angles, I created a robot based on one of the original Classic Space robots, from the minifigure supplementary pack 6702.


Original on the right, my redux on the left.

The megaphones allow for the angled shoulder connection and the newer space gun gives the head a slight character adding twist. 

Wildlife

I have always thought that the groovy rings on the megaphone and space gun gave the pieces a somewhat organic feel. With that in mind I created a little bird with megaphone legs and a space gun beak.


His eyes might just be too big for his beak, as that earthworm looks rather large.


Come back next Thursday when Thomas Jenkins will be looking at the Air Tanks and Shovel.

READ MORE: See what Tom Loftus built using the Chainsaw Body and Control Panel

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10 comments:

  1. The megaphone worm is genius.

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  2. That scaled-up 6702 robot would be a great addition to the new "remastered" Galaxy Explorer, with it's1.5x super-sizing.

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  3. I remember my big brother made a variation of the superweapon (perhaps without the stud piece) with an extra round brick on the megaphone end. And I'm not sure whether it was him and me that elaborated on the idea to add a cone piece and another round piece on the other end to produce some kind of bazooka / shoulder-fired missile.

    I also was reminded on that I need to get myself an orange motorcycle helmet. Unfortunately, they're quite rare and expensive on the second hand market.

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  4. There were guns in LEGO sets way before CS, see sets 210 and 256. No specialized parts though

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  5. Where does the double coloured megaphone piece comes from?

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  6. I think the ‘Torch’ in the description of 3959 may be referring to (sci-fi) welding or cutting torches, not torch in the British ‘pocket torch’ sense (i.e. an American flashlight). It explains the back stem (connecting to an imaginary hose) and it’s more active for astronauts in exciting play. Could be wrong, though.

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  7. Hey, what helmet is used for the Blacktron-looking figure with the superweapon?

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    1. I believe it is 46534pb03, Headgear Helmet with Ear Antennae with Pearl Dark Gray V-Shaped Faceplate Pattern, although the Pearl Dark Gray pattern possibly has been wiped out. The mold might originally have been created for Ant-Mans jumpsuit. (It was also used for the DC Firefly character, but he seems to be on a lower tier, so a new mold might not have felt motivated.)

      https://www.bricklink.com/v2/catalog/catalogitem.page?P=46534pb03#T=C&C=11

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    2. The rest of the character just appears to be the regular CMF S19 Galactic Bounty Hunter where the helmet first appeared, though, so maybe it's just the angle or the lightning that hides the faceplate...

      https://www.bricklink.com/v2/catalog/catalogitem.page?M=col352#T=S&O={%22iconly%22:0}

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