Introducing the Heroic Inter-Planetary Palaeontology Organisation - no matter where palaeontologists are needed, they'll be there!
About this creation
So, it's the semi-finals of Yuri's contest... the challenge, to build a Lego space playset. Well, more of a new playtheme, actually. Cue a trip back to my childhood, and a set of builds focused on playability - hope you like them! Many thanks to Noah for the loan of a large baseplate, and Michael's hand for demonstrating various of the play features below. I think this is the most photos I've ever loaded for a build, it certainly feels like it...
HIPPO was formed after the discovery of mysterious remains and artifacts, all apparently belonging to the same reptilian species - dubbed the Skelethids - in many different worlds and solar systems. Are they a long-lost civilization? Perhaps the creators of modern life? Or were they just planted there by pranksters? Whatever the truth, this HIPPO team will find it!
On with the tour. First up, the base.
Garage with auxiliary vehicle - check!
The all-terrain 'Ferret' buggy delivers palaeontology personnel and tools to wherever they're needed.
Meanwhile, the base's support shuttle, the 'Eager Beaver', is ever ready to take off from its launchpad.
Jack, the beaver's pilot, is just as eager as his ride, if a little inexperienced...
Meanwhile, back to the tour. From the back of the Ferret's garage, stairs lead up to the main deck level...
...and into the lift!
A little hand-of-God powered upward mobility, and we'll soon be at the top!
Strategically placed hinges hold the lift in place on the top floor, while a flap folds down to provide entry to...
The command centre! Roof and side wall open for better play access.
These communications console is the hub of the entire HIPPO operation, but it's not the most important piece of equipment in c&c.
Forget the internal combustion engine and the microchip, one 20th. century technological breakthrough has contributed more the advance of science than any other - the coffee machine!
Meanwhile downstairs in the lab, we're examining a recently discovered Skelethid artifact. Here are the results of the analysis so far: age - unknown. Composition - unknown. Purpose - unknown. I think we're really getting somewhere here.
Behind me here, you can see two Skelethid bones we found on this very planet in the display case. They're extremely rare - we're hoping one day to collect enough for a whole skeleton.
You may wonder whether it's a bit risky to collect all these mysterious alien artifacts in one place - but don't worry, that's why we had the Danger-o-meter on the wall installed. We don't need to start worrying until it reads at least a 7...
Oh hang on, it's never done that before...
Tell you what, why don't you go out and see our other vehicles while I check this out?
When there's heavy lifting to be done, the HIPPOs turn to the Bulldog shuttle.
This robust spaceship is fully equipped for the rigours of interstellar travel.
Powerful engines ensure that new discoveries can be shipped safely offworld, while vital cargos such as doughnuts are brought back to feed the hungry HIPPOs.
For long-range landside exploration, enter the 'Groundhog'.
The Groundhog's payload is interchangeable with the freight container from the Bulldog. But what is that thing?
Seismic topographer deployed. Or was it a topographic seismer? Either way, its sensors scan below the surface to locate new Skelethid finds.
The rules asked for a 'land vehicle/mech' so naturally, that's what you got... when a signal is detected, he Groundhog transforms to excavation mode.
Aha! Now this will look good at home on the mantelpiece.
The grab arm can also be deployed in vehicle mode to help load the new discovery...
And that's an open and shut case.
When the Groundhog is otherwise engaged, the Eager Beaver can be deployed to bring its payload back to base.
Or alternatively, the Bulldog can carry two pods at once.
In fact, all sorts of combinations are possible!
The Beaver's booster pack can even be affixed to the back of the mech, giving it short range flight capabilities.
Of course, the HIPPOs need to be well prepared, because Skelethid remains and artifacts have attained cult status, with some cultures believing that they possess miraculous powers - meaning they fetch a pretty penny on the black market.
These Astrian pirates are ready to snatch some ill-gotten gains and sell them on to unscrupulous private collectors.
Their two weapons are surprise and fear!
No, I mean their three weapons are surprise, fear and ruthless efficiency!
That is to say their four weapons are surprise, fear, ruthless efficiency and a magnetically mounted assault rocket-copter!
In fact, their many weapons include such diverse elements as surprise, fear, ruthless effeiciency, an assault rocket-copter and nice green helmets! Oh dear, I think I'd better go out and start again.
Storage containers amidships for captured swag.
The pirate's vehicle is also equipped with fully functional rocker-bogie suspension, to help them sneak around on the roughest terrain. The 2x2 decorated round tile under the cab functions as a trim meter. It's directly linked to the differential gear that connects the two rockers, so when they rotate, it does too.
Who will get away with the goods? Only you can decide with Lego Space HIPPOs!
One final shot to show all the interchangeable modular elements of the HIPPO vehicles.
This is truly an amazing entry! I like the vehicles most, especially the rover/mech. The playability is just perfect with the interchangeable modules. The enemy is excellent too, BTW thanks for the Monty Python passage! I like the threatening shape of their vehicle. Congratulations and good luck!
Congratulations Stuart! Wanted to swing by here again to do that and to look this thing over once again. It truly is a fantastic build. Love the Insectoid look of the enemy ship, I miss the Insectoids. I am just so impressed with everything here. Love it! I'm looking forward to the finals! Well, sort of. ;)
I think that you've chosen an excellent set of colours for your theme. I like how practical things are too, especially the working lift, with its hinged stops (none of the magically swapping from floor to floor like in some old official sets!). The way that the wall and roof hinge open are a brilliant way to enhance the playability of the base too. Nice coffee machine but how do you pour it past the chin bit of your helmet? The highlight of this set has to be the vehicles, especially the transforming Groundhog. The way that you can swap modules around but also use its arm whilst it's still in vehicle mode is brilliant. It all looks such fun to get your hands on and play with. It looks strong too. The swappable modules are brilliant, especially as they fit around all of the other play features. The pirate's vehicle is super too, with a nice nod to real space vehicles with its wheels. Just an excellent collection of good-looking, fun to play with builds.
What's with you and animal vehicles? Still trying to take over the world? ;) Great build Stuart, love the modular design. The Bulldog and the Skelethid buggy are my favourites of the set, some really cool techniques and nice colour use. Of course, the idea of interstellar palaeontologists takes the cake though!
Sturat, my brain was buzzing on overload visualizing all the combinations with those modular parts! I love the names of all the mod vehicular thingys. All the science references definitely sparked my interests! It’s comforting to know there are dedicated HIPPO guys out there seriously studying and researching all that alien stuff. What kid wouldn’t want this set to go exploring! Oh, is that the first transformer you have ever made… very cool! If you ever need help from the Mother goddess, I’m sure I know of one who would be glad to help out! Ha, ha! Cheers! :)
YOU SMASHED IT!!! These are genius and I would definitely buy the living daylights out of it. Fantastic backstory with outstanding playability. Absolutely love how you got the modularity in the vehicles. Wicked clever. Great colors, too! Well done Stuart. Outstanding in fact!