It's a hard life here on Moon Base Alpha, some 300,000 miles away from Earth. Sure, the facilities are good and we don't want for anything but I do miss those little pleasures in life. The day the space freighter arrives is always a moment of celebration here in the base, it only comes once every six months after all, and with it comes those small personal artifacts that make life here just about bearable.
So it was with great joy I was finally able to take delivery of a brand new Space Buggy, model 3365 made by the Lego Corporation back down on Earth. Our existing vehicles had long seen better day, cobbled together it seems from any old spare parts from the big bin at the back of the warehouse.
The 3365, while at the bottom of the range of models (what do you expect working for The Company?), is a lovely little motor. Bertha, my current buggy has been modified so much, I can't remember what she originally looked like. This first thing I'll have to do is give the 3365 a name. Brenda seems alright. My lovely Brenda. There you go.
Like all vehicles from Lego, Brenda came supplied as a flat-pack kit. Luckily, they also supply full building instructions. I was glad about that as I didn't fancy waiting another six months for them to arrive on the next space freighter consignment.
I had to call in Little Mel and Big Papa from Stores to help me out though. While the instructions are very clear, it took a bit of to-ing and fro-ing before it was in a completed state. Mel and Big P looked on with envious eyes I can tell you.
|Putting it together in the workshop|
The first thing I noticed was the inclusion of a brand new space helmet, one of those with the gold-covered storm shield. It looks right proper bling it does and if only I could get some zero-gravity jewellery, I'd look like Snoopy Snoopy Diggy Dog. In space. Word. I'm a bit suspicious though, as The Company never send us anything as shiny and sparkly as this without a good reason. There's been rumours flying about they are looking to expand the drilling operations over into the dark-side, and we all know what lurks over there don't we?
A very neat feature is the ability to store the helmet on the back receptacle of the vehicle when not in use using a couple of custom mounting points that fit perfectly. A nice touch and very well-engineered.
The solid wheels on Old Bertha really weren't up to the job of driving over the harsh surface of the rock-strewn Moon, struggling to gain traction on some of the steeper inclines. The new chunky wheels on the 3365 are a welcome update and after test driving around the moon-dust dunes surrounding Alpha, I can confirm they are perfectly suited to all-worldly terrain. Those six-wheels provide plenty of grip and handling is superb and amazingly stable, especially considering the lower gravitational pull here on the Moon.
Suspension, like all other lunar vehicles, is sparse and virtually non-existent. The extra large tyres do provide a modicum of comfort but really, it's very little and after all, it is a working vehicle designed to be used in harsh climates.
|Giving it a test run on the landing pad|
Lego have also updated some of the components and there are two new grill fascias, in a matt-coated tungsten grey which offsets the snazzy Ferrari red axles and forward-facing protective shield. Not only do the grill fascias provide particle filtering to Jupiter-23 standard, they also claim to improve power to the Kilowatt Inertia Drive (K.I.D) located behind the vehicle. Whether that's true or not, I can't tell, but that particle filtering will come in most handy.
I'm not too sure about the protective shield on the front though. It's a bit too small for my liking and dust flying over the top can be distracting. We were chased by one of the Quaargon Crater Beasts from Sector 4 the other day and if it weren't for the improved blast deflection capabilities of the new helmet and fantastic handling of the 3365, we would have been served up as grilled spacemen with Yorkshire puds faster than you can say, 'Do you want gravy with that human dear?'.
The rock-cutting rig on the back is sturdy and has the new Brinylonium coating to make sure it never gets stuck. We have a few of the other cutting rigs fitted with Brinylonium and they _never_ go blunt. I found the arm extenders to be a little limiting and it was tricky pointing it in those hard-to-reach places. Maybe it's a case of getting use to them? Saying that, I reckon our mechanic, Matt McFixit, will sort something out.
The communications satellite is a bit flimsy I have to say. The Company, in paying extra for the hardened drill coating, have skimped somewhat in this regard. It's literally pushed into one of the connector pegs on the back and I'm sure if we have any more vigorous escapes from vicious crater beasts, it would easily wiggle loose. I don't fancy having to drive back to pick it up with all those tentacles flailing in my direction.
As mentioned, the Kilowatt Inertia Drive is located to the rear of the vehicle and is roughly equally to one Actual Realized Mile (A.R.M) of power per cylinder. That's a _lot_ of power I can tell you. Flooring this baby over a sand-dune can send you into orbit, quite literally, and a couple of times I've had to deploy the emergency Atmos-brakes just to keep it on lunar firma.
|Space Penguins! Run away! Run away!|
The 3365, or Brenda as she is now affectionately known, is an absolute marvel. Compared to our older terrain excavation vehicles, she is well made, powerful, handles extremely well and goes like stink when running away from all the nasty monsters up here on the Moon.
If you're running your own outer-space mining operation, I can't recommend it highly enough. Big Papa tells me it was bought for 7,200 Moon Credits, roughly equal to about £3.50 Earth pounds, and at that price, it's a steal.
The manufacturers recommendation is from 5 to 12 years of Space Ranging experience, but I reckon with a little supervision and help in the construction, a 3 year old apprentice from the Academy would find plenty of use out of it.
You'll like this if ... you run your own deep-space mining operation
You won't like this if ... you think News at Ten is too far-fetched.