Throwback Thursday 2014 - 70810 MetalBeard's Sea Cow

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View image at flickr

As we approach the end of the year, many people will be thinking about what LEGO sets that have been released in 2017 and whether this year's sets are the best ever.

While I have to agree that 2017 has been a wonderful year for some fantastic sets, I want to draw your attention to 70810 MetalBeard's Sea Cow released in 2014 as part of The LEGO Movie sets.

MetalBeard's Sea Cow is literally the Flagship for this theme. What is more amazing is that this set has never received a news review here at Brickset.

Read on as I take a detailed look at this Flagship set.

Steampunk fusion: Pirates meets Technic

MetalBeard's Sea Cow is a fantastic pirate based model with lots of Technic parts; it is as if the LEGO designers tipped some old pirate sets and a bucket of Technic panels and beams and mixed everything up.

There is lots of detailing using New Dark Red but there has been extensive use of Warm Gold that gives this model a real Steampunk feel.

Here are the three LEGO Designers Michael Fuller, Jordan David Scott and Chris Stamp describing the features of this fantastic model.

The Box and instructions

MetalBeard's Sea Cow came in a large box. At 2741 pieces, this set was the second largest set released in 2014.

The artwork on the front of the box shows MetalBeard's Sea Cow underway in a stormy, moonlit sea being fired upon by two Micro Managers. Emmet is sitting on his Double Decker Couch in a brick-built sea made using tile pieces.

The brick-built LEGO Movie logo is prominent in the background.

View image at flickr

There is a note suggesting that the ship does not float.

The back of the box has artwork for the other side of the ship. The Sea Cow is firing her cannons back at the Micro Managers. There is a scale diagram showing the dimensions of the ship. A roll of film shows the principal play features of the model.

View image at flickr

The instructions are printed in one book of 290 pages. Parts have been divided into nine sets of numbered bags and there are 104 separate build steps.

View image at flickr

Minifigures

The set comes with a range of figures.

  • A distinctly sea-sick Unikitty,
  • Benny is wearing his worn Classic Space uniform, complete with an historic stress fractured helmet,
  • Emmet carrying the Piece of Resistance,
  • Wyldstyle, and
  • Vitruvius with his staff.

View image at flickr

View image at flickr

MetalBeard

Captain of the Sea Cow, MetalBeard, is a brick-built Steampunk cyborg.

View image at flickr

MetalBeard appears in two sets. The larger version is found in 70807 MetalBeard's Duel and the smaller version found in this set.

I really like the brick-built shark on the smaller version of MetalBeard's right arm.

MetalBeard has two cannons on his left hand and a Japanese styled Katana sword in his right hand.

As MetalBeard is quoted as saying, "Wiping your bum with a hook for a hand is really hard."

View image at flickr

There is a portrait of a younger MetalBeard and his trusty parrot at the back of the chartroom.

View image at flickr

Micro Managers

The set comes with two of President Business' Micro Managers.

The larger Micro Manager has some Technic pins as torpedoes and a radar dish that folds away.

View image at flickr

The smaller Micro Manager can launch a net to trap victims.

View image at flickr

Jane's Fighting Ships

I will review the ship as if it were listed in Jane's Fighting Ships.

The name: Sea Cow

A Sea Cow is an extinct species within the family Dugongidae, They existed in the Bering Sea between Alaska and Russia.

They were hunted into extinction for its meat, fat, and hide within 27 years of their discovery by Europeans in 1741.

There is a winged Sea Cow with golden horns depicted as a figurehead on the bowsprit.

View image at flickr

The name is found on the aftercastle.

View image at flickr

Kamadhenu, a sacred, winged cow, is celebrated in Hinduism.

Principle armament

Sea Cow has three cannons on each side. Down on the gun-deck can be found black round bricks as cannon balls. Each cannon has a rammer ready.

Secondary armament

Wyldstyle courageously operates the anti-aircraft guns mounted halfway up the foremast.

View image at flickr

Sea Cow is brisling with mortars poking out of the hull. These are made with metallic silver Technic tubes.

View image at flickr

Small arms

Hidden in several places throughout the ship are small arms.

There are two mini flintlock pistols hiding as decoration just outside the door to MetalBeard's chart room.

View image at flickr

Bull whips have also been used as decoration at the end of the aftercastle.

There is a small cache of weapons including larger flint guns and a cutlass at the entrance to the aftercastle.

View image at flickr

Main propulsion

The Sea Cow has two paddle wheels and a single screw propeller.

View image at flickr

The main boiler and paddle wheels can be easily removed as a module.

View image at flickr

While this propulsion arrangement is not common, it would make the Sea Cow highly manoeuvrable.

In 1852 Isambard Kingdom Brunel used this format when he started designing the, then largest ship afloat, ss Great Eastern.

The ss Great Eastern had more than one propulsion system; since twin screws were still very much experimental, Brunel settled on a combination of a single screw and paddle wheels, with auxiliary sail power.

This combination of propulsion systems made ss Great Eastern highly manoeuvrable. It was for this reason that ss Great Eastern was used to lay the first transatlantic telegraph cable. She laid 4,200 kilometres (2,600 miles) of cable connecting Valentia Island in western Ireland to Heart's Content in eastern Newfoundland.

Down by the main boiler is a coal scuttle with some coal.

On the other side is a scuttle that is holding some fire irons.

Axillary machinery

Just forward of the main boiler is the Donkey Boiler. This was attended to by the Donkey Man.

The Donkey Boiler provided steam to the axillary machinery such as the windlass. Rotating the funnel turns the Gypsy and raises the two anchors.

View image at flickr

View image at flickr

Conning the ship

MetalBeard is able to conn the ship through the use of a control stick. This looks similar to a control yoke of a modern aircraft. There are also two pedals which is also reminiscent of aircraft rudder controls.

View image at flickr

View image at flickr

Two decks below are some remote controls set up as emergency steering gear.

There is a clever chandelier providing some lighting to the space.

View image at flickr

Sea Cow has a very decorative rudder. I am not sure what the attachments are on the rudder; they remind me of the stabilisers found on modern archery bows.

Navigation

The Sea Cow has a globe of the Earth which shows California as an island.

As recently as 1865, the Japanese were still producing a map showing California as an Island.

View image at flickr

The Sea Cow has two Portolan Charts with rhumb lines showing the way to go.

Portolan is a word derived from Italian Portolano and means Pilot Book. From this word we get port and points (as in compass points).

View image at flickr

There are two blueprints in the chart drawers: one showing the ship profile while the other has some technical details for the paddle wheels.

LEGO Designers Jordan David Scott and Michael Fuller have signed their names on the plans.

MetalBeard has a sextant to navigate with and several wine bottles. One bottle is a ship in a bottle. His treasure is also locked away here.

Benny is able to keep a sharp lookout using a powerful telescope.

View image at flickr

Suit of Sails

The Sea Cow is fitted out with a Suit of Sails made using Technic Panels.

On the bowsprit there is flying jib, outer jib and jib set. Sea Cow is permanently sailing on a starboard tack.

View image at flickr

The foremast carries a fore course foresail, lower fore topsail, upper fore topsail and a fore topgallant sail.

The main mast carries a main course mainsail, lower main topsail, upper main topsail, main topgallant sail, lower main royal, upper main royal, main skysail and main moon sail.

View image at flickr

The mizzen mast carries four spanker or driver sails.

View image at flickr

View image at flickr

When the Beaufort scale was first developed it did not reference wind speed numbers but related qualitative wind conditions to effects on the sails of a frigate, then the main ship of the Royal Navy, from "just sufficient to give steerage" to "that which no canvas sails could withstand".

Ship stability

The Sea Cow is quite top heavy. This means that she would be difficult to handle in rough seas. Added to that is the fact that the gunports are lower than the paddle wheels.

This reminds me of the fate of the Mary Rose, a Tudor warship that sank in the Solent in 1545.

There are various versions of what may have caused the Mary Rose to founder but nearly all the accounts refer to the ship being top-heavy and, during a strong gust of wind, she heeled and took in water through the open gunports.

Overall opinion

MetalBeard's Sea Cow marked a turning point of Emmet and the Master Builders' journey to stop the Kragle. MetalBeard's contribution is that he and his Hardy Master Builder Crew already had experience of entering on the infinityeth floor of President Bushiness' lair.

Emmet's offering to the Master Builders was his Double Decker Couch. It is through hiding in the Double Decker Couch that the Master Builders were able to hide from the Micro Managers after their escape from Cloud Cuckoo Land and eventually get picked up at sea by the Sea Cow.

MetalBeard's Sea Cow is one of my favourite LEGO sets.

I really like the way the designers have managed to fuse the Steampunk look into a modern pirate ship.

View image at flickr

 

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43 comments on this article

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By in United States,

Great article! I loved your references and highlighting the details of this memorable set!

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By in United States,

Love this kit so much! Have it proudly on display. One of the most enjoyable builds and just screams like a fan made MoC to me. And Metal Beard's mini mech is just awesome.
Thanks for memory lane ;)

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By in New Zealand,

I love this ship too FlagsNZ. Mine is anchored near a window overlooking the Waitemata Harbour. It’s a joy to play with. Aroha ana ahau ki taku kaipuke nui!!

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By in Australia,

Excellent article, although it reviews the model more as a ship and less as a Lego set.

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By in Switzerland,

This is the only set I ever pre-ordered. It is brilliant.

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By in United Kingdom,

Odd to think of this as a throwback since it was the first big model I bought. Great article.

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By in France,

Love this set, your review and sense of humor ! Thanks for these historical reports and inquiries :)

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By in Germany,

Bought this bewtee while on the Brickset jolly to Billund back in 2015. Still haven't built it - but after reading this article, I really think I need to :-)

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By in United Kingdom,

I still can't believe that I wasn't a huge fan of this when it was first released. Fortunately I came to my senses before it was retired as it really is one of the most epic sets ever. It's one of those sets (like Ninjago City) where the designers just spared no expense at throwing pieces into it. As someone said above - more like a fan MOC. It even has a full set of canons on BOTH sides. Most, if not all, of the other ships released just have canons along just one side of the ship (conveniently placed on the side where the picture is being taken). I know canons on one side may be more historically acurate, but its still nice to get a full complement. This used to look so great on display and even made the Imperial Flagship look a bit boring by comparison.

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By in Denmark,

FlagsNZ rules the waves!!

Fantastic review for an even more fantastic set.

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By in United States,

Fantastic review, thanks for this.

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By in United Kingdom,

This is my one that got away, all the LEGO Movie sets were out whilst coming out of my dark age and it was a time well before dropping £200 on a LEGO seemed normal. Would still like a copy but not for the prices it goes for on the secondary market.

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By in Australia,

I'm not a huge fan of steampunk, so I never even looked for this set, but it does look like a well-designed set, doesn't it? The details look astounding (even down to the treasures hidden throughout the ship), and I enjoyed the distinctly nautical-theme of the article.

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By in France,

Namekuji, if not indelicate or obtrusive to ask, could you please translate your Maori (?) words? Thank you...

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By in United States,

great review!,lego should really produce a steampunk theme.

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By in Canada,

Can't believe this never received any review till now. Seems odd as it was the largest set of the theme. I personally loved it. It seemed to get mixed reviews from a few staff at the Lego store locally but I really wanted a Lego ship and was the only brick built one available retail so went for it and don't regret it.

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By in Ireland,

The height to length proportions put me off, so no regrets about not buying it.

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By in United States,

Great article! I've always regretted not picking this set up...

I wonder if that picture is of Metalbeard's father; the eye-patch is on the wrong eye.

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By in United States,

I was never a fan of this set, it just feels so *squashed.* In the film the Sea Cow was a proper (but huge!) Pirate ship, but in the set its basically a tower with a few masts and a bow jutting off of the front. If it had been a bit longer (for example, like the Destiny's Bounty set from this year) and perhaps wider I may have given it a chance, but as it is it doesn't appeal to me.
I have no regrets in skipping on it, as we've gotten a ton of expensive and better sets in recent years. It blows me away the amount of love this set gets, then again I've also never been a fan of bigfigs so maybe there's just something wrong with me.

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By in Australia,

Great review! I now live where the Great Eastern was built :)

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By in United States,

Aww! Someone else noticed the eye patch on the wrong eye on the picture! What a well-written and researched article. Thank you so much. What a beautiful set; it has so much detail to it, too. It's a shame I never bought it.

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By in United States,

@MataNui2009: It was bigger overall in the movie, but the proportions were about the same as the set. Just look at this image from the movie (one of the "laws of the sea"): https://i.stack.imgur.com/idobo.jpg Just like in the set, the aftercastle is about as tall as the hull is long, maybe even a bit taller.

Overall this was quite an impressive ship for its time, and really fit the wackiness of The LEGO Movie as well as Metalbeard's character specifically. Its sheer size and piece count made it a pretty good value. There are of course some areas that seem a bit rudimentary in hindsight — I'm thinking specifically of the SNOTted curved slopes on the bow, which make that part of the ship feel uncharacteristically smooth compared to the rest. But overall it had a stunning level of detail.

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By in Canada,

TIL: Island of California.

I had no idea that was a thing, reading into it, I find it quite plausible and hilarious.

Thanks for the great review!

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By in United States,

Splendid review, I love the format and historical tidbits!

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By in United States,

Donkey Man! I think that I would get this, but there are so many sets that are right at the level of interest in terms of getting. I really need to want any set now to justify getting it over buying awesome parts off bricklink.

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By in United States,

@catwheeler the Ninjago Skybound was so steampunk to me.

If I'm not mistaken, in the Lego House town/island exhibition where they've put few of the large customized and beautiful Lego sceneries and towns, you can see Metalbeard's Seacow in its full glory sailing towards a harbor of one of those. Nuff said.
It was an instant classic and one of the greatest sets that I've ever encountered. As mentioned, Imperial Flagship does seem dull in comparison with this one. Only complaint: too murky and brown. Imagine those sails/panels with red stripes! And yes, there is this thing of sails of the middle mast being immediatelly behind the chimney, which might bother a savvy eye.
The newest Destiny's Bounty tries but cannot generate enough excitement in my head when I compare these two.

Anyways,
There are no excuses for Pirates AFOLs that haven't picked it up - shame on you!

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By in United States,

Wow! I cant believe its been so long since this came out! Feels like yesterday HaHa
That was very enjoyable to read

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By in New Zealand,

@Brick't: Aroha ana ahau ki taku kaipuke nui!! Aroha means love, kaipuke nui means ship: I love my ship.

@ namekuji: whakawhetai koe, thank you.

Regarding the eye patches: An eye patch was more likely to be used to condition the eye so the pirate could fight in the dark, not as a cover for a missing eye.

I did consider that the portrait above the chart table could be a relative of MetalBeard.

https://www.childrensmuseum.org/blog/why-did-some-pirates-wear-an-eye-patch

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By in United Kingdom,

This was my first set after the dark ages. Great fun, especially like the Metal Beard model.

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By in United Kingdom,

I really enjoyed building this, and it remains one of the few sets that we leave on display. It doesn't look so good when covered in dust. Lovely educational technical detail in the review! For me this review rights a wrong as I always felt it deserved a front page review - so thank you! However, my favourite ship is #4195 Queen Anne's Revenge.

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By in Germany,

I rate this set in the Top10 that I have. If I were to sell all the ships I have but one - I'd keep this for sure. Also a very naughty set - made me break my rule not to spend >100EUR on Lego sets. It's all downhill since then... :)
I wish Lego made an entire Steampunk theme. The last (and only?) one was terrible :)
https://brickset.com/sets/theme-Time-Cruisers

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By in New Zealand,

@Brick’t: j'aime mon grand bateau. Oui oui.

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By in France,

FlagNZ and namekuji : thank you! This language sounds so sweet, musical and strong, striking at the same time... I cannot explain and describe what it feels like when I hear or read it but I really like the way it sounds - thank you. And for what I've seen of it (TV, movies, pictures) you have a beautiful country (sorry for comment unconnected to topic!)

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By in United States,

This is such an awesome set - really wish I hadn't skipped it!

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By in United Kingdom,

I can still remember going into the Lego store the day this was released, just 10 days or so before a certain, cough, ahem, 30-something birthday, and saying to my Mum "Muuuuumm... can I have this please???" Thankfully, she acquiesced, and I didn't have to grab her leg and throw a tantrum ha ha ;-) One of my favourite sets ever, must re-make this again sometime soon!

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By in United States,

Awesome review! I ended up on wikipedia learning about the propulsion system of the SS Great Eastern. This is my wife's favorite set, and it is now the longest continuously displayed set we have. We actually like the proportions; if they were more realistic it would take a huge amount of real estate to allow for so much interior detail in the captain's quarters.

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By in United States,

This was the largest set I've built so far... it got prime dresser space for a while, but had to honorably get moved to another room when Knighton castle came out.

Being a fan of irony, I have Vitruvius holding a musket while Benny is armed with a sword. :D

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By in United States,

I think a lot of people are missing the point of this set. The height to length ratio is very high because the ship is supposed to be ridiculous.

This was actually one of the sets that got me back into LEGO. I think they've really hit it out of the park recently with ships like this and the Silent Mary and Destiny's Bounty. It's great that they're branching out from only making large traditional pirate ships.

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By in Guernsey,

Great review of a fantastic set, and the box artwork is something else. Yes, it seemed a lot of money to fork out at the time, but totally worth it, in fact this and 75059 Sandcrawler are the two sets I hope I never have to part with.

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By in Saudi Arabia,

In the below paragraph there is a missing word that I will add in brackets and questions marks, as what is the missing word:
In 1852 Isambard Kingdom Brunel used this format when he started designing the (????), then largest ship afloat, ss Great Eastern.

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By in United States,

Happy to read this review. My 5 year old and I just started working on this a couple weeks ago. We're slow builders, but man, am I enjoying this set! It really does have a great steampunk feel. The colors are fantastic. Not sure which part is my favorite yet, though.

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By in United Kingdom,

Great review - interesting way of doing it.

I too ended up reading the link about the ss Great Eastern. Sounds like a bit of a white elephant, and also reminded me of the Vasa in Sweden with the reference to the luggage not being tied down and moving around.

Flec

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