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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Captain of the Sea Cow, MetalBeard, is a brick-built Steampunk cyborg.
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."
There is a portrait of a younger MetalBeard and his trusty parrot at the back of the chartroom.
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.
The smaller Micro Manager can launch a net to trap victims.
Jane's Fighting Ships
I will review the ship as if it were listed in Jane's Fighting Ships.
The name: Sea Cow
They were hunted into extinction for its meat, fat, and hide within 27 years of their discovery by Europeans in 1741.
The name is found on the aftercastle.
Kamadhenu, a sacred, winged cow, is celebrated in Hinduism.
Wyldstyle courageously operates the anti-aircraft guns mounted halfway up the foremast.
Sea Cow is brisling with mortars poking out of the hull. These are made with metallic silver Technic tubes.
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.
Bull whips have also been used as decoration at the end of the aftercastle.
The Sea Cow has two paddle wheels and a single screw propeller.
The main boiler and paddle wheels can be easily removed as a module.
While this propulsion arrangement is not common, it would make the Sea Cow highly manoeuvrable.
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.
The Donkey Boiler provided steam to the axillary machinery such as the windlass. Rotating the funnel turns the Gypsy and raises the two anchors.
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.
Two decks below are some remote controls set up as emergency steering gear.
There is a clever chandelier providing some lighting to the space.
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.
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.
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).
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.
Benny is able to keep a sharp lookout using a powerful telescope.
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.
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.
The mizzen mast carries four spanker or driver sails.
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".
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.
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.