Space Ninjas 2: The Temple of Balanced Duality . Because any successful project will inevitably spawn a sequel... eventually. . I finally finished it, now you get to see for yourself if it was worth it. (This one's for you, Pedro!) I'll blather on at length later, but for now...
LET'S SEE SOME ACTION!
Okay, fight's over, you can leave now if you want. Think of all that follows as the bonus features on your favorite DVD: Unnecessary filler, generally a waste of time, stuff that may be slightly interesting only if you're very lucky.
Still here? Well, you've been warned.
When the Space Ninjas concept first came to me the vision I saw in my head was of a fight on a bridge over a bottomless chasm. If I'd had the pieces that canyon would have been much deeper than what eventually got built -- the lava, which seemed to be everyone's favorite part of the diorama, was an afterthought put in to compensate for the fact that my cliffs weren't all that high and therefore the bridge was not so perilous. Even so, the finished product came very close to what I'd first seen in my head, and I knew I'd struck gold with my Space Ninjas. They were the perfect excuse to build elaborate dioramas of any stripe -- I could plausibly work almost anything into a universe where Space Ninjas roamed.
I began planning SN2 as soon as I tore the first one down, around the end of March. The bridge they were fighting on in the first one led to some kind of temple, so it was only natural that in the next one they would have made it inside that temple to continue their endless fight. I thought briefly about continuing the fire motif for the temple since it sits right over a lava pit, but I wanted to do something different. What was this temple going to be dedicated to?
I believe in Balanced Duality. To me, a yin-yang is the ultimate symbol of the universe. Everything has its opposite: male/female, light/dark, etc. They're not static, they ebb and flow, and within each property there lies a bit of its other. Anyway, I figured I might as well build a temple to my beliefs, and consciously expand on what I had unwittingly done with the first one. There is an obvious duality with black and white Space Ninjas, and in that first dio the bridge connects dark gray cliffs on the left to light gray cliffs on the right (which I had only done because I didn't have enough of either color to make the whole thing in one shade).
I wanted the temple to be in light and dark blay, since they look brighter and cleaner than grays, and red would be the intermediate color because of the proximity to fire, and also because I just like red. I knew exactly how I wanted the floor, so it was off to Bricklink to order 300 red ridge bricks and 150 each light and dark blay ones, and 26 each 1x8 tan plates and tiles (only 25 are required for the floor but I hate having odd numbers of particular pieces). Expensive, but worth it -- this was my temple, after all. You skimp on your temple, the gods get angry. The walls of the temple I was a bit hazy on, but I envisioned some 1x1x6 red pillars there, so it was off to Bricklink again to order 64 of those. While I was at it I thought I'd get a bunch of 1x2x5 tall bricks in both blays, I don't remember how many, and a few 1x6x5 wall section bricks in both blays too. I had some of those already, but not nearly enough to finish the temple. Better get some blay slopes too, and grill tiles... can never have too many grill tiles.
I'd already sunk quite a bit of money into the thing before the walls even went up. The pieces for the floor alone were 60 or 70 bucks. But once I made those basic orders, I thought everything would then be smooth sailing. Wrong. The trouble was at that time I didn't have a lot of basic brick in blay, or a lot of slopes. I'd ordered what I thought was plenty, but it wasn't near enough. Construction stopped half a dozen times when I ran out of 1x2 reverse slopes in dark blay, or 1x1 light blay bricks, or something. Always some small piece I needed two more of, or four more of to finish that column or wall section. The Bricklink orders began adding up. The time wasted waiting for the parts to arrive grated on me. I passed from frustration to outright hatred of my temple. I called it "The Blay Boondoggle" or "The Money Pit" if I was feeling generous, but more often I just called it "That F***ing Thing."
Eventually I simply lost interest. I'm the type of Lego builder that always has at least three different projects going at the same time, and half a dozen more in mind I want to get started on. I couldn't maintain my focus in the face of all these delays. The temple got pushed aside. I must have abandoned it sometime in June because I built Shannonia one day as a direct result of my experience with the temple -- to prove to myself that I could actually finish a project with the parts I had on hand. (Of course we all know now that Shannonia will grow forever and never really be finished, but at the time it was just going to stay a little 16x16 square.)
However, I couldn't bring myself to dismantle the temple, not after the money I'd invested in it. So it sat half-finished on the floor gathering dust for several months. I'd look at it every now and then and think I should just force myself to finish it. But I simply didn't care anymore. There were always other projects to build, things I was actually interested in. So it sat. And sat. And sat.
Now that I've finally forced myself to finish it, I just don't know what to think of it. I hope it looks all right... the joy just wasn't there in completing it. I was doing it just to get it done, and maybe it shows. You'll have to tell me. (I do still like that floor, though!)
More bonus features:
Some detail pics without a couple of pesky Space Ninjas getting in the way...
What you would see upon entering the temple. I knew I wanted a kind of altar on each side, one dark and one light, but what to do on the back wall, where the two halves meet?
The door is the same shape as the one seen outside in Bridge of the Everlasting Fire, but that's really the only connection. Outside is a dark green roof overhang and a little gold thing above the doorway, which has nothing to do with anything in here.
The, ahem, "altars." I just don't know... Originally they were going to be much more elaborate, with a deeper recess into the wall, who knows what all. I like the arabesque thing with the arches on its own, but in this temple, once again I don't know... everything else is straight edges and diamond patterns.
Like a yin-yang, each altar was going to have some central object of the opposite color as its focus. The Lego gods of Balanced Duality will just have to smite me down for these lame little whatever-they-are's. Finishing it just to finish it, like I said. I didn't feel it, you know?
Each wall is made of three panels that remove for picture-taking, and two grill tile mural-things that help fasten them together at the tops. If every module is removed, there are just the four corner columns sticking up from a 48x48 baseplate, and an outline of bricks to keep the floor sections and wall bases in place.
The floor is based on the principle that 6 and 2/3 bricks height equals 8 studs length. With a 1x8 tan plate on the bottom and a tile on top sandwiching in twenty-four 1x2 bricks stacked six high, you get a perfect square. (Tan because it's a neutral color -- I couldn't use either blay, and red just didn't look right in my test floor.) Alternate them at 90 degrees to each other, and you get the nice outlined squares on my temple floor. Originally I planned to take pictures in the temple with several different floor patterns... but I'm just tired of this thing already. You'll have to use your imaginations.
Now onto the saga of SN3... A conundrum: I can already see where I'll need parts I don't have, and I had to quit Bricklink for a while to avoid bankruptcy. So, what do you say, can you wait another eight or nine months for more Space Ninjas?