(read シンク[shinku], lit. think-tank)
Masamune Shirow's Manga Ghost in the Shell (Japanese title 攻殻機動隊 [kōkaku kidōtai], lit. mobile armoured riot police), first published in 1989, became the starting point for one of the most well known science-fiction franchises and spawned multiple TV shows, movies and games since its release. The original premise was simple: Major Motoko Kusanagi, a human in a cyborg body, leads an investigation unit at the Public Security Section 9, an intelligence department under the Japanese Ministry of Internal Affairs. But within this setting the series deals with quite profound and philosophical questions about what it means to be human, what the difference between machines and humans truly is and what the consequences of advanced computers, A.I. and networks might be. One concept the franchise introduced are think-tanks, highly sophisticated machines in the form of a spider-shaped tank. The original Manga introduced the first version of these called フチコマ [fuchikoma], which assisted Section 9. And while they were largely absent in Mamoru Oshii's movies, the TV show Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex (GITS:SAC for short), directed by Kenji Kamiyama, reintroduced them in the form of the タチコマ [tachikoma]. These small talkative robots became the icon of the series. Their quirky character as well as their discussions about humanity, philosophy and paradoxes alleviates some of the darker themes of GITS:SAC's narrative.
Considering that GITS:SAC premiered in 2002 it is not surprising that numerous LEGO® fan creations of the Tachikoma have been created since then. From large fully mechanised LEGO® Technic models, to completely new interpretations of the design: The impact the Think-Tanks had on the LEGO® fan community can not be understated. The idea of creating your own mini Spider-tank resonated so well with many builders around the world, that even an entire month was dedicated to them: Marchikoma. Each year in March LEGO® fans build their own designs and reimaginings of the Think-Tanks, many departing heavily from the source material. I love many of these unique creations but the original design from the Anime show is still my personal favourite.
"Stop for a moment and ask yourselves why our own bodies, without organs, aren't created in the human image."
In 2019 I decided to build my own version and tried to stay as true to the appearance in GITS:SAC as possible. One area I paid particular attention to, which I felt was mostly neglected in previous fan designs, was the scale of the Tachikoma in regard to LEGO® Minifigures. In the Anime they are barely taller than the human characters. One good reference for how big the Tachikoma should be is the pod on their back. In multiple points in the show the Major and other members of Sections 9 drive the small tanks while being inside that pod. So, in theory, it should be build big enough to hold one Minifigure. The small scale made building the central dome particularly difficult. One of the most recognisable features of the Tachikoma are their white eyes with three black dots. Unfortunately there is no LEGO® part with that kind of detailing so I had these dots custom printed on the underside of a white (Colour-ID 1) 2*2 plate with rounded bottom (Part-ID: 2654). Although this makes the eyes slightly larger than those on the original the result is still very much recognisable. To recreate the curvature of the legs, LEGO® Minifigure heads (Part-ID 3626c) and helmets (Part-ID 2446) were used. Lever bases (Part-ID 4592) on either side of the pod form the web-shooters, an iconic feature of the Tachikoma, used numerous times throughout the Anime. Since the Tachikoma are so beloved, I wanted to share this recreation with the fan-community. Therefore, I created fully illustrated instructions which are available for free. You can get them from the link below.