Joe Larson is a man with a dream. A dream of making Chess a bit more akin to one of those old episodes of Transformers where the Constructicons would team up to form the stupid-huge, garishly-colored Devastator. Or, we suppose, like Voltron. Whichever 1980s cartoon reference you prefer, the important thing here is that Joe Larson is also a man who owns a MakerBot Replicator machine.
For those unfamiliar with the device, the Replicator is essentially a consumer-grade 3D printer that scans in design specs and spits out as many copies of the plan in utterly futuristic three-dimensional ABS plastic as your heart desires. It’s marketed as a device that allows users to replicate any household object they may need, but the far more interesting uses for the machine come from inventive, creative types. Inventive, creative types like Joe.
For the most part, Action Chess is a pretty standard Chess set. Both the pieces and board exhibit a kind of utilitarian simplicity that is at once functional and attractive. If you want to play a game of Chess, that’s absolutely an option.
However, if your ideas of entertainment skew toward childhood memories of huge robots stomping on puny humans, Larson’s Action Chess has you covered there too. As an unexpected part of their design, the set’s pieces can be joined together to form a surprisingly cool looking robot that only vaguely belies its origin as a cluster of pawns, rooks and those little horsie guys who can never walk a straight line.
That image you see at top is a mock-up of the set’s design posted by Mr. Larson to MakerBot enthusiast community site Thingiverse. More crucially, it was posted alongside Larson’s original design specs for the set, allowing anyone with access to a 3D printer to put together their own Action Chess set. Larson’s own set isn’t quite complete, but that’s actually to our benefit, as he’s been documenting his attempt to print this thing into reality on his blog. Since it’s safe to assume that most of you don’t own a 3D printer, this series of posts is an intensely informative look at what goes into actually creating one’s wildest dreams using such a machine.
These machines are a very solid indicator that we’re moving ever-closer to living in straight up science fiction, and it’s heartening to see that man’s first inclination when faced with amazing new technology is to create cool toys.