The Tank Club was started earlier this year when Samantha Glume, Motoko “Moto” Henusaki, and B.W. Jinxing were updating things and saw Linden Road, Route 9, among their items. Samantha said, “Hey, I know something fun to do...” “I rezzed my pink panda tank,” she said, “and Moto rezzed her cat face tank and we went for a little convoy.” Soon they were joined by Elric Anatine, who describes the club as a “happy accident” that evolved from the fun they had that day.
“Everybody had a lot of fun,” Samantha said, “so we had a second convoy. That one was with eight tanks.”
Elric remembered that they picked up some hitchhikers, too. “They saw our tanks,” he said, “and joined in the fun. For myself, it was a spectacular way to explore the wilds of mainland.”
The group soon decided they needed a permanent place. They started with the idea of having a clubhouse, which Samantha said, “evolved into wanting a garage, a parking lot and play space.” Elizabeth Rechter pointed out that it was very helpful “to have a reliable starting point where we could rally the tanks ahead of the trip.”
They studied all of the different continents and chose Jeogeot for its vast network of roads, Samantha said. It is also next to a rez zone. The group divided up the work based upon their various interests and skills. For example, Motoko “Moto” Henusaki worked on mesh items while Elric Anatine re-textured. Elizabeth Rechter did trees and landscaping, and BW Jinxing prepared the parking lot and driveways that connect to the road.
The tanks are purchased from Spyker Enterprise, who makes mesh tanks. Spyker has allowed the group to modify and make their own skins and textures for each individual tank. As a result, the tanks are customized and personal to each owner. “For some reason,” Elric remarked, “this particular tank has brought so many of us together in a variety of events. I think in large part because it can be modified and therefore personalized. The moment you personalize your vehicle, it truly becomes yours and something to be proud of.”
In addition to being modifiable and easy to drive, the Spyker tank is fun and electric. Because it has to be recharged, repaired and rearmed, Samantha says, “it fits perfectly with our fun.” They built a fully functional garage with working bay doors, a mesh tank lift, and a console to help with repairs and rearmament. Power cells that she first used on her space station are available and can be refilled at the recharging station. She hopes to expand the number of recharging stations to eventually cover the entire continent. Club members receive a custom texture for their tank, a tank only parking sign and toolboxes for making repairs. However, anyone who already owns a tank is welcome to bring it. No one is required to purchase a particular tank.
We chatted about the fun of touring. Samantha Glume said you can open the hatch while driving and drive in the standing position. “You can wave at people as you slowly rumble by,” she grinned.
I asked how they had been received since I had heard the mainland can be a wild place. Samantha said, “We haven't had any problems at all.” Though she joked that the psychological impact of a tank rolling by might have kept people nice.
Elric said the people have been really great.
“Even the hitchhikers,” Elizabeth added, smiling.
“Some have wanted to join in,” Elric said. “Others just take the "gunner position" and ride along with us.”Elizabeth and Moto have toured a lot of different sims. “Anytime I'm in a new place,” Elizabeth laughed, “I get an urge to rez a tank.” Moto even made a HUD that they use to identify unmarked rez zones. Many of the photos can be seen at http://www.flickr.com/groups/
But the Tank Club doesn’t limit itself to simple touring. Recently Elizabeth and Moto organized a “death match” on Syzygy between the Reds and the Blues. BW Jinxing created a video of it that can be seen at http://www.youtube.com/watch?
v=FB1POssFjwg&feature=youtu.be The battle takes place right in front of my
house! My friends claimed they did
their best to avoid blasting it, but I’m not convinced.
This past Sunday, the group met for a “Get Well Soon” convoy for Samantha Glume. Some RL surgery is going to keep her out of SL for a few weeks, and her friends wanted her to have some fun before she left. In addition to Samantha, Tank Club members Anarchy “Pandora Le Fay” Tigerpaw, 117 “Mohandar” Dirval, Elizabeth Rechter, Elric Anatine, Stacy Bluxome, Motoko “Moto” Henusaki, and possibly one or two others met at the clubhouse before dawn.
“Everybody form up on the road behind me,” Samantha said. “And it's dark, so I suggest you turn on your headlights.” She patiently gave instructions to new drivers on how to turn on their lights, which gear to use, and other valuable information. “Everybody should be in low gear with a speed of three,” she said. “Watch your spacing.”
“Try not to press the self-destruct button,” 117 “Mohandar” Dirval joked.
When everyone was lined up, with lights on and armament off, the tanks began rumbling down the road. Earlier, Elric Anatine had told me that of all the vehicles he had driven in Second Life, he has never had as much fun as he does now when he drives and tours in the tank. “And the more the merrier,” he said. “It's really impressive to have a convoy of tanks and friends for exploration.”