Monthly Archives: February 2015

LL1018-series Plesiosaur

The LL1018-series "Plesiosaur" serves as a space fighter and general-purpose single-crew spaceship

The LL1018-series “Plesiosaur” serves as a space fighter and general-purpose single-crew spaceship

The LL1018 series “Plesiosaur” spaceship is a small single-crewed space vehicle used in the Saurian Sector. Comparable to the LL928 series one-man spaceship, the LL1018, like most Lego Space Fleet Command (L.S.F.C) hardware in this sector, is modeled on an extinct Earth creature: in this case, the group of long-necked marine reptiles known as Plesiosaurs.

The LL1018 is a product of the L.S.F.C. Saurian Sector Command’s internal design bureau, which is known for its distinctive Earth-Mesozoic-inspired spacecraft designs. Unlike the larger LL1028 Pliosaur-class, the Plesiosaur-class is considerably smaller, and functions as a scout ship or transatmospheric fighter.

LL1018 Plesiosaur 1

LL1018 Plesiosaur 3

Armed with up to five laser cannon, it is one of the most common ships of the L.S.F.C. in the Saurian Sector, and its elongated nosecone and tandem wing configuration make it one of the most recogniseable. Alternately, scanners and astrographical survey equipment may be refitted in place of the lasers, making the LL1018 series one of the most versatile ship types in the Sector, used for multiple missions from exploration to defence.

LL1018 showing its pilot

LL1018 showing its pilot

It is shown here piloted by Space Fleet Lieutenant Katie Stryker. Katie is a superb combat pilot with lightning reflexes and an almost instinctual grasp of three-dimensional space warfare. She has been decorated for her flying skills and bravery in combat numerous times, though she seldom actually wears the ribbons unless forced.

Katie prefers to pilot smaller spacecraft such as the LL1018 series; she deems them more responsive to a pilot’s touch and dislikes larger and more cumbersome craft like the LL928 series. Indeed, she has refused promotion on more than one occasion because it would take her away from piloting smaller spacecraft.

However, for all her skill she can get overconfident and attack vastly stronger forces alone or backed by only token support, and this sometimes gets her into trouble. In particular, she has a reputation for destroying or irreparably damaging the spacecraft she flies, not through lack of skill but through severely adverse circumstances.

Advertisements

Welcome to the Saurian Sector

Once you start down the path of merging Classic Space Lego with dinosaur inspiration, forever will it dominate your destiny. Or in other words, I’ve been making more of these things.

My original dinomech, the VLC Raptor, was effectively a test piece for the whole concept. I think it’s a fun idea, but even I can recognise that from an objective future-history point of view it makes only slightly more sense than Transformers Dinobots. Why would people from the galactic future model their space hardware after extinct reptiles from Earth?

I’m ignoring this question, for the same reason that no-one seems to ask why it’s a good idea for alien robots to be able to disguise themselves as giant metal dinosaurs. Cool makes its own sense.

I’ve continued on with making my Neoclassic Space dino-hardware. Terrestrial vehicles modelled on dinosaurs is, once you have the initial concept, pretty straightforward. Robot dinosaurs with cockpits. Zoids, but in Lego, and with a Classic Space vibe. Tyrannosaurus mechs and Mechaceratops and Seismechosaurus.

But what about the spaceships?

Spaceships modelled on pterosaurs would perhaps be the most intuitive approach, and it has something to recommend it. Winged, pterodactyloid spacecraft soaring through deep space… But mechanical pterosaurs somehow seemed more Steampunk than Classic Space, and I just wasn’t being very inspired. Also, the ships would end up all looking very much alike despite being vastly different sizes.

Then it occurred to me that most sci-fi spacegoing organisations are structured as navies: (Starfleet, the Imperial Fleet, the Rebel Fleet etc). So why not a marine reptile?

My initial inspiration, but finished more recently, was what has become the Pliosaur-class. Then I created a smaller ship. So now I have two dinomechs and two spaceships, and ideas for many more.

All I needed was a backstory. And perhaps, given how well-armed my hardware is by comparison to the regular old Classic Space sets, an adversary.

In my initial design decision to go with a Neoclassic Space feel, and in the details of creating the various ships and mechs that I have, I’ve begun to piece together some of the backstory. For example, the “VLC” in “VLC Raptor” initially existed to complete the thought of VeLoCiRaptor, but I decided that it made a great manufacturer designation and created the VLC Corporation. Also for example, the stuff is Classic or Neoclassic Space Lego, thus, it’s in the same universe as sets like the 928 Space Cruiser and Moonbase (known as the Galaxy Explorer in the US) and the 918 One-Man Spaceship, and presumably the 6930 Space Supply Station and its ilk as well. Whether this is precisely the same universe as Peter Reid’s book Lego Space: Building the Future is a slightly more open question, because I don’t know how “official” his future history is, and I don’t yet have the book anyway.

I’ve almost certainly made a lot of different assumptions than Peter Reid did, but this is my corner of the Classic Space universe. I decided that, given the dinosaur subtheme, “the Saurian Sector” had a nicely appropriate ring to it as a milieu.

So welcome to the Saurian Sector.


The discovery of what came to be known as the Saurian Sector presented Space Fleet Command with new challenges and opportunities.

On the one hand, the Saurian Sector contained the only known naturally-occurring sources of the energy-rich crystalline mineral Mesozorium. The lesser form Protozorium was known from other Sectors, though even that was rare, but the refining process of converting Protozorium to the more valuable and useful Mesozorium was both costly and time-consuming.

The Saurian Sector, however, contained a number of planets with apparently naturally-occurring Mesozorium seams.

View over planet Ankylo in the Saurian Sector

View over planet Ankylo in the Saurian Sector

On the other hand, the Sector included many planets with terrain so harsh as to defeat many of the wheeled surface vehicles that Space Fleet Command regularly relied upon, necessitating the development of an entirely new inventory of planetary vehicles. In addition, much of the Sector was contested space. The hostile Cephalon Dominion was also expanding into the Sector, and the competing claims remained a source of tension and conflict for many years.

The ever-present Cephalon threat led to the development of a new generation of space vehicles alongside the new ground vehicles. Individual Federation Sector Commands had always been given wide latitude to design and build their own spacecraft and other equipment as needed, so long as it conformed to basic technological standards. But few Sector Commands had ever contemplated as complete a replacement of standard equipment as Saurian Sector Command now found themselves doing. Even venerable and ubiquitous ship types like the old LL928 series Galaxy Explorer were replaced by alternates like the LL1028 series Saurian Sector Explorer.

The LL1028-series "Pliosaur" spaceship replaces the old LL928-series in the Saurian Sector

The LL1028-series “Pliosaur” spaceship replaces the old LL928-series in the Saurian Sector

Space Fleet Command raised no objections to the sweeping equipment changes that Sector Admiral Jael Thera was making, however. The fact of the matter was that a number of the old, weakly-armed Galaxy Explorer ships had disappeared, presumed destroyed, along the edges of what was known to be Cephalon space. An upgunned space exploration fleet was a perceived necessity.

Besides, the mining and extraction of the Sector’s Mesozorium reserves was a great prize, and easily covered the development and retraining costs.

Joining the LL1028 series Saurian Sector Explorer (“Pliosaur-class”) ships were the LL1024 series Transporter (“Nothosaur-class”) and LL1018 series space fighter (“Plesiosaur-class”). Even Space Fleet Command’s larger vessels saw general replacement in the Saurian Sector: the main Fleet vessels were the Ichthyosaur-class space frigate, the Mosasaur-class battlecruiser and the big Leedsichthys-class carrier.

The LL1018-series "Plesiosaur" serves as a space fighter and general-purpose single-crew spaceship

The LL1018-series “Plesiosaur” serves as a space fighter and general-purpose single-crew spaceship

On the planetary surface, Saurian Sector Command utilised a number of walking, legged vehicles known as dinomechs, produced by the VLC Corporation, as well as vehicles like the Trilobite hovertruck and Ankylocrawler mobile Mesozorium-mining station.

The VLC Troodon is the smallest dinomech made by the Corporation

The VLC Troodon is the smallest dinomech made by the Corporation

The Trilobite: A small hover transport used in the Sector

The Trilobite: A small hover transport used in the Sector

I Think I’m a Dinosaur, therefore I am

The really fun thing about building a fully-poseable (or nearly so) Tyrannosaurus rex dinosaur is the ever-present opportunity to be silly.

The Thinker

The Thinker

Dinosaurs have a reputation as not very bright, so putting a T. rex into the pose of Rodin’s The Thinker is as natural as legs on a killer whale.

Umm… Anyway. I did it.

Here’s the T. rex again in a more conventional pose. Technically he’s a little skinny and his arms are too long, but if you’re going to quibble you can go and make your own. Part of Lego is doing what you can with what you have.

100_2568 100_2569 100_2570

And here’s a nice little sequence I’m calling Professor Jackson’s Short-Lived Expedition To The Mesozoic:

 

Professor Jackson materialises in the late Cretaceous

Professor Jackson’s time machine materialises in the late Cretaceous

Roar!!

Roar!!

100_2573

This is not good…

100_2574

Chomp, chomp

 

Can You Dig It?

In my day job I’m a construction worker, part of an earth-moving crew. I work around heavy construction machinery all day.

And my three-year-old son loves construction equipment, especially excavators. For Christmas we got him the Juniors construction site set, figuring that since he already has the manual dexterity and pattern-recognition to do multiple-hundred-piece jigsaws, we could safely skip over the whole Duplo thing.

So I built him this little wheeled excavator to play with.

Excavator

Excavator

It has a grabbing arm, like the excavator he likes to pretend he is. In real life this is used for clearing trees and brush prior to construction. I’ve never seen one put onto a wheeled excavator like this before, but there’s no reason why not.

100_2560 100_2561

VLC Raptor Mech

Mechs are cool. Impractical in real life, but cool nonetheless.

Classic Space Lego is cool. “Neo-Classic Space” stuff such as Peter Reid’s amazing creations are especially cool.

Dinosaurs are also cool.

So… Neo-Classic Space Lego mechs shaped like dinosaurs, then. Gotta be awesome, right?

Raptor Mech

The VLC Raptor mech

Not having the bricks I needed in the colours I wanted, I had to make this dinomech digitally. And because no-one uses MLCad any more, I decided to bite the bullet and learn to use the Lego Group’s own Digital Designer.

There are pros and cons to this transition. On the one hand, Lego Digital Designer (LDD) is a lot less finicky and a lot more instinctive to use, much more like building with actual bricks. The program knows how things fit together a lot more than MLCad, and won’t allow you to place bricks where they cannot go. It also has a much more up-to-date brick inventory.

But on the other hand, MLCad has a much broader inventory of obsolete bricks that are no longer made. In addition, it has the ability to make any brick in any colour, even neon green axle rods if you so desire, while LDD restricts you to the palette of currently-available bricks. This is not an unreasonable imposition on the Lego Group’s part; just like in real life, you have to work with what they actually produce. But it is a limitation.

Also, because I’m used to the way MLCad sorts bricks, I’m having difficulty finding what I need. This will change, but it’s annoying at the moment.

Still, on the whole it’s been positive. I couldn’t have built this little dinomech in MLCad.

And having proved the dinomech concept, this little guy will probably be the first of a whole series of T-Mechs and Ankylocrawlers, and perhaps even Mechatheriums.

Same mech, different environment

Same mech, different environment

I’m calling it, for reasons that ought to be obvious, the VLC Raptor Mech, or Raptor for short. “VLC” doesn’t actually stand for anything; it’s there to complete the thought of “VeLoCi-Raptor”. I imagine it’s a makers’ designation, some future Lego equivalent of Honda or GMC.

Slightly different view

Slightly different view

The VLC Raptor is a fast, well-armed scout mech designed for reconnaissance-in-force in hostile terrain. It has a laser cannon mounted in the head, a couple more in front, grabbing arms that can hold tools or weapons, and a pair of foot-mounted cutting blades for close combat. It’s probably the fastest and most agile of my planned dinomechs, and may be one of the most versatile.

Rear aspect

Rear aspect

A Prickly Customer

Spiky bits. What can you do with them?

They’re very organic, in a prickly, Rodney Matthews sort of way. On the 31032 Red Creatures set in which I got them, they were the claws and horns of the dragon, the teeth of the snake and the fangs and claws of the scorpion. The small piece’s official designation is “horn”, and indeed, they look very menacing as hornlike decorations on the Lego Castle horse’s head armour. The larger piece is officially a “tooth”, and is a lot more bladelike than the small round “horn”.

They’ve been robot claws in the wonderful Neo-Classic Space Exo-Suit (I want this set!), and they’d make an excellent decorative battlement fringe on an evil knight’s castle.

But that’s not what I built first.

Following on from my Quetzalcoatlus, I guess I was in dinosaur mode or something, because all I could think was “Kentrosaurus”.

Kentrosaurus, for those uninitiated into the mysteries of the Dinosauria, is probably the second most famous member of the Stegosaur group. If you’ve heard of only one Stegosaur that isn’t Stegosaurus, chances are good that it’s this one.

Unlike its larger and more famous cousin, Kentrosaurus lacks a proper thagomizer (as the cluster of tail spikes has come to be known); instead having paired spikes at intervals along its tail, from the tail-tip to halfway up its back. So it only has plates along the front half of its back, not all the way down like most Stegosaurs.

In addition, it bears a pair of wicked defensive shoulder spikes to help fend off predators.

So I decided that Stegosaur spines was really rather a good use of all these wonderful spiky bits, and built a Kentrosaurus. It would have looked better with black plates to match the spikes (or white spikes to match the plates), but you work with what you have.

Kentosaurus, Lego-style

Kentosaurus, Lego-style

And from the other side

And from the other side

Unlike my previous Quetzalcoatlus, this Kentrosaurus isn’t remotely minifigure scale. For that, I’d need to shrink it to about the size of a Lego horse, because Kentrosaurus wasn’t all that big. Still, there’s no law requiring that I build to minifig scale.

And standing, just to show off the poseability

And standing, just to show off the poseability