Monthly Archives: August 2015

Space Survey Ship “Jens Knudsen”

The part of me that is Benny the 1980-something Space Guy has been growing increasingly impatient at my crop of Moai, fancy entrance halls and steampunkery.

I got kind of Classic Spaced out for a while, but now Benny is back, and wants a spaceship.

I’m on the LEGO.com website under a different name, and there I’m writing a Classic Space story chronicling the origins of the Blacktron.

For that story, I needed a space survey ship, and so the inner Benny insisted I build it.

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A previous Classic Space story of mine on that forum created the “fact” that initial survey of a star system was the province not of the Space Fleet but of the Explorien Corps, so this ought to be an Explorien ship.

However, I’m less familiar with Explorien hardware and design ethic, and system survey is the sort of role that I can see getting shuffled periodically between the Fleet and other agencies. At the time period of my Blacktron origin-story, apparently it’s a Fleet role, because this is definitely a Fleet ship.

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The ship is visibly unarmed; there may be a couple of small pulse lasers to deal with rogue asteroids, but they would be invisible at this scale.

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A survey ship is going to spend incredible amounts of time in frontier situations, away from the civilised heart of the Federation, and so help alleviate crew tensions I have made this a large ship with plenty of internal space. The vessel has at least two decks, and I would imagine that it has a good-sized crew. My story mentioned at least seven, but I’m thinking at least ten seems more reasonable for a ship this size.

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As befits a survey vessel, the exterior bristles with probes and antennas of various kinds. The ship in my story was named the Jens Knudsen after the designer of the original Classic Space sets.

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Bricksworth Hall: Entrance Hall

I thought I’d try my hand at LEGO interior design.

Entrance to Bricksworth Hall

Entrance to Bricksworth Hall

This is the entrance hall (call it a lobby or an atrium if you like) of a really big mansion house or stately home, of the sort that you might find as the backdrop to an Agatha Christie mystery.

Basically, this was mostly an excuse to build that big double staircase and balcony, though I have to admit I’m rather pleased with how it’s all turned out.

Entrance Hall 2

For a fairly big model (it sits on a 48×48 baseplate and overhangs the edges) that has such a lot of apparently empty space, there’s quite a lot going on. There are all the little period details like the butler with his tray of drinks, the antique telephone and the maid doing the dusting. Then there’s the lavatory and broom cupboard under the stairs, accessible to be played with via a removable panel at the back of the model.

Entrance Hall 3

The walls have recessed panels, light fixtures and pictures (in an ideal world these would be portraits, but even LDD Extended doesn’t have anything like that). There are potted plants along the sides of the room. And the floor is patterned.

Entrance Hall 5

Entrance Hall 4

It was quite fun to build this, and to populate it with its array of lords and butlers and maids and debutantes. I hope you enjoy it! I may even build some of the rest of the house at some point, if I get inspired.

Entrance Hall

The Flying Island of Pau

May I present the Flying Island of Pau:

Flying Isle 1

This is my first attempt at steampunk scenery. I’m ok at vahicles, but I nexer know quite what to do to a building to make it steampunky. But a flying island is so Jules Verne-esque that it’s difficult to argue with.

It’s also one of my first attempts at some serious rockwork. The entire bottom section was built right-side-up and then flipped to give the effect I wanted.

Flying Isle 2

The upper side is more flattened and rolling. I kind of think it needs a bit more verticality, but I can’t quite seem to be able to pull it off with the build style I’ve gone for.

But I did manage forests, a small stream, several buildings and a jetty with attached airship.

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I had some internal debate as to whether to make this minifig-scale or micro-scale. On the one hand, minifig-scale lets me put in a lot more of the fun details, and populate it properly, but on the other hand, creating a flying island the size I really want in minifig-scale makes for a monstrously huge model and I doubt LDD will handle it. It struggled with my space ironclad, and my flying island would probably end up at least that big. Also, that much rockwork sounded hard, and time-consuming.

Micro-scale it is, then.

The backstory of it is that it was once part of a sunken continent – either Atlantis or its less famous Indian Ocean counterpart Lemuria – which broke off and ascended into the sky, held aloft by the presence of large amounts of an impossible gravity-defying material. Maybe this is what the Atlantean metal orichalcum was.

Flying Isle 3

In keeping with this backstory, the tiny buildings are a lot more pseudoclassical than steampunk, but to be clear that this is indeed a steampunk creation, I’ve built a tiny steampunk airship docked at the isle, complete with smokestacks and gas balons, as well as a couple of more steam-era factory-type buildings put up by the owners of the airship.

In order to make a model that will actually stand up, I’ve shrouded the bottom in cloud. I could, of course, take advantage of LDD’s digitality by shaping the whole Isle down to a point, but LDD is for me a substitute for actual bricks more than a separate medium, so I usually regard digital models that couldn’t reasonably be built in actual bricks as a sort of cheating. You can, of course, if you want to, but I don’t usually do that.

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The Flying Island of Pau would probably need more support than I’ve given it, but I’ll flex that much, especially with the little waterfall disappearing into the clouds and providing another support point of sorts.

I hope you enjoy this model. It’s been fun to build.

SteamBlacktron Alle-Venator

Following on from my “Einvader” steampunk re-imagining of the Blacktron Invader, it was clear that the Baron von Blacktron was going to need some sort of ground vehicle for his forces of villainy.

SteamBlacktron Alle-Venator

SteamBlacktron Alle-Venator

The Alienator is a walker, which is pretty steampunky already, but “Alienator” isn’t a very steampunky name. Still, we can adapt. Using the odd mix of German and Latin that produced “Einvader”, I’m calling this the “Alle-Venator”. Translated, this would be “All-Hunter”, which seems apt for a SteamBlacktron walker.

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The Alle-Venator has fully-jointed legs that allow a much better level of motion and poseability than the disappointing sliding motion of the original. Ah, the wonders of modern ball joint elements!

Alle-Venator 3

There is a piston/double wheel arrangement on the back that I’m quite pleased with, and the inevitable billowing smokestack that tells you beyond a doubt that yes, this is steampunk.

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The name suggested a manhunter rather than an anti-armour fighting machine, so the armament is a pair of large machine guns on an underslung turret beneath the cockpit. The front feet also have some nasty-looking claws as a secondary attack mode. I’ve made the pilot of this one a girl; it seems wickedly appropriate for the pilot of a manhunter. I’m calling her Magda von Morrigan, referencing the Irish warrior goddess and keeping with the Germanic name theme of my SteamBlacktron forces.

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So now my Baron von Blacktron has a flying machine and a walker.

Steampunk Blacktron

SteamBlacktron Einvader

SteamBlacktron Einvader

Maybe I have a weird mind, but something about the old Blacktron Invader just seemed to cry out to be made into a steampunk flying machine.

I’ve tried to echo the 1987 original (but in a steampunky sort of way), so this is a lot smaller and simpler than my last humungous steampunk creation. This is more like the sort of thing you might end up with as an actual set from a steampunk theme: one of the the dirigible flying machines of the nefarious Baron Rheinhardt von Blacktron and his henchmen.

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Making a steampunk echo of this Blacktron classic was actually a lot of fun. I have pirate-style cannon replacing the lasers of the original, and propellers instead of rockets. The original’s folding wings have become angled rotors, and the trans red fins (what were those things supposed to be?) have become bat-wing ailerons. Though still trans red, to faithfully echo the original.

Einvader pilot Wolfgang von Darkseide

Einvader pilot Wolfgang von Darkseide

Unfortunately this one doesn’t include either the modular construction of the original or the opening cargo bay with its small robot. I could probably make a clockwork robot to include, but there’s no way to realistically transport it internally in this model. In addition, it’s not the easiest thing in the world to get the pilot in and out.

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The Einvader is completed by a pair or smokestacks on the roof, and a trio of landing legs on the bottom. The Von Blacktron Einvader is one of the main aerial threats to the Steampunk Empire. This one is piloted by Baron von Blacktron’s right-hand man Wolfgang von Darkseide, but I imagine there’s a whole fleet of them in the Baron’s service.

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Now to turn the Alienator into a steampunk walker!