Monthly Archives: November 2016

A (Very Tiny) Rag-Tag Fleet

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Classic Space meets Battlestar Galactica in microscale.

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The original 1980s version would probably be more appropriate; this is Classic Space!  I started out with the two tiny ships, then built the smaller Galactica-esque ship and decided that it did look very Galactica-like.

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But I decided it was too small to really be a full-scale Battlestar, so I built the big ship, deliberately aping what I remember from the original show.  Colonial Vipers would be invisible at this scale, so I leave those to your imagination.  Here’s the big ship in all its glory:

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Ophiuchi-class Star Carrier

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Carriers were some of the earliest Bendix-drive military vessels. Due to the mass-intensive nature of the Bendix wormhole stardrive, the large interstellar jump-capable ships that both held Humanity together and made interstellar combat a possibility were massive, ungainly vessels with the manoeuvring ability of lead-armoured sloths.

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By contrast, a relatively powerful laser or particle pulse cannon could be installed fairly easily on a small single- or dual-seat space fighter, which by virtue of its small size was far more agile and less apt to be hit with gigawatt energy beams. Ergo the development and deployment of the space carrier in the Federation and its offshoot political entities.

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The Ophiuchi-class was one of the most successful Federation star carriers of the pre-gravitic drive era. Coupled with its squadrons of Rattlesnake– and Constrictor-class fighters, it provided the Federation with a way to take the fight to its enemies and strike at targets light-years away from any Fedearation system.

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As defensive weapons, the Ophiuchis featured nine defensive weapons turrets, each incorporating a pair of eight-barreled multi-megawatt antimissile/antifighter lasers. Rapid-firing and striking at lightspeed, these guns and others like them were one of the standard defensive weapons systems of the era.

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This is not really anything special as far as building or technique goes, but I find it a pleasing construction. I hope you find it so, too.

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This is about my idea of what a space carrier ought to look like, rather than the boxy HALO types that always look weird to me. You don’t like it, go make your own.

Fantastic Beasts (And Where To Find Them)

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Dragons are easy. A dragon can look like anything and still be a dragon, because they are fully imaginary and they really can look like almost anything.

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A griffin, on the other hand, is assembled from the parts of real creatures, so it’s much more of a challenge to build. Lion’s body and back legs, eagle’s head,front legs and wings, plus those unusual tufted or pointed ears that I always imagine as being like those of a lynx.

This is my attempt.

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I’d have liked a couple of those “+”-shaped plates for the front feet, but what I have works ok. I only have one of those, and it’s lavender, which would really add a rather sucky element to this.

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Poseability of this is pretty extreme. The neck, tail, wings and legs all have multiple parts of articulation; I could only do better if I could figure out a way to get a working jaw.

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Beetlemania is Back

Next to spaceships, I think creatures are one of my favourite things to build.

I’ve built dinosaurs, owls, giant ground sloths and other creatures in the past, and the first LEGO set I bought myself as a married adult was the Red Creatures Creator 3-in-1 set.

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There are no major new piece uses or fancy building techniques used in this big red guy, but I’m quite pleased with the effect nonetheless.

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Beetles and insects are quite satisfactorially LEGO-able, what with their jointedness and hardshelled nature. It occurred to me that now that my stock of those curved shell elements has increased significantly, I might use them as insect leg parts.

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This large predatory beetle is the result.

I guess with that horn on his carapace that he’s some kind of rhinoceros beetle relative, but rhinoceros beetles are herbivorous and this guy’s jaws make him a predator.

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I’m significantly pleased with those jaws, actually; the multiple articulation of them is one of my favourite pieces of creature functionality that I’ve made in a while.

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After I finished Big Red, I looked at the abdominal carapace and wondered if I could articulate that, just like real beetle wing cases.

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The smaller dark blue guy was the result of that experiment.

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He’s not quite as finished as Big Red; in particular his abdomen under the wing cases is a little underbuilt. But there was no way to make properly-scaled folding wings that would fit under those covers; I decided to forego the wings.

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Little Blue’s antennae were going to be all-black, but I was having trouble locating the black “finger” elements so I used gold instead, and decided it made a pleasing contrast to the rest of the predominantly dark blue and black beetle. Big Red doesn’t actually have antennae, because for the first half of his construction he was going to be a spider, and spiders don’t have them. That’s also why he appears to have more than two eyes.

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It’s not the most seasonal of builds, but I’m singularly uninspired for autumnal and Thanksgiving-y stuff. Have some beetles instead.

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All Alone in the Night

Remember Babylon 5?

Star Trek‘s 1990s rival, in a completely different universe that featured, what a concept, spaceships that moved as if they were in zero-gee and vacuum.

I loved that show, loved the different tech levels of the different races, loved the fact that humans still acted like humans (I’m looking at you, Star Trek).

And I think my favourites among the various alien species were the Narns.

Ambassador G'Kar, the show's leading representative of the Narn Regime

Ambassador G’Kar, the show’s leading representative of the Narn Regime

Reptilian-looking but marsupial-like in their reproduction, the Narn Regime were the lowest-tech of the major races, but still dangerous for all that, particularly to the Centauri, against whom they held a specieswide grudge for the former Centauri domination of their homeworld.

Narn Frazi-class Heavy Fighter

Narn Frazi-class Heavy Fighter

This is one of their spacecraft – the Frazi-class heavy fighter that serves as the Narn Regime’s main space fighter. Armed with two pulse cannons, it is well-armoured but less manoeuvrable than some ships.

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The Frazi-class is crewed by a single Narn pilot.

I’m quite satisfied with how this turned out, even if it’s just a microscale. Managing the bidirectional up-and-down building in the way I did adds a new technique to my toolbox.

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The tail fins aren’t quite TV-accurate, but they’re as close as bricks will come at this scale. All in all, not a bad job.  And here’s the original, for comparison purposes:

Fanart reproduction of the Narn heavy fighter.

Fanart reproduction of the Narn heavy fighter.

 

Oh, Had I Wings…

100_5437The Eos-class is an advanced spatial flyer known for its variable-angle wings, foldable landing gear and agility in transatmospheric operations.

Named after the ancient Greek goddess of the dawn, the Eos-class’ wings give the craft utility in atmosphere as well as in vacuum, where the three magnetoplasmadynamic thrusters give it a high speed and excellent responsiveness.

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Some versions of the class are unarmed, but the most common version incorporates a quartet of proton cannons for asteroid cleanup and antipiracy work.

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The Eos is usually employed for scouting duties or as a transatmospheric superiority fighter, where its agility can be maximised to good effect.

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I think the part of this I’m most pleased with is the folding landing gear. The drop wings are nice, and the cockpit works well with the generally curvy look of it, but the landing gear? Mmm.

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I’m showcasing my new blue Classic Space logo element (I just bought three from Bricklink), so now I can make Classic Space ships with the appropriate emblem.

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I really ought to get some more trans yellow window elements, but they’re so darned expensive.

There’s Klingons on the Starboard Bow!

Klingon D7 K'tinga-class battlecruiser

Klingon D7 K’tinga-class battlecruiser

I do like Star Trek’s Klingons.

Due, presumably, to lazy modelmakers and producers, the Klingons never had anything like the number of different ship types that the Federation had. And that’s even including the Bird-of-Prey visual that the TNG special effects people used to represent at least four vastly different-sized ship classes, a trick that makes no in-universe legitimate design sense at all.

Whereas there were at least twelve separate Federation ship classes shown, and dozens more designed, there were only four, possibly five separate Klingon ship designs.

Out of that limited field I think my personal favourite is still the oldest, the D7, sometimes called the K’tinga.

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Supposedly the seventh iteration of a series of cruisers named after the Klingon drell lizard, the venerable D7 was the standard Klingon starship in Kirk’s era and still seen in service on more than one occasion in Picard, Sisko and Janeway’s TNG era. Which again makes no sense; it’d be like the Royal Air Force continuing to use Supermarine Spitfires in 2016. Refits can only go so far before it’s cheaper to design a new ship class, and the Klingons wouldn’t have been able to gain and keep an empire if they were stupid with their military tech (besides that being out of character for the Klingon warrior race). But that’s the situation we apparently have, and fans have jumped through all kinds of ludicrous hoops to explain what’s really just the producers being lazy and cheap in terms of in-universe continuity.

There are probably fans who’d have done the design work for free just to get their Klingon ship on screen, and the modelling too, come to think of it. Sorry to go on about it, but it’s one of my pet peeves about the Star Trek universe.

Anyway…

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Following on from my little Classic Space Bird-of-Prey (which I didn’t post here, but here you go), I had an inspiration for how to build the most difficult section of the D7 – the bulbous forward section – easily and without trouble in LEGO bricks. The only problem was that doing so would make the completed model fairly large, and necessitate an LDD work.

This is that completed model.

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I’ve gone for as much visual accuracy as I can muster; this is the D7 of film and TNG, not the original TV series, as evidenced by the squared-off, not round, warp nacelles. It’s the same basic design, just with slightly more advanced sci-fi modelmaking.

I think there’s a good chance this might actually have reasonable structural integrity if built in real life. Even that long, narrow neck section is actually fairly strong between the spinal long axles and the outer tile-and-plate wrappings. I make no guarantees, but there’s a chance.

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As to the inspiration for the forward command section, who would have thought that balloon segments would have so many alternate uses? So far I’ve used them in steampunk rayguns, fawns, mediaeval ships and now Klingon starships.

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I’d love to see an Enterprise model at this scale, either the movie-version original NCC-1701 or the -D version Galaxy-class. But a round saucer section that big… I’d have to really pull out all the stops on my LEGO modelling, that’s for sure.

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