Monthly Archives: April 2019


If the Ice Planeteers are going to explore the dark interior ocean I’m postulating beneath the frozen surface of Planet Krysto (see last time), obviously they’ll need submarines.

Plus, presumably, diving suits able to tolerate the pressures and temperatures of Krysto’s deep ocean, but we don’t necessarily need to worry about that quite yet.

Designing and building space submarines for the Ice Planet crew is a big project, and one I hope to do justice to. It’ll take quite a while until I’m ready to produce a whole display, though, or even a relatively minor (though still large if it were to be a set) Zycon IV-sized multiple-crewed subglacial exploration vessel.

Capricorn Subglacial Deep Submergence Vehicle

This smaller bathysphere-style submarine will showcase the sort of thing I have in mind, though.

I had already decided that Aquarius would make a great name for the Ice Planeteers’ main submarine, having both aquatic and stellar connotations. So, borrowing from another watery constellation name, this one is the Capricorn. It may not look much like a sea-goat, but neither does the constellation, really. It’ll serve.

Like most of the Ice Planeteers’ regular hardware, it doesn’t really have anything in the way of visible armament. IP2002 was the “civilian” theme of its day, caught between the Blacktron II and Spyrius on one side and the Space Police II on the other, and the LEGO Group hewed to a much stricter line back then on violence-potential and weaponry in their sets, especially in their futuristic Space sets where the weapons could be assumed to be even more destructive than what we have today.

If there are large, possibly aggressive, potentially buildable lifeforms down there (and it would be a shame if there weren’t), this may be a Mistake, but it’s possible the Ice Planeteers just don’t have any weapons with which to arm their submersibles.

Commander Bear piloting the Capricorn

Commander Bear himself is piloting the Capricorn, wearing what’s going to pass in this branch of the LEGO universe for a deep sea exploration suit. In actuality, it’s one of the spacesuit helmets from the City Spaceport subtheme with a trans light blue visor, but the same element was used in grey for the latest round of Deep Sea Explorers sets, so I figure I’m on firm ground, so to speak. I’d love to use trans red for his visor, but that element doesn’t exist in that colour, and I’m uncertain anyway how it’ll look with the standard Ice Planet spacesuit colours.

I’m not sure whether a diving suit is even practical for that sort of environment, but if it is, then I’m sure that Future Technology as used in the LEGO Classic Space universe can build it. Maybe some sort of hard-skinned composite unobtainium using an advanced form of the same insulation tech as the Ice Planeteers’ spacesuits. At any rate, that’s for a future build once I’ve got hold of some flipper elements in blue, black or white.

“Krystovian Seatron” logo

I borrowed shamelessly from the old Seatron logo with its symbolic representation of the surface and subsurface colour palettes, but for Ice Planet. Thus, white background and black lines, with yellow and red below and blue and orange above. It looks right, somehow. These are hand-drawn on the sort of dot stickers you can get in any dollar store, and no doubt I’d end up with a better product if I printed them. But I’m a bit backward with technology and I don’t know how to set up my printer for paper that small.

After I finished the Capricorn, I decided to modify my sole octopus into some sort of alien hybrid of squid and manta ray. Designing alien underwater creatures that can be built with LEGO is fairly difficult, but this is at least a start. Though what I really ought to try for are giant versions of some of the bizarre Burgess Shale lifeforms, like Opabinia or Anomalocaris. Next time…

Anyway, this is my first “real” build for my subglacial Seatron or aquatic Ice Planet theme. I think this is my first submarine as an AFOL, and of course, it’s a space submarine. Benny would be thrilled.


Deep, Deep Space

Several of the larger ice moons of Jupiter and Saturn – most notably Europa, Ganymede and Enceladus – are believed to have liquid water oceans beneath their icy surfaces, kept liquid by tidal friction heating due to the moons’ orbits around their mother planets. So my question is, what about Krysto, LEGO’s own Ice Planet?

Structure of Jovian moon Europa, as currently theorised.

Using real-world astrophysics on the LEGO universe isn’t always straightforward, given the elastic, not-always-serious, definitely-not-hard-science nature of LEGO Space’s cosmology. However, even as a kid I liked a hard-science edge to my LEGO Space play, and got irritated when LEGO themselves did “stupid stuff” like showing minifigs in space without spacesuits, or creating ridiculous space helicopters (Yes, M-Tron Particle Ionizer, I do mean you). As an AFOL, my version of the Neoclassic Space universe tends to use as much real-world space science as I can muster within the LEGO Space aesthetic.

I really like the idea, so just like Europa or Enceladus, my version of Krysto has an interior ocean.

Since Krysto is described as a planet rather than a moon, its interior can’t be kept liquid by the tidal heating of its own orbit around a mother planet, so presumably it has a large moon that achieves the same effect. This isn’t contraindicated by anything I know about that LEGO has put out; as a toy company they weren’t really into giving precise cosmological detail anyway.

Giving Krysto an inner subsurface ocean allows all sorts of development potentialities, not least of which is the possibility of Commander Bear and his crew exploring inward with mining equipment and submarines, as well as outward with rocketry and satellites.

In effect, what I’m looking at is a reworking of Seatron for the Ice Planeteers.

One of the few tantalising glimpses we have of what might have been: the Seatron monorail

If you’ve never heard of Seatron, neither had I until I recently came across it in a YouTube video when I was following up a tangent in researching the first Space Police. And the reason we’ve never heard of it is because it was an unpublished theme, sadly aborted before reaching production.

One of the awesome-looking Seatron aliens.

It seems it was intended as a direct successor to Futuron; a Space subtheme set on an ocean planet, blending LEGO’s Space and Aquazone lines together in one awesome crossover theme. The few tantalising glimpses we’re given show an underwater monorail, an awesome-looking oceanic base, and alien “Sea People” almost a decade before LEGO would finally give us nonhumans in the UFO theme. And substantially better aliens, too. UFO is my least-favourite Space line, with its messy colour scheme, ugly logo and could-have-been-better aliens, but those Sea People! Look at that thing! We’re used to alien minifigs with a unique head mould, but about the only elements that has in common with a human minifigure are the arms and hands. Such lovely texturing on the torso and legs!

The reasons given for why Seatron never made it to the shelves seem as varied as those giving out the information, but they generally fall into three categories. Number one, the LEGO Corporation’s powers-that-be decided that they (or we) weren’t ready for LEGO aliens yet. Number two, it seems sales of the Futuron monorail weren’t what they had hoped. And number three, apparently they had outsourced the monorail track elements to another company… which then proceeded to go belly-up before LEGO could acquire the rights for those pieces.

Who really knows? All I can say is that based on those few glimpses it would have been a seriously impressive theme, combining my favourite terrestrial theme with my perennial love of Space.

Beneath the ice of Krysto

If I intend to adapt the Seatron concept to an Ice Planet setting, obviously I’m going to have to make some changes. I can’t use the Seatron theme’s above-the-waves palette of white and trans red; I’m going to have to keep the Ice Planet colours for that half of my builds. So whatever I choose for my alternate, below-the-ice palette has to look right next to all that.

I tried several things while searching for the right look. My initial thought was to maintain the blue and black of regular IP2002, but swap in yellow instead of white and trans red instead of trans neon orange, trying to keep in the same colour family for the transparent elements while using that “obviously subaquatic” LEGO yellow colour.

Alas, while it looks great on its own, and the blue elements and trans red make it clear that this ain’t an Aquanauts MOC, I was really unsold on it in combination with the regular Ice Planet livery. It just looks too warm. So I tried some other stuff. Modified Atlantis palette, swapping the Ice Planet blue and trans neon orange for red and trans bright green? Nope; it looks too much like miscoloured Atlantis. A complete no-go.

A lot of the visual warmth is probably inevitable, since I want to stay with yellow for one of my primary colours, and I want to keep the trans red as well to make it distinct from Aquazone. I tried again with white instead of blue, and that seems to work.

Much of this “trying things out” phase was with small tablescrap builds that I didn’t photograph (though the yellow/blue/black/trans red combination did result in a fairly nice modular submarine with a lot of the visual shape of the Blacktron Invader, but I broke it apart before taking pics), so you’ll have to take my word for how bad some of the combinations looked. Having established the colour combination, I was ready to build something more serious.

I’d love to make a whole minifig-scale scene on a 32×32 baseplate, featuring a slice section through the ice and parts of both the surface and subsurface worlds. Alas, I don’t begin to have enough white to generate a believable thickness of ice, and trying to support that sort of mass at height raises structural concerns. I could work something out, but at the moment the lack of white is crippling my ambitions.

Microscale, though, I can do.

For its scale and size, I’m pleased enough with this, but it’s so small and limited compared to what I’d like to do that I’m ending up somewhat disappointed. I do like the use of those Season 5 Ninjago ectoplasmic blades as seaweed, though. And that’s not a bad submarine for a 15-element nubbin the size of a fingernail.

Closeup of the Krystovian submarine

I will be continuing with this adjunct-to-Ice-Planet subtheme. I do really like the idea of a Krystovian interior ocean.

So now I just need a name for it. Ice Planet: Beneath has a sort of possibility, but it’s inelegant and doesn’t abbreviate well. Aquatron doesn’t preserve the link with Ice Planet, and Frozen Seas sounds too terrestrial, like a Viking-based computer game or something.

Seatron: Krysto could work, I suppose, or I did consider Ice Planet: Aquarius Project, as I thought Aquarius would make an apt name for their biggest or first main explorer submarine. But IP:AP is an even more terrible abbreviation than IP:B.


Closer look at the surface support base

Sting Operations

LEGO Space Police.

Space Police 1 Mission Commander/Galactic Enforcer. Photo from Jangbricks.

It took me a while to make my peace with the idea of the Space Police, and to this day only Spyrius and M:Tron among the early (pre-UFO) LEGO Space themes have inspired fewer builds.

The first Space Police sets came in just as I was entering my personal Dark Ages, and while the Blacktron subtheme provoked admiration laced with confusion (who exactly were these dark knights of the spaceways?), the Space Police line provoked more of a confusion-laced disdain. At the time, I managed to completely miss the fact that those were Blacktron astronauts in the cells, that this was the first factional conflict in LEGO history, and I wasn’t thrilled with the idea of a spacegoing police force. If I’d wanted to play cops and robbers with my LEGO, I’d have been into Town sets. What did they think they were doing, mucking up my beloved Space theme and turning it into a Town clone? Space Police? Bah!

Coming back to LEGO a few years ago, it still took me a while to get past my youthful hangups. I had remembered the second-generation Space Police’s unattractive grey livery colours as belonging to Space Police I, and I couldn’t for the life of me imagine why such an unpromising-seeming subtheme should have spawned not one, but two iterations, especially when the awesome Ice Planet subtheme (which I do remember with fondness even though it happened in my Dark Ages) only got a single run of sets.

I know better now, but only having acquired a Space Police trooper relatively recently I haven’t done much with them in the way of building.

Space Police Stinger MOC

This, then is only my third or fourth Space Police build at all, and of course I’m gravitating to SP1, just as I prefer my Blacktrons to be first-generation rather than “Future Generation” Blacktron IIs. Given my penchant for inverting the moral polarity of the Classic Space universe – Blacktrons are the good guys of the rebel alliance, while the Classic Space/Futuron/Space Police triumvirate represents an oppressive, totalitarian System – SP1 colours have the most sinister appearance.

Though conceived and built as an update to the Space Police Striker, it’s a little smaller and doesn’t incorporate the light-up features of the original. In fact, it’s closer in size to the much smaller Galactic Peacekeeper, though its configuration is more like the Striker. I’m calling it the “Stinger”.

My prisoner transport pod design is far more cagelike than the original SP1 pod. I’m afraid I went rather overboard with the laser bars concept of the original, which it must be said are way cooler than the SP2’s pods managed. I’d have liked something a little more like the tubular pods of SP3 (though in red), but I don’t have any of those half-cylinder elements in trans red. What I’ve ended up with looks vaguely Mediaeval. Still, it works, and I have to say that the way those cylindrical pods were attached to SP3’s Galactic Enforcer was ugly.

Underside, showing undercarriage in retracted configuration

The Stinger is presumably something like an extended-range Galactic Peacekeeper or smaller and more agile Striker. Perfect for chasing those dastardly Blacktrons all over the cosmos.

Horizon Station

Horizon Station, planet Eos

Horizon Station is the main Federation outpost on Eos, third planet of the star 51 Arietis. The star system contains no habitable, Earthlike planets, but its location makes it an emerging nodal system for the exploration of the Sancerre sector.

Due to a strong Blacktron presence in the neighbouring Inari sector, Horizon Station’s defences have been enhanced over what might be expected from what is still a relatively minor exploration hub, as attested by the presence of a full-blown Protector-class surface-based anti-capital-ship laser turret.

Federation heavy transport Altair (hull no. LL828) sits on the landing strip adjacent to the Protector turret. A Starlifter-class vessel built for the intrasystem transport of cargo rather than passengers, Altair’s blocky lines are less elegant than more passenger-optimised transports such as LL928 Galaxy Explorer. Warehousing on the other side of the landing strip serve as a holding area for transfers of cargo into and out of the Station.

Warehousing and landing strip

The plasma exhaust vents jutting upward in front of the turret are from an old subterranean fusion plant, now part of the emergency backup systems. The modern plug-in antimatter reactor that actually powers the base is located some distance from the main facility for safety reasons. Controlled antimatter annihilation produces vast amounts of energy, and should the containment fields fail, this energy would be released all at once with incredible violence.

Plasma vents and recovery rover
Either a shield generator or a power plant

A newly-built monorail track connects the turretside landing strip to other parts of the Station, passing on of Horizon Station’s sensor nodes on its way out. The various active and passive radars, gravitic detectors, advanced optics, life sensors and lidar on the planetary surface and in orbit are tied into a single network in order to maximise the sensitivity and resolution of the system.

Elevated monorail

On the other side of the elevated monorail rack is an old-style rocket launch pad. Even in the age of antimatter annihilation reactors and cheap fusion, old-fashioned rocketry still has its uses: re-usable nuclear and chemical rockets are a low-tech, low-infrastructure way of achieving orbit without needing complex and costly megastructures like orbital rings and space elevators.

Rocket launch base

The fast transport LL564 Hyperion swoops in over the Protector-class turret for a landing on the strip, while the compact Eridani-class scout cruiser LL667 Galbatorix hovers over the ridgeline in a holding pattern.

LSS Hyperion
LSS Galbatorix


Microscale is great for stuff like this. While it would undoubtedly be awesome to be able to put something like this together in all-up minifig scale, my brick inventory isn’t yet up to humungous double-pool-table-sized displays. Also, I’m not certain how I’d do that defence turret in minifigure scale.

The turret was the first piece of this to get built, and the base grew up around it. I was playing around with various dome designs, and realising that I still don’t have quite enough 1×4 hinge plates for a ¾ icosahedron dome in all light bluish grey, and came up with this alternate dome design using the nexagon plates.

This meant that the minifigure-scale greenhouse dome I was contemplating got quietly reworked into a defence turret, and then I added the landing strip and LL828 Altair. Then the rest of the base happened.

It took some time to put together, as I put things in, moved them around, reworked them and even took them out again completely. I’m quite pleased that I managed to reference the authentic Classic Space red hubcaps in a microscale surface rover, and I also managed to reference the Space monorail and the Alpha-1 Rocket Base.

For the record, LL828 Altair is named after the brightest star in the constellation of Aquila, the eagle, because it has a definite resemblance to the Eagle spacecraft from the old Space:1999 TV series. The Eagle’s a great design and looks very adaptable to the near-future semi-realism of the Classic Space theme. At some point I have plans to build a full-sized minifig-scale Altair.

Horizon Station itself (I tried out various names before settling on this one) is named because I wanted something forward-looking and optimistic in keeping with the original spirit of Classic Space. Also it doesn’t necessarily tie you down to any particular location or franchise universe.

The terrain of planet Eos (named after the Greek goddess of the dawn, because Classic Space just seems to go with Greco-Roman mythological names) is light tan because that’s the colour of baseplate I have, but it also looks pleasingly like the sand-coloured planetary backdrop featured in all the old Classic Space promotional materials, like catalogue imagery and instruction booklets. I always used to wonder how the sand/tan background was supposed to represent the same planet as the old grey crater baseplates anyway, so being able to just build my planet in one colour makes sense to me.