Author Archives: geoffhorswood

About geoffhorswood

Christian, husband, father of three, sometime missionary and current blogger.

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.

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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.

AnkylosauRover

Combining dinosaurs and space is a long-standing LEGO tradition for my AFOL self. Ever since I allowed myself to get back into building I’ve had a bit of a thing for merging the future and prehistoric realms. My username on the old LEGO.com forums – SaurianSpacer – referred to this; I knew I was going to be Building A Spaceship a lot, but my first posted creation was a Quetzalcoatlus pterosaur. And then some of my first (digital) AFOL creations were a series of dinosaur-shaped spaceships and vehicles.

But I don’t think I’ve done an Ankylosaur before.

It’s a strange omission in some ways. Ankylosaurs were one of the major dinosaur families, and the armoured beasts were and are pretty cool.

So as the first instalment of FebRovery 2019 I decided to rectify the situation.

Role-wise I think the Ankyloroversaurus is some sort of geo-sensing rover, possibly akin to 6841 Mineral Detector or 6844 Seismologic Vehicle. All the bristly antennas along the sides look like they’re part of some kind of sensing equipment, like an advanced Ground Penetrating Radar array or similar.

The cannon-armed thagomizer is possibly a little out of place on a geo-sensing vehicle, but in real Classic Space those wouldn’t actually be cannons despite what they look like. No, they’d be rock sampling lasers or the nodes of some other kind of sensor (using gamma rays?).

Of course, possibly those spikes along the sides aren’t antennas, and the vehicle has a more military nature. That seems a little less likely given the prominent non-existence of weaponry other than the tail club, but perhaps a force-shield generator rover or similar?

That’s actually a pretty good idea and goes well with Ankylosaurus’ armoured nature. But it still looks a lot like a geosensor rover to me.

Three Little Pigs Mech Battle

So I had this idea for a series of mechs based on the story of the Three Little Pigs.

Originally I was thinking I’d do them at minifigure scale and purchase three of the old piggie suit guy (from the Series 12 minifigures) to pilot them, and a Chima figure for the Big Bad Wolf. Then I saw the going rate for Pig Suit Guy. Ouch.

Yeah, he’s not the most expensive minifigure out there (Ginny Weasley for over $25? I laugh), but I still object to paying $35-45 US for three minifigures that I’m probably only going to use in a single creation.

Microscale, then.

You don’t get quite the same level of piggyness with the stacked-1×1-round-plate type of figures, but at least they have pink heads and give an impression of three little pigs. The wolf is marginally better – light bluish grey microfigure with the 1×1 clip tile on top of his head for ears. And it’s worked out probably better overall, because this way I got to build a whole scene out of it.

A very tiny Big Bad Wolf

The Mech Made Of Straw was the first part of the creation to be built, and is probably my favourite of the mechs. I don’t think I’ve built that many microscale mechs before, and I decided to pull out as many of the stops as I could in creative joint structures and not using balljoints all the time. He’s armed with those big pincer claws and a laser or machine gun of some sort.

Mech Made Of Straw

The Mech Made Of Sticks got built next. Again, I went with mostly non-balljoint joints, and built just a little larger than the straw mech. I think I’m most pleased with the clinker-built look of the front torso and the suggestion of knots in the wood with strategic use of studs and tiles. His main weapon is the rocket pods on his shoulders, showing that Stick Piggie isn’t the wisest of pigs (Explosive materials and wood. Hmmm).

Mech Made Of Sticks

Then I took a break from mechs and built the huffing, puffing Big Bad Lobo Tank. To be frank about it, I wasn’t sure I could pull off a good enough Lobomech at this scale, especially since I wanted that big wind turbine element as a main weapon system. The tank was substantially rebuilt after my first attempt, adding the side sponsons and generally cleaning it up. I’m still not entirely satisfied with it but it’s better than it was.

Huffin’, puffin’ Big Bad Lobo Tank

The Mech Made Of Bricks came after that. Originally taller, I rebuilt some sections after I decided that the arms looked too short. A Brick Mech ought to be sort of squat and solid-looking, after all.

Mech Made Of Bricks

This was my first experiment with the use of minifig legs as mech fingers. This mech is small enough that it isn’t quite as good a technique as it would be on something with bigger hands, but it works, and it’s a new technique for me. I’m actually least satisfied with the Brick Mech, which is partly why it’s lurking at the back.

After building all these mechs, I was staring at my daughter’s green baseplates when I started to think that some scenery-building would really unify the creation and bring it all together. Bright green isn’t normally my preferred incarnation of LEGO green, but it certainly works well with the sideways fairytale subject matter here. And it doesn’t hurt that I’ve got enough regular green and other colours to break it up a little. And I got to build the House of Straw, House of Sticks and House of Bricks as well.

Straw House. Note the First Little Pig to the right.
Second Little Pig and Stick House
Brick House with water wheel

It’s actually something of a shame that the Brick House is right at the back, because it’s by far the best of the three houses, complete with water wheel and an interesting technique on the door frame. However, if I put the Brick House at the front it would mean I had to put the Brick Mech at the front, too, and it’s not quite as good as the others. And since the mechs are the actual focus of the creation…

This Is Not The V-Wing You Are Looking For

LL588 V-Wing transatmospheric craft

When looking for a name for this NCS transatmospheric craft, it seemed that “V-Wing” was the only possible choice somehow.

However, there’s already a Clone Wars-era Star Wars ship (possibly two) by that name, so I was reluctant to add a third.

Still, with those long wings that fold vertically up for landing, it’s so much more V-shaped than the V-wing. Which I don’t actually like all that much as a fighter; too derivative of the Jedi Starfighter. And since the NCS universe in all its variants is normally separate from the Star Wars canon universe and I know of at least one non-Star Wars V-Wing, I think it’s okay to add another.

LL588 in landing configuration

I know it looks like an NCS homage to Kylo Ren’s command shuttle, but I was honestly more inspired by the Imperial shuttle Tydirium. It was only after I decided to dispense with the vertical fin that I realised how similar it looks to the First Order’s second-best original vehicle.

I’ve ranted before about how ugly a lot of the new trilogy’s new hardware is, but there are a few exceptions. I mean, the Resistance X-Wing and First Order TIE Fighter can barely be told from their originals, and a lot of the other hardware is so obviously derivative that I don’t count it as a new vehicle (First Order Star Destroyers, uglified AT-ATs, Resistance cruisers). And so what are we left with? The ugly sideways brick of the Resistance troop transport, the First Order’s slab-sided repulsorlift LST, the almost-as-ugly Resistance bomber and that transport pod. The Crait speeders are a partial exception but I’m not personally that fond of them, so the only two new ships out of two whole Star Wars movies that I actually like the designs of are the First Order command shuttle and the TIE Silencer.

For the Star Wars universe, that’s a pretty terrible record. The franchise made its name and reputation at least in part on its iconic and awesome ship designs, and even the Prequel Trilogy had a lot of gorgeous vehicles, like the vaguely-ancestral-to-an-X-Wing Naboo fighters or the sail-powered vessel of Count Dooku or the AT-TE. The present crop of hardware designers just don’t seem to cut it by comparison.

However, this is NCS, and owes little to the Star Wars canon apart from a tangential inspiration. My V-Wing actually looks like a V and not a letter H.

~~~

The LL588 V-Wing is a class of transatmospheric scoutship used by the Federation. Its long wings make it perfect for in-atmosphere work as well as in vacuum, but its flight configuration is suboptimal for space carrier operations due to the amount of hangar space they take up.

Though some carrier designs experimented with vertical-stacking small craft bays, the fact is that humans evolved on the ground and prefer flat layouts.

The solution ever since the days of ancient wet-navy aircraft carriers has often been folding wing designs, and the V-Wing is no exception. When raised for landing, the wings do take up a considerable amount of height, but hangar bays are typically tall to facilitate takeoff/landing operations.

The LL588 V-Wing is not heavily armed for its size, though the pair of underslung particle cannons are of a calibre normally found on corvettes and small frigates as secondary or tertiary weapons. In addition, the V-Wing bears a pair of wingtip lasers.

The main thrusters are augmented by wing-mounted microjets to aid in extra-atmospheric manoeuvring.

The Redcoats Are Coming

I don’t have a lot to say about this, but I think it’s one of my best built large figures to date.

The constraction parts I used on the legs and feet almost feel like a cheat, but they do work so well here that I’m not going to sweat it. And technically either the face ought to be light flesh in colour or the hands should be tan, but if I hadn’t known that I don’t think I would catch it.

The head and hips are my two favourite parts. Those old clip-on black solar panels or whatever they are work really well to cover the balljoints, and I’m really pleased with how the face turned out and the design of the bearskin hat.

Admittedly it would work even better if I had a balljoint holder in light tan, but that’s a no-go at this time. I’m not even sure LEGO make one in that colour.

Anyway, here he is; my first creation of the new year. Enjoy.

Spirit of Christmas Future

…And a happy new galactic year!

Rudolph and company are all very well for Earthly Christmas travels.  All around the world on a sleigh pulled by eight to nine flying reindeer is doable when your distances are only thousands of miles.  But in the galactic future, the Big Red Guy is going to need an upgrade.

The idea of Santa calling on the aid of warp-dwelling transgalactic lifeforms such as Hyperspace Reindeer has a lot of awesome story potential but it’s difficult to build.  No, Father Christmas is going to need a spaceship.

Enter the Spirit of Christmas Future.

Santa drives a Vic Viper, obviously.  This is only my third or fourth Viper, and I’m pleased with how it’s turned out.  And this from the guy who built his first Vic Viper and said to himself “Right, done that now.  Can’t see myself building another one.”

Since in the spirit of goodwill to all men, Santa has to visit all the factions of the Classic Space universe, even the Spyrius, he can’t have a spaceship in any of those colour combinations.  White with green and red accents works great against a black background but when I combined it with my icy planetary backdrop I wished I’d gone with more green and red.

Storage compartment for presents

There’s even a storage compartment for presents in the back.  Unfortunately it won’t open any more than that because engines, but the thought is there.  I can’t rebuild to correct it because that would drastically mess up the overall profile of the ship, and I won’t change the engines for the same reason.  But there it is.

Alongside Santa’s spaceship, the scene was crying out for some Ice Planet goodness, so I built a little Krystovian Christmas scene adjunct to go with it.  Stockings hung by the reactor with care, the reactor itself having a lot of the look of a Christmas tree, presents, hot tea and Christmas cookies.  Sounds good to me, except I hope that reactor is properly shielded!

Old Obi-Wan makes a pretty good Commander Bear, and I followed through on the slight Star Wars subtext by using Rei and Finn’s heads as well.  Ice Planet needs at least a few black people, after all.