Author Archives: geoffhorswood

About geoffhorswood

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

Today Is A Good Day For Blatant Stupidity To Die

One of the most irritating things about Star Trek canon is its diktat that the Klingons are just fundamentally conservative when it comes to ship design, using the same designs (with incremental updates) for decades if not centuries.

Gilso’s Klingon fleet chart from daftworks.co.uk, using DS9 Technical Manual specifications which may or may not be accurate (there are issues). This is it for canon Klingon ships in the entire century and a half between the TOS series and the TNG movies. Five ship classes 😛

Respect to them for endeavouring to explain the nonsense that we only ever see 5 Klingon ship designs in the entire TOS/TNG/DS9/Voyager period (plus another two or three in Enterprise, and discounting J.J. Abrams’ reboot and the supposed “Klingon” designs from Discovery), equating to 6-8 ship classes because stupid modelling decisions (see last time for my rant on the B’rel/K’vort inanity). But “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” only goes so far. There comes a point at which an old hull and layout simply can’t accommodate the new and improved technologies that have been developed since its inception, leaving your fleet at a serious tactical and strategic disadvantage.

Besides all that, between all the incremental advances in technology crammed into the same hull (even if it’s a new hull on the same basic design), over time standardisation in your fleet is going to suck, as newer builds theoretically in the same class will end up with vastly different capabilities than older construction. When this involves engines, it means your “same class” of ships are going to have different sustained speeds, making fleet manoeuvres artificially laggy because you have to move at the speed of your slowest vessel.

That the Warrior Race would be okay with this beggars belief, even if Imperial science is a bit lacking compared to the Federation or the Romulans. They’re warriors, not morons. They like to operate their ships in squadrons (we see formations of three ships a lot), so this is not something their typical tactics can work well with. And I’m really not convinced that the Klingons are as primitive as it’s claimed. They did discover the warp drive considerably before humans, after all.

My preferred take on this apparent lunacy is that the Klingons “really” have numerous other ship classes that we never see. Maybe since the Federation are a bunch of nonaggressive pansies (and allied in the TNG period), they feel okay about dumping all of their older, obsolescent ships (like aging B’rel and K’vort classes) along the Federation border. Maybe those classes are all that were in range to muster for the Dominion War; that plus injudicious camera angles would explain the absence of anything else from the Klingon attack fleet there.

Anyway, I firmly believe there are numerous Klingon ship classes we’ve never seen, including any number of more experimental-looking designs.

Tik’leth-class experimental fast battlecruiser

Like this one.

I’m calling it the Tik’leth-class, after the Klingon longsword mentioned in beta canon, (probably a far better aggressive weapon than the almost solely defensive bat’leth). Four warp nacelles because I liked that feature of Picard’s old Stargazer, but in a much more typically Klingon configuration. Armed to the teeth because Klingons, I’m figuring this as representing a semi-experimental class, a little shorter than a Vor’cha-class but much wider and beefier.

Aft aspect. Lots of impulse power there, and presumably at least a couple of banks of disruptors and torpedo tubes for when you’re fighting someone that can manoeuvre.
Top view. The nacelles are definitely TNG sort of era, but that heavily rigged neck looks a little crude or unfinished. Ergo, experimental ship.

Since it has four warp nacelles, it should have power to spare and be at least as fast as anything the Federation can muster prior to a Sovereign-class, and that power ought to let it incorporate some massively powerful disruptors. Hopefully ones with all-around firing arcs, since canon Klingon ships exhibit a major deficiency in rear-firing weapons. I reckon they’d beg, trade or steal the specs for the quantum torpedo from their Federation allies, so the IKS Tik’leth would probably get refitted to use those, too.

Top-front view.
This is probably the view you don’t want. Klingon ships typically have really huge frontal armament.
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tlhIngan maH!

“We are Klingons!” K’t’inga-class Battlecruiser

Probably my favourite of the extremely limited number of Klingon ship designs in the primary canon, the venerable K’t’inga-class was the larger Klingon battlecruiser type seen in movies such as Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (as opposed to the small Klingon Bird of Prey seen in movies like The Search for Spock and The Voyage Home).

A victim of the same conceptual nonsense that produced the B’rel and K’vort classes, the K’t’inga was basically a rescaling of the D7 used in the original series, with added detailing.

The B’rel/K’vort idiocy is one of the more irritating bits of canon developed to explain lazy model selection in the TNG television series. When the Klingon fleet was reintroduced onscreen to TNG, it was with a brand-new ship model: the Vor’cha-class Attack Cruiser. The B’rel Bird of Prey model from the TOS movies was still seen alongside this one, though; evidently still in service just like the antique Federation Miranda-class from the same era. Except with one difference. Evidently figuring that fans wouldn’t care about the Klingon fleet (wrong), they used the same Bird of Prey model to represent at least two vastly different sizes of ship.

This is just lazy model selection pure and simple (especially since they already had K’t’inga and Vor’cha models available), but is “explained” in Trek lore by the creation of the visually identical but much larger K’vort-class (I hope it means “mistake” in tlhIngan Hol).

The D7 upscaling that produced the K’t’inga is marginally less annoying, because the design was already intended as a relatively large ship. The original Constitution-class’ opposite number, the D7 was the standard “Klingon ship” in the TOS era, unlike the B’rel, which represented a relatively tiny “Scout-class” vessel and makes no visual sense as a ship of comparable size to the Galaxy-class Enterrprise-D.

Anyway, catching up on all the movies I missed when I was working stupid hours at my previous job, I have now come to J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek reboot. And may I say what a little tit the J.J.verse’s Kirk is. The prime timeline’s Kirk could be an annoying pillock at times, but he’s got nothing on the rebel-with-a-spaceship Kirk of the Kelvin timeline. Still, it inspired me to build a Trek ship: my favourite vessel class from the Klingon Empire, (primary timeline).

Later I may have a go at the Kelvin timeline’s D4-class Bird of Prey from Star Trek: Into Darkness, but their D4 isn’t an especially Klingon-looking ship. A bit too Romulan-looking in overall configuration, though it does manage to have an “ancestral-to-the-B’rel” look about it despite that. At this time, I have other build priorities.

Technically the D7/K’t’inga should have a more nearly spherical lower forward hull section rather than the hemisphere I’ve built, but this is as close as it gets in bricks. So here she is, ready to kick some Federation and/or Romulan butt for the greater glory of the Empire.

Horsell Common and the Heat-Ray

Ulla!

This isn’t my first Martian Fighting Machine build, but inspired by GunnBuilding’s latest series of Martians, I decided to give it another go.

Normally when I build, I’ll get something basically complete and then tweak it a little over the next several days as it sits on my display shelf. It’ll generally only be minor tweaks, though; I tend to build all in one go even with large SHIP-class builds.

This time, I did quite a bit more tweaking than usual, reworking the legs once and completely rebuilding the head twice. The final result might be my best tripod yet, and it’s certainly the most book-accurate one, to the extent of incorporating the carrying basket on the back (which isn’t something you commonly see).

Now with ulta-accurate prisoner carrying basket!

It’s not the most completely stable of builds with all those joints in the legs, but the multijointedness would give the Fighting Machine a more flowing, cephalopoid kind of a gait that seems in keeping with the Martians’ squidlike physiology. And it does stand up, even on surfaces with little to no “give” or friction, like my display shelf. A real-life Martian Fighting Machine walking on spikes like that would drive its feet into even cobblestone roads with every step.

Heat-Ray on the left of the cockpit (operator’s POV), Black Smoke dispenser on the right

I’ve tried to incorporate all the details H. G. Wells described in the original work, though he’s frustratingly vague about certain fundamental design aspects (like the shape of the vehicle’s main body, the nature of the “hood” under which the Martian operator sits, how the legs actually attach and so on). This version has several previous media tripod designs in its ancestry, but neither the 1953 manta saucer nor the 2005 tripod included the basket (well, the 2005 version kind of did, but not with any prominence), and even Jeff Wayne relegated the carrying basket to the Handling Machine in the art from his musical version. For a long while I considered his tripod the definitive version, but these days I prefer something a little more sinister. The Jeff Wayne tripod was plenty sinister enough when I was a kid, but these days I can’t help but see a fat, long-legged tick or wingless cartoon mosquito when I look at it.

What I’m using as my Martian pilot isn’t big enough for the book’s description of the Martian being “the size of a bear, perhaps”, but this weird mould (apparently of some unknown Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles thing called The Kraang) looks nearly perfect for the cephalopoid, brain-dominated Martians. Easier to fit into a workable Fighting Machine build than an octopus, too.

The Kraang: A near-perfect WotW Martian.

Anyway, this is my latest take on the epic alien walker that is probably the ultimate ancestor of them all: the Martian Fighting Machine.

Sagittarius

Sagittarius Defence Mech

I think this is a much better mech than last time’s SPARTVS design, but interestingly enough I have far less to say about it. It’s weird how that works sometimes. I was perfectly satisfied with the SPARTVS until I built this Sagittarius mech, but now that I have this to compare it with the SPARTVS seems a bit clumsy and clunky.

To me, this looks like a sort of light aerospace defence mech, which makes the name “Sagittarius” (“Archer”) very appropriate. Interestingly, though, that wasn’t the origin of the name.

With those long legs and splay-toed feet, I thought it had a rather ratite look. For the uninitiated, “Ratites” are a bird family, including all the extant large flightless birds (ostriches, emus, rheas, cassowaries and kiwis) plus the non-flightless tinamou and a number of extinct birds including the moa of New Zealand and the elephant bird of Madagascar. Anyway, it was nearly the Ratite-class, but that didn’t seem right for what was obviously a military design, so I cast my mind around for something similar but a bit more predatory.

Aha! Secretary Bird!

Secretary-class works even less well than Ratite-class, but the scientific binomial name of the Secretary Bird is Sagittarius serpentarius. And Sagittarius being a constellation as well as a genus, and meaning “Archer” to boot, that worked doubly well for a space defence walker.

S.P.A.R.T.V.S.

The SPARTVS walker

The SPARTVS (“Spartus”; “Synergistic Piloted Assault Robot Tactical Victory Suit”) mech is a twin-crewed close-quarters combat mech developed by Cyberus Industries of Titan, a subsidiary of TransOctan. TransOctan is one of the oldest transcorporate entities in the System, and though its power has fluctuated relative to the other feudal-capitalist giants like Bencom and Lagrange-Lunacorp, it remains one of the major powers, and one known for a certain ruthlessness.

Twin-crewed bipedal mechs are not common even in the System, but Cyberus Industries of Titan seem to specialise in them; the SPARTVS is not the first such mech to come out of the Cyberus manufactories beside the Vid Flumina.

The SPARTVS was designed as an enforcement mech for quelling labour riots, so its first factory-default standard model featured neural stun batons to be used in the lower pair of hands, and sleepgas dispensers fitted to the upper arms. However, TransOctan corporate security forces requested a change to monomolecular-edged cutting blades in order to deal with unrest in the volatile Mercury solar farms, where rioting workers had access to Mercurian-environment power armours like the so-called Hellsuit.

The Mark 2 SPARTVS mech incorporated the requested changeout of stun batons for monomolecular cutting blades, and also replaced the upper sleepgas dispensers with hydraulic claws. Smaller sleepgas dispensers can still be fitted to the four upper arms, but the SPARTVS is mostly deployed against exo-suited rioters or spacesuited Blacktron agitators where sleepgas is ineffective.

~~~

And so we return to Classic Space, and the inverted-moral-polarity world of the System, in which the Blacktrons are the good guys and the Classic astronauts represent various corporate factions of the ruling Dark Side Ayn Randian hypercapitalist dystopia.

It’s been a while since I generated a proper backstory for one of my NCS creations, and with something as unusual as a twin-crewed NCS combat mechsuit it seemed like a good opportunity to rectify that oversight, as well as to return to my favourite dystopian take on the Neoclassic Space shared universe. And I got to come up with a new acronym for its name, which is always fun.

You really don’t see a lot of mechs with multiple crew; the whole point of giant humanoid walkers is that they’re supposed to be intuitive to control by a single pilot. If you’re going to build a walker with more than one crewmember, it’s usually going to be more like an AT-AT or a chicken walker and less like a humanoid. “Legged vehicle” rather than actual mechsuit.

However, if you can separate out your crew control roles, or possibly link both pilots together (perhaps with control cables plugged directly into their brains), there’s really no reason why you shouldn’t. Besides, it lets you do things like four-armed mechs that actually might have a hope of being controllable without AI running half of it.

Also, unusual design concepts are like crack for me. I’m hopelessly addicted.

I suspect that the “Synergistic” part of the name acronym means that the pilots are hardwired into the control systems, but it’s possible there’s some sort of holographic control interface instead. It’s the future; maybe people have implanted nanocomputers that interface directly with the brain for information networking, hard-drive memory support and control of personal peripherals. That would also explain the absence of any kind of visible controls for a lot of NCS hardware; they’re controlling it via implants.

Iron Mongery

Obadiah Stane’s Iron Monger armour

Who’d have thought that I’d be happily building MCU stuff related to Iron Man?

For a whole complex of reasons (mostly amounting to “I find Tony Stark difficult to relate to”) Iron Man’s one of my least favourite Marvel Cinematic Universe heroes. I never read the comics he was in, not his own book nor the West Coast Avengers that he led when I was reading Marvel comics in the ‘90s, and so I have little background knowledge and nostalgia for the character. All I can draw from is the modern big-screen incarnation, and not all of that because I skipped over Iron Man 3.

Don’t get me wrong; I don’t dislike the character. I enjoy watching him interact with the other heroes in most of the ensemble movies, and even in Civil War I get where he’s coming from despite the fact that I think I agree more with Captain America. It’s just that a solo Iron Man film is usually just a bit too much unleavened Tony Stark for me.

That being the case, you wouldn’t be wrong in thinking I’d be slow to gravitate towards Iron Man builds. However, I don’t especially like most of the grimdark incarnations of Batman either, but that hasn’t slowed me down from building the occasional take on the Batmobile or other Bat-vehicles. Here I am building an Iron Man-related build.

Obadiah Stane’s Iron Monger suit from the first Iron Man movie is noticeably bigger than a regular-sized human. Since the Mark 3 Iron Man armour is represented in LEGO as a minifigure (as are most of the various Tony Stark armours), the larger size of the Iron Monger brings it into “something to build” territory rather than “custom minifig”.

Obadiah Stane… sort of

This version is obviously too big. Approxinmately twice the height even of one of the LEGO big ‘figs like Hulk and Thanos, it’s way out of proportion to a minifig-sized Iron Man. However, the LEGO Group themselves bend scale all the time for the sake of their builds, and in multiple themes. Official LEGO Droidekas are well known for being drastically larger than they ought to be, whereas even as large a set as the Death Star is demonstrably too small. I’m not one of these expert specialist mech architects, and I don’t know how to build much smaller than this and still have it look like the beefy, bulky suit of MCU Iron Man’s first villain.

I think my favourite part of this is the shoulder-mounted hydraulic pistons. A feature of the Iron Monger you really have to include if you’re building it, they’re not easy to do and tend to restrict the movement of the arms. I’ve done what I can, but these do have a tendency to disconnect in certain arm positions.

I’m also rather pleased with the multiposeable fingers. Those rounded 1×1 plates with the bar allow the fingers to splay, giving a much more naturalistic range of hand motion. Okay, my Iron Monger doesn’t have elbows or knees, but it looks reasonable despite that. The helmet even opens up to reveal Obadiah Stane (approximately) behind the mask.

It’d be nice if there was a way to reproduce a range of horizontal movement in the mask, but there’s no way to make the head turn with this construction technique, and anything else would spoil the look.

Ultramarine Spitfire

LL406 Ultramarine Spitfire

If I was building this for the anniversary of the Battle of Britain, I was a month off. The officially recognised start date for the Battle of Britain was 10th July 1940, and it’s still June right now.

I’m not sure quite what made me decide to build a Neoclassic Space take on a classic British warplane, but here it is. More of my subconscious “Space Everything” mindset, I suppose. Anyway, here it is. Technically, it’s closer in shape to the Hawker Typhoon than the Supermarine Spitfire, but the body’s a lot wider than either and much more blended with the wings.

Blended-wing construction was never a feature of 1940s aircraft. It’s way too expensive and difficult for far too little benefit; you could probably make two or three less capable non-blended-wing aircraft in the time it took to build one ultra-streamlined blended-wing super-aircraft. Still, those rounded wings the classic Spitfire has are rather iconic, and given the blue-based colour scheme of Classic Space there wasn’t anything I could call it except “Ultramarine Spitfire”.

Presumably this is a Classic Space Federation transatmospheric space fighter based on some planet where they need a lot of low-speed manoeuvrability. If there’s one thing most World War Two aircraft excelled in, it’s low-speed manoeuvres.

I’m not sure whether this counts as my first Dieselpunk spaceship or not, but I suppose it might.