Author Archives: geoffhorswood

About geoffhorswood

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

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.

Advertisements

Rapa Nui

Easter Island

It’s the beginning of Advent and the start of the runup to Christmas, so obviously I’m going to build Easter…

…Island.

I don’t have a lot to say about this, but I’m quite pleased with how it turned out.  The blank microfigures are proportioned just right for the stone heads, with their large head and short body layout.

The ship I’m also quite pleased with, though I think it would be nice if I’d been able to build a proper Polynesian catamaran or outrigger at that scale.  Alas, way too tiny.  Still, a regular sailing ship works too.

Aerial view

It might also have been better if the stone heads were all grey, but I’m too lazy and impatient to wait for Bricklink orders every time I want to build things.

Here it is, then.  Easter Island.  At Christmas time.

Enjoy.

IceBug

The Ice Planeteers had (proportionally speaking) quite a lot of surface vehicles in their single year of existence as a theme, but no mechs. This was back in the day, mind you, before the advent of CCBS and balljoint elements, and making reasonable legs was really hard.

That’s since been rectified, but insectoid ice mechs still aren’t exactly two-a-penny.

Mini IceBug.

I actually started out with the smaller “Snowbug” robot, building it as a vaguely AT-TE-inspired microscale. Something the size of a building that could transport the heaviest equipment across the frozen worlds of the organisation’s mandate.

Then I decided to see if I could scale it up at all.

Big IceBug

Knowing I wasn’t going to be able to build a vehicle even remotely as big as I’d envisaged (3-6-crew cockpit, ½ plate height = approximately 6 feet), I felt free to adapt the basic design while keeping with the overall beetle configuration.

Ski Rover (stowed position)

Ready for deployment

One of my better small Ice Planet vehicles, I think

The resulting ice bug can transport a small ski rover on its rooftop flatbed pallet, adding a nice element of playability. There’s only room for one of the two crew I’ve provided it with in the cockpit, unfortunately, but it does have those rotary shooters as well as the poseable legs and deployable ice rover.

Pilot’s position.

The final element of the overall setup is an ice speeder I built a week or so back but never posted here. My neo-Commander Bear figure (Commander Cold Bear’s body with Old Obi-Wan’s head for the flesh skintone I typically like to use) is driving, now that I actually have the Ice Planet commander figure.

VX313 Fulmar ice speeder

eAT-ME

AT-ME facing off against the Sith Lord Darth Maraud (supported by Trade Federation droid troops)

The All Terrain Medium Enforcer (AT-ME) was a Clone Wars-era armoured walker of the Galactic Republic, sometimes called the “Clone Battlecrab”. Bearing some surface visual similarity to the heavy artillery AT-AP pod walker, the AT-ME was designed for close-range combat, where its heavy armour, high-power lasers and medium antipersonnel blasters could be utilised effectively without the need to stop, position a supporting leg and fire the heavy mass driver of the AT-AP.

With four short legs rather than the three longer ones of the AT-AP, the AT-ME was slower than the artillery walker but had better endurance and did not need to keep stopping.

The All Terrain Medium Enforcer

Two of the primary laser cannon armament were emplaced in movable pods forward of the four legs, giving the walker a crablike appearance and earning it its “Battlecrab” nickname. The third, slightly smaller primary beam was located in a scorpion tail-like appendage attached dorsally, while two forward-firing secondary beams and a pair of antipersonnel blasters pintle mounted to the roof completed the AT-ME’s armament.

Despite surface appearances, the hulls of the AT-AP and AT-ME walkers were not identical and the two vehicles could not use one another’s hull plating in their construction.

Seen here in operation on Tatooine against a group of Separatist battle droids led by the fallen Jedi calling himself Darth Maraud, the AT-ME is more than a match for over twenty times this number of battle droids, but against a full-blown Dark Jedi with Sith training, the battle is more evenly matched.

Dark Jedi-turned-Sith Lord Darth Maraud

~~~

I’m not a great Star Wars builder, and even less so a builder of Clone Wars-era hardware. We have precisely two Trade Federation battle droids in our household inventory, and the same number of first-generation clone troopers, and while I like the look of some of the Clone hardware of that era, (AT-TE, Jedi interceptor, Count Dooku’s ship), other hardware is weird and ungainly-looking (Republic gunships, AT-TE transporters, Hailfire droid tanks).

Rear aspect of the AT-ME

So this build started out being crewed by a couple of Classic astronauts.

It works as a Classic Space battlemech, but I kept looking at it and thinking: “You know, this would be much better with clone troopers”.

I was right; it does. And then, of course, I had to reassemble our battle droids as an opponent, and build a couple of droidekas, and then I couldn’t resist adding my Sith mini-me Darth Maraud.

Droidekas are awesome, and I’ve never really felt comfortable with the scale discrepancies involved in the standard LEGO version, so I decided to build my own. The legs are a little bulky for droidekas (maybe they’re an experimental sand version?) but they seem much more like they’re at a proper scale. They took several tries over two or three days to get right, but I think they’re as good as they’re going to get.

“They are no match for droidekas!”

Darth Maraud is my own Sith character. Technically, he ought to be a Dark Jedi and not use the Darth title, because of the strange Rule of Two that the Sith operate under in this time period. But I like the Darth title, so I’m twisting the canon into the usual pretzel shape invoked to clear any weirdnesses that contradict its diktats. In this particular case, I’m saying that he was originally a Jedi who became disgusted with the injustices and bureaucracy of the Republic and the perception of political manipulation by the Jedi Council and secretly turned his back on the Jedi Order. Discovering ancient Sith manuscripts in the Archives (placed there to prevent them seeding Sith sentiment in the wider populace), he renounced the Order, swore allegiance to the Sith and took the name Darth Maraud. Fleeing to the Confederacy, he was most probably killed in one of the many battles of the Clone Wars.

Following the Sith tradition of having interesting lightsaber designs, Darth Maraud’s lightsaber is based on a glaive-like polearm design which is probably a little unwieldy in a real fight against someone who’d fought against one before, but would have the advantage that its moves and techniques would be unfamiliar to your average standard saber-wielding Jedi. Also, it’s got a reach that dramatically outranges a standard lightsaber, which is always a plus.

And since I’m calling the Clone walker the “All Terrain Medium Enforcer”, “eAT-ME” seemed like the perfect post title.

The Black(tron) Knight

The Black(tron) Knight faces off against the fearsome dragon Neoclassica

The combination of futuristic space technology and high fantasy has of course been done before. LEGO has its own slightly cringeworthy Nexo Knights, but even the Star Wars franchise is effectively high fantasy in a tech setting, with its Sith and Jedi wizards and its fighter pilot knights.

I didn’t think much of Nexo Knights’ execution, but the concept is sound. And because it’s me, the high technology in question has a better-than-average chance of having something to do with the Classic Space/Blacktron metatheme.

In this case, I’ve perhaps subconsciously channelled my flipped Brightly Coloured Tyranny take on the original LEGO Space universe, because the knight is a Blacktron and the draconoid (“draco” + “mechanoid”) is in NCS colours. But building a Black(tron) Knight references the Classic Castle prototheme’s original bad guy as well as the Classic Space universe’s primary adversaries.

I’ve wanted to build an updated Neoclassic Space dragon for several months now but not been inspired as to specifics. My original Elemental Dragon of Classic Space was in some ways a markedly different build: more of a blended hybrid between spaceship and creature. This Classic Space dragon being a robotic creature, it skips out on some of the Elemental Dragon’s features, like cockpit and thrusters and the like.

The difference is mostly that the previous dragon was an Elemental Dragon of the “Element” of Classic Space. In view of the weird stuff considered “elements” by the various LEGO themes – lightning, ice (as well as water), sound, mind, amber, love – having an element of Classic Space is not something I consider much of a stretch, but that’s beside the point for this creation. This dragon was created in order to serve as an adversary for the Black(tron) Knight.

The hover horses were one of the few bits of Nexo Knights that I thought were well thought out and well designed. So I decided to make my own version of a mostly horse-shaped speeder; bigger and hopefully more impressive than the Nexo hoversteed. I went Blacktron initially because of the colours of my CCBS elements, but the idea of a Black Knight that’s a Blacktron seemed like a good one. And that meant either a Neoclassic Space or Neo-Futuron dragon, unless I built a second grav-destrier and generated a joust.

I still might; a Neo-Futuron grav-destrier is more probable with my element inventory, or possibly a Neo-Space Police I version.

Until then, the Black(tron) Knight is fighting an NCS dragon and red-spacesuited technomancer.

Technomancer and robofamiliar, space tower, and weird hyperspace beacon monument

The technomancer was an afterthought, actually. As a set, this would be a bit boring without at least one more minifigure, and a pilot for the dragon didn’t seem right this time around. But a high-tech wizard equivalent? That has possibilities…

Steampunk Safari

Did someone say “steampunk mecha-elephant”?

For once in my steampunkery, I’m actually not invoking the planet Mars.  Okay, the mechaphant has a heat-ray or other type of steampunk ray-gun for a trunk, but we can do this without having to go to Mars.  As the song says: “Got my ray gun and a cup of tea in hand”.

Given the presence of a sabertooth tiger lurking in the undergrowth, they are probably somewhere a bit like Conan Doyle’s Lost World.  Apparently on a steampunk safari you get really exotic big game.  I also don’t actually mind having to use the robomonkey from Ninjago Skybound.  I don’t have access to any regular monkeys, but since my elephant is a mecha it doesn’t look out of place.

The build was actually inspired by a hero card from the app game Legendary: Game of Heroes.  Tangentially, anyway.  Their Ultra Ivoire was a full-on high-tech droid, whereas I decided that the Mighty White Hunter doing their thing from atop a howdah was such a 19th-Century trope that it naturally lent itself to steampunkery.

I’m at least as pleased with the scenery as I am with the actual mechaphant, though.  That’s one of my better trees (and the first time I think I’ve used those palm leaf elements in a MOC), and some of my best rockwork yet.  And while all the bits of scenery are way too brick-intensive and complex to be much like anything you’d find in an official set, the overall impression really does seem to be of sethood.  Which is rather amusing, really.  For all of my AFOLhood and SHIPs and complex techniques and inverted mirror-universe takes on Classic Space, I still tend to think in terms of set design.

 

“Some People Call Me A Space Cowboy…”

Even awful Steve Miller Band songs can occasionally inspire a LEGO creation.

I know “The Joker” is a very popular song from its era, but it’s never really scratched where I itch, personally. But when the first line came on the radio as I drove to my LEGO User Group meeting, I started thinking about the possibilities. My personal builders’ rallying call is something along the lines of “Space Everything”, so… space cowboys. Literally.

Shootout at the Space Corral

As an Englishman living in Texas, I’m surrounded by cowboy culture. The Fort Worth stock show and rodeo. People who wear cowboy boots. People who wear stetsons. Everybody and his brother’s cousin’s dog in their stupid pickup trucks. People who actually own cattle – in the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area, which is one of the larger urban conglomerates in the entire US. The whole Western genre. The entire Country music scene. Now, there are a few good Country songs, and I enjoy the occasional Western, but really, the entire cultural landscape is as alien as HG Wells’ Martians tramping through the English countryside.

There are two basic ways of dealing with the alienness: assimilation or resistance. Either you assimilate and learn cowboy, at least culturally speaking, or you return to your cultural roots and become a sort of professional Englishman.

Resistance is not futile.

“Draw!”

A creation like this could be taken as either the product of a final blended assimilation of worlds, or a sort of ironic joke on the whole subculture. In actuality it’s something of both. Merging different genres is something I do, and usually results in an interesting creation, but there’s a certain amount of visual irony involved in the Blacktron vs Space Police shootout, the rover shaped a bit like a stagecoach and the robot cactus. And the horse-shaped antigravity speeders tethered outside the saloon.

 

Mustang speeders outside the saloon

Robot cactus. Because no Western scene is complete without a Saguaro.

Using my two tan baseplates for what I think is the first time (my kids use baseplates a lot more than I do), I started out with the saloon and then expanded it into the stagecoach area. Starting with the Saloon sign and then building a façade like that in any classic spaghetti Western, I initially planned the model structured entirely around the Shootout at the Space Corral, but then the model started to get overpopulated with minifigures as I added more and more, and I realised I had to expand onto another baseplate.

But the resulting two-plate creation was a bit sparse, so I had to build more stuff. This is not a problem.

If I had four or five of the Gungan steeds from the Phantom Menace sets, they’d make a pretty good herd of alien cattle, but I don’t have any, let alone 4 or 5. Thus, the stagecoach rover. Building a rover that recalls a stagecoach was actually pretty fun; you don’t see too many Classic Space stagecoach rovers. I think it’s the elevated driver’s position that sells it; the rover itself isn’t all that stagecoachy otherwise.

The Stagecoach rover. Not a great angle, unfortunately, but the overall shots give the idea. Note the alien prospector in the background.

It might be fun to expand this still further and incorporate a real Space Cowboy herding Gungan steeds, but those Gungan steeds are relatively expensive for what’s basically a single brick, and I have other purchasing priorities.

It’d make a pretty good display, though.

I’m quite pleased with the horse speeders. Loosely based on the Nexo Knights’ hoversteeds, they’re my own design because we only got two of the sets from that theme and neither included a hoversteed that I could adapt. Anyway, I prefer to create rather than copying whenever possible.