Category Archives: Dragons

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…

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LSS Cytherous

Dragon-carved star frigate of the Galactic League, LSS Cytherous is typical of the League’s design approach to spacegoing vessels.

The Galactic League is an ancient transstellar body of numerous sapient species, whose incredibly high technology masks the inherent reactionary conservatism of its members. Most member species advance technologically only at a glacial pace, and the few fast-paced galactic species like humans are considered disruptive and dangerous.

The League’s conservatism and high technological level manifests itself in a predilection for ornate design, and figureheaded starships are the rule rather than the exception.

Given the League’s ancientry and dislike of humans, it might be surprising that a human mythological creature would be used as a figurehead, but dragons and dragonlike creatures are common to the mythology of many Galactic worlds. The Cytherous is the form of draconid in the mythology of the Sthan Ka Ree, one of the eldest Galactic species – a pseudo-avian race who occupy many administrative positions within the League.

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Apparently I like the idea of dragon starships, because this isn’t my first. This 100-stud SHIP uses the head of Zane’s first ice dragon from the Ninjago theme as a figurehead. I’m also pleased with the incorporation of the Coruscant planet sphere elements like I’ve been wanting to do for a while now.

Built in mostly studs-forward configuration, this could be thought of as SHIPtember practice, or simply as something I built because I wanted to. It’s also my first SHIP which I built without actually trying to get it to 100 studs. I just measured it afterwards and was pleasantly surprised to discover that it does actually measure the magic 31½ inches.

Ice Dragon 2002

Not my first combination of dragons and space, but definitely my most draconic, this is obviously a dragon of the old Ice Planet 2002 theme.

Ninjago has given us plenty of “elemental dragons” of all sorts of elements including ice, and in the past I’ve personally built “elemental dragons” of Steampunk (on the defunct LEGO Galleries, alas) and Classic Space. I had some ideas about building a Blacktron space dragon (which served as a partial inspiration for the Dragon-class Blacktron battlecruiser) but I’d never considered an Ice Planet elemental dragon before.

Until now.

The Elemental Dragon of Krysto is much more definitely a dragon than the fusional Classic Space variety, with a rider rather than a cockpit and those moulded dragon feet elements on its four legs. Still, Ice Planet 2002 did have a lot of open-cockpit vehicles, so I felt less need to enclose the crewman.

Sized about like the Jay’s Lightning Dragon or the first Zane’s Ice Dragon, about the only concessions to space vehiclehood here are the shoulder-mounted rocket engines and the bits of ice saw and skis at the end of the tail.

Still, you couldn’t mistake it for anything but an Ice Planet dragon with its colours and Celestial Christmas Pudding logos.

I’m fairly pleased with how this turned out, even with the CCBS elements on the neck and tail rather than being exclusively built. That shouldn’t really feel like a cheat, but somehow it does a bit.

The Dragon of the Spaceways

Dragon-class Battlecruiser of the Blacktron Alliance

Ever since I built my Elemental Dragon of Classic Space back in January of 2017, I’ve been contemplating a Blacktron counterpart, but so far I haven’t produced. I’ve made a couple of abortive false starts, but nothing that’s actually any good.

This past week, however, it occurred to me that the hypothetical Elemental Dragon of Blacktron wasn’t the only way to combine Blacktronian spacecraft design with the idea of dragons.

Borrowing some of the more ornamented design ethos of the Sunhawk-class (but with a vastly different actual design), this Blacktron battlecruiser was designed around that decorative dragon’s head form of the upper frontal hull and then took in the bat-wing vanes toward the rear. I was initially half thinking about a raised dragon’s tail at the rear as well, but then I built the ship’s engine section a little differently to what I had thought after those rather Y-Wing styled engines took shape, but then I realised that I could still add the tail so I did.

But it didn’t look as good as I had first hoped so I removed it again.

At 32 1/2 inches long (which this handy LEGO stud calculator calls 103 studs), the Blacktron Dragon-class battlecruiser turns out to actually be a SHIP. I was slightly surprised at this because I’d got hold of the idea from somewhere that 100 studs was 37 1/2 inches, not 31 1/2, so some of my previous SHIPs and near-SHIPs get their stud length estimates revised upwards. The horribly designed Liberator is still 101 studs long (I measured that in studs to begin with), and Dark Pegasus clocks in at 126 studs.

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The Blacktron Alliance’s smaller absolute size compared to its sprawling Federation adversary has made it far more aggressive in its interstellar dealings due to its perception of the size disparity as a disadvantage.

When it comes to large combat ships, however, the size disparity tends to go the other way and pile it on: Blacktron spacedoing dreadnoughts and battlecruisers are often more powerful on a class-by-class basis than their putative Federation Space Fleet counterparts, and almost always proportionally larger to make up for the smaller number of hulls that the Alliance is able to field.

Federation officers going toe to toe with Blacktron dreadnoughts often report the ship size disparity to be somewhat intimidating, and it is perhaps due to awareness of this fact that later Blacktron vessels have the designs that they do, a prime exemplar being the latest generation of Blacktron battlecruisers of the Dragon class.

It should be said, however, that the Blacktron Alliance has always had a more flamboyant design ethos than the stark functionality favoured by the Federation (compare the Federation’s Galaxy Explorer class with the similarly-sized Blacktron Renegade), and many observers see the more ornamental design of the Dragon-class as merely a continuation of that flamboyant attitude.

The class is recogniseable not only for the characteristic dragon’s head design of its upper forward hull, but more importantly for its massive spinal graser weapon system. For more conventional weapons, the Dragons are armed with 2 dreadnought-calibre antimatter accelerators and 12 battlecruiser-calibre laser cannons in dual-mounted turrets, backing these up with smaller secondary weaponry serving as antifighter and antimissile defences.

The initial production run of the Dragon-class currently stands at twelve vessels: Jormundgand, Ouroboros, Tiamat, Smaug, Weng Chiang, Mnementh, Gojira, Quetzalcoatl, Night Fury, Leviathan, Kongyong and Strabo.

O For A Muse Of Fire…

My son wanted to rebuild his prized Green NRG Dragon set, and he made the request that I build a similar-sized dragon for Kai, the Red Ninja of fire.

Kai’s Elemental Fire Dragon

It’s been a while since I built a dragon, and Kai’s my favourite of the Ninja (unless it’s his sister Nya), so I thought I’d have a go.

The Green NRG Dragon has a rather nice scaly belly look on the lower frontal section, and part of my thinking was to see if I could make an extended version of that which would cover basically the entire underbelly. That’s where this model started, and I built it up from there.

Note the scaly belly. Try to ignore the unfinished-looking underwings.

The head is large and impressive, but quite heavy for those poor balljoints and tends to sag if not posed very carefully. Clickstop universal joints would have alleviated this tendency, but they make for a longer and less flexible joint that would have detracted from the look of the build and made posing more of a challenge anyway. I posed its head very carefully.

I liked the “unusualness factor” of the wyvern bodyplan on the Green NRG Dragon, but I prefer my dragons to have four legs, so that’s how I built this one. The front feet look less than fully stellar when he’s posed rearing up on his back legs to expose that snakelike belly, but maybe I could build a set of alternate front feet that are more handlike, and swap them out like the extra stud shooter hand of the Clayface Splat Attack set (replacing that hammer hand).

The head has ended up with rather a Smauglike look, which wasn’t planned but I liked the way it was shaping up so I went with it. A bit nasty-looking for our heroic Ninja, perhaps, but it does work well for a big red dragon.

The last time Kai had an official dragon he had to share it with his sister, so it’s been a while since he’s had his own dragon. And I don’t think Nya’s had a full-on Elemental Dragon of Water of her very own (unshared with her pyrotechnic brother, I mean) yet. We don’t have a lot of Nya’s lighter blue, though, so building her a dragon on this scale would be challenging.

How To Train Your LEGO

As either the last build of 2017 or the first of 2018 (built in one year but posted in the other) I decided to have a go at another dragon.

And a specific dragon, for a change: the winged reptile that makes jet-black look cute – Toothless the Night Fury, from the How To Train Your Dragon films.

Toothless soaring over Berk, my version

Toothless’ wide, flat head and big green eyes are pretty distinctive, and I’ve done what I can to reproduce them at something close to minifigure scale. Close enough that I decided to incorporate a saddle and make a minifigure Hiccup using young Luke Skywalker’s head with real-Kai’s hair.

Then, remembering the lessons learned in last year’s Ninja and Dragon build and struck with an idea of how to make a halfway decent tiled roof for a Berk townhouse, I decided to go to town on the scenery.

The little hut I built is really too small to be an actual house and too open in front to be much of anything, but it does its job of making an interesting scenery counterpoint to my aerial Toothless, complete with a Viking maiden with an axe and a shield, possibly Astrid. If I had more 1×2 curve slopes I’d have made the roof slope longer and at a steeper angle like the houses in Hiccup’s village, but nevertheless I’m quite pleased with the technique.

Berk townhouse

Toothless is fully poseable, except that the wings don’t fold up. But the only fully-foldable LEGO dragon wings of my direct experience are on the Green NRG Dragon, and green-and-gold just wouldn’t be right on Toothless. Besides, they are too big for a model at this scale.

I think my favourite part of the dragon bit of this build is the way I did Toothless’ large-pupilled eyes, but I do wish I could have figured out a way to give him an opening jaw that looked remotely right. I tried a couple of things but nothing was working; Toothless’ thin lower jaw is very hard to get right at this scale. In the end I decided to make him Mouthless. He does spend an awfully huge amount of time with his mouth closed.

A bright red 2×4 wing element would have looked better as Toothless’ missing tail fin, but I only have 2x3s in bright red and they looked wrong, so we have dark red. It’s the only piece of significant wrong colour, though, so I’m happy. I only wish they made 1×2 balljoint holders in black.

Top-down view

The Manticore

It’s been a while since I built something that wasn’t space-related. But between my large starships and my Neoclassic Space Vic Vipers and my Blacktron space trucks I’m pretty well spaced out right now, in a manner of speaking.

Mythological creatures are another favourite thing of mine to build, as evidenced by my several dragons (like this one, this one, this one and this one). So I thought I’d have a go at a manticore.

The manticore comes to us from late Greek mythology. It was believed to inhabit Persia and India, and is described as lionlike with a tail full of sharp spikes or quills that it shoots arrowlike at its enemies.

Greek legends don’t really feature the manticore in any tales; it’s one of the few beasts Hercules didn’t encounter. In that, it’s similar to the gryphons that the Greeks believed to inhabit the Scythian steppes.

Dungeons and Dragons and its ilk have interpreted the manticore as a lion with bat wings and a scorpionlike tail, and that’s the pattern I’ve followed. Sometimes the manticore is depicted with a human head or face, but I didn’t think I could manage that without it becoming cartoony.

Hybrid creatures like this are more difficult to pull off than dragons or sea serpents. Dragons can more or less look like anything and no-one can tell you you’re wrong, unless you’re building a specific dragon like Smaug or Saphira. Also, they’re usually scaly and armoured, which is simpler in bricks than shaggy or hairy.

But hybrid creatures use the body parts of specific creatures. If you’re building a creature with a horse’s body, it had better not look like a buffalo, because everyone knows what a horse looks like and how it differs from a buffalo or a gerbil or an Apatosaurus. You have to be really on your game to pull some of this off and make it look the part.

I want to say that lions are especially tricky because of the mane. Shaggy is one of the hardest effects to achieve in LEGO bricks, and trying to get any meaningful articulation around all that bulk of hair is quite a challenge.

My manticore’s head isn’t the shaggiest lion head with the biggest, most impressive mane, but it is recogniseably a lion. It was undoubtedly the toughest part of this model to put together, and I made several adjustments and alterations until I was satisfied. Bat wings and scorpion tails are easy, even if you don’t use preformed elements for your bat wings like I did. Articulated lions that look like lions – those are hard.

The bulldog stance with those wide shoulders is slightly unpleasing, but I really do need that extra bulk to account for the mane. And if you pose the creature right, you can hide that part fairly well.

I’m sure you could build a manticore in whatever colour you liked. It is, after all, a mythical creature. But while black would certainly look good and brown would be possible, somehow red seems the only reasonable colour for it to be. I just can’t see it in blue, really.

This is another creation that needed a base to stand on. Not only does it make posing the manticore to hide that slight bulldogness about the shoulders easier, but it also just seems to complete the model. I’ve gone out of my way to not define a scale for this beastie, so there are no shrines or temples or minifigures to give you an idea of how big he is. Also I don’t know how to make a temple look recogniseably Persian. There’s a suggestion of broken Greek columns underfoot, but those could be almost any size.

Anyway, here’s my manticore. Until next time, keep calm and brick on!