Category Archives: Lego Classic Space

Space Trek

There seem to have been a lot of Star Trek builds from yours truly of late. Two Klingon cruisers, one Federation long range explorer with a rather overdetailed backstory, one bridge module of said overdetailed explorer, and numerous other small builds that I didn’t even bother blogging.

Space Trek. Or, “what a blending of Star Trek and Classic Space might look like”

This is not another Star Trek build. Though I’ll grant you it’s similar. Space Trek, or something.

You see, after building that bridge module with the Classic Space torsos representing Starfleet uniform jerseys, I started to think about how similar in ethos Star Trek’s Federation and the Classic Space astronaut corps are. Traditionally, the Classic astronauts come from a “Federation” as well, though I prefer “League” when I’m dealing with the normal upbeat version and “The System” when it’s my inverted dystopia in which the Blacktron are the good guys.

Ahem. Anyway… Both are set in space, at some point in the future. Both portray an upbeat, optimistic view of said future. Both feature brightly-coloured uniforms. Both endeavour to show peaceful exploration and cooperation rather than conflict and warfare.

Of course, Classic Space doesn’t have any real story, whereas Star Trek has 50 years’ worth of complex, dynamic future history and established canon. Indeed, hardcore Trek fans can be some of the most nitpicky continuity-obsessed grumpy old men in all of fandom where their canon and perceived deviations therefrom are concerned.

The tech’s a little different, too, insofar as the LEGO Group ever bothered to define the Classic Space tech base. More or less it was “whatever’s cool for 7-12-year-olds, mostly boys”. With not much in the way of definition to its universe, the question could reasonably be asked: “Was Classic Space a kind of Trek or pre-Trek?”

Starfleet runabout? NCS lander? Yeah, something like that.

Before the movies (Star Trek: The Motion Picture released in 1979, a year after the first Classic Space sets hit the shelves), TNG, Enterprise or JJ Abrams’ Kelvin timeline, there was only so much in the way of official canon future history for the Trek universe either, but given the thorny copyright problem that would probably have existed even in 1978 had the LEGO Group openly set their new toy line in the Star Trek universe (even a lot closer to the present than to Jim Kirk) I’d be hesitant to seriously suggest it.

Given the similarity in overall tone and ethos, though, it’s reasonable to guess that Gene Roddenberry and the LEGO Group might have been drinking from the same well. Which is something I hadn’t really considered until now.

There are some differences, of course, particularly in the equipage of the individual explorers. Starfleet’s crews wear brightly-coloured uniforms, but they are daywear, not spacesuits. They deal with Earthlike planets with breathable atmospheres, or the interior of their starship. Up until some of the movies you never even saw a Star Trek spacesuit. Which is a bit weird when you think about it since the whole premise of the show was space exploration.

If your planet has breathable atmosphere, do you actually need a spacesuit?

By contrast, the Classic Space astronauts wear spacesuits all the time, even in what ought to be the pressurised cabin of their Galaxy Explorer-class space cruiser, or (in a lot of fan MOCs) the interior of their giant moonbase. I have to confess that even as a kid this used to bug me, and I always wanted to make airlocks or changing rooms where they could put on their spacesuits for going outside.

If I’d kept buying sets when Futuron came out instead of becoming too embarrassed to buy LEGO as a teen in the ‘80s (back before nerd culture was cool) I’d probably have made the Futuron torsos my day uniforms. Probably modified with a white arm on the left so it looks more like a diagonally-divided bicoloured jersey with an organisational badge. And I’d have kept the plain coloured Classic Space ‘figs as my spacesuits. Alas, it was not to be. And I can’t do that now because I only have two Futuron-style torsos.

I have no idea what this guy’s little sensor doodad is, but I like it. That’s a new fuel rod the blue-shirted woman is carrying.

Therefore, classic Trek-looking day uniforms. The women are wearing black trousers like the men, because the right elements don’t exist to make Trek-style miniskirts in all those bright colours, and anyway, that seems a little too close to objectifying women. It isn’t the ‘60s any more and we ought to know better. They’re explorers. Dresses of any kind seem like they’d be impractical.

I built the lander first, choosing the white Classic Space colour palette of sets like 6929 Starfleet Voyager (even the set names sound like Star Trek) as seeming to contrast better with the alien biosphere I had in mind for the scene. White also looks more like the tech of the original series of Trek, before Star Wars introduced the “used-future” look with its workaday grime and occasionally clunky and falling-apart high technology. That’s not a Starfleet shuttlecraft, though. I’ll grant you that the engine pods could reasonably be interpreted as warp nacelles, but most of Trek’s shuttles are much smaller than my lander (which I’m dubbing the Endeavour-class). I think it might even be bigger than the Danube-class runabout of DS9, though that probably has more internal room. One of the features of Trek tech is that it seems to exist in hammerspace and operate without noticeable fuel reserves. Of course, some of the Classic Space sets are a bit guilty of that, too, but Classic Space is way less developed than Trek and was designed for 8-year-olds rather than a presumed adult or semi-adult audience.

Anyway, I kept having to rebuild the lander over and over again while I tried to get the payload bay door to cooperate. For a while it just wasn’t working, and I tried several things before I decided to ignore the fact that the curved panels are hinged. I initially had a slightly boxier, more Trek-looking lander in mind, but I think this “evolved Classic Space” look works even better. The lander is almost exclusively SNOTwork, and mostly looks the better for it. With all of my Clue(do) vignettes (initial series of six, of which this was the first) built, finding enough pieces for this was a real stretch. I really need to get more 1xEverything bricks in almost all colours.

Payload bay isn’t as big as I’d like, but we’ve got so much built at the moment that I’m almost out of bricks.

This is partly why there’s no more of an interior than you see. The payload bay alone can’t possibly account for all the explorers, but if you assume that there’s more internal space than I actually built it just about works.

The explorers themselves are a pleasingly diverse bunch, including a ‘fig with Elves hairpiece and pointy ears, SW Rodian and Ugnaut crewmembers and Talos from the Captain Marvel set. Among the humans, I’ve got as wide a variety of skintones as I can do, and a semidecent balance of males and females. This, too, is both Star Trek and Classic Space, though they achieved their inclusivity in different ways. Trek, featuring human actors, had a classic original bridge crew including a black woman, an Asian, a Russian and an alien (which was pretty good for the day, though the central characters are still three white dudes), whereas Classic Space used the generic, deliberately neither definitively male nor definitively female, neither obviously black nor obviously white nor obviously Asian or Latino standard yellow smiley minifigure heads. You could interpret them however you liked (though it has to be admitted that the default assumption seemed to be that they were male and white).

Fuel rod recharging station. Too many of my female heads are Light Flesh skintone white, but this is one of a few I have that isn’t.

Since I use flesh-tone heads for my Classic astronauts even when building them as conventional Classic astronauts, I’m always pleased to get sets with more diverse ethnicity of ‘figs, as it’s easy to get white male faces in large quantities. They come in any Star Wars battle pack set. The future is not ethnically monochrome, and it’s an ambition of mine to have enough minifigs with skintones other than Light Flesh at some point to do this sort of build with a majority of the astronaut explorers being non-white.

I do have a bald white dude at the back with a mug and a teapot, though. This is a sort of Captain Picard joke, even though they look more like Kirk’s era than TNG. “Tea, Earl Grey, Hot” ought to be recognisable even to more casual TNG viewers, and it amused me to put him in, though my Picard-alike is in a blue shirt. Of course, blue suits are Command in a lot of interpretations of the Classic Space colours, so that works. Just because they look like TOS Trek doesn’t mean the shirt colours mean the same.

Pointy-eared Space Elf driving the lander, not-a-Rodian-honestly in the white shirt with the life sensor, and Captain Tea-Earl-Grey-Hot in the back.

The alien environment uses green as a baseplate colour, which is possibly a bit weird considering that most of the foliage is purple or pink or orange, but it does bring it home to the Earth-trained eye that this is a full biosphere, not just a bunch of rocks. As a backdrop, I think I’ve achieved the right balance between interesting complexity and being generic enough not to detract from the main focus of the build, which is the lander. The white colour of the lander works really well to pull it forward, actually, so even if I’d built it in “standard” CS colours I might have wanted to rebuild it in white.

Final view of the whole scene

Anyway, this was a lot of fun to do, blending the worlds of Classic Space and Star Trek, and I think it works rather well. It helps that they’re so similar in tone and ethos, but even without the deliberate Trek blending, if you try to imagine what Classic Space would look like if they were exploring Earthlike planets with breathable atmospheres you’ll probably end up with something similar to this.

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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.

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.

But At Least We Can Build A Spaceship

LL627 Starhammer

Just to prove that my inner Benny is still alive and well and hasn’t been drowned by the MCU nanovirus sweeping these parts, I built another NCS spaceship.

It’s looking like an atmosphere-capable heavy fighter to me, but most ships in the (N)CS style have atmospheric wings and tailpieces regardless of the fact that we never actually saw the originals anywhere but on airless planetoids, so presumably in the NCS universe it’s unusual if they aren’t atmosphere-capable.

The dual cockpit started out life as one of my numerous aborted attempts to build a Quinjet-style NCS ship. Not a Quinjet as such, but a homage to it. Having finished the cockpit area, though, I realised that once again I’d managed to create something that didn’t look remotely like I wanted it to.

Also, the ship was shaping up to be way huger than I’d anticipated and I was going to run out of blue.

“Adapt and Rule” being the watchword in these parts, I thoroughly overhauled what I initially had in mind and turned it into this nice stubby little starfighter.

The LL627 Starhammer is a System starfighter developed by Lagrange-Lunacorp in their Phobos-based “Dreadworks” facility. Like many of the vessels to come out of the Dreadworks yards, the Starhammer is a more or less purely military design, though it was billed as a new patrol vessel for the Space Police.

The Starhammer, however, lost the bidding process for the Space Police patrol vessel contract against Systematix Provo’s SP527 Longarm. In fairness, though, the Systematix Provo design benefited from having an inside track on the Requirement articles as well as from the usual greasing of palms and provision of incentives that passes for an honest bidding process in the System.

Lagrange-Lunacorp continued to produce a small number of Starhammers, marketing them mostly to the Nouveau Riche that had made their fortunes in asteroid mining and wanted to protect themselves from claim-jumpers, pirates and Blacktron agents. In this market, the LL627 proved to be a highly desirable ship. Its stubby wings allowed atmospheric entry but made the process of close asteroidal approach much less of a chancy business, while the basic armament of 2 laser pulse cannons and one underslung particle beam was both effective as sold and easy to upgrade.

Kalevala-class Ice Mech

One of my better mechs, I think.

I finally got that horrible one-piece mech cockpit element (#27168) to actually work for me instead of against me! Seriously, that thing’s been a source of frustration since we acquired it with my son’s 70901 Mr Freeze Ice Attack set.

However, I finally realised that with a little judicious jiggery-pokery of angles with the lower pin attachment and almost completely ignoring the towball arm attachments, you can actually make quite a nice mech.

This is also the first time I’ve managed something like those completely unfolding mech cockpits that are so fashionable in hardsuit-building circles.

I don’t have a lot to say about this really. I named it after the Finnish mythological epic, because cold-weather climate mythologies are a great source of naming material for Ice Planet stuff.

Capricorn

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.