Category Archives: Lego Classic Space

Rebel Without An Atmosphere

Technically, motorbikes probably have limited utility in outer space. You may be dealing with lower gravity, you’re almost certainly dealing with rugged, unfriendly landforms, and there’s no air to enable your infernal combustion engine to work, so you have to use something like electric power, which just refuses to growl menacingly in that macho, Hell’s Angels kind of way. You can’t feel the wind whistling in your hair when you’re in a spacesuit and there’s no air for there to be wind in. Really, if you’re going to have wheels at all, a buggy is so much more practical.

Nonetheless, have a space motorbike.

It’s built way too low to the ground for practicality on a rugged unexplored planet, and it actually looks like it has exhausts, but work with me here.

Probably those exhausts are micro-probe launchers or something, and maybe it’s for biking on a really flat planet. Whatever.  Space bikes may be technically silly, but I’m sure some future neo-biker will make one anyway, if we ever get out there.

Anyway, I built a space scout bike, and here I am telling you how foolish an idea it is. It’s a relatively small, simple model of a kind I haven’t built all that much recently, and I’m sure others have already built the same sort of thing only better. Still, motorbikes that a minifigure can ride on aren’t the easiest things to construct without making some approximations for the sake of bricks and playability.

Not the Librarian-class…

Blacktron Liburnian-class battlecruiser: front aspect

Liburnian: (n) a light galley-type warship of the Roman Empire.

Having the Blacktron Alliance name one of their ship classes after something Roman is probably wrong. Even in my “Brightly Coloured Tyranny” alternate universe in which the Blacktron are the good guys and the Classic Space/Futuron Federation are the bad guys, the Blacktron represent the forces of freedom from tyranny, and more usually they are interpreted as forces of chaos and revolution.

Given that the Romans were the people that built Hadrian’s Wall with a castle gatehouse exactly every Roman mile whether or not it actually made sense with the terrain, the Blacktron are about as un-Roman as it gets. So maybe the name is a sophisticated irony, given that it’s named after a Roman ship type and the Romans were notoriously poor sailors.

Anyway, this is a microscale Blacktron battlecruiser of the kind I build when I’m not worrying about stud length and trying to build a SHIP. The bifurcated prow put me in mind of a pair of triremes or Ancient Greek warships mated top-to-top with the rams outward, and that’s how it got stuck with Liburnian as a class name.

Still, more aggressive-sounding than Librarian-class, right?

Blacktron Liburnian-class: front/side aspect

I don’t have a huge amount to say about this. It mirror-images almost completely top-to-bottom as well as left-to-right, which helps to give the idea that it’s designed for operating in zero-gravity. It has its armament of lasers and other cannons. I believe the twin red cones in front are spinal-mounted laser cannons, so I guess that makes the side mounts broadside guns. There are twelve smaller laser cannons mounted in four banks of three amidships, and there are four guns or missile tubes of some sort that have a rear firing arc.

That’s quite a lot of engines, and really I’d have preferred four larger ones using 2×2 dish elements in trans red, but I only have two of those and they’re being employed as sensor dishes, or perhaps something to do with the hyperdrive.

Not a massive model, but it looks pretty cool.

She Blinded Me With Science

The Classic Space proto-theme featured all kinds of non-combat land vehicles. Back then, the LEGO Group held a much harder line against violent and combative toys, and Classic Space was all about cooperation and exploration rather than the factions and fighting that characterise practically all of its modern themes (Ninjago and Nexo Knights have their conflicts, Star Wars and the Superhero lines have their good guys and bad guys, and even City has its police and criminals). So there were any number of mobile science labs and seismological research vehicles and satellite tracking stations and the like. It was what they did.

Modern Neoclassic Space creations are often a bit more warlike. Being fan creations, they don’t worry so much about Ole Kirk Christiansen’s dictum that war is not something for children’s toys, so you find Neoclassic Space and Neo-Futuron space fighters and tanks and battlecruisers and the like.

But you also find the science vehicles as well.

Mobile Science Station

This small Mobile Science Station is firmly in that tradition. Crewed by two white astronauts (my research into how the different suit colours were portrayed leads me to believe the white astronauts are primarily scientists whereas the red astronauts are primarily pilots and drivers), it features a bubble-canopied driver’s station and an articulated rear section with an interior laboratory and a dish antenna atop the roof.

I think one of my favourite parts of this is the round entry door to the lab module. It doesn’t fully work; you’d be hard pressed to reach in through it and extract the astronaut. But if you were minifigure-sized it shouldn’t be too much of a stretch.

Also, I finally have some red wheel elements so I can make ground vehicles that are entirely in keeping with the original prototheme. I’m sure if they’d been making the theme a half decade or so later, they’d have had wheel hubs in a colour other than red (grey, most likely), but back in 1978, LEGO wheels only existed in red and the LEGO Group of the day weren’t about to make weird-coloured wheels just for the experimental Space line.

The height difference between the front and rear sections is a little unpleasing somehow, but I think it would have looked worse if I’d elevated the driver’s cab. Maybe I should have widened the wheel base another notch or two.

20/20 hindsight. Next time….

Hammer Time

Apparently I didn’t need much of a break to be able to bounce right back into space mode. I’m calling this rather swooshy space fighter the Thor-class fighter, due to its vague resemblance to the Buck Rogers “Thunderfighter”.

It’s in many ways a pretty generic SNOT-built Classic Space space fighter, but I’m rather pleased with the variable-angle wings and the overall shape and heft of it.

There are no major greebly areas or incredible new techniques, but I just like the combination of those aggressive forward-jutting wing prongs and the smooth-yet-layered solidity of the back section behind the cockpit. I could see the Classic Space equivalent of Buck Rogers being quite happy with a ship like this.

Obviously, I don’t have a lot to say about this, but here it is. Enjoy!

Advanced Mech-Building 101

Up until this point, most of my mechs have been relatively simplistic affairs.

Oh, I’ve done what I could to make them look interesting, but in terms of the actual structure, they’ve been fairly basic. I’d tended to use balljoint elements almost exclusively, with occasional use of those clickstop universal joints, and that’s forced several design constraints on my mechs that I barely even realised I had.

Also, I’ve tended to construct the torso all in one piece, and there’s only so much you can do with that.

I like mechs in general, even if I’m not very good at them. Well, except for some of the Japanese-style Gundams and Anime mechs, which always look strange to me. Yeah, I know I’m dissing the two most influential mech source materials in the universe, but I honestly don’t like those massively overbuilt shoulders and weird flanges and fins and wings all over the place, and the guns bigger than the mechs themselves and all that. There’s a definite Japanese style to many mechs, and if you’ve seen many you know what I’m talking about, but frankly I prefer something a little less Anime-derived.

Having said that, there’s obviously a lot I could learn from the hows of some of these Gundam/Anime mech architects. So I’ve been doing something I almost never do with my LEGO building: I’ve been watching building instruction videos and mech-building tip compilations on youTube.

For all that I overuse balljoint elements with studs, I’ve been noticing for a while how few of the really good mechs that give you even a vague clue as to their joint mechanics actually use balljoints. They use clip-and-bar hinges, pneumatic T-pieces, or other strange joint forms I’m still coming to grips with.

So I’ve been watching and learning how it’s done.

This new raft of joint-building techniques is only half of what I got out of what I’ve seen, though. The other main aspect of what I got from the videos is more deeply buried. It’s the idea of an underlying skeletal frame.

Anyone who’s built the large Bionicle/CCBS figures will probably grasp this by instinct, because I’m told that that’s where most of the building creativity lies in those things, but I don’t Bionicle any more readily than I build advanced mechanical functions with Technic, so you’ll forgive me for being a little slow on the uptake.

Anyway, I built a new mech, deliberately choosing to use some of what I’ve learned.

It’s far more articulated in the spine than any previous mech I’ve built, actually having an approximation of a spine for a start.

The construction of the legs deliberately eschews “normal” balljoint connections, and still has most of the range of motion I’d actually want out of a set of mech legs.

I was initially not planning on giving the mech arms as well as those shoulder weapon pods, but it didn’t look right without them, so I adapted the design a little, but the weapon pods seemed like the only reasonable attachment point.

The result looks something like a cross between a linebacker and a chimpanzee, and is just as topheavy and overbuilt in the shoulders as any Neo Evangelion or other Manga mech.

The claws combine with the black colour and the stick-thin arms to give it a slightly arachnoid look, and so between that and the simianoid remainder of its looks, I came up with the name for it: the Blacktron Monkey-Spider class Mech.

It isn’t perfect. In fact, it’s a long way from it, and I actually prefer the looks of last time’s Space Police Enforcer class.

But I offer it up here as a testimony that I’m learning new things and finding better ways to approach the building of stuff like mechs.

The Long Legs of the Law

Enforcer-class Space Police mech

The Space Police aren’t an aspect of LEGO Space I’ve gone into building very much before now. I’ve had a brief flirtation with the organisation in digital format, but aside from a single “crashed wreck” build to go with my neo-Alienator, I’ve not built a single Space Police construction before in real bricks.

Now I have Blacktron astronauts, though, and the beginnings of a potential alternate-universe story where the Blacktron are the heroes and the Space Police are a tyrannical instrument of oppression, I find I actually want to build Space Police. Even the bad guys ought to get some cool stuff.

I don’t, however, currently possess a first-generation Space Police trooper. Or any of the three separate generations of Space Police, but it’s the original Space Police, first genuine adversaries of the Blacktron, that concern me right now.

If I’m going to have a corrupt, oppressive Space Police, SP1 have about the most sinister colours with that black/blue/trans red livery. Seeing everything as they do through visors and windscreens in Sith Red, were they actually subtly intended as evil? They even look a bit like Stormtroopers.

I doubt they were specifically meant as evil, but Futuron’s colours do look so much more regular Earth police-like, as shown by their recyclement in SP3.

Rear view of the Enforcer-class

Anyway, my first Space Police build in real bricks was a corvette-sized microscale cruiser, but that was mostly a minor experiment with a new technique. If I think up a suitable backstory I may post it.

This, however, I wanted to post. Minifigure-scale despite my lack in the trooper department, it’s a walker, because I like them even if I’m no specialist genius mech architect.

I’ve done as much as I can to create a sort of ersatz Space Police stormtrooper, recombining parts from a white Classic astronaut and a Blacktron squaddie, and the result doesn’t look too bad, I think.

The mech may be one of my most adventurous yet. I’ve used several techniques that I haven’t tried before, most notably the sloped cockpit section, and I’ve tried to avoid using box-standard Bionicle/HF balljointed limb elements. Ok, mostly this is because a lot of them are in use on several dragons my kids and their cousins have built, but it’s the actually doing it that counts.

The twin rotary stud shooters are inspired by the six-guns of the stereotypical Wild West lawman, and I’ve used a stickered City element to label the mech as police.

On the roof are a pair of lighter guns, with searchlights mounted to aid in urban pacification. Possibly the roof-mounted guns are high-pressure water cannons, but somehow I doubt it. I have serious questions about the effectiveness of water cannons in a space environment. Wouldn’t the water just boil off into the vacuum?

I’m calling the mech the Enforcer-class walker, seeing it as probably one of the Space Police’s primary mechs.

The Viper, Victorious

I said I was going to build a cruiser in the Vic Viper configuration, and here it is, more or less.

Another corner build using my lone Blacktron quarter panel (I need to get another one of those so that it can become a by-choice deal rather than a by-necessity), it has all the features required for a proper Vic Viper, but in a cruiser format.

The single vertical tail fin becomes a bridge sail section, the twin prongs are in place, and the wings curl upwards because of my decision to use Castle turret top elements.

I’ve been far more sparing with yellow bricks than even my usual approach to the Blacktron; something that many people seem to get wrong is that they put too much yellow in a Blacktron creation, with the result that it looks like construction hazard striping. The Victorious-class goes to almost the opposite extreme. It’s a major light sink, and wouldn’t be easy to spot using optical sensors against the blackness of space.

Thankfully for those viewing, I’m sure, I’ve shot my photos against a white background so that the details are more visible. That’s the problem with black ships and vessels: they’re hard to photograph well, especially with the primitive handheld camera setup I have.

As befits a cruiser of the more militarily-inclined Blacktron Alliance, the Victorious is fairly well-armed, with heavy spinal lasers, lighter defensive pulse turrets and intermediate-size long guns. Much of the armament is exclusively forward-firing, which may be a weak point of the design, but in my “Brightly-Coloured Tyranny” Classic Space alternate universe the Blacktron are a rebel alliance or resistance movement opposed to the corrupt Federation government and its oppressive Space Police. They aren’t necessarily going to have the experience to make perfect combat designs right off the bat.

Anyway, here she is, the Blacktron Victorious-class Cruiser, ready to oppose the Federation and do some damage to as many Space Police ships as possible.