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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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
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
Several of the larger ice moons of Jupiter and Saturn – most notably Europa, Ganymede and Enceladus – are believed to have liquid water oceans beneath their icy surfaces, kept liquid by tidal friction heating due to the moons’ orbits around their mother planets. So my question is, what about Krysto, LEGO’s own Ice Planet?
Using real-world astrophysics on the LEGO universe isn’t always straightforward, given the elastic, not-always-serious, definitely-not-hard-science nature of LEGO Space’s cosmology. However, even as a kid I liked a hard-science edge to my LEGO Space play, and got irritated when LEGO themselves did “stupid stuff” like showing minifigs in space without spacesuits, or creating ridiculous space helicopters (Yes, M-Tron Particle Ionizer, I do mean you). As an AFOL, my version of the Neoclassic Space universe tends to use as much real-world space science as I can muster within the LEGO Space aesthetic.
I really like the idea, so just like Europa or Enceladus, my version
of Krysto has an interior ocean.
Since Krysto is described as a planet rather than a moon, its
interior can’t be kept liquid by the tidal heating of its own orbit
around a mother planet, so presumably it has a large moon that
achieves the same effect. This isn’t contraindicated by anything I
know about that LEGO has put out; as a toy company they weren’t
really into giving precise cosmological detail anyway.
Giving Krysto an inner subsurface ocean allows all sorts of
development potentialities, not least of which is the possibility of
Commander Bear and his crew exploring inward with mining equipment
and submarines, as well as outward with rocketry and satellites.
In effect, what I’m looking at is a reworking of Seatron for the Ice Planeteers.
If you’ve never heard of Seatron, neither had I until I recently
came across it in a YouTube video when I was following up a tangent
in researching the first Space Police. And the reason we’ve never
heard of it is because it was an unpublished theme, sadly aborted
before reaching production.
It seems it was intended as a direct successor to Futuron; a Space
subtheme set on an ocean planet, blending LEGO’s Space and Aquazone
lines together in one awesome crossover theme. The few tantalising
glimpses we’re given show an underwater monorail, an
awesome-looking oceanic base, and alien “Sea People” almost a
decade before LEGO would finally give us nonhumans in the UFO theme.
And substantially better aliens, too. UFO is my least-favourite
Space line, with its messy colour scheme, ugly logo and
could-have-been-better aliens, but those Sea People! Look at that
thing! We’re used to alien minifigs with a unique head mould, but
about the only elements that has in common with a human minifigure
are the arms and hands. Such lovely texturing on the torso and legs!
The reasons given for why Seatron never made it to the shelves seem
as varied as those giving out the information, but they generally
fall into three categories. Number one, the LEGO Corporation’s
powers-that-be decided that they (or we) weren’t ready for LEGO
aliens yet. Number two, it seems sales of the Futuron monorail
weren’t what they had hoped. And number three, apparently they had
outsourced the monorail track elements to another company… which
then proceeded to go belly-up before LEGO could acquire the rights
for those pieces.
Who really knows? All I can say is that based on those few glimpses
it would have been a seriously impressive theme, combining my
favourite terrestrial theme with my perennial love of Space.
If I intend to adapt the Seatron concept to an Ice Planet setting,
obviously I’m going to have to make some changes. I can’t use
the Seatron theme’s above-the-waves palette of white and trans red;
I’m going to have to keep the Ice Planet colours for that half of
my builds. So whatever I choose for my alternate, below-the-ice
palette has to look right next to all that.
I tried several things while searching for the right look. My
initial thought was to maintain the blue and black of regular IP2002,
but swap in yellow instead of white and trans red instead of trans
neon orange, trying to keep in the same colour family for the
transparent elements while using that “obviously subaquatic” LEGO
Alas, while it looks great on its own, and the blue elements and
trans red make it clear that this ain’t an Aquanauts MOC, I was
really unsold on it in combination with the regular Ice Planet
livery. It just looks too warm. So I tried some other stuff.
Modified Atlantis palette, swapping the Ice Planet blue and trans
neon orange for red and trans bright green? Nope; it looks too much
like miscoloured Atlantis. A complete no-go.
A lot of the visual warmth is probably inevitable, since I want to
stay with yellow for one of my primary colours, and I want to keep
the trans red as well to make it distinct from Aquazone. I tried
again with white instead of blue, and that seems to work.
Much of this “trying things out” phase was with small tablescrap
builds that I didn’t photograph (though the yellow/blue/black/trans
red combination did result in a fairly nice modular submarine with a
lot of the visual shape of the Blacktron Invader, but I broke it
apart before taking pics), so you’ll have to take my word for how
bad some of the combinations looked. Having established the colour
combination, I was ready to build something more serious.
I’d love to make a whole minifig-scale scene on a 32×32 baseplate,
featuring a slice section through the ice and parts of both the
surface and subsurface worlds. Alas, I don’t begin to have enough
white to generate a believable thickness of ice, and trying to
support that sort of mass at height raises structural concerns. I
could work something out, but at the moment the lack of white is
crippling my ambitions.
Microscale, though, I can do.
For its scale and size, I’m pleased enough with this, but it’s so
small and limited compared to what I’d like to do that I’m ending
up somewhat disappointed. I do like the use of those Season 5
Ninjago ectoplasmic blades as seaweed, though. And that’s not a
bad submarine for a 15-element nubbin the size of a fingernail.
I will be continuing with this adjunct-to-Ice-Planet subtheme. I do
really like the idea of a Krystovian interior ocean.
So now I just need a name for it. Ice Planet: Beneath has a
sort of possibility, but it’s inelegant and doesn’t abbreviate
well. Aquatron doesn’t preserve the link with Ice Planet,
and Frozen Seas sounds too terrestrial, like a Viking-based
computer game or something.
Seatron: Krysto could work, I suppose, or I did consider Ice
Planet: Aquarius Project, as I thought Aquarius would make
an apt name for their biggest or first main explorer submarine. But
IP:AP is an even more terrible abbreviation than IP:B.