Category Archives: Lego Classic Space

Space Auk

LL3607 “Huffin’ Ruffin” being loaded on a specialised cargo-handling pad

The trading vessel Huffin’ Puffin (Federation Spacers’ Guild registry no. LL3607) is a small freighter operated as an independent trader under the ownership of its crew. Trader-class vessels such as this are common among independents, fitting in between the small single- and twin-seat Courier-class vessels and the larger Mercantile-class ships which are the smallest class operated by large transstellars like OctanCorp. Though dwarfed by the massive Bulk-class freighters that serve as the mainstays of such interstellar freight giants as Octan Haulage and M:Tron MineFreight, the 3-to-12-crew Traders are able to make planetary landings and for the most part can set down at any landing pad without needing the oversized pads and special facilities of large commercial ports.

The Huffin’ Puffin is a modified 36-class Trader, like most independents. Unlike most independently-operated 36s, however, the Huffin’ Puffin retains the smaller belly doors of the original class, a feature which limits its ability to handle large-size commercial container cylinders without a landing pad that featured drop-down access, but which provides for less structural weakness and allows room for the reinforced power couplings of an upgraded weapons system: the forward-mounted twin X-Ray lasers replace the default single pulse cannon.

As Huffin’ Puffin frequently operates along the highly profitable but less than salubrious Blacktron border, the joint-owner crew feel the tradeoff is worthwhile.

Forward aspect of the Huffin’ Puffin, showing twin laser cannon mount

~~~

I’m not certain, but I think this might be my first Neoclassic Space ship that’s designed as a freighter. I’ve built a number of starfighters and frigates and battlecruisers, and I’ve built updates of old Classic Space sets like the Starfleet Voyager, but not a freighter. How odd.

I started building this at the back with that engine-shrouding cowling; quite an unusual place to start for me, as I’m more likely to begin at the front and build back or the keel and build up. However, that was where my inspiration was going.

The idea to use the microfigures from the Minotaurus game as astronauts was suggested by the Classic Space colours of the game pieces, and allows me to use some of my trans yellow windscreen elements to build an effectively much larger canopy than I could otherwise. Indeed, even after acquiring a lot of blue and grey in my Rogue Brick pick-a-brick box, I couldn’t have built this at minifig scale. One day…

Bridge section canopy

I’m rather pleased with the squat, dumpy shape of this, with its belly doors and canopied bridge section. Okay, the windscreen is arranged completely wrong for forward vision, but the idea of trying to do interstellar transit by Visual Flight References is sort of ludicrous. The convention of windows remains in our space fighters and other ships, but it’s technically a little silly. Radar and lidar and other sensors are going to be what you fly by; why do you need to see out?

I built the belly doors figuring that it would be a nice touch to have it actually be able to carry something, then decided to build a microloader mech to help with the heavy cargo handling. However, then I realised that neither the cargo mech nor the container cylinder would fit under the ship for loading, so I had to build a dropped loading area.

Dropped loading bay area. Some quite nice rockwork there, but you can barely see it 😛

I’d have liked a larger landing pad area around it, but what I built stretches my inventory of grey 1xwhatever bricks almost to breaking point as-is. And given the fractional tolerances in where you can actually land before dropping your ship in a hole, apparently there’s some really good precision-guidance landing radar available in the future.

The ship was nearly the Skylark of Space, after the old E. E. ‘Doc’ Smith space opera, but Skylark sounds way too speedy and elegant for something shaped like this, so I searched around for another name. The auks are a family of small, fat, dumpy seabirds with a similar kind of heavy shape, and this seemed perfect for a freighter. So the ship became the Huffin’ Puffin, the jaunty name seeming to me just right for an independent trading outfit.

This uses a number of my newly-acquired elements, but because most of the ones I used here were 1×6 and 1×8 blue bricks you can’t really tell. The 6×6 dishes on the sides are the most visible new-to-me bricks.

LL3607 and microfig-scale loader mech

Side view of the Huffin’ Puffin. Technically I guess I should have put the bumblebee stripes on that engine cowling, but I didn’t think of it until right now. When I built the cowling I was intending to add fins.

Advertisements

Baby, It’s Cold Outside

Baby, It’s Cold Outside – completed build

Did someone say “Ice Babe boudoir”?

No?

Well, baby, it’s really cold outside on Planet Krysto, home of the Ice Planeteers.

Though it’s normally only heard in the run-up to Christmas (the radio stations around here seemed to really like it this past year), the song Baby It’s Cold Outside didn’t manage to inspire me then. Probably because the temperature around here at that point was being typically Texan – in other words, unreasonably warm.

Plummeting in the last couple of weeks into the teens Fahrenheit, it’s now that it’s cold outside in real life that I get inspired.

“It’s cold outside” is a perfect, if somewhat understated, tagline for the old Ice Planet theme, and it struck me that it might be fun to make the original LEGO ice princess a boudoir.

The Ice Babe boudoir

I hemmed and hawed quite a bit over this creation, because “LEGO” and “boudoir” don’t normally belong in the same sentence. The LEGO Group make children’s toys, after all, and the other way around (LEGO in a boudoir) sounds like a recipe for pain.

There’s nothing here that I’d be embarrassed about my kids seeing (I don’t think even third-party custom LEGO makers are crass enough to make minifig prints that are actually risqué), but conceptually, this is definite AFOL territory, and I hesitated before plunging across that particular boundary.

Building the legendary Ice Babe a boudoir is complicated by the fact that I don’t technically own her, but I can certainly reference the original well enough to make it clear. Minifigure head printing has evolved considerably since those early days (she may well have been the first ever specifically female minifigure in a theme) and those first steps beyond the original smiley look a bit crude now, especially the female ones. I think an update is not out of order.

An Ice Planet living space (especially one with the word “boudoir” attached to it) begs the question of what sleeping quarters will look like in the future depicted by old LEGO themes. How exactly do you make a bedroom that looks Ice Planet-y and recogniseably a bedroom, let alone warm and cosy?

Obviously the Ice Planet theme’s colours are all wrong for warm and cosy. Even the trans neon orange, while warm, is aggressive rather than comfortable, recalling anti-glare goggles and suchlike. But if we can’t use Ice Planet colours, how do we make it clear that this is an Ice Planet creation?

Cue the double-sided approach.

Ice Planet exterior

From the outside this is classic Ice Planet, with mostly blue construction, deep-frozen white landscape, icicles at the window and trans neon orange highlights. From the inside, it’s a warm, stylish bedroom with just a few Ice Planet touches to unify the model. The window is clear rather than traditional Ice Planet neon, but that’s the way I planned it because the window was one of the first conceptual parts of this creation and you have to be able to see through it properly. After all, calling your creation “Baby It’s Cold Outside” is rather futile if you can’t see the outside.

This creation also marks the first usage of some of my Christmas-acquired new-to-me elements. And the first new element to make it into a MOC is… Sensei Wu’s muumuu.

Rockin’ the Sensei-style nightdress

Honestly, if you’d told me on Christmas Day to rank my new elements according to how likely I would be to MOC with them, that’s the absolute last element I’d have picked. I’d have selected the 1×1 round tile with vertical bar, or the 1×1 round plate with handle from the Darth Vader Transformation set. Even Garmadon’s jungle pauldron would have ranked higher.

However, Sensei Wu’s fabric robe is exactly what I need to be my Ice Babe Mark 2’s nightdress. Together with the arms and legs from the Warrior Goddess (never thought I’d use those either), real-Nya’s face and a vivid red hair element possibly from one or other variants of Poison Ivy – perfect neo-Ice Babe in a nightgown!

I did experiment with Cavegirl’s hair, but while it looks nicely sleep-fuzzled and untidy I decided that the vivid scarlet was a better referent to the original Ice Babe.

Ice Planet VX spacesuit storage

I particularly wanted the Master Falls set for Christmas because I always feel like I lack pieces for making scenery, and now here I am building my most sophisticated scenery-type build yet (ie not a vehicle) and due to the nature of the scene nearly all its elements are the wrong ones to use. Go me.

Including my first interior SNOTwork baseplate, this has been skill-stretching on many fronts. I almost never build LEGO interiors or furniture; my element inventory is fairly geared to vehicles and creatures. So I had to work out how I was going to build the bed, the table, that carafe (LEGO bottles just look too dinky next to the glasses)…

And on top of that I had to work out how I was going to communicate it visually that this is an Ice Planeteer’s bedroom without making it look chilled and sterile. And hopefully keeping the coordinated look of a stylish lady’s quarters. You could, for example, leave a neon orange ice saw standing in the corner, but it would totally destroy the effect. In the end I decided that I had to have the Ice Planet spacesuit in a closet to unify the interior with the exterior, but even that looks just a little out of place.

Of course, then I got into trying to parodise the song for LEGO. “I’ll take your hat; your hair as well…”?

And that led to this modification of my original build:

“Baby, it’s Cole outside”

I’m calling it, obviously, “Baby, it’s Cole outside”. That duet has to be sung by Nya and Jay, but a Ninjago bedroom scene seems like a step too far, so I built them a couch to sit on.

It’s less unified and intentional than the original build, because it still has all of the Ice Planet touches all over the place.

Amusing, though.

rocket, Rocket, ROCKET!!!!!

If Benny’s spaceship Spaceship SPACESHIP was a kind of modern distillation of the 1980s’ classic blue and grey ships, I guess this is a rocket Rocket ROCKET!!!

Jenny’s rocket, Rocket, ROCKET!!!

Piloted by a red-suited female astronaut (Jenny, presumably), this is my first honest-to-goodness stands-on-its-tail space rocket built as an AFOL, and I really can’t remember building one as a kid either.

Of course, back in the Days of Yore there weren’t nearly so many cool types of elements to build a rocket with. If you wanted a cylindrical rocket you had to build it out of 2×2 macaronis. And anyway, raised on a steady diet of Star Wars, Buck Rogers and Battlestar Galactica (the original, of course) I thought that mere rockets were primitive. If I was going to Build A Spaceship, then by the mustache of Johnny Thunder it was going to be a galaxy-hopping hyperspace-stardrive evil-alien-butt-kicking Spaceship, not some namby-pamby rocket so primitive it worked by burning chemical fuel.

Engine section detail

These days, my latent retrofuturism is a lot closer to the surface. I actually have a sense of nostalgia now, and the idea of building an “old-fashioned” rocketship is a much friendlier one.

Built in NCS colours because SPACESHIP!!!, this isn’t even the largest Neoclassic Space rocketship I could build. There are several elements in my inventory that are pretty rocket-y and yet I chose not to use them.

But it’s definitely a rocket.

I was surprised to find myself actually using the Technic-tracks-wrapped-wrong-way trick. I’ve seen other people use this before but I’ve never been particularly inspired by it, especially on an NCS creation. But several Classic Space vessels used black (in other locations than the “bumblebee” hazard stripes), for example the Space Dart and the Gamma-V Laser Craft, and I find myself liking the look here. I may even do that again.

Cockpit capsule detail

The diminutive cockpit, capsule or miniature reusable shuttlecraft (I’m not sure which) perched atop the main body is the most conventionally Classic Spaceship-shaped part. Again, this was by design. I could have built this as a pure conventional rocket, but I wanted to build something that had at least one crewmember, and what’s the point of building something with a crewmember if she’s invisible?

If that’s not a capsule of a sort perched on the apex, then this is an SSTO (Single Stage To Orbit) rocket of a type beloved by 1950s sci-fi but which we’ve yet to figure out in practice. I think I prefer that idea, on reflection. It seems a bit of a waste to have that whole glorious bottom section with its ring of drive units and its fins and its minor greebling all be disposable.

3/4 Side angle

I’ve got some eventual ambitions toward a proper 1950s-comic-book-style Dan Dare/Flash Gordon/Buck Rogers rocketship with trilateral symmetry and a fully-fitted-out interior, but that’ll probably have to wait on the acquisition of more bricks. Jenny’s 1980-something rocket, Rocket, ROCKET!!!! is a nice start in that direction, though.

One more time: rocket, Rocket, ROCKET!!!!

Magnetic Repulsion?

M-Tron Magno-Crawler

This tiny crawler is my first ever M-Tron creation.

Microscale by virtue of necessity as I possess no M-Tron astronauts and precious few trans neon green elements, it represents my first foray into the 1991-1993 theme with its extensive use of magnets and its predominantly red colour scheme.

M-Tron replaced Futuron as the primary civilian faction, bridging the gap between the first and second generations of the Blacktron and Space Police. If their crawlers and vehicles were anything to go by, they were a space-mining or transportation theme, and as such, are possibly an interestingly Classic Space-like precursor of the terrible Rock Raiders theme.

I know the Rock Raider theme had its afficionadoes, but it’s been probably my least-favourite Space theme of them all for some time now, due to its ugly brown colour scheme and fantasy-like trolls – I mean rock monsters – and for the fact that space mining as a theme concept is a really good one with great potential, but Rock Raiders is so heavy on the mining that it seems to have forgotten it’s supposed to be in space.

M-Tron was never a theme I got particularly into. I was entering fully into my circumstantially-enforced LEGO Dark Ages at the time, and still mourning the end of my beloved Classic Space theme and its Futuron successors. The weird spaceship with the revolving antennas like it was some sort of darned nonsensical vacuum helicopter was one of theirs, and I still felt that red was an unnatural colour for a spaceship, so thoroughly was I marinated in Classic Space.

Having reapproached the theme as an adult and realised that they’re the miners, I’m finding myself starting to like it in a way I never really found myself able to like Rock Raiders.

The difference is that before, I was always trying to crowbar the Rock Raiders into the Classic Space/Futuron/Blacktron/Ice Planet/Spyrius shared universe and getting frustrated at how badly they fail to fit. Their technology doesn’t look right, they have a single team of named characters, they don’t wear enclosing vacuum-capable helmets and air tanks, and their vehicles are depressingly earth-tone and dystopian.

But if the M-Trons are the Classic Space universe’s space miners, then I don’t need to make the Rock Raiders fit. They can do their own thing off in their own alternate universe and leave my brightly-coloured, shiny Classic universe and its Federation alone.

I think part of my blind spot to the M-Tron folks’ existence was that I’d mentally misplaced them in the sequence of early Space factions, thinking of them as the successors of the Ice Planet theme, not their predecessors. That, together with my youthful misliking of the theme’s red colour and what-the-frak? reaction to its stupid pseudo-helicopter (someone obviously wasn’t thinking about the implications of Space when they designed this absurdity. It’s vacuum. A helicopter’s not going to work, and something that looks like a helicopter is just going to make me think you are being stupid with my beloved Space stuff. Seriously, get it right, people) were enough to push a sort of mental “erase” button and wipe it from my list of proper classic Space themes. But if we ignore the stupid space helicopter and compare them to Rock Raiders, suddenly they look pretty good. Pretty darned good, in fact. I might build more of these.

This microvehicle is a large transport crawler of some form, with a crane mounted on the back for loading and unloading. This being an M-Tron creation, the crane is presumably magnetic.

I believe this is the first time I’ve ever used the control stick as a crane, but it looks perfect, and far more M-Tronian than a gun turret.

Unusually for me, this creation definitely has a display side and a back side, as I was only able to make the middle wheels work on one of the two sides.

It’s nothing super-special, but I’m rather pleased with it as a first tentative foray into M-Tron space. When I first considered an M-Tron creation just to round out the classic Space themes that were all definitely set in the same universe (along with the Space Police, and I still haven’t built one of theirs) I wasn’t sure I could pull it off given the paucity of my neon green windscreen elements and my unfamiliarity with the theme, but then the cheese wedge slopes from the Robo Explorer set caught my eye and I realised that a microscale was actually within my capabilities. So of course, I had to build an M-Tron micro.

M-Tron Magno-Crawler

Ice Vigilator

Having built a Classic Space Turtle robot, some Blacktron hardware and a Futuron turtle variant, obviously I needed to build something Ice Planet to round out the set of early Space themes. (And maybe something M:Tron, but I’m only just beginning to develop the glimmerings of an interest in that theme and don’t have any figures or logos or trans neon green parts).

An Ice Vigilator mech picks up a crystal

An Ice Planet mech seemed like a good idea, and I have enough in the way of trans neon orange to give several design options.

I went with a four-legged, pleasingly War of the Worlds-esque design using the old-style helicopter windscreen element from the Ice-Sat V. The cockpit section rotates allowing the mech to be walked in any direction, and the multi-jointed legs allow some interesting posing options, though less than you might think because I had to use clickstop hinges for most of them for the sake of stability and weight issues.

The mech doesn’t have a lot of prominent weaponry apart from that big claw. I’m really satisfied with my decision to remodel the cockpit and replace the twin arms on its sides with a single claw arm underneath. The result is so much more Martian Fighting Machine-like and just seems to work better.

The short antennas on either side of the cockpit would probably work as last-ditch weapons, but I’ve decided that they’re actually “thermal lances”: short-range heat blasters for melting a path through the Krystovian ice.

The giant neon orange spindle is supposed to be some sort of crystal deposit. The original Ice Planet people appear to have been doing some kind of rocketry research, based on their proliferation of rocket launchers and satellites, but they also had a number of mining and ice-cutting vehicles, so probably the rocket research was only part of what they were doing.

I’m calling my new Ice Planet mech the “Ice Vigilator”, a slightly meaningless name mostly stemming from the tall, looming aspect of it that made me think it would be a good guardian or sentinel-type vehicle.

The pilot isn’t Generic Ice Planet Guy, who’s my only official Ice Planet minifigure thus far. I’m using the minifigure head with the red goatee (which I’m rather attached to as he looks a bit like me), as perhaps a son or scion of the original “Ice Babe” minifigure. Maybe in any post-Christmas Bricklinking I do I might see if I can acquire the other Ice Planet minifigures, or at least a Commander Bear…

A Plague of Locust

Blacktron BT221 Locust

It is, however, quite a large locust, and Blacktron to boot, so it should not be taken lightly.

Given the potential body stresses of a hopping form of locomotion on the pilot, a locust might seem a poor choice of creature on which to model a mech, but on low-gravity worlds like Titan and the Jovian moons, hopping is probably the most efficient means of motion there is. With the low gravity producing much lower stress on both pilot and vehicle, the Locust proceeds in what are effectively a series of low glides, mostly using the legs for altitude maintenance.

The BT221 Locust, then, fills the role of the BT086 Alienator on planets whose gravity is low enough to make a walking gait impractical. Armed with three small plasma pulse cannons and two lasers attached to the forward pilot’s position, the Locust is one of the least armed vehicles in the Blacktron arsenal, but makes an effective single-pilot scout/reconnaissance vehicle.

Obviously I’m in arthropod mode for my space builds, what with the Black Widow antiturtle and the Futuron Scarab, but arthropods make excellent base creatures to model mechs and space vehicles after. I’ve got an idea for a mech based on a pillbug design that can roll up into a ball for atmospheric re-entry drops, but I have no clue yet how I’m going to build it in LEGO.

M600 Scarab

Futuron being the acknowledged successors of the Classic Space Federation, it’s entirely possible they’re still using Peter Reid’s robot turtles.

But it’s equally possible they aren’t.

M600 Scarab unit

Inspired by my Blacktron antiTurtle, the K19 Black Widow, I experimented with other variations on the basic circular-handle-and-3×3-dish theme and came up with this beetle-like robot design in Futuron colours.

I’m calling them Scarabs, which seems to fit with both the white-colours-and-light nature of the Futuron and with the bladelike front claws. Ancient Egyptian mythology is weird enough that they have a dung beetle pushing the sun across the sky (when it isn’t sailing in a boat or flying as a falcon or 89 other mutually-conflicting ideas).

Alas, I only have one white 3×3 dome and four white robotic finger elements, so the second one is an unpainted factory model, but I did manage more than one. Isn’t it strange when it’s a lack of some tiny element in a particular colour that stymies your building?