Category Archives: Blacktron

Bolt from the Black

Thunderbolt-class cruiser of the Blacktron Alliance

The Thunderbolt-class Strike Cruiser is a Blacktron Alliance fleet battlecruiser based on the Fury-class Heavy Cruiser but armed with a supermassive hyperrelativistic railgun.

The Fury-class is considered by many observers to be one of the most versatile of Blacktron warships due to the several variants it has spawned, including not only the Thunderbolt-class but also a Marine assault variant (the Nemesis-class) and an extensively modified hospital ship (the Hippocrates-class).

The base Fury-class are armed with a pair of triple-mounted 50cm high X-ray laser turrets dorsally and three ventrally, plus six side-mounted sponsons with three 25cm lasers apiece, with frequencies in the low X-ray/high UV range.

For close assault, the baseline Fury utilises a trio of heavy 60cm plasma accelerators mounted forward, plus various lighter 10cm point defence laser clusters.

Bow end of the Thunderbolt, showing the supermassive railgun and twin dorsal plasma accelerators.

The Thunderbolt-class modifies the baseline Fury by dispensing with all three ventral 50cm X-ray laser turrets plus one of the plasma accelerators and rerouting power to the hyperrelativistic railgun. The 10cm laser point defence clusters are upgraded to 12cm mounts with a faster cooling cycle between shots, given how Thunderbolts draw enemy fire.

Triple quantum gravity drives

The three quantum-gravitic antimatter engines are unchanged from the baseline Fury-class. The Galactic Federation believe that quantum gravity engines are too dangerous and unstable for normal use, so they utilise the slower linear induction drives for normal-space manoeuvring and hyperspace jump engines for interstellar transit. Quantum gravity engines generate a wormhole-like gravitational singularity which at lower power settings acts to propel the ship forwards sliding down an inclined plane of spacetime, and at higher power settings creates a full-scale directed temporary wormhole allowing point-to-point space jumps. The technology releases a certain amount of dangerous cosmic radiation, however, especially at the high-power spatial jump settings.

The Federation considers the Thunderbolt-class to be a terror weapon because of the destructive power of its EL-3(T) railgun. Nicknamed the “Elephant Gun”, it fires a 12.5-tonne nickel-iron-banded titanium cylinder to velocities approaching 85% of lightspeed. At that velocity, the kinetic energy of the projectile is well into the dinosaur-kilker range, and unconfirmed rumours exist of 2000km diameter planetoids actually being broken apart by Elephant Gun strikes.

Central hull, showing dorsal heavy laser turrets and triple-mount side sponsons

The Blacktron Alliance consider the Thunderbolt-class a deterrent against ongoing Federation encroachment on its sphere of influence as agreed in the 2247 Treaty of Achernar. The politics of Federation-Blacktron interstellar relations are murky at best, and the Treaty of Achernar is only one of a string of “binding treaties” broken or abrogated by one side or the other.

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At 28 inches long (71cm, or 75 studs), this is my largest Blacktron construction to date.

I was actually shocked that it ended up so much longer than my spacewhale, but that’s what the tape measure says. It’s a smaller volume ship, obviously, but yes, it’s a full 11 studs longer than the Cetus.

It’s also a lot more conventional in construction, without the internal Technic framing, multidirectional structural (rather than decorative) SNOTwork and clever technique. I rather like it anyway, but it’s just a lot less clever.

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Mechs and Violence

Deliberately tryimg to build better mechs and use more advanced building techniques than my endless balljoint limbs and fancified-box cockpits, I put together this little Blacktron mech.

In that pose, it looks rather gangsta-esque, so I’m calling it the Black Panther mech. It’s probably fitting if the Blacktron are the galaxy’s criminal element, and makes sense if they’re more like a hostile nation, too.

As far as scale goes, either this is an actual humanoid combat robot, in which case it ought to be roughly man-sized or no more than 8ft tall, or there’s a pilot sitting behind that trans yellow stud on the head, in which case it’s monstrously huge and wields a gun bigger than an ICBM. I’m personally not sure which it is.

With so many of my T-pieces in use on the spacewhale, I had to adapt some of the common advanced joint techniques, and it’s not quite as fully poseable as I’d like. But it works, even if it’s rather bland and meh alongside any really good LEGO mech.

Invasive Species

Xenarch-class Blacktron assault fighter

The Xenarch-class assault fighter is a second-generation Invader derivative optimised for the attack/assault role rather than for space superiority.

The original Blacktron Invader. Source: Brickipedia

Less manoeuvrable than a pure space superiority fighter or even a more generic multirole, the Xenarch has far better armour and much more powerful weaponry optimised for strike missions against larger targets like Federation cruisers or space stations.

Like the ancestral Invader modular multirole, the Xenarch can split into a more manoeuvrable smaller front section and a rear module containing the hyperdrive unit and increased power reactors.

The short Xenarch craft is considerably less effective in the heavy strike role but can be employed as a defensive multirole fighter.

Armed with four high-powered grasers and two forward-firing lasers, the Xenarch is one of the most powerful fighters of the Blacktron Alliance, though its lack of manoeuvrability can be a drawback, and operation without the rear section’s high-power reactor prevents the armament from being used at anything over 67% power.

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It occurred to me that a Blacktron space fighter would be a fun build. I haven’t really built one of those since I acquired those three Blacktron astronauts, after all.

Initially I just built the front section, but somehow it looked unfinished. It needed more in the back. Looking at it, I could see echoes of my favourite Blacktron set, the Invader, so that’s the basic design model I used. The trans red plate wings of the original were a feature I always associated with the drive or power systems, so I’ve assumed that’s what they were and built a much cooler-looking modernised system. I’m still not sure whether they’re hyperspace engines or antimatter reactors, but I’m pleased with how they look.

The Xenarch is much chunkier and more solid-looking than the Invader, and seems different enough to warrant a new name, but it needed a name with similar ancestry.

The anemic Blacktron Future Generation line already used “Intruder”, so that was out. I thought about “Secessionist”, “Aggressor” and some other things, but I ended up with Xenarch.

Derived from two Greek words: Xenos, meaning foreigner, and Archon, meaning ruler, it might mean “Foreign Prince” or “Ruler over Strangers”.

And it begins with an X, which automatically makes it cool.

Rear aspect of the shorter Xenarch front section fighter

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.

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 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.

Archer-class Pulse Cannon

Aerospace defence. It’s going to be a critical need for any spacegoing force.

You’re going to need defensive systems that operate on several different levels. Force shields if your universe has them, but also antisatellite weapons – lasers or the equivalent, missiles and so on, and of different sizes.

For energy weapons, there will be the massive ion cannons or heavy lasers that can bust through dreadnought-level armour, as well as smaller ones, right down to something like this.

I’m calling it the Archer-class; a seven-barreled mobile aerospace defence cannon.

Having seven barrels might seem like overkill (or possibly stupid: why not just one gun that’s much bigger and more powerful?), but I’m thinking it would be like the early Gatling guns: the multiple barrels prevent overheating and allow more sustained fire.

Anyway, here it is.  I also made a little tow-truck thing to pull it around.