Category Archives: Blacktron

Alienate This

Of all the six first-generation Blacktron sets, the Alienator has probably had the most separate update attempts.

There are reasons for this.

In 1987 when the Blacktron first made their appearance, the Alienator was my least-favourite of their hardware, even including the little Meteor Monitor that presaged the disappointing “Blacktron Future Generation” colours by including white.

The original Alienator

It was those legs that got me.

Normally I’m a fan of legged vehicles, especially in LEGO form, but even as an early-teenaged child I had enough of an inner biologist that I wanted something that bent at the hips and knees. That twist-and-slide zombie shuffle didn’t do anything for me. To my mind, the capabilities of the bricks they had back then meant that the world wasn’t ready for LEGO mechs. I didn’t like any of the various legged Classic Space vehicles.

Cut to the present and my post-Dark Age return to building as an AFOL, and we have all kinds of useful element types that didn’t exist back then. Not least of these are the various kinds of balljoint elements.

Now Alienate This!

The whole Bionicle/CCBS/”constraction” thing came in while I was away, and to this day that building style is a complete black box to me and effectively a separate community. I personally get bored with endless variations on the human figure, and lacking any background I neither know nor care whether I’m looking at the Toa of Cut-Price Furniture or the Protector of Cyborg Hippoes. Or whatever it is the real ones are supposed to be called.

But the various balljoint elements with studs add so many capabilities to my arsenal of techniques that they’ve nearly become essential to my building. I literally couldn’t build two thirds of what I build without them.

Now that we have the capability to build a more realistic jointed leg, an Alienator update is a really good idea, and just about every TFOL/AFOL Blacktron fan seems to build one at some point.

The various neo-Alienators out there seem to fall on a spectrum from stuff like this, which is very close in design to the original apart from the realistic legs, to stuff like this, which is awesome but radically divergent from the original, being much larger and flashier.

Mine’s somewhere in between. More “inspired by” the original than strictly colouring inside the lines, its long, spindly insectile legs and big round feet combine to give it a rather Wellsian War of the Worlds vibe, like a Blacktron take on the Martian Fighting Machine. It’s ended up with a lot more cockpit, proportionally speaking, than the Alienator 1.0.

I was actually initially anticipating a larger vehicle with a more extensive rear section, but realising that I was bored with the conventional daisy-chain mode of balljoint connection I decided to experiment with using the central ball that is normally used for attaching the greaves elements as a primary connection point. That pulled the whole centre of balance forward and necessitated a much abbreviated rear section.

You’ll of course have noticed the out-of-place dark red curved element. Even with the partial element sorting I’ve managed since this post, I can’t find the other black one that I know I’ve got, so I had to use a different colour. The same goes for the dark grey Bionicle limb rod at the back.

I’m claiming battle damage. Some Space Police disruptor weapon changing the chemical composition of the hull-metal.

The Martian War Machine-esque Bauplan got me thinking that it needed a wrecked spaceship to loom menacingly over, so the scene-setting accessories are a row of rocks and a partial Space Police-coloured wreck. Take that, nasty Space Police!

Of course, now I want to build a full on Blacktron-liveried war tripod à la War of the Worlds.

Maybe later; I’m going off on holiday in less than a week. And I’ll probably have forgotten all about Blacktron Martians by the time I get back.

Fatal Battraxion

The original Battrax

The Blacktron Battrax always seemed to be oddly named. The other Blacktron I vehicles are named meaningful things like “Invader” and “Renegade”, but what in intergalactic space is a battrax?

Then there’s that “-trax” element to the name, apparently standing in opposition to the fact that it doesn’t have tracks. What’s up with that?

Well, 1980s LEGO design processes being the black box that they were, we don’t know what happened when they were developing the set. Maybe the original concept model did have tracks, and they got rid of them to bring costs down.

Maybe someone involved in these things thought it looked like a sort of interplanetary Batmobile and inserted a subtle reference in calling it a “Bat-track”.

The Battrax 2.0

Updating the Battrax seemed like an eminently worthwhile use of my new trans yellow windscreen element. I could have gone with an Invader update, but I’ve been crying out to use all four of those small caterpillar tracks at once for some time now. And making the Battrax how I think it ought to be, with tracks, was a good opportunity.

Like the original, the cockpit section attaches to the main body of the vehicle with pin fasteners. Unlike the original, the back section does not do likewise. This ability to produce multiple configurations from the same basic set without disassembling the model was one of the features of the subtheme, and I’ve partially reprised it here with my detachable cockpit scoutship.

The rear section may not detach from the main body and stick to the cockpit to make a spaceship, but my Battrax 2.0 has a rear section that opens up to reveal a small workstation and a fuel drum.

Not having a proper Blacktron (by which I mean first-generation Blacktron, not those white-suited “Blacktron Future Generation” impostors) astronaut, I’ve done what any sensible master-builder wannabe would do: I’ve adapted.

That diagonal-zippered black torso from some forgotten Town set (I’ve got no idea where I acquired these from) makes a decent flightsuit, that particular Castle helm is the closest I can currently come to a Blacktron helmet, and I’ve assembled a backpack out of a few small elements. I hope you approve; it’s the best I can do right now. Blacktron astronauts are on my “when I find them for a price I feel I can justify to my wife” purchase list, but when you don’t have a functional PayPal account (long story involving a lost password and a change of phone number) you can’t always get the cheapest prices on Bricklink. Oh well.

Anyway, this is my Battrax 2.0. As far as an in-universe reason for its name goes, I’m thinking the battrax is some sort of alien predator. It makes sense. We name military vehicles after animals: Scorpion, Black Panther, Leopard, Maus… Or cars, for that matter: Jaguar, Impala, Tiburon…

Blacktron Marauder

049The Marauder is a heavy fighter design used by the Blacktron Alliance as a space superiority and assault fighter.  Though not the most manoeuvrable ship in space, the Marauder makes up for that in armament and armour; Marauders will shrug off hits that will cripple other similarly-sized vessels.


Armed with two forward-firing lasers and a quartet of proton cannons (represented by the two stud shooters on top and the two lightsaber hilts underneath), the Marauder is one of the most armed ships for its size in space.  It is also relatively fast for its mass, and though not the fastest ship in space, it is better armoured than most similarly-sized ships of equivalent speed.


All of this weaponry and speed takes power, and the Marauder must run its drive power plant at rates which the Federation deem beyond safe limits due to the increased radiation exposure for the pilot.  The Blacktron Alliance uses nanotechnology banned in the Federation to aid the body’s own cellular systems in repairing radiation damage, and is frequently willing to run their drive systems at unsafe levels.

The Marauder’s overcharged drive unit burns through fuel rods far faster than equivalent Federation ships, however, so its range is rather lower than its Federation counterparts.  The Alliance consider the trade-off worthwhile, however, and frequently base their fightercraft on large hyperspace carriers and base ships.

I’ve seen other people building spaceships on a corner angle before, most notably Peter Reid’s Viper from Building the Future, but also others.  And the “impossibility factor” of building something in a weird direction always makes this sort of build look extra cool – how do you get a pilot to sit right?  I decided to stretch myself and have a go at the technique.


And it lets me use my one Blacktron quarter panel to best effect.  And, to reiterate, it’s a Blacktron ship, so it’s almost automatically awesome! 🙂


It was quite a challenge to get the pilot’s seat and the cockpit canopy to sit at what became a diagonal angle in SNOT construction, and you might notice that the cockpit doesn’t quite cover all of the pilot’s legs.  I might be able to rectify that in a future build, but for this one it will have to stay as it is.


I’m still lacking a proper Blacktron astronaut, too, so the pilot is wearing a Castle helmet and an old black flight-suit torso from a long-forgotten set.  Some sort of Blacktron Special Forces, perhaps.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy this build.  It’s one of my favourite real-brick creations to date.

SteamBlacktron Alle-Venator

Following on from my “Einvader” steampunk re-imagining of the Blacktron Invader, it was clear that the Baron von Blacktron was going to need some sort of ground vehicle for his forces of villainy.

SteamBlacktron Alle-Venator

SteamBlacktron Alle-Venator

The Alienator is a walker, which is pretty steampunky already, but “Alienator” isn’t a very steampunky name. Still, we can adapt. Using the odd mix of German and Latin that produced “Einvader”, I’m calling this the “Alle-Venator”. Translated, this would be “All-Hunter”, which seems apt for a SteamBlacktron walker.

Alle-Venator 2

The Alle-Venator has fully-jointed legs that allow a much better level of motion and poseability than the disappointing sliding motion of the original. Ah, the wonders of modern ball joint elements!

Alle-Venator 3

There is a piston/double wheel arrangement on the back that I’m quite pleased with, and the inevitable billowing smokestack that tells you beyond a doubt that yes, this is steampunk.

Alle-Venator 4

The name suggested a manhunter rather than an anti-armour fighting machine, so the armament is a pair of large machine guns on an underslung turret beneath the cockpit. The front feet also have some nasty-looking claws as a secondary attack mode. I’ve made the pilot of this one a girl; it seems wickedly appropriate for the pilot of a manhunter. I’m calling her Magda von Morrigan, referencing the Irish warrior goddess and keeping with the Germanic name theme of my SteamBlacktron forces.

Alle-Venator 5

So now my Baron von Blacktron has a flying machine and a walker.

Steampunk Blacktron

SteamBlacktron Einvader

SteamBlacktron Einvader

Maybe I have a weird mind, but something about the old Blacktron Invader just seemed to cry out to be made into a steampunk flying machine.

I’ve tried to echo the 1987 original (but in a steampunky sort of way), so this is a lot smaller and simpler than my last humungous steampunk creation. This is more like the sort of thing you might end up with as an actual set from a steampunk theme: one of the the dirigible flying machines of the nefarious Baron Rheinhardt von Blacktron and his henchmen.

Einvader 2

Making a steampunk echo of this Blacktron classic was actually a lot of fun. I have pirate-style cannon replacing the lasers of the original, and propellers instead of rockets. The original’s folding wings have become angled rotors, and the trans red fins (what were those things supposed to be?) have become bat-wing ailerons. Though still trans red, to faithfully echo the original.

Einvader pilot Wolfgang von Darkseide

Einvader pilot Wolfgang von Darkseide

Unfortunately this one doesn’t include either the modular construction of the original or the opening cargo bay with its small robot. I could probably make a clockwork robot to include, but there’s no way to realistically transport it internally in this model. In addition, it’s not the easiest thing in the world to get the pilot in and out.

Einvader 3

The Einvader is completed by a pair or smokestacks on the roof, and a trio of landing legs on the bottom. The Von Blacktron Einvader is one of the main aerial threats to the Steampunk Empire. This one is piloted by Baron von Blacktron’s right-hand man Wolfgang von Darkseide, but I imagine there’s a whole fleet of them in the Baron’s service.

Einvader 5

Now to turn the Alienator into a steampunk walker!

Angel of Chaos

Angel of Chaos 1Powerful. Darkly beautiful. Deadly.

The Blacktron vessel Angel of Chaos is a space warship of the Blacktron Alliance. Featuring a main armament of three massive gamma-ray lasers, it is one of the most powerful ships in Alliance service.

Angel of Chaos 5

The power system is a second-generation version of the experimental system pioneered by the Blacktron Invader, and is also featured on the second-generation Intruder (see previous post). The improved power management system allows for considerably higher power usage, but at the cost of crew radiation exposure levels that the Galactic Federation deem unsafe.

The power levels on Angel of Chaos are high even by these standards, and the gamma-ray lasers are of a type more typically found on the largest hypercruisers and dreadnoughts. Radiation exposure levels are also correspondingly high, and the crew of the “Angel” consider themselves a breed apart.

Angel of Chaos 2A quartet of powerful engines drive this ship at high velocities through both normal space and hyperspace.

The Angel of Chaos is partly an experiment with radial construction, and partly a homage to the Liberator, the spaceship from a largely forgotten British sci-fi TV show from the ’70s called “Blake’s 7”. Some day I’ll attempt the spherical drive unit from that original ship, but I’m not that good yet.

Angel of Chaos 3

I think the radial technique would actually work better on a larger model, but not knowing that I could successfully pull it off, I was reluctant to invest the time involved in building a massive model.

The most satisfying part of this model for me is the way I managed the transition from 12-fold radial to 8-fold radial to more regular unidirectional SNOT construction.

The three turrets around the main hull rotate as well as elevating, though this is not true of the cockpit guns, which only elevate.

Angel of Chaos 4

Intruder Alert!

The Blacktron Intruder

The Blacktron Intruder

This is basically a larger, cooler version of the 1987-vintage 6894 Blacktron Invader. The Invader is my favourite Blacktron ship, and I couldn’t resist trying out an updated version using modern SNOT-heavy techniques.

I also couldn’t resist making it larger in order to incorporate more coolness. I groove to bigger models.

The original 6894 Invader

Like the Classic Blacktron Invader, it’s built in three sections that fasten together with pin fastenings. I built the engine section first, but I already had the basic concept for what I wanted to do with the middle cargo module, and that determined the extra width, which meant that in order to keep the basic lines of the original I was going to end up with a larger model. That’s why I’ve named this an “Intruder” rather than an “Invader MOC“, though I kept a similar name.

Intruder underside

Intruder underside

Where the original had transparent red plate wings, I went for spheres held in claws. I always thought of the engine section’s wings as something to do with the vessel’s power systems, but on the other hand, the Invader was the only ship that had them, so who knows? Anyway, I think my globes are cooler, and fit better with the sinister feel of the Blacktron.

The Intruder has an opening central module with disguised weaponry

The Intruder has an opening central module with disguised weaponry

The middle section looks like a standard cylindrical cargo module similar to what the original had (except the Intruder’s is rounded where the Invader had a faceted design). It looks like it, that is, until the whole thing opens up to reveal a powerful array of hidden weaponry. It has rapid-firing laser pulse clusters and red beam lasers.

I imagine, the Blacktron Alliance being the Blacktron Alliance, that they operate a lot of Intruders in which this is in fact a standard cylindrical cargo module, so that their Federation rivals are thrown off-balance, never knowing what to expect.

With the modular design of Blacktron ships, in fact, there could easily be four or five different middle sections with different armaments.

Central module closed, wings folded

Central module closed, wings folded

The cockpit section was in some ways the most challenging. As my first SNOT cockpit, it was a challenge to get the angled design to work with the pin connectors, but I figured out a solution. Like the Invader, the wings are angle-adjustable, and the cockpit can be attached directly to the engine section for a short version.

"Short" version without the central attack module

“Short” version without the central attack module

I couldn’t resist adding what seems to be becoming a standard undercarriage design for me. With two landing legs on the wings and one on the engine section, the Intruder can set down almost anywhere.