Category Archives: LEGO Space Police

Sting Operations

LEGO Space Police.

Space Police 1 Mission Commander/Galactic Enforcer. Photo from Jangbricks.

It took me a while to make my peace with the idea of the Space Police, and to this day only Spyrius and M:Tron among the early (pre-UFO) LEGO Space themes have inspired fewer builds.

The first Space Police sets came in just as I was entering my personal Dark Ages, and while the Blacktron subtheme provoked admiration laced with confusion (who exactly were these dark knights of the spaceways?), the Space Police line provoked more of a confusion-laced disdain. At the time, I managed to completely miss the fact that those were Blacktron astronauts in the cells, that this was the first factional conflict in LEGO history, and I wasn’t thrilled with the idea of a spacegoing police force. If I’d wanted to play cops and robbers with my LEGO, I’d have been into Town sets. What did they think they were doing, mucking up my beloved Space theme and turning it into a Town clone? Space Police? Bah!

Coming back to LEGO a few years ago, it still took me a while to get past my youthful hangups. I had remembered the second-generation Space Police’s unattractive grey livery colours as belonging to Space Police I, and I couldn’t for the life of me imagine why such an unpromising-seeming subtheme should have spawned not one, but two iterations, especially when the awesome Ice Planet subtheme (which I do remember with fondness even though it happened in my Dark Ages) only got a single run of sets.

I know better now, but only having acquired a Space Police trooper relatively recently I haven’t done much with them in the way of building.

Space Police Stinger MOC

This, then is only my third or fourth Space Police build at all, and of course I’m gravitating to SP1, just as I prefer my Blacktrons to be first-generation rather than “Future Generation” Blacktron IIs. Given my penchant for inverting the moral polarity of the Classic Space universe – Blacktrons are the good guys of the rebel alliance, while the Classic Space/Futuron/Space Police triumvirate represents an oppressive, totalitarian System – SP1 colours have the most sinister appearance.

Though conceived and built as an update to the Space Police Striker, it’s a little smaller and doesn’t incorporate the light-up features of the original. In fact, it’s closer in size to the much smaller Galactic Peacekeeper, though its configuration is more like the Striker. I’m calling it the “Stinger”.

My prisoner transport pod design is far more cagelike than the original SP1 pod. I’m afraid I went rather overboard with the laser bars concept of the original, which it must be said are way cooler than the SP2’s pods managed. I’d have liked something a little more like the tubular pods of SP3 (though in red), but I don’t have any of those half-cylinder elements in trans red. What I’ve ended up with looks vaguely Mediaeval. Still, it works, and I have to say that the way those cylindrical pods were attached to SP3’s Galactic Enforcer was ugly.

Underside, showing undercarriage in retracted configuration

The Stinger is presumably something like an extended-range Galactic Peacekeeper or smaller and more agile Striker. Perfect for chasing those dastardly Blacktrons all over the cosmos.

“Some People Call Me A Space Cowboy…”

Even awful Steve Miller Band songs can occasionally inspire a LEGO creation.

I know “The Joker” is a very popular song from its era, but it’s never really scratched where I itch, personally. But when the first line came on the radio as I drove to my LEGO User Group meeting, I started thinking about the possibilities. My personal builders’ rallying call is something along the lines of “Space Everything”, so… space cowboys. Literally.

Shootout at the Space Corral

As an Englishman living in Texas, I’m surrounded by cowboy culture. The Fort Worth stock show and rodeo. People who wear cowboy boots. People who wear stetsons. Everybody and his brother’s cousin’s dog in their stupid pickup trucks. People who actually own cattle – in the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area, which is one of the larger urban conglomerates in the entire US. The whole Western genre. The entire Country music scene. Now, there are a few good Country songs, and I enjoy the occasional Western, but really, the entire cultural landscape is as alien as HG Wells’ Martians tramping through the English countryside.

There are two basic ways of dealing with the alienness: assimilation or resistance. Either you assimilate and learn cowboy, at least culturally speaking, or you return to your cultural roots and become a sort of professional Englishman.

Resistance is not futile.

“Draw!”

A creation like this could be taken as either the product of a final blended assimilation of worlds, or a sort of ironic joke on the whole subculture. In actuality it’s something of both. Merging different genres is something I do, and usually results in an interesting creation, but there’s a certain amount of visual irony involved in the Blacktron vs Space Police shootout, the rover shaped a bit like a stagecoach and the robot cactus. And the horse-shaped antigravity speeders tethered outside the saloon.

 

Mustang speeders outside the saloon

Robot cactus. Because no Western scene is complete without a Saguaro.

Using my two tan baseplates for what I think is the first time (my kids use baseplates a lot more than I do), I started out with the saloon and then expanded it into the stagecoach area. Starting with the Saloon sign and then building a façade like that in any classic spaghetti Western, I initially planned the model structured entirely around the Shootout at the Space Corral, but then the model started to get overpopulated with minifigures as I added more and more, and I realised I had to expand onto another baseplate.

But the resulting two-plate creation was a bit sparse, so I had to build more stuff. This is not a problem.

If I had four or five of the Gungan steeds from the Phantom Menace sets, they’d make a pretty good herd of alien cattle, but I don’t have any, let alone 4 or 5. Thus, the stagecoach rover. Building a rover that recalls a stagecoach was actually pretty fun; you don’t see too many Classic Space stagecoach rovers. I think it’s the elevated driver’s position that sells it; the rover itself isn’t all that stagecoachy otherwise.

The Stagecoach rover. Not a great angle, unfortunately, but the overall shots give the idea. Note the alien prospector in the background.

It might be fun to expand this still further and incorporate a real Space Cowboy herding Gungan steeds, but those Gungan steeds are relatively expensive for what’s basically a single brick, and I have other purchasing priorities.

It’d make a pretty good display, though.

I’m quite pleased with the horse speeders. Loosely based on the Nexo Knights’ hoversteeds, they’re my own design because we only got two of the sets from that theme and neither included a hoversteed that I could adapt. Anyway, I prefer to create rather than copying whenever possible.

Brightly-Coloured Tyranny

Blacktron bad, dark, evil, chaotic. Classic Space/Futuron/Space Police good, light, ordered.  It’s pretty much standard for interpreting the (lack of) story behind the shared universe of the earliest LEGO Space themes.

But what if we’re wrong?  What if the Blacktron are the good guys?

Yeah, they wear black and have ships with slightly sinister-sounding names like “Invader” or “Renegade”, but so what?  Batman wears black.

This would make the Space Police an evil instrument of tyrannical oppression, which TLG weren’t going to do back then (still probably aren’t) because they don’t want to be accused of teaching kids that regular street cops are villains.  However, we’re AFOLs, and we can do things with LEGO’s products and universe that might not be completely kid-friendly and inoffensive.  The idea of a tyrannical government and oppressive police force isn’t a new one and ought not to shock anyone.  It’s even been used in children’s literature: CS Lewis The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe had the tyrant Witch Jadis’ chief wolf Maugrim be “Captain of the Imperial Secret Police”, to say nothing of more recent vintages like The Hunger Games.  I think even quite young kids can separate out police in a story from police in real life, especially in a fantastical or futuristic setting, though I can see where a toy company like TLG making their own, non-licensed merchandise with no tie-in to a particular story might not want to go there.

The more I looked at those old catalogue pictures and all the smiling happy faces of the astronauts, the more they looked like Lord Business’ propaganda in The LEGO Movie.  Maybe it’s because I spent some time in the former Soviet Union, but I was suddenly struck by a sort of New Soviet Realism take on the old catalogue images, complete with potential sloganry:  “Working Together For The Greater Good”, or “Bringing Peace To The Galaxy”, or “Be Happy; You’re In Spaaaace!”.  Unhappiness punishable by disappearance.

Developing the idea, I was originally going to call my Classic Space dystopia a “Federation”, inverting the moral polarity of the term that’s been adopted by fans for the Classic astronauts’ political unit ever since Reid and Goddard’s LEGO Space: Building the Future.  Possibly before.  But when I started thninking about how it might function and what the different suit colours represent (genetically determined caste system?), I had an alternative idea.  What if the “Federation” isn’t really a thing at all?  What if the different industries that make the civilisation work are divided up between massive megacorporations run by single corporate dynasties – a sort of Ayn Randian hypercapitalism gone horribly wrong, administered by the Yakuza and the Mob, with a Soviet-esque approach to information control?  Each suit colour might represent a different megacorporate First Family, with different industrial specialisms; for example the white suits might represent some kind of energy/resource extraction corporation – a TransOctan, if you will – whereas the blue suits might be an information-controlling media and communications giant – Bencom? – that manages the propaganda machine.

Welcome to the transcorporate brightly-coloured tyranny of the System.

In such a world, you can imagine that the Revolution picked black as a unifying colour, and countercultural, aggressive ship names that stand the shiny oppression and corporate propaganda of Dark Side rogue hypercapitalism on its head.  The Blacktron movement might be something akin to a political revolutionary movement – not socialism per se, because it’s the future and I’m sure they have new political movements.

Cernunnos-class Blacktron mech

I’m trying to write a story set within this universe, something like Peter Reid and Tim Goddard’s Building the Future, but kind of inverted.  I doubt the LEGO Group would fully approve of what I plan to do, but there are advantages to having no real plans to publish…

Like Reid and Goddard’s book, but unusually for me, all the action happens within the Solar System.  Even as a kid I usually interpreted the Classic Space theme as taking place on an interstellar level rather than merely interplanetary, but the requirements of story overrule.  However, my version of the Solar System is a lot more extensively colonised, including outposts on Mercury, asteroid bases carved into the interior of Pallas, nitrogen and hydrocarbon harvesting on Titan, and of course the usual suspects on the Moon, Mars, Ganymede and in orbit.

Exploring the surface of Mercury: the “Hellsuit” mech

Earth has an orbital ring (which I may try to build a section of): the Bifrost Ring.  I was initially considering multiple space elevators until a friend suggested this concept, and after doing some investigations I have to say I’m sold.

Massive megacorporations control everything, which is less cool, but that’s the essence of this universe.  There is a rebellion in the shape of the Blacktron Alliance, because stories thrive on conflict and I’m not going to leave the future in the hands of evil corporations if I can help it.

And the very first ventures beyond the Solar System are taking place:

Orion One transsolar explorer flying by planet Futuro

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.

Blessed are the Peacemakers

Space Police Peacemaker

Space Police Peacemaker

It is written “Blessed are the peacemakers”, and indeed, many a Federation freighter crew under attack by Blacktron raiders has heaped blessings upon the sudden appearance of one of these Space Police cruisers.

Massing in at over eight times the size of the Blacktron Renegade, the Peacemaker is one of the largest Space Police ship classes, serving as a mobile command ship and special response unit for bringing to justice the most entrenched and powerfully-equipped offenders.

Peacemaker cruiser 6

Ten powerful laser cannons constitute the Peacemaker’s main armament, arranged two forward, four in wing mountings and four in twin-mounted dorsal turrets.  These laser cannons are not the typical medium-power pulse lasers of typical Federation usage, but larger and more capable beam weapons able to destroy large rogue asteroids and deal with the most heavily-equipped and armoured criminals.

Peacemaker cruiser 7

The rear airlock (sans cover) of the Peacemaker

The Peacemaker is fitted with four cylindrical prisoner transport pods for the transfer of prisoners back to Space Police facilities for trial.  This is the same number as the Star Ranger-class Patrol Ship (forthcoming build), even though the Peacemaker is a much larger vessel and it might be expected to carry more pods.

The discrepancy is mostly due to the differing roles of the two vessel classes and the resultant differences in how they carry the pods.

The Peacemaker is fitted with several prisoner transport pods

The Peacemaker is fitted with several prisoner transport pods

The Star Ranger is a standard patrol ship used for general police use in typical enforcement environments – the “squad car” equivalent of Space Police hardware.  Its pods are carried exposed in exterior mountings.

The Peacemaker, however, is more like a heavy SWAT vehicle, and its prisoner transport pods are enclosed behind armoured bulkhead doors.

Peacemaker cruiser 2

Three powerful engines propel the ship through space.  These are powerful enough to require blast deflectors top and bottom, and though the Peacemaker-class is too massive to achieve the same velocities as the Shrike, it can out-accelerate most ships in its mass bracket.

Peacemaker cruiser 3

The cockpit area seats a crew of eight: two pilots, and a combination of computer specialists, weapons crew and EVA specialists adding up to six.


Believe it or not, when I started building this it was only going to be about a sixth of the size of what I’ve ended up with.  But as I began to build, I discovered that several of my design ideas were mutually incompatible at that scale.  So I reached for my normal solution: go larger.

This build incorporates at least four- and probably six-directional SNOT building techniques – sideways, forwards, backwards and down as well as conventional upwards building (which is in the minority and mostly decorative).  In particular, the main hull incorporates structural building in four directions, and I’m particularly pleased with the way the forward- and backward-built sections hold together.

Peacemaker cruiser 4

There are a lot of personal first-uses here of particular brick types; most notably the ball-and-cup laser cannon mounting elements, but also several of the windshield-type elements and other pieces as well.

To echo the Shrike and provide some sense of design continuity, I adapted the curved wings of that ship for the larger Peacemaker, but there are several changes and they are not entirely the same.

I hope you like this 🙂

Dancing on the Moon

With the Shrike (see previous), I’ve achieved something I never previously thought possible: I’ve reconciled myself to the idea of the Space Police.

Back in 1989, I thought they were ruining my favourite LEGO Space theme.

As a child, I was all about Space LEGO.  I’ve mentioned in this blog before that I’m part Benny; I loved the Classic Space universe with its strange new worlds and its friendly astronauts and its moon buggies and its spaceships.

I remember the introduction of the Blacktron in 1987.  This was the first real “theme” as such, and they looked cool.  Visibly different from the regular Space astronauts in their white ships, these guys had their own awesome triangular emblem and a black-and-yellow colour scheme.  I never got any of the sets, but I loved the look of them.  Ok, “Blacktron” sounded a bit childish, but they were cool.

They also weren’t villains.  Official promotional material showed them working alongside the regular astronauts, obviously different but not necessarily opposed.

Then in 1989 the Space Police arrived and changed all that, giving LEGO its first real factional conflict and making the Blacktron officially bad guys in cells.

You’re under arrest, evil Blacktron scum!

At the time, I actually missed the fact that those were Blacktron astronauts in the Space Police cells.  I was drifting into my personal LEGO Dark Ages, still interested in building, to tell the truth, but becoming embarrassed about it among my peers.  I was paying less attention to the worlds of LEGO.  And anyway, I hated the very idea of the Space Police.

I wanted new worlds and exploration.  If I’d wanted to play cops and robbers with my LEGO, I’d have been into Town.  Space Police was ruining my favourite theme, making it into a Town clone!

Or that’s what I thought, anyway.

And because I went from that into my own personal Dark Ages, I’ve carried a rather silly grudge against the Space Police all this time.

In my mind, I conflated the original Space Police with their ugly second-generation colour scheme (mostly grey with green windshields), and when I returned to LEGO as an adult and realised there had been three separate Space Police themes, I was kind of disgruntled.  How could that ugly grey-and-trans-green theme spawn not one but two successors?  Especially since the incredible Blacktrons only got one successor, and the excellent Ice Planet only lasted a year.

I still don’t really find this colour scheme attractive

Space Police?  Bleargh.

Since then, I’ve started writing stories on the LEGO.com forums.  Set, of course, in my favourite Classic Space milieu, I’ve come at the whole thing with an adult’s viewpoint and an adult’s understanding of human nature.

If humans are in space, they’re still going to be humans, with all of the conflicts and problems and inner darkness that entails.  This was what Star Trek always got wrong.  Just because you have replicator technology it’s not going to make crime go away.  Someone’s still going to steal a spaceship, or rob someone else, or sue them because their targ crapped in the air recycler, or smuggle banned nanotech into a restricted zone, or cheat on their spouse, or take murderous revenge.

And so if humans are in space, we are going to need a Space Police.  Besides, they add a wonderful amount of background colour and help to convey the idea that this is a galactic civilisation, not just a small band of explorers.  There are going to be hairdressers and doctors and paramedics (maybe they should do a Space Rescue line?) and artists and lawyers and news reporters and, yes, police.  Someone has to kick danger in the teeth for the sake of justice.  This is an inherently good thing, a noble calling to the cause of righteousness.  It’s something I can get behind with a light heart.

So I’ve decided I quite like the Space Police after all.  The Space Police II colour scheme wasn’t great, but the LEGO Group screwed up the Blacktron’s colours in that time period, too, and I still like the Blacktron.  But the black/blue/trans red of the originals is actually pretty cool.

Space Police Vindicator

Space Police Vindicator


So I’ve been making some more Space Police hardware.  The little one I’m calling the Vindicator; it’s designed as a sort of orbital motorcycle cop equivalent.  An extremely agile little spaceship able to manoeuvre around ponderous giant freighters in pursuit of a bad guy in the crowded spacelanes of a major world.  Ok, it looks more like a helicopter, but the inspiration was police motorbike.

Space Police Peacemaker

Space Police Peacemaker

The big one is the Peacemaker-class Cruiser.  I consider it possibly my best spaceship yet; it’ll get its own post on this blog.

Space Police version of the Shrike

Space Police version of the Shrike

And the Space Police version of the Shrike Pursuit Ship you saw last time.  Now all I need is a regular patrol-car kind of ship.  And maybe some land vehicles.