Category Archives: Lego Space

Komodo

Between single- and dual-crew space fighters and large frigate- and corvette-class vessels is a huge size range which in civilian vessels comprises the larger Courier- and smaller Trader-classes: small-to-medium vessels with between two and twelve crew. Military ships in this displacement bracket tend to have larger crews for their displacement, not having a lot of their tonnage allocated to cargo; the Gunship class bracket typically runs from around four to around twenty crew, which upper limit would typically be considered a small corvette.

The Komodo-class is a small example of the Gunship class, intended to accompany fighters and provide heavier fire support. This is typical of small Gunship design philosophy; larger Gunships act more like extremely light fleet screening elements, with heavy antifighter and antimissile armaments and maybe one or two larger-calibre guns.

The distinguishing feature of the Komodo-class is, of course, the jawlike frontal arrangement hiding the primary antiphoton beam cannon. The jaws are almost purely cosmetic, though the teeth are constructed of high-strength buckycarbon sheathed in titanium and honed to a monomolecular edge, and can be employed as an ultra-close-in weapon system to slice into or crush enemy ship hulls.

The cannon on either side of the “head” cockpit area are heavy plasma beam generators, providing the Komodo-class with its regular forward firepower.

Rear defensive cover is provided by a pair of laser cannon situated in the tail, but the Komodo-class’ primary defense is its manoeuvrability. Featuring a pair of dual-direction vectored thrust fusion drives, the class’ vessels can literaly turn on the spot or fly backwards or sideways at need, making the Komodos more manoeuvrable than many fighters. Indeed, some commands use squadrons of Komodo-class ships unsupported by lighter fightercraft in a fighterlike role; though the acceleration of smaller vessels is almost always greater.

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Okay, the chomping mouth makes no sense from a pure space combat perspective. It’s pure Rule of Cool and pretty in-your-face about it.

Still, it’s one of my favourite parts of this whole ship and provides a nice first use for all those recently-acquired Nexo shield elements.

This started out its life as a Classic Space-themed Komodo dragon mech, and while I was really pleased with the head, the more I looked at it the more I felt like the head was too big for the body and the body just wasn’t cool enough.

I could have reworked the body, but I was unconvinced I could do a good enough job to justify that head, and besides, even the clickstop universal joint hinge I used could barely support the weight.

I decided to take the head and rework it into a spaceship. The class name comes from there, but it was almost the Kronosaurus-class after the extinct marine reptile.

The engines are technically attached with an “illegal” connection: the Technic pin holes in the main hull are just a fraction out of line from the pins that go into them, meaning that the joints are stressed. But for once, I don’t care; the overall look is worth the minute amount of stress and I’ve stressed enough Technic axles with my usual design of “in-flight” model stand that I’m sort of getting inured to it.

Anyway, this is the Komodo. Enjoy.

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The Dark Underbelly of Classic Space

The System. Brightly coloured business tyranny of a half-dozen ruthless transcorporations who dominate and control human exploitation of the solar system.

Bound over to a Dark Side hypercapitalist creed of profit maximisation at the expense of individual lives and freedoms, the System owns everything, dividing up the worlds between the several megacorporate business interests and enforcing their will through both the theoretically independent Space Police organisation and internal transcorporate security forces.

Despite occasional turf wars and bloody takeover battles over the control of their various subsidiaries, the half-dozen major transcorporations collude as much as they compete, with the directorates of Bencom, TransOctan, Lagrange-Lunacorp and the others in full agreement over the basic tenets of their pseudocapitalistic corporate feudalism and its overall expression in the System.

A growing protest movement has emerged, using stark black as a unifying colour in reaction to the brightly-coloured transcorporate liveries used by the major economic players, and bearing a triple-triangle emblem representing the ancient French Revolutionary battle cry of “Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité”. Dubbed “Blacktron” by the Bencom-controlled media outlets (who tried to pin the blame for the disturbances on the TransOctan Group’s takeover of Bencom’s financial subsidiary Atlas Solutions), the protesters are drawn from a cross-section of idealists and radicals across all the major transcorporations up and down the economic ladder.

Ruthlessly suppressed by transcorporate goon squads with the full support of the Space Police organisation whose mission is in theory to uphold the last vestiges of real law in the System, the movement spreads underground by word of mouth, liberated communications and graffiti scrawled on outpost walls, a David-and-Goliath alliance of motley rebels who may be the last best hope of humanity…

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Several of my recent builds have been tied into my dystopian Brightly Coloured Tyranny universe in their descriptions, but this is the first time I’ve specifically built anything that couldn’t be a more generic Neoclassic Space creation.

Since the System is a Brightly Coloured Tyranny, it’s a fairly certain bet that anywhere out of the direct eye of the directorate classes is going to be underfinanced and broken-down, and it’s actually been a lot of fun putting together a ramshackle, tumbledown version of the Classic Space theme. It’s also let me bring in colours that never usually belong in a Neoclassic Space build; most significantly dark grey, but I’m also making judicious use of flat silver and dark tan.

There are quite a few fun little details here. The guy riding the speeder bike looks absolutely terrified of the Space Police officer. The officer does look rather brutal – she’s actually Cyren from the Ninjago theme, and the only yellow head in the entire build.

There’s a security camera on the wall, casting a roving, Big Brother eye over that part of the build. Predictably, it seems in far better working order than the various lighting fixtures, half of which have missing or broken bulbs.

On the middle level are the armed transcorporate goon squads, behind their dehumanising black visors. If the traditional polarity of “Classic Space good, Blacktron bad” is reversed here, then it’s the Blacktron who need the humanising touch of being able to see their faces and the Classic astronauts who need the darkened visors. Or at least the transcorporate security forces.

Down below, it’s a lot more ratty and grim-looking, with dark grey (new greys throughout as usual) predominating and more dark tan. Here are the Blacktron protesters, one of whom is being gunned down by a blue-suited Bencom enforcer. The protesters have homemade signs, both because I’m a cheapskate and because I wanted the look of hand-drawn signs. With one protester down, I figured a little blood wouldn’t be out of place, even if it ups the classification rating somewhat. This is the first time I’ve built anything with bloodstains in it; normally I stay within the boundaries of a Universal/General rating.

The Futuron dude looks suitably horrified at the brutality of the transcorporate security forces; the Brightly Coloured Tyranny universe isn’t a simple case of Blacktron versus the world, but a more complex and nuanced world in which some of the brightly coloured astronauts might be sympathetic civilians, or System partisans, or apathetic, or anything in between.

I’m not sure “I hope you like it” is the right thing to say with a build like this, but you know what I mean. It’s a gritty and dystopian build, but I’m really satisfied with how it’s turned out.

Drive Me To The Moon

LL28 Lunar Excursor

Though the System possesses the technology to make surface-repulsor vehicles – skimmers and speeders – practicable as a means of transport, older technologies such as mechs and rovers are still very common on most of the System’s worlds. Surface-bound vehicles are much slower than repulsor skimmers, but their energy usage (and thus operating expense) is a fraction of what a skimmer uses. The profit-conscious transcorporations of the System are congenitally opposed to spending unnecessary credits, and so most of them utilise ground vehicles whenever speed is not a priority.

The LL28 Lunar Excursor is an early-model fast rover built by the Lagrange-Lunacorp Group’s Jupiter Rover Company. Designed as an exploration vehicle for two astronauts in the days before the Blacktron separatist movement began to gain traction, it is usually employed in the post-Blacktron age as a scout/reconnaissance vehicle, as its low-energy power plant can be easily stealthed against Blacktron scanners.

This particular LL28 is an unstealthed example without the scanner-absorbent baffles surrounding the electric drive train and microfusion power plant.

The massive wheels are a feature of most rovers designed to operate away from the roads and paving of Earth and the large L4 and L5 space station colonies, but even on Earth itself, driving a vehicle with “Moon wheels” is something of a selling point.

In the post-Blacktron age, many Lunar Excursors are fitted with laser or plasma cannon as a defensive mechanism, but numbers of unarmed specimens still exist as well.

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I’m rather pleased with the Technic framing of the engine and rear section. Between the radiator vanes and the small spherical reaction mass tank, it actually looks like a semi-functional engine. This is a first for me, as I’m not one of those car geeks that fussily replicate all the intricate details of the Ford Model T’s engine compartment in bricks. I build spaceships. Nuclear rockets don’t have a lot of moving parts, and I can make my interstellar wormhole drives or hyperspace engines or foldspace traversers or whatever look however I like, seeing as how they’re merely theoretical at best.

I need to get hold of a modern yellow helmet to be in keeping with all my other Classic Spacemen of my miniature System astronaut corps, but that’s for the future. If you’re going to use the visors, and I am, the modern helmet design really does look better.

TitanSpeeder

Kronos Colony. Primary outpost of the System on the Saturnian moon Titan and one of the most populous and important colonies in the outer Solar System.

Situated on the shores of the Ligeia Mare close to the mouth of the hydrocarbon river known as the Vid Flumina, Kronos began as a harvesting operation for Titan’s exotic hydrocarbons and nitrogen, but has grown into an important and diverse colony.
Titan’s liquid hydrocarbon rivers, lakes and seas make the usual mechs and rovers less fully useful for getting around, particularly in the polar regions where the majority of the lakes and flumina are. More than anywhere else in the System, Titan’s Kronos colony employs ground-effect speeders for the majority of its local transport.

Recently, rumours of a secret Blacktron separatist base in the Xanadu region of Titan have prompted an increase in patrols, and Keyshawn Friedman and Jan Meyerdahl pilot their R22 Avalon speeder across a spit of land jutting out into the Ligeia Mare. Titan was a big moon, however, larger than the planet Mercury. Surely the Blacktron couldn’t be anywhere close to such a large and important System outpost…?

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Okay, technically I built the speeder and then decided to locate it on Titan, but Titan’s an interesting place to put a Neoclassic Space outpost, and I decided it needed to be done.
All the locations on Titan are real astronomic features of the moon, for added realism. I’m not sure that black is necessarily the right colour for Titan’s liquid methane seas, but it works for modelling purposes.
Anyway, here’s my Titan-speeder.

LSS Cytherous

Dragon-carved star frigate of the Galactic League, LSS Cytherous is typical of the League’s design approach to spacegoing vessels.

The Galactic League is an ancient transstellar body of numerous sapient species, whose incredibly high technology masks the inherent reactionary conservatism of its members. Most member species advance technologically only at a glacial pace, and the few fast-paced galactic species like humans are considered disruptive and dangerous.

The League’s conservatism and high technological level manifests itself in a predilection for ornate design, and figureheaded starships are the rule rather than the exception.

Given the League’s ancientry and dislike of humans, it might be surprising that a human mythological creature would be used as a figurehead, but dragons and dragonlike creatures are common to the mythology of many Galactic worlds. The Cytherous is the form of draconid in the mythology of the Sthan Ka Ree, one of the eldest Galactic species – a pseudo-avian race who occupy many administrative positions within the League.

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Apparently I like the idea of dragon starships, because this isn’t my first. This 100-stud SHIP uses the head of Zane’s first ice dragon from the Ninjago theme as a figurehead. I’m also pleased with the incorporation of the Coruscant planet sphere elements like I’ve been wanting to do for a while now.

Built in mostly studs-forward configuration, this could be thought of as SHIPtember practice, or simply as something I built because I wanted to. It’s also my first SHIP which I built without actually trying to get it to 100 studs. I just measured it afterwards and was pleasantly surprised to discover that it does actually measure the magic 31½ inches.

Space Sphinx

LL-817 Sphinx

No, not the mythological creature. Nor the Egyptian monument. I’ll explain.

The inspiration for this was simply to build a nice, solid Neoclassic Space transport ship, medium-to-large in terms of original set comparisons and carrying at least two crew.

Shape-wise, I had the Cayman somewhat in mind, though this is its own ship and not a stunted copy. Anyway, that’s where the broad-bodied, blunt-nosed look comes from. Enter the Sphinx.

The angled wings are what gave the Sphinx her name. A modern aeroplane with a diagonally-angled tailplane is said to have a “butterfly tail”, but the wide body and stubby wings put me in mind of a rather fat moth rather than a butterfly per se. Something like a hawkmoth, in fact.

The typal species of hawkmoth, the Poplar Hawkmoth (native to my homeland Britain), is in the genus Sphinx, so that’s where the name comes from.

The build itself is fairly conventional, but sometimes that achieves the right look perfectly well. I think perhaps an old-style 4x6x2 trans yellow windscreen element might have integrated better with the rear passenger section, but those things are expensive. I’ve recently upgraded to a better-paying job, so money isn’t quite as tight as previously, but I still have enough poor-person habits of mind that I rebel against the idea of paying upwards of $5 US for a single dinged-up windscreen element.

Look! Undercarriage! 😀

Still, I’m pleased with the overall shape and look of this, far more than the relatively conventional mostly-studs-up construction might suggest.  Possibly one of my better NCS ships, in fact.

Black Viper

The clean, conventional lines of the Colonial Viper are most unBlacktron, really. However, having built a Cylon Raider (1980s version) in Futuron colours, a Blacktron Viper does complete the symmetry.

This isn’t a straight copy of the Colonial Viper, either the original version or the reboot, but like my Futuron Raider, it’s definitely in the “inspired by” category.

Blacktron I hardware tends either toward the sleek and streamlined (like the Battrax) or the nastily unconventional (cue the asymmetricity of the Renegade); and while this is smooth, the shape doesn’t give quite the impression of sleekness and is certainly a very conventional, hero-type design.

However.

As I’ve been mentioning on this blog, in these parts at the moment the Blacktron movement is a heroic rebel Alliance rising up against the brightly-coloured tyranny of the System and its shiny Classic astronauts (frowny faces punishable by Disappearance). And in that inverse version of the Classic Space/Futuron/Blacktron shared universe, the conventionality of the Viper-esque lines make a certain amount of objective sense.

Or it’s a sophisticated visual irony and the Blacktron are their usual bad selves.

Either way, I built a Blacktron Viper to go with my Futuron Raider. And of course, I had to take a pic of them facing off.

I think that with this creation I’m done with this mini Classic-Space-meets-‘80s-Battlestar-Galactica kick. Though I do wonder whether a Blacktron Battlestar would work…?