Category Archives: Space Rovers

AnkylosauRover

Combining dinosaurs and space is a long-standing LEGO tradition for my AFOL self. Ever since I allowed myself to get back into building I’ve had a bit of a thing for merging the future and prehistoric realms. My username on the old LEGO.com forums – SaurianSpacer – referred to this; I knew I was going to be Building A Spaceship a lot, but my first posted creation was a Quetzalcoatlus pterosaur. And then some of my first (digital) AFOL creations were a series of dinosaur-shaped spaceships and vehicles.

But I don’t think I’ve done an Ankylosaur before.

It’s a strange omission in some ways. Ankylosaurs were one of the major dinosaur families, and the armoured beasts were and are pretty cool.

So as the first instalment of FebRovery 2019 I decided to rectify the situation.

Role-wise I think the Ankyloroversaurus is some sort of geo-sensing rover, possibly akin to 6841 Mineral Detector or 6844 Seismologic Vehicle. All the bristly antennas along the sides look like they’re part of some kind of sensing equipment, like an advanced Ground Penetrating Radar array or similar.

The cannon-armed thagomizer is possibly a little out of place on a geo-sensing vehicle, but in real Classic Space those wouldn’t actually be cannons despite what they look like. No, they’d be rock sampling lasers or the nodes of some other kind of sensor (using gamma rays?).

Of course, possibly those spikes along the sides aren’t antennas, and the vehicle has a more military nature. That seems a little less likely given the prominent non-existence of weaponry other than the tail club, but perhaps a force-shield generator rover or similar?

That’s actually a pretty good idea and goes well with Ankylosaurus’ armoured nature. But it still looks a lot like a geosensor rover to me.

“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.

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.

~~~

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.

Space Cats?

“So what in the name of Johnny Thunder shall I build next for FebRovery 2018?” thought I to myself.

I’ve built a Blacktron space jeep, and an NCS rover, and a couple of Q-Tron rovers, and a Suntron crawler, and a steampunk lunar rover, and even a zany possessed-toilet-on-wheels rover that ought really to have been left in one place rather than being made mobile. I’m kind of running out of ideas.

Pawing through the minifigures drawer for inspiration, I came across Catwoman, and was struck with the idea that a Batrover might be an idea. Or better yet, a lunar motorbike for Batman’s favourite femme fatale. I haven’t done a spacebike yet.

Catwoman’s Lunarcycle

Catwoman’s TLBM incarnation doesn’t have a fully spacesuitable mask (either spacesuit-able or space-suitable), so I’m going to have to enclose her within a capsulelike cockpit, but that seems like it’d be an interesting challenge.

And here’s the result.

Technically there’s a few small holes between the windscreen and the cockpit sidewalls, but this is as close to an enclosed-cockpit spacebike as I think I’m going to get right now.

This isn’t especially space-like, with only the enclosed cockpit and the radar dish really saying “space bike”, but it has to bridge the gap between the earthbound Catwoman and the galactic LEGO Space milieu. Making it more spacey would have meant making it less smooth and feline, and Catwoman would have probably objected.

Anyhow, I think my favourite part of this is the trapezoidal cross-section of the cockpit. And it uses element #41883. I’ve had two of these puppies ever since I started building again as an AFOL and made my first Bricklink order, and I’ve never found a use for either of them until now.

Anyway, here’s my Catwoman spacebike. Meow.

Rescue Me

The Q-Tron MRCC rover encounters a downed Suntron crawler

The Mobile Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) is a large surface rover used by the Q-Tron space rescue organisation as a local networking hub and temporary headquarters for rescue and disaster-relief efforts.

Crewed by at least four and usually up to six Q-Tron personnel, the rover incorporates power-generation capacity enough to serve as an emergency power source for quite a large base; its well-shielded antimatter annihilation reactor is both dramatically smaller than any fusion generator of equivalent power and completely self-contained in the rear-mounted cylinder.

Inside the rover’s relatively capacious rear section are computers and communications gear for coordination of rescue efforts and preliminary structural analysis, as well as strategic planning of immediate and longer-term relief. There are also three small fusion units employed for production of specific raw materials via the nuclear-alchemic process of directed multi-step nuclear fusion. In this way materials like boron, oxygen, light metals such as aluminium and even heavier metals like iron can be produced in varying amounts.

A Q-Tron astronaut at the side access hatch. Fusion reactors are mounted between the forward cockpits and the rear compartment.

Computer support and survival pack stowage

Overhead view through roof dome.

Since the MRCC serves as a local headquarters, it can also deploy a number of inflatable temporary shelters to serve as accommodation for Q-Tron personnel. These double-walled chambers can be easily inflated and then buried in planetary regolith for insulation and micrometeorite protection.

The headquarters/coordination role of the MRCC rover means that it is less well-equipped for direct hands-on rescue attempts than other more specialised equipment such as the Recovery Hovercrane or the Medevac Hovercraft antigrav. This is not its role, however, and the Q-Tron organisation consider the tradeoff worthwhile.

~~~

I’ve had it in mind to build a larger Q-Tron rover ever since I invented the theme back in November, and what better excuse to follow through on the impulse than it’s FebRovery?

This has actually turned out as a fairly conventional build; I guess my 928 Space Cruiser and Moonbase-trained building instincts still run true if I don’t deliberately step out of default.

The roof doesn’t detach, unfortunately, but the two side doors and the dome open up (and the cockpit canopies, of course). Not that anyone with hands bigger than a 4-year-old’s is going to be able to access the interior compartment by those tiny holes, but there you are.

I was thinking I still lacked sufficient tiles to smooth off the studdy floor of the interior, but then I remembered I’d acquired some more and used them on a little tablescrap build that could be taken apart for the pieces. So the interior is now tiled and looks much better.

Attention to detail. Not instinctive for me yet.

Interior Search Rover 500

A space rescue service might not necessarily have that much use for rovers. In rescue operations, speed is usually of the essence, and why crawl along the ground when you can use antigravity or rockets to fly?

However, I can see a logical niche for a small rover designed to do stuff like zoom through the corridors of a powered-down space base looking for survivors of the meteor strike that took out the power plant.

Q-Tron ISR-500 rover

Presenting the Q-Tron Interior Search Rover 500.

The ISR-500 is a small but fully-enclosed rover used for search-and-rescue operations within damaged or powerless space bases. Its small size and tiny wheel base gives it the ability to navigate through base corridors in search of trapped survivors, and powerful headlights give the operator visibility in the absence of base lighting.

A pair of small manipulator arms can be used to move obstacles or pry open bulkhead doors; these are equipped with an external power source which can be plugged into powered access doors in the event of main power failure.

This is basically Q-Tron meets FebRovery. I still have a vague idea for a large mobile Q-Tron headquarters rover, but I’m not ready to attempt that quite yet. So I thought about what other rescue situations might need a rover, and came up with this. It’s a dinky little thing and bears more than a passing resemblance to the head section of the Q-Mech, but I think the concept’s a good one and I’m pleased with the execution.

Rovin’ Rovin’ Rovin’

Tetrapillar rover

What’s FebRovery without some Neoclassic Space goodness?

Carrying the flag for the blue, grey and trans yellow progenitors of LEGO Space itself, the “Tetrapillar” rover marks my third FebRovery 2018 build (but only the second posted here; I didn’t have enough to say about the steam-driven Lunar Traverser to warrant a post).

Named because its low-slung, long-bodied design put me vaguely in mind of a caterpillar, yet it only has four wheels, the Tetrapillar is piloted by a rather grouchy-looking white-suited astronaut.

In my personal interpretation of the suit colours (based loosely on pictorial evidence from the original sets and publicity photos) the white suits represent scientists while the red-suited astronauts are drivers and pilots. However, that doesn’t look like a science rover; that looks awfully like a gun mounted on the top. I daresay it could be a mass spectrometry laser or mining blaster or some such, but equally they could be shorthanded on Moonbase Delta-3 and Dr. Brickman there is miffed at having been taken away from his vital research on comets to go on perimeter patrol.

Technically the bumblebee stripes are unusual on a planetary rover, but I like the way they look there, especially rounded like that. If general theory is right that the stripes are a form of hazard striping, there’s no reason that a rover powered by a nuclear reactor or similar high-energy power source shouldn’t have them. Of course, over the several years of the Classic Space prototheme’s run there are numerous inconsistencies of technology, astronaut suit colour role and vehicular livery. There are at least three major Classic Space liveries (this one, this one and this one) and only one of them incorporates bumblebee striping.

Raven Rover

“FebRovery” is one of those months of LEGO building focus that I feel I can definitely participate in.

SHIPtember has thus far been a real stretch; about 75-80 studs’ length is about all I’ve been able to do and end up with something that’s actually good. My 2 SHIPs ended up at 101 and 103 studs respectively and both of them suffered from being overly stretched to meet the 100-stud requirement.

NoVVember I could technically do, but I’ve built my token Vic Viper and there’s not that much in the configuration that makes me want to build a whole series of them.

Droneuary, which I discovered a couple of weeks ago, is apparently for robots, and I’m not even completely convinced it’s a real thing.

But a month of focus on building space rovers? That we can do.

The whole thing does make me wonder what’s next, though. The fantasy build month of Orctober? Pirate builds in Arrrgust? DeSteamber? The mind boggles.

Anyway, FebRovery.

Raven scout rover

I wasn’t particularly sure what I wanted to do for this month of rovers at first. My initial thought was something Neoclassic, but in playing around with various suspension designs I realised that what I hit upon would probably work better with my brick inventory if I went Blacktron. So here it is.

There were numerous ways I could have gone from my initial chassis construction, but what I’ve ended up with is basically a Blacktron space jeep.

This is a completely different aesthetic to the original Blacktron sets. The designers of the Invader and the Battrax obviously groove to streamlined and sharklike rather than blocky and modernist, but the military lines of the space jeep (which I’m designating the Raven because “Raven rover” makes nice alliteration) go well with the hard-edged bad-boy feel of the Blacktron.

The suspension (if you want to call it that) won’t be winning any prizes in a Technic functionality contest, but each wheel will go up and down individually if you manually manipulate the attachments. I’m no car geek; this is as close as I come to fully-detailed V8 engines with working gearboxes and turbochargers. I build spaceships. Nuclear rockets don’t have a lot of moving parts, and no-one can tell you what a hyperdrive looks like because we don’t even know whether it’s possible.

Building the Raven in the style of a military 4×4 meant it has room for two astronauts, and with another Blacktron spaceman riding the Shadow-Wasp, all three members of my tiny Blacktron legion are currently in builds.

Despite its jet-black name, the Raven actually has more yellow than I frequently use. One thing I tend to dislike about open-cockpit Blacktron vehicles is the way the pilot disappears into the structure visually, but here I decided to give them yellow seat backs and I think it works much better. It’s a lot of yellow in one place, though, which is usually a no-no for achieving the proper Blacktron look, but this doesn’t break the arbitrary 10% cutoff.

The hoses attached to the rear-mounted cannons restrict the cannons’ firing arc a bit, at least as far as poseability goes, but I’m not getting rid of them because I like the way they look. As for the big cylinder they’re mounted to, I’m not sure whether that’s some kind of power reactor or a fuel supply or what. It’s there to be visually interesting.

Of course, two seats side by side meant I had to either equip it with dual controls or decide which side of the road the Blacktron Alliance drives on. And given an opportunity like that I decided it was too good to pass up. The Blacktrons drive on the right. The Classic Space Federation probably drive on the left.

Steering wheel on the left = Drives On The Right

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

Building Bases

As a follow-up to my Thor-class fighter, Mobile Science Station and Classic Space scout motorbike, I decided to attempt a small base and landing pad.

Ground bases and landing pads and the like are a really unusual building theme for me, because I always feel like I don’t have enough of the right kind of pieces.

The landing pad is a case-in-point. I used up pretty much all of my grey tiles here, and I still had to resort to tan for altogether too much of the landing pad even in its primitive squared-off version.

And I simply don’t possess enough grey to generate a whole planetary surface in that colour. The planet’s tan for a reason. I console myself with the thought of that sand yellow planetary background all the early Classic Space sets depicted in their instruction booklets and promotional shots. I was always a bit baffled as to how this harmonised with the grey cratered terrain we were actually given.

But anyway, I built a base. It’s tiny, the landing pad is way too small for the ship I’ve got landed on it, and it has colour issues between the grey and the tan, but it’s a base.

After I’d already taken the shots with the Thor-class fighter, I found a few more tiles and reworked the landing pad a bit, as you see in the shots with the bike. The Thor-class is fiddly to balance on those landing legs, though, as they aren’t technically attached to anything. So I let the existing photos stand.

Presumably with that giant tank or whatever it is, this is some sort of refueling base. I think my version of the Federation use antimatter reactors for power, which don’t really need much fuel, but maybe it’s liquid oxygen for the air supply or something. Or some kind of reaction mass for the thrusters, if they even still use reaction drives rather than some sort of metagravity or subspace engine.

Anyway, not too shabby for my piece limitations. I’d prefer it if the terrain was a little less studdy, or I had a lot more 1×1 round studs and tiles to strew about the surface, but it works. Mostly.