Category Archives: Speeders

IceBug

The Ice Planeteers had (proportionally speaking) quite a lot of surface vehicles in their single year of existence as a theme, but no mechs. This was back in the day, mind you, before the advent of CCBS and balljoint elements, and making reasonable legs was really hard.

That’s since been rectified, but insectoid ice mechs still aren’t exactly two-a-penny.

Mini IceBug.

I actually started out with the smaller “Snowbug” robot, building it as a vaguely AT-TE-inspired microscale. Something the size of a building that could transport the heaviest equipment across the frozen worlds of the organisation’s mandate.

Then I decided to see if I could scale it up at all.

Big IceBug

Knowing I wasn’t going to be able to build a vehicle even remotely as big as I’d envisaged (3-6-crew cockpit, ½ plate height = approximately 6 feet), I felt free to adapt the basic design while keeping with the overall beetle configuration.

Ski Rover (stowed position)

Ready for deployment

One of my better small Ice Planet vehicles, I think

The resulting ice bug can transport a small ski rover on its rooftop flatbed pallet, adding a nice element of playability. There’s only room for one of the two crew I’ve provided it with in the cockpit, unfortunately, but it does have those rotary shooters as well as the poseable legs and deployable ice rover.

Pilot’s position.

The final element of the overall setup is an ice speeder I built a week or so back but never posted here. My neo-Commander Bear figure (Commander Cold Bear’s body with Old Obi-Wan’s head for the flesh skintone I typically like to use) is driving, now that I actually have the Ice Planet commander figure.

VX313 Fulmar ice speeder

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The Black(tron) Knight

The Black(tron) Knight faces off against the fearsome dragon Neoclassica

The combination of futuristic space technology and high fantasy has of course been done before. LEGO has its own slightly cringeworthy Nexo Knights, but even the Star Wars franchise is effectively high fantasy in a tech setting, with its Sith and Jedi wizards and its fighter pilot knights.

I didn’t think much of Nexo Knights’ execution, but the concept is sound. And because it’s me, the high technology in question has a better-than-average chance of having something to do with the Classic Space/Blacktron metatheme.

In this case, I’ve perhaps subconsciously channelled my flipped Brightly Coloured Tyranny take on the original LEGO Space universe, because the knight is a Blacktron and the draconoid (“draco” + “mechanoid”) is in NCS colours. But building a Black(tron) Knight references the Classic Castle prototheme’s original bad guy as well as the Classic Space universe’s primary adversaries.

I’ve wanted to build an updated Neoclassic Space dragon for several months now but not been inspired as to specifics. My original Elemental Dragon of Classic Space was in some ways a markedly different build: more of a blended hybrid between spaceship and creature. This Classic Space dragon being a robotic creature, it skips out on some of the Elemental Dragon’s features, like cockpit and thrusters and the like.

The difference is mostly that the previous dragon was an Elemental Dragon of the “Element” of Classic Space. In view of the weird stuff considered “elements” by the various LEGO themes – lightning, ice (as well as water), sound, mind, amber, love – having an element of Classic Space is not something I consider much of a stretch, but that’s beside the point for this creation. This dragon was created in order to serve as an adversary for the Black(tron) Knight.

The hover horses were one of the few bits of Nexo Knights that I thought were well thought out and well designed. So I decided to make my own version of a mostly horse-shaped speeder; bigger and hopefully more impressive than the Nexo hoversteed. I went Blacktron initially because of the colours of my CCBS elements, but the idea of a Black Knight that’s a Blacktron seemed like a good one. And that meant either a Neoclassic Space or Neo-Futuron dragon, unless I built a second grav-destrier and generated a joust.

I still might; a Neo-Futuron grav-destrier is more probable with my element inventory, or possibly a Neo-Space Police I version.

Until then, the Black(tron) Knight is fighting an NCS dragon and red-spacesuited technomancer.

Technomancer and robofamiliar, space tower, and weird hyperspace beacon monument

The technomancer was an afterthought, actually. As a set, this would be a bit boring without at least one more minifigure, and a pilot for the dragon didn’t seem right this time around. But a high-tech wizard equivalent? That has possibilities…

“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.

Colubra

Taurus Industries R17 Colubra

The R17 Colubra speeder, manufactured by Taurus Industries, is a popular open-cockpit twin-seat speeder marketed as a sporty runabout built for the joy of piloting.

Though a low-end model as sportsters go, without the ultrahigh performance engines of something like the AMP Victor or the Orion Cougar, the Colubra’s open-cab design gives a much greater feeling of speed than these closed-cab racers. The popularity of open-cab speeders is analogous to the popularity of open-top models among ancient ground cars; even in rainy areas and on superwet planets like Ambergris and Fluuva there are those who will purchase them.

The Colubra’s distinctive feature is its exposed forward engines. Taurus Industries spent a lot of effort developing the SAMUKAI flight engine, and made the decision to have the Colubra’s engines finished and left open. This does produce some drag, but there was a fashion for custom jobs removing the engine cowling and exposing the flight motors at the time the R17 was being developed and marketed.

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I haven’t built a speeder in a while, nor anything red, for that matter. I thought I’d try my hand at a nice open-top two-seater speeder design.

Initially I had some thoughts about trying to build the speeder that Anakin and Obi-Wan pilot in the speeder chase on Coruscant in Attack of the Clones, but yellow. I don’t have huge amounts of yellow, and some of the parts I’d undoubtedly want are in use on Rabbit. Still, I liked the engines I made for that, so I decided to use them in something red.

I’m quite pleased with the construction of this; there’s a decent amount of interesting technique and multidirectional SNOTwork for once. I hope you like it.

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…

~~~

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.

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…?

~~~

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.

The Chase

I missed the “District 18” contest hosted by Flickr’s LEGO Speeder Bikes group. I was busy with FebRovery and didn’t really realise it was happening until the month was half gone. And then I was like “District 18? What the smeg is that? Some kind of Halo crap? Nothing for me here then…”

Three days from deadline and with no time to actually build anything, let alone photograph it in daylight, I finally worked out that “District 18” meant whatever you wanted it to mean; it wasn’t a tie-in to some popular game I don’t know.

So this isn’t a District 18 contest build.

It’s similar, though. District 17.5. Area 52. Platform 12 2/3. Whatever.

This started out with the speeder that’s being chased. I wanted to try incorporating a minor trilateral symmetry at the front, though with the rest of the speeder the way it is it gives it a vaguely cobbled-together look.

Having built that speeder I decided to make a whole scene, and it got larger and more complex from there.

The police speeder bike followed after I pulled out TLNM’s Officer Toque in my search for a suitable pilot. Okay, police speeder bike, then. A bit more finished-looking and sleek, with a similar pilot mount.

Neither speeder is really all that and a box of chocolates. It’s the background that makes this. I’m really developing a liking for building ramshackle, tumbledown future-industrial wastelands, and I think this is one of my better ones. Complete with large grey rat, because wasteland.

I’m not certain what the precise story is here. The guy being chased doesn’t have a particularly villainous or criminal look, but neither does the officer look especially like an instrument of state oppression. Maybe the dude did something minor like running a red light or operating a speeder bike with an expired inspection sticker, I don’t know.

At any rate, here they are. A police officer and another speeder bike pilot (possibly a criminal, perhaps an innocent biker in the wrong place at the wrong time) locked in relentless pursuit.

Like last year’s “The Ninja and the Dragon” build, I think the ambiguity helps to sell this. Make up your own backstory and enjoy.