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Rogue Squadron

So, I went to the DFWLUG meetup.

For my first ever in-person meeting with other AFOLs I was understandably a little nervous, but it turns out I needn’t have been. Everyone was perfectly friendly, of course, and it was delightfully informal, even to the point of a bit anarchic if you want the truth. The DFW LEGO Users Group doesn’t really seem to have much in the way of a formal leadership or structure, so I fit right in.

This month’s meeting took place in a new “building lounge” in south Fort Worth called Rogue Brick, and it was the first time I’d been in one of those that wasn’t at the local LEGO Discovery Centre. The proprietor seems like a great guy, and to my surprise (and earning him my abiding respect) I got to see one of his builds in person that I know I’ve pinned on Pinterest and I think I’ve seen on Flickr as well – part of a large modular Jedha City display model.

I don’t know how typical Rogue Brick is – it’s my first time seeing one of these “building lounges” – but it’s a really cool place, and their “pick-n-mix” boxes may have just become my favourite ways to buy bricks. Just $10 got me the chance to pick through the 3’x30′ LEGO building table and fill a housebrick-sized box – a steal if ever there was one in terms of value for money.

The DFWLUG group said on their website that “participants are encouraged to bring something they are working on, or have built”, and I faffed around for most of last week trying to decide what to bring. As it happened I needn’t have worried as I was the only one who brought anything, but that gave me another worry as I had no-one else’s models there to compare myself with. No-one’s saying very much; are they impressed or just being polite?

Much of the meeting time was taken up with a building contest organised by Rogue Brick’s proprietor. Given an assembled LEGO Star Wars set, our task was to build a display background for it.

From an AT-ST, a Clone Turbo Tank, a Landspeeder, a Yoda’s Jedi Starfighter, a Y-Wing (one of the regulars is a big fan of Y-Wings and got to this before I could), the Ghost, a Wookiee Gunship microfighter and some sort of diminutive Stormtroopers’ walker (maybe one of the Imperial battlepacks?) I picked the Landspeeder, because it’s not that big, and proceeded to build some of my best ever rockwork to make a snippet of the Jundland Wastes on Tatooine.

Y-Wing attack run. I like the guy that did this’ taste in space fighters!

Clone Turbo Tank on desert terrain.

Kashyyyk beach scene. This guy’s a relatively new builder and he can already do trees at least as well as I can.

Desert terrain; presumably Tatooine or Jedha. I love the Stormtrooper falling off the edge into the sinkhole.

AT-ST attacking a village. Yoda defending. I don’t think the woman who built this is much of a Star Wars fan, so this is pretty good.

Indiana Jones tank chase. One guy didn’t arrive until we were all building, and I guess there weren’t any more built Star Wars sets to do a backdrop for.

The Ghost refuelling/service station. Apologies for the blurred image; I was on my phone and didn’t realise it was blurry until later.

Jakku. I love the nearly-dead foliage and the way it looks like dust being kicked up at the back.

And it turns out I might be one of the better builders there, at least when it comes to timed contests, and I won!

My winning entry. Really quite proud of that rockwork.

I totally wasn’t expecting this when I decided to go; I thought I’d be dealing with all and only elite builders of the sort who exhibit at conventions and I’d be some sort of near-noob who’s only just tumbled to SNOTwork baseplates.

The Clayface Splat Attack set that I won is now built, and makes a highly MOCworthy addition to the household brick inventory. We didn’t have more than a handful of bricks in the dark flesh that’s the set’s primary visible colour, and now we have a load of interesting elements in that colour and several in brown. Plus all the fun stuff I picked up in my goodie box.

There was perhaps not quite as much getting-to-know-you talk as I might have liked, but it was a really fun time building together. And winning is always nice.

I look forward to the next meetup, and to Rogue Brick’s Grand Opening next Saturday, with another AFOL contest after the time I get off work, which I shall try to win again, though the flyer says it’s architecture-themed which isn’t my usual thing. Maybe I’ll build a stone circle on Mars or something…

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Would You Like To Connect To This Network?

Thus far in my building as an AFOL, a lot of the time it’s seemed like I’m over here doing my thing more or less independently, while somewhere over there there’s a network or actual community of other AFOLs with whom I have little to no contact.

You know. The recognised names. The ones that all seem to know (or at least, know of) each other. And I’m over here, in a box virtually by myself. This blog has a following, but it’s a very limited one, and I’m too recently on Flickr and Pinterest to have acquired anything like a following or the connections I’ve found I crave.

This separation isn’t really by design, but if it’s anyone’s fault it’s mine. Natural introversion and a whole string of personal hangups mean that I’ve never felt any good at the whole meeting people and making friends thing, and it doesn’t seem to make much difference if that’s online or in person. And long job hours and limited online time mean I don’t have that much time to devote to it anyway. I don’t get to practice much.

Needing more in the way of connections, though, this seems to be the year I go in search of community. Yes, I would like to connect to the network.

Yesterday I discovered a Neoclassic Space Group on Flickr. “Yay! Cool!” I thought. “This is exactly the group for me!” And I clicked on the link.

And quickly became dismayed by the snobby, snooty tone of the group intro and all of their elitist building guidelines: Like the grudging “Bley is acceptable if you really can’t do old grey” – I mean, who can do old grey in any reasonable amount these days, unless you inherited a load of bricks from the ’80s? And no-one calls it “bley” unless they are being dismissive of the newer LEGO colour.

That and the fact that the last group message seems to have been more than a month ago put me off. Not exactly the wellspring of community I’m looking for.

Now, I’m prepared to believe that I’m reading more into their rules and building guidelines than is warranted, but any time anyone starts laying down the law in microscopic detail about what does or does not constitute NCS, I start to get a bit hostile.

I know what Classic and Neoclassic Space creations are supposed to look like. I cut my teeth as a builder on the originals; they were what taught me to build and made me love LEGO. And yes, I know that old grey and what gets dismissively referred to as “bley” look absolute crap when mixed. I know that if it has too much dark grey (old or new) or a wrong-coloured (like trans clear or smoke) windscreen element it’s not going to look fully authentic.

But I’m not into snobbery. If you’re going to tell me that because I use new grey throughout rather than old grey that I’m some kind of second-class builder, then “this is not the community you are looking for”, to paraphrase Obi-Wan.

LEGO fandom is supposed to be about having fun and spurring one another on to new heights of building, not farking snobbery over which type of grey you use in your NCS builds. Loosen up, people!

Now, I’m new to the Flickr LEGO community. They may legitimately need to institute guidelines over what does and doesn’t constitute Neoclassic Space so that they don’t get swamped by people who truly don’t have a clue and don’t care to get one. They may be nice, friendly people who have had to word their guidelines like that to stop random posts of not-NCS Star Wars ships. But I’m not interested in joining a snobby, elitist group just so half of them can look down their noses at me because I use the new version of one of the primary theme colours, and that’s what’s coming across in the Group introduction.

The Neoclassic Space group on Flickr isn’t my only iron in the fire on this new quest for network, though.

At the start of this past week I discovered DFWLUG.

For the uninitiate, this is my local LEGO User Group, or LUG; apparently a community of other AFOLs in my local area. Their webpage is little more than just a vague introduction and a calendar of events, but they say that anyone is welcome to join so long as they do so in person at one of their regular meetups.

The first one of these this year is on Saturday. And I’m going.

I’m very excited at the prospect of meeting other adult builders, but I’m quite nervous at the same time. They say you’re encouraged to bring something you’ve made or are working on, so I’ve been thinking all this week about what to take.

I might have taken Toothless if I hadn’t broken up the house part of the build to make my black neo-Ice Planet interior flooring.

I thought about taking my rocket, Rocket, ROCKET!!!, but my wife’s comment was that “it’s cool, but it’s not your best spaceship. Why don’t you build something new? Something like that spacewhale, or a really good dragon?”

Normally that’s a good idea. I’m always happy to build something new. But of course, it was at that point that all building inspiration left.

So the first model I’m taking to show other builders is my slightly edgy, very mildly risqué Ice Babe 2.0 “Baby, It’s Cold Outside“.

To a builders’ meet in Texas, spiritual home of religiously-motivated prudery. And topless bars.

The Ice Babe model is neither of those, so I hope it goes over well! I also hope it’s not embarrassingly small or simplistic, and that I can make a decent enough showing not to feel completely intimidated by everyone.

I hope these are the communities I’m looking for, because it’s what I miss most about the LEGO Message Boards even though it was mostly a load of kids on them.

We shall see.

Since making the decision to take “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” I’ve got inspired for a new large-ish NCS space freighter, but I’ve made too little progress so far for it to be worth bringing along, and I know already that I’m going to need at least some of the blue slopes from the outer wall of “Baby” in building it. And now I can’t break up the model yet to get at them.

I will report back on how it goes, my friends. Hopefully with pictures, but I’m not sure of the etiquette of these things. I’m coming in nearly clueless as well as being a complete unknown to them, whoever they are, but I can’t even find any way on the site to say “I’ll be there!”

I may be going in blind, but I am going in. We’ll just have to see how it goes…

Space

No, not the Classic kind, nor even the Final Frontier kind. This post is about elbow room. Place to put stuff. Digital Lebensraum.

Unless you want to pay WordPress for extra space, you only get a certain amount of room for uploading pictures. While this is no picayune amount and other people seem to have photoblogs that have been running for years, I’m currently at about 87% of capacity on my free WordPress-provided media folder.

Obviously, I can’t keep doing what I’m doing indefinitely.

One option would be to delete a whole load of the early archives and free up space that way. I guess that might at some point go beyond recommended to necessity, but I’d rather not do that if I can avoid it. I like having at least a partial record of my LEGO creative ability over the years. There’s a large chunk of time in which I was building but used LEGO.com as my primary display outlet, but as a personal archive this is pretty good.

I first got this blog right after I returned to LEGO building as an adult, when I used MLCad for building practically everything because my supplies of LEGO bricks were that paltry. Back then I was clueless; not only did I not know about all of the AFOL sites, I hadn’t even discovered LEGO’s own site! I got a blog as a way to showcase my MLCad creations (because I couldn’t think of another way of doing it). I never really liked using MLCad all that much, though; like a lot of old LEGO CAD-type programs its build interface is tricky to work and feels a lot more like using a program than building with bricks.

Then I discovered TLG’s own LEGO Digital Designer (LDD) program, which is a lot more user-friendly and easy to work with, and which TLG have done a particularly good job of making feel a lot like real building.

LDD, however, has certain annoying features for AFOLs, such as the program itself tending to want to decide what orientation a brick ought to be placed in, and not letting you do things that you know you could make work in real life. Trying to make tracks work is particularly futile in the program, especially the Technic kind made up of individual links (I gave up), and I remember long frustrating hours of trying to get its bendable hose bender to actually bend hoses the way any reasonable real-bricks builder can do in two seconds. Also its instruction-generator is complete pants. On the rare occasions I’ve tried it out it’s worked exactly backwards from the intuitive way any reasonable builder would do things. I’m still looking for a LEGO CAD-type program that combines LDD’s ease-of-use and overall real-bricks feel with a decent instruction-generator and full AFOL connectivity. And a decent gravity generator, while I’m wishing, so you know when your balljointed supermech isn’t going to be able to support itself.

Anyway, as my brick inventory grew I found myself switching more and more completely to real bricks, so that these days I almost wouldn’t dream of building a digital model. It takes too long and it’s less enjoyable.

It was in discovering LEGO.com and its now-defunct Galleries (and its even-longer-defunct Message Boards) that I discovered LDD, so it’s mostly that period where my blogging got really sporadic. I do have the sort of personality that favours one-stop-shops where I can post my creations, talk about them, develop backstories and connect with fellow LEGO enthusiasts, and the old LEGO website had all of that (which its current-incarnation LEGO Life app lacks in even remotely the same degree). Apparently unable to make MOCPages work for me (my creation pictures would say they were uploading, but then disappear into the aether and never appear in a list of BBCode image codes to actually insert the things into a post) and feeling like digital models were frowned on over there anyway, I made my digital home at LEGO.com and let this blog mostly languish.

Some time later, though, in 2016 if I’m remembering right, I remembered this blog and decided to make more of a go of it. As I’ve mentioned on here before, LEGO.com was a great site in a lot of ways, but it suffers (for an AFOL) from being full of kids and far fewer older TFOLs and AFOLs. It took me a while to feel like I needed more mature LEGO contact and critique, but feel it I did.

Still unable to get what was then the premier AFOL creation-posting site (ie MOCPages) to work for me, I gave up and just used my blog. It has all of LEGO.com and MOCPages’ storytelling capacity, and there’s a way to upload pictures of my creations that’s easy to use and will actually work for me, unlike MOCPages which still doesn’t no matter what browser or web software I try to use. Literally, God has kept me from MOCPages.

So I’ve been merrily creating and blogging ever since. Traffic is pretty low normally, but I’ve made steps more recently to try and at least partially overcome the lack of visibility: I’ve gone on Pinterest.

Not what I’d like to use as a sole medium for sharing, because due to the way it works you don’t have to originate something to pin it. But as a publicity adjunct it sort of works. Provided you pin other people’s stuff as well.

Now, however, I’m looking at a new kind of space problem. I’m running out of media room on my WordPress blog. Soon I’m not going to be able to upload any more pictures of my creations.

My other, older blog has never had this problem, but it’s a discursive, wordy blog with few pictures. A LEGO MOCmaking blog is necessarily going to have more in the way of imagery.

I don’t want to pay WordPress for more media space. I’m in favour of “as cheaply as possible”, for the most part. And I don’t want to delete a load of my earlier work to free up space. But I’m at 87% capacity. I’ve got to do something. Individual photo jpeg files aren’t huge, but I have a lot of them, and the problem is only going to get worse, because I’m not sropping my building.

I could start a new blog, a “son of Square Feet”, but sooner or later I’m going to run into the same deal, and closing and reopening a blog isn’t what I’m after either.

What I needed, I decided, was some way to host images externally to the blog.

Something like Flickr, in fact.

I’ve thought about Flickr as a display medium before now. It has a large community of mostly AFOL builders on it, but I’ve always wanted more storytelling capacity than Flickr gives you, so I’ve gone with other routes for posting.

As a picture-hosting service for this blog, though… Well, that’s its primary function, right? Picrture hosting?

Honestly, I’m really slow on the uptake sometimes, but a New Year is a great time to try new things, so I’m experimenting with a Flickr account.

I don’t have to delete anything or change anything. I don’t have to quit building or quit blogging. I don’t even have to make a new blog and archive this one.

Over time, I may find myself connecting with the vast Flickr-based LEGO horde, but it doesn’t strike me as much of a community in the way that other sites do. But we shall see. The images of both my Toothless model and my rocket, Rocket, ROCKET!!! were posted on Flickr, so I now have a presence in that demi-chaotic stream of images. I’ve resurrected my old LEGO.com handle SaurianSpacer for use over there, if you want to look me up.

If the experiment is successful I might quadruple my exposure overnight. At the very least, I have a nearly bottomless new Pit of Carkoon to store my creations in. A whole terabyte. Mwahahahaha!

2017 Retrospective: Top 10 Personal Best

2017 has been a good year for my building. Looking back in this blog’s archives at some of my creations from the beginning of the year in preparation for this post, I’ve been amazed at how far my building technique has come in only a year. My photography seems to be improving as well, with the use of card backgrounds, less blurriness and a slightly more professional touch. I still use the same 7-year-old digital camera (which might need an upgrade as it has about the same pixel resolution as my mobile phone) and I could do with a better approach to lighting, but my earlier pre-background build photos look very strange to me now.

Anywho, I thought it would be fun to do a sort of retrospective as my final post of the year, picking out my personal favourites among my builds of 2017.

The usual disclaimers apply. This is my personal list of favourites, and I’m using a fairly idiosyncratic set of choice criteria. These are not necessarily those builds that are technically most innovative or most complex. I’m sure I’ll miss some builds that other people remember with fondness; I did have a hard time restricting the list to just 10.

My other difficulty was ranking them. Some of the relative ranking of these builds is completely arbitrary, and there are several models in joint eleventh and twelfth place that could easily have made the list and didn’t; among these are the Beagle space rover, the steampunk SHIP Dark Pegasus and the Blacktron A’Tuin-class dropship. Other Honourable Mentions: the Ice Cruiser Zycon-IX and the Starfleet Voyager 2.0.

On the list are two dragons, two other creatures, four spaceships and two mechs, which is a fair summary of my building style right there.

Ready? Here we go…

10: Buck Rogers Thunderfighter (August)

You might have to be an AFOL to fully appreciate the nostalgia value of this, but I’m still quite proud of my work on this. Incorporating minor Technic functionality (something I stink at), this LEGO version of the iconic fighter from the early 1980s’ Buck Rogers in the 25th Century represents one of only a handful of times I tried to produce a LEGO model of a spaceship someone else designed.

Among a selection of models that did or could have won a place in this list, the Thunderfighter’s Technic functionality shut out the A’Tuin-class Blacktron dropship with its complex hexagonal construction to come in at number 10.

9: Blacktron Thunderbolt (September)

 

While neither of my two SHIPs made the Top 10 list, two of my sub-SHIP large space vessels did. Both my first SHIP Liberator and to a lesser extent Dark Pegasus suffered from being overextended and a little contrived in order to meet the 100-stud base requirement of SHIPhood. When I forget about the 100-stud limit and just concentrate on having fun building a large model I seem to end up with a better class of product.

The Thunderbolt was more primitive in technique than my other large spaceship on this list, but I do like the way it looks. And that humungous dinosaur-killer railgun on the front seems perfectly suited to the Blacktron.

8: Elemental Dragon of Classic Space (January)

I was actually amazed to discover that it was this year that I built this thing, as it seems like it was ages and ages ago. Nonetheless, there it is in the January 2017 Archives, and it just had to make the list.

I had unreasonable amounts of fun with building this, combining as it does two of my favourite things to build: dragons and Neoclassic Space. I still love the whole concept of a Classic Space dragon, and it might be fun to reprise the idea with the more advanced building techniques I use these days almost a year later. It’s the unremarkable technique on this, in fact, that means it’s stuck at no. 8, though I considered it my best model for a considerable part of the year and it’s still one of my lifetime favourites.

7: Centaur (December)

Pulling out all the stops in built-figure modeling, my recent centaur edges out the Classic Space elemental dragon by virtue of superior technique and the way it’s proportioned. Centaurs are challenging no matter how you build them, and I flatter myself that this might be one of the better ones at this scale. It even has a suggestion of abs.

6: LEGOtiel (October)

Easily winning the “Longest I’ve kept a model in existence before breaking it up for parts” award, my LEGO cockatiel lasted almost a full two months on the current-model display shelves. Cockatiels aren’t a common subject matter for building, if the all-seeing Eye of SauronGoogle is to be believed, and I was pleased with how this turned out, even if it was a little more fragile and a little less poseable than I’d really have liked. Completely different to my usual run of overgunned Blacktron cruisers and ferocious mythical creatures, but a lot of fun to build. Our real-life cockatiel was a bit freaked out by it, though.

5: Spacewhale (August)

Highest-placing large (50+ stud length) ship on the list, the Spacewhale is a mere 24 inches long: practically a minnow next to the 37 3/4 inches of a 100-stud official SHIP. It’s by far my most complex and advanced sub-SHIP, though, with proper internal framing, a pleasing shape, a unifying colour scheme and lots of interesting details.

And it marked my first ever construction shots and multiple-day build, something I still find difficult to do.

4: The Ninja and the Dragon (April)

April’s The Ninja and the Dragon was one of the first times I paid almost as much attention to building the scenery as I did to building the model itself. Along with the fact that this has an upright-posed Eastern-style dragon (both less common than the alternatives), I think it’s the subtleties that really make this build. There’s a story there, and for once I’m not going ahead and telling it; the model works all the better for the lack of having its meaning tied down.

One of my first explorations of LEGO-as-art as well as LEGO-as-a-hobby, this comes in at number 4.

3: Repainting the House Divided (November)

Part of the attraction of Classic Space, apart from the nostalgia of it, is its innocence and everyone-getting-along spirit, and I tried hard to capture that in this build. Definitely the build on this list with the most overt “message”, it still works as a model because the message is subordinate to the build, which works on its own terms.

I still find the idea of a Blacktron and a Classic Space astronaut falling in love charming, and the way they are getting ready to repaint their own section of the corridor in each other’s colours adds a nice layer of subtle message to the build.

It’s also my highest-placed scenery build and the only model on this list that doesn’t involve some kind of vehicle or creature (Minifigures don’t count).

2: Mechnotaur (May)

“What? Nothing steampunk made the list?” I hear you cry.

Well, at number 2 we have my birth month’s steampunk mecha-Minotaur, without which the list would definitely be missing something. If I’d built a better Theseus battlesuit to go along with it this might have made number 1, but the unfortunately leggy and slightly messy Theseus suit dragged this down. That and the fact that the balljoints in its legs wouldn’t support the weight of the body to allow me to pose the Mechnotaur fully.

I still love the concept behind this, and as far as story potential goes it’s the Mechnotaur that takes the number one spot. It’s a minotaur. It’s a mech. And it’s steampunk. What more could you want?

1: Q-Mech (November)

Number 1 is last month’s Q-Mech, from my self-invented Classic Space universe rescue service Q-Tron. Advanced techniques in the cockpit shield attachment, enough greebling to look functional without being overwhelming, an original concept… This model has almost everything in it that I like. And it’s space. And it’s a mech.

Given the amount of people that have pinned this since I shared it on Pinterest, other people seem to favour it as well. Mind you, they also like the Isstrebitel’-1 and my model of the Vostok space capsule, and those are considerably further down my personal list.

The Q-Mech has since been broken up for parts, of course, but it’s still my favourite of my builds of 2017, and probably of all time (so far).

My next build, however, will hopefully eclipse the Q-Mech and really show what I can do. The answer to “what’s your best build?” is nearly always “the next one”, after all.

~~~

And that’s the full list. I’ve provided links to the original posts (the titles) so you can trip with me down Memory Lane.

It’s been a good year for building, and a whole new year of possibilities is just around the corner. Who knows what I’ll be looking back on this time next year?

Christmas 2017

Merry Christmas from this corner of the universe!

Our household didn’t have a massively LEGO Christmas this year, but we acquired several new sets including a number of element types we didn’t have before.  I’m looking forward to the MOCmaking possibilities!

The Master Falls and Darth Vader Transformation sets were mine, and our first LEGO game (Minotaurus) and CCBS figure (Baze Malbus) were acquired by my son, also a second-round Nexo Knights set, one of the small Classic boxes and the Ninjago City Chase set.

Some of the pre-Christmas MOCs will return to this blog tomorrow or the 28th, and I may even review one or more of my sets from a MOCmaker’s perspective.

A belated Merry Christmas, friends, and a Happy New Year!

Cave Inimicum

Apologies for the awful Latin pun, but I was running out of creative post names.

Stretching my rockwork and vegetative skills here, I had a picture in my head of a cave with a tree growing over the top of it, and I decided to try and build it.

The result is some fairly decent small-scale rockwork and probably one of the two best trees I think I’ve ever built.

The cave opens up at the back as a sort of play feature (ish), though there’s really not a lot here to play with. There is a fairly large crystal and half of a skeleton back there, though, adding some visual interest.

I don’t have a huge amount to say about this build, but here it is. A small chunk of scenery from someone who seldom builds such things.

Battle Stations!

Scenery-type builds aren’t something I do a lot of. I have some ambitions in that direction, but I always feel like I’m stymied by lack of appropriate pieces.

Flight deck of the Liberator

This model, for instance, would be vastly improved by being properly tiled, but my stocks of tiles are small and not conducive to paving large areas. Getting hold of a supply of 6×6 and 2×4 tiles is on my list, but it has to compete with all the other stuff I want. It hasn’t happened yet.

You’ll remember a few posts back me raving about some forgotten starship from an obscure 1970s TV show? Well, I decided to have a crack at building the flight deck.

Flight deck of the Liberator

Even the show’s terminology was different. Star Trek would have called it the bridge, but in Blake’s 7 it was a “flight deck”.

Its unique auditorium-like design with those various control-station pods was dramatically unlike anything Trek ever came up with, but it works. Every one of the crew has a good view of the viewscreen and can see what’s going on, unlike TOS’ Enterprise, which had several of its bridge crew facing banks of flashing lights or staring into microscope-like devices.

Alternate, more head-on view, from Season 1 Episode 13, when the crew acquire ORAC.

In addition, Liberator‘s flight deck doubles as a sort of crew lounge area. With most essential functions under the control and direction of the ship’s computer Zen and a vastly smaller human crew, the lounge element meant that there was a place where the crew could relax and still have near-immediate access to the ship’s systems in case of sudden attack by Federation pursuit ships.

Also, Blake’s 7 was produced by the BBC in the ’70s, which means very low-budget for such a high concept, and putting the crew lounge and the flight deck together meant they only had to build one set.

Anyway, I built the Liberator‘s flight deck, including the armatures of the manual flight controls at the central pilot’s station. It’s rather studdy, and it should really be dark brown or black rather than grey, but it’s ok for a first try, I guess.

Minifigure head and hair availability mean that I need to build the non-racially-diverse early crew, with Blake (in the lounge area), Avon (lower right), Vila (lower left), Jenna (pilot’s station), Cally (upper right) and Gan (upper left). The fact that Gan’s still alive and the box-of-flashing-lights supercomputer ORAC is on his table place this in the first half of Season 2, because ORAC wasn’t acquired until the final episode of Season 1, and Gan was killed off halfway through Season 2.

Tnat’s another thing Blake’s 7 did better than the original Trek: main characters weren’t immortal, and deaths had consequences. It took at least 2 episodes for the crew to get over Gan’s death; they weren’t all happy-happy back-to-normal the next week, or later that same episode, like when a Trek redshirt got offed in order to prove the situation was serious. Of course, Liberator‘s crew were civilian rebels rather than pseudo-military like Starfleet. I guess you could argue the Redshirts signed up for getting shot at or eaten by monsters.

Each of the crew had a sort of role, but not exactly an official military-type one like Communications Officer or Chief of Security. They were more like the team roles in a quest party in an adventure game, but not quite that, either. Blake was the group’s leader (though Avon would occasionally dispute this, he usually followed anyway), the one with the real burning desire to take down the Federation. Avon I described before as an anti-hero; he was also the crew’s resident computer genius. Since most of the crew were convicts, he had been placed on the shuttle to the penal colony for a massive computer fraud scheme. Vila was an expert thief, something of a loveable coward, and smarter than first appearances. As he said, “there isn’t a door I can’t open, if I’m scared enough”. Jenna was an expert pilot and Blake’s other chief lieutenant. She’d been sent to the prison planet on a smuggling charge, and was one of the more committed to Blake’s cause. There were fan rumours of a romance between her and Blake, but you never saw anything on screen. Cally was an alien and a telepath (though she looked human), and the only one of the original crew not acquired from the group sent out to the penal colony Cygnus Alpha. And Gan was the team’s muscle; a massive bruiser of a guy, but one with a cybernetic “limiter” implant that made him unable to kill.

Anyway, here it is. The flight deck of the Liberator. I hope you like it.