Tag Archives: Blakes 7

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.

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Liberator

“Activate the force wall; clear the neutron blasters for firing”

The Liberator

Though now obscure beside better-known sci-fi like Star Wars, Star Trek and Dr Who, for a certain generation of British science fiction fans Blake’s 7 was unforgettable.

Chronicling the adventures of a band of freedom fighters with an advanced starship from which to fight, Blake’s 7 was a sort of Robin Hood in space, and the Liberator was the crew’s iconic starship.

The original Liberator. One of the most unique starships in any sci-fi TV show

Though plagued with continuity errors by comparison with Star Trek, Blake’s 7 scored over its high-budget American rival in one important respect: its characters and their conflicts.

If you were expecting a Trek-style humanist utopia of morally-advanced beings in brightly-coloured uniforms and miniskirts, Blake’s 7 had all the subtle power of a kick in the teeth. Their Federation was an all-encompassing tyranny complete with information control, kangaroo courts, penal colony planets, drugged populations and fanatical militaro-police agents using cybernetically-rebuilt “mutoid” troopers to hunt down the remaining dissidents.

And the good guys were sometimes just as bad. The eponymous revolutionary hero Roj Blake could be fanatical and sometimes callous, and would not hesitate to stoop to buying the help of organised crime in his crusade against the corrupt, oppressive Federation. His effective lieutenant Kerr Avon was possibly one of the first antiheroes on TV: a man who prided himself on being self-serving and mercenary, who would hit women (this was the 1970s. You didn’t do that) if they deserved it, and whose obsession with logic formed an interesting Dark Side counterpoint to Spock.

If Star Trek was the philosophical offspring of the 1960s’ hippie flower-power era, Blake’s 7 had more in common with the punk movement: dystopian and anarchic.

Flight deck of the Liberator, showing the original crew: (clockwise) Vila, Cally and Jenna, Gan, Avon and Blake. The hexagon of blinking lights is the flight computer, Zen.

The Liberator was a lovely ship, though. Looking from the outside as though it had been designed by angels, it was run by that peculiar British sci-fi institution: a sentient flight computer with enough personality to warrant a name. Zen – his personality matched his name – managed the ship’s flight systems and self-repair system, allowing the crew of six to effectively fight a battlecruiser that was in all probability larger than the USS Enterprise.

The engine section was a weirdly-pulsating glowing green ball, a design that makes just as much sense as the Trek universe’s warp nacelles but makes some people think the back of the ship is the front.

I’ve done the best I can with the trilateral symmetry and the sphere of the time-distort drive, but there are several details I wasn’t able to get right. The ball is technically too big, and try as I might I couldn’t get enough small green and yellow bits in to completely fill the ball.

The backs of the outer pods are square, and the wider forward sections are too short, but this is recogniseably Liberator, bane of the Federation and hope of the inhabited galaxy.

Angel of Chaos

Angel of Chaos 1Powerful. Darkly beautiful. Deadly.

The Blacktron vessel Angel of Chaos is a space warship of the Blacktron Alliance. Featuring a main armament of three massive gamma-ray lasers, it is one of the most powerful ships in Alliance service.

Angel of Chaos 5

The power system is a second-generation version of the experimental system pioneered by the Blacktron Invader, and is also featured on the second-generation Intruder (see previous post). The improved power management system allows for considerably higher power usage, but at the cost of crew radiation exposure levels that the Galactic Federation deem unsafe.

The power levels on Angel of Chaos are high even by these standards, and the gamma-ray lasers are of a type more typically found on the largest hypercruisers and dreadnoughts. Radiation exposure levels are also correspondingly high, and the crew of the “Angel” consider themselves a breed apart.

Angel of Chaos 2A quartet of powerful engines drive this ship at high velocities through both normal space and hyperspace.

The Angel of Chaos is partly an experiment with radial construction, and partly a homage to the Liberator, the spaceship from a largely forgotten British sci-fi TV show from the ’70s called “Blake’s 7”. Some day I’ll attempt the spherical drive unit from that original ship, but I’m not that good yet.

Angel of Chaos 3

I think the radial technique would actually work better on a larger model, but not knowing that I could successfully pull it off, I was reluctant to invest the time involved in building a massive model.

The most satisfying part of this model for me is the way I managed the transition from 12-fold radial to 8-fold radial to more regular unidirectional SNOT construction.

The three turrets around the main hull rotate as well as elevating, though this is not true of the cockpit guns, which only elevate.

Angel of Chaos 4