Tag Archives: Classic 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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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.

Brightly-Coloured Tyranny

Blacktron bad, dark, evil, chaotic. Classic Space/Futuron/Space Police good, light, ordered.  It’s pretty much standard for interpreting the (lack of) story behind the shared universe of the earliest LEGO Space themes.

But what if we’re wrong?  What if the Blacktron are the good guys?

Yeah, they wear black and have ships with slightly sinister-sounding names like “Invader” or “Renegade”, but so what?  Batman wears black.

This would make the Space Police an evil instrument of tyrannical oppression, which TLG weren’t going to do back then (still probably aren’t) because they don’t want to be accused of teaching kids that regular street cops are villains.  However, we’re AFOLs, and we can do things with LEGO’s products and universe that might not be completely kid-friendly and inoffensive.  The idea of a tyrannical government and oppressive police force isn’t a new one and ought not to shock anyone.  It’s even been used in children’s literature: CS Lewis The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe had the tyrant Witch Jadis’ chief wolf Maugrim be “Captain of the Imperial Secret Police”, to say nothing of more recent vintages like The Hunger Games.  I think even quite young kids can separate out police in a story from police in real life, especially in a fantastical or futuristic setting, though I can see where a toy company like TLG making their own, non-licensed merchandise with no tie-in to a particular story might not want to go there.

The more I looked at those old catalogue pictures and all the smiling happy faces of the astronauts, the more they looked like Lord Business’ propaganda in The LEGO Movie.  Maybe it’s because I spent some time in the former Soviet Union, but I was suddenly struck by a sort of New Soviet Realism take on the old catalogue images, complete with potential sloganry:  “Working Together For The Greater Good”, or “Bringing Peace To The Galaxy”, or “Be Happy; You’re In Spaaaace!”.  Unhappiness punishable by disappearance.

Developing the idea, I was originally going to call my Classic Space dystopia a “Federation”, inverting the moral polarity of the term that’s been adopted by fans for the Classic astronauts’ political unit ever since Reid and Goddard’s LEGO Space: Building the Future.  Possibly before.  But when I started thninking about how it might function and what the different suit colours represent (genetically determined caste system?), I had an alternative idea.  What if the “Federation” isn’t really a thing at all?  What if the different industries that make the civilisation work are divided up between massive megacorporations run by single corporate dynasties – a sort of Ayn Randian hypercapitalism gone horribly wrong, administered by the Yakuza and the Mob, with a Soviet-esque approach to information control?  Each suit colour might represent a different megacorporate First Family, with different industrial specialisms; for example the white suits might represent some kind of energy/resource extraction corporation – a TransOctan, if you will – whereas the blue suits might be an information-controlling media and communications giant – Bencom? – that manages the propaganda machine.

Welcome to the transcorporate brightly-coloured tyranny of the System.

In such a world, you can imagine that the Revolution picked black as a unifying colour, and countercultural, aggressive ship names that stand the shiny oppression and corporate propaganda of Dark Side rogue hypercapitalism on its head.  The Blacktron movement might be something akin to a political revolutionary movement – not socialism per se, because it’s the future and I’m sure they have new political movements.

Cernunnos-class Blacktron mech

I’m trying to write a story set within this universe, something like Peter Reid and Tim Goddard’s Building the Future, but kind of inverted.  I doubt the LEGO Group would fully approve of what I plan to do, but there are advantages to having no real plans to publish…

Like Reid and Goddard’s book, but unusually for me, all the action happens within the Solar System.  Even as a kid I usually interpreted the Classic Space theme as taking place on an interstellar level rather than merely interplanetary, but the requirements of story overrule.  However, my version of the Solar System is a lot more extensively colonised, including outposts on Mercury, asteroid bases carved into the interior of Pallas, nitrogen and hydrocarbon harvesting on Titan, and of course the usual suspects on the Moon, Mars, Ganymede and in orbit.

Exploring the surface of Mercury: the “Hellsuit” mech

Earth has an orbital ring (which I may try to build a section of): the Bifrost Ring.  I was initially considering multiple space elevators until a friend suggested this concept, and after doing some investigations I have to say I’m sold.

Massive megacorporations control everything, which is less cool, but that’s the essence of this universe.  There is a rebellion in the shape of the Blacktron Alliance, because stories thrive on conflict and I’m not going to leave the future in the hands of evil corporations if I can help it.

And the very first ventures beyond the Solar System are taking place:

Orion One transsolar explorer flying by planet Futuro

One Brick On Top Of Another

12×12 is a nice size for a scenery square or room corner. It’s big enough that you can exhibit repeating patterns and really give a sense of a larger area, but small enough to be manageable.

I originally built this to showcase my Classic Space robot George, only to realise that light bluish grey wasn’t necessarily the best background colour on which to display a light bluish grey robot. Honestly, you’d think I was slow-witted or something.

Still, I was quite pleased with my scenery-building, because it’s something I always feel like I suck at or don’t have enough pieces for. And once you have a piece of scenery you can use it for numerous purposes. It doesn’t have to be a display case for any one thing in particular.

 

The three 2×2 jumper plates with which I graced the top of the walls were originally placed there because I couldn’t find enough flat tiles just then, but then I realised that it would be quite easy to build a stackable second storey to be held on those 3 studs.

And thus began the modular stackable space scenery.

The balcony storey came next, because I liked the idea of an upper walkway overlooking some cavernous room of which this is but a corner. At only 3 studs wide, there’s not a lot of room up there, but it does its job. I think my favourite part of it is the handrail, actually.

After that I built a roof, and then, running low enough on 1xwhatevers in light bluish grey for more walls, I decided to shift colours and go to a rough-hewn dark bluish grey mining area.

So now I have 3 storeys of stackable modular space scenery, ready for whatever I want to do with them…

NCS’ Wingèd Chariot

Auriga-class Heavy Fighter

The Auriga-class heavy fighter is a transatmostpheric attack craft of the Galactic Federation. Named after the ancient Terrestrial constellation depicting a charioteer, one of the distinguishing visual identifiers of the Auriga is the pair of disclike force shield generators located aft.

It is not every Federation fightercraft that is large enough and has a powerful enough energy plant to operate a force shield generator of this size, let alone mount two of them, and it is this dual shield and its power requirements which make the Auriga so comparatively large a fightercraft. Indeed, Hoplite was considered as a class name, but this would have broken with Federation tradition of naming fightercraft after Old Earth constellations.

The Auriga-class is sparsely armed for all its well-protected nature, but the weapons it does possess are relatively powerful. A pair of 10cm laser cannons form the primary weapon system; these are considerably more powerful than the 5cm mounts usually found on fightercraft, but there are only two of them. Backing these up are up to four standard small-craft torpedoes, usually Mark 7s with proximity-fused plasma warheads or bomb-pumped laser warheads, though occasionally a mix of Mark 7s and Mark 11 Electronic Warfare torpedoes are carried.

The Auriga-class is less manoeuvrable than many pure-space fightercraft designs, but has the advantage that it can freely enter the atmosphere. Auriga squadrons have been known to take advantage of this by entering the outer atmospheric layers of gas giant worlds to hide and ambush aggressors like space pirates or the Blacktron Alliance.

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Something of an homage to the old Minbari Transport from 1990s TV show Babylon 5, my Neoclassic Space version is necessarily smaller but has the same sort of overall shape.

I liked Babylon 5, and I remember the Minbari ships in particular with much fondness. Their transport was almost pedestrian-looking beside their vertically-oriented angelfish-like cruisers and trilaterally symmetrical space fighters, but it still had the same sweeping curves and flowing grace. Compared to the ugly box ships that the human race flew, the Minbari showed you how it’s supposed to be done.

There are some obvious differences, notably the prominent trans yellow windscreen and general Classic Spaceity, but that was the original source of inspiration. I hope you like my adaptation of the basic configuration.

Gemini Unification

LL/BT5601 Gemini Unification

LL/BT5601 “Gemini Unification” is a rare collaborative project between the Federation and the Blacktron Alliance.

Built as a demonstration vessel by a loose collective of visionaries in both of Humanity’s major interstellar polities, the vessel is a two-crewmember ship in side-by-side configuration, painted in half Federation Space Service and half Blacktron Stellar Command colours.

Crewed for the Federation by Lieutenant Astrid Garcia and for the Blacktron Alliance by Subcommander David Lurgan, the Gemini Unification was intended as a messenger of peace between the two interstellar empires. The project itself was successful as a starship and as a demonstrator of the possibility of peace, but despised by both empires’ High Commands. In an ironic twist, the vessel met its end at the hands of a combined Blacktron/Federation Special Forces operation specifically to take out the ship which both sides saw as an emblem of treason to their side’s cause.

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This isn’t my first dual-coloured Blacktron/Classic Space build, but the previous one was a bit more positive and optimistic.

This far into the New Year and its ongoing political chaos, apparently my cynicism is showing again.

I’m moderately pleased with that cockpit, but the fact that the astronauts have to sit with their heads together like that isn’t what I was really intending. Still, it adds a certain pseudo-romantic tone to the build, so I left it alone. The fact that the only way to fix it would have meant raising the cockpit canopy by a stud’s width has nothing to do with it, no sirree…

Anyway, there it is. A visionary unification project between the implacably hostile Blacktron Alliance and their arch-foes in the Galactic Federation.

Put like that, it’s definitely doomed, isn’t it?