Tag Archives: Lego Classic Space

Eat My Moondust

It seems like a while since I built a space rover, and apparently my son saying he was going to build the Bat-Dune Buggy from the LEGO Batman Movie struck a responsive chord with me.

This doesn’t look especially like the classic dune buggy lines, but the underlying chassis with the wheels on the ends of Technic-built struts seems very dune buggy-esque.

So with its partial dune-buggy ancestry, Moondust seems like an appropriate name for this rover.

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The Moondust-class space rover is one of the smallest Federation rover classes to feature an enclosed cockpit. Built along old-style dune buggy lines, the cockpit canopy helps to prevent the dust kicked up by the wheels from caking onto the outside of the driver’s spacesuit.

The rover is a basically unarmed command and exploration rover with space for a single crewmember. The large engineering section houses an extended-range power plant, high-powered communications gear and life support equipment useful for both exploration and command-and-control.

Large wheels provide traction on rugged planetary and lunar surfaces, and the independent active suspension gives a smooth ride in almost all terrain regimes.

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Blue

I mostly built this little mech to showcase my newly-acquired blue Classic astronaut.

It also includes several other new-acquisition elements, such as the windscreen and the blue Bionicle-style arm/leg shells, but basically it’s a stage on which the blue astronaut can strut his stuff.

Now, some Neoclassic builders eschew the use of any astronauts except the original red- and white-suited ones. I guess this follows the general pattern set by Peter Reid and Tim Goddard, but even they employ yellow-suited minifigures in LEGO Space: Building the Future, so I see no reason at all to have to follow that arbitrary rule for it to be an “official”, “allowed” Neoclassic creation.

Besides, the Classic Space theme included them, didn’t it?

And anyway, I still don’t have a red or a white astronaut to use.

The question of what the different suit colours represent is one of the most endlessly-revisited questions of the whole theme. With no official story for the theme and no official explanation at the time, it was left up to the individual to do their own interpreting.

Since then, various classification schemes have been floated, one coming from the LEGO Ideas page which is operated by LEGO Group staff, and a different one on the Brickset forum which purports to be from Classic Space theme designer Jens Knudsen.

The fact that both of these have good grounds for being “official”, yet are different, kind of tells us there isn’t an official version and even the LEGO Group of the time didn’t have anything in particular in mind.

To my mind, both schemes have some nonsensical features. “Black astronauts are spies” is my particular “bang your head on your desk” initiator: Spies have their own uniform so you can tell who they are? I ‘ve always thought that black is a very Security colour myself.

The Reid/Goddard scheme has the advantage of simplicity: red astronauts are pilots, white astronauts are ground crew. You can make a reasonable case for this division from the earliest sets, if you’re prepared to classify a lot of the open spacecraft as suborbital “skimmers”, but again, that’s an arbitrary “make it work” fix that is called into question by the names of some sets, like “442 Space Shuttle”.

“Red astronauts are pilots” is borrowed a lot, though, because almost all of the really spaceshipy early Classic Space models included at least one. That makes the engineers the white-suited ones, however, and white just seems a really lousy colour of suit for the grease monkeys. I usually reverse that classification, with the white astronauts being the pilots and the red astronauts being soldiers or engineers.

The yellow astronauts are often assumed to be scientists, again following Goddard and Reid. My first yellow astronauts as a kid came from the 6930 Space Supply Station set; what are scientists doing running the lunar equivalent of a warehouse and pump station? It seems like a waste of talent.  Also, “pilot” red-suits in a ground station?

The yellow astronauts should be something not very cool, because as a kid the yellow-suits-on-yellow-skin made them look too much like they were weirdly naked. With their introduction in the Supply Station, maybe these are the quartermasters’ corps. But it makes little sense for a quartermaster to be piloting the nifty, zippy little Xenon X Craft, either.

However you do it, you’re going to run into nonsense that’s difficult to justify of explain, because I suspect suit colours were really assigned on the basis of “this would be a good set to have this colour astronaut in”.

The green suits from the LEGO Ideas Exo-Suit set are usually assumed to represent mech pilots, but this doesn’t sit well with me. Firstly, “mech pilots” seems wrong when everything else that goes on land has a “driver”. Truck driver. Car driver. Golf cart driver. Train driver. Therefore, “mech driver“, surely?

Secondly, it’s a weird distinction to give the operators of legged land vehicles their own colour suit and is contraindicated by Classic sets like the Astro Grappler from back when green elements came in baseplates and plant parts and that was it.

From the little story fragment in with the Exo-Suit set, I first assumed the green suit indicated that Pete and Yve (the minifigures) were rookies. It was only on connecting with the LEGO community and talking to those who I thought actually knew that I felt constrained to bend to majority opinion.

Having a special colour for rookies makes sense. In the construction industry, we typically mark new hires with some kind of particular mark. In my company it’s a yellow hard-hat rather than a white one. This is because a construction jobsite is a dangerous place and a new hire may or may not have a lot of experience in recognising and avoiding the inherent dangers. It’s a quiet way of saying “let’s keep a protective eye on these guys so that they’ll be around to go home at the end of the day”.

Deep space is at least as inherently dangerous as the worst example of a construction site; it would make sense to mark out the rookies, for everyone’s safety.

But what are the blue astronauts?

Blue astronauts should be something cool, because as a kid I always identified with my blue astronaut minifigure. “Commanders” or “Soldiers” are the semiofficial options, and I’ve already got the black suits as Security forces. The camo effect of black makes better sense than a bright colour like blue, though if that’s the case then they need to make grey suits to be the soldiers.

I like the idea of blue suits being commanders.

You can make a reasonable case for it from inferences from the Classic sets: as far as I can recall no Classic Space set ever contained more than one blue astronaut, and small vehicles like the Astro Dasher would make a pretty good commander’s runabout. The LEGO Group also have a history of commanders or central figures being included in small pocket-money sets: witness the Ice Planet Celestial Sled with Commander Bear.

Besides that, it makes sense for commanders to have their own suit colour. Space is a hostile, dangerous environment; the sort of place where it is vitally important to be able to tell at a glance who is in charge.

Anyway, now I have a blue astronaut again. I’ve actually taken the unprecedented step of placing this minifigure off-limits to my kids. Most of the time I have no problem with the general pooling of the household brick collection, but even with the thicker chinstrap, those original helmet elements are fairly fragile. Not as fragile as the first thin chinstraps, though. Those things had a half-life of about 12 days under real-world conditions.

And I really don’t want my first real Classic Spaceman minifigure acquired as a post-Dark Age AFOL getting lost or stepped on and broken. Those things aren’t all that cheap.

I think the mech would look better with a modern helmet and something other than a classic smiley as a face, but I wanted to show off my new minifigure. And that windscreen element; I do find mechs with properly-enclosed cockpits to look that much more finished, somehow.

I’m looking forward to using that windscreen in plenty more Classic Space-type creations. It’s a nice shape with a lot of possibility.

Right now I’m contemplating a neo-Blacktron Battrax update, for instance. Stay posted…

World War Two Half-Tracks Innnn Spaaaaaace!

Caterpillar tracks are great for getting around in challenging terrain, but steering them was initially a bit of an engineering challenge for people used to wheeled vehicles. You need independent gearing for each track in order to make it work, and though we’re used to that now, in the inter-War and World War 2 period it made vehicles more difficult and expensive to manufacture.

Enter the half-track.

Wheels at the front for steering with and tracks at the back for traction, many nations produced them, but it’s the German ones that are the most recogniseable, thanks to numerous war films.

Having just bought a few sets of rubber tracks via Bricklink, I wanted to make use of them, and with my son’s recent birthday acquisition of Catwoman’s motorbike (from the LEGO Batman Movie line), the bizarre little German motorcycle half-track (known as “Kettenkrad”) was apparently on my mind.

Classic Space version? You bet!

Taking a break in my building from Wind Horse‘s world and its steampunkery, I return to Classic Space as naturally as a duck returns to water.

There are no major new building techniques on display here, but I just like the concept of a space half-track.

My remaining green Classic Space astronaut from the Exo-Suit set is currently missing (well, so’s the other one. Pete the Robot Turtle Feeder hasn’t been seen for about a year, and we’ve moved house during that time. My assumption is he’s long gone), so I’ve made some modified astronauts by cobbling together pieces of Ice Planeteer and City Spaceport astronauts to make a sort of transitional spacesuit design with elements of both. Hence one of these astronauts has the bulky suit and immobile enclosing helmet of a more primitive age, while the other has a more high-tech slimline suit with greater mobility.

This also probably explains why the vehicle bears the insignia of the Classic Space Federation while the suits bear the mark of the LEGO City Space Service: they’re in transition from one to the other.

Elemental Dragon of Classic Space

The completed Space Dragon

The completed Space Dragon

Dragon? Spaceship?

Yes.

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Combining my two favourite things to build into a single MOC, this is my “Elemental Dragon of Classic Space”. Apparently I have access to enough blue now to pull this sort of thing off.

We’ve seen “Elemental Dragons” of all manner of “elements”; I myself have built an Elemental Dragon of Steampunkery. LEGO likes elemental powers, and their list of elements is fairly extensive, with only tenuous connection to the various classical lists. I figure I’m on safe ground.

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Whether it’s a spaceship shaped like a dragon or a dragon with spaceship-like features, I think any Sir Benny would be pleased with the result. It probably doesn’t breathe fire, but it might breathe plasma. By the same token, it doesn’t have any obvious laser cannons (possibly those stubs under the wings?), but a plasmatic breath weapon is almost as good.

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I tried out two different versions of the legs. The first, directly above, here, was a more draconic version, definitely dragon legs rather than anything else, and rather begged the question of how the creature/vessel’s propulsion worked.  It also had a couple of other tweaks, particularly the placement of the horns.

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Then I decided that combination leg/thrusters was the way to go, abandoning the claws and slightly strange back feet for a quartet of engines. The resulting legs are a bit stubbier, and part of me is unsure about completely giving up on the claws, but it works better for being a spaceship and it’s still recogniseably a dragon.

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Besides, as the Elemental Dragon of Classic Space, it should have Classic Space features.

The wings are regrettably studded, but I used all of my available grey tiles to alleviate the problem and this was the best compromise I could manage between wings of an appropriate size and shape and total unwieldiness of weight. I’d have preferred a smoother finish, but you do what you can.

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Likewise, a red or white astronaut would have looked better, but according to some suit classification schemes the green suits are mech drivers, so that does sort of fit. And I still have yet to purchase Classic Space astronauts in those colours, so I’m stuck with green for the moment.

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Rahrr!

Rahrr!

One-Man Aethership

One-Man Aethership

One-Man Aethership

This started out as a steampunk version of the Classic Space 918 One-Man Spaceship, but then I got enthusiastic with the steampunkery.

My Aethership next to its inspiration, the 918 One-Man Spaceship,

My Aethership next to its inspiration, the 918 One-Man Spaceship,

The ultimate origins of this model are in my attempt to build a steampunk version of the big 928 Space Cruiser and Moonbase set, but after two aborted tries convinced me that that level of SNOT work was a lot more complex and difficult than I had anticipated, I decided that perhaps the thing to do was to hone my skills on something smaller.

Rear/bottom view with the undercarriage folded

Rear/bottom view with the undercarriage folded

In the course of modifying the design to make it more steampunky, I may have got a little carried away, so that the Classic Space origins of the craft are no longer immediately obvious. Most of this stems from my decision to make it a biplane, but the locomotive-like steam boiler in front doesn’t help either. I also darkened the colours from the Classic Space legacy blue and old grey to earth blue and dark stone grey in order to give it a smokier, less clean-and-shining feel, and made liberal use of metallic gold brasswork, though it still has its proper trans yellow windows.

Still, for all that it’s a pretty nice little steampunk spaceship, and you might be able to see echoes of the original. It has a propeller engine instead of a rocket for flying through the aether, a smokestack where the tail fin used to be, miscellaneous brass gears and a coal bunker around the engine section, and retractable (though sadly not properly stowable) undercarriage. As a first for me, this model incorporates six-directional building in a single structural section (the wing/boilerplate).

Cutaway view showing the interior of the cab.  I've hidden one wall and the upper win g so you can see it better.

Cutaway view showing the interior of the cab. I’ve hidden one wall and the upper win g so you can see it better.

That's a coal bunker and heat-ray tommy gun in the back

That’s a coal bunker and heat-ray tommy gun in the back

A cup of tea is the perfect accompaniment to any transaetheric voyage

A cup of tea is the perfect accompaniment to any transaetheric voyage

I’m particularly pleased with the interior of the cab, with its firebox, coal bunker, steam gauges and cup of tea for the aethernaut pilot.

Intruder Alert!

The Blacktron Intruder

The Blacktron Intruder

This is basically a larger, cooler version of the 1987-vintage 6894 Blacktron Invader. The Invader is my favourite Blacktron ship, and I couldn’t resist trying out an updated version using modern SNOT-heavy techniques.

I also couldn’t resist making it larger in order to incorporate more coolness. I groove to bigger models.

The original 6894 Invader

Like the Classic Blacktron Invader, it’s built in three sections that fasten together with pin fastenings. I built the engine section first, but I already had the basic concept for what I wanted to do with the middle cargo module, and that determined the extra width, which meant that in order to keep the basic lines of the original I was going to end up with a larger model. That’s why I’ve named this an “Intruder” rather than an “Invader MOC“, though I kept a similar name.

Intruder underside

Intruder underside

Where the original had transparent red plate wings, I went for spheres held in claws. I always thought of the engine section’s wings as something to do with the vessel’s power systems, but on the other hand, the Invader was the only ship that had them, so who knows? Anyway, I think my globes are cooler, and fit better with the sinister feel of the Blacktron.

The Intruder has an opening central module with disguised weaponry

The Intruder has an opening central module with disguised weaponry

The middle section looks like a standard cylindrical cargo module similar to what the original had (except the Intruder’s is rounded where the Invader had a faceted design). It looks like it, that is, until the whole thing opens up to reveal a powerful array of hidden weaponry. It has rapid-firing laser pulse clusters and red beam lasers.

I imagine, the Blacktron Alliance being the Blacktron Alliance, that they operate a lot of Intruders in which this is in fact a standard cylindrical cargo module, so that their Federation rivals are thrown off-balance, never knowing what to expect.

With the modular design of Blacktron ships, in fact, there could easily be four or five different middle sections with different armaments.

Central module closed, wings folded

Central module closed, wings folded

The cockpit section was in some ways the most challenging. As my first SNOT cockpit, it was a challenge to get the angled design to work with the pin connectors, but I figured out a solution. Like the Invader, the wings are angle-adjustable, and the cockpit can be attached directly to the engine section for a short version.

"Short" version without the central attack module

“Short” version without the central attack module

I couldn’t resist adding what seems to be becoming a standard undercarriage design for me. With two landing legs on the wings and one on the engine section, the Intruder can set down almost anywhere.

Tyrannosaurus mechs

Stomps around… Shoots big lasers… Eats AT-ATs… Must be a Tyrannomech!
When making a series of Neoclassic Space mechs modelled on dinosaurs, your Tyrannosaur derivative had better be impressive. I hope I’ve achieved that goal.

I always intended the Tyrannomech to be the biggest and baddest of my dinomechs. I was originally thinking it would have a crew of two, one or at most two big guns and a selection of smaller ones. A detachable head spaceship would be an added bonus.

Then I actually started building. Working from the feet up (yeah, possibly a strange place to start, but I grew up in the era before SNOT became the expected norm, and I wasn’t quite sure how to do some of the techniques involving plates used as angled walls) it quickly became clear that this was going to be a considerably larger dinomech than I had originally envisioned.

This is ok, but it creates quite a gap in size between the Raptor and the T-mech. And since nature abhors a vacuum, stay posted…


The Tyrannomech in all its glory

The Tyrannomech, sometimes called the T-mech for short, is the largest dinomech produced by the VLC Corporation and one of the most combat-capable mechs in use anywhere in the Galactic Federation.

Frontal view

Frontal view

A large bipedal walker featuring a detachable reconnaissance spacecraft as the “head” and an elongated balancing tail, the Tyrannomech combines the heavy armament of many quadrupedal walkers with the better speed characteristics of bipeds. Gyroscopically stabilised and with the tail to aid in balancing, the stability problems sometimes associated with large biped walkers have been effectively overcome by Federation engineers.

The big guns fully rotate

The big guns fully rotate

The T-mech has a crew of three and an internal transport bay able to hold up to four troops. It may be controlled solely from either of the dorsal cockpit control stations, or from the head via a specially-designed interface bracket, or functions may be shared between all three stations.

Contains a small internal troop transport bay

Contains a small internal troop transport bay

The main armament is a pair of heavy antimatter lasers mounted on a dorsal turret featuring a unique double boom arrangement. Numerous other lasers and antimatter lasers act as secondary armament: two each on the small “arms”, four on the head mount, two more in a small ventral turret and five on the tail, making the prospect of attacking a T-mech from any angle a dangerous one.

Tyrannomech 3a

After aspect

The reconnaissance spacecraft, known as the R3X fighter, features variable-angle wings and a pair of antimatter lasers as armament. Its primary purpose is to give the T-mech an integral long-range reconnaissance ability.

The R3X fighter detatched

The R3X fighter detatched

The Tyrannomech is not widely used outside of the Saurian Sector. In most of the Federation its design as a dedicated combat mech makes it less attractive to more peaceful Sector Commands requiring a more versatile design. In the dangerous Saurian Sector, however, it provides a much-needed heavy defensive capability.