Tag Archives: Lego Space

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.

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Fatal Battraxion

The original Battrax

The Blacktron Battrax always seemed to be oddly named. The other Blacktron I vehicles are named meaningful things like “Invader” and “Renegade”, but what in intergalactic space is a battrax?

Then there’s that “-trax” element to the name, apparently standing in opposition to the fact that it doesn’t have tracks. What’s up with that?

Well, 1980s LEGO design processes being the black box that they were, we don’t know what happened when they were developing the set. Maybe the original concept model did have tracks, and they got rid of them to bring costs down.

Maybe someone involved in these things thought it looked like a sort of interplanetary Batmobile and inserted a subtle reference in calling it a “Bat-track”.

The Battrax 2.0

Updating the Battrax seemed like an eminently worthwhile use of my new trans yellow windscreen element. I could have gone with an Invader update, but I’ve been crying out to use all four of those small caterpillar tracks at once for some time now. And making the Battrax how I think it ought to be, with tracks, was a good opportunity.

Like the original, the cockpit section attaches to the main body of the vehicle with pin fasteners. Unlike the original, the back section does not do likewise. This ability to produce multiple configurations from the same basic set without disassembling the model was one of the features of the subtheme, and I’ve partially reprised it here with my detachable cockpit scoutship.

The rear section may not detach from the main body and stick to the cockpit to make a spaceship, but my Battrax 2.0 has a rear section that opens up to reveal a small workstation and a fuel drum.

Not having a proper Blacktron (by which I mean first-generation Blacktron, not those white-suited “Blacktron Future Generation” impostors) astronaut, I’ve done what any sensible master-builder wannabe would do: I’ve adapted.

That diagonal-zippered black torso from some forgotten Town set (I’ve got no idea where I acquired these from) makes a decent flightsuit, that particular Castle helm is the closest I can currently come to a Blacktron helmet, and I’ve assembled a backpack out of a few small elements. I hope you approve; it’s the best I can do right now. Blacktron astronauts are on my “when I find them for a price I feel I can justify to my wife” purchase list, but when you don’t have a functional PayPal account (long story involving a lost password and a change of phone number) you can’t always get the cheapest prices on Bricklink. Oh well.

Anyway, this is my Battrax 2.0. As far as an in-universe reason for its name goes, I’m thinking the battrax is some sort of alien predator. It makes sense. We name military vehicles after animals: Scorpion, Black Panther, Leopard, Maus… Or cars, for that matter: Jaguar, Impala, Tiburon…

Tomyris Base

Federation base, planet Tomyris

Federation base, planet Tomyris

It’s amazing to me what gets liked and what doesn’t on Lego.com.

Something like this, that I knocked together in half an hour, having no backstory or anything, frequently seems to be more popular than a large LDD creation that I spend weeks on.  Real bricks are always more impressive, but still…

010

Anyway, I don’t have much to say about this, so enjoy the pictures.  It’s named after the Queen of the Scythians.

011 012

 

015

Slightly earlier version with a different spaceship

Slightly earlier version with a different spaceship

B.U.N.N.I.E. Suit

I seem to be wanting to make mechs at the moment.  Here’s another one, also in the “Space Construction” line, though more general-purpose:

 

Construction BUNNIE Suit

Construction BUNNIE Suit

The BUNNIE Suit is a type of construction equipment having no parallel in 21st Century construction. Sometimes called a “mechsuit”, it is a mech-type vehicle that is worn rather than piloted; a strength-augmenting exoskeleton used to make light of much of the heavy lifting of the construction industry. The acronym stands for Basic Utility Neural Net Interfacing Exoskeleton; however, most authorities agree that this is an after-the-fact name derived from the rabbit-ear-like antennae projecting above the pilot’s head. It is a matter of record that the first test pilots jokingly referred to it as a “bunny suit” due to the appearance of the antennae.

 

Mechsuit 2 Mechsuit 1Useful for heavy lifting in enclosed spaces where even a small mech will not fit, BUNNIE Suited construction workers move and place all kinds of parts and equipment, operate laser welders and plasma saws, lay control fiberoptics and power lines, and perform many of the smaller-scale tasks of the space construction site.

Mechsuit

The suit is also useful in all kinds of other environments, even existing as a Space Fleet Command version, the so-called “Tactical BUNNIE Suit”:

Tactical BUNNIE Suit

Tactical BUNNIE Suit

Space Construction

Classic Space is fun. The adventures of the nameless astronauts of the Galactic Federation, exploring the galaxy and countering the villainy of Blacktron. No story except what you make yourself. A chance to let your imagination take you to the stars.

The Classic Space astronauts, obviously, come in different colours. There seem to have been multiple versions of what the different suit colours mean. It seems fairly obvious that they denote different departments, but which ones?

Brickipedia says that the red astronauts are pilots, the white astronauts are explorers, the yellow astronauts are scientists, the blue astronauts are soldiers and the black astronauts are spies.

LEGO Ideas says that the red astronauts are soldiers or explorers, the white astronauts are pilots, the yellow astronauts are scientists, the blue astronauts are commanders and the black astronauts are spies (which I’m choosing to interpret as intelligence and internal security). The new green astronauts (that come with the LEGO Ideas Exo-Suit) are supposedly mech pilots. Brickipedia claims their source is the creator of the Classic Space theme, but LEGO Ideas is actually written by LEGO staff, so it seems as close to official as we’re probably going to get.  I’m going with it.  And extending it in different directions.

But not everyone in the Federation is going to be an explorer or a pilot. They are going to need environment technicians, doctors, dockworkers, and miners, and that’s just the ones who will definitely need spacesuits!

And they will also need construction workers.

In some ways it was probably inevitable. I mean, I love Lego Classic Space and I work in construction. It seems almost bizarre that it’s taken me this long to put the two together. But then, I don’t know that anyone else has done it, either.

So, Space Construction. The guys in the orbital shipyards who put the SPACESHIPs together, and the guys on the ground who assemble the bases. They aren’t soldiers, pilots, scientists or commanders. They’re Emmet in space. Orange seems like an appropriate spacesuit colour, with the full near-hemispherical visor I’m using to denote civilians.

Of course, this is the future. They probably aren’t going to be using early 21st Century bulldozers and excavators and dump trucks. We have to think a little bit about what the 24th Century might need their machines to do.

Robodozers? Probable. Laser cutters rather than excavators or drilling machines? Plasma graders? Rock fusers rather than concrete mixers? Laser welders? Giant robotic excavators?

We obviously don’t want everything to be automated, because who wants to play with a robot bulldozer? But the heavy equipment probably shouldn’t look too much like the stuff from the regular LEGO City.

In that vein, then, I present the L4 Construction Mech:


The L4 mech

The L4 mech

The L4 is one of a series of general construction mechs built by the Grubb Corporation.

As mechs go, it is a relatively light vehicle, and serves as a general-purpose hull to which various kinds of equipment can be attached.

L4 Space Construction mech 1

The factory-standard model comes with a pair of grasping arms, but one or more of these can be replaced with other gear as appropriate. Examples of alternate gear include modern plasma welders, laser cutters and antigravity cranes as well as older equipment such as fine manipulators, or even ancient devices like shovel blades and physical hooks.

L4 Space Construction mech 2

Thanks to modern integrated computer management, switching out the various kinds of equipment is a relatively straightforward process: simply perform the physical switch and the L4’s onboard computer provides the necessary control alterations in a matter of moments. The L4 is thus one of the most versatile of smaller construction vehicles; akin to the tractors of 20th and 21st Century construction.

L4 Space Construction mech 3

Controlled by a single pilot, like most of the Grubb Corporation’s hardware, the L4 is merely one example of a graduated series of construction mechs. The largest, the L12, is the size of a large building and optimised for excavation, whereas the smallest, the L2, is about half the size of the L4.

From the earliest days, construction vehicles have been painted yellow for easy visibility in the often-dangerous environment of a construction site, and this custom continues to this day.

Cephalon “Octocrab” battle mech

With the drastically upgunned nature of my dinosaur-inspired parallels of Classic Space hardware, it was obvious that I needed an adversary.

I’ve always admired cephalopods, and there are some rather famous Mesozoic ones in the shape of the Ammonites, Belemnites and Orthocones.

I’m seeing possibilities here.


The Cephalon Dominion is a powerful and aggressive interstellar empire outside the borders of the Galactic Federation. Expanding into the Saurian Sector at the same time as the Federation, the Cephalon Dominion’s AstroNavy is one of the main adversaries of Space Fleet Command in the region.

Cephalon Dominion "Octocrab" mech

Cephalon Dominion “Octocrab” mech

The Cephalon species is green-skinned, short, somewhat squidlike, and hostile to humanity. Due to the presence of extensive Sector-wide deposits of the rare energy crystal Mesozorium, tensions between the Dominion and the Federation are high, and conflicts are actually fairly common. Their bulbous spaceships and surface hardware in green, black and red colour scheme are easily recogniseable and quite deadly.

A Cephalon planetary surface warrior.  I've used the Lego SW Kit Fisto head as being appropriate to a cephalopoid race.

A Cephalon planetary surface warrior. I’ve used the Lego SW Kit Fisto head as being appropriate to a cephalopoid race.

Cephalon surface assault capabilities are exemplified by the powerful Octocrab mech.

close-up of the head section

close-up of the head section

The Octocrab is an eight-legged walker with flexible legs ending in feet which double as powerful gripping claws, giving it a close-in combat ability unmatched even by the Federation’s own Tyrannomech (forthcoming build). Primary ranged armament is a high-powered antineutron beam in an underslung turret; this is backed up by a quartet of sponson-mounted twin neutron blasters and a further twin neutron blaster mounted in a rooftop turret.

The Octocrab does not really have a "rear".  But this one is currently headed away.

The Octocrab does not really have a “rear”. But this one is currently headed away.

The Octocrab is typically crewed by four Cephalons.