Tag Archives: Lego spaceship

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.

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Krystovian Task Force

The Krystovian Naval Command is the spacegoing military force of the independent Stellar Republic of Krysto. Comprising the three systems of Krysto proper, Zycon and Coldstream, the Stellar Republic is one of a number of neutral buffer states between the Federation and the Blacktron Alliance. Krysto in particular is famed as the so-called “ice planet”, but all of the Republic’s worlds are cold planets that skirt the edges of habitability.

Battlecruiser Task Force of the Krystovian Naval Command

The KNC is a surprisingly large and well-equipped fighting force for a mere three-system polity, and though its fleet lacks the dreadnought-class battleships of the major powers, its battlecruiser-led task forces, such as the one pictured here, are capable fighting formations.

KNS Sword of Winter

Frostblade-class battlecruiser

KNS Sword of Winter

The Krystovian Naval Command’s newest starship and largest domestically-built vessel, the Sword of Winter is only the second starship of battlecruiser class to be built in Krystovian yards. KNS Sword of Winter is 10m longer than her sister KNS Frostblade, the extra space being utilised to make the forward power monitoring rooms more ergonomic.

The Stellar Republic’s Vertex Shipyards in Zycon-IV orbit have only recently been upgraded to a size capable of building large cruiser- and battlecruiser-class vessels, and the Frostblades are the firstfruits of the increase in capacity. Before that, all vessels larger than destroyer-class, and some of the KNC’s smaller vessels also, were purchased from other star nations.

KNS Ice Maiden

Refitted Blacktron Werewolf-class light carrier

KNS Ice Maiden

Originally the Blacktron Fleet vessel Nightmare, the Ice Maiden is the oldest ship in the entire Krystovian Naval Command, having already had a substantial service life within the Blacktron Alliance before being sold off to the Stellar Republic and refitted to Krystovian specifications. It is designated a “light carrier” because it is built on a light cruiser-sized hull rather than the battlecruiser- and dreadnought-sized carriers favoured by the major powers.

Ice Maiden is due to be retired once the domestically-produced twin carriers Partridge and Peartree come online, but for now it provides an operational base for 20 domestic Polaris-class space fighters.

KNS Ymir

Jotun-class destroyer

KNS Ymir

Venerable lead ship of the Stellar Republic’s Jotun-class of fleet destroyers, KNS Ymir is considered a “lucky” ship in the Krystovian Naval Command. The Jotuns have been mainstays of the small Krystovian fleet, and until recent expansions were the largest vessels produced in the Vertex yards. However, they are beginning to be replaced by the newer Kalevala-class.

KNS Nordica

Federation Sapphire-class destroyer

KNS Nordica

An ex-Federation Sapphire-class named after the largest continental landmass emerging from Krysto’s iced-over seas, Nordica was built under contract for the KNC by the Futura system’s Futuron Naval Yards. A little smaller than the Jotun-class, several Sapphires were constructed for the Republic while Krysto’s own shipyards were being extended and upgraded. The ships supplement the Jotun and Kodiak-classes.

KNS Snowbird

Icefire-class frigate

KNS Snowbird

The Icefires are the Stellar Republic’s most advanced frigate class, and KNS Snowbird is one of the most recent exemplars of the class. It shares the same vertical orientation as most newer Krystovian ship classes, such as the large Frostblade-class battlecruisers. KNS Snowbird is, of course, much smaller, but can sustain a much higher acceleration than a larger vessel.

KNS Caribou
KNS Narwhale

Mammal-class corvettes

KNS Narwhale (left) and KNS Caribou (right)

The Mammal-class corvettes are another older design. The entire corvette class is being phased out of most space navies as too small to be effective, given that construction of a frigate takes only 125% as long and yields a larger, better protected and longer-ranged ship. Krysto’s corvettes are mostly extensively refitted and less visually alike than their common class designation might suggest.

KNS Caribou is named after the Old Earth creature. KNS Narwhale is named after a native Krystovian species which slides over the ice of that planet’s seas.


I semi-promised more Ice Planet a week or so ago, and what better way to keep that promise than with a whole fleet?

Building a battle squadron for the civilian Iceplaneteers might seem like a bit of a non-sequitur, but people produce M:Tron space fighters and Futuron tanks all the time, so I feel like I’m on safe ground.

Besides, who’s to say the Classic Space theme’s widely-theorised Federation even actually exists? Those early Space themes are, after all, from the age before TV shows and named characters and back-stories for the sets. And I have to say I rather like the idea of Krysto as a sort of neutral Switzerland between the Blacktron and the Federation.

Why Wait Til SHIPtember?

Those of you who’ve been following this blog will realise that I’ve been in pursuit of the ability to produce one of the 100+ stud behemoths known as a SHIP for some time now.

I’ve been incrementally coming closer to the magic number, which has seemed like the personal LEGO building equivalent of lightspeed, for several creations, from 50-stud Classic Space reboots like my take on the 6929 Starfleet Voyager to my previous personal best in the “biggest creation” steeplechase, the 74-stud Argonaut-class Explorer Ship.

And I’ve finally broken the light barrier.

LSS Liberator, my first SHIP

Given that the Argonaut was put together while my AT-AT, my 12-year-old daughter’s wonderful ship, my 13-year-old nephew’s 60-stud barge and my 6-year-old son’s four-armed Ninjago Stone Warrior mech were in existence as finished creations, I decided that we really did have enough bricks now to make a serious stab at it.

  

While ordering my nephew some special elements from Bricklink for his just-happened 13th birthday, I put in a bit of an order for myself as well, with SHIP construction in mind. But in actual fact, I didn’t even wait for his birthday when I’d promised to get out the new bricks before I started building. Well, apart from the cup-and-ball sponson mounts, with which I just couldn’t resist arming my battlecruiser.

Most of my large “shell-type” elements are dark red or dark blue, which is why so many of my large creations use those colours. But I don’t have very much else in dark red or (particularly) dark blue, certainly not for building all the superstructure-y bits of a full-on SHIP. So even though my Buck Rogers starfighter is in existence, I settled on white as a third primary superstructure colour. Red, white and blue together works as a main colour scheme even with the addition of two different greys for structural and functional parts (for the illusion of greater depth and greebliness even though my greebling has been really minimal) and gave the SHIP its name: LSS Liberator.

Liberator is a name to conjure with, if you’re a British sci-fi fan of a certain generation. The name of the advanced starship from the now-obscure TV serial Blake’s 7, the original was a fantastic trilaterally-symmetrical space battlecruiser with a mysterious pulsating green ball for an engine. And sorry, Trek, but this is the best-looking TV starship of the pre-1980s era.

Someday I’ll build that Liberator, but it won’t be today.

My own Liberator is “only” 101 studs long, and even that’s a bit of a cheat considering the forward prongs are a whopping 16 studs all by themselves, but I broke the 100-stud barrier and I didn’t use any of the large elements from my last Bricklink spree, so I can do a better job next time.

Already I’m planning larger, more ornate, better-designed SHIPs: Dark Pegasus, which will need considerably more Investment in Pieces for me to build the way it is in my head, and the privateer Motley Devil, which I plan to attempt next.

But as a first step into the world of SHIPness, Liberator‘s not too shabby, I think. At least I avoided Bix Box Syndrome and managed to come up with a marginally interesting shape for it, and did it in a reasonable colour scheme, and did it while my daughter’s ship and my Buck Rogers starfighter are sitting on the display shelf hogging bricks.

But I’ll do better next time, I promise. Even if Motley Devil doesn’t end up breaking the 100-stud barrier (which is by no means a certainty right now) my next SHIP will be better.

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The LSS Liberator is a jumpdrive-equipped space battlecruiser of the human-dominated Star League. Armed with both laser and plasmatic armament, Liberator is fairly typical of medium-range League warships.

Unlike, for example, the OGEL Tetrarchy’s Stellar Legions, the Star League’s Space Defence Force employs mixed batteries of both lasers and plasma cannons rather than lasers alone. This is one of the major doctrinal differences between the LSDF and the TSL, and primarily stems from a difference in the two interstellar polities’ jumpdrives.

Laser cannons are lightspeed weapons: long-ranged and difficult to dodge effectively. However, plasma weapons are considerably more destructive for the same mass of cannon, even though they are short-ranged, STL weapons.

The Star League having better jumpdrive technology and being willing to utilise starship mass for precision jump-point calculation computers, the League Space Defence Force are more apt to attempt to jump in to a much closer range than the Tetrarchy’s Stellar Legions are able to, and close to the spatial equivalent of knife-fight range as quickly as possible.

The OGEL Tetrarchy, on the other hand, tend to stand off and open fire with larger numbers of individually less destructive long-range lasers.

Forward section showing flight bridge and laser cannons

Liberator herself has a primary armament of six heavy laser cannons mounted in individual sponsons on the forward hull, and six heavy plasma accelerators triple-mounted in dorsal turrets, each accelerator having better than five times the destructive capacity of the equivalent laser within its more limited range.

Detail of one of the dorsal plasma turrets

The secondary armament is similarly mixed, with both lasers and plasma cannons in side-mounted turrets, plus there are a number of small missile-defence lasers scattered over the hull.

Central section showing dorsal turrets, secondary turrets and ventral small craft bays

Ventrally amidships are the small craft bays. The ability of an energy-weapon-armed battlecruiser to carry fightercraft is not huge, and the ability of fighter-sized ships to carry reasonably effective weapons is necessarily limited, but Liberator is equipped to operate eight Excalibur-class space superiority fighters (too small to build at this scale).

Aft section showing engines, jump drives and flag bridge

The engine section is aft. Like all Star League vessels, LSS Liberator has two separate drive systems: the metagravity sublight drives, which utilise pseudogravitic forces to achieve a reactionless sublight drive system, and the outboard jump-point engines which generate a form of tame wormhole for point-to-point interstellar jumps.

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Ill tell you something, though. They aren‘t kidding around when they talk about Seriously Huge Investments in Pieces. It’s not so much sheer quantity of elements that kills you, it’s quantity of elements of particular types in particular colours.  One more time, then, in all her glory:

LSS Liberator

Ophiuchi-class Star Carrier

starcarrier1

Carriers were some of the earliest Bendix-drive military vessels. Due to the mass-intensive nature of the Bendix wormhole stardrive, the large interstellar jump-capable ships that both held Humanity together and made interstellar combat a possibility were massive, ungainly vessels with the manoeuvring ability of lead-armoured sloths.

starcarrier2

By contrast, a relatively powerful laser or particle pulse cannon could be installed fairly easily on a small single- or dual-seat space fighter, which by virtue of its small size was far more agile and less apt to be hit with gigawatt energy beams. Ergo the development and deployment of the space carrier in the Federation and its offshoot political entities.

starcarrier3

The Ophiuchi-class was one of the most successful Federation star carriers of the pre-gravitic drive era. Coupled with its squadrons of Rattlesnake– and Constrictor-class fighters, it provided the Federation with a way to take the fight to its enemies and strike at targets light-years away from any Fedearation system.

starcarrier4

As defensive weapons, the Ophiuchis featured nine defensive weapons turrets, each incorporating a pair of eight-barreled multi-megawatt antimissile/antifighter lasers. Rapid-firing and striking at lightspeed, these guns and others like them were one of the standard defensive weapons systems of the era.

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This is not really anything special as far as building or technique goes, but I find it a pleasing construction. I hope you find it so, too.

starcarrier5

This is about my idea of what a space carrier ought to look like, rather than the boxy HALO types that always look weird to me. You don’t like it, go make your own.

Sniper-class Gun Frigate

Apparently I’m not only back in Classic Space mode (big surprise there), but back to using LDD as well.

A Sniper-class cruisers close to Federation border space

A Sniper-class cruisers close to Federation border space

This digital creation was actually intended as a test-bed for a real-brick creation I’m planning, but it works quite well as-is, don’t you think? If and when I actually build it, I’ll have to adapt considerably, because there are several elements here I either do not possess, or do not possess in the right colours, or do not possess in the right quantities. I have a Bricklink order in that will partially rectify this situation, but this creation wasn’t finished until after I’d already made my order. I’ll have to resort to the old standby of any self-respecting LEGO mastermind: adapt and conquer.

Anyway, here’s the digital version. A real-brick version may or may not follow.


sniper2The Sniper-class Gun Frigate is a new light warship class of the Space Federation. The class represents a new departure for light Federation combat cruisers. Typical Federation Space Fleet doctrine calls for lighter, frigate-class cruisers to act in a scouting role or to serve as screening elements for the large capital cruisers, using their antimissile lasers and energy mines to help protect the fleet from enemy missiles and fightercraft.

sniper-class5

The Sniper-class’ massive main armament of a pair of spinally-mounted heavy lasers changes all that. Emerging doctrine calls for Snipers to be seeded into formations of more typically-designed frigates in twos and threes, to give such units an offensive punch they formerly lacked and allow lighter units to effectively strike against heavy capital ships and dreadnoughts.

sniper-class4

The energy requirements of a main armament this relatively massive are just this side of insane, and the Sniper-class has been designed with a second main fusion reactor solely to handle the main grasers.

Such a weapons system also takes up a lot of space, and even with much of the normal frigate armament gutted or severely reduced to compensate, accommodations on board the Snipers are spartan.

sniper-class7

Propulsion is provided by a pair of Naumann linear gravitic drives for normal-space thrust, plus a point-to-point Bendix wormhole generator for interstellar transit, as with most Federation ships of frigate class.

sniper-class3

Hi-Ho, Hi-Ho, It’s Into Space We Go…

It’s been a while since I built a Classic Space ship, and I don’t think I’ve ever built an asteroid miner before.

LL364 Comstock Lode

LL364 Comstock Lode

This is the mining ship Comstock Lode, hull number LL373, a Motherlode-class asteroid miner designed to extract usable minerals from the countless asteroidal bodies of the Federation’s star systems.

A workaday industrial behemoth, it has none of the sleek elegance of ships like the LL928 Galaxy Explorer, but is clunky, functional and simply massive.

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Large amounts of Federation Blue hull paint would be wasted on such a vessel, so the only concession to the Federation’s standard ship colour scheme is a small amount of blue, mostly around the living quarters and control deck areas, plus the ever-present “bumblebee” hazard striping on the wings.

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The wide “mouth” of the vessel can swallow small to medium-sized asteroids for processing internally; these are manoeuvred into position with four grappling arms. These arms are actually larger than many classes of smaller Federation ship, though they appear tiny next to the bulk of the ship. Two large long-pulse mining lasers blast larger asteroids into manageable chunks. You can see an asteroid ready for processing within the maw; this is about as large a rock as the ship can handle.

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Much of the internal area is taken up with processing equipment, smelters and holding areas. The amount of mined and smelted material that can be held internally is quite large, but relatively minor compared to the mass of ore processable by a Motherlode-class vessel over the course of even a few months. Mined material packets are typically encased in a covering of asteroidal nickel-iron and periodically accelerated off to a central depot using magnetic mass drivers.

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Mining ships are fun to build. I hope I’ve conveyed the sense of a huge industrial vessel fairly well with all of the meaningless detail and greebles.

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I’m pleased with the blocky, unsleek, heavy-functionality design, and the Classic Space colour scheme works well, I think. It usually does ;). About the only thing I “forgot” for fully authentic Classic Spacehood were the green-and-red running lights, but that fussy detail I’m going to claim is invisible at this scale.

I could easily rework the Federation Blue elements and bumblebee stripes in another colour, too, like red or yellow, and then it would just be a generic mining ship in whatever its company livery is.

Rameses-class Heavy Destroyer

Ok, so having made a non-LEGO post this morning, I need to keep up my posting of actual models.

Rameses-class

Rameses-class

This is a ship I’m calling the Rameses-class Heavy Destroyer.  It’s a warship, obviously; something in the light-end medium-sized cruiser bracket, I’m thinking.  The dark red and white colour scheme is rather Star Wars Galactic Republic/Rebel Alliance, but this isn’t overtly a Star Wars ship, though it could be pressed into service, I suppose.

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The name comes from the red and white colour scheme and twin tail configuration: Ancient Egypt in the Pharaonic period featured the Red Crown of Lower Egypt and the White Crown of Upper Egypt, united in the Twin Crown.

I’m a total sucker for vertically-oriented ships, otherwise this might have been laid out horizontally.  But I do like the way it looks, balanced on its stand on a couple of 1×1 tile clips.

Forward view showing the twin spinal lasers

Forward view showing the twin spinal lasers

The various launchers (missiles or torpedoes of some form I guess) at the sides (6 each side) probably rotate in the “real” thing, and there are two spinal heavy lasers or plasma accelerators mounted forward in the command section.

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The rear section mounts three powerful fusion drives (don’t ask, but it sounds high-tech and cool) and sports those nifty twin tails.  I have no idea if they serve any purpose other than being decorative, but they are at least that!  The binoculars are probably some sort of docking thrusters, or maybe a rear-firing weapon.

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I’m quite pleased with this ship.  One of my better large microbuilds, I think, and all the more interesting for having nothing to do with Classic Space