Tag Archives: Lego spaceship

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

Praetorian-class Imperial Assault Cruiser

I don’t build a lot of Star Wars models, but when my son wanted to rebuild my little Republic Assault Cruiser/Clone Trooper/Coruscant planet set, I got inspired to build something similar.

Praetorian-class Assault Cruiser

Praetorian-class Assault Cruiser

I envisage this as a kind of larger brother and successor to the Republic Assault Cruiser, so I’ve made a similar display stand that will also showcase an Imperial stormtrooper of the classic variety.

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Inspired by my success with the cruiser, I got creative for a follow-up microbuild of the classic Imperial shuttle.

The Imperial shuttle has to be one of the most elegant and stylish ships in the entire Star Wars universe. Kylo Ren’s command shuttle tries hard to echo it, but it’s ugly by comparison.

This is a serious problem with The Force Awakens, actually. Aside from the Millennium Falcon, which still rejoices in its “hunk-o-junk” status as one of the best-looking hunks-o-junk in the galaxy, and the second-generation X-wing and TIE fighter, which have to echo their iconic originals, all the ships in it are ugly. Disturbingly so, given the record of the Star Wars universe for producing beautifully iconic ships.

Imperial Shuttle

Imperial Shuttle

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Kylo Ren’s shuttle is one of the better ones, but it’s a brutalist copy of the Empire’s Tydirium-class. The First Order landing craft are okay-ish. They look like World War 2 LSTs that fly, which is fine given their role, but they are still just ugly slabs of metal.

The Resistance troop transporter, though, is unforgivable. All the dynamic elegance of a brick and none of the WW2 design ethic of the First Order’s landing craft. It is, quite simply, hideous.

With that pilot’s pod at one end I guess it’s meant to be a derivative of the B-Wing, but really, why? I know a landing craft doesn’t have the same coolness factor as a fighter, but still. The Resistance are supported by the New Republic and have the Mon Calamari and others to design their ships. Surely they could have made something more stylish than this.

The only other ship of note in The Force Awakens is the First Order Star Destroyer, and it’s painted black so you never really see it.

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Anyway, this is an Imperial, not a First Order, starship, and is thus better-looking. I expect it’s a product of the busy Kuat Drive Yards, like most of the Empire’s larger ships.

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I’m a little hazy on the exact role of an “Assault Cruiser”, but it sounds like it ought to be a planetary assault ship, packed with landing craft, AT-ATs and so on, and potentially capable of making planetfall itself.

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.

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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.

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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.

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