Tag Archives: Lego

Space Auk

LL3607 “Huffin’ Ruffin” being loaded on a specialised cargo-handling pad

The trading vessel Huffin’ Puffin (Federation Spacers’ Guild registry no. LL3607) is a small freighter operated as an independent trader under the ownership of its crew. Trader-class vessels such as this are common among independents, fitting in between the small single- and twin-seat Courier-class vessels and the larger Mercantile-class ships which are the smallest class operated by large transstellars like OctanCorp. Though dwarfed by the massive Bulk-class freighters that serve as the mainstays of such interstellar freight giants as Octan Haulage and M:Tron MineFreight, the 3-to-12-crew Traders are able to make planetary landings and for the most part can set down at any landing pad without needing the oversized pads and special facilities of large commercial ports.

The Huffin’ Puffin is a modified 36-class Trader, like most independents. Unlike most independently-operated 36s, however, the Huffin’ Puffin retains the smaller belly doors of the original class, a feature which limits its ability to handle large-size commercial container cylinders without a landing pad that featured drop-down access, but which provides for less structural weakness and allows room for the reinforced power couplings of an upgraded weapons system: the forward-mounted twin X-Ray lasers replace the default single pulse cannon.

As Huffin’ Puffin frequently operates along the highly profitable but less than salubrious Blacktron border, the joint-owner crew feel the tradeoff is worthwhile.

Forward aspect of the Huffin’ Puffin, showing twin laser cannon mount

~~~

I’m not certain, but I think this might be my first Neoclassic Space ship that’s designed as a freighter. I’ve built a number of starfighters and frigates and battlecruisers, and I’ve built updates of old Classic Space sets like the Starfleet Voyager, but not a freighter. How odd.

I started building this at the back with that engine-shrouding cowling; quite an unusual place to start for me, as I’m more likely to begin at the front and build back or the keel and build up. However, that was where my inspiration was going.

The idea to use the microfigures from the Minotaurus game as astronauts was suggested by the Classic Space colours of the game pieces, and allows me to use some of my trans yellow windscreen elements to build an effectively much larger canopy than I could otherwise. Indeed, even after acquiring a lot of blue and grey in my Rogue Brick pick-a-brick box, I couldn’t have built this at minifig scale. One day…

Bridge section canopy

I’m rather pleased with the squat, dumpy shape of this, with its belly doors and canopied bridge section. Okay, the windscreen is arranged completely wrong for forward vision, but the idea of trying to do interstellar transit by Visual Flight References is sort of ludicrous. The convention of windows remains in our space fighters and other ships, but it’s technically a little silly. Radar and lidar and other sensors are going to be what you fly by; why do you need to see out?

I built the belly doors figuring that it would be a nice touch to have it actually be able to carry something, then decided to build a microloader mech to help with the heavy cargo handling. However, then I realised that neither the cargo mech nor the container cylinder would fit under the ship for loading, so I had to build a dropped loading area.

Dropped loading bay area. Some quite nice rockwork there, but you can barely see it 😛

I’d have liked a larger landing pad area around it, but what I built stretches my inventory of grey 1xwhatever bricks almost to breaking point as-is. And given the fractional tolerances in where you can actually land before dropping your ship in a hole, apparently there’s some really good precision-guidance landing radar available in the future.

The ship was nearly the Skylark of Space, after the old E. E. ‘Doc’ Smith space opera, but Skylark sounds way too speedy and elegant for something shaped like this, so I searched around for another name. The auks are a family of small, fat, dumpy seabirds with a similar kind of heavy shape, and this seemed perfect for a freighter. So the ship became the Huffin’ Puffin, the jaunty name seeming to me just right for an independent trading outfit.

This uses a number of my newly-acquired elements, but because most of the ones I used here were 1×6 and 1×8 blue bricks you can’t really tell. The 6×6 dishes on the sides are the most visible new-to-me bricks.

LL3607 and microfig-scale loader mech

Side view of the Huffin’ Puffin. Technically I guess I should have put the bumblebee stripes on that engine cowling, but I didn’t think of it until right now. When I built the cowling I was intending to add fins.

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Rogue Squadron

So, I went to the DFWLUG meetup.

For my first ever in-person meeting with other AFOLs I was understandably a little nervous, but it turns out I needn’t have been. Everyone was perfectly friendly, of course, and it was delightfully informal, even to the point of a bit anarchic if you want the truth. The DFW LEGO Users Group doesn’t really seem to have much in the way of a formal leadership or structure, so I fit right in.

This month’s meeting took place in a new “building lounge” in south Fort Worth called Rogue Brick, and it was the first time I’d been in one of those that wasn’t at the local LEGO Discovery Centre. The proprietor seems like a great guy, and to my surprise (and earning him my abiding respect) I got to see one of his builds in person that I know I’ve pinned on Pinterest and I think I’ve seen on Flickr as well – part of a large modular Jedha City display model.

I don’t know how typical Rogue Brick is – it’s my first time seeing one of these “building lounges” – but it’s a really cool place, and their “pick-n-mix” boxes may have just become my favourite ways to buy bricks. Just $10 got me the chance to pick through the 3’x30′ LEGO building table and fill a housebrick-sized box – a steal if ever there was one in terms of value for money.

The DFWLUG group said on their website that “participants are encouraged to bring something they are working on, or have built”, and I faffed around for most of last week trying to decide what to bring. As it happened I needn’t have worried as I was the only one who brought anything, but that gave me another worry as I had no-one else’s models there to compare myself with. No-one’s saying very much; are they impressed or just being polite?

Much of the meeting time was taken up with a building contest organised by Rogue Brick’s proprietor. Given an assembled LEGO Star Wars set, our task was to build a display background for it.

From an AT-ST, a Clone Turbo Tank, a Landspeeder, a Yoda’s Jedi Starfighter, a Y-Wing (one of the regulars is a big fan of Y-Wings and got to this before I could), the Ghost, a Wookiee Gunship microfighter and some sort of diminutive Stormtroopers’ walker (maybe one of the Imperial battlepacks?) I picked the Landspeeder, because it’s not that big, and proceeded to build some of my best ever rockwork to make a snippet of the Jundland Wastes on Tatooine.

Y-Wing attack run. I like the guy that did this’ taste in space fighters!

Clone Turbo Tank on desert terrain.

Kashyyyk beach scene. This guy’s a relatively new builder and he can already do trees at least as well as I can.

Desert terrain; presumably Tatooine or Jedha. I love the Stormtrooper falling off the edge into the sinkhole.

AT-ST attacking a village. Yoda defending. I don’t think the woman who built this is much of a Star Wars fan, so this is pretty good.

Indiana Jones tank chase. One guy didn’t arrive until we were all building, and I guess there weren’t any more built Star Wars sets to do a backdrop for.

The Ghost refuelling/service station. Apologies for the blurred image; I was on my phone and didn’t realise it was blurry until later.

Jakku. I love the nearly-dead foliage and the way it looks like dust being kicked up at the back.

And it turns out I might be one of the better builders there, at least when it comes to timed contests, and I won!

My winning entry. Really quite proud of that rockwork.

I totally wasn’t expecting this when I decided to go; I thought I’d be dealing with all and only elite builders of the sort who exhibit at conventions and I’d be some sort of near-noob who’s only just tumbled to SNOTwork baseplates.

The Clayface Splat Attack set that I won is now built, and makes a highly MOCworthy addition to the household brick inventory. We didn’t have more than a handful of bricks in the dark flesh that’s the set’s primary visible colour, and now we have a load of interesting elements in that colour and several in brown. Plus all the fun stuff I picked up in my goodie box.

There was perhaps not quite as much getting-to-know-you talk as I might have liked, but it was a really fun time building together. And winning is always nice.

I look forward to the next meetup, and to Rogue Brick’s Grand Opening next Saturday, with another AFOL contest after the time I get off work, which I shall try to win again, though the flyer says it’s architecture-themed which isn’t my usual thing. Maybe I’ll build a stone circle on Mars or something…

Baby, It’s Cold Outside

Baby, It’s Cold Outside – completed build

Did someone say “Ice Babe boudoir”?

No?

Well, baby, it’s really cold outside on Planet Krysto, home of the Ice Planeteers.

Though it’s normally only heard in the run-up to Christmas (the radio stations around here seemed to really like it this past year), the song Baby It’s Cold Outside didn’t manage to inspire me then. Probably because the temperature around here at that point was being typically Texan – in other words, unreasonably warm.

Plummeting in the last couple of weeks into the teens Fahrenheit, it’s now that it’s cold outside in real life that I get inspired.

“It’s cold outside” is a perfect, if somewhat understated, tagline for the old Ice Planet theme, and it struck me that it might be fun to make the original LEGO ice princess a boudoir.

The Ice Babe boudoir

I hemmed and hawed quite a bit over this creation, because “LEGO” and “boudoir” don’t normally belong in the same sentence. The LEGO Group make children’s toys, after all, and the other way around (LEGO in a boudoir) sounds like a recipe for pain.

There’s nothing here that I’d be embarrassed about my kids seeing (I don’t think even third-party custom LEGO makers are crass enough to make minifig prints that are actually risqué), but conceptually, this is definite AFOL territory, and I hesitated before plunging across that particular boundary.

Building the legendary Ice Babe a boudoir is complicated by the fact that I don’t technically own her, but I can certainly reference the original well enough to make it clear. Minifigure head printing has evolved considerably since those early days (she may well have been the first ever specifically female minifigure in a theme) and those first steps beyond the original smiley look a bit crude now, especially the female ones. I think an update is not out of order.

An Ice Planet living space (especially one with the word “boudoir” attached to it) begs the question of what sleeping quarters will look like in the future depicted by old LEGO themes. How exactly do you make a bedroom that looks Ice Planet-y and recogniseably a bedroom, let alone warm and cosy?

Obviously the Ice Planet theme’s colours are all wrong for warm and cosy. Even the trans neon orange, while warm, is aggressive rather than comfortable, recalling anti-glare goggles and suchlike. But if we can’t use Ice Planet colours, how do we make it clear that this is an Ice Planet creation?

Cue the double-sided approach.

Ice Planet exterior

From the outside this is classic Ice Planet, with mostly blue construction, deep-frozen white landscape, icicles at the window and trans neon orange highlights. From the inside, it’s a warm, stylish bedroom with just a few Ice Planet touches to unify the model. The window is clear rather than traditional Ice Planet neon, but that’s the way I planned it because the window was one of the first conceptual parts of this creation and you have to be able to see through it properly. After all, calling your creation “Baby It’s Cold Outside” is rather futile if you can’t see the outside.

This creation also marks the first usage of some of my Christmas-acquired new-to-me elements. And the first new element to make it into a MOC is… Sensei Wu’s muumuu.

Rockin’ the Sensei-style nightdress

Honestly, if you’d told me on Christmas Day to rank my new elements according to how likely I would be to MOC with them, that’s the absolute last element I’d have picked. I’d have selected the 1×1 round tile with vertical bar, or the 1×1 round plate with handle from the Darth Vader Transformation set. Even Garmadon’s jungle pauldron would have ranked higher.

However, Sensei Wu’s fabric robe is exactly what I need to be my Ice Babe Mark 2’s nightdress. Together with the arms and legs from the Warrior Goddess (never thought I’d use those either), real-Nya’s face and a vivid red hair element possibly from one or other variants of Poison Ivy – perfect neo-Ice Babe in a nightgown!

I did experiment with Cavegirl’s hair, but while it looks nicely sleep-fuzzled and untidy I decided that the vivid scarlet was a better referent to the original Ice Babe.

Ice Planet VX spacesuit storage

I particularly wanted the Master Falls set for Christmas because I always feel like I lack pieces for making scenery, and now here I am building my most sophisticated scenery-type build yet (ie not a vehicle) and due to the nature of the scene nearly all its elements are the wrong ones to use. Go me.

Including my first interior SNOTwork baseplate, this has been skill-stretching on many fronts. I almost never build LEGO interiors or furniture; my element inventory is fairly geared to vehicles and creatures. So I had to work out how I was going to build the bed, the table, that carafe (LEGO bottles just look too dinky next to the glasses)…

And on top of that I had to work out how I was going to communicate it visually that this is an Ice Planeteer’s bedroom without making it look chilled and sterile. And hopefully keeping the coordinated look of a stylish lady’s quarters. You could, for example, leave a neon orange ice saw standing in the corner, but it would totally destroy the effect. In the end I decided that I had to have the Ice Planet spacesuit in a closet to unify the interior with the exterior, but even that looks just a little out of place.

Of course, then I got into trying to parodise the song for LEGO. “I’ll take your hat; your hair as well…”?

And that led to this modification of my original build:

“Baby, it’s Cole outside”

I’m calling it, obviously, “Baby, it’s Cole outside”. That duet has to be sung by Nya and Jay, but a Ninjago bedroom scene seems like a step too far, so I built them a couch to sit on.

It’s less unified and intentional than the original build, because it still has all of the Ice Planet touches all over the place.

Amusing, though.

rocket, Rocket, ROCKET!!!!!

If Benny’s spaceship Spaceship SPACESHIP was a kind of modern distillation of the 1980s’ classic blue and grey ships, I guess this is a rocket Rocket ROCKET!!!

Jenny’s rocket, Rocket, ROCKET!!!

Piloted by a red-suited female astronaut (Jenny, presumably), this is my first honest-to-goodness stands-on-its-tail space rocket built as an AFOL, and I really can’t remember building one as a kid either.

Of course, back in the Days of Yore there weren’t nearly so many cool types of elements to build a rocket with. If you wanted a cylindrical rocket you had to build it out of 2×2 macaronis. And anyway, raised on a steady diet of Star Wars, Buck Rogers and Battlestar Galactica (the original, of course) I thought that mere rockets were primitive. If I was going to Build A Spaceship, then by the mustache of Johnny Thunder it was going to be a galaxy-hopping hyperspace-stardrive evil-alien-butt-kicking Spaceship, not some namby-pamby rocket so primitive it worked by burning chemical fuel.

Engine section detail

These days, my latent retrofuturism is a lot closer to the surface. I actually have a sense of nostalgia now, and the idea of building an “old-fashioned” rocketship is a much friendlier one.

Built in NCS colours because SPACESHIP!!!, this isn’t even the largest Neoclassic Space rocketship I could build. There are several elements in my inventory that are pretty rocket-y and yet I chose not to use them.

But it’s definitely a rocket.

I was surprised to find myself actually using the Technic-tracks-wrapped-wrong-way trick. I’ve seen other people use this before but I’ve never been particularly inspired by it, especially on an NCS creation. But several Classic Space vessels used black (in other locations than the “bumblebee” hazard stripes), for example the Space Dart and the Gamma-V Laser Craft, and I find myself liking the look here. I may even do that again.

Cockpit capsule detail

The diminutive cockpit, capsule or miniature reusable shuttlecraft (I’m not sure which) perched atop the main body is the most conventionally Classic Spaceship-shaped part. Again, this was by design. I could have built this as a pure conventional rocket, but I wanted to build something that had at least one crewmember, and what’s the point of building something with a crewmember if she’s invisible?

If that’s not a capsule of a sort perched on the apex, then this is an SSTO (Single Stage To Orbit) rocket of a type beloved by 1950s sci-fi but which we’ve yet to figure out in practice. I think I prefer that idea, on reflection. It seems a bit of a waste to have that whole glorious bottom section with its ring of drive units and its fins and its minor greebling all be disposable.

3/4 Side angle

I’ve got some eventual ambitions toward a proper 1950s-comic-book-style Dan Dare/Flash Gordon/Buck Rogers rocketship with trilateral symmetry and a fully-fitted-out interior, but that’ll probably have to wait on the acquisition of more bricks. Jenny’s 1980-something rocket, Rocket, ROCKET!!!! is a nice start in that direction, though.

One more time: rocket, Rocket, ROCKET!!!!

How To Train Your LEGO

As either the last build of 2017 or the first of 2018 (built in one year but posted in the other) I decided to have a go at another dragon.

And a specific dragon, for a change: the winged reptile that makes jet-black look cute – Toothless the Night Fury, from the How To Train Your Dragon films.

Toothless soaring over Berk, my version

Toothless’ wide, flat head and big green eyes are pretty distinctive, and I’ve done what I can to reproduce them at something close to minifigure scale. Close enough that I decided to incorporate a saddle and make a minifigure Hiccup using young Luke Skywalker’s head with real-Kai’s hair.

Then, remembering the lessons learned in last year’s Ninja and Dragon build and struck with an idea of how to make a halfway decent tiled roof for a Berk townhouse, I decided to go to town on the scenery.

The little hut I built is really too small to be an actual house and too open in front to be much of anything, but it does its job of making an interesting scenery counterpoint to my aerial Toothless, complete with a Viking maiden with an axe and a shield, possibly Astrid. If I had more 1×2 curve slopes I’d have made the roof slope longer and at a steeper angle like the houses in Hiccup’s village, but nevertheless I’m quite pleased with the technique.

Berk townhouse

Toothless is fully poseable, except that the wings don’t fold up. But the only fully-foldable LEGO dragon wings of my direct experience are on the Green NRG Dragon, and green-and-gold just wouldn’t be right on Toothless. Besides, they are too big for a model at this scale.

I think my favourite part of the dragon bit of this build is the way I did Toothless’ large-pupilled eyes, but I do wish I could have figured out a way to give him an opening jaw that looked remotely right. I tried a couple of things but nothing was working; Toothless’ thin lower jaw is very hard to get right at this scale. In the end I decided to make him Mouthless. He does spend an awfully huge amount of time with his mouth closed.

A bright red 2×4 wing element would have looked better as Toothless’ missing tail fin, but I only have 2x3s in bright red and they looked wrong, so we have dark red. It’s the only piece of significant wrong colour, though, so I’m happy. I only wish they made 1×2 balljoint holders in black.

Top-down view

2017 Retrospective: Top 10 Personal Best

2017 has been a good year for my building. Looking back in this blog’s archives at some of my creations from the beginning of the year in preparation for this post, I’ve been amazed at how far my building technique has come in only a year. My photography seems to be improving as well, with the use of card backgrounds, less blurriness and a slightly more professional touch. I still use the same 7-year-old digital camera (which might need an upgrade as it has about the same pixel resolution as my mobile phone) and I could do with a better approach to lighting, but my earlier pre-background build photos look very strange to me now.

Anywho, I thought it would be fun to do a sort of retrospective as my final post of the year, picking out my personal favourites among my builds of 2017.

The usual disclaimers apply. This is my personal list of favourites, and I’m using a fairly idiosyncratic set of choice criteria. These are not necessarily those builds that are technically most innovative or most complex. I’m sure I’ll miss some builds that other people remember with fondness; I did have a hard time restricting the list to just 10.

My other difficulty was ranking them. Some of the relative ranking of these builds is completely arbitrary, and there are several models in joint eleventh and twelfth place that could easily have made the list and didn’t; among these are the Beagle space rover, the steampunk SHIP Dark Pegasus and the Blacktron A’Tuin-class dropship. Other Honourable Mentions: the Ice Cruiser Zycon-IX and the Starfleet Voyager 2.0.

On the list are two dragons, two other creatures, four spaceships and two mechs, which is a fair summary of my building style right there.

Ready? Here we go…

10: Buck Rogers Thunderfighter (August)

You might have to be an AFOL to fully appreciate the nostalgia value of this, but I’m still quite proud of my work on this. Incorporating minor Technic functionality (something I stink at), this LEGO version of the iconic fighter from the early 1980s’ Buck Rogers in the 25th Century represents one of only a handful of times I tried to produce a LEGO model of a spaceship someone else designed.

Among a selection of models that did or could have won a place in this list, the Thunderfighter’s Technic functionality shut out the A’Tuin-class Blacktron dropship with its complex hexagonal construction to come in at number 10.

9: Blacktron Thunderbolt (September)

 

While neither of my two SHIPs made the Top 10 list, two of my sub-SHIP large space vessels did. Both my first SHIP Liberator and to a lesser extent Dark Pegasus suffered from being overextended and a little contrived in order to meet the 100-stud base requirement of SHIPhood. When I forget about the 100-stud limit and just concentrate on having fun building a large model I seem to end up with a better class of product.

The Thunderbolt was more primitive in technique than my other large spaceship on this list, but I do like the way it looks. And that humungous dinosaur-killer railgun on the front seems perfectly suited to the Blacktron.

8: Elemental Dragon of Classic Space (January)

I was actually amazed to discover that it was this year that I built this thing, as it seems like it was ages and ages ago. Nonetheless, there it is in the January 2017 Archives, and it just had to make the list.

I had unreasonable amounts of fun with building this, combining as it does two of my favourite things to build: dragons and Neoclassic Space. I still love the whole concept of a Classic Space dragon, and it might be fun to reprise the idea with the more advanced building techniques I use these days almost a year later. It’s the unremarkable technique on this, in fact, that means it’s stuck at no. 8, though I considered it my best model for a considerable part of the year and it’s still one of my lifetime favourites.

7: Centaur (December)

Pulling out all the stops in built-figure modeling, my recent centaur edges out the Classic Space elemental dragon by virtue of superior technique and the way it’s proportioned. Centaurs are challenging no matter how you build them, and I flatter myself that this might be one of the better ones at this scale. It even has a suggestion of abs.

6: LEGOtiel (October)

Easily winning the “Longest I’ve kept a model in existence before breaking it up for parts” award, my LEGO cockatiel lasted almost a full two months on the current-model display shelves. Cockatiels aren’t a common subject matter for building, if the all-seeing Eye of SauronGoogle is to be believed, and I was pleased with how this turned out, even if it was a little more fragile and a little less poseable than I’d really have liked. Completely different to my usual run of overgunned Blacktron cruisers and ferocious mythical creatures, but a lot of fun to build. Our real-life cockatiel was a bit freaked out by it, though.

5: Spacewhale (August)

Highest-placing large (50+ stud length) ship on the list, the Spacewhale is a mere 24 inches long: practically a minnow next to the 37 3/4 inches of a 100-stud official SHIP. It’s by far my most complex and advanced sub-SHIP, though, with proper internal framing, a pleasing shape, a unifying colour scheme and lots of interesting details.

And it marked my first ever construction shots and multiple-day build, something I still find difficult to do.

4: The Ninja and the Dragon (April)

April’s The Ninja and the Dragon was one of the first times I paid almost as much attention to building the scenery as I did to building the model itself. Along with the fact that this has an upright-posed Eastern-style dragon (both less common than the alternatives), I think it’s the subtleties that really make this build. There’s a story there, and for once I’m not going ahead and telling it; the model works all the better for the lack of having its meaning tied down.

One of my first explorations of LEGO-as-art as well as LEGO-as-a-hobby, this comes in at number 4.

3: Repainting the House Divided (November)

Part of the attraction of Classic Space, apart from the nostalgia of it, is its innocence and everyone-getting-along spirit, and I tried hard to capture that in this build. Definitely the build on this list with the most overt “message”, it still works as a model because the message is subordinate to the build, which works on its own terms.

I still find the idea of a Blacktron and a Classic Space astronaut falling in love charming, and the way they are getting ready to repaint their own section of the corridor in each other’s colours adds a nice layer of subtle message to the build.

It’s also my highest-placed scenery build and the only model on this list that doesn’t involve some kind of vehicle or creature (Minifigures don’t count).

2: Mechnotaur (May)

“What? Nothing steampunk made the list?” I hear you cry.

Well, at number 2 we have my birth month’s steampunk mecha-Minotaur, without which the list would definitely be missing something. If I’d built a better Theseus battlesuit to go along with it this might have made number 1, but the unfortunately leggy and slightly messy Theseus suit dragged this down. That and the fact that the balljoints in its legs wouldn’t support the weight of the body to allow me to pose the Mechnotaur fully.

I still love the concept behind this, and as far as story potential goes it’s the Mechnotaur that takes the number one spot. It’s a minotaur. It’s a mech. And it’s steampunk. What more could you want?

1: Q-Mech (November)

Number 1 is last month’s Q-Mech, from my self-invented Classic Space universe rescue service Q-Tron. Advanced techniques in the cockpit shield attachment, enough greebling to look functional without being overwhelming, an original concept… This model has almost everything in it that I like. And it’s space. And it’s a mech.

Given the amount of people that have pinned this since I shared it on Pinterest, other people seem to favour it as well. Mind you, they also like the Isstrebitel’-1 and my model of the Vostok space capsule, and those are considerably further down my personal list.

The Q-Mech has since been broken up for parts, of course, but it’s still my favourite of my builds of 2017, and probably of all time (so far).

My next build, however, will hopefully eclipse the Q-Mech and really show what I can do. The answer to “what’s your best build?” is nearly always “the next one”, after all.

~~~

And that’s the full list. I’ve provided links to the original posts (the titles) so you can trip with me down Memory Lane.

It’s been a good year for building, and a whole new year of possibilities is just around the corner. Who knows what I’ll be looking back on this time next year?

Magnetic Repulsion?

M-Tron Magno-Crawler

This tiny crawler is my first ever M-Tron creation.

Microscale by virtue of necessity as I possess no M-Tron astronauts and precious few trans neon green elements, it represents my first foray into the 1991-1993 theme with its extensive use of magnets and its predominantly red colour scheme.

M-Tron replaced Futuron as the primary civilian faction, bridging the gap between the first and second generations of the Blacktron and Space Police. If their crawlers and vehicles were anything to go by, they were a space-mining or transportation theme, and as such, are possibly an interestingly Classic Space-like precursor of the terrible Rock Raiders theme.

I know the Rock Raider theme had its afficionadoes, but it’s been probably my least-favourite Space theme of them all for some time now, due to its ugly brown colour scheme and fantasy-like trolls – I mean rock monsters – and for the fact that space mining as a theme concept is a really good one with great potential, but Rock Raiders is so heavy on the mining that it seems to have forgotten it’s supposed to be in space.

M-Tron was never a theme I got particularly into. I was entering fully into my circumstantially-enforced LEGO Dark Ages at the time, and still mourning the end of my beloved Classic Space theme and its Futuron successors. The weird spaceship with the revolving antennas like it was some sort of darned nonsensical vacuum helicopter was one of theirs, and I still felt that red was an unnatural colour for a spaceship, so thoroughly was I marinated in Classic Space.

Having reapproached the theme as an adult and realised that they’re the miners, I’m finding myself starting to like it in a way I never really found myself able to like Rock Raiders.

The difference is that before, I was always trying to crowbar the Rock Raiders into the Classic Space/Futuron/Blacktron/Ice Planet/Spyrius shared universe and getting frustrated at how badly they fail to fit. Their technology doesn’t look right, they have a single team of named characters, they don’t wear enclosing vacuum-capable helmets and air tanks, and their vehicles are depressingly earth-tone and dystopian.

But if the M-Trons are the Classic Space universe’s space miners, then I don’t need to make the Rock Raiders fit. They can do their own thing off in their own alternate universe and leave my brightly-coloured, shiny Classic universe and its Federation alone.

I think part of my blind spot to the M-Tron folks’ existence was that I’d mentally misplaced them in the sequence of early Space factions, thinking of them as the successors of the Ice Planet theme, not their predecessors. That, together with my youthful misliking of the theme’s red colour and what-the-frak? reaction to its stupid pseudo-helicopter (someone obviously wasn’t thinking about the implications of Space when they designed this absurdity. It’s vacuum. A helicopter’s not going to work, and something that looks like a helicopter is just going to make me think you are being stupid with my beloved Space stuff. Seriously, get it right, people) were enough to push a sort of mental “erase” button and wipe it from my list of proper classic Space themes. But if we ignore the stupid space helicopter and compare them to Rock Raiders, suddenly they look pretty good. Pretty darned good, in fact. I might build more of these.

This microvehicle is a large transport crawler of some form, with a crane mounted on the back for loading and unloading. This being an M-Tron creation, the crane is presumably magnetic.

I believe this is the first time I’ve ever used the control stick as a crane, but it looks perfect, and far more M-Tronian than a gun turret.

Unusually for me, this creation definitely has a display side and a back side, as I was only able to make the middle wheels work on one of the two sides.

It’s nothing super-special, but I’m rather pleased with it as a first tentative foray into M-Tron space. When I first considered an M-Tron creation just to round out the classic Space themes that were all definitely set in the same universe (along with the Space Police, and I still haven’t built one of theirs) I wasn’t sure I could pull it off given the paucity of my neon green windscreen elements and my unfamiliarity with the theme, but then the cheese wedge slopes from the Robo Explorer set caught my eye and I realised that a microscale was actually within my capabilities. So of course, I had to build an M-Tron micro.

M-Tron Magno-Crawler