Tag Archives: Mechs

The Long Legs of the Law

Enforcer-class Space Police mech

The Space Police aren’t an aspect of LEGO Space I’ve gone into building very much before now. I’ve had a brief flirtation with the organisation in digital format, but aside from a single “crashed wreck” build to go with my neo-Alienator, I’ve not built a single Space Police construction before in real bricks.

Now I have Blacktron astronauts, though, and the beginnings of a potential alternate-universe story where the Blacktron are the heroes and the Space Police are a tyrannical instrument of oppression, I find I actually want to build Space Police. Even the bad guys ought to get some cool stuff.

I don’t, however, currently possess a first-generation Space Police trooper. Or any of the three separate generations of Space Police, but it’s the original Space Police, first genuine adversaries of the Blacktron, that concern me right now.

If I’m going to have a corrupt, oppressive Space Police, SP1 have about the most sinister colours with that black/blue/trans red livery. Seeing everything as they do through visors and windscreens in Sith Red, were they actually subtly intended as evil? They even look a bit like Stormtroopers.

I doubt they were specifically meant as evil, but Futuron’s colours do look so much more regular Earth police-like, as shown by their recyclement in SP3.

Rear view of the Enforcer-class

Anyway, my first Space Police build in real bricks was a corvette-sized microscale cruiser, but that was mostly a minor experiment with a new technique. If I think up a suitable backstory I may post it.

This, however, I wanted to post. Minifigure-scale despite my lack in the trooper department, it’s a walker, because I like them even if I’m no specialist genius mech architect.

I’ve done as much as I can to create a sort of ersatz Space Police stormtrooper, recombining parts from a white Classic astronaut and a Blacktron squaddie, and the result doesn’t look too bad, I think.

The mech may be one of my most adventurous yet. I’ve used several techniques that I haven’t tried before, most notably the sloped cockpit section, and I’ve tried to avoid using box-standard Bionicle/HF balljointed limb elements. Ok, mostly this is because a lot of them are in use on several dragons my kids and their cousins have built, but it’s the actually doing it that counts.

The twin rotary stud shooters are inspired by the six-guns of the stereotypical Wild West lawman, and I’ve used a stickered City element to label the mech as police.

On the roof are a pair of lighter guns, with searchlights mounted to aid in urban pacification. Possibly the roof-mounted guns are high-pressure water cannons, but somehow I doubt it. I have serious questions about the effectiveness of water cannons in a space environment. Wouldn’t the water just boil off into the vacuum?

I’m calling the mech the Enforcer-class walker, seeing it as probably one of the Space Police’s primary mechs.

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Muscle Mech

I don’t often build “white period” Classic Space creations.

What I call the “white period” isn’t really a specific time period within the Classic Space proto-theme as such, but refers to the group of secondary colour palettes that ran alongside the “classic” blue/grey/trans yellow. Predominantly white with trans blue windscreen elements, these secondary palettes used blue or grey or sometimes black (like a sort of proto-Futuron) as secondary or accent colours.

It’s not that I don’t have the bricks for it. Between my store of trans blue screen elements acquired from early Bricklink forays and the white bricks garnered from the Sensei Wu dragon, various Elves and Friends sets of my daughters’ and other sets, I’m quite well off for the bricks I’d want in the colours I’d need. No, it’s not that I can’t, more that I prefer the classic blue/grey/trans yellow colours. If I’m going to build a white space creation with blue windows, normally I’ll go ahead and add some black accents and call it Futuron.

What I call the “white period”, then, is something different and out of the ordinary for me. And out of the ordinary is almost always a good thing.

In the vehicular triad of spaceships, rovers and walkers, my last two builds (aside from the little Independence Day windowsill ornament I built) were a Blacktron rover and a Classic Space Federation spaceship. It must therefore be time for a mech.

Still in Classic Space mode (otherwise known as “my normal building mode”) due to enthusiasm over the newest additions to my personal small Astronaut Corps, I elected to build a Classic Space mech, but in the 6929 Starfleet Voyager’s white colour scheme.

Due to some discussions with a friend over the alternate-universe possibility of a heroic Blacktron rebel alliance and a tyrannical Federation, I’ve built something that I think is vaguely ambiguous. It’s heroic white and has a friendly round windscreen, but it also has that hand laser-cannon and cuirass-like chest pseudomusculature. I could see this in either heroic-defender-of-freedom or nasty-instrument-of-oppression role.

The round chest plates are actually one of my favourite parts of this. They were fairly easy to do, but they go along with the windscreen and the upper thighs and some other parts in a whole round-element visual subtext.

As far as naming goes, I’m calling this the “Titan Explorer Mech”, running the ambiguity for all it’s worth between the classic peaceable Federation nature of “Explorer” and the slightly oppressive sound of “Titan”.

I’ve used a green astronaut as the pilot, as the only one of my six (2 red, 2 white, 1 blue and 1 green) Classic astronauts not in use in either the Starfleet Voyager update or the Independence Planet windowsill ornament. I ought to have another green astronaut which I got with the Exo-Suit, but Pete the Robo-Turtle Feeder went missing over 2 years ago before we moved.

Anyway, in the various astronaut suit-colour representational schemes, green astronauts have been variously represented as being mech drivers, support workers, environmental techs and rookie spacemen, but here I’m using him as some sort of space marine or trooper. Or whatever interpretation you want to put on it. After all, they’re only in one set: the Neoclassic Exo-Suit mech. All you can say from that fragmentary evidence is that green suits probably aren’t starpilots.

And just to reverse roles in keeping with my alternate-universe “brightly-coloured tyranny” interpretation of the Classic Space and Blacktron themes, I have the armed Classic Space Titan mech attacking the unarmed Blacktron space truck, defended by a couple of Blacktron spacers who are probably only a couple of stomps away from what the LEGO Message Boards euphemistically used to call “smashed”.

~~~

Planet R-19 was supposed to be a quiet and relatively safe place for the Blacktron rebel alliance to transship goods. Off the beaten path even in the vast, newly-incorporated Ogel Sector, a ten-a-centicred airless world with only a catalogue number and not even the dignity of a proper name, it was well outside the tyrannical Federation’s usual Space Police patrol routes.

Pete Goddard’s intermodal hauler was the first one to arrive at the rendezvous point, where the four containers would be magnetically clamped together into a single heavy-lift vehicle and launched on to one of the Alliance bases on Battraxus or Provine or Caliban III.

For security, Pete didn’t know what was in his own hauler’s container. The four due to be mated together here at Point Sigma had been snuck in to various locations across the dry maria of R-19 and trucked across the dusty basins to the several rendezvous. Pete hoped the others would arrive soon; right now there was only the limited company of the two Blacktron fighters that the Alliance had posted here for security at Point Sigma.

Pete shrugged at the thought. He understood the need for security; the oppressive Space Police were not known for their gentleness with anyone objecting to the iron rule of the Federation and its happy-happy propaganda. But Avi and Sasha were only armed with Centaurian P72 bolt throwers; what were they going to do against a Space P olice Striker-class cruiser?

Or a Titan mech.

The white-hulled Federation “Explorer Mech” – and wasn’t that a joke? – stomped out from the shadow of a big crater less than a klick away and with a full view of the Blacktron haul truck and the two diminutive defenders. A Coreworlder design used as one of the supposedly-civilian Federation Space Service’s main combat mechs, it was theoretically in service all Federation worlds but somehow never seen outside the Core Worlds and Old Earth. Which was particularly strange as the official blurb on the Titan claimed it was designed for the exploration of potentially dangerous new planets, not established Federation Grand Council members like the Core Worlds.

As the Titan mech approached, Pete watched even the brilliant white disappearing into the razor-sharp shadows of the airless world and wondered who had slipped up in the Alliance’s security, that this transshipment point had become known to the Federation.

Or had anyone slipped up? If there had been a security breach, shouldn’t the place be crawling with Space Police stormtroopers and their euphemistically-named Protector-class battle rovers, not just one lone benny in a Fleet mech?

Avi and Sasha aimed their bolters while Pete sat frozen in the limited protection of his hauler’s roll cage. He had nothing to fight with; no defensive guns on his hauler, only a civilian-grade laser more useful for long-distance signalling than combat. Unless something changed in the next twenty seconds, it was about to be all over for Pete Goddard…

Horse de Combat

Ok, this is rather silly.  But people have made LEGO mechs piloted by frogs before, so I’m in good company.

But I don’t think I’ve ever seen a battle mech piloted by a horse before.

I  said once before that I’ve had a long-standing ambition to use the horse element in a spaceship, so perhaps this is where the inspiration came from.  But I really have no idea.  Just another of the weird ideas that pop into my head.

Brass Monkey

the Brass Monkey mark one

the Brass Monkey mark one

LEGO and Steampunk. A match made in, well, if not quite heaven, then at least some sort of Wellsian-themed Buildtopia.

Sooner or later, everyone seems to try their hand at some sort of awesome steam-driven mechanical marvel. In many ways, LEGO is made for it, especially with all the modern colours. Flame orange and gold make acceptable brass substitutes, brown is great for wood, leather and more tarnished brass and bronze, the various greys and metallic silver make excellent steel, pewter and iron finishes. And all of the diverse array of modern greebles are superb theme decorations.

My grandfather worked as a signalman on the railways in the old pre-British Rail days of the London and North-Eastern Railway, and afterwards, so you might say steam is in the blood. His Hornby model railways were never my thing, though; I wanted spaceships and futuristic technology.

I didn’t know about Steampunk back then. Jules Verne and HG Wells were cool, but in my boyish imagination I pulled their creations out of the 19th Century milieu in which they had been set and re-imagined them for the futuristic technology they obviously ought to use. The Martians’ Heat Ray was obviously some kind of laser, while the Nautilus was a high-tech submarine with electric torpedoes and probable nuclear power.

Well, now I know about Steampunk. And it seemed time for a Steampunk-themed LEGO creation.

I seem to have fallen in love with LEGO ball joints. My daughter has the Kai’s Fire Mech set, my son has the Forest Creatures set and I have the 31032 Red Creatures set, so we have quite a few of them now. And what I’m particularly struck with are the mech-building possibilities.

So, a Steampunk mech? You bet!

062This didn’t start out as necessarily a Steampunk creation, though it didn’t take me long to decide to push it in that direction. We have a lot of brown, grey and black bricks, and the gold from Kai’s Fire Mech. It just seemed to call out to be Steampunkified.

Brown for the feet, then, with gold and black highlights.

Use the bare Bionicle double-ended ball holders for the arms and legs, without adding the red cover parts that Kai’s mech uses.

2×2 horizontal half-cylinders on the back as piston or boiler parts.

Hmm. Still needs more Steampunk.

Hey, here are those pewtery Castle wheels from my daughter’s Gold Getaway set! Maybe… Flywheels!

After that it was just a case of adding more greebles.

Horse harness becomes organ-pipe steam funnels. The tall cylinders with the handles become – well, originally I think they were going to be funnels, but now I think they’re piston housings. Hanging chains, because why not?

I’d have liked to have all-gold fingers, but we don’t own that many. Perhaps I might spend some of my birthday money on Pick-a-Brick…

Still, here it is: my first LEGO Steampunk creation.

063

Side view

As far as naming goes, I thought about calling it the “Spindle”, because of the flywheels, but that didn’t seem quite right. Then the name “Brass Monkey” slipped into my conscious mind and said “This is what this mech is called”.

Rear view

Rear view

It makes sense. As a sort of Steampunk ancestor of a Tony Stark “Iron Man” suit, both “Brass” and “Monkey” seem to work.

This, then, is the Mark One Brass Monkey. Driven, I decided, by a character by the name of Lady Paracelsus, from a Steampunk story I started to write a while back.

065

After the Brass Monkey was completed, I got given the wonderful LEGO Ideas Exo-Suit for my birthday on Friday. So here is Yve in the Exo-Suit, waving hello to her fellow mech-driver Lady Paracelsus in the Exo-Suit’s Steampunk ancestor.

Meet the Ancestors!  Exo-Suit meets its steampunk predecessor

Meet the Ancestors! Exo-Suit meets its steampunk predecessor

Enjoy!

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.

Welcome to the Saurian Sector

Once you start down the path of merging Classic Space Lego with dinosaur inspiration, forever will it dominate your destiny. Or in other words, I’ve been making more of these things.

My original dinomech, the VLC Raptor, was effectively a test piece for the whole concept. I think it’s a fun idea, but even I can recognise that from an objective future-history point of view it makes only slightly more sense than Transformers Dinobots. Why would people from the galactic future model their space hardware after extinct reptiles from Earth?

I’m ignoring this question, for the same reason that no-one seems to ask why it’s a good idea for alien robots to be able to disguise themselves as giant metal dinosaurs. Cool makes its own sense.

I’ve continued on with making my Neoclassic Space dino-hardware. Terrestrial vehicles modelled on dinosaurs is, once you have the initial concept, pretty straightforward. Robot dinosaurs with cockpits. Zoids, but in Lego, and with a Classic Space vibe. Tyrannosaurus mechs and Mechaceratops and Seismechosaurus.

But what about the spaceships?

Spaceships modelled on pterosaurs would perhaps be the most intuitive approach, and it has something to recommend it. Winged, pterodactyloid spacecraft soaring through deep space… But mechanical pterosaurs somehow seemed more Steampunk than Classic Space, and I just wasn’t being very inspired. Also, the ships would end up all looking very much alike despite being vastly different sizes.

Then it occurred to me that most sci-fi spacegoing organisations are structured as navies: (Starfleet, the Imperial Fleet, the Rebel Fleet etc). So why not a marine reptile?

My initial inspiration, but finished more recently, was what has become the Pliosaur-class. Then I created a smaller ship. So now I have two dinomechs and two spaceships, and ideas for many more.

All I needed was a backstory. And perhaps, given how well-armed my hardware is by comparison to the regular old Classic Space sets, an adversary.

In my initial design decision to go with a Neoclassic Space feel, and in the details of creating the various ships and mechs that I have, I’ve begun to piece together some of the backstory. For example, the “VLC” in “VLC Raptor” initially existed to complete the thought of VeLoCiRaptor, but I decided that it made a great manufacturer designation and created the VLC Corporation. Also for example, the stuff is Classic or Neoclassic Space Lego, thus, it’s in the same universe as sets like the 928 Space Cruiser and Moonbase (known as the Galaxy Explorer in the US) and the 918 One-Man Spaceship, and presumably the 6930 Space Supply Station and its ilk as well. Whether this is precisely the same universe as Peter Reid’s book Lego Space: Building the Future is a slightly more open question, because I don’t know how “official” his future history is, and I don’t yet have the book anyway.

I’ve almost certainly made a lot of different assumptions than Peter Reid did, but this is my corner of the Classic Space universe. I decided that, given the dinosaur subtheme, “the Saurian Sector” had a nicely appropriate ring to it as a milieu.

So welcome to the Saurian Sector.


The discovery of what came to be known as the Saurian Sector presented Space Fleet Command with new challenges and opportunities.

On the one hand, the Saurian Sector contained the only known naturally-occurring sources of the energy-rich crystalline mineral Mesozorium. The lesser form Protozorium was known from other Sectors, though even that was rare, but the refining process of converting Protozorium to the more valuable and useful Mesozorium was both costly and time-consuming.

The Saurian Sector, however, contained a number of planets with apparently naturally-occurring Mesozorium seams.

View over planet Ankylo in the Saurian Sector

View over planet Ankylo in the Saurian Sector

On the other hand, the Sector included many planets with terrain so harsh as to defeat many of the wheeled surface vehicles that Space Fleet Command regularly relied upon, necessitating the development of an entirely new inventory of planetary vehicles. In addition, much of the Sector was contested space. The hostile Cephalon Dominion was also expanding into the Sector, and the competing claims remained a source of tension and conflict for many years.

The ever-present Cephalon threat led to the development of a new generation of space vehicles alongside the new ground vehicles. Individual Federation Sector Commands had always been given wide latitude to design and build their own spacecraft and other equipment as needed, so long as it conformed to basic technological standards. But few Sector Commands had ever contemplated as complete a replacement of standard equipment as Saurian Sector Command now found themselves doing. Even venerable and ubiquitous ship types like the old LL928 series Galaxy Explorer were replaced by alternates like the LL1028 series Saurian Sector Explorer.

The LL1028-series "Pliosaur" spaceship replaces the old LL928-series in the Saurian Sector

The LL1028-series “Pliosaur” spaceship replaces the old LL928-series in the Saurian Sector

Space Fleet Command raised no objections to the sweeping equipment changes that Sector Admiral Jael Thera was making, however. The fact of the matter was that a number of the old, weakly-armed Galaxy Explorer ships had disappeared, presumed destroyed, along the edges of what was known to be Cephalon space. An upgunned space exploration fleet was a perceived necessity.

Besides, the mining and extraction of the Sector’s Mesozorium reserves was a great prize, and easily covered the development and retraining costs.

Joining the LL1028 series Saurian Sector Explorer (“Pliosaur-class”) ships were the LL1024 series Transporter (“Nothosaur-class”) and LL1018 series space fighter (“Plesiosaur-class”). Even Space Fleet Command’s larger vessels saw general replacement in the Saurian Sector: the main Fleet vessels were the Ichthyosaur-class space frigate, the Mosasaur-class battlecruiser and the big Leedsichthys-class carrier.

The LL1018-series "Plesiosaur" serves as a space fighter and general-purpose single-crew spaceship

The LL1018-series “Plesiosaur” serves as a space fighter and general-purpose single-crew spaceship

On the planetary surface, Saurian Sector Command utilised a number of walking, legged vehicles known as dinomechs, produced by the VLC Corporation, as well as vehicles like the Trilobite hovertruck and Ankylocrawler mobile Mesozorium-mining station.

The VLC Troodon is the smallest dinomech made by the Corporation

The VLC Troodon is the smallest dinomech made by the Corporation

The Trilobite: A small hover transport used in the Sector

The Trilobite: A small hover transport used in the Sector