Tag Archives: MOC

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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Dark Pegasus

Believe it or not, this creation was originally going to be a steampunk mech.

Her Majesty’s Aetheric Ship “Dark Pegasus”

I was inspired by the large mechs of the Ninjago Movie to build a big mech of my own with a steampunk twist, using my twin Coruscant planet elements as boilers or fuel tanks.

Alas, actually beginning to build the thing I realised that I wasn’t building remotely big enough and the planet boilers looked oversized and ridiculous.

But modifying the attachment setup I’d intended to use for the planet sections as twin boilers, I found a rather nice-looking claw-held arrangement for a single planet sphere forming under my hands. And while it wasn’t really going to work as part of a steam-mecha, it had “steam-powered space dreadnought” written all over it in large, friendly letters. And who am I to argue with Fate?

Continuing to build, it was obvious fairly quickly that my limited stocks of brown weren’t up to building the size of spacegoing ironclad this was shaping up to be, so I added black into the mix.

Black and dark grey with pearl gold enhancements was the colour scheme I had in mind for the hypothetical “Dark Pegasus” SHIP I’ve been alluding to the planning of for some time now, and I just bought, among other elements, the pearl gold wings I need. Could I really pull it off? Build the SHIP I’ve been contemplating? And as a steampunk build?

Dark Pegasus wasn’t conceived as specifically a steampunk starship, but it always had a definite baroque flavour. How else was I going to get away with the massive painted Pegasus figurehead that gives it its name? But as conceived it was always fairly easily steampunkable. I decided to give it a go.

The placement of the horse element, which I’ve been wanting to use in a spaceship build for years now, moved from my original concept of a bow-mounted figurehead to a piece of decorative statuary atop the main hull. The claw-held planet element prow necessitated some redesign work, but the result is still channeling the same spirit of a large mostly-black spaceship with the sort of approach to decoration that makes a figurehead reasonable.

Many of the other design elements of my original idea find their expression here not substantially altered. The gold wings, reprising the flight membranes of the Sensei Wu dragon in black rather than white, still grace the flanks of the warship. The massive cannons of the ship’s mighty broadside are still the cup-and-ball sponson mounts I had envisaged. Various portions of the vessel still bristle with pearl gold decorative elements: gleaming brasswork enhancing the appearance and potentially the functioning of the ship.

In order to surpass the 100-stud official SHIP barrier, I needed more than just black and gold as livery colours. The dark grey and brown are structural; the latter perhaps signifying a more tarnished bronze, or even wood. Without adding too many colours, I needed to eke out my supply of black elements to achieve SHIP status.

Though I’d initially contemplated dark red as a suitably dark, barbaric addition to the colour palette for the original non-steampunk Dark Pegasus, I decided when it came to it to use dark blue instead. It’s a darker colour than dark red, and the combination worked well for Ninjago’s ghost faction. In lower light conditions it even looks like pure black.

The Revised Steampunk Version of the Dark Pegasus seems to have broken my usual habit of wanting to build a creation all in one session, too. Built over a period of most of a week, it’s all the better for it, as I took several days mentally planning various things out in order to get everything right.

At 106 studs (39 3/4 inches or 101cm) long, Dark Pegasus is my second official SHIP and my first in the steampunk genre. Apparently even in Steampunk I’m still Benny enough that my impulse is to Build A Spaceship.

~~~

Propelled by three aetheric propellers and armed with a variety of heatray weapons, space howitzers and long guns, HMS Dark Pegasus is one of the Minotaur-class fleet flagships of Her Majesty’s Royal Space Navy. Each one decorated with a massive painted steel statue of its namesake, the seven ships of the class serve as flag vessels of the seven principal fleets of the RSN, cowing their adversaries as much with the spectacle of their impressive visual design as with shells and heatrays.

Dark Pegasus’ navy blue trim on her space-black RSN hull paint signifies that she is the flagship of the Sixth Fleet, based in the Uranian planetary sphere and headquartered in Her Majesty’s spacedock in orbit around the moon Oberon.

The underslung shiplike structure is a heavy landing-craft for use on the chill, oily seas of Oberon, enabling supplies and personnel to be easily transferred between the Fleet and the surface.

Most of the Uranian moons have some sort of liquid surface [OOC: at least in the altered reality of this steampunk-space universe], so the maritime form of ship’s boat is the customary type in the Sixth Fleet.

The ball-like structure at the prow of the vessel is often assumed to be decorative, like the similar globe atop the central hull, but in fact both are useful equipment: nodes of the ship’s sphere-penetrating Bassenfeldt drive allowing the ship to pass the aetheric barriers between the orbital spheres of the Sun’s family of planets.

LEGOtiel

Readers of my other blog may remember that our household recently acquired a cockatiel.

Chewie likes LEGO. Specifically, Chewie likes to chew all the tiny elements that look like brightly-coloured food.

Initially we thought Chewie was a boy bird, but a couple of weeks ago she started laying eggs. So she’s a Chewbeaka, not a Chewbacca.

Apparently tiels kept as pets will normally lay eggs a couple of times a year even without a male bird to fertilise them, but they say you have to let them sit on the eggs for around 21 days otherwise they’ll keep on laying trying to replace the lost eggs, and that’s bad for their health.

Anyway, wanting to build something that wasn’t a spaceship I was casting around for something to build when those long grey rotor blade elements caught my eye and made me think of tail feathers.

LEGO Chewie doesn’t look nearly as good from the front, somehow, but I’m unsure what I can do about it. I think it’s that the head is too wide, or possibly the body is too small relative to the head, but from the side it looks fine. Judicious selection of camera angles and you’ll never know. Shhh!

The wings move quite a bit but they aren’t the most stable or robust design, so they have a tendency to fall off. All hail AFOL building techniques. The head moves… incrementally. There’s a balljoint in there, but the visual requirements of building a cockatiel necessitated an extremely restricted amount of movement.

If I had any light yellow, a cockatiel build would have been the perfect place to use it, but I don’t. Even using regular bright yellow would have meant a very different, studdier and more angular build, but thankfully cockatiels are variable enough in plumage that the LEGOtiel is still basically accurate.

Stand By Ion Control…

The giant Rebel ion cannon of planet Hoth was iconic enough that it got a Ralph McQuarrie painting all to itself. Not bad for less than two minutes of screen time in The Empire Strikes Back.

It occurred to me that the cup-and-ball cannon mounts might make a pretty good microscale version of the Star Destroyer-disabling planetary defence cannon. All that was needed was to enclose it somehow in an ice-carved turret.

I think 2×3 wing elements might have worked better for the enclosing turret, but I don’t have enough of those in white, and any other colour would look silly.

Even with all the white in use on my Ice Planet battle fleet, I still had enough left over to build a small baseplate and surround. And I put some transparent bricks together to simulate its firing, too.

This isn’t a huge or complex model, and I’m too impatient to wait for a Bricklink order of 2×3 left wings to make it look better. The toothed elements aren’t too bad; at least they add to the icy look.

Anyway, here it is. Enjoy.

Into the Mesozoic…

I have no idea why Stegosaurus is my favourite dinosaur.

I mean, I love my heroes to be men and women of wit and skill rather than sheer mindless brawn. The mentor/wise counsel type characters are often personal favourites. How does that work to then turn around and love a dinosaur that has a brain about the size of a chicken mcnugget?

I suspect it’s my general liking for misunderstood creatures. The sloth, the warthog (so ugly it’s cute), the weasel (lithe grace combined with unparalleled ferocity)…

The Stegosaurus seems to fit right in with that.

(Hey! I just realised that this spellchecker knows the word “Stegosaurus”! That’s pretty cool!)

It’s been theorised that since the Stegosaurs’ bony back plates were attached to the skin rather than jointed to the skeleton, that they might have been far more mobile than previously suspected. It’s currently a controversial theory, as I gather, but I must say I rather like the idea that the plates might have folded down to protect the creature’s back and sides in combat.

Computer reconstructions of the Stegosaurs also show that they had far more flexibility in their vertebral columns and tails than most other dinosaurs – an adaptation for swinging that thagomizer around? Yes, there’s a specific word for the stegosaurs’ clusters of tail spikes. Because they’re that awesome.

So, extreme flexibility, special weapons, origami armour – this is sounding more and more like a sort of dinosaur Ninja.

I can respect that. You should, too.

And as for the small brain, maybe it just didn’t need a large one for its lifestyle. It’s a herbivore. How much brain does it take to sneak up on a tree fern? Dinosaurs are supposed to be related to birds, and avians seem to be quite capable enough even with tiny brains. No-one messes with an ostrich, and that’s a pea-brain.

~~~

So I built a Stegosaurus. The tail’s not nearly as flexible as it ought to be, and the legs are a little chunky, but I actually managed to stagger the plates a bit. And they’ll fold down over the back for that origami armour look.

Only Stegosaurus itself of all the stegosaurs has its back plates staggered. In every other member of the family they’re neatly paired. I have no clue why that is.

Krystovian Task Force 02

Following on from last time’s small Ice Planet battle fleet, I present further expansions to the Krystovian Naval Command.

The extensions to the Krystovian space fleet

I reworked KNS Nordica into a second Jotun-class vessel, just to have at least a couple of ships beyond really tiny ones that are ostensibly in the same class. That necessitated a reworking of the frigate Snowbird, but I think I prefer this version. There’s a new destroyer-sized vessel, the battle transport Kodiak, and I added a couple of cruiser-sized vessels midway between KNS Sword of Winter and the destroyers.

Finally, I built a trio of corvettes on a different design to the Mammal-class.

Ready? Here goes…

~~~

KNS Nanuk

Lyran Corax-class cruiser

With the expansion of the Vertex shipyards at Zycon-IV, the Stellar Republic of Krysto intends to gradually phase out its foreign-built cruisers and battlecruisers as the new Frostblade-class battlecruisers and Valhalla-class cruisers finish construction.

For the moment, however, the KNC’s cruiser complement is filled by a mix of Federation, Blacktron and other designs, such as KNS Nanuk, an ex-Lyran design produced by one of the largest of the several buffer states. The Corax-class may be based on a modified copy of the Blacktron Reiver-class, though the Lyran government deny this.

KNS Ilmarinen

Refitted Federation Apollo-class cruiser

After the controversial Apollo-class were withdrawn from Federation service, all six ships were acquired by the Stellar Republic of Krysto.

Refitted in the Vertex shipyards, the vessels were renamed after Finnish mythological characters and entered service with the KNC.

Though weak in terms of primary armament by the standnrds of modern warships, the Apollos have extensive secondary armaments and point defence grids, making them superb fighter- and missile-defence ships.

KNS Aegir

Jotun-class destroyer

Another of the Jotun-class, KNS Aegir follows the same design as the more famous KNS Ymir.

KNS Kodiak

Kodiak-class battle transport

With the increasingly proactive and internationally-engaged posture of the Krystovian government in recent years, a need was felt for a planetary assault vessel of a sort.

Both Federation and Blacktron ships were looked at, but both the Federation’s Myrmidon-class and the Blacktron Alliance’s Genghis-class are large, battlecruiser-sized vessels designed to transport huge numbers of troops at once; too large and expensive for the KNC to operate on an ongoing basis.

The solution was the destroyer-sized Kodiak-class of pocket planetary assault ships, or “battle transports”, as they are designated.

KNS Aurora

Icefire-class frigate

The first flight of the Icefire-class are generally considered handsomer vessels than their second-flight counterparts like KNS Snowbird, but the second-flight ships have slightly greater available volume for ship’s systems and supplies. KNS Aurora was the second ship of the class built after KNS Icefire herself.

KNS Laptev

Kara-class frigate

The older Kara-class frigates were the main domestically-built frigate class before the introduction of the Icefires, and many of the class are still in service.

Sleeker and faster than the newer class but far less capable otherwise, the Karas are generally used as scoutships and fast patrol vessels.

KNS Gaspar

KNS Balthazar

KNS Melchior

Blacktron Tribal-class corvettes

The three Tribal-class corvettes here were acquired together from the Blacktron Alliance when the Alliance withdrew the last of its corvettes from service.

They are typically used as customs patrol vessels and couriers.

~~~

The entire Krystovian fleet as built at present.

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.