Tag Archives: Neoclassic Space

Galactic Fleet Voyaging

LL206 Diomedes and her squadron

Apparently Neoclassic creations are like buses: you wait all day and then two come along at once.

I built the big one of these first, aiming for a vessel that would be of substantial size even if not actually the biggest I could build.

At a mere 50 studs in length, this is no Seriously Huge Investment in Pieces, but it represents my largest Neoclassic microship to date, and I think my largest microscale creation of any kind. Which is pretty pitiful beside some of the monster vessels which grace the Internet, but I hold this truth in reserve: I could actually build something bigger, and in Classic Space livery colours, too.

It’s helped in its size achievement by being mostly conventionally-built (SNOT construction is brick-intensive), but for all its largely old-fashioned technique it looks pretty good. At least from the top.

“Goose-necked” ships like this have a long pedigree in LEGO, going back all the way to the Starfleet Voyager of 1980 and rising up through the Galaxy Commander, FT Laser Craft and so on. I guess it’s a cost-effective way to make a ship that looks suitably large and impressive.

The overall configuration of this is vaguely reminiscent of the old Starfleet Voyager (though the twin-pronged bow section is more like the Galaxy Commander). It wasn’t built as a deliberate echo or homage, but apparently there are only so many basic ship configurations out there.

Still, the name of the Starfleet Voyager might provide something like a decent derivation for a class name.

The smaller escorting vessel was built afterwards, as I looked at the pile of blue, grey and trans yellow leftovers and thought “I could have built bigger after all”.

I’ve maintained a similar design ethos so that the two ships feel like they’re part of a unified fleet with common basic features, and it was rather fun to build a “similar but different” vessel like this. And then I went smaller again for the corvettes.

As far as scale goes, I’m thinking this is a decent-sized vessel. I’m using a rough scale of one plate thickness per storey, so with a 3.5m storey height including between-decks space for power conduits and ducts and so on, that makes each stud length 8.75m long. This gives a total vessel length of 437.5m, or 1435ft.

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The Voyager-class star cruiser LL206 Diomedes is a member of the third flight of that class, named after heroes of the Trojan War, following on from the first of the fifth-flight ships, LL198 Odysseus. It is a medium-large vessel, one of the smallest to receive the designation of “capital ship”, though in truth it only fulfils this function in the outer colonies, where fleets are composed of smaller and more versatile vessels. In the full Federation wedge-of-battle, ships like the Diomedes are more like heavy screening elements beside behemoths like the Sovereign of Space-class dreadnought.

The third flight Voyagers replace the ventral pulse cannon turret with a twin-mounted penetrator cannon turret, adding to the two forward-firing penetrator cannons already mounted on the sides of the forward hull. The so-called “penetrator cannon” is an energy-intensive meson-decay weapon able to fire through an opponent’s shields. The rest of the primary armament remains unchanged from the second flight: three twin-mounted pulse cannon turrets and six capital missile tubes in broadsides of three apiece.

Diomedes and her sisters fire the XT-13 Werewolf capital missile, whose centrally-augmented fire control allows off-beam targeting to the extent that all six missile tubes may be fired at a single opponent even in front of or behind the ship.

For secondary weapons, the Voyager-class is well equipped, as befits the class’ colonial role where individual ships must often act alone and unsupported. The Diomedes‘ secondary antimissile lasers are invisible at this scale, but provide a good all-around defensive capability against fighters and missiles.

Like all Federation starships, the Diomedes maintains both interstellar hyperspace drives and sublight impellers. The physics of hyperspace field generation requires the Ilion field generators to be located at the ship’s broadest point perpendicular to the main axis, where they generate the ring-shaped gateway field which forms the entry-point into Ilion hyperspace.

Situated at the stern of the ship are the vessel’s sublight impellers. Though in form reminiscent of the ancient reaction thrusters by which Humanity made their first forays into space, the impeller drive is a reactionless pseudogravity-magnetic drive system requiring little actual fuel beyond that used for the ship’s main power reactors.

Diomedes‘ primary weakness is its limited integral small craft capacity. The main hangar ports are located ventrally on the after hull and mostly support the class’ various landing shuttles and pinnaces, but the ship does carry a half-squadron (six ships) of small one-man fightercraft, usually older designs like the Viper and Corsair.

Escorting the Diomedes here is LL3242 Scamander, a River-class light cruiser named after the principal of the seven rivers of Troy.

Doctrinally, the River-class are intended as fleet escorts, designed to screen larger capital vessels from attack by small fighters or missiles. Accordingly, while they bristle with light-calibre antimissile and antifighter lasers invisible at this scale, their sole primary armament is a pair of twin-mounted ion cannon turrets and a heavy laser cluster cannon located dorsally amidships.

With their designated role as fleet escorts, the River-class’ fire control system and sensor net are designed to be tied into that of the fleet, allowing them to provide coordinated missile defence to several capital ships.

Also flying in LL206 Diomedes‘ ad hoc squadron are two small Dagger-class corvettes, Falx and Shuriken, each armed with a single laser cluster turret. Corvettes are the smallest Federation vessels to bear an Ilion hyperdrive unit; their primary role is as light scouts or couriers.

Eat My Moondust

It seems like a while since I built a space rover, and apparently my son saying he was going to build the Bat-Dune Buggy from the LEGO Batman Movie struck a responsive chord with me.

This doesn’t look especially like the classic dune buggy lines, but the underlying chassis with the wheels on the ends of Technic-built struts seems very dune buggy-esque.

So with its partial dune-buggy ancestry, Moondust seems like an appropriate name for this rover.

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The Moondust-class space rover is one of the smallest Federation rover classes to feature an enclosed cockpit. Built along old-style dune buggy lines, the cockpit canopy helps to prevent the dust kicked up by the wheels from caking onto the outside of the driver’s spacesuit.

The rover is a basically unarmed command and exploration rover with space for a single crewmember. The large engineering section houses an extended-range power plant, high-powered communications gear and life support equipment useful for both exploration and command-and-control.

Large wheels provide traction on rugged planetary and lunar surfaces, and the independent active suspension gives a smooth ride in almost all terrain regimes.

Making Strides Forward

For all that I love the Blacktron, Classic Space is still what first drew me to LEGO and really made me love it. I’d have enjoyed LEGO if the Space theme hadn’t existed (I’d have been a Castle fan instead) but the fact that it was spaceships and travel to other planets sealed the deal for me.

So naturally, coming back to LEGO as an adult, my first impulse is still to Build A Spaceship. Benny from the LEGO Movie strikes a chord with me; like him, I find that the answer to a lot of problems could well be “build a spaceship”. Need to get somewhere really fast? Build a really fast spaceship! Need to protect yourself? Build a really shooty armoured spaceship! Relationship trouble? Build a spaceship together! Building a spaceship makes you happy, and working together on something will help solve or alleviate the issue.

For all that, though, I still face limitations in my building. I’m not going to be building any Seriously Huge Investments in Pieces any time soon, unfortunately; though I might be able to technically pull something off it would be a really crappy looking Rainbow Warrior, and just no.

The problem is that while our household has a reasonable array of colours with which to build, the amount of bricks in any one colour is not huge, especially by AFOL standards. I’m nearer the low end of the economic ladder than the top, and I don’t feel I can reasonably justify laying out $200+ for any of the huge sets with the really large elements and numerous minifigures that are so useful for that sort of large-scale building. When I buy LEGO bricks, it’s not in the huge job lots I would need for vast SNOTwork landscapes or 100-stud-plus-long starships.

So this smallish space fighter represents my largest Neoclassic creation to date. Even at microscale it hasn’t really got any bigger than this yet.

The thing is, SNOT-type shipbuilding is more piece-intensive than conventional building, and while my collection of blue is growing, it’s in no way to be considered large. The decision to build this with all-SNOT construction was the right one artistically, but it did stretch my piece inventory (surprisingly, in the smallest bricks like 1×1 blue plates).

Still, it’s turned out rather nice. As AFOL-built Neoclassic ships go I guess it’s pretty vanilla, but as a stepping-stone to hopefully greater things it’ll certainly work.

After toying with several different names (it was nearly the Oberon-class or the Andromeda-class) I’m going with Telcontar-class Space Superiority Fighter. Bonus points if you can catch the reference!

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The Telcontar-class is a series of transatmospheric space superiority fighters of the Federation. On the larger side for the agile space superiority type, unlike many such vessel classes the Telcontar comes with wings and transatmospheric engines enabling operation from atmosphered planets as well as airless moons, starbases and space carriers.

Much of the “extra” mass, in fact, is concerned with such systems, particularly the extra reaction mass needed to attain escape velocity from planets with sufficient gravity to support an atmosphere.

This gives orbitally- and transorbitally-launched Telcontars an acceleration and/or range advantage over space fighters not designed to land, although most of those have a manoeuvre advantage over winged, atmosphere-capable ships.

The robust design, operational versatility and comparatively high armament ratio make the Telcontar-class a favourite with colonial space forces, and most Telcontars bear the blue and grey livery of the Federation’s Colonial Space Fleet rather than the black and blue of the centralised Space Police fleet or the predominantly white “Futuron Fleet” of the Federation Core Worlds.

The Telcontars’ primary armament of four heavy lasers and six secondary proton cannons (including two rear-facing) make it one of the few Colonial Fleet space fighters able to go toe-to-toe with Space Police Vipers; in inter-service wargame exercises, this fact has earned the “second class” Colonial Fleet a grudging respect.

Shrike-class Interceptor

Introducing the Shrike-class Interceptor. As what may be a first for me, I’m posting it here first before I show it on LEGO.com.

The Shrike-class Interceptor

The Shrike-class Interceptor


The Shrike is a two-seater high-performance spacecraft of the Federation, used by both Space Fleet and the Space Police. Its distinctive angled, semicircular wing configuration makes it fairly recogniseable, and whether they are dealing with the Fleet version or the Police version, enemies of the Federation find it one of the most formidable small- to medium-sized ships in space.

After aspect of the Shrike showing the engines

After aspect of the Shrike showing the engines

Two powerful engines drive the ship through space at high velocities, and though its agility is merely respectable, the Shrike’s high burst speed and capability of high sustained speeds (due to its high-capacity fuel tank) make it an excellent pursuit craft. Indeed, the Space Police typically refer to Shrikes simply as “Pursuit Ships”.

Space Police version of the Shrike

Space Police version of the Shrike

The Federation bureaucracy is not always very imaginative when it comes to the naming of ships, and the Shrike-class is one of the worst offenders. Its official designation is the bureaucratically bland “Two-Man Fast Orbiter”, though even on official Federal documentation it is typically known by its common name of “Shrike-class Interceptor”.

Shrike Interceptor 6

The vessel is armed with a pair of powerful beam lasers (occasional refits may use proton cannons) in the downward-angled wing sections. The standard laser armament is powerful enough to deal with most threats, whether Blacktron strike craft or large rogue asteroids.

Shrike Interceptor 9

High-powered particle screens prevent impact damage from micrometeorite strikes and other small space debris; these are stronger than on most ships this size and add to the craft’s high velocity envelope.

Shrike Interceptor 8

The cockpit seats two crewmembers in relative comfort; a plus for the extended patrols and pursuits sometimes flown by the Space Police. The seats are staggered, with the forward crewmember seated lower than the rear crewmember. This allows both pilots excellent visibility, and allows the ship to be effectively piloted from either position.

Behind the cockpit section, the Shrike includes a small cargo area accessed via a dorsal hatch. Though too small for a prisoner without constituting Cruel and Unusual Punishment, it can be used to stow a variety of mission gear or tools and supplies.

Shrike Interceptor 3

The Shrike‘s main drawback is that the high-performance nature of the craft requires frequent maintenance, making the craft unsuitable for exploration missions beyond the limits of proper Fleet and Police basing.


This ship is something of a personal milestone for me.

Up to this point I’ve never really liked or got into the Space Police. I remember them from my youth as the guys that more or less ended LEGO Space as I knew it. As a kid, I wanted interstellar (or at the very least interplanetary) adventures on distant worlds, seeking out new life and new civilisations, not some kind of galactic law enforcement. If you wanted to play police, that’s what Town was for. Bringing in Space Police seemed like it was taking everything I loved about the Space theme and junking it to make it more like Town.

Shrike Interceptor 5

Also, it was with the advent of the Space Police that the awesome first-generation Blacktron fleet went from intriguing second human presence in space to cookie-cutter bad guy. I liked them “different but not necessarily opposed”.

It’s taken me until now to get over that initial rejection of the idea of Space Police, but apparently I’m over it now to the point where I’m willing to make a Space Police model, even if it’s just a recoloured version of the Classic Space one.

And it looks so handsome in that blue-and-black livery with its transparent red windows that I might just make some more Space Police stuff.

Though what I’d really like to do is make the Classic Space Shrike in real bricks. I’ll have to price it up and investigate…

B.U.N.N.I.E. Suit

I seem to be wanting to make mechs at the moment.  Here’s another one, also in the “Space Construction” line, though more general-purpose:

 

Construction BUNNIE Suit

Construction BUNNIE Suit

The BUNNIE Suit is a type of construction equipment having no parallel in 21st Century construction. Sometimes called a “mechsuit”, it is a mech-type vehicle that is worn rather than piloted; a strength-augmenting exoskeleton used to make light of much of the heavy lifting of the construction industry. The acronym stands for Basic Utility Neural Net Interfacing Exoskeleton; however, most authorities agree that this is an after-the-fact name derived from the rabbit-ear-like antennae projecting above the pilot’s head. It is a matter of record that the first test pilots jokingly referred to it as a “bunny suit” due to the appearance of the antennae.

 

Mechsuit 2 Mechsuit 1Useful for heavy lifting in enclosed spaces where even a small mech will not fit, BUNNIE Suited construction workers move and place all kinds of parts and equipment, operate laser welders and plasma saws, lay control fiberoptics and power lines, and perform many of the smaller-scale tasks of the space construction site.

Mechsuit

The suit is also useful in all kinds of other environments, even existing as a Space Fleet Command version, the so-called “Tactical BUNNIE Suit”:

Tactical BUNNIE Suit

Tactical BUNNIE Suit

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.

Type 7 Miner-Explorer (“Wombat”)

 

The Wombat

The Wombat

The Wombat (officially the “Type 7 Miner-Explorer”, though it is rarely called that) is a mobile mining and exploration vehicle used in the Neoclassic Space Federation for mineralogical and planetological survey work, including the drilling of preliminary bores prior to actual extraction and exploitation of the ores in question.

Type 7 miner-explorer 1

It features a pair of below-ground scanning devices utilising seismographic equipment, subsurface radar and more penetrative forms of radiation to build up a 3D tectonic and geological map of its immediate area. At the rear is the main drilling rig, on which a pair of hand-held geo-scanners are mounted for transport. The drill itself is mounted on a turntable and multi-jointed arm for ease of transition between drilling and travel modes.

Type 7 miner-explorer 2

Also mounted at the rear are a pair of articulated grabber arms for handling of more volatile samples; these are conveniently located next to the sample boxes amidships.

Type 7 miner-explorer 3

Space miners Hal Burgess and Cutter Vance in the cockpit area. Dale Brickholm is at the back.

 

The Wombat carries a crew of three in a single forward cockpit. There is a hatch leading from the cockpit to the drill arm area, and the entire front of the cockpit (including the steering console column) swings up for easy access, revealing a ladder mounted on the lower hull.

Type 7 miner-explorer 4

Miner Dale Brickholm operates the drill

 


 

This was a fun model to make. I’ve been wanting an excuse to use the big curved cockpit shield for ages.

This is still definitely a Neoclassic Space vehicle, and is certainly used in the Saurian Sector where all my dino-themed Neoclassic creations are set, but it doesn’t have a dino name. It’s more of a semi-civilian vehicle, and the miners themselves are civilians. I imagine a lot of this sort of specialised work happens under the aegis of Space Fleet Command but not actually performed by Fleet personnel, and I’ve used this excuse to mess around with established Classic Space suit colours to create a new combination. The Dark Stone Grey/Medium Nougat combination is going to represent space miners, at least in my corner of the Classic Space universe. And I used the half-hemisphere visor in transparent brown to further distinguish them from proper Fleet personnel.