Tag Archives: Neoclassic Space

Rebel Without An Atmosphere

Technically, motorbikes probably have limited utility in outer space. You may be dealing with lower gravity, you’re almost certainly dealing with rugged, unfriendly landforms, and there’s no air to enable your infernal combustion engine to work, so you have to use something like electric power, which just refuses to growl menacingly in that macho, Hell’s Angels kind of way. You can’t feel the wind whistling in your hair when you’re in a spacesuit and there’s no air for there to be wind in. Really, if you’re going to have wheels at all, a buggy is so much more practical.

Nonetheless, have a space motorbike.

It’s built way too low to the ground for practicality on a rugged unexplored planet, and it actually looks like it has exhausts, but work with me here.

Probably those exhausts are micro-probe launchers or something, and maybe it’s for biking on a really flat planet. Whatever.  Space bikes may be technically silly, but I’m sure some future neo-biker will make one anyway, if we ever get out there.

Anyway, I built a space scout bike, and here I am telling you how foolish an idea it is. It’s a relatively small, simple model of a kind I haven’t built all that much recently, and I’m sure others have already built the same sort of thing only better. Still, motorbikes that a minifigure can ride on aren’t the easiest things to construct without making some approximations for the sake of bricks and playability.

She Blinded Me With Science

The Classic Space proto-theme featured all kinds of non-combat land vehicles. Back then, the LEGO Group held a much harder line against violent and combative toys, and Classic Space was all about cooperation and exploration rather than the factions and fighting that characterise practically all of its modern themes (Ninjago and Nexo Knights have their conflicts, Star Wars and the Superhero lines have their good guys and bad guys, and even City has its police and criminals). So there were any number of mobile science labs and seismological research vehicles and satellite tracking stations and the like. It was what they did.

Modern Neoclassic Space creations are often a bit more warlike. Being fan creations, they don’t worry so much about Ole Kirk Christiansen’s dictum that war is not something for children’s toys, so you find Neoclassic Space and Neo-Futuron space fighters and tanks and battlecruisers and the like.

But you also find the science vehicles as well.

Mobile Science Station

This small Mobile Science Station is firmly in that tradition. Crewed by two white astronauts (my research into how the different suit colours were portrayed leads me to believe the white astronauts are primarily scientists whereas the red astronauts are primarily pilots and drivers), it features a bubble-canopied driver’s station and an articulated rear section with an interior laboratory and a dish antenna atop the roof.

I think one of my favourite parts of this is the round entry door to the lab module. It doesn’t fully work; you’d be hard pressed to reach in through it and extract the astronaut. But if you were minifigure-sized it shouldn’t be too much of a stretch.

Also, I finally have some red wheel elements so I can make ground vehicles that are entirely in keeping with the original prototheme. I’m sure if they’d been making the theme a half decade or so later, they’d have had wheel hubs in a colour other than red (grey, most likely), but back in 1978, LEGO wheels only existed in red and the LEGO Group of the day weren’t about to make weird-coloured wheels just for the experimental Space line.

The height difference between the front and rear sections is a little unpleasing somehow, but I think it would have looked worse if I’d elevated the driver’s cab. Maybe I should have widened the wheel base another notch or two.

20/20 hindsight. Next time….

Hammer Time

Apparently I didn’t need much of a break to be able to bounce right back into space mode. I’m calling this rather swooshy space fighter the Thor-class fighter, due to its vague resemblance to the Buck Rogers “Thunderfighter”.

It’s in many ways a pretty generic SNOT-built Classic Space space fighter, but I’m rather pleased with the variable-angle wings and the overall shape and heft of it.

There are no major greebly areas or incredible new techniques, but I just like the combination of those aggressive forward-jutting wing prongs and the smooth-yet-layered solidity of the back section behind the cockpit. I could see the Classic Space equivalent of Buck Rogers being quite happy with a ship like this.

Obviously, I don’t have a lot to say about this, but here it is. Enjoy!

Enter the Viper

So I finally succumbed to the Vic Viper build-virus.

The term apparently comes from the name of the player starship from some ancient arcade game I’d never even heard of, but despite my utter personal ignorance that videogame original seems to have spawned an infinite number of clones and variants.

I became aware of the phenomenon some time back as I flipped through my search engine’s image files looking for LEGO space fighter inspiration. Seeing multiple very different space fighters being called “Vic Viper”, I looked it up.

Apparently the term defines a certain set of visual characteristics, most notably twin forward-facing prongs on either side of the cockpit, but that’s not the sole requirement. It seems They Who Decide have decreed that to officially qualify as a Vic Viper it has to also possess two (and only two) wings and a single tail fin.

Since I found out, I’ve been content to ignore the phenomenon. It’s not something I’ve felt any particular impetus to join in with. “I’m gonna build a Vic Viper” isn’t etched into my brain; if anyone’s going to decide what my spaceship looks like, it’s going to be me, darn it!

I did toy initially with building a Vic Viper battlecruiser, just to mess with people’s minds, and I still might, but up until now I’ve cheerfully ignored the phenomenon.

This is my token Vic Viper. It’s pretty conventionally-shaped; about the only slightly unusual feature is those down-curved wings. I doubt I’ll be building too many more of these things, because it’s honestly not a configuration that grabs me and says “build me!”.

I may have a go at that battlecruiser variant, though.

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…

6929 Starfleet Voyager update

The 6929 Starfleet Voyager was a handsome Classic Space set. One of the earliest sets to feature the white Classic Space colour scheme (mostly white, with either blue or old grey, and trans blue windscreen elements), it probably replaced the old 924 Space Transporter (or Space Cruiser, as it was sold in the USA) as this set was also called “Space Transporter” in the UK.

I think my microscale space battle cruiser Diomedes (see here) made more of a connection with that set than I realised, because I found myself thinking “I bet I could build an update”.

I’ve chosen to build using the “classic” blue/grey/trans yellow colour scheme, which I generally prefer over the white livery. If anyone’s got any ideas for a good in-universe reason why there would be two different concurrent colour schemes in the Classic Space fleet, I’m all ears.

As a deliberate echo of and homage to the original, I’ve preserved the gooseneck design and non-splitting-into-two-ships. But there have been some basic design concept changes as well as the more general smoothing-out and updating I’ve done.

Most specifically, the little cargo pod that rode in the back of the original is gone, replaced by a secondary crew area or science station. This allows a second astronaut to be transported; the original set may well have been the largest Classic Space ship of its era to have room for only a single minifigure.

The Concorde-style drop-down nosecone is also gone, because I couldn’t think of a legitimate reason for it to be needed. It’s not like the actual supersonic Concorde, where the nose was dropped to give better visibility for takeoff and landing, then raised again for streamlining at supersonic speeds. It’s a spaceship. It doesn’t need to worry about air resistance.

I’ve got one of my new red Classic Spacemen flying the ship, partly because that was the original model and partly because I’ve changed my mind about the roles of the various suits.

Having taken a look at the accumulated evidence of all the various Classic Space sets and their depictions, I discovered that Peter Reid and Tim Goddard may have had a point in making their red suits represent flight crew. Almost always, especially in the early days before there were yellow and blue and black suits, the red astronauts are shown flying spaceships or driving surface vehicles. I’ve paid special attention to those sets in which there are red astronauts and those of other colours, and with the exception only of sets like the planetary bases, they are almost exclusively the main drivers or operators.

So I think the red suits are the practical pilot/driver types, the ones that are primarily responsible to get the astronauts from A to B, while the white astronauts are the scientist types who actually do the studying once they’re there. It’s a white astronaut manning the Mobile Tracking Station, and a white astronaut manning the Mineral Detector.

The system breaks down a bit later, when sets like the Galaxy Commander include a red astronaut that isn’t either of the two pilots (who are yellow), but given the other sets that the yellow astronauts are in, I’m actually proposing those as the engineers and/or technicians. Yellow astronauts very properly crew the Mobile Rocket Transport and Space Supply Station (or Mission Control Centre, to use its British name); I suspect a yellow astronaut pilots the zippy little Xenon X-Craft because it’s an “X-Craft”, therefore experimental.

But anyway. Still lacking astronauts in the yellow suits and not really liking them all that much anyway, the guy in the back is a white-suited scientist type.

The joining of the forward and after sections of the ship is much more satisfactorily modern than the old design, and makes good use of some of my 1x1x6 round pillar bricks. It also marks one of only a handful of deviations from the light grey proper to a Neo-Classic set; the interstices on the central pillar are dark grey because I needed one of those 2×2 ring tiles and I don’t think I have any in another colour. The connection’s a little fragile, but it looks pretty awesome!

There’s also a wrench and a radio in the back section, that the astronauts can use. There’s a minor lack of computer support in what ought to be a science station, but You Use What You Have. It works.

Anyway, here she is: a 6929 Starfleet Voyager update. Enjoy!

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.

~

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.