Tag Archives: Neoclassic Space

NCS’ Wingèd Chariot

Auriga-class Heavy Fighter

The Auriga-class heavy fighter is a transatmostpheric attack craft of the Galactic Federation. Named after the ancient Terrestrial constellation depicting a charioteer, one of the distinguishing visual identifiers of the Auriga is the pair of disclike force shield generators located aft.

It is not every Federation fightercraft that is large enough and has a powerful enough energy plant to operate a force shield generator of this size, let alone mount two of them, and it is this dual shield and its power requirements which make the Auriga so comparatively large a fightercraft. Indeed, Hoplite was considered as a class name, but this would have broken with Federation tradition of naming fightercraft after Old Earth constellations.

The Auriga-class is sparsely armed for all its well-protected nature, but the weapons it does possess are relatively powerful. A pair of 10cm laser cannons form the primary weapon system; these are considerably more powerful than the 5cm mounts usually found on fightercraft, but there are only two of them. Backing these up are up to four standard small-craft torpedoes, usually Mark 7s with proximity-fused plasma warheads or bomb-pumped laser warheads, though occasionally a mix of Mark 7s and Mark 11 Electronic Warfare torpedoes are carried.

The Auriga-class is less manoeuvrable than many pure-space fightercraft designs, but has the advantage that it can freely enter the atmosphere. Auriga squadrons have been known to take advantage of this by entering the outer atmospheric layers of gas giant worlds to hide and ambush aggressors like space pirates or the Blacktron Alliance.

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Something of an homage to the old Minbari Transport from 1990s TV show Babylon 5, my Neoclassic Space version is necessarily smaller but has the same sort of overall shape.

I liked Babylon 5, and I remember the Minbari ships in particular with much fondness. Their transport was almost pedestrian-looking beside their vertically-oriented angelfish-like cruisers and trilaterally symmetrical space fighters, but it still had the same sweeping curves and flowing grace. Compared to the ugly box ships that the human race flew, the Minbari showed you how it’s supposed to be done.

There are some obvious differences, notably the prominent trans yellow windscreen and general Classic Spaceity, but that was the original source of inspiration. I hope you like my adaptation of the basic configuration.

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Rovin’ Rovin’ Rovin’

Tetrapillar rover

What’s FebRovery without some Neoclassic Space goodness?

Carrying the flag for the blue, grey and trans yellow progenitors of LEGO Space itself, the “Tetrapillar” rover marks my third FebRovery 2018 build (but only the second posted here; I didn’t have enough to say about the steam-driven Lunar Traverser to warrant a post).

Named because its low-slung, long-bodied design put me vaguely in mind of a caterpillar, yet it only has four wheels, the Tetrapillar is piloted by a rather grouchy-looking white-suited astronaut.

In my personal interpretation of the suit colours (based loosely on pictorial evidence from the original sets and publicity photos) the white suits represent scientists while the red-suited astronauts are drivers and pilots. However, that doesn’t look like a science rover; that looks awfully like a gun mounted on the top. I daresay it could be a mass spectrometry laser or mining blaster or some such, but equally they could be shorthanded on Moonbase Delta-3 and Dr. Brickman there is miffed at having been taken away from his vital research on comets to go on perimeter patrol.

Technically the bumblebee stripes are unusual on a planetary rover, but I like the way they look there, especially rounded like that. If general theory is right that the stripes are a form of hazard striping, there’s no reason that a rover powered by a nuclear reactor or similar high-energy power source shouldn’t have them. Of course, over the several years of the Classic Space prototheme’s run there are numerous inconsistencies of technology, astronaut suit colour role and vehicular livery. There are at least three major Classic Space liveries (this one, this one and this one) and only one of them incorporates bumblebee striping.

Space Auk

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bridge section canopy

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

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

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

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

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

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

LL3607 and microfig-scale loader mech

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

rocket, Rocket, ROCKET!!!!!

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

Jenny’s rocket, Rocket, ROCKET!!!

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

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

Engine section detail

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

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

But it’s definitely a rocket.

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

Cockpit capsule detail

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

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

3/4 Side angle

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

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

Stingship

Federation Scorpio-class destroyer

Modeling your sci-fi vehicles after living creatures is nearly always cool, but the peaceable Classic Space Federation are probably the last people you’d normally associate with the idea of building hardware shaped like a scorpion.

Nevertheless, in a fit of irony I’ve assembled this scorpionoid spacegoing destroyer, and it’s one of the most overarmed spaceships I’ve ever built. Goodness only knows what the power requirements on this thing are when it’s firing all of its guns…

What I’m calling the Scorpio-class destroyer started out as a prospective ground vehicle designed around those front arms. It wasn’t even specifically going to be a scorpion at that point.

It was only after I decided I didn’t like the looks of it as a rover and added the ball cannons that I specifically decided to turn it into a scorpion ship, because those cup-and-ball-mounted guns make wicked legs.

In the past I’ve specifically eschewed the use of the term “destroyer” for my Federation spaceships. It’s always seemed too aggressive and militaristic and, well, destructive. In my version of the Classic Space Federation, larger vessels are typically cruisers and smaller vessels are frigates, both of which terms have enough history as not specifically naval vessel types to sound somehow more peaceable. However, destroyer was really the only choice for a vessel with this many guns on it, so I’ve built my first ever Classic Space destroyer.

With engines that small, I doubt it’s any speedster or hyperagile transorbital combatant, but if its anything like its design namesake it’s at least well-armoured. Warships typically emphasise a maximum of two of the triad of armour, firepower and speed, and I’d guess that what the Federation designers decided to de-emphasise in this particular case was speed.

This isn’t the most adventurous spaceship model as far as technique is concerned, but I rather like it anyway. Who would have guessed that a scorpion would look so good in blue? Or that a scorpion could serve as such a natural-seeming model for a spaceship rather than a surface tank?

Repainting the House Divided

What happens when a red astronaut from the LEGO Classic Space faction and a black-clad astronaut from the enemy Blacktron alliance fall in love?

Repainting the House Divided

This build went through several iterations as I toyed with the scene. It actually started out as a plain Blacktron base corridor scene, though I neglected to photograph it at that point.
The two astronauts already looked as though they might have been falling for one another, so I went with that and rebuilt one end of the corridor in Classic Space LEGO colours and made the astronaut a red one.

The heart followed, making the point clearer, and then, under the influence of a 13-years-married-and-still-gloriously-in-love relationship I decided to make it a bit more domestic.

I’d already thought about calling it “Across A House Divided” or something similar, and I started thinking, “what if that’s their actual house?”.

Ergo the paint rollers. And the icing on the cake is that she‘s getting ready to paint her half in his colours just as he‘s getting ready to paint his half in her colours. That’s what love is like.

Obviously there’s a message here, in our increasingly divided times. With seemingly everything becoming increasingly politically coloured in lurid reds and blues, maybe LEGO’s old smiley-faced, cooperative, friendly astronauts can teach us a thing or two.

I characterised the Blacktron faction as “enemy”, and that certainly seemed in the late ’80s to be the case, from their predatory, slightly sinister ship names (“Invader”, “Renegade”) to the fact that once the Space Police were introduced it was Blacktron astronauts in the jail cells. But even though they were enemies, the catalogues of the day still showed the two factions cooperating and working together in the vital project of colonising the galaxy.

Maybe our current “enemy” divisions into the Red Camp and the Blue Camp aren’t as terrible and world-ending as some people would like us to think. Most of my in-laws hold vastly different political views to my wife and I, but we’ve just managed to make it through a Thanksgiving without a single political argument. For which I am duly thankful, believe me.

But the point is that love transcends all of that. For all that I disagree with the political narrative most of my inlaws have chosen to accept, they are good people. And I’m not going to accept the contemporary myth that says you have to define yourself and everyone else purely in terms of political affiliations.

So slightly unintentionally I seem to have built that in LEGO bricks. Here’s a situation in which the political colours of their surroundings are unimportant beside the love they have for one another. Black or blue-and-grey, it doesn’t matter as long as we’re together.

This isn’t a blog I usually get political in, but the “message” is an important one right now. Thanksgiving has just come and gone, and Christmas is on its way. Maybe it’s time to step back from the brink of metaphysical total war with the opposing ideology and remember that those who hold it are human beings just like us.

Spacedoc

Following on from last time’s Q-Mech and the introduction of my fan-made Neoclassic Space rescue theme Q-Tron, I’m continuing in that line.

One of the obvious needs of a rescue service is some sort of ambulance or medevac vehicle able to swiftly transport injured minifigures to a treatment facility.

Frost’s beautiful space ambulance notwithstanding, I decided that a tracked or even wheeled ground vehicle was probably too slow. His vehicle’s big enough that it might be bringing the treatment facility to the patient, but I elected to go a different route: this is CareFlight in space.

I’ve chosen to use the term “hovercraft” for my antigravity-powered space ambulance despite the fact that this isn’t your mama’s ground-effect vehicle. There are reasons for that; mostly because the old Res-Q theme (1998-1999) had a hovercraft (in the conventional sense) and I wanted to reference it. If it were a Star Wars build it would be called a speeder; other franchises call them skimmers or antigravs; but “hovercraft” seems just as reasonable if you ask me.

For all I know, the twin trans dark blue windscreen elements actually came from a 6473 Rescue Cruiser set; I did get them from Bricklink, after all.

Unlike the Rescue Cruiser, though, the Q-Tron Rescue Hovercraft isn’t actually a twin-cockpit design. I know what it looks like, but the left-hand “cockpit” is actually a patient transport pod with a stretcher.

There’s not much room in there for paramedics to get to work straight away, but this is the future. They probably have medical stasis fields to preserve the patient during the flight. With futuristic medical technology to work with, I’m sure the poor injured Blacktron astronaut will be just fine.

I made good use of some of this household’s Star Wars set elements by making the pilot an alien; also I recombined some red and white Classic asronauts into something that looks like it would pass as a Q-Tron spacesuit. The fact that the Rescue Hovercraft is a single-pilot vehicle doesn’t exactly bode well for that stretcher, but I couldn’t really crowbar a copilot into the right-hand cockpit without causing problems. Star Wars-style miniaturised antigravity to lift the stretcher à la Han-Solo-frozen-in-Carbonite might be a possibility, but the thing has conventional handles. Apparently the future isn’t quite that advanced. The other main option was a robotic medical orderly that could be stored or transported in the back somewhere. The hovercraft’s propulsive system didn’t leave any room for proper hatches, so you have to pretend he goes in there somewhere, but I decided to build Mobot (Medical Orderly Robot) anyway. Zane’s Titanium Ninja head makes an excellent Mobot head (or would if not for the second face on the back), but I wish I had a minifigure of C-3PO’s white colleague from Bespin to be the body. Threepio himself is the wrong colour and battle droids are the only other robot minifigs I have, so I had to adapt a clone trooper body for him.

The twin antigravity spindles use a piece I never thought I’d use in anything other than its designed role: the hemispherical “ball” from the cup-and-ball cannon mounts I acquired fairly recently. But it works quite well, I think. Similarly, the diagonal “wings” at the back started out as a design reaction to the fact that I really didn’t want to break up the Q-Mech yet, and most of our remaining white brick and plate elements are being used by my daughter in a largeish character head build (some kind of animated dwarf skeleton called Sans from something called Undertale, or so I’m informed). That the wings exist at all was a reaction to probably not being able to do it the way I would otherwise have, but I rather like them, and they make a great place for those Q-Tron logos I designed.

Storebought white stickers, a little imagination and a red pen helped complete the Q-Tron look, because if I’m creating an actual fan-made Neoclassic theme I might as well do a thorough job of it, right? Overall it’s not as good as the Q-Mech, but I’m mostly pleased with this.