Tag Archives: Space fighter

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!

In the 25th Century

“In the year 1987, NASA launched the last of America’s deep space probes. Aboard this compact starship, a lone astronaut, Captain William ‘Buck’ Rogers, was to experience cosmic forces beyond all comprehension. In a freak mishap, his life-support systems were frozen by temperatures beyond imagination. Ranger 3 was blown out of its planned trajectory into an orbit one thousand times more vast, an orbit which was to return Buck Rogers to Earth five hundred years later…”

Buck Rogers in the 25th Century was a feature of my growing-up. Along with Battlestar Galactica (the slightly kitschy 1978 original, not the update) and other various series that piggy-backed on the phenomenal success of Star Wars, these are perhaps the reason I’m such a sci-fi nerd and general Benny clone.

Buck Rogers has a far deeper pedigree than solely the 1979 TV serial, but I didn’t find out about that until later. It’s probably about due for a reboot, in fact. But for at least a couple of years of my childhood, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century was required weekly viewing to me.

It helped that it had one of the most pleasingly swooshy space fighters there’s probably ever been, and as the six- or seven-year-old I was, even the cute robot Twiki was charming rather than annoying.

Earth Defense Directorate Thunderfighter

In the post-nuclear war rebuilt Earth of Buck Rogers, the familiar nations have been subsumed into the Earth Defense Directorate, who manage reawaken the cryogenically-frozen Captain and determine to make use of him as an agent due to his skills as a pilot, his general resourcefulness and his unique trait that he is unrecorded in any of the various databases of the surviving human population.

Buck’s obviously Space Shuttle-derived Ranger 3 is not seen again after the opening credits; it’s unarmed, and presumably too primitive. The starfighter of choice is the Earth Defense Directorate fighter, sometimes called the “Thunderfighter”.

As a kid, I remember I had a diecast metal one produced by the Corgi company who usually made toy cars. The Corgi version had a flat metal fin connecting the front prongs, because apparently even in the 1970s you could take somebody’s eye out with that. The fin is actually how I remember the fighter, and it had the added advantage that it looked cool in its own right. In a triumph of imagination over visual evidence, my six-year-old brain even edited the fin into the TV version.

I’m not sure what brought Buck Rogers back into my mind. I think I was trawling the depths of my brain for something to build that wasn’t a SHIP and wasn’t Classic Space or Blacktron, and this is what I came up with. One of the only two ships from that series I can even remember.

At an overall length probably shorter than an F-22 Raptor, the Thunderfighter and its contemporary the classic Galactica Colonial Viper are among the smallest film or TV space fighters, dwarfed by the X-Wing from Star Wars, the Starfury from Babylon 5 and even Star Trek‘s obscure Peregrine. Apparently in the Buck Rogers future, miniaturisation is a highly developed science and fuel tankage isn’t an issue.

Like my Corgi model, and I believe like the ones on TV, my LEGO Thunderfighter’s wings can deploy for atmospheric flight and fold in for space combat. What this achieves in a vacuum I’m not sure, but it’s a cool feature and the fact that I managed to actually build a function like that is something I’m rather proud of. Three cheers for the Technic-incompetent…

My version of the Earth Defense Directorate’s primary spacecraft is a little thicker in the back hull than the sleek, flattened TV version, but getting it down to TV sleekness with as few studs showing as I’ve got left is beyond my current capacity if I’m going to keep that functionality.

Also, the cockpit canopy is traditionally hinged rather than sliding forwards like I remember the “real” ones doing, but the Thunderfighter’s cockpit was fairly heavily framed and my Snowspeeder windshield was the closest thing I have to that look.

I’ve used a Star Wars helmet (from one of the Rebel Alliance or Resistance battle packs I believe) on the pilot, as even though it’s partly brown it’s still the closest match I can find to the open-faced widows-peaked white helmets they wore.

It occurs to me that a Buck Rogers-themed creation might make a good Ideas set, so I might even take the step of submitting this one.

What do you think?

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.

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.