Tag Archives: Spaceship

Today Is A Good Day For Blatant Stupidity To Die

One of the most irritating things about Star Trek canon is its diktat that the Klingons are just fundamentally conservative when it comes to ship design, using the same designs (with incremental updates) for decades if not centuries.

Gilso’s Klingon fleet chart from daftworks.co.uk, using DS9 Technical Manual specifications which may or may not be accurate (there are issues). This is it for canon Klingon ships in the entire century and a half between the TOS series and the TNG movies. Five ship classes 😛

Respect to them for endeavouring to explain the nonsense that we only ever see 5 Klingon ship designs in the entire TOS/TNG/DS9/Voyager period (plus another two or three in Enterprise, and discounting J.J. Abrams’ reboot and the supposed “Klingon” designs from Discovery), equating to 6-8 ship classes because stupid modelling decisions (see last time for my rant on the B’rel/K’vort inanity). But “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” only goes so far. There comes a point at which an old hull and layout simply can’t accommodate the new and improved technologies that have been developed since its inception, leaving your fleet at a serious tactical and strategic disadvantage.

Besides all that, between all the incremental advances in technology crammed into the same hull (even if it’s a new hull on the same basic design), over time standardisation in your fleet is going to suck, as newer builds theoretically in the same class will end up with vastly different capabilities than older construction. When this involves engines, it means your “same class” of ships are going to have different sustained speeds, making fleet manoeuvres artificially laggy because you have to move at the speed of your slowest vessel.

That the Warrior Race would be okay with this beggars belief, even if Imperial science is a bit lacking compared to the Federation or the Romulans. They’re warriors, not morons. They like to operate their ships in squadrons (we see formations of three ships a lot), so this is not something their typical tactics can work well with. And I’m really not convinced that the Klingons are as primitive as it’s claimed. They did discover the warp drive considerably before humans, after all.

My preferred take on this apparent lunacy is that the Klingons “really” have numerous other ship classes that we never see. Maybe since the Federation are a bunch of nonaggressive pansies (and allied in the TNG period), they feel okay about dumping all of their older, obsolescent ships (like aging B’rel and K’vort classes) along the Federation border. Maybe those classes are all that were in range to muster for the Dominion War; that plus injudicious camera angles would explain the absence of anything else from the Klingon attack fleet there.

Anyway, I firmly believe there are numerous Klingon ship classes we’ve never seen, including any number of more experimental-looking designs.

Tik’leth-class experimental fast battlecruiser

Like this one.

I’m calling it the Tik’leth-class, after the Klingon longsword mentioned in beta canon, (probably a far better aggressive weapon than the almost solely defensive bat’leth). Four warp nacelles because I liked that feature of Picard’s old Stargazer, but in a much more typically Klingon configuration. Armed to the teeth because Klingons, I’m figuring this as representing a semi-experimental class, a little shorter than a Vor’cha-class but much wider and beefier.

Aft aspect. Lots of impulse power there, and presumably at least a couple of banks of disruptors and torpedo tubes for when you’re fighting someone that can manoeuvre.
Top view. The nacelles are definitely TNG sort of era, but that heavily rigged neck looks a little crude or unfinished. Ergo, experimental ship.

Since it has four warp nacelles, it should have power to spare and be at least as fast as anything the Federation can muster prior to a Sovereign-class, and that power ought to let it incorporate some massively powerful disruptors. Hopefully ones with all-around firing arcs, since canon Klingon ships exhibit a major deficiency in rear-firing weapons. I reckon they’d beg, trade or steal the specs for the quantum torpedo from their Federation allies, so the IKS Tik’leth would probably get refitted to use those, too.

Top-front view.
This is probably the view you don’t want. Klingon ships typically have really huge frontal armament.
Advertisements

tlhIngan maH!

“We are Klingons!” K’t’inga-class Battlecruiser

Probably my favourite of the extremely limited number of Klingon ship designs in the primary canon, the venerable K’t’inga-class was the larger Klingon battlecruiser type seen in movies such as Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (as opposed to the small Klingon Bird of Prey seen in movies like The Search for Spock and The Voyage Home).

A victim of the same conceptual nonsense that produced the B’rel and K’vort classes, the K’t’inga was basically a rescaling of the D7 used in the original series, with added detailing.

The B’rel/K’vort idiocy is one of the more irritating bits of canon developed to explain lazy model selection in the TNG television series. When the Klingon fleet was reintroduced onscreen to TNG, it was with a brand-new ship model: the Vor’cha-class Attack Cruiser. The B’rel Bird of Prey model from the TOS movies was still seen alongside this one, though; evidently still in service just like the antique Federation Miranda-class from the same era. Except with one difference. Evidently figuring that fans wouldn’t care about the Klingon fleet (wrong), they used the same Bird of Prey model to represent at least two vastly different sizes of ship.

This is just lazy model selection pure and simple (especially since they already had K’t’inga and Vor’cha models available), but is “explained” in Trek lore by the creation of the visually identical but much larger K’vort-class (I hope it means “mistake” in tlhIngan Hol).

The D7 upscaling that produced the K’t’inga is marginally less annoying, because the design was already intended as a relatively large ship. The original Constitution-class’ opposite number, the D7 was the standard “Klingon ship” in the TOS era, unlike the B’rel, which represented a relatively tiny “Scout-class” vessel and makes no visual sense as a ship of comparable size to the Galaxy-class Enterrprise-D.

Anyway, catching up on all the movies I missed when I was working stupid hours at my previous job, I have now come to J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek reboot. And may I say what a little tit the J.J.verse’s Kirk is. The prime timeline’s Kirk could be an annoying pillock at times, but he’s got nothing on the rebel-with-a-spaceship Kirk of the Kelvin timeline. Still, it inspired me to build a Trek ship: my favourite vessel class from the Klingon Empire, (primary timeline).

Later I may have a go at the Kelvin timeline’s D4-class Bird of Prey from Star Trek: Into Darkness, but their D4 isn’t an especially Klingon-looking ship. A bit too Romulan-looking in overall configuration, though it does manage to have an “ancestral-to-the-B’rel” look about it despite that. At this time, I have other build priorities.

Technically the D7/K’t’inga should have a more nearly spherical lower forward hull section rather than the hemisphere I’ve built, but this is as close as it gets in bricks. So here she is, ready to kick some Federation and/or Romulan butt for the greater glory of the Empire.

Ultramarine Spitfire

LL406 Ultramarine Spitfire

If I was building this for the anniversary of the Battle of Britain, I was a month off. The officially recognised start date for the Battle of Britain was 10th July 1940, and it’s still June right now.

I’m not sure quite what made me decide to build a Neoclassic Space take on a classic British warplane, but here it is. More of my subconscious “Space Everything” mindset, I suppose. Anyway, here it is. Technically, it’s closer in shape to the Hawker Typhoon than the Supermarine Spitfire, but the body’s a lot wider than either and much more blended with the wings.

Blended-wing construction was never a feature of 1940s aircraft. It’s way too expensive and difficult for far too little benefit; you could probably make two or three less capable non-blended-wing aircraft in the time it took to build one ultra-streamlined blended-wing super-aircraft. Still, those rounded wings the classic Spitfire has are rather iconic, and given the blue-based colour scheme of Classic Space there wasn’t anything I could call it except “Ultramarine Spitfire”.

Presumably this is a Classic Space Federation transatmospheric space fighter based on some planet where they need a lot of low-speed manoeuvrability. If there’s one thing most World War Two aircraft excelled in, it’s low-speed manoeuvres.

I’m not sure whether this counts as my first Dieselpunk spaceship or not, but I suppose it might.

But At Least We Can Build A Spaceship

LL627 Starhammer

Just to prove that my inner Benny is still alive and well and hasn’t been drowned by the MCU nanovirus sweeping these parts, I built another NCS spaceship.

It’s looking like an atmosphere-capable heavy fighter to me, but most ships in the (N)CS style have atmospheric wings and tailpieces regardless of the fact that we never actually saw the originals anywhere but on airless planetoids, so presumably in the NCS universe it’s unusual if they aren’t atmosphere-capable.

The dual cockpit started out life as one of my numerous aborted attempts to build a Quinjet-style NCS ship. Not a Quinjet as such, but a homage to it. Having finished the cockpit area, though, I realised that once again I’d managed to create something that didn’t look remotely like I wanted it to.

Also, the ship was shaping up to be way huger than I’d anticipated and I was going to run out of blue.

“Adapt and Rule” being the watchword in these parts, I thoroughly overhauled what I initially had in mind and turned it into this nice stubby little starfighter.

The LL627 Starhammer is a System starfighter developed by Lagrange-Lunacorp in their Phobos-based “Dreadworks” facility. Like many of the vessels to come out of the Dreadworks yards, the Starhammer is a more or less purely military design, though it was billed as a new patrol vessel for the Space Police.

The Starhammer, however, lost the bidding process for the Space Police patrol vessel contract against Systematix Provo’s SP527 Longarm. In fairness, though, the Systematix Provo design benefited from having an inside track on the Requirement articles as well as from the usual greasing of palms and provision of incentives that passes for an honest bidding process in the System.

Lagrange-Lunacorp continued to produce a small number of Starhammers, marketing them mostly to the Nouveau Riche that had made their fortunes in asteroid mining and wanted to protect themselves from claim-jumpers, pirates and Blacktron agents. In this market, the LL627 proved to be a highly desirable ship. Its stubby wings allowed atmospheric entry but made the process of close asteroidal approach much less of a chancy business, while the basic armament of 2 laser pulse cannons and one underslung particle beam was both effective as sold and easy to upgrade.

In Darkness Enfolded

Having come late to the MCU party (yeah, we’re slow. I was working crazy hours for not all that much money at my previous job up until this time last year, and movies were a stretch in both time and cash), it’s only been relatively recently that I’ve actually seen Thor: The Dark World.

And having fussed about not being able to build any MCU MOCs because of lacking the ‘figs, this is actually a fairly good film to build from because TLG didn’t release any sets from it. Aside from Thor himself, and Loki of course, I don’t need any more official ‘figs than that, because there really aren’t any.

(Okay, there might be an Erik Selvig in some set somewhere as well. Give me a break).

In short, anything I can produce has almost as good a claim to being the definitive LEGO version as anyone else’s, especially where the Dark Elves are concerned.

I admit the Dark Elves weren’t the most interesting villains in the MCU. Their motivations are opaque and nearly nonsensical (wouldn’t it have been cheaper and easier to put your people in stasis until the heat death of the universe if you hate light and other races that much?), and they’re more like an embodied force of nature than an actual villain.

But then, no-one watching a superhero movie ought to be analysing the plot for plausibility. By design and nature they’re grandiose right up to the point of absurdity, otherwise what’s the point? It becomes “Quick! To the Bat-lobbying committee!”

But I do have to say that of all of the hardware of the MCU (especially its spacegoing parts), it’s the Dark Elves’ stuff that most grabs my attention.

Dark Elf ships are cool!

Quinjet? Quinjets are nice, but to this day I can’t build anything like a Quinjet I’m actually pleased with. I’ve tried Blacktron I, NCS and Futuron versions, and apparently I suck at building Quinjets. The Asgardians have a pleasing mix of high technology and Dark Age trappings (way better than Nexo Knights). The Milano is a lovely iconic ship. But as far as I’m concerned the Dark Elf Harrow kicks some serious butt as a ship, and I love the tall, imposing form of their capital ships as well.

As I’ve said before in the past, I’m an absolute sucker for vertically-oriented ships, though I don’t often build them because of the difficulties of displaying them. But I just had to try building a Harrow.

Scaled down some for the purpose of buildability (something that TLG do all the time), this is my version of the Dark Elves’ starfighter/dropship. I went with a red bubble canopy to represent that fiery glowing area at the front of the ship, but I’m still not sure whether that was supposed to be part of the drive system, a viewport area or a weapon system.

The rest of the ship isn’t totally movie-accurate either. I think the original is a little taller, more pointed at the back and slightly slimmer in the body. But on the whole I’m satisfied with it. Any more height would have redoubled the structural weakness of any ship of this sort of shape built in LEGO bricks, and there was no realistic way to make it narrower and still able to seat a pilot. You can tell what it is, and there aren’t any better versions out there that I can find. I’ve looked.

One of the things that surprised me about it was how fragile it isn’t. I was expecting something shaped like this to end up as the sort of creation that wobbles if you look at it funny and falls apart if you breathe at it wrong, but it’s actually way sturdier than I’d anticipated. The only real area of structural dubiousness is where the wing attaches to the cockpit, and I couldn’t think of a way to get more clutch power there without compromising the ship’s appearance. You can even swoosh it (gently) if you hold onto it by the wing rather than the cockpit.

Swoosh!

Probably the most challenging part of this creation was making the pilot.

Obviously, since TLG skipped The Dark World for sets (and they weren’t the only toy company to give the second Thor film short shrift. My theory is that Marvel Studios were being stingy with licenses for it in order to get more merchandising attention for the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie), there isn’t a Dark Elf minifigure. Not even Malekith.

I’m actually okay with that since I’m in the same boat as everyone else, at least as far as purist customs go. I have to try and make one of my own design.

My stock of suitable minifigures isn’t that large, and at least for this build I’m using what little I already possess rather than trying to purchase or acquire the perfect elements. I have an idea for a follow-up to this build, a Dark Elf Battle Pack, for which I might go ahead and acquire the parts, but for this, I’m keeping with what I’ve got.

I’ve used Garmadon’s torso and some plain black legs, as they look reasonably like the Dark Elves’ outfits, but I think once my son’s finished with Darth Maul I’ll use that torso and legs instead. There are options for the body of the ‘fig. It’s the head and headgear that are the real challenge.

There is a LEGO head printing that looks pretty close to those mask helmets: the old Gasgano head from the first Star Wars Episode I Mos Espa Podrace set. Those heads are old, rare and expensive, though, and even if I had one they wouldn’t be a good choice for something you might want a fair-sized legion of. And like I said, for this build I was just going with stuff I already had.

In the end I went with Palpatine from the Darth Vader Transformation set, but I’m not especially happy with it. For general use it has the advantage of being plentiful, recent and cheap, but it’s not especially accurate in either the eyes or the expression. Luminara Unduli wouldn’t be a bad choice, but then the disadvantage is you either have to make all your elves female or modify the eyes with paint or a Sharpie (and a very steady hand). It may come to that if and when I make the Battle Pack, but for now, Palpatine. Palpatine is probably a better colour anyway.

When I built the Harrow, I elected to use one of the old Castle helmets for the pilot, but after that I wondered if there wasn’t a better way of doing it and started playing around with my stock of elements. It turns out that you can wedge the samurai chin guard visor element onto the aviator cap element in a raised position, and end up with something that gives the effect of the long Dark Elf ears they appear to have.

Alas, this won’t fit in the cockpit of the Harrow, but if I make the Battle Pack that’s the way I’m doing my Dark Elves. Stay posted on that score.

Dark Elf pilot, version one.

I’m actually tempted to add in some yellow stripes and swap out the windscreen element to modify this into a Blacktron vessel. I’d probably want to add some visible guns and engines if I did that, though.

Anyway, here’s my Dark Elf Harrow, single-pilot version. I hope you like it.

Deep, Deep Space

Several of the larger ice moons of Jupiter and Saturn – most notably Europa, Ganymede and Enceladus – are believed to have liquid water oceans beneath their icy surfaces, kept liquid by tidal friction heating due to the moons’ orbits around their mother planets. So my question is, what about Krysto, LEGO’s own Ice Planet?

Structure of Jovian moon Europa, as currently theorised.

Using real-world astrophysics on the LEGO universe isn’t always straightforward, given the elastic, not-always-serious, definitely-not-hard-science nature of LEGO Space’s cosmology. However, even as a kid I liked a hard-science edge to my LEGO Space play, and got irritated when LEGO themselves did “stupid stuff” like showing minifigs in space without spacesuits, or creating ridiculous space helicopters (Yes, M-Tron Particle Ionizer, I do mean you). As an AFOL, my version of the Neoclassic Space universe tends to use as much real-world space science as I can muster within the LEGO Space aesthetic.

I really like the idea, so just like Europa or Enceladus, my version of Krysto has an interior ocean.

Since Krysto is described as a planet rather than a moon, its interior can’t be kept liquid by the tidal heating of its own orbit around a mother planet, so presumably it has a large moon that achieves the same effect. This isn’t contraindicated by anything I know about that LEGO has put out; as a toy company they weren’t really into giving precise cosmological detail anyway.

Giving Krysto an inner subsurface ocean allows all sorts of development potentialities, not least of which is the possibility of Commander Bear and his crew exploring inward with mining equipment and submarines, as well as outward with rocketry and satellites.

In effect, what I’m looking at is a reworking of Seatron for the Ice Planeteers.

One of the few tantalising glimpses we have of what might have been: the Seatron monorail

If you’ve never heard of Seatron, neither had I until I recently came across it in a YouTube video when I was following up a tangent in researching the first Space Police. And the reason we’ve never heard of it is because it was an unpublished theme, sadly aborted before reaching production.

One of the awesome-looking Seatron aliens.

It seems it was intended as a direct successor to Futuron; a Space subtheme set on an ocean planet, blending LEGO’s Space and Aquazone lines together in one awesome crossover theme. The few tantalising glimpses we’re given show an underwater monorail, an awesome-looking oceanic base, and alien “Sea People” almost a decade before LEGO would finally give us nonhumans in the UFO theme. And substantially better aliens, too. UFO is my least-favourite Space line, with its messy colour scheme, ugly logo and could-have-been-better aliens, but those Sea People! Look at that thing! We’re used to alien minifigs with a unique head mould, but about the only elements that has in common with a human minifigure are the arms and hands. Such lovely texturing on the torso and legs!

The reasons given for why Seatron never made it to the shelves seem as varied as those giving out the information, but they generally fall into three categories. Number one, the LEGO Corporation’s powers-that-be decided that they (or we) weren’t ready for LEGO aliens yet. Number two, it seems sales of the Futuron monorail weren’t what they had hoped. And number three, apparently they had outsourced the monorail track elements to another company… which then proceeded to go belly-up before LEGO could acquire the rights for those pieces.

Who really knows? All I can say is that based on those few glimpses it would have been a seriously impressive theme, combining my favourite terrestrial theme with my perennial love of Space.

Beneath the ice of Krysto

If I intend to adapt the Seatron concept to an Ice Planet setting, obviously I’m going to have to make some changes. I can’t use the Seatron theme’s above-the-waves palette of white and trans red; I’m going to have to keep the Ice Planet colours for that half of my builds. So whatever I choose for my alternate, below-the-ice palette has to look right next to all that.

I tried several things while searching for the right look. My initial thought was to maintain the blue and black of regular IP2002, but swap in yellow instead of white and trans red instead of trans neon orange, trying to keep in the same colour family for the transparent elements while using that “obviously subaquatic” LEGO yellow colour.

Alas, while it looks great on its own, and the blue elements and trans red make it clear that this ain’t an Aquanauts MOC, I was really unsold on it in combination with the regular Ice Planet livery. It just looks too warm. So I tried some other stuff. Modified Atlantis palette, swapping the Ice Planet blue and trans neon orange for red and trans bright green? Nope; it looks too much like miscoloured Atlantis. A complete no-go.

A lot of the visual warmth is probably inevitable, since I want to stay with yellow for one of my primary colours, and I want to keep the trans red as well to make it distinct from Aquazone. I tried again with white instead of blue, and that seems to work.

Much of this “trying things out” phase was with small tablescrap builds that I didn’t photograph (though the yellow/blue/black/trans red combination did result in a fairly nice modular submarine with a lot of the visual shape of the Blacktron Invader, but I broke it apart before taking pics), so you’ll have to take my word for how bad some of the combinations looked. Having established the colour combination, I was ready to build something more serious.

I’d love to make a whole minifig-scale scene on a 32×32 baseplate, featuring a slice section through the ice and parts of both the surface and subsurface worlds. Alas, I don’t begin to have enough white to generate a believable thickness of ice, and trying to support that sort of mass at height raises structural concerns. I could work something out, but at the moment the lack of white is crippling my ambitions.

Microscale, though, I can do.

For its scale and size, I’m pleased enough with this, but it’s so small and limited compared to what I’d like to do that I’m ending up somewhat disappointed. I do like the use of those Season 5 Ninjago ectoplasmic blades as seaweed, though. And that’s not a bad submarine for a 15-element nubbin the size of a fingernail.

Closeup of the Krystovian submarine

I will be continuing with this adjunct-to-Ice-Planet subtheme. I do really like the idea of a Krystovian interior ocean.

So now I just need a name for it. Ice Planet: Beneath has a sort of possibility, but it’s inelegant and doesn’t abbreviate well. Aquatron doesn’t preserve the link with Ice Planet, and Frozen Seas sounds too terrestrial, like a Viking-based computer game or something.

Seatron: Krysto could work, I suppose, or I did consider Ice Planet: Aquarius Project, as I thought Aquarius would make an apt name for their biggest or first main explorer submarine. But IP:AP is an even more terrible abbreviation than IP:B.

Hmmm.

Closer look at the surface support base

Sting Operations

LEGO Space Police.

Space Police 1 Mission Commander/Galactic Enforcer. Photo from Jangbricks.

It took me a while to make my peace with the idea of the Space Police, and to this day only Spyrius and M:Tron among the early (pre-UFO) LEGO Space themes have inspired fewer builds.

The first Space Police sets came in just as I was entering my personal Dark Ages, and while the Blacktron subtheme provoked admiration laced with confusion (who exactly were these dark knights of the spaceways?), the Space Police line provoked more of a confusion-laced disdain. At the time, I managed to completely miss the fact that those were Blacktron astronauts in the cells, that this was the first factional conflict in LEGO history, and I wasn’t thrilled with the idea of a spacegoing police force. If I’d wanted to play cops and robbers with my LEGO, I’d have been into Town sets. What did they think they were doing, mucking up my beloved Space theme and turning it into a Town clone? Space Police? Bah!

Coming back to LEGO a few years ago, it still took me a while to get past my youthful hangups. I had remembered the second-generation Space Police’s unattractive grey livery colours as belonging to Space Police I, and I couldn’t for the life of me imagine why such an unpromising-seeming subtheme should have spawned not one, but two iterations, especially when the awesome Ice Planet subtheme (which I do remember with fondness even though it happened in my Dark Ages) only got a single run of sets.

I know better now, but only having acquired a Space Police trooper relatively recently I haven’t done much with them in the way of building.

Space Police Stinger MOC

This, then is only my third or fourth Space Police build at all, and of course I’m gravitating to SP1, just as I prefer my Blacktrons to be first-generation rather than “Future Generation” Blacktron IIs. Given my penchant for inverting the moral polarity of the Classic Space universe – Blacktrons are the good guys of the rebel alliance, while the Classic Space/Futuron/Space Police triumvirate represents an oppressive, totalitarian System – SP1 colours have the most sinister appearance.

Though conceived and built as an update to the Space Police Striker, it’s a little smaller and doesn’t incorporate the light-up features of the original. In fact, it’s closer in size to the much smaller Galactic Peacekeeper, though its configuration is more like the Striker. I’m calling it the “Stinger”.

My prisoner transport pod design is far more cagelike than the original SP1 pod. I’m afraid I went rather overboard with the laser bars concept of the original, which it must be said are way cooler than the SP2’s pods managed. I’d have liked something a little more like the tubular pods of SP3 (though in red), but I don’t have any of those half-cylinder elements in trans red. What I’ve ended up with looks vaguely Mediaeval. Still, it works, and I have to say that the way those cylindrical pods were attached to SP3’s Galactic Enforcer was ugly.

Underside, showing undercarriage in retracted configuration

The Stinger is presumably something like an extended-range Galactic Peacekeeper or smaller and more agile Striker. Perfect for chasing those dastardly Blacktrons all over the cosmos.