Tag Archives: Spaceship

Not the Librarian-class…

Blacktron Liburnian-class battlecruiser: front aspect

Liburnian: (n) a light galley-type warship of the Roman Empire.

Having the Blacktron Alliance name one of their ship classes after something Roman is probably wrong. Even in my “Brightly Coloured Tyranny” alternate universe in which the Blacktron are the good guys and the Classic Space/Futuron Federation are the bad guys, the Blacktron represent the forces of freedom from tyranny, and more usually they are interpreted as forces of chaos and revolution.

Given that the Romans were the people that built Hadrian’s Wall with a castle gatehouse exactly every Roman mile whether or not it actually made sense with the terrain, the Blacktron are about as un-Roman as it gets. So maybe the name is a sophisticated irony, given that it’s named after a Roman ship type and the Romans were notoriously poor sailors.

Anyway, this is a microscale Blacktron battlecruiser of the kind I build when I’m not worrying about stud length and trying to build a SHIP. The bifurcated prow put me in mind of a pair of triremes or Ancient Greek warships mated top-to-top with the rams outward, and that’s how it got stuck with Liburnian as a class name.

Still, more aggressive-sounding than Librarian-class, right?

Blacktron Liburnian-class: front/side aspect

I don’t have a huge amount to say about this. It mirror-images almost completely top-to-bottom as well as left-to-right, which helps to give the idea that it’s designed for operating in zero-gravity. It has its armament of lasers and other cannons. I believe the twin red cones in front are spinal-mounted laser cannons, so I guess that makes the side mounts broadside guns. There are twelve smaller laser cannons mounted in four banks of three amidships, and there are four guns or missile tubes of some sort that have a rear firing arc.

That’s quite a lot of engines, and really I’d have preferred four larger ones using 2×2 dish elements in trans red, but I only have two of those and they’re being employed as sensor dishes, or perhaps something to do with the hyperdrive.

Not a massive model, but it looks pretty cool.

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!

Motley Devil

Arrr! Avast, ye scurvy spacedogs!

Space navies aren’t always the only agencies to field armed starships. The Star Wars universe has its smugglers with their armed freighters, and many other universes have mercenaries, privateers and outright pirates.

The inspiration for this spacegoing privateer came from me trying out different combinations of my dark blue and dark red curved shell elements, looking for different ways I might use both together. Combining them in chequered fashion, I was put in mind of a Mediaeval jester’s motley, and I thought the combination had definite possibilities.

Of course, there are very few official space navies that are going to use chequered blue and red as livery colours. Even a putative Croatian Space Service would use red and white, not blue and red. And even fewer would put up with having a warship named Motley Devil.

Therefore, a privateer.

I’m not sure whether this baby is part of a mercenary fleet, a lone-wolf privateer or an out-and-out pirate, but I’m happy to leave that much open to interpretation.

Motley Devil‘s another large vessel. What is it with me and these huge vessels? She’s not as long as Liberator, at a mere 60 studs’ length, but even if she doesn’t remotely qualify for SHIP status she’s got a more satisfyingly interesting shape.

I think my favourite part of Motley Devil is the octagonally-arranged rear hull. Combining the ring of 45-degree angle plates with the central spine was not as easy as it might have been, and I’m very happy with the way it turned out.

Another favourite part is the jaunty skull decoration on the upper hull. It serves no discernible purpose other than to look cool, but who’s to say a band of privateers wouldn’t individualise the starship that is their home?

Motley Devil is relatively well armed for a privateer; perhaps she’s more of a mercenary than a pirate. I’ve reused those cool ball mounts for the main forward guns, and utilised most of the new elements I bought with SHIP construction in mind.

Those 45-degree angle plates really aren’t designed to have anything connected through the centre of the ring like I have, so there’s a major structural weakness, and it’s an unavoidable one. Still, it makes for a cool-looking ship.

Anyway, enjoy!

Why Wait Til SHIPtember?

Those of you who’ve been following this blog will realise that I’ve been in pursuit of the ability to produce one of the 100+ stud behemoths known as a SHIP for some time now.

I’ve been incrementally coming closer to the magic number, which has seemed like the personal LEGO building equivalent of lightspeed, for several creations, from 50-stud Classic Space reboots like my take on the 6929 Starfleet Voyager to my previous personal best in the “biggest creation” steeplechase, the 74-stud Argonaut-class Explorer Ship.

And I’ve finally broken the light barrier.

LSS Liberator, my first SHIP

Given that the Argonaut was put together while my AT-AT, my 12-year-old daughter’s wonderful ship, my 13-year-old nephew’s 60-stud barge and my 6-year-old son’s four-armed Ninjago Stone Warrior mech were in existence as finished creations, I decided that we really did have enough bricks now to make a serious stab at it.

  

While ordering my nephew some special elements from Bricklink for his just-happened 13th birthday, I put in a bit of an order for myself as well, with SHIP construction in mind. But in actual fact, I didn’t even wait for his birthday when I’d promised to get out the new bricks before I started building. Well, apart from the cup-and-ball sponson mounts, with which I just couldn’t resist arming my battlecruiser.

Most of my large “shell-type” elements are dark red or dark blue, which is why so many of my large creations use those colours. But I don’t have very much else in dark red or (particularly) dark blue, certainly not for building all the superstructure-y bits of a full-on SHIP. So even though my Buck Rogers starfighter is in existence, I settled on white as a third primary superstructure colour. Red, white and blue together works as a main colour scheme even with the addition of two different greys for structural and functional parts (for the illusion of greater depth and greebliness even though my greebling has been really minimal) and gave the SHIP its name: LSS Liberator.

Liberator is a name to conjure with, if you’re a British sci-fi fan of a certain generation. The name of the advanced starship from the now-obscure TV serial Blake’s 7, the original was a fantastic trilaterally-symmetrical space battlecruiser with a mysterious pulsating green ball for an engine. And sorry, Trek, but this is the best-looking TV starship of the pre-1980s era.

Someday I’ll build that Liberator, but it won’t be today.

My own Liberator is “only” 101 studs long, and even that’s a bit of a cheat considering the forward prongs are a whopping 16 studs all by themselves, but I broke the 100-stud barrier and I didn’t use any of the large elements from my last Bricklink spree, so I can do a better job next time.

Already I’m planning larger, more ornate, better-designed SHIPs: Dark Pegasus, which will need considerably more Investment in Pieces for me to build the way it is in my head, and the privateer Motley Devil, which I plan to attempt next.

But as a first step into the world of SHIPness, Liberator‘s not too shabby, I think. At least I avoided Bix Box Syndrome and managed to come up with a marginally interesting shape for it, and did it in a reasonable colour scheme, and did it while my daughter’s ship and my Buck Rogers starfighter are sitting on the display shelf hogging bricks.

But I’ll do better next time, I promise. Even if Motley Devil doesn’t end up breaking the 100-stud barrier (which is by no means a certainty right now) my next SHIP will be better.

~~~

The LSS Liberator is a jumpdrive-equipped space battlecruiser of the human-dominated Star League. Armed with both laser and plasmatic armament, Liberator is fairly typical of medium-range League warships.

Unlike, for example, the OGEL Tetrarchy’s Stellar Legions, the Star League’s Space Defence Force employs mixed batteries of both lasers and plasma cannons rather than lasers alone. This is one of the major doctrinal differences between the LSDF and the TSL, and primarily stems from a difference in the two interstellar polities’ jumpdrives.

Laser cannons are lightspeed weapons: long-ranged and difficult to dodge effectively. However, plasma weapons are considerably more destructive for the same mass of cannon, even though they are short-ranged, STL weapons.

The Star League having better jumpdrive technology and being willing to utilise starship mass for precision jump-point calculation computers, the League Space Defence Force are more apt to attempt to jump in to a much closer range than the Tetrarchy’s Stellar Legions are able to, and close to the spatial equivalent of knife-fight range as quickly as possible.

The OGEL Tetrarchy, on the other hand, tend to stand off and open fire with larger numbers of individually less destructive long-range lasers.

Forward section showing flight bridge and laser cannons

Liberator herself has a primary armament of six heavy laser cannons mounted in individual sponsons on the forward hull, and six heavy plasma accelerators triple-mounted in dorsal turrets, each accelerator having better than five times the destructive capacity of the equivalent laser within its more limited range.

Detail of one of the dorsal plasma turrets

The secondary armament is similarly mixed, with both lasers and plasma cannons in side-mounted turrets, plus there are a number of small missile-defence lasers scattered over the hull.

Central section showing dorsal turrets, secondary turrets and ventral small craft bays

Ventrally amidships are the small craft bays. The ability of an energy-weapon-armed battlecruiser to carry fightercraft is not huge, and the ability of fighter-sized ships to carry reasonably effective weapons is necessarily limited, but Liberator is equipped to operate eight Excalibur-class space superiority fighters (too small to build at this scale).

Aft section showing engines, jump drives and flag bridge

The engine section is aft. Like all Star League vessels, LSS Liberator has two separate drive systems: the metagravity sublight drives, which utilise pseudogravitic forces to achieve a reactionless sublight drive system, and the outboard jump-point engines which generate a form of tame wormhole for point-to-point interstellar jumps.

~~~

Ill tell you something, though. They aren‘t kidding around when they talk about Seriously Huge Investments in Pieces. It’s not so much sheer quantity of elements that kills you, it’s quantity of elements of particular types in particular colours.  One more time, then, in all her glory:

LSS Liberator

Argonaut-class Explorer Cruiser

Pushing my personal “largest LEGO creation” boundaries in my ongoing quest for SHIP status, I present the Argonaut-class Explorer Cruiser.

Argonaut-class: after aspect

My previous largest ship, my 6929 Starfleet Voyager update, was exactly 50 studs in length, which is a respectable size but hardly a breakthrough into the world of Seriously Huge Investments in Pieces. Likewise my previous largest microscale, the Diomedes, which was again 50 studs long.

The Argonaut is half again that size, at a few millimeters over 74 studs in length. It uses practically all of my dark grey and a good 3/4 of my dark red, and I already have a third highlight colour in the shape of the light grey, so there’s no simple way I could expand this any further. I might be able to add more light grey, I suppose, giving a slightly more patchwork look to the main spine, but probably not enough to matter. This is about as long as is reasonable to build while maintaining this width and height. Assuming an 8-stud average visual width (4 to 6 studs real hull width plus additions), that’s a little over a 1:9 ratio of width to length. To maintain that same ratio or less, a 100-stud creation needs to average at least 12 studs wide, probably 8+ studs real hull width with additions. And I generally prefer squatter, less elongated designs, in the 1:5 – 1:6 range.

Translation: Building a SHIP really does take a butt-ton of bricks.

That’s an official SI unit for LEGO bricks, by the way 😛 (Truly monstrous creations like this awesome Blacktron space carrier or this immense Classic Space explorer ship are measured in the kilobutt-tons, while my own more modest starships merely in the centibutt-tons).

I’ll get there, though. I’m going to build a SHIP. Sooner or later. I’ve been working my way up to it for a while, and while I’m not there yet, the gap is closing.

And I managed to build this while I still had my first reasonable-sized (ie bigger than my palm) AT-AT built, but more on that next time.


Argonaut-class: Forward aspect

The Argonaut-class Explorer Cruiser is a relatively generic starship type built by the Interstellar Commonwealth as a long-range exploration ship.

Part military cruiser but with substantial cargo pod space, the Argonaut is less suited to combat than most dreadnought battleships and less adapted to heavy cargo haulage than, for example, the Commonwealth’s Trader-class Bulk Carrier.

However, the combination of both cargo capacity and military-grade weaponry and sensors is exactly what the explorer ship class demands, so the Interstellar Commonwealth produces and operates a whole series of these intermediate vessels.

The Argonaut-class is on the small side as explorer ships go; cheaper to deploy than the massive Copernicus-class while still containing enough equipment and supplies to do the job of exploring a new star system.

The forward section contains most of the laboratories and sensor equipment, typically set up for planetological, astrogational and xenobiological research at the very least, and often including cultural xenology, linguistics and comparative technology labs as needed.

What appear to be guns at the wingtips are in fact gravitational sensors and communications antennae, while at the very tip of the nosecone is a sophisticated medium-range probe deployment system. The “wings” are completely useless for manoeuvre in vacuum, of course, but they are composed of thick crystarmour plate sections providing at least a modicum of protection to the vulnerable lab modules.

Argonaut-class: Detail, forward section

Dorsally amidships is the main small craft hangar bay, featuring in-line funnel-shaped entry/exit ports equipped with powerful tractors to guide the various small craft back into the hangars. A dedicated hyperspace communications array sits atop this hangar deck, the triple-pronged bladelike design typical of such.

Argonaut-class: Detail, central spinal section

Along the central spine from the Argonaut-class’ forward section are the main optical observation deck, the central cargo pod handling area and the construction/repair centre. The optical observation deck is a massive windowed area with a transparent glassteel viewport several stories in height. Many optical instruments such as telescopes are set up in this area, which is also popular with the crew as a relaxation area and features one end dedicated to restaurant dining.

Observation deck area

The cargo pod handling area includes space for four of the standard near-cubical bulk haulage pods in standard mode, or up to eight without the extended-range fuel tanks and docking/refueling rails. Proceeding without the tanks or rails is an unusual step, however, and almost never happens.

Cargo pod handling area and main long-range fuel tanks

Detail, aft hangar bay entrance seen over cargo pods

Aft of this is the main construction/repair area, with smaller container pods and dorsal zero-gravity cranes for the construction of hyperjump portals and smaller orbital stations. The cranes can also be used for larger ship-repair tasks.

Argonaut-class: Detail, main construction bay

The rear section contains the primary engine rooms, antimatter reactors and main weapon systems. There are a further two hangar bay ports, these for repair and maintenance drones, plus four medium-calibre laser turrets for defence.

The concentration of weaponry at the rear of the ship strikes many observers as a little strange, but after the loss of the Navigator-class explorer ship CNS Saint Brendan to hostile fire as she attempted to withdraw from the system, the Commonwealth began to follow a pattern of concentrating its explorer cruisers’ firepower aft. These are explorers, it was reasoned, not combat vessels. Their first instinct when under fire ought to be to withdraw.

Argonaut-class: Detail, aft weapons clusters

Finally, the engine itself. A massive Tachiro-Shinsekov-Chimbote metagravitational drive allowing both normal-space cruising and manoeuvre and metagravity hyperjump, the engine features no less than four separate Shinsekov coils and can produce a normal-space acceleration equivalence of three hundred and sixty-seven gravities at eighty percent power.

Main engine showing Shinsekov coils and central Tachiro-Shinsekov-Chimbote metagravity accelerator

The Viper, Victorious

I said I was going to build a cruiser in the Vic Viper configuration, and here it is, more or less.

Another corner build using my lone Blacktron quarter panel (I need to get another one of those so that it can become a by-choice deal rather than a by-necessity), it has all the features required for a proper Vic Viper, but in a cruiser format.

The single vertical tail fin becomes a bridge sail section, the twin prongs are in place, and the wings curl upwards because of my decision to use Castle turret top elements.

I’ve been far more sparing with yellow bricks than even my usual approach to the Blacktron; something that many people seem to get wrong is that they put too much yellow in a Blacktron creation, with the result that it looks like construction hazard striping. The Victorious-class goes to almost the opposite extreme. It’s a major light sink, and wouldn’t be easy to spot using optical sensors against the blackness of space.

Thankfully for those viewing, I’m sure, I’ve shot my photos against a white background so that the details are more visible. That’s the problem with black ships and vessels: they’re hard to photograph well, especially with the primitive handheld camera setup I have.

As befits a cruiser of the more militarily-inclined Blacktron Alliance, the Victorious is fairly well-armed, with heavy spinal lasers, lighter defensive pulse turrets and intermediate-size long guns. Much of the armament is exclusively forward-firing, which may be a weak point of the design, but in my “Brightly-Coloured Tyranny” Classic Space alternate universe the Blacktron are a rebel alliance or resistance movement opposed to the corrupt Federation government and its oppressive Space Police. They aren’t necessarily going to have the experience to make perfect combat designs right off the bat.

Anyway, here she is, the Blacktron Victorious-class Cruiser, ready to oppose the Federation and do some damage to as many Space Police ships as possible.

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.