Saturday, 28 April 2007

Secret House Against The World

I'm about to lock horns and engage in mortal combat with a mighty beast, the sorting beast who is well amongst many a builder. I've been putting off this battle for what seems like ages simply because I'm a terrible procrastinator. All I want to do is build, which I do manage to do but it tends to get a bit frustrating at times. Example? All I require is a simple light grey 1x3 wedge slope. Simple, no? Now, with everything sorted this would take about two seconds or more commonly a simple and quick 'vulture-ing' procedure to remove the part from another Moc. In my current un-sorted state, this process usually begins and then concludes with the discovery of the elusive piece under my foot and a wasted twenty minutes. If things continue at this rate, I'm going to need a team of professional Sherpa's and a flock of specially trained part-sniffing mountain goats just to find a single 48x48 baseboard.

This week in the building community further evidence has surfaced that suggests Nnenn is not actually human, but some kind of freaky building robot from the near-distant future. Not just one excellent new Moc, but several excellent new Mocs have emerged in the last week or so.
My favourite would have to be the Hazulukoth Flying Carnivorous Earwig. Those shapely wings are simply gorgeous, it's those tan blocks of colour that make 'em great. I think the single thruster fits into the design neatly but I'm not a fan of it. When I imagine the whole thing in flight the single thruster makes me think that the whole craft would be rather unstable at best. Oh yeah and the kill-tally detail, I'm in love with the kill tally detail. Very cool stuff.
Next off the Nnenn assembly line we have the Jula mobile defense platform. I can't remember exactly if the Soviets had any spider tanks in Red Alert, if they did, they looked just like this. The whole thing reminds me of a soldier drone from the first Starship Troopers movie. Excellent use of those Alpha team canopies, nice armour too. There's only one thing that bugs me, the lack of an eye. In my opinion, soulless metallic killing machines just aren't complete without some-kind of evil glowing HAL-esque eye-of-death.
We also have the very funky looking X-wing Evolution and its partner the extremely groovy and unconventional Padarion fighter. The squadron markings on the wings look absolutely stunning and I really like that Swan neck cockpit design. No doubt, by the time you have finished this paragraph kind reader, there will already be a dozen new Nnenn Mocs posted. So keep your eyes peeled!
One cannot fail to enjoy Arpy's little yellow bubble car that makes life better. Oh yeah, that it does in spades. It's such a simple and effective design, perfect for mass application on any Moonbase layout. I always like seeing bubble domes in Mocs, they always manage to look good. The boosters are in the same style as the rest of the craft and fit in well but one cannot help feel that they look slightly tacked on and last minute.
In the blue corner we have Big X's aka Danny Rice's Sharkbot, weighing in at a meaty eight grams and packing quite a nasty bite. Some fancy footwork present in the foot design, why the claws are unnecessarily capped off with mini-fig hand remains a closely guarded secret. In the red corner Rodney Bistline's Space Squid. Hailing from the depths of some dark moon crater Space Squid is the master of the infamous sucker punch and head-clamp techniques. Also well known for excellent use of those weird grey technic tube bits that only ever seem to find use as starship greebs. It'll be a tough match but my money's on the Sharkbot, it's just those teeth for the win you understand.

Onto the Odysseus WIP by B-shelf user b3rl1go, as some of you might know I've been watching this thing with intense interest over the last few months. Good to see continued effort on this thing which is inching its way towards what will be quite a glorious end result. I admire that lovely big neon-green eyeball, is it the main bridge and control centre for this Moc or is it simply the business end of a giant laser? And what exactly is this Moc, some kind of Alien Mothership or a deadly super-weapon belonging to a nefarious James Bond villain? I'm intrigued by this Moc and its super weird design. And curious about the strength of its skeletal frame-work, I imagine that the middle collum would support its fair share but obviously it’s not going to support everything. Makes me wonder just how heavy this Moc is all up.

I guess it's time to get back to sorting, Winamp silently humming away in the background, I've got the radio as a back-up, I'm going to do it. I shall conquer the sorting beast today! Well maybe not now there's something interesting on Tv in just a few minutes. Maybe tomorrow, maybe..

Sunday, 22 April 2007

Death of a Shade of Blue.

I have to start off with some sad news today, aside from the recent death of Kurt Vonnegut. A few of you might know that for the past two-ish years I've been running a '.Space' in a small LEGO General section of the BionicleZonePower(BZP) forums, a small refuge of spacey hope in an unlikely place. Its produced a good number of space builders over its relatively small 3 year reign: Tom here, Arpy, Justin Long (taurithod), and myself (forgive if I've missed a few). Well, life is an unforgiving organism, and over the last 2 years the pace there has really slowed. When the group was launched it was a huge success and it was what drew me back into system Lego, and Space. And for that, I really owe that little '.Space' and its first curator Spongey (see I wish I was a Spaceman). But given that it seems we've dried up the creative well, I took the liberty of closing down the group. A sad move, but all dogs have their day, and hers has passed. RIP.

Interesting uncompleted project from Nnenn here today - we need an acronym for that - a dirty looking microscale ship. It makes some excellent use of BURPs and contains a wonderful looking technic frame. The engines are quite hot as well. And engines are always a fun topic during builds, many people always seem to struggle making a design that's worth while - and although Paul Baulch's article is a great read, someone really needs to expand on it... Maybe I should? Other notable places on Nnenn's ship include the detailed entrance to his hangar, I really do like the sentry/control towers and the control hub on the inside is a nice touch. I'm not too keen on his gun designs, but that's also a hard aspect of building. Maybe I aught to whip up an article on that as well.

Next on the blog list is a fighter, and a microscale ship - all in one. Usually microscale fighters don't get a whole lot of street cred. if they're built in a larger scale. On the contrary, if one thinks of microscale as a seperate technique of building used for more then just ships that would be implausible in mini-fig scale, then I think the idea of a larger scale fighter in micro is kind of interesting. Anyways, brickshelf user Towel created their fighter after Star Fox's arch enemy's craft - The Wolfen. theirs is specifically based on the one from Star Fox Assault, and although I've never played that game, it seems that the overall design of the Wolfen hasn't altered a whole lot since good ol' Star Fox 64. Towel's approach is built using a variety of techniques - from the pretty complex to the very basic, and where this might look bad on other ships, their use of colour blocking allows them to really pull it off. I think it really goes to show that a great MOC doesn't have to be made entirely of complex techniques - it just has to be executed well. I'm really liking the colourful engine block on this ship too, it reminds you that this ship exists in the realm of video games and not strict-realism. Check it out, it's a really awesome ship design to begin with, and Towel has pulled it off nicely.

I've got plenty more coming: New member on CS, pezzab, was noticed on brickshelf shortly before his arrival with his BFAI (Brute Force And Ignorance) fighter. Now, although I haven't heard/seen the words from his mouth/posts, I think the ship is supposed to be a sci-fi german fighter, hence the BF part and the colouring. This is an interesting ship, it's really boxy and it works. His use of SNOT makes his fighter look plenty smooth and strong, and seems to allow for some visuals to be worked into the design. And when we turn the fighter over and take a good look at her belly, I think it increases my love of the craft even more. There's something about the landing gear bays - maybe its just the uneven stepping in the doors - that make them look sturdy and robust. Although I think the landing gear itself is lacking. There's a great use of colour in this model, the nice touch of sand green in the missiles is beautiful and the red/white striping around the canopy is great! Pezzab's a pretty new builder, although there are a few other things in his brickshelf; keep an eye on this one!

My last feature here is a bit of a double feature. I've always kept my eye on Brickshelf user Kero40, his wide array of Homeworld themed microscale is interesting and very inspiring. His two latest works are pretty awesome. There's always been something that attracts me to his clunky and messy style of building, whereas some builders would fail miserably when attempting a style along these lines, Kero seems to know almost exactly what he is doing. It seems to be that he builds a basic frame of a ship, and then just begins to throw stuff on - and yet, it works. He has also got a particular skill for using medium sized BURPs to great effect, making smooth uninterrupted panels among the chaos and greebles of the rest of the ship. Some might say however, that his chunky colouring can be quite distracting - a few maybe even hideous. But click around and you'll find other ships that he has built which are very cleanly coloured and show that again - he knows what he is doing.

I'll go specifically first with his Pirate battle-carrier. This represents his clunky building style perfectly. Eclectic colours, mixed smooth and greebley sections, and big large turrets that still don't seem to betray scale. This ship really looks like it's just been clobbered together from a bunch of other craft, and outfitted with massive cannons. It's messy, and that's how it's supposed to be. Scattered windows also do great to bring in scale, and the small accompanying craft really adds some realism - I don't quite know how, but I think that I'm going to try and do the same thing in the future. The mass block of engines at the back work, though I wish they were more then wheels.

Next is his Sobani Remote Trade Gateway Spaceship. This is quite the juxtaposition to the above work, it isn't really messy, the colours are cleaner, and there's no turrets of varying sizes. Instead this ship seems to be very well planned and structured, which being that the last ship was for pirates, seems fitting. The two large yellow hangars are great, and I wish I had whatever piece he's using for them. The smooth hull is dotted and creased with inlays of detail, striking the imagination - one particular trench along the middle near the front with the barring (what piece is that?) is quite intriguing. Engines are, again, a bit disappointing - however they do work with the design. And again the use of smaller support craft bring an odd sense of realism to the model.

Alright, I've written myself to death. Fitting no?

Tuesday, 10 April 2007

Soviet Kitsch

Alternate history has always been somewhat of an interest of mine but I've never really taken any major steps in fully exploring the genre apart from miraculous short stories and the wonderful world of Red Alert. That was in-till I picked up the first book in John Birmingham's Axis of Time Trilogy, Weapons of Choice World War 2.2. That was a month and a half ago, now I'm up to the third and final book and I'm well and truly hooked. The jist of it is that in 2021 an experiment in experimental teleportation technology accidentally flings a modern naval taskforce back to 1942 and punched smack dab in the middle of the American taskforce a day or two before the battle of Midway. Modern tech falls into the hands of both the Allies and the Axis and doesn't take long for all hell to break loose.
The social and political ramifications of such an event are explored plus plenty of action and modern-warfare techno-babble thrown in for good measure. Not for the squeamish though, as it tends to get quite gory at times. It's got a fair bit of humour chucked in too, I particularly like Himmler's loathing of Microsoft products and his insistence of including music in all his Power-point presentations.

Onto the Mocs all ready..
From Trevor Van Aalst we have an unusual little creation, a mash-up of a classic 918 police car and a Classic-Space cruiser. Very cool, very cool indeed. I dig the T-shaped tail and the sloped rear compartment however I personally think the belly looks a bit weak.
From Dan Rubin we have a brand new Galactic inquisition Moc and it's about time too! A very cool cross shaped fighter with some seriously slick looking ordnance. The triple-missile packs are excellent.

From Peter Morris this week we have a pretty unique creation, The Rusty Pickup. What more can I say? This Moc will be love at first site for some and yet cause others to become involuntarily reacquainted with yesterday's breakfast. I love it, the whole thing’s a mess but for some reason it just works and blends remarkably well. But this aint no rainbow warrior, sure it's got the colour-scheme of one but what it doesn't have is a haphazardous design that one would tend to associate with a rainbow warrior. Beneath that rainbow guise is a nicely shaped ship. There's defiantly some tasty bits on it, I think the engine pods look pretty snazzy in a cool retro-ish fifties car kinda way and the spotlights are nice touch too. For some reason I really like the placement of those turret-ball bits on the front. Fuel tanks perhaps? Weaponry? External space-hopper storage? Whatever they are, they're cool looking that's for sure.
Zach, aka Bricknut brings us his very Arwing-ish PCS Fast Action Squadron-commanding Turbofighter or F.A.S.T for short. The pill like canopy design looks great as do the serrated wing edges and the diamond shaped ear-fins. The nose is lovely and smooth and its accompanying nose blaster is a nice touch. However I don't really think the rear antennas fit smoothly with the rest of the ship, they greatly reduce the overall swoosh factor of the ship and look pretty last minute.

I really like what Matt D has done with his CSF logo entry, The Crimson Fox. The vertical configuration as opposed to the horizontal looks really unique. One of the things I noticed about this one is the hinge plate in the fin that allows the canopy to open, bonus points for that one. And I particularly like the use of slopes down the sides there.
If you haven't all ready, check out the K-52 Abtula by Nnenn. I haven't got much to say about this one that’s already been said so you’ll just have to trust me when I say it's pretty darn good.
Yeah, here's another fighter and it's from Nnenn again, introducing the Live Gaming Fighter or the GLT if you prefer. This one boasts sharp and crisp clean lines with some nice features like the simple-but extremely effective intakes. I really like the painted on cockpit and pointy tail. The GLT reminds me of my own Falcon fighter as the two share a pretty similar profile. I never got around to finishing it because I never felt completely satisfied with any of the wing designs I came up with. But looking at the GLT I can see possible solutions to the Falcon's design problems. I might dust her off and make some kind of attempt to finish her, but at the moment most of her parts have been vultured and replaced for the benefit of other projects. The yellow, red and orange colour scheme isn't a very fetching fashion for a graceful lady such as the Falcon, no wonder she's been hiding away in a dark and dusty box for so long.

Be sure to check out Jehkay's Rabbit Rover, planetary exploration and mineral detection has never been cuter! Probably best not to get on its bad side though..

Sunday, 8 April 2007

I'm With You

So back up a few posts, and Tom is talking about the reinvention of his sub-theme. I think everybody at least had a personal theme in their childhood, and probably still has it - its theirs and that's why they like it so. So I've had my own since I was probably about 7, playing with duplo. It slowly evolved until it became what I used in Bzp's .Space, the Federation Advance. Very stereotypical and missing large amounts of originality. Now it was over the course of this faction that my building skills really improved, I went from rainbow warrior to the disciplined colour schemer I am today; but each time I build I feel like the faction's unoriginal presence is betraying me. So for a while now I've been tossing around ideas to form a new sub-theme, something that goes with my styles and colour availability and is relatively original. Now I've been doing a lot of reading in the subject of ancient Greece recently, both the Iliad and Odyssey, a condensed history book, 300 (even for its not really historical values), and the Aeneid (roman, but greek in its telling). I'm also taking a class, and will be taking another next year. I really like Greece, there's something romantic about crafting one's history into epic poems, and the belief that maybe some of it did happen. So what does this have to do with Space? Well the idea came of a diverse sub-theme, one which contains several styles in itself. Astropolis!

Alright, here's today's feature. Jerac always comes through with some interesting looking microscale ships, and the Cerberi is no exception. His style always combines a sturdy and heavily armoured ship that spins off many delicate and intricate looking greebles. And he's never one to turn down the outer-hull technique. The Cerberi is also an experiment in turret design, which is one of the more troublesome aspects of building microscale. The scale of the gun always seems to large, but Jerac demonstrates some ingenious thinking here and comes up with a few fancy looking designs. Excellent use of droid arms as well, wish I had some in something other then tan! The rear fins around the engine are a great touch too, despite not really having a large impact on how the ship looks or operates, they provide that finite addition of detail that brings the ship to life. Manuvering Rockets = Win. The only thing I really wish had some more details are the engines! Albeit, engines are a difficulty, but I think if you think of them as an interesting challenge and start with a basic idea in your head then it does become rather fun to tinker with various ideas.

So once I perhaps come up with a logo, bit of a backstory, and an MOC or two - I'll unveil this new venture into sub-theming. I've also got a frigate for my old faction lying around, interesting build but nothing revolutionary.

Sunday, 1 April 2007

Damn Your Mood Swings

The most recent contest to grace the Classic Space boards is the Put your MOC in the CSF Banner CONTEST, quite a simple concept really: Make an MOC in the general shape of the spacecraft in LEGO's Classic-Space theme banner. We're already getting some awesome entries, SNOT away!

Nnenn gives us a splash of red and a dash of lt-Blue with his APX Cloutmas. It has a seamless shape and its built in a different and interesting scale (may have to try that myself). Of all the spaceships that have come and gone over the years, its the CS logo ship that stays mysterious and illusive - I doubt the designer of the logo had any idea, but doesn't everyone just wonder what that ship really looks like? I think this pretty much sums it up.

Legohaulic's is my other favourite so far. Both my favourites do kinda look similar, heck they even use that vogue colour combo of red/blue. I think both would be unquestioned if they were able to slip a win.

I really hope I'll be able to enter this one, I missed out on the Microspace contest on Flickr that I was so gun-ho about, that was painfull. Keep an eye on this though, its really creating some flashy entries!