Monday, 10 September 2007

Pushing the Sky

Many apologies for the delay, my Internet connection has always been similar to that old couple in the beaten up flintstones-era car dragging a caravan at a whopping speed of 30 in the fast lane. Well that was my Internet, but now imagine that same car but the caravan is full of bricks and that the wheels mysteriously vanished a couple hundred miles ago. In short, 20.0 kbs Dial-up is a curse so terrible and vile that I wouldn't even dare bestow it upon my worst enemy and I miss my 40.kbs. Anywho, just yesterday I got to do something I've always been longing to do, I got into a plane which then climbed to about ten thousand feet and then the door opened and I stepped out of the side of it onto the little platform and jumped. Skydiving's a completely amazing and disorientating experience, nothing like weightlessness but probably as close to it as you can get without spending a few hundred thousand dollars I reckon.

Anyway, onto the Lego, the lame-parts space-defence contest deadline has been extended to the 23rd of September which is good news for both the lazy and those who had a legitimate excuse. (who are also lazy) Be sure to check out the competition as there's some fantastic entries.
Luke's Wipeout inspired Orbit Racer is undeniably blocky but I think that's a main part of its charm. It's been quite a while since I've played Wipeout so I'm assuming the hinged panels on the wings are either Airbrakes or maitience hatches but whatever they are they're a fairly nifty and practical addition. I like the cockpit choice but I feel that the nose could be a little sharper. Peter Morris's Wraith has got a nice nose on it and some neat looking thrusters but the wings look a little uncoordinated. Kind of looks like a Star Wars version of a Wraith Dart from Stargate which makes it a good wing-man or adversary to the Buzzhawk which is also by Peter. The gears as thrusters arrangement looks really good as the gears do a way better job here than any cylinder, axel or wheel could. I love the mowhawk but I'm sure the blasters could do with some fattening up. In a similar vein we have the Jethawk from Adam Nies, it's got a nice colour scheme and I really love those compact winglets and their accompanying blue tipped thrusters. The Grey Gosling by Roy T Cook looks like some kind of bizarre amalgamation, it's a ship with a front like a semi-trailer and a rear end like and grey fluffy cloud, which is actually pretty cool so go check it out.

I've heard plentiful praise awarded to the Pc game Crimson Skies in the Space community so I finally gave in and picked it up. If you haven't heard of it, it's a Flight-Combat Pc game set in an alternate 1937 where nations and continents have been split into warring factions and where sky pirates and lawmen roam the friendly skies in a wide assortment of blimps, zeppelins and bizzaro fighters. I finally buckled and picked it up just yesterday but unfortunately it won't work properly for me as it doesn't get along with Nvidia graphics cards.
Problems regardless the combination home & hanger Zeppelins in Crimson Skies struck me as beautiful things both in design and concept and would be pretty amazing in Lego form if done well. I did some sleuthing and discovered that it doesn't take much research to learn that Lego Zepplins are fairly rare and illusive beasts. There are a handful of smaller ones but there's only one big one out there and that's Ash's rendered Daryabar. My research also confirmed my initial assumption that there are too many words for them, zeppelins, airships, dirigibles or a blimp or whatever you want to call them. Back to the first point, big blimps are in short supply but there's slightly more smaller ones out there thanks to that rare Adventurers balloon peice that's restricted to modest small Zepplins due to it's size. It's fairly obvious why there's a shortage of Airships, one being the obscurity of the aircraft and the second being all in the challenge of tackling the balloon and making it look good. You can't just sweep the problem under a convenient balloon shaped rug, because after all a Zepplin balloon would just look like a strange looking caravan wouldn't it? The midsection or waist of a big balloon could be easily done as with plates and click hinges to produce a big hexagonal cylinder preferably with tiles over its surface to make it nice, smooth and balloon like. That's the easy part done, the hard part lies in capping off the ends off smoothly. Take the Darybar's ends for example, they've been capped but the technique used to cap them doesn't look very balloon like.
Moving onto new ground there's two Mocs that I know of out there that aren't Zeplins but similar to the original Crimson Skies multipurpose Zepplin vein, those being Adrian Drake's Dewy and Nathan Proudlove's Mistral. The thing I like about the Mistral is that it has a ton of great details like the spikes surrounding the gunner the mass of pipes and of course not forgetting the bike sitting on the flight deck and those lovely big steam boilers. (Huzzah for Roborider wheels!)
The Mistral proves it's worth as a lovely steampunk craft but on the more whimsical side of the divide there's the Dewy which serves as the giant roasted chicken fighter-carrier of the skies. Like the Mistral, the Dewy has a great amount of detail both exterior and interior and looks great. The large scale application of the built up plate technique used to build the hull is simply fantastic. Perhaps this same technique would be perfect for the balloon on a big airship?

Now come on people, get your building caps on and let's see some great Lego Airships!

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