Blacktron Redux, pt 1

A couple months ago, I rediscovered some of the updated versions of classic Space Lego sets, and got to wondering about Blacktron, absolutely my favorite Lego theme as a kid. I did some digging around and found that a lot of people had done updates for Blacktron II sets, there were a couple different runs at “Blacktron III”, and a fair number of people doing new ships in the colors of Blacktron. But mostly people were focusing on the Blacktron II theme, using either its colors or cockpit style, and while I love those cockpits, I’ve never cared for the color scheme or actual sets in that line.

Inspired particularly by these updates of 492: Rocket Launcher

897 revisited by Legoloverman

897 revisited, a photo by Legoloverman on Flickr.

6929: Starfleet Voyager. 

CIMG0987 by Fazoom

CIMG0987, a photo by Fazoom on Flickr.

and 6950: Mobile Rocket Launcher, 

MIRC 040 by brickfrenzy
MIRC 040, a photo by brickfrenzy on Flickr.

I wanted to do something similar for the original Blacktron sets. At first, it was just going to be the original three sets, Invader, Battrax, and Renegade. Now I’m thinking I may end up making a walker as an Alienator redux, and I have some ideas for a modernized Message Intercept Base (maybe even moonbase-compatible).

I’m not a genius with Lego, like the above folks, but I had a few ideas. First and foremost was triangles. I love forcing Lego to do non-rectangular shapes, and I was inspired by the Blacktron logo. In fact, that was honestly the leaping-off point for the whole operation. Well, that plus the asymmetrical design of the original Renegade:

Blacktron - Renegade (6954)

Putting those two together led me to the basic plan of my new “Renegade Redux”: It would have a cross section that roughly matched the Blacktron logo, with each of the 3 smaller triangles being a forward hull, connected by a larger triangle that was the main body of the ship. As I thought about it, it would actually be a bit different from the original Renegade: more like a main [triangular] hull with [triangular] outriggers connected by a [triangular] support frame, and the cargo area supported in between these. I played around with a couple orientations of these triangles, and decided I liked an isosceles triangle lying on a long side, thus emphasizing the off-kilter design and bringing out the asymmetricality. I also made the two secondary hulls very different, one being the support for the cargo section and other wing, while the other is basically just a little support pod.

IMG_8272

I didn’t think to take an earlier photo, so this is the least-cluttered version of that basic frame that I have. You can see the main hull on the left, with the attachment point for the cockpit section, and the roughed-in secondary hulls with similar attachment clamps for the additional modular sections, just like the little sensor unit in the original set.

The next problem was the main cockpit. Turns out that (1) using that triangular structure to build upon rapidly balloons, yielding a much larger cockpit than I had originally intended, and (2) it’s hard to finish off the front of it in any sort of elegant way. I’m still not entirely happy with it–it’s too long of a nose, as much as I like the taper, so I may try to give it a blunter nose, more in keeping with the original set. On the other hand, the whole ship has ended up much more stretched, sleeker than the original, which is actually quite squat. Plus, I’m quite proud of the Lego gymnastics I had to go through to figure out some way to support all the bits and actually keep everything in place, attached, and [mostly] lined up.

IMG_8254

The next trick was getting a seat and windshield on. I played around with a couple ideas before settling on combinations that fit, and then had to wrestle with several options to make the canopy open. It’s still not ideal–I would’ve preferred it to open the other direction, to make getting in and out a bit easier for the pilot, but decided to settle with “good enough”, given the frustrations of getting that far. Though I am pretty proud of how closely everything aligns, given the crazy angles and lengths I’m using. And, yes, it fits the pilot for real, no cheating.

IMG_8259

Here’s a closeup of the hinge mechanism, with some additional bits removed to make it more visible:

IMG_8258

Next was trying to take advantage of the sub-triangles of the primary structure. Just as the superstructure of the ship is a big triangle in the same proportions as the primary structures, the primary triangle can be broken down. It is built with technic beams 5/7/7, which means that I can break it into 3 3/4/4 triangles with shared vertices. So the next goal was to make a smaller section by creating a stabilized trapezoid, using these smaller triangles. Turns out to be pretty tricky without ridiculously extending the length, or having that at the core of a much larger cross section. Here’s what I managed to rig up, using technic pin 1/2 with bar to hold it all together, more or less. 

IMG_8278

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Add another layer on to provide connection points, and it looks like this:

IMG_8285

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And here’s the entire engine module, completed:

IMG_8297

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As it turns out, it’s got a little bit of play, so I sometimes need to wiggle it a bit to make the connections line up, but it’s pretty solid–nothing’s falling apart. And here’s where the engines mount onto the ship: 

IMG_8304

As I’m writing this, I wonder if I could switch all the friction pins in the connectors for axle pins, and rely on the clamps to do most of the heavy lifting? Or would that be too wiggly? It would certainly solve some of the issues with connecting and disconnecting–removing the couplings requires a lot of force, and some of the sections are a bit on the fragile side. Not the actual triangular structure, but the other bits on it. 

I’ve done a lot since these pictures were taken, and have an almost complete ship. But that will be another post.

I’ll leave you with a teaser: some ideas for the cockpit/windshield of the Alienator Redux and/or Invader Redux:

IMG_8311

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One comment on “Blacktron Redux, pt 1

  1. starscraper99 says:

    Cool spaceships :D

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