The inner Technic frame is 102 studs long, and has studs facing up, down, and to either side. Essentially this creates a long thin box with four faces to put an outer skin on.
Construction commenced in the summer of 2009. Once I had my sturdy frame, this ribbed section was where it really all began. I wasn't sure whether to orient it so this section was wide and flat (as it ended up), or tall and thin. Spaceships don't need a "top" and "bottom" if there's no gravity, but you have to display it somehow.
It sat for a long time untouched, then I started on the main bridge and center section. This pattern would continue over the course of the build. A week or two of work on a particular section, then weeks or months of no building, just staring and thinking, then work on the next section, then let it sit for months...
Early on there was a hangar deck in the space underneath the four tanks. But the more I thought about it, the less I liked it there. There are tanks below as well, and it seemed that between and inside would be extensions of those tanks, pipes, refinery equipment, who knows what kind of machinery. No room for a bunch of shuttlecraft to be docked or launched.
Building a SHIP with a lot of little nooks and crannies on top over the course of a year and a half is an excellent way to collect dust. And if you're building a big dust collector, you might as well build it in black so that every little speck of dust and bit of lint and ABS-seeking cat hair is painfully visible.
The underside is as detailed as the top. In fact I think the bottom looks better. Maybe it isn't really the bottom, maybe I'm displaying the damn thing upside down. It doesn't matter -- it's in space, there is no up.
With the frame pointing studs out in four directions, I had a wild idea at the outset to make each surface different. Something that Other Shannon could pull off, but not me. I'm not obsessive-compulsive in any meaningful real-life way, but I have problems building spaceships that lack bilateral symmetry.
My favorite part of the SHIP, buried on the underside. I really like the texture of the minifig legs used this way.
The underside bridge. My original plan was to have a lot of superstructure down here, something that extended down a good long way. It ended up being much more sparse.
Next came the tail section. I had a basic engine design I liked, and it was just a matter of getting the right skin over the frame to go with it.
In taking a year and a half to build a SHIP, there is no excuse for having any section look like less than your best effort. I thought the thinness of the hoses going into the engines looked okay when I built it, but it kind of bothers me now. I do this all the time, looking back I'm rarely satisfied with anything I did. I had to restrain myself from constantly reworking previously built sections, otherwise this never would have been completed.
I like this back panel with the technic pieces. Over the course of the build it was a constant search for new and different black parts to make a variety of details and textures.
On the top and bottom are red highlights and minimal gray conduits. On the sides, mostly gray grills and these. There were always gaps in the design here for greebling of some sort, but I'm no good at greebles.
Looking up at it from a slightly low angle, we call this our hero shot.
The nose was the last thing tackled. More greeble space I had no idea how to fill, so just decided to echo what was already there elsewhere on the SHIP.
Red highlights and trans-red for windows. Maybe I should have gone with trans-yellow or clear?
I had a lot of different ideas for how to finish the front, none of which remotely resemble what actually got built.
We'll call this the hangar deck. Or the wave motion gun, I don't care. Just like all the hollow studs on the ship are either thrusters or torpedo tubes. Yes, space torpedoes. Haven't you ever seen Star Blazers?
Underside of the front, showing the different techniques used to extend the red highlights all the way to the nose.
The final detail shot. In starting out to build this, I thought microscale would make it easier. Now I'm not so sure. At this scale almost every square inch needs to be detailed or textured in some way, or it would look empty. At minifig scale larger blank sections would not look so bad. I looked a lot at Mark Kelso's build journals, as it seemed his large SHIPs were about the same scale -- two or three times the size, but the same scale. I found this detailing work tough on a three foot SHIP, so I can't imagine doing it on a six or eight foot one.
And so, in spring of 2011, all that's left is to build the stand. And wonder how in the world I was supposed to photograph the damn thing. This may be the first time a Lego spaceship has been presented against the wall of an old barn for a backdrop. Short of spending a ton of money I don't have on a nice photo studio setup, this is my best option.
It may not be eight feet long, but at least I can swoosh it!
And if you're interested, a video tour featuring the barely coherent mumbling of a Lego geek trying to relate all the relevant information off the top of his head. The presentation can only be described as white-trash-eriffic, but I think you do get a little better idea of the scale as opposed to the still shots. Warning: my writing is much more eloquent than my speech. Or, if I was to say it aloud, me write more good than talk. You'll probably have to turn the sound way up; apparently I'm too soft-spoken for my poor old camera's little microphone.
Details of the frame alone:
The core, this is where the frame rails will connect.
Add four 1x8 technic bricks...
Then your 16, 14, 12, or however long frame rails.
There are four joints to be secured, so multiply this by four...
And lock everything in place with some plates on top. You can use more 2x4 plates to secure the joint from underneath as well, but I found it wasn't really necessary.
The major drawback is that when the frame is skinned over, the side panels will not be flush with the top or bottom. The variance here is probably about a quarter plate.
Great design and great page. Definitely love the use of the legs:)
I am in the process of my first MOC - Herald 1 - Attack cruiser (silly me started with a big one) and I started on the bottom first and had to flip it; one heavy son of a goonie goo goo!! I tried a little swoosh and nearly dropped it!
Thomas Benedikt is right, you can build anything.
Keep on MOCing
This is really impressive. Honestly, it is a tough thing to create a ship from scratch that is really sleek and good looking. Oftentimes ships are detailed but plain ugly. This ship is sleek and it really looks ready to do battle. I like the size of it too. Just perfect for "swooshing" (which I am totally guilty of ;), easy display, and great detail. A truly excellent build.
several of your detailings, particularly on the underside, resemble turrets. the whole thing looks fantastic. i am in need of a good criuser for a group i run, just go to my page, and click the very long acronym. (starts with U.N.A.)
All i can say is ... WOOOT
I love it. Looking forward to get all my old LEGO from my basement and make my kids share theirs to get the amount i need to be able to make somthing similiar.
Your details are stunning and my kids love it. :)
Brilliant work! The black colouration scheme looks great, and all the details are stunning. I must say, it reminds me of that ship Lee Jones did, I'm sure you know which one. The colours and general shape are startlingly similar. I guess great minds think alike! I especially like how you built the bridge, although I'm not exactly sure why. I definitely understand why you were builder of the year!
From one ship builder to another this is a fantastic build! Thanks for showing the detail of the main structure' love photos like that. I think it time for me to build a big ship! I give you 5 happy lego heads!
Absolutely stunning! Your color choice hides the details at a distance but as you get closer you realize just how detailed it is. I am envious of your building abilities. If you have a free moment, I would greatly appreciate your advice on my Flying Rhino.
Now that's a swooshible ship after my own heart! The detail you put into this beauty looks perfectly proportioned to me. Just enough to give it that wow factor but not so much to make it overbearing. Best of all thank you for sharing your framing technique. I have no doubt many of us (including myself) will attempt our own ideas utilizing your technique.
Something absolutely brathtaking in my opinion. I love all the detail and texturing. A fine build Sir!
I have had a microspace SHIP in the works for at least two years now and actually find it comforting that others have had the same issues I have been having. I wanted to thank you for your "build journal" as it was just as cool as the build itself!
Christmas has come early! I've been longing for a really nice microscale ship from someone for a long time now (they may be out there, I just haven't seen one in ages). Shannon, this is GORGEOUS! There's not enough time or room here in the comments section for me to cover everything I'd like to, but suffice to say this beauty awes from every angle. I'll be back several times to view this and drink in all of the wonderful details. Just...thank you!
One truly sweet SHIP! Being able to see the guts of the thing makes one appreciate the wonderfully detailed exterior even more. Speaking of which, the frame design is brilliant– I can think of multiple uses other than gigantic spacecraft as well. Very nice work!
The most important feature when building a ship, SWOOSHABLITY! Very good, this thing is excellent! The parts usage is wonderful, the techniques used are great, and the overall look is fantastic! Definitely has to be one of my favorites from you! - KP
Right on man! She looks ever bit os lovely as I remember. The detailing is awesome without losing sight of the overall shape. And I was getting worried you might never finish it and just go on forever adjusting or refining it! Kiddies take note, this is a masterpiece: worship it and study it in detail. For your own good!
I can't wait to be an AFOL. until I am one, I'm stuck building tiny mini-scale ships on LDD that are no longer than a foot, tops, and using my real-life LEGO collection to build blocky ships out of red, yellow, blue, and white 2x4 bricks. incredible work on this, I don't expect to ever be able to build something like this for another couple years at least. and I think the greebles are fine. by the way, do you have any idea how many "space torpedoes" there are? I know of at least fifteen different types. three different kinds of proton torpedoes, plasma torpedoes, diamond boron, antimatter, baradium-tipped, you name it. :P
I'm not sure what universe you're from, but over in these parts, torpedoes in space are commonplace on most military ships! I don't know why you'd think we don't have 'em! (Just incase, that's all said in a sarcastic voice). Anyway, nice ship you have here.
Magestic in black! Insane greebliness even if you claim you're not good at it. The red highlights and trans-red windows are a fine choice methinks. I agree the hoses look thin; maybe a Rusty Ferret type of hosing would do. Can totally relate with the dust dilemma since most of my creations are black. Nonetheless, this SHIP is a thing of beauty! Makes my battlecruiser look like rookie material. :(
Nice looking ship and thanks for some construction pictures aswell. Ever concidered building a minifig scale ship? Even though it's more parts to use it's more fun and challenging. Great ship and details. Thanks, check out my ships:-)