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Building LEGO spaceships – the basics

by admin on August 24, 2014

in Building Techniques

(Written by ninja5)

I’ve been thinking that since I wrote an article on LEGO mecha (see: Building LEGO Mechs – The Basics), I should write one on LEGO spaceships too, as they are a very popular hobby. I hope you find it helpful! 🙂

#70701 LEGO Spaceship

Building a basic LEGO spaceships is not that difficult, and in fact most LEGO fans have attempted to make at least one. There are many official LEGO sets with spaceships that you can use for inspiration, and LEGO provides lots of elements if you would like to make your own design. But have you ever built a LEGO spaceship that looked exactly like how you wanted with all the functions and details you envisioned, while also having a fun and challenging build? In this article, I’m going to show you a few different styles of LEGO spaceships and some of the techniques used to build them.

#70707 LEGO Galaxy Squad Eradicator Mech Galaxy Jet

BASIC LEGO SPACESHIPS: This can be a starting point for people who are fairly new to building LEGO spaceships, or a point to go back to and elaborate on if you are a more advanced builder. Basic LEGO spaceships are studs up and will likely incorporate specialized LEGO spaceship parts that makes them easier to put together (like windshields, wing-elements, rocket-boosters, etc.). These LEGO spaceships are usually small and easy to put together, but still look good. If you have a few wedge-plates for the nose and wings, a windshield, and a couple of inverted wedges for the hull (also used for building small kayaks for minifigs), you are ready to put together a basic LEGO spaceship.

No matter what size or style of spaceship you build, one thing to watch out for is to make sure the cockpit is large enough for your minifig pilot to fit. It is best to test this before you start working on the rest of your spaceship.

LEGO SPACESHIPS WITH SIDEWAYS BUILDING: This is a more advanced way of building LEGO spaceships that incorporates some interesting building techniques. You could build the cockpit area the same way as you did with the basic spaceship, but the wings are attached sideways, using special bricks that have studs not just on the top but also on the sides. You can use hinges or brackets as well to achieve the same result. The benefit of this technique is that you have more choices for shaping the wings, and you can keep the surface of the wings smooth and studless. In the picture below I used standard LEGO bricks and some curved slopes.

LEGO Spaceship by ninja5

You can also use tailfin pieces attached sideways to make the wings, as you can see on this little spaceship from the #70816 LEGO Benny’s Spaceship set from The LEGO Movie. Wings created this way have a sharp and sleek look.

LEGO Small Spaceship

LEGO VIC VIPERS: I consider Vic Vipers to be the next level of LEGO spaceships. They could follow the same core design as the basic LEGO spaceship, but most LEGO fans will go further than that. Vic Vipers were the specialty of legendary LEGO fan nnenn who passed away a few years ago, and many people continue to use his standards to build them. Basically a Vic Viper has two forward prongs that extends in front of the cockpit, a single tailfin, and two swept-back rear wings. The Vic Vipers below are all by nnenn. You can see more amazing designs in his flickr gallery.

LEGO Vic Vipers by nnenn

There are many way to achieve the look of a LEGO Vic Viper, and you can experiment with various techniques. I find the best way to build them is on a basic body, but with forward prongs and wings attached in an angle to the cockpit using sideways building techniques.

LEGO Spaceship Viper by ninja5

LEGO SPACESHIPS WITH STUDS FACING IN FOUR OR MORE DIRECTIONS: That’s a long name for a small spaceship that I just made up. However it is quite appropriate, as this kind of spaceship is complicated and confusing to build. Basically you are using a lot of sideways building techniques, and not just for the wings, but also for the body of the spaceship. This is achieved with using LEGO bricks with studs on more than one side. These bricks come in several sizes and configurations (some have an extra stud on just one side, while others have studs on all sides except the bottom). In the spaceship pictured below I have used these special bricks to build the core, and attached plates to form the body. There is also landing-gear in the nose area attached sideways.

LEGO Spaceship details by ninja5

The cockpit is tightly packed, however with sideways building techniques you can actually give your minifig pilot more room to fit comfortably. I have attached engines at the back, and blasters on the sides, and notice that the back wall of the spaceship is built with studs facing in a fifth direction. I know this can take a bit to wrap your brain around, but the pictures should help. Also, the #20200 LEGO Master Builder Academy Space Designer kit is particularly helpful in teaching you how to design spaceships using multiple direction building techniques.

LEGO Mater Builder Academy Space Design 3-in-1 Kit

LEGO S.H.I.P.S: So far all the LEGO spaceships we have talked about are quite small. Not so for a S.H.I.P. a.k.a. Seriously Huge Investment in Parts – a term used by LEGO fans referring to large spaceships. These things are at least 100 studs long, are usually fragile, and quite heavy. Not something you can swoosh around easily, but they certainly look impressive. I have only built one S.H.I.P. so far, and it took me a couple weeks to finish – even though it is fairly basic and has no advanced building techniques.

LEGO Spaceship SHIP by ninja5

I don’t really have any qualified advice on building large LEGO spaceships as I don’t have enough experience, but in general I would suggest that you pick a color-scheme you have a lot of LEGO elements in. Also try to make your spaceship at least partially hollow so that it ends up being lighter and requires fewer pieces. However you do have to use enough pieces and proper locking techniques to make sure that your spaceship doesn’t fall apart. Mine actually has a lot of weak joints that could have been built stronger.

#70816 LEGO Benny's Spaceship Stickers

If you need inspiration for making LEGO spaceships, LEGO always has space related sets available. The current LEGO Space theme is LEGO Galaxy Squad, and of course there is the #70816 LEGO Benny’s Spaceship we talked about above, and LEGO Star Wars also has some great designs. Some of the other sets like LEGO Super Heroes also have some great ships. You can look at detailed pictures of these sets at the Online LEGO Shop.

Shop for LEGO Galaxy Squad Sets

So what did you think? Are you an expert at building LEGO spaceships and knew everything we talked about in this article, or did you learn something new? Feel free to share your thoughts, experiences and your own tips in the comments section below! Would love to hear from other LEGO spaceship builders! 😉

And you might also like to check out the following related posts:

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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Rmstunticon August 24, 2014 at 10:07 AM

I myself am currently building a S.H.I.P. Or, actually, it’s just sitting on a shelf incomplete until I get the pieses I need. 😛

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legogeek August 24, 2014 at 11:16 AM

I guss you could call what i am building a S.H.I.P but I don’t know if the Avengers Hellicarrier(minifigures scale) is considered S.H.I.P.

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ninja5 August 24, 2014 at 2:54 PM

It probably would be.

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Håkan August 24, 2014 at 4:44 PM

Some more pieces you need for spaceships; dishes, cones, antennas, trans parts, levers, and slopes and tiles with electronic prints (such as computers and gauges) to fake a steering system.

I gotta build me some ship soon, just need to clean up some space to find the room…

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Håkan August 24, 2014 at 4:45 PM

Btw, is Master Builder Academy still only possible to order from the USA?

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admin August 24, 2014 at 5:10 PM

Yes, that’s my understanding. I have not heard anything about the MBA sets being available outside the USA. It’s a shame because it is a great system. I have all four levels and have been enjoying them greatly. Hopefully LEGO will reconsider making them available in other countries in the near future.

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Håkan August 24, 2014 at 4:57 PM

I remember an old M-Tron MOC I built with the bricks 2458 and 3700, that could be disassembled into a front ship and a back ship – inspired by an old Fantastic Four comic.

http://img3.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20051115000359/marveldatabase/images/e/ec/Fantasti-Car_MK_II.jpg

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LegoUniverse Bob August 25, 2014 at 6:31 AM

This helped a lot! 😀 This morning (a.k.a a few hours ago) I built a small robot out of a bunch of spare pieces I had in my drawer. It was inspired by the LU Stromling Mech, though it looks much different and smaller. Now I’m planning on making a small ship that can deploy it. Thanks for making this topic. 🙂

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ninja5 August 25, 2014 at 11:01 AM

You’re welcome!

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lego trooper 91 August 26, 2014 at 9:25 AM

thaks this was really help full i like bildin lego ships a lot (is almost like bilding cars but you dont have to worry a bote the weels :mrgreen: ) and i bild a lot the best one i have ever bilt was probly the red and blue one i bilt after i wacht the lego movie (every thin is awsome!) and i was thinkin about bennys spaceship (or bennys spaceship spaceship spaceship if you will ) and then i bilt a bad guy spaceship to battle it i love lego :mrgreen:

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Chris August 29, 2014 at 12:14 PM

Grammar Police! XD

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lego trooper 91 September 2, 2014 at 1:26 PM

what those that mean

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Superweapon September 6, 2014 at 11:42 AM

I just built a Classic Space style SHIP with greebling after building my exosuit and finding a bunch of classic space guys. It was much better than expected and actually relatively durable (obviously it would break if I dropped it though, but it would break into three or four chunks, rather than a million pieces).

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Rich August 24, 2015 at 9:31 AM

This is great. I’m 33 and just getting back into lego after buying a few bits for my 3yr old. Seriously considering shifting my Xbox One to raise funds for this rather expensive hobby I can feel myself embarking upon.

Thanks for the article, i’ve started putting together the skeleton of something approaching a S.H.I.P. I really love this model: http://www.brickshelf.com/cgi-bin/gallery.cgi?i=3405170 can anyone tell me what pieces have been used for the two forward prongs extending beyond the cockpit?

Thanks!

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admin August 24, 2015 at 11:15 AM

Wow! That’s a sweet ship! The two forward prongs are these wedge pieces: http://alpha.bricklink.com/pages/clone/catalogitem.page?P=45301#T=P

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Rich August 25, 2015 at 5:22 AM

awesome. Thanks!

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admin August 25, 2015 at 11:42 AM

You’re very welcome. Have fun building! 😀

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