(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! 🙂
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.
➡ 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.
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 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.
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 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.
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 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.
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.
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 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.
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: