As you might imagine, being the managing editor for The Brothers Brick entails looking at a lot of LEGO creations. With space being one of the most popular LEGO genres, I’ve seen my share of spaceships. And while I see plenty of spaceships I love, it’s not often that I come across models that truly cause my jaw to drop, but spaceship guru Nick Trotta routinely does so with his mastery of brick geometry. One of the best spaceship builders around, Nick’s latest creation, dubbed the Heavenly Strike, is a perfect example of how you can fit LEGO pieces together in truly mind-blowing configurations. So I’m going to dive into this one a bit more than we do on our usual articles because I’m absolutely enthralled.
At first, you see a superbly slick spaceship with an impeccable color scheme (with a few gorgeously custom copper-chromed elements). It’s angular and appropriately futuristic without being over the top. And, while it’s easily overlooked, that display stand is quite a nice creation on its own. But look closer, and you’ll start to see that very few pieces align in the way that you’d think they should, and nearly every surface is fitted an odd angle.
Let’s start with the cockpit, which has two white struts running up the center, breaking it into thirds. Those side windows are actually full windscreens that you might recognize from a lot of sets in the 90s, except here they’re fitted in sideways so that only one half is visible. Another pair in black is fitted to the same task behind the cockpit, giving a compound angle that’s very difficult to achieve in LEGO.
But now let’s move back to the wings. The first thing I notice is that nearly all the pieces are utilizing SNOT (that’s Studs Not On Top). But then, I see that the teeth on the yellow and black 1×4 Technic gear racks are interleaved. If you’ve ever played around with those parts together, you’ll know that locking their teeth together puts them at a slight offset to each other, and sure enough, if you look closely here you’ll see that the black gears sit just slightly more to the aft of the wing than the yellow ones. Yet Nick has got it all perfectly flush.
So what’s the magic going on here? I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Nick a number of times, and in addition to being a truly nice guy, he’s always more than happy to show you how his stuff works. Nick builds his creations as an iterative process–he’ll work on the same design for months, going through multiple versions and refining the design until everything fits just the way he wants. Usually, he’ll do this without regard for color, and only once he has the design down pat does he rebuild it in the final colors. Nick has published a few images of this ship giving us a look under the hood. First up, let’s look at the wing without the final colors applied, which makes it easier to distinguish the individual elements. One of the key elements you can spot here is that strange slope with 5 studs from the 90s (all those yellow parts in the image below). Incorporating its unique geometry makes for a fantastic starting point if you’re looking to give your LEGO brain a workout.
But now let’s look at the underside, which is where things really get crazy. Nick pulls out nearly every connection trick in the book to fit bits and bobs at whatever angles he needs–from clips to hinges to SNOT bricks and hollow studs. You could pretty much write a brick-building dissertation just on what’s going on here, so suffice it to say, if you want to get better at LEGO geometry, study this for a bit and try to puzzle out what’s going on.
And with that, I’ll leave you with another shot of the finished model. Well done, Mr. Trotta.
Be sure to check out more of Nick Trotta’s LEGO creations that we’ve featured.