One day I was surveying my collection of Gerry Anderson themed LEGO models and I realised that I had yet to build anything from Captain Scarlet And The Mysterons. I love the sleek design of the vehicles from Captain Scarlet, but they don’t necessarily lend themselves easily to the more blocky look of LEGO without the use of specialised parts. A better builder than I with a more expansive parts inventory would probably make an easy job of building a LEGO Spectrum Pursuit Vehicle or a Spectrum Passenger Jet, but each vehicle presents a unique challenge either because of its shape or its colour.
I was still determined, however, to add a Captain Scarlet MOC to my collection. Quickly scanning through my parts I guesstimated that I would just about have enough grey bricks and plates to create a sizeable version of Cloudbase, headquarters of the Spectrum organisation. Go big or go home, right?
For reference I relied heavily on the Vivid Imaginations Soundtech Cloudbase toy from the early 2000’s – the exact one I’ve had since my 8th birthday. It is, quite simply, one of the best toys ever produced based on a Gerry Anderson series. In addition I studied shots from the series itself and Graham Bleathman’s cutaway artwork.
The starting point was to put together a tiny Angel Interceptor to sit on the flight deck. As with all micro scale builds, it was important to try to capture as much detail as possible with as few bricks as possible. I desperately tried to limit the width of the aircraft to just four studs, theoretically allowing two of them to sit side by side, on an eight-stud-wide plate.
With the approximate scale figured out, it was then just a question of putting bricks together until I had the shape of the Angel Interceptor flight deck. Then came the tricky part. Cloudbase is essentially one giant rectangle with the Angel flight deck, the engines, and the Command Centre stuck on the sides. In order to support the weight of all these elements, the core structure had to be incredibly strong, which is difficult when the shape of the body is large and flat. The internal structure of the main body is therefore a maze of bricks and plates overlapping each other and then covered in as many grey plates as I could get my hands on. Deeply buried in each corner for maximum strength is one of the four engine units that keep Cloudbase hovering at 40,000 feet in the air. As an additional touch, I also created a simple hinge mechanism for the “Spectra-fan” at one end, which supposedly tilts upright to slow aircraft down as they land.
I experimented multiple times with ways to add markings to the deck of this Cloudbase build, but as of right now I don’t have the parts to create a smooth, detailed surface. For the moment, therefore, the studs remain exposed. Although I would certainly like to finish this aspect of the build more in the future, maximum accuracy and perfect polish was never my goal when putting this together. I just wanted a big model of Cloudbase that clearly looked like Cloudbase.
The Cloudbase Command Centre is probably one of the least LEGO-friendly shapes I have ever attempted. I started with the circular base which was constructed by connecting a ring of 1×2 swivel/hinge plates together. Then, using a combination of SNOT construction and carefully selected slope bricks I managed to piece together the approximate shape of the building. Inside, bricks were once again used to reinforce the many elements which had to come together in all sorts of awkward ways. Some creativity had to be used at times as my inventory of grey plates had almost completely run out during construction of the main body.
When the building was completed and full of all that structural reinforcement it was a mighty heavy block. The next challenge was therefore figuring out how to connect the Command Centre to the engines via only two pieces of support stanchion on either side. At first, I used some old fork-ended hinge pieces to achieve the correct angle. Alas, they were far from capable of carrying the weight. I therefore switched to the more modern ratcheted hinges. Although this limited my options for angling the stanchion, this actually worked in my favour because once a section was in place it remained unable to move. Further reinforcement of the two load-bearing engines was needed by further building up the support on the inside of the main body. Finally, the Command Centre was able to sit above and between the two engines without collapsing under its own weight.
The underside of Cloudbase is hardly ever glimpsed at on screen. The only really important detail seemed to be making sure the circular Amber Room was positioned beneath the Angel Interceptor flight deck. The rest of the detail on Cloudbase’s belly was only roughly detailed using black bricks, slopes, and a couple of satellite dishes to represent hover turbines.
The finished model is a beast which displays beautifully on top of some transparent bricks to simulate flight. One day I intend to add detail to the runway, and construct a whole fleet of Angel Interceptors to remain on standby. For now though, I am very glad to have this addition to my collection. S.I.G.!