Octan "Skywriter" Pace Car - 4TH OF JULY Special

My initial inspiration for this project was another birthday gift of four copies of #7893 Passenger Plane! I'm guessing that my parents were beginning to understand my Lego mind and how just one of those large wing pieces just wouldn't be enough! Now I had FOUR, and that got me thinking about putting them together into a large pair of wings.

I thought that a pair of vertical wings would be interesting to work with, and I set about attempting to design a structure to link them that would be strong enough but not so bulky as to ruin the sleek aesthetic that I envisioned. This part of the process was particularly challenging, but after a LOT of false starts and even more perserverance I finally arrived at a form that I felt would suffice.

The shape of the ship came together fairly quickly. However, I faced another creative challenge when I realized that it would not stand up on its own. I had to build a stand! As with most of my Lego endeavors, "a stand" soon became a whole new project! As I was building the ship, I began to think about how it would function. The sleek verticality of the wings got me thinking about racing vehicles.

After I had the initial design just about finished, I suddenly thought that a pace car would be a fun choice. My hearty supply of Octan decorated bricks provided the cue to my ship's decor. I decided that it would be the pace vehicle for some kind of intense race or some other kind of endurance trial.

I used the majority of my Octan pieces in the diorama, and the necessity of a stand for the ship inspired other ideas for details around it. I made several smaller vehicles as well as an external fuel tank. The dark blue roadway was added at the end, as I wasn't sure if I'd have enough 2x2 tiles.

I'd attempted several photo shoots, but all of them failed in various ways. It wasn't until I tried bouncing my twin 500 watt lamps off the ceiling that I got the kind of even lighting that not only eliminated all the strong shadows that ruined previous shots, but also made it MUCH easier to get more usable shots at a quicker pace since I didn't need to constantly reposition the light sources.

The first ground level detail we see is the installation of a spotlight. Once I had built the main support structure I started looking for ideas to populate the area around it. Spotlights on a gantry have a NASA vibe that makes me smile, and night racing is always more dangerous, isn't it?

I like my thermos design, but I'm really pleased with how the foreman's table looks populated with all the tools he'll need to ensure that the spotlight is installed and aligned properly.

This vehicle shuttles the pace car pilots to their remote location on the landing strip. Not much of the design makes sense in a functional way, but I was more interested in making something that would look fanciful and cool.

I was glad to have the blue decorated tiles from this Town set, because they were perfect for establishing the entrance to the industrial part of the structure.

Even with the flexible hose attached to the top of the canopy, I was able to use a 1x2 hinge brick so that the canopy could open.

I wanted the pace car crew to have a special seating arrangement that would convey their top status among the best pilots in racing. After all, the pace car often has to operate during emergency conditions such as multi-vehicle collisions and other dangers, so these individuals get a cushy ride to their job.

These three yellow doors protect storage tanks that serve a very particular purpose. I decided that the pace car had been outfitted with the ability to emit colored smoke similar to what the Blue Angels do when they perform certain tricks.

These storage tanks hold many resupplies of the smoke needed for the pace car to "skywrite" all kinds of patriotic imagery across the sky.

Naturally, a vehicle operating under such stresses will require LOTS of maintenance, and the space between two of the storage tanks was a perfect spot for an assortment of oddments that I thought would be evocative of a pile of spare parts.

A technician checks the status of the storage containers, each terminal having been color coded for easy identification. Behind him we can see the gantry that leads to the fuel tank.

"Help is on the way!"

Here you can see how the gantry on the far side leads to the spare parts bin as well as the fuel tank.

I used #10016 Tanker as inspiration, since it's an Octan set and it seemed right to have something from an official Lego set in my Octan-themed creation.

To my surprise, I didn't have any green curved plates to cap the ends with, but I thought that the curved railings were a nice substitute, and they provided a way to suggest that something beyond the regular petroleum fuel was stored inside.

This whole yellow hexagonal fuel pipe system came together at the last minute as I realized that my fuel tank had NO connection to the vehicle! OOPS!! I'm always amazed at how complex things can get when you try to apply any kind of real world logic to your MOC's!

Like my Black Falcon's Outpost, I didn't realize until near the end of the project that I'd also neglected to ensure mini-fig access to all the levels! This second staircase was created and the fuel vehicle to go with it. However, it really should be switched with the other one since this is the path to actually board the pace car, but whatever! What's done is done!

I constructed similar cockpits in both vehicles to try and achieve some design symmetry.

I liked the little cage of vehicle fuel cells, flashing red lights and a little ladder.

I'm particularly fond of the depth in this shot, especially as it brings us to the upper levels of the gantry.

Here I have my VERY hastily built pilot egress platorm. I would have preferred to use yellow ladders for more contrast, but my stock of parts was unsufficient. I could have made a Bricklink purchase, but I couldn't imagine when I'd ever use them again!

Here's a close-up of the lighting detail. I figured that a pace car would be dripping with even more sparkly flashies than a modern police car, so I wanted to have detail that suggested that you could see this vehicle coming from MILES away!

The third crew member in the rear is responsible for the operation of the colored smoke tanks, so I tried to make a computer console layout that would be evocative of this.

I blew out this shot a bit because I wanted the detail of the gantry over the ship. I wanted to show the repair technician and his proximity to the smoke tanks as well as the two racks of tools he has at his disposal.

With the pace car removed, it's much easier to see his tools, the landing pads, the refueling mechanism and the 360 spotlight.

Here we can see the access panels on the pace car. I didn't have much room for detail here as most the interior of the wings was taken up with structural necessities.

I'd put the large dark gray fan piece on the back as a detail, but I soon began to try and explain WHY a fan would be attached to a vehicle that flies with MUCH more modern propulsion!

I decided that the pace car has been modified for a special holiday, and the fan is there to make sure that the patriotic smoke is dispersed into a nice large stream.

For anyone wondering how I fastened the giant plane wings together, hopefully the following pictures will give you some idea of what parts I used to accomplish this.

One of our "supervisors" came by during one of my ill-fated photo sessions and provided the only usable shot of the batch!

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