I’ve always considered Blacktron II (aka Blacktron Future Generation) to be the weakest of the early official Space themes: the set designs were bland, the trans-neon green was obnoxious and the minifigs looked more like a pro-sports team than an intergalactic force. It reminds me of a terrible sequel to a cult favorite film, like Highlander 2 “The Quickening” or Escape from L.A. The original Blacktron was perhaps the coolest theme ever created by our corporate overlords, it featured minifigs that still hold up with the best of today’s offerings despite not having modern features like two-face craniums or printing on the back of the torso. Blacktron II replaced those bad-ass space criminals and replaced them with a bunch of milquetoast “B” boys who looked more likely to serve you a corn dog than steal your spaceship. In all the years I’ve been looking at models online I don’t recall a single example of a Blacktron II done right, with the one exception of Nathan Proudlove’s outstanding SHIP from 2007. So I was both surprised and delighted to run across the “Ghost Stealth Ship” by Stephan Niehoff. The shape of the hull is just wicked and it somehow looks incredibly fast even while sitting still at the dock. Every time I look at it, I hear the Miami Vice theme playing in my head. While the accompanying diorama seems like a bit of an afterthought, it is very clean if under detailed. My biggest issue is with the crane, the legs are nice but it doesn’t quite look minifig scale. The simplistic lights also seem like a missed opportunity but the cargo crates are pretty nice.
I’m a little confused by the tiny cluster of plants in the corner, they look good but it seems like there should be more of them scattered around the diorama. The entire dock might benefit from being raised a bit, or those crates would wash away with the first decent sized wave. The plants might look better tucked under the dock where it can’t interfere in the cargo loading operations. The hexagonal background is a great touch, it elevates the presentation above the typical blinding-white space that is so prevalent these days. I could probably do without the water marks and do-dads in the corners, but it seems to be a millenial thing to slap your brand on everything.
If you enjoy the Ghost, be sure to take a trip through Stephan’s photo-stream, where you will find a plethora of builds in his “Projekt Blacktron II Special Forces” series. Although I think the Ghost is the best of the bunch, I also enjoyed the slick engine on this “AT-04 Rhino” space-train. One of these day’s I’ll get around to an Omnibus posting dedicated to Sci-Fi trains and this one will no doubt make the cut. So thanks for proving me wrong Stephan, Blacktron II can be cool after all.