In Praise of SUPERHAWK

Next month marks the 10 year anniversary of a kick ass model that once rocked the very foundations of MOCpages, back in the mist shrouded before-time, when the site was actually relevant and home to a vibrant cast of builders, malcontents and Euro-trash.  I’m talking about the mother fucking C-107 SUPERHAWK! by Chris DeBree.  Clocking in at 169 studs long, I think this beast could still hang in there with the upper tier of the 2017 SHIPtember offerings.  Sure the photos are blurry, the background is kind of sad and some of the shaping is a little rough by today’s lofty standards, but back in the day I can assure you this was state of the art sci-fi building.  The engine technique may seem like boilerplate to the more jaded members of the Manifesto audience but this is one of the first uses I can recall.  Still not sold?  It also sported a fully realized (if spartan) interior that included accommodations for a crew of 43 carefully chosen minifigs, with room for a beefcake battle tank for good measure.  There were also an impressive list of working features including but not limited to: movable rotating Gatling cannons, cargo ramps, hatches, landing gear and flaps.  With the possible exception of lighting, which wasn’t really in vogue back then, the SUPERHAWK had everything a scif-fi fan could ask for and the numbers reflected it’s awesomeness: 136,759 views, 821 likes and 361 comments…numbers that would be impressive on Flickr today or any other photo-venue of choice.  Sure it’s had 10 years to accumulate those gaudy stats, but the lion’s share were generated the first year and it’s good enough for the 13th spot on MOCpages’ listing of it’s all-time most popular models.  Only Kelso’s Invisible Hand, and Garry King’s Battlestar Berserk, two classic SHIPs, are higher on that list.  Perhaps just as importantly, the mighty warbird also inspired a legion of imitators, none of which are really worth posting but it motivated a number of people to not only build, but think big and push what they thought of as possible.  Believe me when I tell you constant reader, this model was directly responsible for dozens of craptacluar drop-ships and they all worshiped at the temple of SUPERHAWK.  Still not convinced I see…how about some 10 year old celebrity endorsements?

El Barto: “This thing is wild! The design has elements of a F-16 in the nose and an F-4 Phantom in the tail, two of my favorite fighters. But this takes it to a whole new level. Unbelievable job!”

Stuart Delahay: “This is a thing of beauty. The sheer scale, the lines and shapes, the fact it actually carries 36 troops and a sizeable crew (I despise ‘dropship’ mocs that are huge then hold three figs). Well done sir, quite rightly one of the most popular mocs on the site.”

Brian Kescenovtiz: “This really is quite an amazing ship. Wonderful details everywhere you look…fantastic job Chris!”

Mark Stafford (current TLG designer): “Beautiful and inspiring. One of the best ships I’ve seen in a long time, the detailing is great and seems to be there for a reason-rather then just for the sake of it. Great stuff.”

Mark Kelso: “MOC’s like these are few and far between. The design is superb, and the execution (which becomes more and more difficult as size increases) is handled masterfully. In contrast to other reviews, I have seen other MOC’s that are larger and even more complex (visit my home page for links to some of those), But this one is absolutely in their league…which is saying A LOT!!!!!! This is one of those MOC’s to be visited again and again. FANTASTIC job!”

And I’m gonna throw in Nannan Zhang’s comment just because aside from being accurate, it also proves what a humorless bore he’s always been: “Great details, but some overall shots would be even better.”


The Chairman was quite right though, it is indeed a shame the photos are so crappy, because although I’m nostalgic for the SUPERHAWK, I had completely blocked out how bad the presentation was.  Even allowing for the fact that your average builder didn’t care as much about backgrounds and post-production back then, it’s still objectively terrible and no doubt kept the model off the big blogs of the day.  It’s even more of a shame that Chris seems to have completely wandered out of the scene just two short years and two models later (his last posted model was this nifty dune buggy), but with this single epic creation he definitely made his mark on the early days of the hobby and for that, this builder will remain grateful.  So won’t you join me and raise a glass to 10 years of SUPERHAWK?  If you won’t, you’re probably a communist and you should take a long hard look at yourself.


36 thoughts on “In Praise of SUPERHAWK

  1. Seeing that amount of activity on mocpages is weird; ever since I’ve joined the entire site seemed to be like 50 people, a congregation and a Rowntree.


    1. As much as I enjoy ripping on MOCpages here at the Manifesto, there was an all too brief window when it was my favorite Lego related site by a wide margin. There were fresh ideas in the groups, a value placed on commenting and I formed quite a few long-lasting friendships from my time there. As for it’s current state, I think you summarized it nicely.


  2. I’d like to say I remember this thing, but despite lurking on MOCPages at the time it doesn’t ring a bell. I’m sure I’ve just forgotten about it, which might be a good thing as I can experience it for the first time again now. My favorite detail has to be the greebling behind that panel that opens up. I’m a sucker for rows of cables that fan out.


    1. Oh and I wanna say the presentation is just about the only thing here that doesn’t hold up. As you said, it could sit comfortably with the latest SHIPtember fleet.


    2. Yeah, that’s my favorite detail as well, the cables look functional as well as cool. I rediscover models all the time going through my favorites or looking for stuff to blog, so I know the feeling well. I stumbled on Superhawk while looking to see what MOCpages listed as it’s most popular MOC. The ship is cool and all (link is in the article) but I had a much more visceral reaction to seeing Superhawk….it triggerd Queen music in my head and I knew I had to blog about it instead.


  3. Oh holy hell! That is glorious! I’m completely with Stu on that, what is the point of a dropship that only holds three figs? That whole engine array is pure sex, and still completely valid. there are some rough edges, but there are more than enough interesting techniques to elevate this far above the shit photos. This is the definition of dropship: Get them from up there down here in one piece through thick or thin, and throw a in bit of havoc if you can. The blocky brick building is perfect for translating toughness. That is hope for your allies and fear for your enemies, perfection in war. Brilliant!

    Been on Mocpages for four years and never saw this pop up or even referenced. Might be the leading reason why that sad pit of zealots and firetrucks is no longer relevant. And certainly no longer worth putting in any effort to affect substantive change to make it more than just another photo dump. Hopefully, Sean will keep it open like some lost collection of Encyclopedia Britannicas or a dusty box of Super 8s in the attic we can all enjoy the novelty of finding when we’re bored.


    1. Yeah that were generally two cardinal sins in the age of the VTOL dropship, undersized engines and comically small cargo capacity. I remember feeling like that there was a basic form that emerged and at some point no matter how well built the VTOL dropship was…it was completely uninteresting. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen one specific design explored so thoroughly by so many builders. SUPERHAWK was one of the best though, no doubt about it, that thing brought the noize, and the troops.

      That’s interesting that neither you nor Hoffman was familiar with the model, I would not have predicted that. I for one don’t celebrate MOCpages continued decline, although I will never tire of taking the piss out of that place until things improve. “Firetrucks and Zealots” sounds like a Seals and Crofts album but it’s unfortunately an accurate description. I hope the site doesn’t just dissapear when it hits the magic number of users and it’s no longer profitable. Maybe the Germans can buy it again, like LUGnet and preserve it’s contents for the greater good of the hobby. We would loose a tremendous number of influential and just plain cool models if MOCpages just winked out of existence. The problem is that we’ll never know until it happens, there is no meaningful communication that leads to results, that’s the impression I’m getting from multiple sources. It’s too bad, because it was a filthy breeding ground for some inventive shit.


      1. Communication with Sean is only through one of the nicest guys on the planet, Kelso. And he has been beating his head against the wall trying to just keep up with the technical issues that crop up more and more. The only change in the slightly debatable right direction that’s happened is that LukeClarenceVan and Chris Roach were made site-wide moderators. The problem is that all of them still do not have enough power to affect real changes in the community and/or are not willing to press any buttons that may upset anyone. Their entire focus is to improve the uploader, fix the constant glitches, and improve security. All well and good and in fact necessary; however, there is a prevalent denial that it is the only reason as to why many builders left. And when Shannon Young pops in to the conversation in Mocpages Help out of the blue to add confirmation of this underlying unpleasantness… Well, I’ll let you read it. THEN read the following comment, I cannot make that shit up if I tried. The entire thread is worth a read if for only the sad realization that everyone knows it’s broken, everyone sees ways it can be improved, and everyone WANTS it to be fixed. The ultimate revelation is that Sean doesn’t.

        I despise the site’s demise too, I think it still has the best page layout design for Lego and contests; however, the community is either absent, fractured, and/or completely disenfranchised. It doesn’t deserve to die, but with Sean’s uncaring attitude towards the beast he set free there, it definitely deserves to be ridiculed and bashed. And I’m done trying to tame that 800 pound gorilla since no one there even acknowledges its existence.

        Sorry, I don’t want this awesome spotlight to be filled with MP hate, but recent events there have raised hope only to return it to the status quo. And I’ve talked way too much there about it only to understand that it is merely wasted time.


      2. I’d like to get fired up and have something constructive to say but I plumbed the depths of that rabbit hole and read through most of the topic. If I had enough spare cash lying round I’d put together a similar site with some much needed updates. I think the opportunity is out there for the right builder with the right combination of cash, time and interest to step up to the plate and make the next MOCpages. Even though people have may have moved on from that model of website I thin the audience will come if the venue is cool and functional and reliable.

        I don’t want to get on a huge tangent either, SUPERHAWK deserves it’s time in the spotlight on it’s 10th birthday, but dude, YOU should absolutely write an article for the Manifesto about the whole MOCpages situation. It’s an interesting topic and you’ve been knee deep for the past few years trying to fight against the tide, long after my time and energy were exhausted. I know I’d really love to see your take on it and I doubt very much I’m alone.

        Ugh…I wish I could unread that thread.


      3. Holy fuck that thread is depressing. Not just about what’s happening to the site, but people’s attitudes and how fucking blind they are. Thank god my teenage angst cancelled out my Christian homeschooler side. I hope MOCPages survives just to keep that toxic community off of Flickr. If I recall, Flickr also has a content warning feature (I had to disable it to view Bricks Noir’s stuff) but the difference there is no one throws a fucking fit about things being “inappropriate” (whatever that means). Plus I think Flickr’s is self-imposed rather than reliant on a flagging system from other whiny users. MOCPages is a nice time capsule, so I’d like to see it archived at the very least, but other than that I wouldn’t be too disappointed if it was floated 50 miles out and used as target practice for submarines. Seems Sean wouldn’t mind either.


      4. I would really like to see a V2, because given the right conditions a very interesting community can form again. Sean’s position about the site is baffling to me, I’ve always considered him a sort of benevolent absentee landlord at best and the enemy of progress at worst.


      5. You’re such a bummer rountRee, redeem yourself immediately by writing that article on MOCpages. Or, you know, post a funny video or something. SUPERHAWK!


      6. Keith is right. You’re like one of those guys who stayed behind in Chernobyl and we’re all curious what it’s been like.


      7. Almost on cue, it looks like MOCpages went down last night, and is still down, so that the link to the original SUPERHAWK page and rowntRee’s link to the “discussion” are both unavailable, probably indefinitely.


      8. MP appears to be back up now, but given its MTBF that can be measured in microseconds, that may change by the time I finish typing this sentence.


  4. This is a crazy-awesome build — just so badass and delightful. Ten-years-on it’s indeed still a terrific design. I dig everything, but particularly the panel and greeble bits just around the engines.

    And, fwiw I deeply appreciate this type of article. This was crafted while I was in a dim age, and I would *never* have tripped over it without your curation + commentary. Thanks a ton!


      1. Cheers Pas, I was worried I might be suffering from a severe case of nostalgia. It’s a shame so much great stuff has already been lost, so I try to point out cool stuff before it disappears for good.


    1. Thanks Nick, I’m never ever quite sure what people are going to dig and what they won’t so I appreciate the feedback. It’s always awesome to see you pop up in the comments!


  5. Appreciate you resurrecting this behemoth, Keith. I’ve been online lurking since the late 90s but I’ve never seen this before. It makes me want to pull the trigger on a massive VTOL of my own, based on some concept art from DA. It’s nice to see the requirements for greatness too:

    1. Appropriately sized means of thrust. As an engineer, it drives me batty when I see the millionth tiltrotor with miniscule prop rotors.
    2. Absurd, impractical amount of armament (compared to say a Spectre gunship)
    3. Crewed by enough men and women to bring on the pain.
    4. Rugged landing gear, and bonus if retractable.

    I would add that it needs be strong enough to pick up, move around the room, and spearhead assaults on cats and small children.

    There is quite a bit of apprehension on my side though, largely because of the commitment in time, $, and the backlog I have to work through. The largest thing I’ve put together is my CH-53, and that pales in comparison to a SHIP. To paraphrase, if you’re gonna swing, you’d better not miss.


    1. Thanks dude, you should pull that trigger! Revive the VTOL action, you’ve certainly got enough experience with aircraft under your belt and you’ve got a clear grasp of why so many of them fail. Start swinging if the inspiration is there, I’d love to see what you come up with.


  6. rowntRee, you slouch! Stop throwing in your 2 cents… and then your 2 more cents… and 2 more and 2 more…

    Write a dam article about MOCpages you dolt! You have more “Fuego” in your belly on this topic than Keith, or even me! (by the way… “Fuego” is Spanish for “Fire”… so what I meant was that you have lots of fire in your belly!) .

    Write an article you cat calling SOB!

    Write it! Write it now you sack of bile!

    Escribe lo! Escribe lo ahora!

    Mata los enemigos del estado!

    Attaque con un pluma!

    Haga justicia!

    Pan y Terra!

    Sabado Gigante!


    Write it!


  7. Oh crap, I forgot… SUPERHAWK!
    Nothing else like it. Not before or since. Visually unique. Like a C130 Hercules, and an F4 Phantom had a kid… an then H.R, Giger built a model of that kid! Strange flowing lines… elongated fuselage… that twin engine/tri-lateral tail boom… so much crazy shit goin on.

    And, chalked full of action! I mean, for ONCE somebody builds a drop ship that might work like an actual assault platform, and NOT a dam escape pod with guns! That’s a platoon of guys and a big nasty tank in the cargo bay.

    I find myself of two minds. Split. As a build, SUPERHAWK is the bomb! She was original, she was big, she was well built… and looked really cool. Oh, yeah… and photographed for shit. I’ll give you that. The pics are criminally bad. Like almost as bad as my own crappy phone photos. But again… as a MOC? SUPERHAWK was SUPERCOOL!

    On the other hand, I recall the MOCpages posting, and some of the features SUPERHAWK sported. Like… an armory. WHAT? A whole room JUST FOR HOLDING GUNS? In an assault platform? No. No no no! Not having it. That’s crazy talk (remember, this is me droning on about concept level stuff… in other words, who cares!). Shes a “Dorp Ship.” Not a formal term, but I think we all agree, drop ships transport troops/vehicles from a mother ship to the surface of any given planet. Lets put the “armory” in the mother ship… so we can put MORE TROOPS in the drop ship! That notion? More troops? It’s really really important. Ever see an armory in a WWII landing craft? Or a DC3? Or inside of a C5? No. Why? Because the troops bring the guns onboard with them. (or in the case of the SUPERHAWK, all the room and weight wasted on walls for the armory might be replaced with additional ammunition for any one of her multiple gun/rocket systems…). Then there is the tank deal. It fits into a cargo bay that is almost three stories tall! I know, I know… a C5s cargo bay is massive. But after we have invested the massive amount of resources need to field the SUPERHAWK, could we look into maybe developing a tank with a smaller turret? maybe so we could again… carry MORE tanks or more guys! I always hated the design… and said nothing at the time because I knew people would just call me a hater. Now… years and years later… I no longer care! I hate the payload allocation of this drop ship. Less strangeness! More utility! Get every boot and tread onto the enemies ground as quickly as possible! Ditch the armory and half of those weapons! When that beast swoops in on the objective and her ramps drop… I want to see boots and treads flow out of her like a river of molten justice! A ship that big? MORE TROOPS! I want the enemy to watch her land, watch the troops disembark, crap himself and then cap himself and then crap himself again!

    I’m surprised SUPERHAWK doesn’t have a repair bay for that dam tank shoved up into her guts someplace! Or maybe a Starbucks!

    Ok. I feel better now. She was a great build. No doubt. Genuinely set the bar against witch I still measure most other drop ships. All that design stuff… mostly nobody cares. And after all, it’s in the future! All bets are off…

    I guess.



  8. Man, I wish I was around when MOCpages was still cool. And there was another site, bricklug or lugnet or something, that everyone used to love that I missed. Back then builders spent more time editing their builds than editing pictures of their builds.

    Thanks for showing off this beast.. what a build.


    1. MOCpages had a good run, that’s for sure, but what’s more frustrating is that a better version hasn’t popped up in all these years. I think people are editing their builds as much or even more than ever, but the focus on editing has grown exponentially. Thanks for chiming in Jake, it’s always good to see you in the comments!


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