So... And don't instantly tune out when I say this. This is by way of introduction. I've got a pal in Second Life who's getting into the Jedi type roleplays in a big way lately. He's building himself a ship, and he decided to show me the proto-model he's got so far. He showed me at a landing pad on Yavin IV, where people were out showing off builds of recognizable fighters, personal starships, freighters and even corvette sized deals. Somoene pulled out their Incom T-65 X-Wing and showed it off. Someone else had their A-Wing out. And I had a grand time.
I didn't have one of my own at the time, but since this was a variant kinda RP set in the future, it put me in mind of getting one of my own. The character I dressed up as was one I've had for a while. A Zeltron by the name of Rookery DeCarabas. (A name shamelessly ripped off from Rook Bartley and the Marquis.) I wondered what kind of fightercraft they might have on Zeltros, and have always figured it was kind of an open thing. Surely not EVERYONE in the galaxy buys from SoroSuub, Incom or Sienar Sleet Systems, right? I could probably pick whichever one suited my fancy.
So by now you're going, "This man is a fool for his starfighters."
You're damn straight.
So I went looking, and actually found the one I wanted. My search fu was strong last night. The person that put together the sculpted prim had shown it some love in the making and texturing. I ought to know. I'd built it in actual life from the model kit in my teens. I also did NOT find one I also looked for, which was disappointing, but it put me in mind of putting together a list. A starship geek's top ten, as it were.
I'll invalidate myself right away with a lot of you. The Incom t-65 will not be on it. I don't hate it. But it bores me. I had the one you could shove an action figure into when I was 7, and it was awesome. I punched it's little button and its little LED lit and whined and I flew it around the house, making my my parents nuts. We had the TIE too. But now I'm an adult, and I don't have to be told which one I like better. And I've toyed with and picked apart X-Wings with other ships in videogames often enough to find them inferior. But hey, that's just my thing, ya know? So without further ado, so I can finally get packing for DragonCon...
1. The Star League Havoc Gunstar
This beast is indeed just that. A Beast. Big enough to need a pilot and a seperate gunner, this heavy fighter comes loaded for bear. Missiles, Projectile Weapons, Lasers and the very iconic and unforgettable experimental weapon of last resort, the Death Blossom. This weapon locks and plots a solution on every moving enemy target its friend/foe can find, then spins like an certifiably insane gyroscope while firing its entire payload of solid projectiles while draining all available power for one HUGELY effective laser volley. And when it got used on screen, it became the stuff of Sci-Fi legend.
Heavily armored to the degree that it was able, with adequate surprise and planning, to take on an entire invasion fleet on its own. The only way Zuur and the Ko-Dan could really deal with these things was by espionage and a mass-driven asteroid attack that never let them get into space. And when they heard that just ONE of these things was still active, they about soiled themselves.
This machine was one of a couple of firsts. The gunstar was one of the first entirely CGI starfighters to appear in the movies, rendered lovingly and at length in Cray Supercomputers back in the 1980's. It was also one of the first to show somewhat realistic maneuverability in zero g, instead of just flying it about like an airplane.
2. The Mk II Colonial Viper Space Superiority Fighter
This is the one I found a good build of in Second Life the other night. It took some digging. Most people were doing the reboot show's viper instead. Or variants thereof. This was a design from John Dykstra's people, having come off the success of Star Wars to design ships for what was to be the most expensive show ever produced at the time for television.
The Colonial Viper hearkened back to a lot of the old WW1 and WW2 movies for more dramatic footage of the pilots in the cockpit, putting in a stick to use for piloting. (Where was the stick in the x-wing, Lucas? You're supposed to be all about this stuff! Oh that's right... there was a kind of yoke in there... Nevermind.) And carrying that further, it tended to get flown about LIKE an atmospheric fighter in space... which none of us cared too much about as kids.
I include the original here cos that's the one I always remember. Sure the new ones had more interesting spaceflight and the heated buzz of projectile weaponry for more gritty realism. But the original Mk II had ship-killing 'pulsar' lasers. It went PewPewPew better than most anything I remember, and it had a 'turbo' mode where the pilot could kick in the afterburners with an OH-so satisfying burst of speed when needed. Hell, they even kicked in some reverse thrusters in the pilot movie that was FUN to see work.
3. The Thunderfighter Class Earth Defense Directorate Starfighter
I mention this guy very much in the same breath as the Mark II Viper for a reason. Back when the show was being developed, the El Dorado Starfighter here was built, and originally intended to be the Colonial Viper. (Hence the fangs, I guess)
It was another one of the Dykstra school where the things flew in space like aircraft, and not spacecraft. And like its Viper successor, Larson and Company re-used the footage mercilessly. And like with Battlestar, I don't give one eighth of a damn. Getting to watch it in action as an 8 year old was glorious. This was one I tried to build back when I was:
1. 8 years old
2. unaware that more airplane glue was not better. I melted the poor thing. o_o;;; I'd give an eyetooth to have this kit again to give it a more mature attempt.
4. The Earth Alliance Starfury and Thunderbolt Starfighter
Now see... these are all the X-wing I need. They were a little hot to ride in, with a fusion plant directly behind the pilot, but oh were these things agile. From Babylon 5, where they tended to go for more realistic spaceflight models, you had wing mounted engine pods that could jink it laterally, vertically... you could spin the thing around without cutting your forward momentum with autoslide maneuvers and open up on a pursuer. And this was a decade before you saw maneuvers like that being pulled in Ron Moore's Battlestar Reboot.
I mean, let's face it, this was not close to being THE uber-fighter in the show. (That honor belonged to the Minbari.) But they were agile as hell, and also had the benefit of having individualized wing-art. These things were sexy. And later, we were even given an atmospheric capable variant in the Thunderbolt class Starfury, which added a fuselage and a gatling cannon.
5. The Sienar Fleet Systems T.I.E. Defender
When I talk about having picked apart the very inferior X-Wing fighter, this bad boy is what I was doing it in. Originating in the old LucasArts videogame, 'TIE FIGHTER', the TIE Defender was the next step up from the TIE Advanced. You got this one as a result of a series of missions where you had to keep the rebellion from getting their hands on the tech, and destroying your prototypes for it. And oh, did this one have all the candy.
There is the poster out there for TIE Pilots. 'No Shields, All Guts!' And just like being a tighty whitey stormtrooper, the empire had a pretty merciless way of promoting the its good pilots. You stick as many pilots as you can into a TIE fighter with no shields, and the ones that survive get promoted into better fightercraft. That's how it was for you in the TIE Fighter game. Advancing from the Fighter, to the Bomber, to the Interceptor, to the Advanced.. to the defender. This beast had Projectiles, ion cannons for taking out enemy shields, four lasers, and even a tractor beam to slow down a potential target with.
Agile and faster than most anything in the game, this is what you needed to wipe x-wings, b-wings, a-wings, any letter of the alphabet the rebellion cared to launch at you. This is what you're flying when you've got Vader on your wing near the end of the game. (That Glory-Hound Kill-Stealing BASTARD!) And it is SO worth the time spent to get it.
6. The Corellian Engineering Corporation Hawk Class Heavy Fighter
However... when it came to iconic ships for the good guys in Star Wars, I always had to go with 'The Moldy Crow' from the original Star Wars: Dark Forces FPS game. You didn't see much of it, except when you landed in it, or took off in it. But did this one have style or what? Vectored thrust engines to make it that much more agile in space than anything Sienar or Incom were putting out there. A big-ass cannon on the underside, and a 'virtual' cockpit in the form of goggles that left your control surfaces visible, but removed the image of the ship around you for visibility.
This one was Kyle Kataarn's original baby before he got the one with the big jet engines on either side. I'd have loved to get to fly this one, but unlike most of my picks here, this one gets included on looks and concept alone.
7. The General Galaxy YF-21 'Omega One' Prototype Variable Fighter
I suppose it is necessary to add one here from all the various Macross-es out there. And while I did like the Alpha from Genesis Climber Mospaeda, it could not compare with the sleek black deadly of the Omega prototype from 'Macross Plus'. With a thought-controlled interface that didn't just let you see all around you. This was as close as you got to BEING the fightercraft your meat body happened to be riding in.
I include Omega One here pretty much as a surrogate to one I'd actually include if it were spaceworthy. There's a lot of the old MiG-31 'Firefox' in this. And that was a plane and a movie that really bent me in the direction of thought-interfaced fightercraft at a young-age.
So what are some of your faves? ^_^