Soldiers (Blue Coats) MOCs

“Whale Rock Outpost” by Jan Kusters

What happens to a young lieutenant of the Imperial Army when he’s assigned to take command of a remote island outpost, with two useless soldiers, where, unbeknownst to all, the dead don’t stay dead for long?

While this may seem like a synopsis plucked straight from a Stephen King novel, it was actually the question which tormented another master storyteller, and far better MOC builder (sorry Stevie), Jan Kusters who built Whale Rock Outpost to discover the answer.

If you think this is an eye-catching and cleverly packed build, just wait till you immerse yourself into the Jan’s gripping backstory… it will haunt you… make your blood run cold… and your heart race with fear… not necessarily in that order, though.


False advertising and propaganda

This week’s Classic-Pirates post is brought to you by the Imperial Soldiers Army. The Imperial Army is for everyone. Join now and think later. Start your adventure the Imperial way and see the world! (Also, beware of false advertising and Imperial propaganda)

I have spent a lot of time looking here at Imperial builds for inspiration, trying to design something like a smallish Imperial Outpost into my Crimson Mermaid display. It has been very educational. You all have been a great help and sown fantastic ideas, thank you so much!

The whole thing is based on the Sabre Island’ (6265) and the Broadside’s Brigg’ (6259). I liked the tower from Sabre Island a lot, and decided to keep it mostly ‘as is’ (added a few ladders and threw in one more panel). I also kept the basic prison cell from Broadside’s Brigg, but sank it into the Rock (to keep it all within the small space I had for it).


Inspiration from the Classic Pirates sets

Best renditions, in any art form, occur when the artist renders the new work in their trademark style, while retaining a hint of the former, thus paying respect and attribution to the original.

Comparing the classic sets with modern day custom builds (like Jan’s) makes one wonder how in the world the LEGO Group managed to get away with such stingy designs. Stingy!? Well yes, look at them! 6259 Broadside’s Brig has only 65 pieces, and the 6265 Sabre Island a whopping 96 pieces

But by the same token, when was the last time you managed to build something iconic and ultra playable with less than 100 pieces? Nay, scratch that. When was the last time we saw anybody build something iconic and ultra playable with less than 100 pieces? Exactly!

We can pretend to detest those designs, but as hard as that brick pill is to swallow, they are awesome and we love them because of that. Enough digressing! Let us proceed with the more lavish and less economical design in question…


The Not-so-Stingy Design

Jan Kusters continues:

Since my display space is limited, I wanted to build it all on a 16×32 plate, no bigger. That is half the size of the classic Eldorado Fortress. But at the same time I wanted to get most ‘functionality’ into that smaller space. It turned out to be a but of a squeeze, but I like the general shape better than I expected.

A view at dismantled outpost

To ensure maximum playability several key sections can be easily removed while the rest of the build remains firmly placed on solid rock foundations. Take notice of the innovative use of the 1x4x2 fence and the 1x6x2 arch-to make a barrack window

A view at the interiror

The interior is packed with everything a new commanding officer needs; books, table, tea kettle and bed.

Wait! Where’s the bed? Ah yes, a new Imperial regulation dictates that there are no beds for officers! A real gentlemen is expected to sleep standing to avoid wrinkling and maintain his respectable appearance.  After all, the Imperial Officer Club has a classy image to uphold (unlike those unscrupulous Pirates and other whatnots)

A view at dirty old barrack

While the officer suffers enjoys his sleepless bourgeois lifestyle, the common soldier must seek accommodation in the dirty barracks, confined within the lower parts of the outpost

The front and right view at the outpost

Viewing it from different angles, the outpost has a few rather ‘intimidating’ aspects, but also one tamed and completely domesticated side. A lesson here: never look behind the golden curtains!

The back and left view at the outpost

Note the lack of ‘roof top canon’ like other LEGO sets and MOCs offer. Jan says he always had his doubts regarding roofs with big gun platforms, and who are we to disagree? Those things are visually hideous, and we will not have them up there!


The Gripping Backstory

The deep blue ocean

Somewhere far, far away

Rupert the deputy Governor

Enter Lieutenant Rupert, the main hero of our story who, besides the obvious skill of writing love letters, also happens to have uncanny ability of mailing them home, even from the middle of nowhere. Ah yes, you cynics, true love conquers all

My dearest Petronella Gertruda,

I have finally been offered my first command! I will be in charge of a fort at the Whale Island. I will also be in charge of the rest of the island. I am a deputy Governor so to speak. No more counting uniforms, no more signing paperwork!

Granted, I had hoped for a slightly bigger detail at my disposal, but I am sure I can make something of the men I have been issued. And Sergeant Jones seems to be an experienced man, if not a bit rough.

Best wishes and love, forever yours, Rupert

Sergeant Jones scheming a plan

Enter Sergeant Jones, who is deeply lost in his thoughts, dreaming of pleasant days long past

Sweet!

A post in the middle of nowhere, no traffic, no people and no regiment to look down my throat. Only a pencil pushing lieutenant, who will believe everything I say, and a fresh recruit to boss around!

Yes Sergeant Jones, this is the one post we are going to enjoy…

Not so happy fresh recruit

Enter Private Bugleblower, whose face and body language unmistakably convey grim thoughts and feelings about his present and future place in this world

Join the Imperial Army, they said.

See the world, they said.

Meet new and interesting people, they said.

Visit the exotic Island and far away countries, they said.

I just wish they said something about the rowing…

Cthulhu a cosmic entitie

The small crew, like so many other humans, could not resist but to stop and marvel at the natural spectacle of the sunset, never knowing, never suspecting the dangers which lurked around them in the open waters

“Ah, will you look at the sunset, Sergeant? Glorious!” Rupert squealed in delight.

The Whale Rock Fort

Did you know that Jan went through a training as a professional photographer, then later participated in several exhibitions in the Netherlands and abroad? He swears he used only ‘simple’ techniques for this photo session, but somehow we don’t buy it.

“Well, Sergeant Jones? How’s that for a bit of navigating… Two days and two nights of rowing.” Rupert exclaimed, pleased by their accomplishment. “By the way, well done, Private Bugleblower – and here we are, the Whale Rock, and its fortress.”

“Uhm, is that ALL of the Whale Rock Island? I was expecting something slightly bigger, Sir.” Bugleblower gasped exhaustively.

“Take us about, Private.” Jones grunted. “There should be a dock on the other side.”

Shadow and the fort

Well tested horror-story formula… Several people decide to spend a ‘fun’ weekend somewhere remote yet ominous, deliberately ignoring all the warnings signs along the way. What could possibly go wrong?

“What’s that up there!” Jones shouted, “I thought I saw a man in a cape, Lieutenant, but he’s gone now…”

“Stand down men, it’s just shadows and darkness. And a long night at sea…” Rupert replied calmly.

Fisheye view of the lieutenant quarters

After the good night sleep, mainly by standing and snoozing in the corner, lieutenant Rupert wakes up refreshed and ready to bring this place up in line with the high Imperial standards for forts and outposts

“Morning sergeant. Have the men… man… up on the platform, ready for inspection, Sergeant.” Rupert commanded.

“Sir!” Jones responded.

“Dear lord, this is sad, we really need to redecorate and freshen this place at our nearest convenience, Sergeant.” Rupert continued.

“Sir, yes Sir!” Jones agreed.

Suprise on the platform

Well, this is certainly an unsettling discovery

“Sergeant! Up here!!!” screamed Private Bugleblower.

Attention soldiers, even the dead ones

Apparently, once you enroll in the Imperial Army it’s not only for life, but for death as well. Semper fidelis Imperial

“Ahum… uhm, Sergeant? Why is there a skeleton standing to attention?” Rupert asked politely.

“Left over from the last detail, Sir. I had him remobilised.” Jones replied loudly.

“But he is dead!” Rupert protested.

“Still a soldier, Sir. Got his shako and everything, Sir.” Jones replied stoically.

“Dead, sergeant, he’s very dead! He’s just a skeleton! How is he even standing to attention?” a bewildered Rupert retorted.

“Four years as drill-sergeant, Sir.” smirked Jones.

“Yes, right. Well… Take him below, find an empty chest, we’ll send him off for a decent funeral with the first supply ship.”

“Sir, Yes Sir.” replied Jones “PRIVATE BONES!!! DIS… wait for it, you rattling heap of calcium… MISSED!!!”

Halt who goes there

Later that night a strange noise drew Private Bugleblower’s attention

“Hey, what… HALT! WHO GOES THERE?!? PASSWORD! Ow crap, do we even have a password? Never Mind. STOP OR I’LL SHOOT!”

What's with all the shouting

The high pitched, woman-like, shriek jolted the half-drunk Sargent Jones from his slumber

“Grmblmmbl… What’s with all the shouting, Soldier?” Jones scowled. “Could you keep it down a little? People are trying to sleep!”

“A prisoner escaping, Sergeant!” Bugleblower shouted back.

“A prisoner? What prisoner? All we have is a bunch of bones in the brig! Bones don’t…” Jones began before erupting in a bloodcurdling scream “AAAAAHHHHH!”

The great jailbreak escape

The nights on the remote outpost can be gloomy and full of terrors

“AAAAAAH!” everybody screamed liked small children on a rollercoaster.

A supply ship supplying essential resources

Not sure what to make of the great prison escape, the crew agreed not to talk about it, and with that life on the outpost fell into an uneventful routine… by the end of the month they had a visit from its first supply ship.

“Hay ho, we’ve no supplies!” Duddlestone, one of the new arrivals announced, whilst being crudely hoisted on to the dock like a sack of potatoes.

“We are well stocked on hard tack and salted beef, boys. It’s soldiers we need! Welcome to your new post…” Jones replied happily.

Private Bones happy departure

And with that, Private Bones was officially released from his duty. Off he goes

“But Sir!” Duddlestone attempted to argue.

“No buts, Soldier!  This private is going home with you… and that’s final!” Lieutenant Rupert snapped in authority, “Yes, he is dead, and no, we don’t have space here for a decent grave. And no, he won’t stay in the chest for the journey. How would you feel, all cooped up in a chest for days at sea! Give the poor man a break, he has served the Empire till the end. Sadly we had another dead person for burial, but that one escaped…”

“ESCAPED?!?” screamed Duddlestone.

“Yes, well, never mind that, Soldier.” Rupert barked. “Now, I am sure your superiors at the fort will give this brave man a decent burial. Off you go, see you in a month!”

Don't pay the ferryman

A doubloon, or two, for Charon and the passage across. It is said, those who cannot pay the fee, or whose bodies are left unburied, must wander the shores for one hundred years, before they are permitted to cross to the other side

“NO! You don’t need to pay him! Just sit down and… keep still!” Duddlestone pondered nervously.  “Who do you think he is?!? Charon, the ferryman of the dea… Oh crap, he is, isn’t he?”

Back for an old friend

Hey look! It’s that bag of bones from the prison… and he’s brought friends

“Sssssssh… Be very quiet now… Douse the lamp… We’re going to find that dead soldier that was in the fortress too…” whispered the leader of skeleton party.

The attack on the soldiers fortress

Assault on Precinct 13 the Whale Rock Outpost

“ALARM!!! They’re back!!!” wailed Private Bugleblower.

“Who’s ba…AAAAAH!” Sargent Jones trembled “A walking skeleton! That’s a walking skeleton! Another walking skeleton! More walking skeletons!”

“Up! Up! Get up to the tower!!!, move, move” Bugleblower cried.

“Get that lamp out of my eyes, Soldier” Jones shouted. “And take this ladder! Move!”

“What about the lieutenant, Sergeant!!?” Bugleblower wailed.

“Trapped in his room, I could not get to him!” Jones replied frantically. “Probably searching how to kill dead people in his military handbook! Forget the lieutenant…”

Parley over the cup of tea

Several minutes later in Lieutenant Rupert’s quarters

“Sorry about that sword, old chap, it’s just when you burst in like that… Anyway, tea?” Rupert offered calmly before continuing:

“Now let me see, a dead soldier, yes, we found a dead soldier when we came here. He is enroute to the mainland right now. You want him? Why? Happier with your lot? Hmmm yes, you might be right, he certainly did not fancy staying in his coffin… Tell you what. He was by no means fit for duty, so I will sign papers for his military release. If you hurry, you might very well catch up with them. You’ll find them in a row boat headed west…”


About the Builder…

“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing” Bernard Shaw surmised – and no other quote could serve as a better introduction for a builder of the caliber of Jan.

Jan Kusters managed to accomplish a lot in life during his Dark Age (the time away from LEGO). He is a professional photographer and teacher of arts and crafts. For several years he ran a own studio at the Sittard Arts Centre, in the Netherlands, before returning to teaching… and wait till you hear read this, he taught law, the social law. Yes, you read that right.

After 15 years of sending hundreds, if not thousands, of bright young minds into the world of law and order, he’d had his fill and absconded. A most dangerous act to be sure, for he would soon find himself among the outlaws in the lawless sea of the LEGO Pirates forum.

Leaving his Dark Age behind, his new life of LEGO adventures began, which is documented in meticulous detail within his Flickr account account, so you would do well to invest time there exploring it’s great MOCs, shots and hilarious backstories.

And, so here we are. We hope you have enjoyed this MOC’s presentation and the accompanying story. Before we part ways, the Classic Pirates invite you to share your thoughts and feedback about Whale Rock Outpost in the discussion forum by clicking the big red shiny button bellow.