Minifigure 40: LEGOLAND® Space [Advertising Archive]

Celebrating its 40th Anniversary this year, LEGO® Space is one of the great evergreen themes of the Minifigure era. One of the terrific aspects of the theme was the way that the overall design would periodically evolve, introducing new colour schemes and minifigure designs.

Ad 1979_64The theme arrived as we saw a resurgence in science fiction and space fantasy entertainment on the screen: led by films such as Star Wars, and on the smaller screen by Doctor Who, Blakes Seven and Battlestar Galactica, our imaginations were primed for journeys beyond the stars. The Space Shuttle Enterprise had been undergoing test flights from the back of a 747 Jet, and a we were excited for a new era of space exploration commencing, with the Space Shuttle Columbia ultimately launching in 1981.

These early series focussed on exploration, mining and the perils of space travel itself. It took 8 years before an enemy faction arrived, providing an outlet for dramatic conflict within the stories that were told.

Join us, as we set about exploring the print advertisements for LEGOLAND Space, and continue through the classic space era. Most of these advertisements are from Europe in a variety of languages.  I have endeavoured to provide translations of these.

In the Beginning

In the beginning, there were only a few sets to be seen.  In 1979, all of our advertising shows a group of space explorers on a moon or planet.  At this time, branding is inconsistent: we see German Advertisements referring to both “LEGOLAND Space” and “LEGOLAND Raumfahrt” – literally ‘Space travel’.  The example of Italian advertising I have seen lists ‘Spazio’ – Space, and the Danish – LEGOLAND Rumfart: Spacecraft. The Swedish advertisement I have below says “LEGOLAND Rymt” – LEGOLAND Space.  In all cases we see the familiar Classic Space Logo.  Interestingly, it appears on different angles in a couple of the advertisements.

Ad 1977_43.jpg
Red Alert! A UFO is approaching LEGO Base!
LEGO: a new game every day.
Ad 1979_62
LEGOLAND Space Travel.
With LEGOLAND space travel into the universe-to exciting adventures
Start free to the big LEGOLAND Space Competition! 1st prize: Flight to Cape Canaveral! Large participation poster in the toy shops.
The construction and play program for exciting space adventures.
Ad 1979_64
With LEGOLAND space travel in all too exciting adventurers.
The construction and play program for exciting space adventures.

Ad 1979_63

LEGOLAND Space turns the journey through space into an exciting adventure
[Set for launch in the large LEGOLAND Space competition! 1st prize: Flight to Cape Canaveral! Big participation poster in your toy trade.]
LEGO is a new toy every day

Ad 1979_71
LEGOLAND space travel.
Space-flight, research, spark-space is full of adventure. The Building and Play system for exciting space adventures.
Ad 1979_72
LEGOLAND spacecraft
NEW!
With the new LEGOLAND space program you can start and land on alien planets.
LEGO is new toy every day.
Ad 1979_77
LEGOLAND Space makes the journey through space an exciting adventure
LEGO – it’s a new toy every day.

Ad 1979_79a

Ad 1979_81
LEGOLAND Space
Flight, span, telegraphize experience exciting space adventures
LEGO is a new toy vaja day.
Ad 1980_48
With LEGOLAND space travel in all-too-exciting adventures

The Palette Evolves: 1981-83

While some of the above ads may have appeared as late as 1981, they have been using the same stock images seen in the original run of advertisements.  However, as we moved forward, we saw the introduction of widespread use of white bricks, and also the introduction of transparent blue  These were added to the palette occupied otherwise only containing blue, transparent  yellow and grey. White had previously had restricted use in the Space sets. We also start to see some of the earlier sets reimagined with different colours, wings and wheels, maintaining new life in the series.  Using this techniques, it becomes possible to frequently recycle the Space sets, so there is always something new to be found, but the overall structure of the line remains fairly consistent.

While maintaining the general style of the ads, the LEGOLAND Space/Spazio/Raumfahrt/Rymd/Espacial banner at the top of the advertisement has been replaced by the simple diagonal LEGOLAND banner in the top left corner of the page.

In 1982, we start to see some advertisements featuring purely space, rather than terrestrial, based play.  These advertisements highlight the excitement and adventure associated with space travel, as well as the dangers – such as being struck by an asteroid mid flight. this represents the origins of storytelling within the advertisements. There is also an emphasis on ‘sending for supplies’ – perhaps a subliminal cue instructing consumers to buy more LEGO Space sets…

Ad 1982_68
Crew to the Captain: Found the Fault.  Repair in Progress. Now there’s a whole new spacecraft for your LEGOLAND Spacey adventure. And of course also space bases, crater plates and astronauts. Together with what you already have, you can build new and find new, fun adventures.

The advertisement above on the left is interesting as it is amongst the first evidence free play being illustrated in the LEGOLAND advertisements.

Ad 1983_88
“Supply Base to Command Spaceship – we are preparing your landing.”
Now there is a whole new supply base for your adventures with LEGOLAND Space. And, of course, spaceships, crater plates and astronauts. Along with your current collection, this results in countless new and exciting space adventures to build and play.
As if you live on another planet. For children from 5 to 12 years.
Ad 1983_86
Space Command ship 6980 to Earth. Leak in right wing. Being repaired. Everything OK!
Somewhere deep in the universe an asteroid hit a leak in the wings. A host of brave astronauts repair the damage. Refuel on a nearby planet. And then on to unknown Galaxies … Tomorrow it will be different space – adventures. Always new and equally exciting. Because with LEGOLAND Space you always build other spacecraft to your own imagination.
LEGOLAND SPACE
Space adventures of tomorrow for children today.

This one below is not so much an advertisement as a description of a competition: count the

Ad 1983_89a
Welcome aboard the LEGO contest.
Hello – I am Space computer H22 organizes the big Galactic LEGO contest. Suit well my instructions – There are 1000 astronomical prizes to win.
You have to find the number of characters – LEGO Space Hidden in pif – attention
– They are hiding everywhere – in rubrics, games and comics – all LEGO space characters even have their own LEGO ads and presentation pages, all in one: Photo or drawing.
Colors of black and white.  You have to enter the correct answer in the right to cut at the end of the newspaper (p59) or on any free paper of The universe – 1000 winners will be drawn, among the Good Answers – 1000 gifts to win – 1 combined radio TV / Casette – 10 Walkmans – 989 LEGO Space Boxes. Now it’s your turn to play, and good luck. Beep … beep … beep …

Nineteen eighty four: Not the Orwellian Dystopia.

One of the interesting aspects of the Space theme at this stage was the absence of conflict: all of the spacemen were working together to explore the universe. We see a subtle shift in the colour palette again this year, with blue wings appearing, and a propensity to add a the triangular framework element with a tube at the pointy end wherever possible.

The arrival of 6591 Robot Command Centre generated a number of different advertisements in German, one of which appears almost word for word in French.

Ad 1984_54
New planet discovered. Please shift supplies.
Now there are new, great models for infinitely exciting adventures in space. To discover and explore completely unknown worlds.
LEGOLAND space travel. Exciting. Adventure to build, play and collect. For children from 5-12 years.

We Are Not Alone

In 1985, there are a couple of significant changes:  we see a dramatic departure from the previous ‘house art style’ of publicity (we had started to see a change in the style presented inLEGO Town/city a little earlier). After 6 years of exploration we also see the arrival of the first extraterrestrial intelligence, with the arrival of mysterious robots.

We see one advertisement set in space, constructing a new space station, while the other appears to be on an earth like planet with many trees, and a mysterious purple light.  We also nee the ‘Call outs’ appearing in a yellow box on the artwork, rather than the previous ‘newsprint style’ we saw previously.

The robots are a little inconsistent with their message: are they friendly or dangerous? In one they are helping out, in other they have landed on earth, but no-one can understand what they are looking for…

Ad 1985_57
“Robot Zazza to Commander: Radar System OK!”
LEGLAND space flight. Exciting adventures in building, playing and collecting. For children from 5-12 years.
Ad 1985_67
Mysterious robots have landed … In LEGOLAND Space there are countless adventures for you. Do you hear? “pip-pip-pip …” Mysterious robots have just landed on Earth from their alien planet “pip-pip-pip!” Do you understand them? LEGOLAND Space. As if you live on another planet.

Everything Changes: 1987-1989

This is the year when life in LEGO Space becomes a little different: we see the arrival of Futuron – a new design for our classic spacesuits.  We now have a dramatically different palette of White, blue, a little black and Transparent blue. Grey is now relegates to the baseplates.  This is the year we see the arrival of the 9 Volt monorail in Space: a suitably futuristic mode of transport for the environment.

We also see the arrival of the Blacktron faction: our first ‘bad guy’ figures: with their vehicles and bases in black and transparent yellow, there is no doubt as to who the bad guys might be!

So much so that in 1989, we see the arrival of the first Space Police sets, charged with helping to rid the galaxy of the Blacktron menace. With a bold new colour scheme, they have been revisited  several times since.

Most importantly, at this time we see the ‘perspective grid’ stretching out across the sky: It also appears on the boxes of the sets at this time.  For some reason, this is a frequently used element in 1980’s design – especially science fiction: the television series of Hitch hikers guide to the Galaxy used it, the Galaxy Song fromMonty Python’s meaning of life used is… in a somewhat bizarre and confronting way.  It has most recently been used by LEGO on the packaging for the LEGO Ideas Voltron set.

I am also intrigued at the Swedish advert below, referring to the Black Dragons: perhaps Blacktron is also a ‘regional’ name?

At this time, we also start to see dramatic sculpted landscapes to enhance the display of the sets being advertised. In latter times, the landscape starts to fit in around the sets, rather than merely acting as a pedestal, as in the early Blacktron advertisements.

Ad 1988_50

Ad 1988_55
Black Star Control Center for Moon Explorer: “Run!”
For the world’s most daring adventurers: Black Star Control Center and 11 other great new sets.
Ad 1988_59
Discover a new world!
12 exciting new sets in LEGOLAND Space – from Black Dragons to amazing Alpha craft.

These advertisements for Space Police sets are probably some of the more overt examples of story telling in the advertisements at this time.

Ad 1989_87

Ad 1989_66
Spaceship Patrol: We have captured them
Received we landed.
You too chase the stellar bandits with LEGOLAND Space Police, imprison them in the security cells and check their data on the computer.
Indeed there are 5 new sets and one also has the spaceship-prison with the lights that really flash!
Ask your retailer for the new LEGO catalog!

Ad 1989_63

M-Tron

This time we see a radical redesign of the exploration craft, and red and black, with transparent fluorescent yellowish green canopies: the M-Tron theme ran in parallel with Blacktron and Space for a few years. I am sorry to have missed this era in LEGO Space!

Ad 1990_48
Incident in space!
The Space Rescue Center is on site. Now every second counts! LEGO space travel – exciting adventures to build, play and collect.
Ad 1990_52
Bullying in the space station!
But help is approaching. The Galaxy Police intervene.

I love the way in which these sets are incorporated into the tunnels and mountainsides.  This is certainly a terrific era for space.  But we are heading for another change:

Branding Goes Global: Ice Planet 2002 and Blacktron II (1992-1993)

The arrival of Ice Planet 2002, with its dramatic colour scheme inspired this brilliant diorama: with a mixture of real and simulated ice, you can see the peril that the Blacktron team are experiencing.  The glowing purple moon in the sky completes the completely alien nature of the environment.  It is at this time too that we see global branding starting to take effect- the theme title ‘Ice Planet 2002’ is used regardless of the language of any local market.

Exploriens: 1996

By this time I was well and truly in my dark ages, and I have no recollection of seeing this short-lived  series at all. Returning to the civilian exploration theme, free of antagonist, the ships return to the familiar white and trans blue (with black and trans fluoro yellowish green trims) – similar in style to the original Futuron theme. This artwork, with the main picture in deep space, as well as an alien landscape diorama.

The German advertisement at this time also features an advertisement for the Arnold Schwarzenegger Film ‘Versprochen is Versprochen’/Jingle all the way. perhaps as a reminder to get all the great toys for your children for Christmas before they are all sold out.Ad 1996_21

Ad 1996_20
Protective shield more active!
The new Exploriens Athmo Cruiser breaks through the energy barriers to the II dimension. On board: the new red-blue color scanner, hologram displays of the latest series and of course the ultra-strong magnet and griffin arms, with which the Exploriens have all the adventures of their galaxy firmly under control.
But which surprises does the unknown dimension hold for the scientists?

Well, this concludes our survey of LEGO Space related advertisements – from its beginnings in the late 1970’s through to the mid 90’s. During this time we have seen the  the Classic spaceman go from two colours to five; the rise of Futuron and Blacktron and the arrival of the Space Police.  We have met the M-Tron team, and briefly greeted the Exploriens.  Over this time, LEGO Space served to foster a sense of optimism, and development of a questing mind, seeking fantastic adventure, for a long time without a designated ‘bad guy’.  The advertisements have progressed from simple layouts with a black backdrop to complicated multicoloured starfields and complex alien landscapes.

I hope you have enjoyed this little journey. Feel free share it with your friends and communities. If you like, you can check out the advertisements used for Trains and City over this time period by following the links.

If Space was your thing, what was your favourite period for the LEGO sets? Why not leave your comments below, and follow the Rambling Brick to continue the conversation.  Until Next time,

Play Well!

All images courtesy of the LEGO Group.  Thanks to Daniele Brovida for assisting with translation.

5 thoughts on “Minifigure 40: LEGOLAND® Space [Advertising Archive]

  1. Love the space themes – takes me back to the late years of primary school. Once the yellow figures appear they became my Star Wars rebels, while the white would be storm troopers and red the imperial guards. How cool then in 1999 that Star Wars themed lego came out – – the 2 worlds united!!

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  2. Love this. Ice Planet is probably the reason I am an AFOL today. It totally hooked me as a kid. My ultimate nostalgia window was between M-Tron and Exploriens, so I sadly missed the true classics, but the early-mid 1990s gave some really great sets, too!

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      • You’re welcome. On the Lego history side, you may also want to correct that the arrival of the first Space Police was 1989, not 1979.

        Typos notwithstanding, I appreciate the look at Lego Space history from this perspective. Early Blacktron were the last sets I remember seeing as a kid, so this helps fill in the blanks in my knowledge of the later subthemes.

        Like

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