All I want for Christmas is the Return of Classic Space [70841 Benny’s Space Squad]

This was probably not the post I was planning to write today. In fact, I was not planning to write one. And then a couple of things happened: a couple of LEGO® Movie 2 sets arrived at home, and I was given a Lume Cube as a present.

The Lume cube is a small, portable light source – waterproof, it also comes with a variety of magnetic filters which act to provide a bit of warmth or diffusion. And the light has variable brightness: either through buttons on the back, or by bluetooth control. I’ll talk about it a little more in the future, but suffice to say I was was looking for an excuse to photograph something.

But the arrival of Benny’s Squad was also very exciting. Perhaps one of the most anticipated sets from the LEGO Movie 2, 70841 captured my attention in several ways.

As a child, I was captivated by the original wave of classic space, especially the smaller sets. I loved the look of the larger sets, I just didn’t own any. This set appears to be working towards capturing the appeal of those early sets – particularly 885 Space Scooter and 886 Space Buggy. In fact, they are still travelling through life with me today.

I received a copy of 70841 from LEGO’s AFOL Engagement team, and it arrived just before Christmas. I had been planning to wait, but…well, Classic Space things.

Benny’s Space Squad 70841 is priced at $15.99 when it gets released in Australia (December 26th, 2018), and (Otherwise $USD 9.99/€9.99/£8.99) and comes with a total of 63 parts.

It also comes with four minifigures. Three are classic spacemen in white, yellow and pink. This latter is a new colour for spacemen. The fourth figure is Benny: the worn out, well played with blue spaceman who we first met back in the LEGO Movie. True to form, he has an imitation broken chinstrap on his helmet, as well as a well scuffed classic space logo on his chest. He also has a dual printed head: excited on one side, terrified on the other.

The set comes in a brightly printed, small box: about the same size as many of the ‘Starter Sets’, which we have seen frequently in the CITY ranging in recent years.

The build is not complicated: I spilled the parts over the a couple of old grey baseplates, and put together the minifigures.

Benny, Kenny, Lenny and Jenny. In case you were wondering, Jenny is the white one, Kenny is yellow and Lenny – pink. They all have the ‘classic smiley’ face. Benny has a double sided face print: big smile on one side and terrified scream on the other.

Technically, when I say ‘pink’ I mean LEGO Colour ID 221 Bright Purple.

The box art reveals that we can build a buggy type vehicle, as well as a small flyer, similar to the space scooter.

Element wise, this set has the requirement soft a small space sets: wings, a slope, some steering wheels, small wheels for the vehicle and the ‘wheelbarrow handles’. for the rocket exhaust, a droid head is used. We also have a space cockpit seat, and the requisite minifigure accessories: walkie talkie, metal detector, spanner and ray gun. We also have the parts to construct a small robot.

Compared to the original space sets of 1979, the slope with the printed classic space logo is blue, rather than grey and is a 4×2 slope rather than 3×2.

Construction is not especially challenging, and before long I had my minifigures assembled and the vehicles ready to go. The buggy is lacking the distinctive antenna, but comes with two 2×2 plates with 2 studs. This makes it easier to remove a seated minifigure from the plate, and when you least expect it, you realise that you can now sit two of the space squad on the buggy at any one time.

In comparison to the classic sets, 885 and 886:

The buggy looks a little different compared to the original from 1979: we no longer have the signature air tank hanging from the front of the vehicle, but the use of a 2×1 trans yellow plate means that we do have headlights: possibly just as essential when exploring the moon. There are two clips at the back, perfect for attaching minifigure accessories to.

The Space scooter is a little smaller than its predecessor, in part due to the older wings now being discontinued. but we still have some nods to the old set: the sloped brick with the space logo; the antenna; the ‘ray guns’ at the front, and the two trans red tiles. As you can see, it is narrower, and feels shorter than the original version.

In Summary:

The main thing that this set brings me is hope. By introducing a collection of new space explorers, in conjunction with some of the key elements of Classic Space, MOCs are being facilitated, with new shiny parts – not burnished by thirty years of loving play: slopes printed with the space logo, trans yellow windscreens and plates, rocket exhausts and so forth. I loved Benny’s Spaceship, SPACESHIP, SPACESHIP!!! from the original LEGO Movie was great because it incorporated EVERY SINGLE TYPICAL ELEMENT used in a Classic Space. But for me, it strikes me as being a bit too complicated. The small builds that we see here today, however, are what Classic Space meant to 10 year old me: I could happily pull these sets apart, build something random, and then put them back together from memory. Some of them I can still build, nearly forty years later. When you combine this set with some of the ideas from 70821: Emmet and Benny’s Build and fix Workshop, the imagination inspired by Classic Space can come alive.

70821: Build and Fix.

This is a great set: I love the range of minifigures (although I almost want a non-preloved version of Benny – a typical Blue Space man. There are a couple of issues I had with attaching a minifigure on the Moon Buggy while there was an accessory clipped into the model. But we muddled through and found a compromise. I give this set four point five arbitrary praise units out of a possible five. This is not a playset: there is no drama, or foe built into the stories – just a few mini figures hanging out together.

What do you think of this set? Is it a game changer for you? It’s not much of a playset, but could be great for army building. I love the nods to the original Classic Space sets in the builds in this set. I don’t think we will see a full relaunch of Classic Space. But we will certainly get the occasional inspirational set built in this theme. Until next time…

Play Well.

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