Welcome to Builders’ Journeys – our Throwback Thursday inspired, nostalgia-driven look back on sets that have helped to define AFOLS around the world become the builders and LEGO Fans they are today. Today, we hear from Simon (@simonspace70s on Instagram). Simon lives in Mebourne, and recently discovered the joy of exhibiting his own MOCs, during a small lull between lockdowns. Simon has a tale that began back in the 1970s, and was changed for ever when he was given Set 924: Space Cruiser (released in the USA as 487) for his 6th birthday. The Awkward Middle Child of Classic Space sets, this ship seems to be relatively rare compared to 918 (one man Space Ship) and 927 (Galaxy Explorer). And there is just something about the shape of the nose. Perhaps that’s just me. Anyway, read on for Simon’s story.
My love of lego started young. I received the universal building set number 20 for Christmas when I was two years old. Yes, the set numbers really did once only have two digits and no, worrying about children swallowing small Lego pieces was not a thing in the 1970s. I was hooked and also obsessed with cars, so I built a lot of those and houses for the cars to park at, because cars all have homes. There were maxi figures but they were awkward and oddly shaped and didn’t interest me. My Dad bought the 181 train set, second hand, a couple of years later and I would spend hours stopping my then toddler brother from wrecking it as it wended its noisy battery powered way around the blue track.
Then for my sixth birthday something amazing happened. Space. I got a handful of the small sets from the first wave of Classic Space, plus the base plates, both craters and landing strips. The main event, however, was 924 Space Cruiser. I still remember opening the the lid of the box and peering at the pieces though the clear plastic. Suddenly playing with Lego had entered a new and fantastic realm. Space to me was always fantasy, it was Star Wars and Battle of the Planets. Now I had my white and red Space Minifigures to live out those adventures aboard the LL924. It was my Millennium Falcon, my Phoenix (the Battle of the Planets one not the one recently a set in a wizard based franchise).
Despite being obsessed with Classic Space, or Space Lego as we knew it at the time, and pouring over the Lego catalogue to decide what to ask for for birthdays and Christmas, neither my brother nor I ever got a ship bigger than LL924. It remained the flag ship of our Lego fleet. Always first into battle and central to the story. It had pride of place inside the yellow circular landing strip. We often played out a small ship versus large ship schism because Lego didn’t give us space baddies until Blacktron many years later. The small ships would fly off for… well… reasons and then attack the base. The hapless 6890 Cosmic Cruiser was always overwhelmed and would have to abandon its big ship outer hull and then promptly defect to the small ships. LL924 would make the final stand and it never failed. The small ships would take heavy losses and then give up their dubious claims for small ship based independence.
I prided myself on being able to build all my Space Lego without using the instructions, but this led me to making a mistake with LL924 where I built the dividing wall between the crew and cargo areas out of 1×4 bricks instead of using a 1×6 bring to anchor it to the side walls. As you can imagine this resulted in that wall and the hinged trans clear yellow roof being frustratingly unstable. Not that this dampened my love for this ship. Nothing could. Not even a dark age.
Like most teenagers I drifted away from Lego. First into technic but then into other interests. Decades passed. Then 8 years ago my parents were clearing out an old storage unit and my mother mentioned that the Lego was in a box in their garage. I was a few months away from becoming a father for the first time and was amazed that Mum had saved it for all those years. I grabbed it and spent a delightful weekend rebuilding all the Space sets. They were all there and mostly complete… except for LL924. It was missing the most pieces. No printed space logo 3×6 slope, nor 3×6 trans yellow windscreens and those 3479 tail pieces with their fragile teeth connectors were mostly broken. Fortunately the rest of the parts survived including the printed LL924 1×4 bricks and the rare forklift piece. So that led me to the internet which led me to Bricklink and reviving LL924 became my first, of many, Bricklink orders.
Last year with my dark age fully dispelled, I had started tinkering with a MOC mashing up some classic Lego themes when I read about the public building competition for Brickvention. I had yet to join MUGs and thought that Brickvention level building was many years away, but my wife disagreed and together we planned out an even bigger build inspired by Classic Space and Pirates. Front and centre was a heavily modified LL924 in a moment that was a key part of the story. It was so much fun to do. The online Brickvention 2021 was a great weekend and it was even better knowing we had participated in a small way. We were really proud of a our build and loved checking out the other great MOCs from builders of all ages. We tuned in to the session announcing the building competition winners a couple of days later and were blown away when Annie O’Reilly announced our build as one of the winners in the adult category.
Currently LL924 is still part of this MOC, titled The Space Pirates of Phillip Island, which we took to Bendigo Bricks earlier in the year and hope to get to a few more conventions in the future.
Side note: the forklift piece is one of my son’s favourite pieces. When we build a new set he places C3P0 in a modified version of the forklift build to assist with construction duties. The spring is no longer with us. I managed to detach it in about 1982 and then, not able to reattach it, promptly lost it.
Thanks for sharing your story, Simon. Somewhat fortuitously, this week, we have received news from the Brickvention team that Exhibitor applications are now open for January 2022. You can read our announcement here.
Would you like to contribute to our Builders’ Journeys column? I believe everyone has a set from their past that is significant for some reason or another, whether it was their first, a set you built with your grand parents, a set you built with your own kids. If you can write a paragraph or two, explaining why that set is special to you, why not send them in. If you do not have photos of it, do not worry: we can probably find one or two to convey what it was about. Drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and until next time…