10497: Galaxy Explorer – Redefining an Icon. Rambling Review

When I first saw images of the new 10497: Galaxy Explorer, while preparing for LEGO Con, I found myself both a little excited and apprehensive. Excited because, like many LEGO Space Fans of a certain age, this set told us that the LEGO Group recognises the importance of Classic Space to its older fans, and there had been so much clamouring for proper Space Sets: sets not tied in with different third party licences like Super Heroes or NASA, and not linked into the increasingly complicated lore behind Monkie Kid and Ninjago. We have seen sets buying into the idea of Classic Space – exploration, team work, free of conflict – in LEGO City over the years, BUT while there might be ‘equivalent’ sets, they strive to be too realistic- insisting on putting visors on every helmet, windows and air lock doors on the moon base and insisting on astronauts only being able to drink a cup of coffee when in their standard overalls. So, to see the look of Classic Space preserved and revisited is more than welcome.

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LEGO® CON REVEALS: 10497 Galaxy Explorer

It seems like an age ago that LEGO Ideas ran a fan vote to determine which LEGO Theme would be commemorated as part of the company’s 90th Anniversary Celebrations. I had long hoped we would see a grey and blue castle, with a transparent yellow Bionicle mask mounted above the drawbridge. Today I am delighted to say that I was mistaken. Not one set or one theme, but at least two. Will we see more? I honestly have no idea.

A revised 928/497 Galaxy Explorer was announced at LEGO CON today. This is the Iconic LEGO Spaceship. The emblem of LEGO Space in the early days, representing the ethos of peaceful exploration, before the introduction of conflict was required to drive the story-telling.

The set was revealed by Mike Psiaki – who revealed it is 1.5 times larger than the original set.

10497 will arrive on August 1st 2022, and will cost $99.99 / £89.99/ €99.99 /179.99 AUD/129.99 CAD. IF YOU ARE KEEN, it will be available for preorder in some markets from today!

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The Age Of LEGO® Space Factions: 1987-1999

In the previous article in this series, we looked at Classic Space – and what might define the theme: More than the colours, the sets of this era were united in working together for a common goal: exploring, mining and drinking oversized cups of coffee, while wearing their spacesuits inside. We have ships, bases and rovers, with a variety of colour schemes passing by over the years.

By the time I got to 1987, I had completed school, and was just starting off at university. My brother had recently stopped playing with our bricks, and they were put into storage – to be retrieved as we both gained children of our own. I was well and truly into my Dark Ages. All I know has been derived from fellow AFOLs, catalogs, the brickset database and picking up the occasional set or three along the way.

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Retro-Review:928/497 Galaxy Explorer. A Set That Defined A Generation

There are a lot of classic LEGO® sets. There are a good number of LEGO Space sets that might be declared to be classic. But there is probably only one set that is almost universally recognised as being emblematic of not only Classic Space, but perhaps the entire early Minifigure era. Bringing together a ship, a buggy and a base, along with 4 astronauts, 928 Space Cruiser and Moon Base, also known as 497 Galaxy Explorer was not the first playset of the era: you might consider the 374 Fire Station or the 375 Castle as being the other sets with this position – and they were released a year earlier, in 1978. And they contained more elements. Galaxy Explorer was not even the first of the space playsets – we had the 483 Alpha-1 Rocket Launching base come first. But still, there is something about the set which just says ‘This is Classic Space’.

I would dare to say it might even be iconic!

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Classic themes: Defining Classic Space

The recent arrival of the 2022 LEGO City Space sets has left some people myself included, wondering if the spirit of Classic Space has returned, while others remained unsatisfied, stating reasons of not enough blue and grey, an absence of transparent yellow, or that the blue in the windscreens was just not dark enough. But what does Classic Space actually mean?

Virtually everyone will agree that the period began in 1978, with the release of the first LEGO Space sets to feature minifigures. But when does it end? And what is it that makes those sets ‘Classic Space?’

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Taking a Test Drive with the 60348 Lunar Rover [Hands On Review]

The new LEGO City Space sets are drawing heavily on the LEGO Group’s Classic Space Heritage, as well as design mockups for the Artemis Program – the NASA’s planned return to the moon in 2024. As I discussed in my review of 60350 Lunar Research Base, the theme is drawing design cues from Space sets of the 80’s, along with a reimagined Classic Space Logo.

Today, I’m taking a look at the 60348 Lunar Rover – AUD49.99 – which I picked up at a local toy retailer. It is now available through LEGO.com and other retailers. The model is inspired in part by the Habitable Mobility Platform (HMP) proposed for NASA’s Artemis program and it also draws on the traditions of Classic Space rovers from the 1980s. It is the least expensive of the City Space sets currently available.

The HMP is a pressurised rover, with the ability to travel some distance from the proposed Lunar Base Camp, without forcing the crew to spend all their time in bulky EVA suits. Essentially an RV for the astronauts. As such, it should be possible to drive the vehicle in shirt sleeve comfort.

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Is This The Return Of Classic Space? 60350 Lunar Research Base: Hands On Review

It has been a little over 40 years since I fell in love with the idea of LEGOLAND® Space. Those initial sets put forward a future where people were collaborating in exploration, mining, and seeking out new worlds. All while improbably controlling vehicles with a steering wheel, and only installing cabins on to craft cabable of inter-planetary travel. All while drinking coffee in a base with the main control room open to the vacuum of space or whatever hostile atmosphere the team were facing this week.

0350: Lunar Research Base: The subject of today’s review: Is Classic Space making a comeback?

After Exploring Classic Town, I have been planning a series on ‘Whatever Happened to Classic Space?’ to arrive over the next few months. A lot of the answer depends on how you define Classic Space. While some might limit the definition to sets that include the logo with the shuttle orbiting a planentoid – others might use the definition of sets released before the arrival of Futuron and Blacktron in 1987; Others might feel that to use colours other than Blue, light grey and transparent yellow might be pushing a friendship.

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Builders’ Journeys: Simon Soars into Space with the Awkward Middle Child [924: Space Cruiser]

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.

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Returning to Ice Planet, A Builder’s Diary I: Colour and Concepts

Since I wrote an overview of ICE PLANET 2002, I have come to make a realisation: I’ve been a little too focused on news, reviews, and product announcements lately. Not to mention that little podcast thing. Perhaps to the extent that I have started to lose track of what I find to be so enjoyable about LEGO play… the act of creation. I’ve taken a couple of days out from the routine to start playing, designing and MOCing again.

A little while ago, I took a look at the theme ICE PLANET 2002 – a LEGO® space theme from the early 1990s. The theme was set on the Planet Krysto, in the centre of the known Universe. With three different figures, this theme included the first female Space Minifigure, a distinctive colour palette and a return to the values of Classic Space.

I now find myself wanting to explore this world a little further: bringing the United Galaxies back to Krysto, and using this as the basis for some MOCs of my own.

Nearly thirty years have passed since the United Galaxies’ Forces launched their last expedition Ice Planet 2002.

The Odyssey Base has since been abandoned after a computer virus, planted by Spyrius agents, rendered its systems inoperative. The United Galaxies’s rocket research program has been moved to several decentralised locations. A strange, coded signal has been detected coming from the area of the long-abandoned base in the meantime. A code not used by the forces of United Galaxies But from whom, and why? The Space Police say that an uninhabited, abandoned planet is outside their jurisdiction. Others say that the Space Police just want to chase bad guys that they know.

And so a new expeditionary force is set up, drawing upon the expertise of the earlier researchers. Their mission: identify the source of the signal, secure any residual artifacts from the original mission and, finally, establish whether there is any threat to the United Galaxies. If the Union is being threatened, neutralise the source of the problem…with extreme prejudice.

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It’s Out of This World: Creator 3 in 1 31115 Space Mining Mech [Review]

I recently reviewed the upcoming LEGO® Creator 3in1 set 31116: Safari Wildlife Tree House, due for release on March 1 2021. Another Creator 3in1 set due for for release on that date is the 31115: Space Mining Mech.

The set has three alternate builds, all based around space exploration, and particularly mineral surveying/collection.

This Creator 3in1 set has 321 parts, and will retail for $AUD32.99/ £24.99 /USD24.99 and €24.99. As such, it looks like particularly reasonable value for Australians, where, after currency conversion, we seem to have the best value compared to these major currencies. So should we exploit this relative bargain and buy many? Read on for my thoughts.

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