60850 Blacktron Cruiser [Hands-On Review]

Blacktron to the Future?

It was 1987, and for the first time ever, a collection of LEGO characters that could be defined as ‘the bad guys‘ was released. They were’nt part of Town, they weren’t in any Castle; but they were in Space. And their name was Blacktron. Gone was the Classic Space logo from their torsos: this was a functional black printed torso, with white lines providing the detail, while the helmet was no longer the traditional shape, but rather a motor cycle helmet. Now with a visor. But for extra menace, the visors were an opaque black. The opportunity for incognito was remarkable.

This band of intergalactic secret-stealing rapscallions were the pinnacle of villainy for a couple of years, only to be succeeded by their more fluorescent sequel: Blacktron II (Electric Boogaloo??).

But Now they Are Back! And I think, for the better! Set 6894 Known in the USA as the BLACKTRON INVADER, it was also referred to as the BLACKTRON CRUISER in the UK/Europe – although the European catalogue in 1988 confused the labels for 6894 and 6941 (Blacktron Battrax or Blacktron Prowler).

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Blacktron Is Back

Well, back for a limited time, and not as a general retail release…

The LEGO Group has released official images of an upcoming gift with purchase: 40580 Blacktron Cruiser. I might have just wept a little. The new set is expected to come as a gift with purchase in the new year.

This set follows in the footsteps of the 40567 Forest Hideout, seen earlier in the 2022, rereleasing a popular set from days long past, using contemporary building techniques.

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Taking off with Artemis: 60351 Rocket Launch Centre

As I write this, we are awaiting the second launch window for Artemis I, after the mission was delayed earlier this week, as the result of cooling problems. This mission will see an integrated test of the Space Launch System rocket as well as the Orion space craft – which will house the crew when they are taken to land on the moon in 2024.

In Greek Mythology, Artemis is the twin sister of Apollo, as such it seems fitting that this is the name chosen for NASA’s missions to return to the moon, 50 years after the last man stepped foot on the surface.

This year, the LEGO City range has featured a number of sets with a ‘Space’ theme, based on the components being investigated for the Artemis mission. We have previously looked at the Lunar research Base, as well as the Lunar Rover. The Rocket launch centre represents the largest set in the theme, with 1010 pieces, and with a RRP of $AUD249.99. This is a big set, and contains everything you need to set up a rocket launch base. Designed in cooperation with NASA, the rocket bears more than a passing resemblance to the Artemis Space Launch System… But I am getting ahead of myself.

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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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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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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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Builders’ Journeys: Branko Launches Us Into Space With The 6950: Mobile Rocket Transport

Welcome back to our regular Builders’ Journeys column, where we take a look at sets from years gone by, through the eyes of someone for whom that set has a special significance. Today, Branko from New South Wales, via the Netherlands brings us a tale of his childhood, with 6950: Mobile Rocket Transport. This set was released in 1982 and has 209 pieces. Tat year also saw the debut of the yellow spacemen, and this set came with two of them!

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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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An Ice Place To Be: Revisiting Ice Planet 2002

The recent Fan Vote for a 90th Anniversary set that has taken place on LEGO Ideas has reminded many of us of many of the great themes that LEGO sets have explored over the years. While Classic Space, Castle, Bionicle and Pirates were the themes that the public were most fond of, there were a number of other themes that we were reminded of. One of these was Ice Planet 2002: released in 1993-94. My friend Jay, over at Jay’s Brick Blog made an impassioned call for voting for this theme, but alas, it was unsuccessful. But there is no doubt that it is a theme that has its stalwart fans: certainly it has a striking aesthetic,so I thought I would take a closer look, to see what the theme brought to the Space sets at the time, as well as why it might be deserving of some greater love going forward.

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LEGO Space: Hope, Optimism and Dreams for the Future. [Review 6970/60228]

The recent launch of the the Space X Falcon9, successfully delivering astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken aboard their Crew Dragon capsule to the International Space Station has renewed public interest in the space program. And at a time when there are so many other problems affecting the world, a little excitement and optimism is what the world needs.

Space exploration has often been associated with this hope and optimism, as we see parts of the universe through new eyes, and discover that we can achieve things that had previously only been dreamt of.

A child excited by the the dream of space travel today might look at the range of LEGO City ‘Mission to Mars’ sets from 2019, and be inspired by such a future, as some of us were 40 odd years ago, when we first saw LEGOLAND Space.

Back in those days, we started with spacemen on a planet somewhere. They had a spaceship, a rover or a base. Or all three. They were all working together: no fighting, just cooperation in achieving the teams goals.

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