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).

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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!

Continue reading

LEGO® City Missions: Building Creative Confidence [RoundTable and Review]

Back in the early days of LEGO® minifigures, the majority of sets that we had to play had a modest part count, and could be pulled apart and rebuilt in less than an hour: there was plenty of source material for alternative builds, either from the suggestions on the back of the box, or using an ideas book, such as #6000 – which documented the adventures of Mary and Bill, initially in a Town-based adventure, but takes a detour through the worlds of Classic Space and Castle…

Sets were built, played with and rebuilt. Hardly anything was kept together for a significant amount of time.

Flash forward 40 years, and the way some kids play seems to have changed: sets become display pieces in some households, gathering dust until the owner enters their dark ages, before moving on to sell them on the secondary market.

In part, I can understand this: sets have become a bit more sophisticated over the years: more pieces, more complicated building techniques, and we have already invested a couple of hours in building the core model. I encountered some examples of this recently as I worked on the new Creator 3in1 sets – Viking Ship and Midgard Serpent, as well as the DownTown Noodle Shop: pulling these sets apart and building the alternative models took up to 2 hours, depending on the models.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

New Story-Based LEGO® City Mission Sets Revealed

Today, The LEGO Group have announced a new type of LEGO City Set: LEGO City Missions. Following the basic themes of Water Police; Mission to Mars and Wildlife Rescue, the online building instructions, in the form of an online storybook, provides challenges for the builder – encouraging problem solving, and expanding the play available. This takes me back to the days when the Fabuland set Instructions used to be primarily a story book, to take the child on their journey.

For AFOLs, we might also regard these sets as providing awesome parts packs for related themes, including Space. To say nothing of a selection of new animal moulds – including a city scale hare, are well as a baby crocodile (seeing this element move from Marvel minifigures, through to the City range.) Perhaps we should say nothing about the vibrant coral frog.

Read on for more pictures, as well as the press release:

Continue reading

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?’

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

Builders’ Journeys: Harald Takes Us Back to the Futuron…

80’s clickbait

Welcome Back to Builders’ Journeys, where we hear from AFOLs around the world talk about ‘that special set’ that helped to define the LEGO Builder and AFOL that they would become. Today, we hear from Harald, who succumbed to a flashy image on the cover of a LEGO catalogue, many years ago…

Continue reading