“Lego Space Product Lines” by S.M. O’Connor

Well before LEGO Group founder Ole Kirk Christian’s grandson, Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen (who spells the surname differently), introduced a new business model called the System within the System in 1978 with LEGOLAND® Town (now LEGO® City), LEGOLAND® Castle (later (LEGO® Castle), and LEGOLAND® Space (later LEGO® Space), the company produced sets related to the exploration of outer space.  Samsonite manufactured Space Rocket (Set #801), which reached store shelves in 1964, for the American market on behalf of The LEGO Group under a licensing agreement.  The LEGO Group itself manufactured the 276-piece Rocket Base (Set #358-1) for the British market.  It included a rocket, a launch pad, and a truck with a LEGOLAND sign.  Released in 1973, the set had a retail price of £2.95.  Moon Landing (Set #367), also manufactured directly by The LEGO Group, appeared on store shelves in Continental Europe, the U.K., Australia, and Canada in 1975.  Since it came out before Mr. Kristiansen introduced Minifigures in 1978, had Homemaker Figures for astronauts.  It was also known as Space Module with Astronauts.  Moon Landing (Set #565-1), which appeared on American store shelves in 1976, was exactly the same.

The way fans call LEGO® Castle sets from 1978 to 1983 as “Classic Castle,” fans call LEGO® Space sets from 1978 to 1987 “Classic Space.”  The succeeding product line subthemes have been Blacktron (1987-1990); Futuron (1987-1990); Space Police (1989-1991); (M-Tron (1990-91, 1993); Blacktron Future Generation (1991-93), also known as Blacktron II; Space Police II (1992-93); Ice Planet 2002 (1993); Spyrius (1994-96); Unitron (1994-95); Exploriens (1996-97); U.F.O. (1996-1999); Roboforce (1997); Insectoids (1998-99); Rock Raiders (1999-2000); Life on Mars (2001-02); Mars Mission (2007-2009); Space Police III (2009-2010); Alien Conquest (2011); and Galaxy Squad (2013).[1]

Jens Nygård Knudson, who designed LEGO® sets from 1968 to 2000, led the group that designed the Minifigure, and LEGO® Space.  Mr. Knudson personally designed the Rocket Base and Moon Landing sets.  He designed the first wave of LEGOLAND® Space sets and created the new elements for them.  Knudson was active with LEGO® Space from Classic Space to M-Tron.  After that, a new team of designers took over LEGO® Space.  Even after his official retirement in 2000, he continued to work for The LEGO® Group.  He personally designed the Space Police III Set #5971 (Gold Heist), which reached store shelves in 2009.

When LEGOLAND® Space debuted at the Nuremburg Toy Fair in 1979, it was voted “European Toy of the Year 1979,” according to LEGO Designer Mark Stafford.  Consequently, The LEGO Group hired 500 new production employees and Knudson was promoted to Chief Designer. Hjalmar Nielsen designed the Classic Space emblem, as Mr. Knudson explained in an interview with Mr. Stafford.

There were approximately 100 Classic Space sets.  The Classic Space astronauts (or spacemen as astronauts were called in old science fiction) had distinctive helmets that were the same as the helmets wore by the knights in Classic Castle sets, but lacked visors.  They were peaceful.  Robots were brick-built.  The space suits were color-coded, based on their occupations.  The factions were Red Classic Spacemen, , introduced in 1978; White Classic Spacemen introduced in 1978; Yellow Classic Spacemen, introduced in 1979; Blue Classic Spacemen, introduced in 1984; and Black Classic Spacemen, introduced in 1984.  Mr. Stafford asked about the colors scheme of the astronauts. Knudson answered, “The original two colors were explorers, yellow were scientists, blues were technicians or mechanics and I guess the black were warriors, but we were not allowed to make a big deal out of this. We were not allowed to make war.”

LEGO Designer Niels Milan Pedersen, another old hand Knudson hired in 1978, added, “There were a lot of disagreements about the aerials and other elements that pointed forwards on the ships because of the ‘no war’ policy.” Jens takes over, “We were not allowed to make weapons, and these things we built looked aggressive, so there were a lot of ‘radar dishes’ added and ‘sensor probes’, but to us they were really guns!”

Stafford noted, “In fact, there was also a fair bit of controversy about making black suited spacemen at all, as some at LEGO thought they were too threatening and Jens had to use the Town police and firemen to prove that hero figures could indeed wear black!”

The earliest space ships were blue and gray with transparent yellow windows.  Later space ships within the Classic Space product line were blue and white.

Stafford explained, “The color change away from the blue/grey/transparent-yellow sets was simply to refresh the space line; the old colors had been done and the design and marketing teams wanted the second line up of space to be fresh for the customers (shops) and consumers (kids). Several color combinations were considered, with red/black, black/white and black/yellow being frontrunners, but the management chose the blue/white with transparent blue windows as the way forward. Jens still seemed disappointed in this choice ‘I wanted some silver elements, and maybe the black and yellow color scheme, later I made Blacktron using that though!’ But he admitted the blue/white combination did allow a nice continuation from the first round of the space theme.”

“The space line pushed forward many innovations at the LEGO Group, transparent colors (other than clear) were first made for space, there were opening hinged doors and roofs with vehicles inside, ships that were modular, ‘Light and Sound’ bricks were created for space, the monorail invented, raised and multicolored base plates were also first made for the LEGO space lines, and so much more,” Stafford stated. “Jens feels the space sets explored and expanded a lot of the company’s technological frontiers.”

In 1982, Space Mini-Figures (Set #14) consisted of two red astronaut Minifigures, two white astronaut Minifigures, two radios, and two wrenches.  This was a Service Pack.

Blacktron vehicles were mostly black with yellow trim and Blacktron space suits were black, as well.  Their space suits had black visors.  Instead of the LEGO Space emblem, more realistic a harness and belts were printed on their chests in white.  Blacktron astronauts were supposed to be bad guys.  Blacktron astronauts appeared as prisoners in six of the seven Space Police sets in 1989.

In a 2008 interview, Joel Johnson asked former LEGO Designer Bjarne P. Tveskov if Blacktron were bad guys.  Mr. Tveskov replied, “Bad guys? Noooo. OK, they were a little bad, but in a good way… I remember there were some focus groups done with German mothers and they deemed the Blacktron models and minifigs to be a little too scary and aggressive. I don’t think the Blacktron Renegade (6954) ever became available in Europe, and there was a memo issued saying that the Blacktron should always be shown with their visors open… Also when we did Blacktron II a couple of years later, it was a somewhat watered-down style, in my opinion not as good as the original Blacktron theme. And yes, Space Police was created to bring back law and order in the universe. The little mobile prison cell with the laser bars was a fun thing to design, even if it was a little cruel for the Blacktron guys to be imprisoned inside the pod. The big Space Police Mission Commander (6986) is another personal favorite of mine. Except it was quite tough for the poor kids to build; As designers we sometimes forgot that while we became better and better at creating advanced designs over time, there were new 6- or 7-year-olds who had to be able to build them (and even if it has an 8+ age marking on the box, the younger kids will still get the models for birthdays, Christmas etc.)”

Blacktron’s Renegade (Set #6954) spaceship was modular and could break into independent modules and recombine in different ways, and carried a small ground vehicle.  This was the first of LEGO Space’s large spaceships that was modular in design.  Although most Blacktron sets were sold between 1987 and ’88, there was one small Blacktron set sold in 1990, Meteor Monitor (Set #1875), which was part of Castle Town Space Bonus Pack (Set #1675).  One Blacktron astronaut appeared alongside two Blacktron II astronauts, two M-Tron astronauts, and one Space Police officer in Space Mini Figures (Set #6704).

Futuron and Space Police included the Classic Space emblem.  Futuron astronauts had space suits that continued the color scheme of Classic Space astronauts, but instead of being monochromatic (like real space suits) they were yellow and white, blue and white, red and white, or black and white.  They had blue transparent visors.  They had zippers running diagonally down their chests.  The biggest Futron set was the 715-piece Monorail Transport System (Set #6990), sold in 1987.  It featured a battery-powered train.

Space Police astronauts are supposed to protect Futuron astronauts from Blacktron astronauts.  Their space suits were black and white.  The Minifigures reused the torsos from the Black and White Futron astronauts, but had white legs instead of black and white gloves / hands instead of black.  They had white helmets with red transparent visors.  The biggest sets were the 247-piece Space Lock-Up Isolation Base (Set #6955) and the 478-piece Mission Commander (Set #6986).  The latter could launched two smaller, unarmed spaceships as well as a ground vehicle.  Space Police II astronauts were the first to be manufactured after The LEGO Group introduced more complex printed facial expressions than the Minifigure’s traditional smiley face.  The Space Police II astronauts have microphones.  All but one of the Space Police II sets were sold between 1992 and ’93, the exception being the extremely small Space Police Car (Set #3015), sold in 1998.

LEGOLAND® Magna-Tron (M-Tron), also rendered M:Tron, astronauts were civilians, although their ships were armed. M-Tron sets released from 1990 to ’91.  They were on store shelves through ’93.  M-Tron astronauts had a single uniform space suit with white legs, red torso with an M logo, white arms, and black helmets transparent neon-green visors.  This was the first LEGOLAND Space theme to include magnets and the last to be called LEGOLAND® Space instead of LEGO® Space.  M-Tron astronauts had no bases, only vehicles.

Blacktron Future Generation, also known as Blacktron II, astronauts were less sinister in appearance, with white legs and torsos with black trim, black arms and gloves, and black helmets with transparent green visors.  They had B logos printed on their chests.  The way Blacktron astronauts were prisoners in Space Police sets, Blacktron II astronauts were prisoners in three Space Police II sets.  Three Blacktron II spaceships featured transparent cockpit globes.

Ice Planet 2002 astronauts, led by Commander Cold, conducted secret research and had to contend with Spyrius astronauts led by Major Kartofski.  Most Ice Planet 2002 sets appeared on shelves in 1992 and ’93, but one very small set, Space Diver (Set #3014), was sold in Japan in 1999.

Spyrius astronauts succeeded Blacktron and Blakctron II astronauts as the designated bad guys.  The subtheme was notable for having the first android Minifigure, Spyrius Droid.  One of the five sets it came with, Robo-Guardian (Set #6949), also featured an enormous robot.  A smaller, though still very large robot, also came in Recon Robot (Set #6889).

Unitron (1994-95) militarized astronauts replaced Space Police II police astronauts as the designated good guys.  Their biggest set was the 573-piece Monorail Transport Base (Set #6991).  It is The LEGO Group’s last and largest monorail set.

Exploriens (1996-97) astronauts were not only civilians, but paleontologists.  They had a feminine android Minifigure, Ann Droid.  Their largest set was Explorien Starship (Set #6982).

U.F.O. (1996-99) was the first LEGO® Space subtheme to have aliens, and aliens were the only Minifigures in it.  They were led by Alpha Draconis.  He and his living followers had regular-sized Mnifigure heads, but extra-large helmets.  They had the help of UFO Droids.  The alien ships, such as that in the set Alien Avenger (Set #6975) were saucer-shaped.

Roboforce (1997) was a short-lived subtheme with just four sets that featured Roboforce Astronauts who manned robot mecha (exoskeletal battle suits) in the tradition of Mobile Suit Gundam (1979-1980), Robotech (1982-1984), Exo Squad (1993-94), and The Matrix Revolutions (2003).  They were led by Chip Nebula.

Insectoids (1998-99) was another subtheme that consisted of aliens (in this case Zotaxians) and robots (Gigabots), both Minifigures.  Their space ships were called Insectoids.  Gypsy Moth was their queen.

Rock Raiders (1999-2000) was not a LEGO® Space subtheme, but a separate, complimentary theme.  In eight sets and the tie-in video game LEGO Rock Raiders, it depicted human miners stuck on an alien planet where they mined Energy Crystals, also known as Brickonium, and fought Rock Monsters.

The character B.B., introduced in Space Port (profiled below), is one of several astronauts to peacefully coexist on Mars with native Martians in Life on Mars (2001-02).    The Martians were notably humanoid, yet not Minifigures.  This is the only subtheme to show humans and aliens living together in peace.  By contrast, the astronauts in Mars Mission (2007-2009) had to contend with hostile natives.

Exo-Force (2006-2008) was not a LEGO® Space subtheme, but a separate, complimentary theme inspired by manga (Japanese comics) and anime (Japanese animation).  It had mecha called “battle machines.”  The premise is that Sensei Keiken invented Meca One, which led a robot rebellion against humanity.  The theme included robot Minifigures: Meca One, Devastators and Iron Drones.  The younger human Minifigures – Hikaru, Takeshi, Ryo, Ha-Ya-To, Tank Gunner, and Hitomi – had outlandish hair elements inspired by manga and anime.

Space Police III (2009-2010) pitted space police against alien criminals.  The Space Police Chief looked exactly like the Space Commandos, except his space suit had epaulettes.   He also commanded Space Police Officers, Space Police Robots, K-9 Bots, and the X99 Robot.  The K-9 Bots looked like K-9 from Doctor Who but was white instead of gray and had legs instead of wheels. Space Police appeared in LEGO: The Adventures of Clutch Powers (2010), a Universal direct-to-D.V.D. C.G.I. animated movie.  The aliens the Space Police fought were Kranxx, leader of the Black Hole Gang.  The other members were Snake, the Skull Twins, Slizer, Squidman, Frenzy, Rench, Squidtron, Jawson, Brick Daddy, and Craniac.  The aliens were Minifigures.  In 2009, Space Police III’s Galactic Enforcer (Set #5974), a spaceship, included a Minifigure, Space Police Statue, which was clearly supposed to depict a Classic White Spaceman, but the helmet was a modern helmet introduced in 1988 that simply lacked a visor rather than one of the original helmets.

LEGO Power Miners (2009-2010) was a theme product line with a science fiction storyline that pitted miners in outer space versus Rock Monsters in 2009 and Magma/Lava Monsters in 2010.  This clearly was a revival of the premise from Rock Raiders.  Mads Nipper, then LEGO Group Executive Vice-President, told The Telegraph’s Craig McLean in 2009 the Power Miners product line sold about one-third what the LEGO® City and LEGO® Star Wars product lines did, but surpassed sales expectations by 50%.

The Alien Conquest (2011) product line, released that same year, was a LEGO Space sub-theme that pitted Alien Defense Unit soldiers and scientists against an alien invasion force that included Alien Pilots and Alien Troopers.  In a first for LEGO® Space, humans were depicted as defending the Earth against aliens who had arrived here, instead of in the depths of space.  Consequently, the product lines includes civilians in modern attire: Farmer, Business Man, and News Reporter.  It would be fair to guess the suits worn by the A.D.U. Minifigures are supposed to be hazmat suits rather than space suits.[2]

Galaxy Squad (2012-2013) pitted humans and robots against insect-like aliens.  The humans and robots fought in color-coded squads: Solomon Blaze, Max Solarflare, and Blue Robot; Billy Starbeam and Red Robot; Chuck Stonebreaker and Green Robot; Jack Fireblade, Ashlee Starstrider, and Orange Robot. The Robot Sidekicks were Minifigures.  Except for Insectoid Larva, the aliens were Minifigures: Mosquitoids,  Buggoids, and Mantizoids.

A Red Classic Astronaut appeared in Vintage Minifigure Collection, Volume 1 (Set #852331) in 2008.  A Black Classic Astronaut and a White Classic Astronaut appeared in Vintage Minifigure Collection, Volume 2 (Set #852535) in 2009. A Yellow Classic Spaceman appeared in Vintage Minifigure Collection, Volume 3 (Set #852697) in 2009.  A Blue Classic Spaceman and a Blacktron Astronaut appeared in Vintage Minifigure Collection, Volume 4 (Set #852752) in 2009.

Several science fiction-related Minifigures have appeared in the Collectible Minifigures theme that are not representative of old LEGO® Space sets, but would be compatible with them.   Robot appeared in Set #8683 Minifigures Series 1 in 2010.  It was almost entirely gray and would have fit in with clunky robots from 1950s movies and television shows.  Over a Minifigure™ head that was standard in shape, if not in color, it had a helmet with antennas.  It left arm was a regular Minifigure™ arm, but its right arm was longer, featured ridges, ended in a claw instead of a hand.  The helmet and right arm were made of a noticeably cheaper plastic.  Robot appeared as Axon Klaxon in LEGO Universe: A Massively Multiplayer Online Game in 2010.   Clockwork Robot, a mostly mechanical robot like Robby the Robot in Forbidden Planet (1956), appeared in Set #8827 Minifigures Series 6 in 2012.  He had a key on his back, indicating he was supposed to be a windup automaton, even though he had electric equipment suggesting a C.P.U. printed on his chest.  Evil Robot, from Set #8833 Minifigures Series 8 in 2012, looked almost exactly like Robot from Series 1, but was black instead of gray, and was armed with a laser gun pistol.  The equipment printed on the chest and the face printed on the head were also sinister in appearance.  Battle Mech appeared in Set #71000 Minifigures Series 9 in 2013.  Its armor element had been used before for the Orange Robot and Green Robot in Galaxy Squad, but his color scheme was white and orange.  Set #71002 MiniFigures Series 11 in 2013 included two robots.  Lady Robot was a feminine version of Clockwork Robot.  She appeared as a Master Builder in The LEGO Movie (2014).  Evil Mech, a robot soldier that looked exactly like Battle Mech, but was black-colored with silver trim, carried a laser gun pistol.

Space Alien appeared in Set #8803 Minifigures Series 3 in 2011.  His head mold was reused from Squidman, a villain from Space Police III, but was lime green-colored.  Seemingly inspired by the gray aliens of science fiction, the Classic Alien was entirely gray other than its black, bulbous eyes, and appeared in Set #8827 Minifigures Series 6. Alien Villainess appeared in Set #8833 Minifigures Series 8 in 2012.  She had a similar head to the Alien Commander and Alien Cyborg from Alien Conquest, but her brain was pink.  She also had a slope instead of legs, suggesting she wore a floor-length dress, while Alien Cyborg had Minifigure legs (with a peg leg like Captain Redbeard) and Alien Commander had tentacles instead of legs.  She wore a two-piece opera cape and was armed with a pistol.  According to her biography, Alien Villainess is a ruler, so the Alien Commander should work for her.  Also, she is the enemy of Intergalactic Girl (from Series 6).  Intergalactic Girl is also stated to be an enemy of Blacktron, which indicates the Alien Conquet and Blacktron narratives are connected.  Alien Avenger, an alien soldier in an armored space suit, appeared in Set #71000 Minifigures Series 9 in 2013.  His body armor was the same shape as Galaxy Patrol’s, but was a different color.  He was armed with a laser gun pistol.  Alien Trooper, with a Lovecraftian squid-like head, and armed with a laser gun pistol, was in Set #71008 Miniseries Series 13 in 2015.

Spaceman, an astronaut with the Classic Space logo printed on his chest, appeared in Minifigures Series 1.  His helmet was the same as a Space Police Commando from Space Police III, except it was white with a transparent visor.  He also carried a pistol with a blue laser beam element.

Space Villain, a cyborg, appeared in Set #8803 Minifigures Series 3.  Space Villain had a peg leg for a right leg like Captain Redbeard from LEGO® Pirates (1987-1997, 2009, 2015-) and his right arm is very much like the right arm of Robot from Series 1, and is made of the same cheap plastic, but is black instead of gray.  He had the Blacktron II emblem printed on his chest.   Space Trap was a 2011 online video game for Collectible Minifigures where one has to play as either Space Villain or Space Alien.

Intergalactic Girl appeared in Set #8827 Minifigures Series 6 in 2012.  She is blonde with a wry smile printed on her face and wears a pink space suit with the Classic Space emblem.  Her hair element is called Headgear Hair Female Mid-Length Wavy with Center Part (Part 90396) and it is reminiscent of the glamorous hairstyle of an actress like Farah Fawcett (1947-2009) in Charlie’s Angels (1976-1981).  Intergalactic Girl’s biography mentions enmity with Blacktron.

Galaxy Patrol from Set #8831 Minifigures Series 7 in 2012 wore an armored space suit with the Classic Space emblem on the shoulders of his armor and a crosshair visible on the visor of his helmet.  According to his biography, Galaxy Patrol was an elite military unit that fought evil across the galaxy and members were expected to be able to resist the mind-control powers of a Pluuvian Brain-Beast, a reference to the Alien Clinger in Alien Conquest.  That should make him an ally of Intergalactic Girl if they are contemporaries.

Space Miner from 71007 Minifigures Series 12, released in 2014.  His armor element has the same shape as Lex Luthor’s Power Armor, but has a different color.  Instead of a handgun, he had a hand drill.  He is playable in Funcom’s massively multiplayer online game LEGO Minifigures OnlineGalaxy Trooper, a militarized astronaut with two laser gun pistols, appeared in Set #71008 Miniseries Series 13 in 2015.

Set #21009 Exo Suit from 2014 is a LEGO IDEAS set rather than a LEGO® Space set, but it is compatible with LEGO® Space and the two Minifigures have the Classic Space emblem on their space suits.[3] The set includes the eponymous Exo Suit, two Minifigures, one robot turtle, and two yellow barrels.  The two Minifigures have green space suits, which indicates they are mech pilots.  They are characters, named Pete and Yve, an allusion to Peter Reid, who proposed the set to LEGO IDEAS, and his girlfriend, Yvonne Doyle.  The set includes not only instructions, but also a booklet with a story about Pete and Yve finding the Exo Suit.  The booklet also has information about Mr. Reid.  This Exo Suit is not the first time The LEGO Group has manufactured exoskeletal suits because they were central to Roboforce and Exo-Force.  Even earlier, Jens Nygård Knudson designed prototype “powersuits” for M-Tron around 1987, but these were not produced.[4] LEGO Shop is selling this 321-piece set for $34.99.  Please note, though, that LEGO Shop states this product will be “Retiring Soon.”

Benny from The LEGO Movie (2014), a character voiced by Charlie Day, was a Blue Classic Spaceman, but with a cracked helmet.  The crack in the helmet is a reference to the way many of those old helmets did crack along the chin guard.  The LEGO® Space emblem on his chest is fading to indicate his age.  Vitruvius (voiced by Morgan Freeman) calls him “1980-something Space Guy.”  The version of Benny that is actually sold as a Minifigure also has a broader smile than the real Blue Classic Spacemen had in the 1980s.  Benny comes in the sets Metalbeard’s Sea Cow (Set #70810), Benny’s Spaceship, Spaceship, SPACESHIP! (Set #70816), and Double-Decker Couch (Set #70818).  LEGO Shop is selling Spaceship, Spaceship, SPACESHIP! for $99.99.  Benny appears in the video games The LEGO Movie Game and LEGO Dimensions.  The latter will reach store shelves in September of 2015.

 

Realistic Lego Space Shuttles

LEGO® City (originally known as LEGO® Town) has had four subthemes that dealt with exploration of outer space in the present with realistic space shuttles: Launch Command (1995-97), Space Port (1999), and Space (City) (2011), and Space Exploration (2015-).   Discovery (2003) was a theme licensed by the Discovery Channel that consisted of six realistic models of spacecraft at various scales.

The 392-piece Space Shuttle (Set #1682) was a LEGO® Town Airport set released in 1990.  The set consisted of a space shuttle, external fuel tank, booster rockets, a launch pad, launch tower, and a transport vehicle.  The shuttle was unrealistically the same height as its external fuel tank.  The set had three Minifigures: an astronaut and two technicians.  The shuttle had the N.A.S.A. logo, the American flag, and the words “United States” on the sides.

The 378-piece Shuttle Launching Crew (Set #6346) from 1992 was a LEGO® Town Flight set.  It consisted of a semitrailer-truck with a space shuttle on its tractor trailer, and an escort comprised of a car and two motorcycles.  The shuttle belonged to a fictional space agency with a logo comprised of a red and blue lines and the letter V.  The five Minifigures were an astronaut, a truck driver, a car driver, and two motorcyclists.

Launch Command (1995-97) was a LEGO® Town Airport subtheme with six sets. Female astronaut Becky Blastinoff was in three sets.  The space shuttle in the 564-piece Shuttle Launch Pad (Set #6339) was very similar to the space shuttle from 1990, but had a fictional logo instead of the N.A.S.A. logo, and a stylized “V2.”   The V seemed to be an indication it belonged to the same fictional space agency as the shuttle from 1992, in which case the 2 marked it as the second shuttle in that line.  The set consisted of a shuttle, an external fuel tank, rocket boosters, a satellite (that could be carried in the cargo bay), a launch pad with a fully functional crane, a mission control center, and a crawler-transporter (to bring the space shuttle to the launch pad).  The shuttle was taller than its external fuel tank and rocket booster, which is not realistic.  There were four Minifigures: Becky Blastinoff, a Scientist, and two technician crewmen.  The 320-piece Shuttle Transcon 2 (Set #6544) consisted of an airplane that could carry the space shuttle piggyback-style, a space shuttle, and a ground vehicle to tow the aircraft, and three Minifigures: an astronaut and two crewmen.  The shuttle was identical to the one in Shuttle Launch Pad, and had V3 on the side.

A LEGO® Town subtheme, Space Port (1999) had twenty-five sets.  Space Port used a more detailed version of the Launch Command logo.  The largest set was the 478-piece Mission Control (Set #6456) , which consisted of a space shuttle, a satellite that the shuttle could carry in its cargo bay, a mobile launch pad, a mission control center, a fuel pump, a meteor holder, a meteor, and a moon buggy.  There were an unrealistic lack of external fuel tank and booster rockets.  Two AA batteries powered the light and sound for the shuttle engine.  The mobile launch pad was based on N.A.S.A.’s real crawler-transporter.  The shuttle was modular with three sections: cockpit, cargo bay, and wings and engines.  The cargo bay could be removed and the cockpit and wings and engines re-attached without it.

The 1,366-piece Space Shuttle (Set #8480) is a motorized LEGO® TECHNIC space shuttle set with hand-operated landing gear and wing flaps.  Micromotors powered the cargo bay doors, a cargo bay arm that could turn and bend, and the satellite with solar panels that could fold open and closed.  A fiber optic system lit up the engine.

Licensed by the Discovery Channel, Discovery (2003) was a theme that consisted of six realistic models of spacecraft at various scales.  Only one, Lunar Lander (Set #10029), had Minifigures: two Apollo AstronautsSpace Shuttle Discovery (Set #7470) was an 826-piece set that included the space shuttle Discovery and Hubble Space Telescope.  The 162-piece International Space Station (Set #7467) was a LEGO® Microscale set that included the International Space Station (I.S.S.) as it looked in 2001 and a space shuttle.

The 1,204-piece Shuttle Adventure (Set #10213) was a LEGO® Exclusives sculpture released in 2010.  As I mentioned in Part IV, LEGO® Exclusives sets are meant for older children (age twelve and older) and adults.  It contained three Minifigures (a male astronaut, a female astronaut, and a Service Crew Member).  The astronauts had realistic space suits that were white-colored with gold visors.  Although the space shuttle Adventure is fictional, it was a realistic, with an exterior, detachable fuel tank, solid-fuel booster rockets, and retractable landing gear.  The Adventure is 17.5” (44 centimeters) tall and 10” (25.5 centimeters) wide from wing tip to wing tip.  It stood on a launch platform.  The Adventure’s cargo compartment could open so a crane could deploy a satellite with unfolding antenna and solar panels.

The LEGO Group re-issued Shuttle Adventure in 2011 as the 1,230-piece Space Shuttle Expedition (Set #10231) with several improvements to reflect the fact The LEGO Group had heard from customers that a large number of people who built the set were under age sixteen.  Improvements included reinforced fuel tanks, stronger landing gear, cargo doors that could be opened “vigorously,” wigs as well as helmets for the astronauts, and a new satellite that could be “securely positioned on the new mechanical arm.”

Developed in cooperation with N.A.S.A., Space (City) (2011) and released in 2011 was the most grounded in reality of any LEGO® Space product line.  It also matched the esthetic of LEGO® City.   The biggest set was the 494-piece Space Centre (Set #3368), which was spelt “Space Center” in the U.S.A.

In 2011, when the space shuttle Endeavor launched for the last time to bring the I.S.S. an Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, ExPRESS Logistics, and other supplies, it also carried LEGO sets.  They were built by astronaut Cady Coleman, a former U.S. Air Force officer who also held the distinction of being the first astronaut to play the flute in outer space.  The premise was for her to build the models to show the effects of microgravity on simple machines for the benefit of schoolchildren who would be building the same models in classrooms, as Jesus Diaz explained.

This May, The LEGO Group introduced a new LEGO® City subtheme: Space Exploration.  So far, it has five sets: Spaceport, Training Jet Transporter, Utility Shuttle, Space Starter Set, and Space Utility Vehicle.  The astronauts are the most realistic yet with white-colored space suits and gold-colored, dome-like helmets.

The 107-piece Space Star Set (Set #60077) with a retail list price of $9.99, is a test lab that includes an infrared camera, Mars rover buggy on simulated Martian terrain, computer station, jet pack, lamp, wrench, and four Minifigures: a (female) scientist, a (male) engineer, and two astronauts.

The 155-piece Utility Shuttle (Set #60078) with a retail list price of $24.99, has a space shuttle with cargo bay doors that open, a satellite with unfolding solar panels, and two astronauts with jetpacks ready for a spacewalk.  The space shuttle is over 2” (7 centimeters) high, 7” (18 centimeters) long, and 7” (20 centimeters) wide from wing tip to wing tip.  The space shuttle has fewer pieces than previous shuttles because a large part of the hull – including the cockpit and cargo doors – is comprised of prefabricated panels instead of bricks.  This, perhaps, reflects the fact the sets in this subtheme are aimed at children ages five-to-twelve. It shows the influence of LEGO Juniors, a theme of easy-to-build LEGO® sets aimed at children ages four-to-seven.

The 448-piece Training Jet Transported (Set #60079) with a retail list price of $49.99, consists of a detachable trailer, jet with unfolding wings, service car, and three Minifigures with accessories.  The Minifigures are a pilot, driver, and service worker.

The 586-piece Spaceport (Set #60080) with a retail price of $119.99 consists of a space shuttle with cargo bay doors that open, detachable fuel tank, and booster rockets; a satellite with unfolding solar panels; mobile launch pad; service car; and five Minifigures.  The Minifigures are a scientist, two service workers, and two astronauts.  The space shuttle is the same as in the Utility Shuttle set.  The booster rockets are each over 10” (26 centimeters) long, under 1” (2 centimeters) wide, and 1” (2 centimeters) high, while the mobile launch pad is over 4” (11 centimeters) high, 7” (20 centimeters) long, and 6” (17 centimeters) wide.

The LEGO City Space Port Starter & Shuttle Collection (Set #5004736) with a retail list price of $34.98, includes a space shuttle, a satellite with unfolding solar panels, an infrared camera, a Mars rover buggy on simulated Martian terrain, computer station, jet pack, lamp, and six Minifigures.  The six Minifigures are the (female) scientist, a (male) engineer (with wrench), and four astronauts (three in space suits).

The LEGO® City Space Port and Jet (Set #5004735) with a retail list price of $169.99, includes a space shuttle with cargo bay doors that open, detachable fuel tank, and booster rockets; a satellite with unfolding solar panels; a mobile launch pad; service car; a detachable trailer, jet with unfolding wings, service car, and eight Minifigures: a pilot, a driver, three service workers, a scientist, and two astronauts.

The 37-piece Space Utility Vehicle (Set #30315) is a polybag set that one can get for free if one spends $75 or more in June of 2015 at LEGO Shop.  With a suggested retail price of $3.99, it appeared on Toys “R” Us shelves in June and on Target shelves in July.

 

 

 

 

[1] Note that the numbers 1, 2, and 3 did not appear in Roman numerals (I, II, and III) on LEGO® boxes or in LEGO® catalogues for Space Police sets.  Fans add the numbers to distinguish iterations of Space Police from each other.

[2] The Collectible Minifigures theme included a Minifigure in a hazmat suit, Hazmat Guy.

[3] Formerly known as LEGO CUUSOO, LEGO IDEAS is a Japanese partner of The LEGO Group that allows members of the public with Web site accounts to submit proposals for LEGO® sets via the LEGO IDEAS Web site.  The LEGO Group will make a commitment to manufacture a proposed LEGO® set when a proposal reaches a threshold of 10,000 supporters on the Web site.

[4] Mark Stafford also designed a truck that could transform into a mecha for Power Miners that did not get produced, but led to a sea bed vehicle that could transform into a mecha for LEGO® Atlantis, as he explained in an interview with Hadley Scrowtron.  This was Undersea Explorer (Set #8080).

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