These were the first Space sets introduced since the initial wave. From here on out I find it interesting to examine how the set designs changed and consider how much might be the availability of new parts and/or existing parts in new colors and how much might just be changing aesthetics or a market demand to try something new.
There were so many new parts and new prints crafted especially for the LEGO Space theme that I didn’t bother going into them. They were the parts that enabled the Space theme to exist. But now I’d like to look at some of the parts that are new (or new to the Space theme) in each year’s sets.
- Plate, Modified 1 x 1 with Clip Vertical: Great for holding accessories and building storage racks
- Brick, Modified 1 x 1 with Headlight: Useful for SNOT (Studs Not On Top) building, aka sideways building.
- Bar 1 x 4 x 2 with Studs: Railings, etc
- Arm Holder and Arm Pieces: These were originally maxi-figure shoulders and arms from the mid-70’s. Here colored in gray and used as articulated mechanical arms.
- Slope, Inverted 33 3 x 2 Hollow with Towball (Scoop): shovel scoop for use with the arm pieces.
Shovel Buggy (6821)
Features: Small vehicle with articulated shovel, printed computer slope, white astronaut, and a walkie-talkie (held in place with the new clip piece).
Thoughts: I’m a sucker for sets with construction/loading functionality. Love the shovel piece with articulated arm. There are many good pieces packed into this small set.
Mineral Detector (6841)
Features: Small sturdy vehicle with twin ground-scanning radar dishes mounted on moving arms, driven by a red astronaut with a walkie-talkie.
Thoughts: Kind of goofy with the big blocky swinging arms but I like it. Perfect companion to the Shovel Buggy. The new bar piece provides a back roll bar detail, and again the new clip piece is used to hold an accessory.
X1 Patrol Craft Space (6861)
Features: Small open fighter with twin engines, lasers, and transparent green windscreen piloted by a red astronaut.
Thoughts: One of the finest small fighters. This thing felt like it was all engines. First appearance of a transparent green window brick. Up to this point all windows had been transparent yellow. I have fond memories of crashing this ship to Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust.”
Mobile Lab Space (6901)
Features: Elevated vehicle with opening side doors, radar, articulated arm that could hold either a sensor array or a shovel with two astronauts and a pair of accessories.
Thoughts: Look at all those green windows! 💚 I imagined these rolling across lunar landscapes like so many alien elephants. In reality this set is kind of mediocre. There’s nothing inside the vehicle (other than a steering wheel) to make it a lab. It can’t fit both the second astronaut and the sensor array at the same time. It looks a bit ridiculous with those 12 tiny wheels. It’s mostly enclosed but then leaves that awkward gap above the windscreen. But I love it anyway. It gets an A for effort. I think the part selection just wasn’t there yet. (Shout out to the headlight brick on each side used to sideways mount transparent red 1 x 1 plates.)
Beta I Command Base (6970)
Features: Open front base spread over two crater plates, launcher with spaceship, small rover, monorail with sled, radar dishes and antennas for communications, and four astronauts.
Thoughts: The quintessential space base set: base, spaceship + launcher, and a rover. (This formula will be repeated with variations several times.) It even boasts a tiny monorail for the long trek between the base and the launcher. So technically this is the first space monorail (more on those later). I also had this set as a child. The spaceship design is reminiscent of the X1 Patrol Craft but wider and with a different color scheme and no tail. The 1 x 6 x 5 display brick inside the base on the left shows the Alpha-1 Rocket Base (483) and repeats the “LL2079” numeric code seen within the Command Center (493). I believe this was the final set to feature a vehicle with the iconic gray air tanks mounted on the front.
Just five sets in this second wave. I owned two of these sets, but these were the last LEGO Space sets I had as a child. Everything from this point on will be 100% new to me.
Next stop: Space 1981