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|Licensed from||The Lego Group|
Lego Space is a Lego theme that features astronauts, spaceships, and extraterrestrial life. Originally introduced in 1978, it is one of the oldest and most expansive themes in Lego history, and contains over 200 individual sets. It was marketed under the Legoland banner until it became Lego System in 1992.
Early Space (1964–1973)
At least three Lego sets were released prior to so-called "Classic" Space theme, pre-dating the standard Lego minifigure. The early Space sets were limited by color selection and more specialized pieces had not yet been developed with most Lego sets of this era were composed of colorful stacked bricks. Once Lego began making individual themes in the 1970s, many new parts were created and older parts began appearing in new colors.
"Classic" Space (1978–1987)
The first Lego Space sets began an era of more complicated and less colorful designs with a heavy emphasis on space exploration. Much of the early Space sets consisted of blue, grey, white, and transparent yellow for the ships. And gray and transparent green for ground crafts. Designs began using more stacked plates instead of stacked bricks in order to make sleeker spaceship profiles. In its earliest stages, Space sets consisted only of ships and basic wheeled vehicles. But as science-fiction designs grew, the basic pattern of ground-buggies, walking robots, small and large spaceships, and bases developed. With the limited parts selection at the time, sets were still fairly simplistic with designs including: minifigure pilots steering their spacecraft with steering wheels, rocket engines could be simple transparent cones affixed to fence pieces, and visor-less helmets and often no in-flight pilot protection other than a spacesuit. The first minifigures released in this theme in 1978 wore either a red or white spacesuit with yellow spacemen debuting a year later. By the mid-1980s, the color palette had shifted to predominantly white with a transparent blue theme, later used extensively in the Futuron theme, and two new colors of spacemen were introduced in blue and black uniforms. The first helmets had thin chinstraps that would break with normal use. Then in 1983, the helmet with thicker chinstraps appeared, though it still would break.
In 1987, Lego added "factions" to its space theme with the introduction of Blacktron and the new subtheme based on space exploration was given the name "Futuron". The new line kept the logo, aesthetic, and the white and blue color scheme used in the later years of "Classic" Space but redesigned its minifigures. They came in four colors (red, blue, yellow and black), but had a new design with a zipper crossing from hip to shoulder and the color on top with white below, as well as using a newly redesigned helmet that had a transparent blue visor. Instead of a large spaceship, the theme centered around the Monorail Transport System, which featured a battery-powered train system and some twenty linear feet of track. At the time, this was the most expensive Lego set.
Along with Futuron, Blacktron was one of the first unified subthemes in Space. The set designs were based around a black and yellow color scheme with transparent yellow windscreens and transparent red highlights. Blacktron minifigures wore black jumpsuits akin to today's military pilots, with white trim and opaque black visors. Blacktron was a major step forward in set design from the rather clunky designs of "Classic" Space. It featured a large spacecraft, the "Renegade", which set the tone for all future big ships by splitting into a number of smaller modules, including a storage bin for a small wheeled vehicle, that could be recombined not just with each other, but with modules from other vehicles in the theme, specifically the "Invader" and "Battrax". This modular interchangeability became a staple of Lego Space until 2001.
Space Police (1989)
In 1989, Lego further its storyline direction with the introduction of Space Police to oppose Blacktron, since police and robbers were popular sellers in its Lego Town theme. The Space Police sets had a black, blue, with red transparent color scheme and the minifigures shared the torso design with the black Futuron minifigure, but with a transparent red visor. This would be the first time that Lego had a "bad guy", "good guy" and "civilian" faction, a theme that would be used for the next decade. Space Police also used modular systems but on a smaller scale by featuring a Space Police jail cell that could be used interchangeably among almost all sets and came with a Blacktron occupant.
In 1990, Lego designed its next theme around magnets. After the introduction of Space Police, M:Tron was introduced as a repair and rescue faction; a space equivalent of a fire brigade. However, for the American market the faction was depicted as a mining and exploration faction, adapting the names of the sets and the descriptions in the catalogs to reflect this. In catalog pictures and on posters the M:Tron are frequently seen helping Futuron and repairing their vehicles, and the Lego Idea Book 260 features instructions for what appears to be an M:Tron ambulance. Vehicles of the M:Tron theme are distinctive for their red hulls, gray and black trim and transparent neon green canopies. They often featured crane-like attachments with magnets for picking up small cargo and tool boxes. These boxes, unfortunately, were generally not interchangeable. The figures wore white trousers, a red shirt with an "M" logo in the middle, and a black helmet with transparent neon green visor. This theme also extensively used brick-built robot figures ("droids") to assist the M:Tron spacemen. These were the last sets produced under the "Legoland" banner before Lego began branding their sets as Lego System.
Blacktron Future Generation (1991–1992)
In 1991, Blacktron was revived as Blacktron Future Generation (or commonly called Blacktron II). Sets color designs were featured around black with white trim and transparent neon green canopies and the minifigures were redesigned with new uniforms and logo. It also replaced the creative but haphazard interchangeability of Blacktron I with mostly-uniform cockpit globes, which could be switched unimpeded between ships in other sets within the theme. However, only four sets of eleven featured them (the Alpha Centauri Outpost, Spectral Starguider, Aerial Intruder, and the Allied Avenger).
Space Police II (1992–1993)
The following year, Space Police was also revived, becoming Space Police II, to oppose the new Blacktron. The set designs featured black and grey with transparent green canopies and red trim. The standardized jail cells from the original were retained, though only three vehicles could accept them. The theme also lacked a permanent installation like Space Police I's Space Lock-Up Isolation Base. However, it was the first Space theme to replace the standard Lego smiley face minifigure head with a more complex print (in this case, the face augmented by a fringe of hair and an ear-mounted microphone). Finally, Space Police II ships were known for being under-armed; several vehicles sported no overt weapons (such as the Galactic Chief, whose epaulet-wearing pilot is armed with only a hand-held blaster that might actually be a megaphone), and the others featured only two small cockpit-mounted weapons (including the theme's heavyweight multi-module spaceship, the Galactic Mediator).
Ice Planet 2002 (1993–1994)
In 1993, Ice Planet 2002 took over the civilian role from M:Tron. Based around exploration on an ice planet, sets were designed with skis (both on vehicles and personnel), a blue and white color scheme with transparent neon orange canopies, and transparent neon orange chainsaws. As befitting an icebound theme, most of its vehicles were ground-based and many of its smaller vehicles also carried satellite dishes, seemingly to track or communicate with the rockets launched by the larger vehicles or its base. This was also the first Space theme to have a named character (Commander Cold) and a female minifigure.
In 1994, Spyrius replaced Blacktron as the "bad" faction and were apparently designed around spying and infiltration. The set designs were mostly red and black with transparent blue canopies. Most spaceships in this theme were shaped like flying saucers and the ground vehicles were designed like giant robots. The faction was often marketed as stealing technology from Unitron. This nine-set theme was the first to feature robot minifigures.
Also in 1994. Unitron took over the "good guy" role from the Space Police II. The Unitron theme revolved around a large monorail system powered by a 9V battery and the four sets were designed in blue and grey with transparent blue canopies and transparent neon green highlights. It also retained Lego interchangeability in the form of small cockpits which could dock on the front or top of its vehicles. Unfortunately, aside from a ground installation, a large buggy, an advanced looking spaceship, and the monorail, the theme was underdeveloped.
Except for the Monorail set, the theme was only released in the United States and Canada.
In 1996 Lego returning to the white and transparent blue canopies of Futuron with the Exploriens Theme. Sets are known for their use of large, open (sometimes rickety) structures and special image elements (e.g., as foil-holograph stickers for viewscreens). The Exploriens were searching, evidently, for fossils and certain flat plates contained triple images: one in white, for the naked eye; one in blue, for viewing under transparent red scanners; and one in red, for viewing under transparent blue scanners. It was the second space theme to include a robot minifigure; some also considered this the second Space theme to include a female minifigure, but this minifigure was a feminine robot named Ann Droid. The theme shares many similarities with the popular Star Trek TV Series, with the faction's main focus being with exploration, their robot figure's name being a play on "android", and their race's insignia resembling Starfleet's insignia.
In 1997, taking over the "good guy" role was another four-set theme, Roboforce. The sets featured various large robots in varying color schemes, run by similarly uniformed pilots. Neon Orange Class features humanoid robots equipped with a buzz saw or a chainsaw. The "head" of each robot was also a small space ship that could be used as an escape pod or secondary vehicle. Neon Green Class featured animal-shaped robots. The Robo Raptor was the only set not to feature a space craft, while the Robo Master's small starcraft strongly resembled the Unitron Star Hawk II as a tribute to the fan favorite set. Roboforce "Robos" were powered by "secret" "robo disks" which were oddly enough rectangle-shaped power sources.
UFO was the first Lego Space theme to feature non-human looking aliens. All of UFO's minifigures were cybernetic in nature, and featured two wholly robot figures (the red one was said to be "Andy Droid", Ann Droid's brother stolen from the Exploriens, according to the Lego Company marketing), and as befitting its name, many of its spaceships used saucers or half-saucers as elements. It has the smallest proportion of wheeled ground vehicles to ships (two to nine) of any Lego Space theme before or since. The UFO theme is often considered the first Space theme to heavily rely on large pieces meant to provide effects (such as curvature) that would be difficult to achieve with traditional Lego pieces, something that became common for the next decade.
The second alien-looking race, the Insectoids were insect-like humanoid cyborgs especially interested in "energy orbs" which included magnetic stickers so that magnets attached to cranes could lift them. Insectoids are unusual in that Lego had never before in Lego Space released two "bad guy" factions in a row. According to the LEGO Group, the Insectoids had crash-landed on an alien planet filled with enormous bugs, and in order to steal their giant egg orbs to refuel their spaceships and escape, they were forced to disguise themselves and their spaceships as bugs. After escaping the planet, the Insectoid went out into the galaxy to make life miserable for the other races with their mischievous and pest-like nature, while looking for more "energy orbs" to power their technology.
The Insectoids are usually considered to be the last Classic Space subtheme in which the entire theme is "good", "bad", or "civilian". With the advent of Lego Star Wars, the classic Lego Space line was ended.
Life on Mars (2001)
Life on Mars is a space theme released in 2001, around a time of increased curiosity about the red planet. The theme revolved around the concept of the lifeforms that could possibly exist on Mars. This theme is generally considered to be part of classic Lego Space.
This was the first theme to feature two types of Minifigures: human astronauts (from Lego Town) and Martian aliens (native to Mars). The sets denote peaceful coexistence between the two species on the planet Mars. The Life on Mars theme pioneered several unique aspects in Lego in general. It was the first Lego theme to use a pneumatic pump system that was capable of sending Martian Minifigures through tubes in the 7317 Aero Tube Hangar set. This system would later be seen in the Mars Mission theme to shoot missiles. The theme also introduced several new muted colors to the Lego color palette, including Sand Green, Sand Blue, Sand Red, and Sand Purple. Sets were designed to separate into segments easily to encourage children to mix and create their own unique vehicles out of both human and alien sets. The Humans had a white and blue color scheme while the Aliens had a variety of colors.
Martians in the Life on Mars theme were unique in that they were named after real-life stars and constellations: Altair, Centauri, Antares, Canopus, Pollux, Vega, Arcturus, Cassiopeia, Mizar, and Rigel.
Mars Mission (2007–2008)
Mars Mission is the second space theme to feature both humans and aliens and is a reboot of Life on Mars. Unlike Life on Mars, the aliens (an alien race from another planet) and humans were pitted against each other as children had been fond of doing with the original line. Like with Life on Mars theme, this set is generally viewed as a sequel to the first Martian sets.
Space Police III (2009–2010)
Space Police III continued the Lego trend of humans (or at least human-looking) versus aliens started in the former Mars Mission theme. This is the first time the Space Police have been pitted against monstrous looking aliens instead of human looking villains, like Blacktron or Spyrius. It is also the first Space Police theme to include enemy ships instead of just prisoners and is the first Space Police theme in 16 years. A gang, including: Kranxx, Snake, the Skull Twins, Slizer and Squidman, are the main troublemakers for Space Police III with independent, Frenzy, keeping them busy as well. However, Rench bears the old Blacktron Future Generation logo on his uniform (which is an updated original Blacktron uniform), hinting that he may have a connection with the old Blacktron faction, as well as hinting that the Space Police are in the same continuity as their older versions.
Alien Conquest (2011)
Alien Conquest was released in May 2011, and is the first Lego City subtheme to feature aliens on Earth. Specifically a new wave of aliens begins attacking Earth. Multiple cities around the globe report massive abductions and UFOs in the night sky. The UFOs are finally identified as aliens in saucer-shaped space-craft, who are abducting humans for brainpower to power their spaceships, which bear resemblance to the Classic UFO line of space. Panic breaks out worldwide, and the Alien Defense Unit takes up the cause. Using their ubiquitous blue vehicles, they fight back against the aliens, stopping abductions in their tracks. Unlike the previous Martian themes, these set are not generally included with Lego Space and are officially considered part of Lego City.
Galaxy Squad (2013)
2013's space-specific theme Galaxy Squad features a team of intergalactic heroes and robot sidekicks trying to defeat an alien race of space bugs -humanoids with insect features- intent on "cocooning" the galaxy with special 2-piece cocoons that can each enclose a standard minifigure. The vehicles of the heroes feature a notable "split function" ability, which allows them to split into two different vehicles.
Timeline of Lego Space themes
|1989||Space Police (I)|
|1990||Blacktron (II)||Futuron / M:Tron|
|1992||Space Police (II)|
|1993||Ice Planet 2002|
|1998||UFO / Insectoids|
|2001||Life on Mars|
|2009–2010||Space Police (III)|
Several licensed Lego themes have featured space elements as well. The most notable licensed theme with space elements is Star Wars, produced since 1999. Nearly 700 Lego Star Wars sets have been produced so far, as well as four video games and numerous other licensed merchandise.
2003's Discovery theme produced six sets related to past and present NASA efforts at the time, including the Apollo Program, the Space Shuttle, the International Space Station, and the Mars Exploration Rover mission.
Lego Town "Space" subthemes
Lego has produced four subthemes with space-related content for its Town and City themes: Launch Command, Space Port, City Space 2011, and City Space 2015. Each of these subthemes involves a realistic, Earth-based approach to space exploration. In 2018, LEGO released several new sets in the City theme with a focus on Mars. These subthemes are not considered to be official Lego Space themes.
2008 saw the release of two space sets through the LEGO Factory theme. Star Justice and Space Skulls were fan-designed sets released as special edition sets available only through LEGO. In 2017, Lego Creator had two space related sets, the "Robot Explorer" and the "Space Shuttle Explorer". Lego Creator Expert released a set of the Apollo 11 Lunar Lander in 2019 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing, and a model of the Space Shuttle Discovery was released in early 2021, based on the STS-31 mission which deployed the Hubble Space Telescope.
LEGO Ideas (previously known as Lego Cuusoo), a program which allows users to submit their own ideas for commercial sets, has produced multiple sets related to real-life space efforts. Hayabusa is based on the spacecraft Hayabusa created by the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), and Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity Rover is based on Curiosity, a rover created by NASA that explores the surface of Mars. In 2017, two sets were released: one based on the Saturn V rocket used during the Apollo 11 mission, and the other called "Women of NASA" that contained four out of the five minifigures from the original project, with Katherine Johnson missing due to licensing issues. The four minifigures that were made, though, were Sally Ride, Margaret Hamilton, Mae Jemison, and Nancy Grace Roman. In addition, it has released one non-licensed set based on the Classic Space line in 2014, the Exo Suit (set number: 21109), which includes two minifigures in a new green version of the Classic Space uniform.
In 2014, a set titled "Benny's Spaceship, Spaceship, SPACESHIP"' (set number: 70816) was released as a tie-in to The Lego Movie, which featured many references to past Lego Space themes. The spaceship itself is highly reminiscent of Classic Space spaceships, with a predominantly blue and grey colour scheme. The pilot of the ship, Benny (voiced by Charlie Day) is a blue Classic Space minifigure with notable signs of wear and tear, including a broken chinstrap on his helmet. A set from the spin-off film The Lego Batman Movie called the "Bat-Space Shuttle" was also released in 2018. In 2019, "Benny's Space Squad" was released along with other The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part sets, rereleasing Benny, yellow and white astronauts named Kenny and Jenny, respectively, and a new pink astronaut named Lenny. LEGO also released a kit called "Emmet and Benny's Build and Fix Workshop" that contained a space ship that imitated the appearance of Classic Space sets. In October 2020, an orange version of a Classic Space astronaut was released as with the book LEGO Minifigure: A Visual History.
- "1987 Medium US Lego Catalog" (PDF). Brickset. Retrieved September 16, 2020.
- "Brickset Database of LEGO sets from 1987". brickset.com.
- "1997 US Catalog" (PDF). Brickset. Retrieved September 24, 2020.
- "1997 EU Catalog" (PDF). Brickset. Retrieved September 24, 2020.
- "1997 UK Catalog" (PDF). Brickset. Retrieved September 24, 2020.
- "Space - Life On Mars: LEGO set guide and database". brickset.com.
- "Space - Mars Mission: LEGO set guide and database". brickset.com.
- "Space - Alien Conquest: LEGO set guide and database". brickset.com.
- Pearlman, Robert (May 30, 2019). "The Lego 'Eagle' Has Landed: NASA Apollo 11 Lunar Lander Revealed". Space. Retrieved January 2, 2020.
- Lego Group (16 July 2019). "The LEGO Group kicks off global program to inspire the next generation of space explorers as NASA celebrates 50 years of moon landing". Lego.com. Lego. Retrieved 8 January 2021.
- Lego Group (22 March 2021). "THE LEGO GROUP JOINS FORCES WITH FORMER ASTRONAUT DR. KATHY SULLIVAN TO LAUNCH NEW LEGO® NASA SPACE SHUTTLE DISCOVERY SET". Lego.com. Lego. Retrieved 22 March 2021.
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