When 10497 Galaxy Explorer was officially unveiled at LEGO CON 2022, one promotional image sent the LEGO fan community into a Classic Space Frenzy.
Not only was one of the most iconic LEGO Spaceships getting a remake in 2022, we were treated to this image, which suggested that you could not only build a modern version of 497/928 Galaxy Explorer, but you could also build 924 Space Cruiser, and 918 Space Transport, two smaller spaceships from 1979.
Update: You can now download the instructions for both alternate builds via the LEGO Instructions portal!
Following my review of 10497 Galaxy Explorer, which will be released globally on 1 August 2022 from LEGO.com, I’m pleased to be able to share a closer look at the alternate builds that you’ll be able to build from the parts of 10497 Galaxy Explorer.
The LEGO Group were kind enough to share digital instructions for the alternate models of both 918 and 924, but I’m not permitted to share them until 1 August 2022, when they will be made available publicly. Details on where and when are TBC.
So it was with (some) regret that I decided to destroy my 2022 Galaxy Explorer to rebirth it as the newly updated versions of 918 and 924 for your pleasure!
Some notes: For those that were hopeful that you could just buy a spare and build 2 out of the spare parts to complete the trio, you won’t be successful as each ship uses quite a number of critical parts used for the base.
Once I’m able to share the instructions list, you should get an idea of what additional parts you’ll need to buy on Bricklink (or harvest from your own collection), to build a trio in the most efficient manner.
918 Space Transport (2022 version)
Firstly, we have the remade 918 Space Transport, a teeny tiny One Man Spaceship (that was another name it was known by), in the style of the modern 10497 Galaxy Explorer.
It has a sleek, arrowhead-like shape, a single cockpit and a plain gray tail.
It has a very low profile which looks very aerodynamic, almost like it could pierce through the Cosmos as bewildering speeds.
For those trying to figure out and reverse engineer the build, here’s a look at the innards of the base, which gives you an idea of how the angles are achieved.
The cockpit is quite tiny, with the Red Classic Space Astronaut sitting in an angled position – a cool feature is that the primary steering wheel and control panels can be swivelled up and down.
Here’s another look at the footprint and silhouette of the ship.
And here’s the tail.
And here’s a look at the singular large red space thruster at the back of the Space Transport.
Here’s a side by side with the original – designer Mike Psiaki has been quite faithful to the features and dimensions (obviously, we don’t get a fitting LL 918 printed brick), but we get to see how he’s reimagined the shape of the Space Transport, and elongate the nose.
As you can see, I think the new version sorely lacks any landing gear, and it looks much nicer propped up like the original.
924 Space Cruiser (2022 version)
Next up, we have the new version of 924 Space Cruiser, the “mid-sized” Classic Space ship that’s in between the Galaxy Explorer and Space Transport.
I was not expecting it, but I really liked this version, because the size is just right for me. 10497 Galaxy Explorer is quite large and unwieldly, but this one feels like its in the goldilocks zone in terms of size, and I just really like how compact it is without compromising on features.
Unfortunately, I don’t have an original 924 Space Cruiser (a rare hole in my Classic Space collection!), so I won’t have any comparison pictures.
For those wanting to reverse-engineer the model, here’s a look at how the base is constructed. Love how colourful this section is, and the use of original LEGO primary colour bricks.
Here’s a look at the side profile – in many ways, the proportions of it remind me a lot of the original 928 Galaxy Explorer, and I like how this version is a lot beefier as it has slightly more internal room.
Here’s the view from the top.
And here’s a look at the cockpit, which comfortable seats 2 Classic Space Astronauts, just like the original which came with a white and red Astronaut.
Oh and just like the full-sized 10497 Galaxy Explorer, this upgraded version of 924 also has landing gear!
Here’s a look at the larger blue tail fins.
And the 924 Space Cruisier’s wings.
Like 928 Galaxy Explorer, which has a white downwards arrow printed on a brick, this version of 924 also utilises the same build technique as 10497 to mimic the arrow, with tremendous success.
Here’s a look at the back, with the twin engines.
The back contains a fun secret, opening up like the Galaxy Explorer to reveal some sort of reactor or cosmic engine that powers the ship. A very cool build, and the latch mechanism works flawlessly to keep the halves shut.
The interiors benefit from a lot more space, so the cockpit makes use of more of the printed tiles found in the set.
Even the special exclusive printed tiles make an appearance here. I do like the raised profile for the co-pilot who seats behind the pilot, as well as the use of taps for controls if required.
As mentioned earlier, the size comes closest to the original 928 Galaxy Explorer, and because it’s much smaller and lighter than the main 10497 Galaxy Explorer model, it is also way easier to swoosh around with one hand!
I know it’s meant to be a 924 Space Cruiser, but man, does it not remind me of the original Galaxy Explorer, and I’m glad that they were able to keep this scale.
Suffice to say, I like the updated 924 Space Cruiser the most.
I spent all afternoon disassembling and rebuilding these 2 models, which really drew out the build and playtime I had with 10497 Galaxy Explorer.
This feature makes me like 10497 Galaxy Explorer even more, as you are almost encouraged to break it apart, and rebuild the alternate models for the complete experience. It’s in stark contrast to “modern” adult-focused LEGO sets, which tend to be built once, left on display for eternity, or disassembled and put into storage and never touched again.
With the presence of not one, but two alternate models of equally iconic Classic Space ships, I really can’t overstate just how satisfying 10497 Galaxy Explorer is as a set, and a poignant celebration of LEGO’s 90th Anniversary.
LEGO clearly did not hold back with 10497 Galaxy Explorer, and after rebuilding both these alternate builds, makes me like the set even more, and can heartily recommend it to anyone, especially if you are nostalgic for LEGO Classic Space.
In case you missed it, check out my full review of 10497 Galaxy Explorer for my full thoughts, as well as plenty of comparison photos with the original 497/928 Galaxy Explorer.
The digital instructions for the alternate builds of 10497 Galaxy Explorer, should be available on 1 August 2022, after 10497 Galaxy Explorer has officially launched into space and our living rooms.
What do you think of the alternate builds for 10497 Galaxy Explorer? Do they do a good job of capturing the essence of 918 and 924?
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