To celebrate The LEGO Group’s 90th Anniversary, LEGO have decided to reimagine a classic, the 497/928 Galaxy Explorer, widely considered one of the most iconic and legendary LEGO Classic Space sets of all time.
Thanks to the intrepid mind of LEGO Designer Mike Psiaki, we are now treated to an expanded and updated version, 10497 Galaxy Explorer which goes on sale on 1 August 2022.
The set’s number is a nod to 497, which was the American Galaxy Explorer set number (it was 928 elsewhere), and 2022 marks the triumphant return of this icon, with the benefit of modern building techniques, as well as the wider pool of available elements.
This set is a very special one for me, as 928 Galaxy Explorer is one of my favourite LEGO sets of all time. As the flagship and first “big” Spaceship of LEGO’s Space era, this set means a lot to many Classic Space fans hence the excitement at its return.
Is it better than the original? Does it need to be? Read on for my full review!
See below for regional pricing and links:
- 10497 Galaxy Explorer [US] – US$99.99
- 10497 Galaxy Explorer [AUS] – AU$179.99
- 10497 Galaxy Explorer [UK] – £89.99
- 10497 Galaxy Explorer [EU] – €99.99
- 10497 Galaxy Explorer [CA] – CAD$129.99
Special thanks to the LEGO Group for providing this set for review
10497 Galaxy Explorer – Set Details
Name: Galaxy Explorer
Set Number: 10497
Pieces: 1254 pieces
Price: AU$179.99 | US$99.99 | £89.99 – Buy from LEGO.com [AUS] [USA] [UK]
Exclusive to: LEGO.com / LEGO Stores initially
Theme: LEGO Icons
LEGO Designer: Mike Psiaki
Release Date: 1 August 2022
I won’t touch on the packaging of 10497 Galaxy Explorer, having already done a detailed box comparison with my original 928 Galaxy Explorer which I invite you to check out.
Opening the box, you instantly know you’re in for a good time when you notice that there’s no sticker sheet in this. For a set of this magnitude, stickers would absolutely not fly, and LEGO are probably very well aware of that, so great job LEGO.
Here’s a look at the instruction manual, which features a starry sky, a large moon/planet, and the sandy dunes that our intrepid Classic Space astronauts are exploring.
On the inside, the instructions start off with a word from Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen, grandson of LEGO founder Ole Kirk Christiansen, reflecting on the memories and nostalgia that this set evoked in him.
Kjeld was instrumental in introducing the LEGO System of Play, and bringing Legoland Space to life. There’s a fantastic LEGO History article on Classic Space that you can find on the LEGO History website if you’d like to learn more.
We also get a note from the designer, Mike Psiaki, as well as a great timeline of Classic Space minifigures and astronauts, leading to 2022, with the return of the Red and White Classic Space Astronauts in this set.
Unfortunately, alternate instructions for the 2 smaller builds depicted in this promotional image weren’t available in paper form. There currently isn’t information on how to access instructions for the smaller version of 918 and 924, but I expect these to be available digitally at launch.
Here’s a look at the 4 Classic Space Astronauts included in the set. Like the original, the set comes with two White Classic Space Astronauts, and 2 Red Classic Space Astronauts.
These Classic Space Astronauts are virtually identical to their original versions, and all sport the simple smiley face that was ubiquitous at the time.
Did you know that the colours of the Classic Space astronauts indicated their roles and duties on missions? White are pilots, whereas Red are Explorers/Soldiers.
Classic Space fans will be very happy to see these torsos return, with the Moon logo dazzling in reflective gold paint. I wonder if these will fade to white with age?
Here’s a look at their back, where they each come with colour-matched airtanks.
New to 10497 Galaxy Explorer is the presence of this cute robot, which did appear in another Classic Space set – 6809 XT-5 and Droid. It’s a fun little inclusion and he’s there to serve the Astronauts refreshing beverages while on their space mission!
And here’s the completed model, and boy was the build fun. If you love building Spaceships, you’ll have your mind blown by the build experience.
10497 Galaxy Explorer benefits from the wealth of building techniques and elements found in 2022, as well as being a Mike Psiaki special, so you know that there are some cunning, bleeding edge techniques on display here, with the angle of the wings, as well as the sloped orientation of the Galaxy Explorer’s cockpit being highlights for me.
This is one of my favourite build experiences of 2022, and when you get the chance to put this set together, you’ll be able to savour every step of it and understand what I mean.
This is a big model, much larger than the original, as it has been scaled up impressively. From tip to tip, the ship measures 52 cm (20.5″) long, with a wingspan of approximately 32cm (12.5″) wide.
It has a sharp, dagger-like shape, with a much larger (proportionally) wingspan compared to its predecessor, and a sharper nose as well, which has 2 laser turrets mounted to it, in case the Galaxy Explorer needs to fend off any rogue Blacktron ships that might impede its mission.
Here’s the view of the Galaxy Explorer from the front, which is one of my favourite angles of the ship, showing off the cockpit, large engine thrusters on the wing, as well as the iconic tail.
Just like the original, the Classic Space logo is printed (on a tile, as opposed to a slope) on the front, below the trans-yellow cockpit. The logo has been slightly updated, but the moon is still reflective and still has plenty of craters on the surface.
The cockpit canopy is back in all its trans-yellow glory. If this canopy looks familiar, it’s the same one as the one from 70816 Benny’s Spaceship, Spaceship, SPACESHIP!, and you get 2 in the set.
The angle in which the cockpits are at is incredibly satisfying, and on each side, you can also see the Galaxy Explorer’s callsign – LL 928.
Speaking of the LL 928 brick, as the 2022 Galaxy Explorer is much larger than its progenitor, the brick has also received a size boost, and is now a 1×6 compared to the 1×4 of the original.
Here’s a look at both canopies popped open.
This is quite unfortunate, but my canopy screens were scratched in several areas. The canopies weren’t packed separately, so they have a tendency of getting scratched by the other elements in its bags.
Here’s the cockpit, which has plenty of printed computer panels, including some new ones. The design of the cockpit is great, accommodating all 4 Astronauts, and the seat design also ensures that they can sit comfortably without having to remove their airtanks – a small but significant design win!
The original Galaxy Explorer only had one steering wheel, but with the luxury of increased room, there are now 2 steering wheels.
Speaking of computer panels, here’s a look at all the printed computer tiles included – some older designs like the red black, and yellow ones are great and nostalgic, and I really like the retro vibes of the old school panels.
What’s fantastic are these brand new printed panels with illustrations on them – the top left hand-corner is possibly my favourite, with a radar sweep picking up a Blacktron 1 craft. Very menacing!
On the top right hand corner, we have a display featuring the engines and what I’m guessing is the total fuel contained in the Galaxy Explorer.
And the bottom left hand corner has a spooky video feed, with the Astronauts discovering alien life. The circular canister is actually a Bionicle reference, referencing this well-known artwork of a Tahu Canister on the beach. Shoutout to all the bonk fans.
The last tile has a fun little reference to the Asteroids video game, as well as the original set number 497 printed on it.
New for this Galaxy Explorer are these living quarters in the back of the ship. Most of the panels are scattered acros the back, and there are also 2 beds for the Astronauts to rest in!
The beds have a modern, futuristic design thanks to the use of white gold bars for the bedding/pillows, and there’s even a recess in it so that Astronauts can lie down and sleep with their air tanks on!
Here’s a look at the back sections, and screens.
Here’s a look at the oversized engine thrusters located on each wing. In the original, these were an iconic feature of the design, and I love the raised profile of these.
They’re quite simple, but I like the use of the gear in the front to look like turbine fins.
Here’s a look at the back, which has trans-red “flames” at the back of the exhaust.
Oh, and an extra fun thing is that the engines can be detached (they’re held in place with clips), for the Astronauts to ride them around in space!
And yes, the iconic yellow and black stripes on the wing also make a return – they’re tiles now instead of studs!
One design aesthetic that I really liked was the use of blue slopes for the sides of the ship. It’s a really old school building technique that I’m glad was incorporated into the design. Amidst all the super-modern technique, these slopes stand out as a fond reminder of the past.
There are 2 storage cases built into the walls of the Galaxy explorer – here are the contents – 2 laser guns (using taps instead of old school megaphones), and interestingly, some black airtanks. Hopefully this is a nod that this is not the last we see of this Classic Space revival and we’ll get a Black Classic Space astronaut too.
Maybe as part of a GWP for Black Friday?
Down the back, there is also this brilliant white arrow which is completely brick-built. The old Galaxy Explorer had printed white arrows on the bricks, but this version, which uses a white Nexo Suit slotted is absolutely inspired.
Here’s a look at the twin engine thrusters on the back of the Galaxy Explorer.
And here’s a look at the tail fins – I really love the repetitive use of smaller tailfins for the back. I think the tail fins could be slightly wider as they seem a little small for the overall size of the Galaxy Explorer.
I quite like just how narrow the wings are.
There are also really cool designs built into the wings, such as these exhaust vents you can see from the back.
Here’s the bottom of the Galaxy Explorer, with its landing pads deployed.
And here’s how they look when they’re retracted for flight mode.
And one final thing – the back of the Galaxy Explorer splits open, just like the original, revealing a small hanger and a Moon Buggy on the inside.
The ramp has quite a simple but impressive play feature, as you slide it out, before it tips downwards allowing the buggy to rollout and deploy, which I found very clever.
Here’s a look at the old school Moon Buggy which comfortable seats 2.
Oh, and another cool feature introduced in this 2022 version? This sliding hexagonal door, which connects the hangar to the interior cabins of the ship!
Comparison with the Original 497/928 Galaxy Explorer
So the ultimate question? How does the 2022 Galaxy Explorer compare against the original from 1979? If you ever wondered what 40+ years of advancement in LEGO design looks like, this side by side should illustrate just how far LEGO has come.
As you can see, 10497 is much larger and longer than the original, with sharper nose, and less blocky aesthetics, in favour of sleeker angles.
That said, you can see just how much care and love Mike Psiaki has employed to capture the defining characteristics of the original, such as the orientation and position of the engines, as well as the tail fins, and the overall silhouette of iconic ship.
A lot has changed, but this is unmistakably a grown up, more advanced version of the 928 Galaxy Explorer.
Unfortunately, the 2022 version lacks the iconic moon crater baseplate, landing pad and small moon base that was included with 928 Galaxy Explorer.
Fortunately, you can always make your own – seen here is Caz Mockett’s take on building a size-appropriate crater baseplate, base and landing pad (read new New Elementary review too!), and also Richard Jones’s clever use of road plates for a landing pad. Be sure to also check out his review on The Rambling Brick after this.
This isn’t LEGO’s first attempt at updating the classic, with the last one being 70816 Benny’s Spaceship, Spaceship, SPACESHIP! from The LEGO Movie, which at the time absolutely delighted LEGO Classic Space fans.
Benny’s Spaceship was meant to be a successor, or sequel to 928 Galaxy Explorer, evident by its LL 929 callsign on the side.
Here’s how all 3 look from above.
And last but not least, here’s a family shot, with 918 Space Transport, as well as a micro-version of Galaxy Explorer from 2015’s Great LEGO Sets Book. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find my 924 Space Transporter so this isn’t a complete family photo, but it’s great to see them all lined up like this!
What I liked:
- Brilliant remake with state-of-the-art build techniques
- Colour scheme is perfectly recreated
- No stickers and all printed elements
- New printed tiles are a lot of fun
- Return of Red and White Classic Space Astronauts
- Incredibly well-priced
- Very swooshable (two hands required)
What I didn’t like:
- No crater baseplate, landing pad or moon base
- Feels a little too big compared to the original
As LEGO remakes go, I cannot fault 10497 Galaxy Explorer, which is a brilliant remake of an iconic LEGO Classic Space set.
Mike Psiaki has done an exemplary job, taking the original 497/928 Galaxy Explorer’s defining features, and enlarging the set to epic proportions, with equally impressive bleeding edge LEGO techniques that makes this one of the best-designed sets of 2022.
Building the 10497 Galaxy Explorer is a joyful journey of LEGO Spaceship perfection, with some really outstanding design techniques employed to craft the subtle angles and call-back features of the original into a sleek, modern and futuristic package.
Having all-printed elements, and 4 Classic Space Astronauts are very welcome additions, and the new quality of life improvements such as the Astronaut’s living quarters, ramp for the Moon Buggy, and even the retractable landing gear are all great enhancements to the original.
Some (including me) will sorely miss the landing pad, crater baseplate and moonbase, which seem to be integral elements of the original, but I can imagine that it was a difficult decision to cut them out, to keep the set at a very accessible and respectable under-US$100 pricetag, which guarantees that most fans will be able to afford one without going into debt.
I have always been a fan of the Classics, and Vintage LEGO, with Classic Space occupying a very special place in my heart and collection. What has always endeared me is the simple (and limited) element pool, and blocky yet infinitely creative designs that have inspired much of my childhood.
While I admire, and love how sleek and futuristic take on the Galaxy Explorer, this is ultimately a modern set, and while large, expansive ambitious, doesn’t quite capture the nostalgic, simple design language of sets from the late 70s, 80s and early 90s which I am extremely passionate about.
Fate of the world in my hands, I will confidently say that I prefer the original, because I prefer the design language of 70s and 80s Classic Space.
This is something to be aware of, as Mike Psiaki probably did not set out to replicate the design language of Classic Space, but instead adapt the defining colours, shapes and forms of Classic Space to modern LEGO standards.
That said, 10497 Galaxy Explorer is a modern classic, and masterclass in LEGO Spacecraft, with terrific techniques and sleek aesthetics that proudly carry on the legacy of LEGO Classic Space. I hope this does well enough to inspire LEGO to bring forth a proper Classic Space renaissance.
928 Galaxy Explorer being a 40+ year old set is quite a rarity, but with 10497 Galaxy Explorer, it now flings open the door to so many LEGO fans, old and new to experience (some for the first time) the wonders of LEGO Classic Space in such epic fashion.
A modern classic that sets the bar for how LEGO remakes and updates should be done in the future.
Rating and score: 4/5 ★★★★✰
Build  – An extremely fun build with plenty of innovative design techniques
Real Value  – Set is priced really well, which allows most people to afford it
Innovation  – A really cool take on a Classic Icon, with fun new build techniques with no gimmicks
Coolness  – A modern take on the legendary Galaxy Explorer, and new Classic Space flagship
Keepability  – If you’re a Classic Space fan, you will never take this off your shelf
Thanks for reading my review of 10497 Galaxy Explorer! As a special bonus, here’s how I’m currently displaying it next to my other Classic Space sets, and minifigures.
10497 Galaxy Explorer will go on sale from 1 August 2022 from LEGO.com. Pre-orders have closed in some countries, but there should hopefully be plenty more to go around at launch, although I expect it to be very popular, so don’t sleep on it!
If you missed it, be sure to also check out my review of 10305 Lion Knight’s Castle!
What do you think of the 2022 version of Galaxy Explorer? How does it stack up against the original?
To get the latest LEGO news and LEGO Reviews straight in your inbox, subscribe via email, or you can also follow on Google News, or socials on Facebook, Instagram (@jayong28), Twitter or subscribe to the Jay’s Brick Blog Youtube channel.
Subscribe to receive updates on new posts & reviews!
Special thanks to the LEGO Group for providing this set for review