It’s absolutely surreal to be writing a review for a new 2023 LEGO Blacktron set, but here we are with, 40580 Blacktron Cruiser, a remake and reimagination of the Classic Blacktron 1 6894 Invader set.
40580 Blacktron Cruiser is a gift with purchase (GWP), and will be available from 1 – 14 January from LEGO.com or your local LEGO Store, with a purchase threshold of US$190 / AU$310 €190 / £170.
Blacktron were the original Classic Space baddies, and after being treated to a Classic Space renaissance with 10497 Galaxy Explorer, it’s incredible to see these space brigands back in the fray.
Special thanks to The LEGO Group for sending this early review set
40580 Blacktron Cruiser Set Details
Name: Blacktron Cruiser
Set Number: 40648
Pieces: 356 pieces
Exclusive to: LEGO.com / LEGO Stores
Theme: Gift with Purchase / LEGO Space
Release Date: 1 January 2022
Let’s get the bad stuff out of the way. There are stickers, and all the decorations, which include the Blacktron logos are all stickers. No printed elements here, which is a massive bummer, which is amplified further when you realise that the original 6894 Invader had all printed elements.
There’s no dancing around the fact that this sucks, and will irk many Blacktron and Classic Space fans BUT for a set this small, it’s almost inevitable, given the way LEGO approaches these things.
The alternative is not having an accurate-looking Blacktron set, so be like me and grit your teeth through applying these Blacktron logo stickers throughout the build.
The packaging and box art of 40580 Blacktron Cruiser is utterly sublime. It looks like a Blacktron set straight out of the late 80s, with the black and yellow colour scheme, yellow strip in the top left corner with the set’s name in teal, as well as the iconic grid space background pattern.
It’s an incredibly appetiser and really gets you in the mood for some Classic Blacktron construction, and kudos to the design team for evoking such strong nostalgia with the packaging design.
The instruction manuals were really interesting. The front has a blueprint-like design of Blacktron Cruiser, against an all-white background, and the back has the Blacktron “Triforce” logo. It’s understated, minimalist and very classy, and I love the refreshing design of it!
So let’s get to the set’s best feature – the return of a modern Blacktron minifigure. He (or she) comes with a black motorcycle helmet and visor, and the iconic Blacktron spacesuit, as well as a black minesweeper, which has undergone a slight refresh.
It’s insane that we’re getting a new Blacktron minifigure torso, using modern printing and torso designs, and I am so excited and can’t wait to order dozens of these through Pick a Brick.
The classic Smiley Face is underneath the all-black helmet! So friendly, yet so deadly.
And the best part and biggest surprise is that the Blacktron minifigure has back printing! It’s expected for a minifigure in 2023 to have back printing, but I thought we were going to get a straight reissue of the torso, not an upgrade like this.
Blacktron fans are going to be delighted with this modern treatment of the Blacktron 1 torso.
Here’s a comparison with an original Blacktron 1 minifigure. I’m amazed at just how accurate of a replica the 2023 version is, and how much it looks like how it was from 1987.
Oh, and the assistant Robot is back too, which cleverly uses a gun to create its sloping and hunched over appearance.
Here’s a comparison with the original robot – not a bad effort at all to mimic the silhouette and overall shape of the robot, as well as reusing elements like the arms, and head! The original robot’s body is of course a very old and retired mould, so I definitely wasn’t expecting to see it back.
The completed model
Here’s a look at the completed model, the all-new Blacktron Cruiser. It’s not a 1:1 remake of the Invader, but like 10497 Galaxy Explorer, is a modernised update to the Blacktron 1 classic.
It bears all the hallmarks of the original Invader, with its narrow body, and signature 4 red wings at the back, and fearsome red laser guns at the front.
It’s a zippy, spaceship designed for one thing, and one thing only – hunting Classic Space ships.
Like the original, the wings can swivel open, creating 2 different modes – attack and cruising! The mechanism works just like the original, and I love how it dramatically alters the silhouette of the Blacktron Cruiser.
Here’s a look at the trans-yellow cockpit canopy, which was first introduced in Lightyear’s XL-15 Spaceship. Thank you Angus MacLane for this awesome gift that keeps giving.
Here’s a look at the nose of the Blacktron Cruiser, as well as the twin laser guns. The use of the trans-red rods are effective as ever.
Shame about that stickered logo down the front.
That said, it looks absolutely menacing and fearsome when viewed from the front. Imagine being a Galaxy Explorer pilot and seeing this in your rear sensors. You know you’re toast.
Popping open the cockpit, you are treated to this awesome stickered control panel, which has the silhouette of 10497 Galaxy Explorer being targeted! I also love the signature yellow, black and red design language being used here for the panel.
There’s also a compartment in the front to stow away the minesweeper.
Here’s a look at the Cargo Section, which has stickered panes on it. The original Invader utilised corner walls, which had the Blacktron logo printed on, but the designer did a great job getting the overall shaping as close as it could to the original.
The cargo section fans open as you lift the panes one by one to reveal some roomy interiors, which holds the Robot and Blacktron Safe, as well as a wrench and hammer! The wrench and hammer were tools included in the original Invader, so I was very pleased to see them being included here as well!
And in the back, we have more stickered control panels, with the classic Blacktron 1 design. Shame these are stickers.
Oh, one MAJOR upgrade to the original Invader is the presence of an additional laser gun mounted to this section. I think it adds so much to the design of the ship, and shows that the Blacktron 1 mean business with the added firepower.
And here’s a look at the back, featuring the Invader’s signature design feature, the quad-redwings.
These can fold up and down to create an S-Foil/X-Wing esque look, and we’re treated to a mesmerising array of trans-red tiles.
The only major difference is that it’s built on a black base, so it isn’t as transparent and as visually interesting as the original which had transparent red plates!
Here’s a look at more stickers from the back.
And the engine thrusters.
A really novel play feature introduced is the ability to break the ship up into 3 parts, which are connected and held together with this system of clips.
They come apart fairly easily, and make for a more playable experience, as you can play around with the Cargo Pod, use the front section as its own smaller spaceship, and have the back wings as an autonomous drone.
40580 Blacktron Cruiser vs 6894 Invader
Blacktron 1 is one of my favourite Classic Space themes, and of course, as soon as I saw this set, I knew that I had to compare it with the original, which was one of the sets I restored this year, as chance would have it!
As you can see, 40580 Blacktron Cruiser is much longer than the original, thanks to the larger cockpit. The Blacktron Cruiser measures 29cm from tip to tip, making it quite a sizable model.
One thing’s for sure, they nailed the design of the front, even with the larger more modern windscreen.
Here’s a look at the top down view of both ships.
See what I mean by the tail wings not having the same vibrancy as the original? Understandably, the trans-red plates don’t exist in this form, but the darker-looking base doesn’t do it justice in my view.
What I liked:
- Modern Blacktron minifigure with back printing
- A contemporary reimagination of the classic Blacktron invader
- Retains and enhances many of the original’s features
- You get to build a Blacktron 1 set in 2023
- LEGO Nostalgia done right
What I didn’t like:
- Tail wings aren’t fully transparent
Despite there being stickers, I relished every single moment of putting together 40580 Blacktron Cruiser.
I adore vintage LEGO, and the era between the late 80s and early 90s is my proverbial sweet spot (my sigfig is an M-Tron minifigure if you haven’t noticed), so getting to relive this build of a modernised Blacktron Invader is simply pure nostalgic joy for me.
It evoked the same feelings as building 10497 Galaxy Explorer, albeit at a much smaller scale, but LEGO have absolutely nailed the nostalgia with this build.
The Blacktron Cruiser benefits from a wider palette of elements, and modern LEGO design, but still retains many of the original features, aesthetics and silhouettes, doing justice to the heritage of the Blacktron Invader.
The Blacktron minifigure is exceptional, and the added bonus of back printing, might just make me forgive the inclusion of stickers in the set.
The back wings do slightly annoy me, as the trans-red wings of the original are so iconic, and what gives the Blacktron Invader its DNA, so the darker version here is a bit of a miss, but other than that, this is an absolute kick-ass set.
Despite it being a GWP, I’m glad that it’s being made available in January, where there’s a slew of new LEGO sets, and even the 2023 Modular to help trigger the purchase threshold for the set.
I wasn’t planning on buying anything on Day 1, but after building this, I am absolutely going to need at least 2 or 3 more to add to my Blacktron fleet.
If you’re a little younger, and don’t quite care about nostalgic LEGO Space factions, there is still a fantastic LEGO spaceship in the Blacktron Cruiser, but your enjoyment of the set will not be as amplified if Blacktron 1, and its legendary yellow and black aesthetics don’t evoke nostalgic LEGO bliss.
If you own and enjoyed 10497 Galaxy Explorer, this is a perfect companion, moreso that both sets are connected, as the Blacktron Cruiser is hunting it down and has it in its sights, ready to wreak havoc on the poor Classic Space crew.
For me, this is nostalgic LEGO perfection.
Rating and score: 4/5 ★★★★✰
Build  – Great to build a modern version of the Invader, with some clever techniques like in the cargo section
Real Value  – Stickers and a high GWP threshold make it less than ideal, but a new modern Blacktron minifigure balances it out
Innovation  – LEGO Nostalgia dialled up to 11 with triple threat of amazing packaging design, modern minifigure and a reimagined design
Coolness  – I am a sucker for Blacktron 1, so short of a re-release of Message Intercept Base, I’ve never been so excited for a LEGO set in a while
Keepability  – Going straight into my LEGO Space display and staying there forever. Might even park it next to Message Intercept Base
40580 Blacktron Cruiser is a LEGO gift with purchase (GWP), and will be available from 1 January – 14 February from LEGO.com or your local LEGO Store, with a purchase threshold of US$190 / €190 / £170.
What do you think of the Blacktron Cruiser? What other vintage/classic theme would you like LEGO to take on next?
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