10497 Galaxy Explorer Review

Reviewed by Alain King (SAFOLs Member, CapeLUG Member)

As a child, I remember having a few small Space sets and having an amazing time playing with them. There were always the bigger ones in the catalogue and the dream of owning them never went away. When the LEGO group announced the 10497 as tribute to what the community refers to as Classic Space, I knew that it was immediately going on my list of sets to get.

Packaging and building experience

The packaging of the box looks amazing and for those who built LEGO sets in the 80’s will bring back lots of nostalgia. For those who are concerned that they followed the old technique of no numbered bags, you can rest at ease as there are 9 numbers of bags, a large 16 x 8 tile and the instruction manuals in their protective wrap. My set also included a pamphlet about the transition to paper bags.

The first bag starts off with a Red Spaceman and a little robot. It also follows the current trend of building a technic style structure that everything will be built on. The difference that comes in here is the inclusion of some landing gear (that was not present from the original) and it gives you an idea of the scale of the ship.

Bag two starts adding on the slope that is a characteristic of this ship as well as adding the seating for the crew (all 4 of them) along with 2 steering wheels. I mean, honestly, how else are you supposed to fly a spaceship?

Bags 3 & 4 gives more shape to the ship overall, adds the first White Spaceman and is a great time to highlight the fact that the designers restricted themselves to the colours available when the original set came out (although the grey has changed during the timespan). This is one of the many titbits of information included in the instruction manual. Bag 5 adds the second Red Spaceman to the crew and finishes off the surface of the wings.  Bag 6 adds beds for the spacemen to sleep and starts building up the engine mounts.

Bag 7 adds the second White Spaceman and builds up the cockpit including all a bunch of the printed parts in this set. The LEGO group once again demonstrating that it is possible to get a set without stickers. The final set of this bag is to add on the two yellow canopies. This is great for the fans to get these in this colour as they are big and beautiful and come mixed in with the other parts so one of mine came with a big scratch down the middle of it. I don’t understand why there is no separate packaging for them or why they don’t come wrapped in a protective film like the windscreen in the new Delorean set. Thankfully the LEGO group has the best customer service in the world and a couple of days after requesting a new canopy it came carefully packaged in its own bag.

Bag 8 competes the back of the ship with the huge wing and the iconic white arrows pointing down which are done with some clear building techniques. Bag 9 finishes off the engines and the buggy to go into the back.

Overall Experience

I think that the LEGO Group has demonstrated that they know what their fans really want. This set appeals to several AFOL’s who grew up around these sets and would like to relive some aspects of their childhood. This set is a great tribute to that and very affordable in South Africa with the current recommended retail value of R1799.00. If you are interested in the space theme at all, please pick one up to encourage more in the future. And as a bonus, there are two additional sets of instructions available from the LEGO Website that allow the building of alternate models which are also tributes to past models. Personally, I have not yet built these alternates as I love having the big one on display but one day, I will get to it.

The finished Galaxy Explorer looks amazing and has some great techniques employed to get the overall shape with very minimal gaps present. There are some of the slopes on the edge of the wings which are not quite level with the surface of the wings, but I am not a skilled enough builder to do a better job than the designers of the set. It is impressively big, so I have included some photos comparing it to some other space vehicles (all latest play scale sets not UCS) in my collection. I have also heard there is a castle to go along with this tribute set, perhaps that is the next on the list of builds to complete.