10497 Galaxy Explorer Review

Theme: Icons
No: 10497
Release Year: 2022 (August 1)
Cost: AU $179.99
Pieces: 1254 (with four minifigures)

Classic LEGO Space. It’s a theme that evokes a lot of emotion from so many people. Cherished memories of space adventures as a kid, fights with siblings over who gets to be the hero, and the sheer joy and excitement when building a new set for the first time. It’s something I remember fondly but it’s been far too long. Yes, so many of the sets we’ve enjoyed since then has come extremely close, but in my mind there’s nothing modern that comes close to Classic Space.

When the LEGO CON set announcements came out, we were all exploding with excitement. It was finally happening! Classic Space was coming back. Yes, it’s only one set for the beloved theme, but what a set! 497/928 Galaxy Explorer was one of the best, and is still known as one of the most sought after sets in LEGO history. Taking this set and making it what it is today, with new parts and techniques in a bigger footprint is incredible. I also love the number tie in – 497 to 10497. A nice touch.

The box is a fantastic link back to the original box, mimicking the ship mid flight across the moonscape, but without that iconic baseplate and build. There’s also no flip top lid. Pity. Inside the box are nine numbered bags and a black 8×16 tile. Each of the decorated parts are printed – no stickers. Finally a 2×4 Classic Space logo tile! Speaking of exciting tiles, there’s also a 1×2 half circle tile, which is new! That’ll come in handy. You only get two but they’ll appear again soon I’m sure.

The core of the set is a Technic framework, including the beginning of the angled blue section, which is rather clever and deceivingly simple, pivoting off a couple of Technic pins before angling up. The inside of the build is a technicolour nightmare, but the instructions tell us that the colours included were all available in 1979, except for light bluish grey, which was light grey until 2004. Once the wings are added it’s time to add the edging. This is done so cleverly, thanks to the legendary Mike Psiaki and the use of a 1×1 round plate with shaft connected to a few SNOT elements added to the edge angles. It finishes it off amazingly neatly.

Once the edge is done the panelling is added to the top and the main body built up. The build is so exciting from start to finish. Not because of the actual build itself, although some sections are fantastic, but because it’s just so nostalgic. It’s Classic Space reborn!

The final result is big and glorious. Actually, it’s perfect. 52 cm nose to tail and a 31 cm wingspan means it’s 1.5 times bigger than the original Galaxy Explorer. More Classic Space? Yes please. Everything is there, red lights on the front, green on the back, antennae, LL 928 on the cockpit wall, the lot. It’s also great to see the brick built features included due to scale, such as the larger thrusters using buckets on a SNOT brick instead of the classic loudspeaker element, and the printed arrow which is now entirely brick built using 1×2 panels, a white Nexo Knights shield and SNOT. This is genius. The engines use wooden tubs in grey and black rounded cogs for the fan blades which look excellent. Seriously, I cannot rave about this set enough.

There’s four minifigures, complete with the classic smiley face look and helmet. They’re identical to the ones in the original set, but with a thicker chin strap to stop it snapping. There’s also a little droid that wasn’t in the original release, but was found in 6809 XT-5 and Droid. Love it!

The set also includes retractable landing gear, using the 4×4 rounded corner tiles from Super Mario. They look perfect and retract flush with the base. On the inside of the cockpit are four seats for the minifigures – plenty of space – plus screens and control panels galore. Behind the main cockpit is the rear hold, with more control panels and two beds. I love it that the beds incorporate a lowered section so the oxygen tanks can stay on while the minifigure lays flat. The printed control panels are just fantastic. Just behind the rear hold is a super cool airlock door. I love this! It’s super simple but a really clever addition. It’s brilliant.

The very rear storage hold is one of the best play features about this set. It’s genius and works so well, and is replicated similarly to the original, but with an upgrade. The rear of the ship opens up to reveal the upgraded little moon buggy held neatly behind some Technic pins. Drop the tail of the ship and pull the black ramp out. It’ll drop down neatly, allowing the wheels of the buggy to fit under the pins and roll out! It’s the best fun.

This set is sublime. LEGO perfection. Upscaled Classic Space with more detail, play functions and a brilliant build experience? This is easily my most favourite set of my entire collection. It’s loads of fun to build, and I had a lot of pleasure chatting with my 5 year old about the original set and how much fun I had as a kid. I spent a good amount of time flying it around the house making the swooshy noises, much to the delight of my daughter. It immediately brought me back to being a kid playing with LEGO Space. It was exciting, nostalgic and I had a big dumb grin on my face the entire time. It’s just that good. This is a MUST buy for all LEGO fans. You need this in your life. It’s out August 1st, but pre-orders are on right now. It’s worth it.

A special thank you to LEGO for sending me a copy to review. All thoughts on this set are my own and are not influenced in any way, shape or form. The provision of sets for review does not guarantee a favourable review.