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Review: 6928 Mercury Crawler / Uranium Search Vehicle


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Poll: How do you rate this set? (13 member(s) have cast votes)

6928 Mercury Crawler / Uranium Search Vehicle

  1. Poor (1 votes [7.69%])

    Percentage of vote: 7.69%

  2. Below Average (2 votes [15.38%])

    Percentage of vote: 15.38%

  3. Average (2 votes [15.38%])

    Percentage of vote: 15.38%

  4. Above Average (5 votes [38.46%])

    Percentage of vote: 38.46%

  5. Outstanding (3 votes [23.08%])

    Percentage of vote: 23.08%

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#1 Rufus

Rufus

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Posted 11 April 2010 - 04:40 PM

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'Mercury.... any mercury around here?  Mercury??!  I can't see any mercury anywhere.'
'We're not looking for mercury dangit - this is an American mission, we're looking for uranium.'
'Oh, I forgot.  But why is this vehicle called the Mercury Crawler when it's design to seek uranium?  Stoopid Brits.'
'Perhaps it's meant to look for uranium on Mercury?'
'Or mercury on Uranus?'
'How rude!  Oh, you mean the planet.'


Yes, this was 1984, and I was happily ensconced in my pre-dark age love affair with Classic Space, the 10 year old me blissfully unaware of the confusion that Lego's multiple-international-naming-policy would cause my later reviewing exploits.  As well as the '<insert planet-related element name here> vehicle' name of the English-speaking nations, this was a laboratory in France, Germany and Portugal ('Laboratoire tout terrain', 'Cosmo-Lab' and 'Laboratorio movel' respectively).  All names are appropriate, though my not wholly unbiased opinion is that the imaginative UK name does the most to bring this medium-sized set to life.


The Stats

Name:  Mercury Crawler (UK), Uranium Search Vehicle (US)
Number:  6928
Theme:  Legoland Space
Years:  1984 - 1985
Pieces:  196
Minifigs:  2
Price:  £6.85 back in the day!

Links ... Brickset ... Peeron ... Bricklink


The £6.85 price is an estimate; this price point was used for the 200-piece Space sets in 1982-3, according to my surviving Lego Builders Club magazine, and I clearly recall the similarly-sized 1985 'Dark Star/Gamma V' (6891) sharing the same price point, so it is reasonable to assume this set was priced to match.

Below is an extract from the 1984 catalogue, showing a variety of sets from my heyday:

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Notice again the variety of names; US Classic Space fans beware!


The Box - Front

I must have had remarkable presence of mind to keep all my boxes from back then, either that or it was the early stages of obsessive-compulsive disorder.  This one has borne the twenty years in the attic reasonably well.

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Like all from the Legoland Space era, a non-descript yellow terrain is used as the backdrop; the bold yellow Legoland banner adorns the upper surface.


Back

The rear shows off one of the set's features - the opening rear section, and a number of similar alterative models:

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There is no badly-dressed kid this time, thankfully.


Top marks again for packaging - this box is the sliding-drawer variety:

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This is a sadly-missed feature of sets of this size.  You can easily build the set straight out of the box, without the need for large expanses of table.


The Instructions

Lego didn't put so much effort in their instructions:  this is a single sheet, folded to show the identical picture to the box and one of the alternatives; the instructions for the latter aren't included.

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Many steps are crammed into this small space, using three to four parts per step, with no call-outs.  

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It can be tricky in places to notice where all the new parts go, especially with all that blue; however, little me managed ok so it can't be too bad.


The Parts

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It's a fairly unexciting collection, mainly of bricks and plates; perhaps surprising is the relative number of plates for a reasonably 'tall' model.  Of note are the trans-red shields, found only in space sets from this year.  Space fans will be all too familiar with the large number of balloon tyres.

There are few printed parts:

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Nothing new or remarkable, but I'll never complain about computer screens or those lovely space-logo bricks.


The Figures

1984 was the year that saw the introduction of black and blue spacemen.  This was my first set with a black-suited man, and this is one of the reasons I cherished it at the time.  The black colour looks great on spacemen:

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As you can see, the printing on the white dude hasn't survived so well, though I can't say for definite that this isn't a substitute whitey from a different set.


The Build

There was a lot of surface muck on the pieces that had been on exposed areas of the set; a good wash later and they're shining.  I noticed when building that the plates in particular were stiff and squeaky to put together; whether this is related to age or the different tolerances used in Lego's moulds back then I cannot say.

The model is built in sections:  first the front half, minus wheels:

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It's essentially a specialised base module with bricks on top; there are a number of 1x1 clippy plates to hold tools, and a few open wing pylons that will connect the vehicle's various radar appendages.


The rear is built on a similar base; in construction, the door sections are reminiscent of the rear doors of the great 497/928 Space Cruiser/Galaxy Explorer.

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'Rocket wings' and megaphones make minor greebling on this section.


The wheel sections are identical, and consist of two technic axles threaded though technic beams, with bushes and balloon tyres pushed on.  Non-friction pins allow the wheel sections to follow the contours of the terrain...

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... however, you may notice that I've omitted the base 2x2 plate (right picture above) that should be placed underneath the two 1x2 technic bricks (steps 1 & 2 in the instructions below):

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Those parts were missing when I rescued the box from the Attic of Obscurity.  I can't remember for sure, but I probably did this to improve the ground clearance - I recall these plates used to snag on the crater plates of my base.


The Complete Set

After connecting the wheel sections, and adding the various radar dishes and metal detectors, we can view the finished model:

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For a ground-based vehicle, it's quite attractive.  The colour scheme, while perhaps not original, is smart, and fits in nicely with the rest of the range. The multiple appendages give it a purposeful look.


It ought to be quite manoeuvrable, given the articulated centre and tilting wheelbases, but as you can see in this high view, the turning circle is a little limited:

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This could easily be improved by reversing one of the stop plates either side of the centre joint; there is a risk of the vehicle jack-knifing if you do this and push from the rear.  Thanks to The Cobra for pointing out that you can't separate the front and rear sections - well, you can, but the two halves will flop on their wheel bogies.


From the front, the vehicle has quite a small profile.  The radar dishes and metal detectors are independently moveable: perfect for searching for whichever element takes your fancy.

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The cockpit is roomy, and comfortable for the driver, who has only the usual steering wheel to control it.


The designer has thoughtfully included small ladder elements at the front, and at the rear:

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The rear opens up, giving easy access to the black spacedude at his computer station.  The rocket wings and megaphones at the rear may represent the propulsion system.


Finally, a shot of the complete model with hatches open:  you can also see the tools attached to their clippy plates:  a gun, a hammer and a walkie-talkie.  There should also be a spanner, which I must have seconded to another part of my base.

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Conclusion & Thoughts

In Classic Space, like in most Lego sci-fi genres, the space-going vessels tend to get all the limelight, leaving ground-based vehicles and bases on the sidelines.  Nevertheless, as vehicles go, this is a lovely set; well-designed, attractive, and with a bountiful selection of play features.  

Design:  9/10  I think this is a beautiful vehicle, with a great colour scheme, purposeful look, and a sturdy construction.  It looks the part traversing the cratered contours of the Classic Space base; my only criticism is the low ground clearance, which causes a bit of scraping over the humps.

Build:  6/10  Its a quick 20 minute build; nothing taxing, and no 'wow' moments; the end result however is pleasing.  I didn't enjoy the wheel section - carefully aligning the bushes on the technic axles to keep them spinning freely is tiresome.

Parts & Figs:  7/10 There's nothing too exciting on the parts front, but the black spaceman is to die for :wub:.  Still, I wouldn't recommend paying an extortionate figure on the second-hand market unless you're desperate to fill a 6928-shaped whole in your collection.

Playability:  8/10  This set abounds with little features, be it the rotating radar/detector apparatus, the opening front and rear sections, and two figures to pick up the many tools and pose with them.   The most fun to be had, though, is just pushing the little thing around, particularly if it's the one set your little self took on holiday with him!  When it's part of a big space base, it'll probably get overlooked with all those swooshable spaceships around.

Price:  7/10  This was par for the course for the £6.85 price point in 1984;  it seems good value now, but if you compare it to the similarly-priced 6981 Dark Star/Gamma V from 1985 it doesn't have quite the same pizzazz.


Overall:  74%.  Looked at objectively, this set suffers for what it is:  a vehicle.  A lovely vehicle, but in Classic Space the ships always steal the show.   For me, the nostalgia value is huge, and this set will always have a place in my heart.


Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed the review.  Please do let me know what you thought of the review, and the set itself.

Rufus

#2 prateek

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Posted 11 April 2010 - 06:21 PM

Nice review. I rated this average for a Space set, but it is still pretty good compared to others. :thumbup:

#3 CP5670

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Posted 11 April 2010 - 06:29 PM

I've wanted this one for a while but have not found any good deal on it yet. Your copy appears to be in pristine shape, especially the trans-yellow windscreens. :thumbup:

#4 The Cobra

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Posted 11 April 2010 - 06:58 PM

I only rate it "above average" instead of "outstanding" because if you take the two halves apart they will fall.

Great review of a real classic!
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#5 Rufus

Rufus

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Posted 13 April 2010 - 07:53 AM

Thanks for the comments!

View PostCP5670, on Apr 11 2010, 07:29 PM, said:

Your copy appears to be in pristine shape, especially the trans-yellow windscreens. :thumbup:
Good old washing-up liquid!  Actually the big windscreen is a little scratched, but you can't see it in the photos.  

View PostThe Cobra, on Apr 11 2010, 07:58 PM, said:

I only rate it "above average" instead of "outstanding" because if you take the two halves apart they will fall.
Good point, I'll go back and mention that at some point.  Thanks!



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