REVIEW: 6456 Mission Control
Posted 23 April 2011 - 06:29 AM
...way out there beyond this hick town, Barnaby
There's a slick town, Barnaby
From my first few days in the Reviewers Academy here, I already decided that my teacher level review would be this great old classic set - Mission Control. Although it wasn't the first set I received, it was the first "large" set that I was given a chance to build as a little kid. This was always plopped up next to my Town Jr. sets and such wonderful fun to play with. It's quite a marvel to see your first LEGO sets years later, perhaps not as clean nor as shiny as some of your newer sets, but far more special than anything else in your collection.
Now, without any further ado - 3, 2, 1, LIFTOFF!
Name: 6456 Mission Control
Theme: Space Port
Price: USD 79.99
Further References: Brickset.com, Bricklink.com, Peeron.com, flickr
Picture supplied by Bricklink. The box is very kid-friendly, and very captivating especially since it's a Space-themed set. No kid would refuse the light and sound functions too! I wonder where the background is supposed to be - maybe some vast desert on Earth? The landscape looks like some place on Mars, although the minifigures aren't wearing any astronaut gear of any sort. What does it matter though, the real excitement is in outer space!
The Instructions: Front Cover
Many large sets before 2000 or so came with multiple instruction booklets (or sheets) that pertained to one part of the set. It's great when you have multiple people building the same set simultaneously, eliminating the need to share an instruction booklet.
The Instructions: Back Cover
All of them depict the same thing on the back, essentially a duplicate of the box design. I really like the sky blue and the 'dusty' orange colors here. They evoke a lot of nostalgia for some reason, and somehow remind me of a lot of those arcade space games prominent in the 80s and 90s.
Pictures provided by Bricklink. Whoa, sparkly That's definitely one of the most interesting sticker sheets I've ever seen. But twelve years later a good many of them have suffered some pretty severe cracking, forcing me to use some scotch tape to prevent any further damage. It's a curious thing I've noticed in a lot of older sets. There are much more printed parts than there are today, but at the same time there's often a healthy amount of stickers to go along with them. Sticker sheets have been around for quite a while.
Mostly a lot of bricks and plates and tiny greebling elements. I really like the wing plate. It works great for its main purpose as an aircraft component, but also looks like a whale fin. Little odd and random for me to point that out in a review, I know, but hey, they did all used to tell us that LEGO can be anything we wanted it to be
Another reason why I chose to do this set as my final review - I figured that I needed to face the challenge of shooting a ton of white pieces on a white background. The discoloration of many of the pieces from sunlight is evident, but such is the hallmark of classic sets that got us all hooked onto the LEGO hobby.
More 'spacey' elements can be found here. The hose is actually three separate pieces, but I left them connected together since I didn't want to risk any possible damage to the hose itself - I'm pretty sure they've been connected together since I got the set.
The set contains a substantial amount of parts in many colors. Usually in sets today you'd find parts in odd colors acting as support and concealed from view, but here they're used prominently in the overall design of the set.
No space set is complete without any fun transparent and chrome colored pieces!
Many of us like to reminisce about the days when LEGO used to package baseplates in your average playset, even in some of the smaller ones. A 32x32 tan baseplate is pretty rare, although today you can also find one in the beautiful Grand Emporium set.
Yep - the farther you go back in time, the more 'notable' pieces you'll find. That seems to be a general trend amongst all reviewers. Aside from the printed and transparent elements though, the most unique thing you'll find here would be the electrical light and sound engine. This is one of the very few sets to feature both light and sound functions. Believe it or not, there was yet another set in the Space Port line that also had this very same piece - 6454 Countdown Corner. It's pretty neat that you could even find it in small sets that only contained about 130 pieces in it.
The Minifigures: Front
I admire the ground control maintenance workers (in red) a lot. Pretty much your average scientist guy with glasses and a headset, these guys' heads were previously found in the Divers theme, and would later make a reappearance in Life on Mars (which I didn't realize until now, despite collecting a lot of LoM sets too!). The old guy's head made its debut in Space Port, notably used afterwards for scientist, train conductor, and Steven Spielberg minifigures. Finally, I'm really liking the astronaut's helmet. It's so reflective...enough to see my own reflection in it
The Minifigures: Back
Nothing much to note here, but the astronaut has two studs in the back of her helmet for attaching whatever on it.
She was my first female minifigure Her head is just a standard female head with some hair and a headset. She proudly bears the Space Port logo on her suit, ready to explore the depths of outer space.
Transporter Vehicle, Steps 5, 10
A simple little warm-up build. Meant for carrying precious moon rocks around the site.
Launch Pad, Steps 5, 10, 14
Capable of carrying space shuttles worth billions of dollars that weigh many times its own weight, no launch is complete without the launch pad for the rocket to sit on. Also a good excuse to include some treads in the set
Front Section, Steps 8, 16
The essence of the space shuttle is captured here in this relatively small front section. The space shuttle was cleverly designed to be modular, which will be featured more later on.
Middle Section, Steps 8, 17
Although it could have just been a section with absolutely nothing in it, the designers made great use of the space here to include a deployable satellite! It has the year 2000 on it, which at one point in history seemed like such a futuristic and amazing time to live in.
Tail Section, Steps 7, 14
And last but not least, the powerhouse that launches the rocket miles into the heavens. Two AA batteries are required to make it light up and emit its futuristic and spacey sounds.
Modularity for easy assembly and disassembly! Just attach and clip everything together:
And the shuttle is ready for liftoff!
Space Station, Steps 6, 12
Building up from the ground, this part of the assembly is very enjoyable due to all the cool details located on the station.
Steps 18, 21, 32
This is a fairly quicker build than what you might expect. It makes good use of the space provided for by the baseplate, without making it seem too crowded. Once everything is combined...
Design and Playability
Commence the countdown procedure!
In reality, everything here would be completely toasted with the heat coming from the engine But even at first glance, it's a fantastic playset with a ton of features to explore.
I must say that the space shuttle looks quite majestic just standing there, waiting for the cue for takeoff. I also really like the details and equipment that you can see from the side of the station. Not one area is neglected with a lack of detail or a play function.
The above applies to the back view as well. It's not simply an empty skeleton running along the back of the shuttle; it's a full fledged station equipped with a lot of play features.
Its current counterpart today is set 3368 Space Center (which coincidentally has the exact amount of pieces, 494 ). I'm always a sucker for the older sets, so obviously I'm going to say that the '99 version is better. But I think all the retro elements, large amount of play features, and admittedly, my own sentimentality makes me favor this set far more than the other one.
The Space Shuttle
I like this shuttle. A solid build, and doesn't use too many of those large 'juniorized' pieces. The clips reinforcing the modules together look out of place, but they're there for kids to easily be able to remove them and take the shuttle apart.
A little bit empty looking from the side, but there are some stickers to break up all that white. The tail fin at the end also completes the shuttle's shape nicely.
The landing gear isn't retractable, but they're just modified plates with wheels on it, so they can simply be detached when the rocket is in flight mode.
A plastic cockpit is one of the many things that would melt upon reentry into the atmosphere, although it's better than no cockpit at all!
This particular trans-red piece was specially produced for the electric engine piece, and doesn't really serve any other purpose (aside from some really far-fetched use that has yet to be brought to light in a MOC). Once the buttons are pressed on the engine, this lights up to produce the flame effect coming from the engine, which you can see in the video a few pictures below.
The mid-section can open up to deploy the satellite, and alternatively can carry the moon rock too. Perhaps even a group of alien prisoners can be held in here too.
Thanks to the modularity, the middle part can be removed to make a mini-rocket...for nightly cruises around the moon I bet?
Light and Sound Functions
What could be more fun than swooshing this around while holding down all the buttons?
When it comes time for liftoff, the launch pad can back up into the station and connect itself onto the hook.
Next a maintenance worker arrives and fills 'er up.
This was one of the stickers that cracked the most, unfortunately. Because I liked the design so much, I wrapped some scotch tape around the piece to preserve the sticker. I'm not sure what the curved lines on the map are supposed to indicate - it appears to be some sort of monitor for flight patterns though.
From the control center of the mission, everything minute detail is regulated here. Loving that golden disco ball on top. Maybe the designers still had their minds in the 70s at the time.
The ground mission chief makes sure all the conditions are optimal for the shuttle to take off.
Salvaged moon rocks are taken here to be broken apart and reaped of the rewards inside. In reality, this is a relatively expensive piece considering its size - it'll go for over $1.30 on Bricklink.
When the shuttle is docked, maintenance workers can work on repairing any damaged components with the tools here.
And should a fire erupt, there's a fire extinguisher right there...though it doesn't seem very safe to be right next to a burning rocket loaded with rocket fuel
There's always a time when we look back at our oldest LEGO sets in our collection and think about how much we've all grown as LEGO enthusiasts... Alright, enough of the sappy stuff - let's delve right into the ratings!
Pieces: 9/10 - Space sets always have some of the coolest elements in them that are rare as well. Not so much a parts pack for massive quantities of a certain piece, but Mission Control contains a lot of odd accessories and elements that are just cool to have around in any LEGO collection.
Minifigures: 8/10 - LEGO released their best minifigures in the 1990s in my opinion, and these guys (and gal) are no exception! Space Port also debuted one of my favorite minifig heads, the doctor head I like to call it, so that's another plus for me.
Build: 10/10 - This is a build that has a lot to offer, and is diversified along the way. It's fun working on this in different portions, first building all the ground vehicles, the shuttle itself, and then the actual station. The separated instructions also would make this a lot of fun to work on with a group of friends or family members.
Design: 10/10 - Tons of stuff to find in every corner of this set. It's not overly saturated with detail, and the space doesn't feel too empty as well. It's just as a classic LEGO set should be.
Playability: 10/10 - Swooshing a spaceship that lights up and makes noise is far too fun to deduct anything from the playability rating Even as a stand-alone set, there's a lot to play around with.
Price: 7/10 - Not too bad when taking the baseplate and the electrical part into account.
LEGO certainly has taken us in unique, sometimes strange, but always fun directions with their Space-related themes. The fanbase is always wild over new and upcoming Space themes that LEGO is coming out with, but sometimes it's nice to take a look back in history at what LEGO has done in the past. Space Port wasn't 'strictly' a part of the Space umbrella theme, it was part of Town, but nevertheless it was a sweet taste of space that LEGO offered to its fanbase at the close of the last century.
Thanks for reading
Posted 23 April 2011 - 06:37 AM
Great review when it was in the academy, and it's a great review now. I'm honored to be the one to give it the final pass.
Great job, you're truly Gold Standard.
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Posted 23 April 2011 - 06:37 AM
Another epic review, and I mean that. Awesome review.
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Posted 23 April 2011 - 09:20 AM
Nice selection of minifigs and some different parts...perfect for sci-fi MOC building !
Keep on launching those rockets !
Posted 23 April 2011 - 10:05 AM
On to the set, I really like this one a lot, I think it's very well designed considering the era it was released (circa '99) - the space shuttle is excellently done relative to the piece count and parts availability at that time. The other supporting elements (launch pad, control station, two mini vehicles, even the minifig line-up) really complement the space shuttle perfectly. Given the chance, I'd also pick this one over the recently-released similar space control set anytime of the day.
Posted 23 April 2011 - 10:28 AM
Posted 24 April 2011 - 12:04 AM
Posted 24 April 2011 - 03:08 AM
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