CSRP is back! Weeeeeell, it's only been six months.
I took these pictures ages ago, but I wasn't quite happy with them, then I got kinda sidetracked with other projects; real life got in the way; a giant lizard went on a rampage through the city, I ran out of excuses, yada yada.
But I got there in the end. Profound apologies to anyone who was following this thread.
So here's the restored classic 928/497 Galaxy Explorer! First, an overview:
Seen in this view, it's a fairly basic set: a ship, a landing platform, a modest base station and four dudes: two red, two white. But oh
, that ship.... the Galaxy Explorer is 35 years old, but still manages to look awesome, and even fresh: she'd be just at home in modern Sci-Fi today as she was in her 'Space Race' heyday. This is such an iconic set: it was responsible for the love of LEGO of many of today's AFOLs, and without a doubt holds a place high in the top LEGO sets ever.
But you know all that.
We're here to see how my restoration attempt has held up. Let's look at the base first:
The simple little base station has shaped up nicely, helped greatly by condition of the oddly anachronistic TV aerial. I ended up having to replace all four of the blue 4x6 plates in the set, fortunately with 80s parts; two are used in the station. The Classic Space logo brick on this side is a little faded, though you wouldn't tell from this picture ...
... until you compare to the one on the other side:
There's a degree of colour variability which doesn't show too well in the pictures; the blue tail pieces used as stanchions have a slight brownish tint. They also don't retain their shape too well, as a result of which the station sits a little higher than it should; this is why there appears to be a slight gap under the lower 4x6 plate.
I had some real trouble with the trans-yellow parts, which were quite badly scratched. I managed to acquire some (marginally) better ones: on the right in the picture below, which unfortunately doesn't show the difference too well.
It does however highlight the faded colour of some of the blue pieces, particularly the right-hand computer slope under the window here. I've also replaced the left-hand computer for the same reason.
Now to the centrepiece:
I'm pretty pleased with how this has turned out.
One of the amazing features of this set was its opening rear doors; to this day I have a love of displaying spaceships in 'landed' mode, with activity around them, which can be traced back directly to this set. It's partly why I love to have landing gear on LEGO spacehips and aeroplanes.
It was important for me to ensure that the upper surfaces and sides of the ship look as good as possible; I hunted around a long time to get reasonable quality Classic Space logo bricks; equally important are the two 1x8 blue plates either side of the trans-yellow canopy: they are very
noticeable if chewed.
You might notice that the upper trans-yellow slope is quite scratched; that's an original piece. It's really hard
to find these parts in good condition: expect to pay quite a lot, and even then it's no guarantee.
I ended up replacing the other two:
These two were the only decent ones of an order of about 10 that were advertised as top quality.
Perhaps most important was the front Classic Space badge:
Again, it's tough to get these in good condition; this one has a lovely logo but there are a couple of nicks on the brick itself. Don't trust Ebay
- they will rarely arrive as advertised - use Bricklink. Those windows do look great.
The other printed bricks - the 1x4 grille brick, and the 1x2 'down arrow'; even the 'LL928' - are easier to acquire, but my originals suffice.
If you look closely at the open nearside door, you can see more evidence of colour variation in the blues: the inverted slopes are a little faded, while the 2x2-2x2 bracket has a darker brownish tinge; I can live with this. I've replaced the grey 2x2 cones and 2x2 round bricks on the side engines, which look fantastic.
While we're at the back, let's have a look inside:
It's fairly roomy in there! You can see some scratches on the blue bricks on the inside of the door; I deliberately placed the better side facing out.
Here's how it looks with the vehicle inside:
What an awesome play feature.
Some Comparison Pictures
I've taken some pictures from angles similar to the 'before' pics to allow for direct comparison. You can click the smaller pictures to bring up the full-size version; larger versions of the restored set are included.
Mostly, this shot shows how much better the badge looks with its gold texture intact.
Hopefully you can also see how nicely the wedge plates have cleaned up, and there's no colour mismatch of the grey now I've replaced a few parts. Check out the clean blaseplate too - though it's a little yellower than the crater plate, unfortunately.
The side engines are mostly replacement parts, but they look fantastic:
The 'LL928' brick's printing isn't perfect; I kept both originals as somehow replacing them felt inappropriate. I broke my own rules somewhat by replacing all the transparent red and green parts with new pieces, but they look soooo much better even than good condition 80s parts. You can see how scratched the uppermost trans-yellow slope is; there isn't much I can do about that, sadly.
The port engine also looks pretty nice:
The trans-yellow 4x10 plate which forms the canopy - and is a vital part of the ship's look - has cleaned up beautifully. That's the original part.
I've replaced the 'emergency' blue door, and swapped out many chewed and ill-fitting pieces:
You can't see it very well in the 'before' picture, but some of the blue hinge-bricks were badly chewed, and one completely broken. I managed to salvage two and replaced the others. They're quite hard to come by.
There's still some visible grey variation on the underside:
Notice that the 'correct' two 6x12 plates are in place, rather than the 6x24 I had been using. (If you're interested, the 6x24 plate came from this set
, which also contains an antenna piece
, though in milky-white rather than grey.)
The one part I really struggled with was the 2x4-2x4 hinge plate.
I couldn't get an 80's replacement in good quality. This one is an earlier version with a black pivot rather than red, and is a slightly different shade of grey.
Whilst rebuilding the set, I noticed a little oddity about the 2x2x2 supports: they have numbers on them.
I just had to find a number 4 to complete the set.
The little space buggy has been tidied up:
I managed to get most of the rust off the axles; I had to pull one of the wheels of each part. The grey slope at the rear hasn't cleaned up quite as well as I'd have liked.
Finally, lets see the spacedudes:
These guys were the best of the bunch I could find in my original collection. It's nigh-on impossible to get hold of red and white spacemen in pristine condition, unless you use the reissues; yellow, blue and even black are much easier to come by.
Overall, I'm pretty pleased with the result of this restoration. I've had to use far more replacement parts for 928 that I needed for 375, which is mainly because 928 was played with far more vigorously; its rarer printed and transparent parts also made tracking them down much more tricky. I have a feeling I may keep tweaking this one if I come across better sources of parts; in particular, that third trans-yellow slope is still too scratched for my liking.
Still, I have I think succeed in transforming one of the finest LEGO sets of all time from an incomplete, chewed and dirty wreck back into the masterpiece it truly is.
Thanks for reading! I have more Classic Space sets in various stages of restoration, so will be back with more. Eventually.