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RobExplorien

Review: #6958 Android Base

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RobExplorien

LEGO Space Exploriens #6958 Android Base
Review by RobExplorien

I should have written this review a long time ago; the set that defines Exploriens in its whole: futuristic, ingenious and darn awesome. It is like a revamped Futuron faction. Certainly this is the set that has much sentimental value to me. I had these smaller sets with instructions also showcasing some of the big sets from the (back then) current themes, such as Pirates and Paradisa, and the space theme they showcased (you guessed it): Exploriens, with the Android Base set pictured. Maybe it is also that the dome makes an appearance in LEGO Racers as the one shortcut that stuck with me the most, making it a kind off nostalgia emitting set. Time to travel to the Magma Moon (again) and take a detailed look at this base.

 

 

Background information


The Android Base is a set released in 1996 and part from the Exploriens faction. Along with Unitron and concurrent faction Spyrius they formed the space explorers from the mid ‘90s. Original retail price was $40,- (according to Brickset), but lucky enough I was able to get my hands on this set along with the Scorpion Detector (set #6938) boxed for about €50,- in total, so a good deal for sure.

 

 

Box


Ah, the old System trademark. Yes, we’re talking about that era. I’m not sure as to why the company got rid of this placement on the boxes since 2000 but that also creates some sort of line between the old and new generations of sets. Again, we have the omnipresent LEGO logo, but the same applies to the Exploriens logo as well. A minor but nice detail is the font and colour used for the set number, making it a bit futuristic. Next to that we have the faction banner and a meter which I’m still uncertain of what it exactly serves for, but eh, it fits well I guess. I do feel a bit disturbed to read that this set is aimed to children in the ages of 8-12. Well, fine then.

The depiction of the Android Base on the front is how I remember this set most, obviously. A spacecraft comes soaring from a black hole to the base. The android communicates with them from the dome and another astronaut prepares to fire a laser as it seems. In the background is some sort of space city under a giant dome and elevated on a platform, possibly to secure the citizens from magma outbursts. I never really understood if the Exploriens actually live there or if they just look for fossils on the magma moon. This faction is more of a peaceful research group than a base invading faction like Spyrius. Come to think of it, the Exploriens don’t actually have any rivalling factions. I never saw them battling Spyrius (or UFO) in any catalogues, it was always Unitron VS Spyrius.

It really must be the colourscheme that makes this set so appealing. The clear white colours contrasted by the transblue dome reminds me of the Futuron sets.

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The downside of the box features the barcode, warning messages in various languages and the company’s address, along with a different depiction of the set. Oh, and that’s odd, the official logo doesn’t make an appearance on this side.

The left side of the box is equal to the right side. We have the LEGO System in the corner printed over yet another picture of the set in action. Broken seals are also visible in the middle.

The upside resembles the downside, only with the small text replaced with LEGO System. It is funny to see that every side of the box has an image of the set, whilst the company’s logo doesn’t appear everywhere.

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The back of the box something I’m probably most interested in. Almost every set in the ‘80s and ‘90s featured three or four alternate models pictured on the back of the box, as a way to show that the ideas to build with a set are unlimited. Since there are no instructions for these they provide a fun and interesting challenge to recreate. For this set we have two new base designs, a wide spacecraft making use of the dome pieces (which reminds me of the way the Megacore Magnetizer used them) and some (ground) vehicle ideas. Aside from the alternate models the function of the ‘x-ray’-device is shown as well.

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Another great feature of the old boxes is that you could flip the top and take a peak at what’s inside. I don’t have it included but there used to be an inner-tray placed in the box so that a couple of the more interesting pieces, such as the Exploriens logo tile and transneon elements, and (halved) minifigures would be displayed ordered through the plastic. The cardboard is also cut in a way to create rocky edges, which are a nice detail to blend the box more with the occupation of the astronauts of mining for fossils, which they may even be doing taking the way you see them on the lower part. The other (upper) side goes more into detail on the various functions of the set, like the movable mounted laser on the vehicle and the holographic screen inside the base.

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Contents


  • 267 pieces
  • Instructions (19 pages, A4-format)
  • Sticker sheet (with 6 stickers and 2 ‘magnetic’ stickers)

All of this inside a box measuring 33.0cm in width, 28.5cm in length and 6.0cm in height. Fair size, almost ‘all’ space is occupied. That’s another one of the differences I and most likely others have noticed with the present day (2010-ish) sets, that the boxes seem oversized. Instead of just all bags and instructions dumped into the box everything is placed inside a blue tray which makes it easy to quickly take out everything and store it all back in the box without having to dump all bricks on your desk first to start building. The inner-tray would rest on the edges of this blue tray. Because the booklet was stored on the bottom under all the bricks it is still in great condition. Despite the sticker sheet packed in one of the polybags all of them look just fine. Good thing that the previous owner didn’t stick the logo upside-down on the dome (something similar has occurred to me once).

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Instructions


The first 5 pages of the booklet are all about the minifigures and smaller vehicles, the other 14 are reserved for the base itself. I can hardly describe it but the drawings seem to look a litte different from the ones I’ve seen in the other sets I reviewed. Also, we have a moon as background on every page. Doesn’t look like the magma moon to me, but they had probably not chosen for the red craters in order to create a distinction from the foreground.

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A few pages further and work has begun on mounting the dome pieces onto the base. The handles are put on to slide the dome open and on the top is a knob on which beams will be attached later on to connect it with the radar.

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The back of the instructions show two of the alternate models enlarged. Helpful though, because it can be a bit of a guess sometimes what bricks are meant to be placed here and there with these models if you want to recreate them. What I notice as well on many of the booklets from the ‘90s is this blue (or yellow) seal in the upper left corner. In this case it just mentions the set number and year of release, but it has also occurred to me that it holds a certain amount of points, the bigger the set the more. At last, the designers did a great job in making the background as appealing as possible, and it was not until now that I also realise that the star in the background (in the last stages of its life?) is also on the box behind a rock.

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Minifigures


There we have the real Exploriens. The base is run by two astronauts and a droid. Only one of the astronauts is equiped with a tool and both have a mic (printed on the headpiece) to keep in contact with each other. What is serves for exactly I’m not completely sure, but I could be used as a fossil detector. Then again, that doesn’t explain the tube from the detector going to his helmet. All three minifigures have nice detail on their torsos (and legs and hips for the droid). I especially like how the internal circuitry of the droid resembles a human skeleton, and I’d sure love to make a T-shirt once with the Exploriens logo printed on it, just the way the astronaut in the middle has on his suit.

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Spacecraft


It is not even the main attraction but I love it already; the wingshape and simplicity. The astronaut has a little control panel for ‘controlling’ the magnet for magnetic fossil transport and four thrusters. The detector can be mounted on the back of the spacecraft on the camerapiece. Of course you cannnot miss out on the (identifying) official faction logo here, making it the finishing touch.

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Ground vehicle


Sturdy and the same length as the wingspan of the spacecraft, the ground vehicle offers place for two and has suitable tires for the craterlike terrain. A spotlight aids in the exploration and the driver can also be equiped with a zapper that sits next to him, in case of encountering hostile creatures. The giant laser takes all the attention because of the big size and all the transneon parts. It can be turned in any direction and vertically up to 90 degrees before the vehicle starts to topple. There is also this shiny round plate with star pattern next to the laser which, as far as I know, might just be a monitor.

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Android Base


So it is a pretty standard build. You start at the bottom and work your way to the top. With clear instructions and two hands it is a fairly easy build. In just 13 steps the base is completed. Building begins with the supports; placing bricks on the corners of the baseplate and topping them with long tiles for the doors to slide over. Simultaneously you also construct the ‘x-ray’-device on the left of the dome. Oddly enough the instructions tell you that you have to place the sticker with the Exploriens logo on the right side of the base, though everywhere else you see the sticker on the left side.

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And then, behold the final product. It might be weird but I just like to gaze at this set for a while, just leaving it untouched. The base is 11 inches tall (with antenna) and feels a little empty from the inside, but that is because the open spot is used a parking spot for the ground vehicle. A nitpicky annoyance considering the design is that the base is just completely open from the back, there is not even a slide door.

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More of the Android Base:

Time to view the discovered fossils with the ‘x-ray’-device. Apparently they contain metals as well since the fossils are magnetic. It are just the (thicker) stickers that have this property, the tiles are just made from plastic. You have two different viewing options, one that blocks red materials to be visible and one that blocks the blue materials. The fossils have printings in red and blue colours, thus every fossil hides two images. Of course you cannot go wrong adding a control panel on the device to make it look more advanced.

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The fossils are not the only things that hide a picture. Inside the dome is a monitor that displays the video connection with another astronaut out in space, but only when viewed from the right angle. Sound comes from the box below but without a build-in microphone communication has to either go via the walkie-talkie or the small mic they carry around as part of their standard (printed-on) gear.

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The astronaut and droid are going for a joyride.

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The base opens up and the antenna slides to the front. I assume the designers want you to push the antenna back in place if you want to close the base again (hence the yellow arrow above), but using the handles below works just fine. Anyway, once opened, you can perfectly fit the ground vehicle in the open space inside the dome. It does get a little crammy with that laser strechting out.

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How it looks when the doors are closed and the vehicle is stationed.

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And how they see me. Giant man.

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Close-up on the mechanism. When the doors slide open the tops move away from the antenna causing the antenna to slide along.

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Conclusion


The Android Base is a personal favorite of mine. It actually is the only set, along with the Scorpion Detector, I have built thus far. If you get fed up with the default model, take a shot at the alternate models showcased on the back of the box.

 

Pros:

  • Nice theming on the box; fitting background and multiple models pictured.
  • Previewing of contents (in store) by flipping the top, giving you a good insight in what this set has to offer.
  • Well explained instructions, taking no more steps than required.
  • Typical space colour-scheme, mixing black and white with transblue and transneon elements.
  • Detailed good-quality printings. Stickers do very well with this set.
  • Easy and quick build, but I wouldn’t mind spending an entire afternoon on building a set either.
  • Cool features to explore, like the ‘x-ray’-device, doors-antenna-mechanism and monitor screen.

Cons:

  • Openness of the back of the base. It was probably made like this for playability purposes, thus merely a nitpicky design complaint.
  • Relatively small baseplate. One of those Classic Space crater baseplates (or something similar) would've looked really nice here, also for a bigger building surface.

 

Rating


Design: 9 / 10
Quality: 9 / 10
Fun: 9 / 10
Price: 8 / 10

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Wirza

Thank you for this review. If i save up enough money, I'll search bricklink for this set.

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Oboe Shoes

I actually just bought this set myself rather recently, and I agree, it's a real nice little set. The holo-stickers and x-ray device are neat little features, and you don't see things like them much anymore. I thought it was a bit odd that I don't think that the instructions ever advertise that Nova hunter's little craft's magnet can be used to pick up the x-ray tiles, but it's no big deal.

 

All in all, I've got to also recommend it. It's a great 90's set for fans of Space, Exploriens, or LEGO Racers, as this base was a prominent landmark/shortcut on Magma Moon Marathon.

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McStudz

This is a set that I've always wanted when I got into LEGO. The large dome windows just MADE it for me.

 

I'm also surprised at the condition of said windows and all the other transparent elements. Did you buy this set mint-in-box (I don't remember you saying, and the condition of the box and booklet are suberb!)? How much did you pay for the whole thing?

 

Great review regardless!

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aidenpons

Your reflection in one of the pictures xD

 

I actually think I have this set, in pieces. It must have been in one of the [several] bulk lots of Lego that we got.

 

Openness of the back of the base. It was probably made like this for playability purposes, thus merely a nitpicky design complaint.

Logical solution: Get two of the set, and put them back to back! :P

All of Lego's HQ sets are open on the back. Name me one that isn't. It probably is for easier play value, and also a fair bit of features are actually inside it, ruining some play value if it was fully enclosed.

 


Pros:

  • Nice theming on the box; fitting background and multiple models pictured.
  • Previewing of contents (in store) by flipping the top, giving you a good insight in what this set has to offer.
  • Well explained instructions, taking no more steps than required.
  • Typical space colour-scheme, mixing black and white with transblue and transneon elements.
  • Detailed good-quality printings. Stickers do very well with this set.
  • Easy and quick build, but I wouldn’t mind spending an entire afternoon on building a set either.
  • Cool features to explore, like the ‘x-ray’-device, doors-antenna-mechanism and monitor screen.

a.k.a Not what most Lego sets are these days. When was the last time you saw magnetism being involved with Lego? And the box size. I hate how the new sets have these MASSIVE boxes. I got the Neptune Discovery Lab and it was quite packed. (It's actually quite similar to this, in some ways).

It would be so nice if Lego made some nicer sets with these sort of features. *sigh*

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