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Friday, May 4, 2018

6987 Message Intercept Base

This is a review of Message Intercept Base's second version; I will note what that means down in the parts commentary.
















6987 Message Intercept Base is a large model, especially for its time, the full base spans two 32x32 stud plates.  It's smaller, but more dense than 6990's extensive monorail.  I'd argue that this model leaves a bigger impression.  Bricklink lists it as having 542 part. It arrived in 1988 1 year after the first wave of Blacktron vehicles.

The design is built up oldschool with the classic method given to layering up a wraparound back wall and central tower.  When it was a new toy this construction style shouldn't have been a problem, but loose grip in vintage elements does make the thin and tall structure feel precarious.  I'm sure a very well used example could be a horrible play experience if too many parts lost there grip... mine is lightly used and holds together fine... but occasionally some old loose element comes apart unexpectedly... the modern technic structures could do some good here, but the clean lines would be lost.  Pardon, slip of the thought, the base is kind of messy looking, in service to some fun play features naturally.  It isn't a bad mess; more of an organized chaos.













The model will be considered as 5 distinct sections.

First we have a rover.  The rover design centers around a one stud wide roll cage.  This rollcage uses two Classic Space Robot companion heads, otherwise known as the 5 stud 1x1 brick, and the Space Police prison bar crossbeam/helicopter landing rails.  It's a good looking vehicle when compared to all of the Futuron smallcars.  I think it would have made a fine polybag set if the company had chosen to release it that way.











It rests on the classic space balloon tires with classic rim, and it's got a rather uncommon 1x1 yellow console with the 2 red 2 black button layout as its computer.  One of the weird things which I discovered in all of my Blacktron sets was the use of glue to bind the wheels to their yellow rims.  Even with the different sellers, I've wondered if my particular sets came from display windows... It means I cant access my yellow rims for different builds, and it's odd.  It's one of those things you get when buying old used Lego sets.










The rover also got a rocket tail mounted to a torch for propulsion... looks safe.  Here we see a bit of maintenance being done with the handy wrench.











The second item in MIB is this small spacecraft. It has the strangest canopy in the golden era space theme.  There's a good console complement with 2 levers and 2 consoles; only Invader comes close for best in class console designs in Blacktron.










On the other hand, I think this is the worst in class canopy Seriously, this canopy's shape is awkward.  It works alright for structures, but as a spaceship window it looks like an evolutionary dead end in part development.
I think the part has cool possibilities... and this is the worst possibility from the sets that used the part. The half octagon used on Alienator might have been too standard and expected and ordinary.  No one can argue that this design choice was ordinary.  On the positive side, we get 2 more Classic Space miniwing/nose/gun, (versatile aren't they,) elements in yellow.  These are uncommon and exclusively Blacktron 1 pieces.  You get four between MIB and Renegade, which seems like a reasonable number to have around.












The ship's rear sports a top stabilizer fin, angled down wings with hoverlift dishes, and two loudhailer derived engines.  Whatever my thoughts on the window, the spaceship fits in with the base and comes together to provide a distinctive take on a rather standard selection of elements.










The Third component we'll consider is the opening landing dock and central control room with a rear catwalk... bleah, mouthful... this is the real heft of the model, this is 'THE BASE' with a face, grawr, rooar!  Down below the landing pad there are some spot lamps for folks on the ground.  These are made of torches and robot arms, useful for expanding your space dudes' arsenals, or getting a robot out of the part mix.






















It kinda looks like a silly dragon, or a generic silly alien.





















You can dock the small spacecraft within the mobile walls of the hangar.  The closing canopy doesn't effectively box in the ship, it's more the thought that counts.  6953 Cosmic Laser Launcher seals in its spacecraft much better, but was more austere.  If anything MIB is a copycat that uses the effect because the designers liked it, but forgoes retaining the reason and purpose for the idea.  It just becomes a cool silly over the top play element.




























The walls flow outward via the yellow knob on the outside wall.  There's also a very big Blacktron Triforce on either side of the hangar.


















A handy technic joint is included which should be fun for zanier alternates.  The tool rack on this side of the hangar is a nice bright and inviting gesture, but many of the included tools don't fit comfortable all at once, or sometimes at all.  It represents an opportunity to pair other sets' accessories, or a weird unfinished moment where a designer was pulled off the project mid thought and forgot to fully justify the area's existence.  The set specific yellow window element here is a nice touch and let's a bit of light and color into the corner where the Blacktron men will be checking in their invisible weapons, and fiddling with some keypass codes.  Inventory management's been a real problem at this facility of late.













The control tower is mostly see through and is composed of two translucent colored elements with very poor dispersal through other sets; namely 918 Space Transport for the 4x6 transyellow plate, and 6985 Cosmic Fleet Voyager for the transyellow 1x4x3 Panel window.  Both examples are Classic Space sets.  I'm a fan of the old space era's big transparent plates, most likely because I never had any as a kid so they were just a possibility I could only entertain in my mind.  I Haven't done much with them in real life.




via Brickset: One Man Spaceship








Via Brickset: Cosmic Fleet Voyager

Inside the tower 2 narrow slope consoles give the man inside certain undefinable powers.  Communication?  Cargo doors?  Menacing music over a loudspeaker?  I don't know what they do but they seem important, like that one over there... it just keeps blinking on again, off again, on again, off again.  I feel like it's saying something important, I really do.

















The back of the central tower features an early stab at a ladder.  I like the look for sure, but compared to later ladder elements introduced circa '92, it lacks the option to pose a minifigure... rather it's a suggestible texture.  When I was a kid I loved to pose minifigures rushing around the toy facilities I'd make and the ladder element was a favored part in those things.  Maybe some sticky tack would achieve the effect... but think of the cleanup.























This piece was a real improvement in the development of Ladder elements.











Below the ladders is a rear catwalk and control levers... I wonder what they control... the opening walls maybe, but then what do the buttons in the observation window accomplish?





The whole structure is lifted off the ground by stanchions, these give a clean textured, and impressive hoist to the main design.  You can walk a minifigure around underneath and park the rover just about anywhere.  The space is necessary to get clearance for the ridged beam used in the gearbox to open the canopy.  Here we see yet another tool from the arsenal which doesn't fit in the tool storage area.  A Metal Detector.  You see, being bad guys in space is rather boring, so to pass the time they take turns checking to make sure one of their stir crazy members didn't set up an unwelcome surprise.  So far the guy with the metal detector has been taken at his word that it all checks out... even baddies can maintain the illusion of trust within their tribe.



















Higher up on the main hangar there are pockets created by the use of corner castle walls, and these make good spots to go step away from the crowd and have a quick snack, or nap, or a rousing game of hide and sleep.
















As we make our way through the Main hangar there are a host of even more computers on the landing pad deck and the right side.  Yet again, I've no idea what all these computers do... power relays, on off switches for base electricity?  Past all those blinking computers there's a mysterious passage.











4th in the MIB rundown we arrive at this Corridor.  It's the largest corridor in any LEGOLAND Space set.  It was among the first wave of Space sets to feature the half octagon Prefab wall pieces in 3 shapes.  It had all of the shapes, and a lot of those parts.













This is the part of the model that I really love, it's got way less to it than the rest of the model, but the sheer assortment of corridor space walls and windows is a treasure trove of elemental goodness.  On the one hand I wish they'd done more sets like this, and on the other hand, I'm happy they didn't, because it lacks creativity by being effortlessly cool... Futuron used these elements as spacecraft canopies and wheelwells, Space Police used these as Spaceship ribbing and Space Station ribbing... Blacktron II made bubble cockpits and Blacktron built up this small twisting corridor, the very idea of the parts comes into full fruition here and reveals that this is the original idea of the parts; the engineering spark, visually high impact, creatively devoid of imaginative thought... this is what they are, but more could be done. 


















The swiveling flap platform leading to the tower can angle away since it sometimes clips the tower and prevents a clean inner slide.





















The access hatches for the corridor can be opened to place minifigures, but the tower blocks them if it's in too close.  Beneath the corridor there's a box for hiding secret stolen intel, but no actual data to put in it.  I suppose Blactron II recognized this dilemma by putting in 1x2 M:Tron consoles, why couldn't blacktron get a spare 1x2 Blacktron or Futuron console?





















5th in the construction lineup is the Tower; the Intercept component is the last element to construct in the manual and feels almost like an afterthought after the major effort on the base has been expended.  The tower rides a track to the base and slides away to pick up a better signal.  It lacks a convincingly long length of track, but as a toy the conceit is understood.

































The tower stands up on angled stanchions, and a giant dish gives it some visual oomph, but in a way is there to hide the lack of built up structure.  Kind of a; wow, that hood looks lame, quick, get the baubles... look at my bolt on hoodscoop that doesn't really do anything!  That's also sort of true for the very small trans red antenna at the top of the tower.  The real reason we all love this tower is the giant transparent yellow window on it.  That's what the tower is... a giant window with smaller space walls in the back.  The bauble parts are pretty great too; they aren't built up or deeply involved efforts, but I like all the parts involved.  There's even a unique yellow space chair.

































Inside the tower lower level there is one solitary computer tile to get a read out from whatever signal the bauble dish intercepted.  And up top there's a swivel chair and a small console system to shift the tower away, get a clear view of the night sky, and maybe adjust the 5 pointed antenna for a signal boost.


The man at the controls gets another 1x1 yellow console.  It's safe to say that MIB is full of special parts with few to zero alternatives for acquisition prior to bricklink 




To facilitate play interactions within the base the set provides 5 Blacktron men.
I've swiped one of the engines from the spaceship to provide each of them with tools.  If you disassemble the entire model there are more than enough tools for all of them.  I favor the Camera/ missile launcher piece.














Here's one last flyover glance as we sail on over to the special pieces.  MMM, Honeycomb bricks, my favorite.












Unique elements to the model are as follows.

2 provided: Now here's a wall worth getting.  This is the unique black concave space panel.  This part really should have had a larger and more accessible distribution, but alas... it was left to the rarefied airs of the big Blacktron base.  As it so happens, I picked up some of these loose on Bricklink for my youngest Brother's birthday present... I... ahem, accidentally got him interested in this old stuff.  :)











2 provided: This Large angled wall element is both a unique print, and a unique color.  If you're into the whole Blacktron MOC scene, it's practically a given that you'll at least want to try building with this part once.  It's Funny; as a kid I wanted parts like these, and as a grown up I find them to be unwieldy and also kinda flimsy.  I love looking at them but I just use them when building MOC's from their existing sets... I've yet to try a build with them in the main collection.











1 Solid Stud Black hollow box with nubs.  This is a common element in black, but the mold for MIB is the original style, and if you still have the 'solid top' studs... you have a rare/unique black variant for this particular piece.  The 'Hollow stud' version is significantly more common in newer sets.












1 Yellow Space Chair.  This unique color space chair could be fun to use in an Aquazone MOC.  To my mind, this is one of those elements most emblematic of Classic Space's sci-fi charms... I didn't grow up with Classic Space since I'm an 86'er... but these chairs were quite the piece back in the day.












2 pieces: The Gear rack gets to have a run in yet another unique color, but this time you get 2 of them.
As I've spent time with these parts I've come to view them as troublesome function elements, since you end up with a gigantic beam  coming out one side or other, and if you can hide it... say good bye to interior space.  Overall the usage in MIB is average, I really like the opening space wall look, but the slide away tower doesn't slide far away enough to be anything revelatory.






2 Trans Yellow 1x2x3 Trans Yellow solid stud panels.  This window will fit in comfortably with Classic Space and Batman the movie MOC's.  It seems like the Lego group is bringing out a lot more transparent yellow elements of late... Maybe they'll bring out more of these with the new mold -side supports-













1 Trans Yellow Panel Wall slope top sidestep plate.  Or whatever mouthful you can think to call it.  This is the rarest color variant of this element.  I'm actually not terribly surprised at its overall limited use within the entire stream of Lego sets.  This part is weird and any way it's used forces a shaping challenge. For my money this element's best official usage is in 6395 Victory Lap Raceway, where it's cleverly used to be the Starting light post.  MIB's usage is the only released awkward attempt to put it on a spaceship... needless to say, they didn't do that again.










The Lego group put this element through its product development paces... I don't know why they didn't release this space station, but for what it's worth... I'm definitely a fan.  And even here the element on a spaceship looks awkward.















3 Convex corner Space Walls in Transparent Yellow.  This is one of the early bubble dome type windows, there weren't a ton put out, but at Least MIB overloaded itself with an odd number that is greater than 1.  I love this piece's shape, but it has a poor selection of attachment points which can make for frustrating MOC efforts, usage is much the same as the honeycomb brick, but with an indented stud.











1 Gigantic Space Dome Quarter Transparent Yellow.  Here is MIB's most visible claim to notoriety.  This element alone can sell for a similar price to Blacktron's own Alienator.  I can't even call it the best dome color... all of us want it because of the Classic Space potential, but really, the rarity and the badguy base are what make us love this enough to fight for a piece which I think looks best in Transparent dark blue, and is way cheaper in that other color.

These are Rare elements available in a smattering of other sets

1 1x4x3 trans yellow panel with solid studs.  This element appears in Classic Space within Cosmic Fleet Voyager, Blacktron gave it one more go round and it was gone.  I would not be surprised if a trans yellow variant with side supports made its way into sets, given the recent full force return of trans yellow to modern sets.
















10... wooo... that's a lot.  This element is one of my favorite shapes in the brick, I didn't have many as a kid, and none in a solid color.  MIB shares this element color with one Space Police set.  Consider this a rare if heavily produced element.  13 across 2 sets is a good amount for any builder, but both of those sets have been out of circulation for a long time, and both are big and highly desirable... maybe this element is partially to blame?  If you're up for getting some loose, I highly recommend getting this piece from a reseller.

















1 The black mailbox door is an exception from its more common black box companion... this is a unique color within the Space theme, and only crops up in three sets... 6286 Skulls Eye Schooner, 6396 International Jetport, and this set we're discussing.  All big sets, it didn't exist for us budget strapped 80's/90's kiddos.










And here are the standard elements with limited distribution in Blacktron.

2 Black Arches, these are Castle elements in keeping with Blacktron's usage of Castle Wall corners reminiscent of the Black Knights and Forestmen from the time period.  They are not regulars in the Space theme.












2 black bars 1x4x2 with studs... Futuron contains 1 in Black, and Blacktron II also features one in black, there are also a few gray elements in Classic Space's early 80's waves.  This is a handy dandy element as a railing, and for situating long arm tools like the wrench and pickaxe elements.  This is a very common part.












4 Bar 1x6x1 with open base studs.  Space Police gives an armload of these and there are more sprinkled throughout the Space theme.  Later releases of this element circa 85? hmm... I first crossed paths with the closed variant in 1991's 4011 Cabin Cruiser, one of the float boats.  There were two mold variants with slightly different textures for this part at the switch from 80's to 90's.  The one we're primarily concerned with is the open bottom type.  I'm thinking there was some overlap as one faded out for the others arrival.  I favor the open style, but that's because I like the prison bar effect it can achieve.  The  solid bottom variant doesn't suffer from stress flexing, which can be a problem with this element.









1 black walkie talkie... wow, just 1?  Guess you need one of these at a message interception base, what with it being about sneaky communications and all.  Hullo main base.  The minifigure assortments do include more of these with the Blacktron figures, so there's that, but still; this element is almost a given when looking at space theme parts lists.

2 pieces: The black headlight plate showed up in Futuron in some small quantities and was still not showing up much in the Blacktron selection.  As a kid, I loved the snot options this part offered.  It was not as sturdy or stable as the many modern parts we get today, but in a real sense, it was one of the early progenitors, and a major inspiration to those of us trying to do crazy things before so many parts came out to resolve every problem.  And let me tell you, I've seen pieces come out which have solved every convoluted build method I've ever undertaken.








4 parts: These black fences were sort of the inverse of the black headlight plate, since they could empahsize taking in studs at all points, rather than receiving tubes.  The degrees were still '90, but it was a good element to have for trick building.  Classic Space put out a handful in blue, white and grey.  This is one of two space sets to deliver the part in black.










6 black 1x16 bricks got some decent distribution through the space theme relative to its sheer length.  MIB delivers a healthy number of a commonly seen element in its most prevalent color.






1 solitary brick. The 1x1x5 tall brick in black was a regular for the Space theme in Space stations between 1988, and 1994, it skipped past Blacktron II's Alpha Centauri Outpost, but ended up in the rest of the moonbases' until Unitron's second station, Space Station Zenon eschewed any further usage.  It returned in a different color for the Space theme in Squidman's Pitstop circa 2009, continuing the tradition of exclusivity to space station models.


















2 Black sideways 3 finger hinge plates.  This element was often used to hold radar dishes in my childhood MOC's due to the same usage being featured in 6389 Fire Control Center; my childhood fire station. It's used here to fold the space ship's wings up and down from the central fuselage.  It's of the older non-clicking hinge style, and has a slick movement function.  The trade-off to the slick hinges is their propensity to wear and tear from separating the parts, which loosens the joints. 30 years later, it's always nice to find a few that still grip.






2 Black sideways grille plates. Aside from their appearance on big rigs, these were often utilized as tiny ladders in the Space and town themes circa 80's and early 90's.  Two are used for an extra long ladder in MIB's rear.











1 Movie Camera Laser Kaboom Stick... not violent at all, what spaceship, I uh, I see no spaceship through my sights... ahem, anymore...  We were just filming an explosion, no harm in that... Hollywood gets away with it... Why can't Blacktron?








1 Black Metal Detector... will also intercept Messages in Bottles on Lunar Beaches... provided the Ink is metallic.  This is a somewhat common space element of the Classic Space period, and the modern 2000's space period, but a rare element in Blacktron proper.  I noticed in my brothers new arctic sets that the modern element has a flat top dish... I prefer the studded edition... it's not always conducive to building on, but to take that away... that's a shame.











6 Yellow Lattice fences 1x4x1.  This part color appears to have a heavy spread in older Basic sets and small early cars.  The only set remotely like MIB with this element is the Hydronauts Hydro Search Sub.  The part is well distributed despite its older and basic building oriented releases.









2 Yellow rocket tip cones.  Mine came with the Open stud (there are three types: Open stud, blocked stud, and solid stud.)  This part color appears in this Space set, but has a decent spread across several non-space themes.










2 1x1 yellow plates... oddly enough, this part appeared a few times in classic space as collectible moon dust specimens.




1 Trans red rocket tip... this piece is like candy... once you have 1 you just can't stop... Blacktron only has 1, but Classic Space will give you many, many more.  Futuron sports a pair as well.  This is the kind of part/color perfection that kept the fire in my heart alive... for old Legland sets.

2 black 1x1 dots.  This element color started appearing in Town and Model Team sets in '86, and began to grace the Space theme from '87 onward aboard Stardefender 200.  In 1988, two Space Sets enjoyed the inclusion; Hovercraft, and Message Intercept Base.  The only color with a higher volume than Black is Trans Red, which got a 6 year head start on black, 3rd runner up is clear, which also came out at the same time as trans red and trans yellow. The first solid colors for this part didn't appear until 1985 in an Airport runway and a battery powered steam train.  They're a penny a dozen now for all intents and purposes, but in older sets, they were hard to come by and really useful.
2 non-locking style understud rotor pin plates... This was used in the later version of MIB, also my copy.  A newer version of the part has some nubs which interlock with a chuncky brick with round inverse toothed gear for clicking through phases.  This set's version of the element spins free and sports a clean underside.







4.  The quarter octagon plate in black was one year old, and had first appeared as a white exclusive for 6990 in 1987, this element essentially started life as a Space exclusive.  In 1988 the element was released for the first time in black within Message Intercept Base, also as an exclusive.  Castle received its first version in grey as this element slowly filled into the themes.  Up until 93 this part was most heavily featured in the space theme with rare asides within the big 4 (Space, Town, Castle, Pirate) oh yeah... and Technic, Boats, Model Team... all the usual suspects... hehehe; just not Fabuland or Duplo.  (Pray tell, what is this Aquazone sorcery you speak of, and what, what I say is this Nin jaw go?)






2. The half octagon in Yellow.  This is another example of a 1987 element making its first appearance in a previously unreleased color within MIB.  The part got its start in the final round of Classic Space sets and helped to usher in the daring octagonal changes wrought by Blacktron and Futuron.










3.  1988 was the low point for this 4x6 plate element, 5 sets were released with the part... its full run is quite a strong performance spanning 1970 to the present with no missed years.  My best memory of this part in black is the youthful days rebuilding Sea Sprint 9... for which this was the foundation.










1.  Included in that selection of 5 4x6 plates for 1988 was this trans yellow element... Classic Space induced Squeeee!  This element appeared on 918 Space Transport... which currently is the oldest Lego model in my collection.
Based on the information I have 918 was a European exclusive, and so for American fans this may have seemed like an all new color for the part at the time.










2.  The 4x8 plate in yellow has a good run of the place having appeared in more than 80 sets.  MIB is the only outing in Space for this color.










1. 6x12 black plate.  This is a fairly common element within space sets of the time frame.









2- Black gearbox: usually seen as an assembly.  This element was key to the new epic movement features in Space theme flagship sets of the period 1987-1990 and 1993.  Like 6990 before it MIB dished out 2 of them for movement overkill.  As with 6990 one of those functions is more interesting than the other... but that function was lifted from Cosmic Laser Launcher... Blacktron just couldn't be original with the idea... but they did do it bigger, and cough... sturdier the second time around.








2 4x4 Yellow Dishes/Umbrella elements.  Wow... this only appeared in 2 sets, first MIB, second in 565 Build n Store Chest from the 'Basic' collection.  This just seems like an umbrella/dish color that shouldn't be that rare.

1. 8x8 Black Dish.  This element is the droolworthy sheen from Mega Core Magnetizers steering top.  A beautiful black gigantic dish fit to grace only the most awesome Space toys.... and a lighthouse.  Hm... well at least we got one more recently.  Anyways, currently only 4 sets have sported this in Black... Both Blacktron Moonbases, M:Tron's Gigantic Rover, and the aforementioned Lighthouse.










6.  Slope 75 2x1x3 in black.  I tend to associate this piece and its like with Castle, although its options are quite expansive.  My Knight's Stronghold castle featured this part and it just screams Black Knights... much in the manner by which Message Intercept Base mimics their menacing gloom.















4 Inverted Slope 75 1x2x3 with recessed tubes in side.  I Love this SNOT ready element.  It also gives MIB that Dark Castle Gloom.  Spyrius and Roboforce added some heft to this parts Space presence in the black color.  The part is another one of the parts 6990 introduced to the Space theme which still feels ahead of its time, and which proved quite handy for all of the most renowned Castle and Pirate sets of the period.  Both Blacktron main bases utilize this part color in equal measure.













2.   Slope 75 2x2x3 black.  Yet another castle favoring element.  Spyrius's main base shares this element colors' use in the Space series.

2. Honeycomb Wall element in Black.  Possibly the most useless piece ever made... also possibly the coolest, "I don't even know what it is but we've got to use it somehow," piece ever made.  My cousin called them radio speaker parts.  There aren't a ton of sets with these and black is by far the most common... and also in my opinion the best color to get this part in.  Early in my Space collecting foray it was for this part specifically that I started reeling in sets during the grey color transition. Stellar Recon Voyager, and Mega Core Magnetizer were taken out in short order... and after the college drought I celebrated my full-time employment of 2010 by bringing in Polaris 1 Space-Lab. No, I have no good excuses or ideas for why this piece is cool... it just is.

2.  2 Monorail Stanchions 6x6x10 in black.  Yet another 6990 introductory element.  This part was another one of the pieces I drooled over as a kid.  And for the life of me I can't say as I've ever done a single interesting thing with it... But it sure looks cool, doesn't it?  OK, the coolest thing I ever did with these was build the MOC you'll see at the end of this post.

1 Toothed stabilizer fin 2x2 Black. This element arrived in 1974 well before the Space theme existed and has since faded away after 2001, I assume, due to its unconventional toothed base.  Black is easily the most common color, and Space was its most avid supplier... The high point for the part was the first wave of Classic Space, even after subtracting the repeat variations on Bricklink.  MIB was the only set to use the part in any color for '88
1 Technic axle 10' Released in '77, Hello Star Wars, this part appears in 3 Classic Space Landcrawlers.
The Earliest Technical sets were just getting off the ground in '77 at the advent of this rather unremarkable axle.  Here's the first Chassis model which used 2 of the 1x10 Axle.

1 technic axle 12' dates back to 1970 and actually predates Technical and Technic theme sets by 7 years.
The earliest 1x12 Pins were paired with Gear Toys, a kind of Colorful Technic toy for making zany moving Toys, almost like ZNap, but for Bricks, and Like ZNap, this aspect of Lego construction Toys has faded into the dustbin of history.

2 in early version or 4 in later version.  1x2 black brick with technic hole.  This is one of the elements
which was varied for the different versions of MIB, it's a supremely common element in this color.
2. 1x1 Yellow Tile with 2 red, 2Black Console pattern.  This element was a new color  of the print for 1988 following on the heels of Futuron's white variant from '87.  It's a cut down variant on Classic Space's larger 1x2 console pattern, and unlike the white color, a warning flash print was never presented on the yellow tile.  This was a unique part in Blacktron, was returned to production for a Basic set in 1990, and appeared in the 2 largest Aquanaut sets for 95, making it actually more representative of Aquazone, than Blacktron, by a whisperingly thin margin of just 1 more.  The Print appeared on a grey tile for one Star Wars set in 2003 and hasn't been seen since.

1 Black Grille flat bottom.  This was the second year for the element color, and the element, but for Space, this was the colors starting point.  3 Futuron sets and this Blacktron set sported 5 of them.

2 Black 1x2 Tiles with Yellow Arrow print.  This part was Unique to Blacktron from 1988-93, and then caught onto a small mid '90s resurgence with Spyrius, Unitron, and Exploriens before vanishing after one appearance in the final death knell of Space... Insectoids: Celestial Stinger.  It is distinguished from the other arrow prints in lacking the black border.

4 black 1x4 tiles.  These are almost a required piece for Space Police (In 5 of 6 sets to slide the prison cell), but this is Blacktron's sole contribution.  The years '87-'88 were kind of a slow burn introduction of the part to the Space theme, so Space Police would be something more akin to an explosion.
4 black 1x8 tiles.  6990 introduced this color into Space, and MIB was the second space set to release the color.  It came out in 1980 and was produced sparingly for Classic space in the blue color and white colors, and once in the grey color.
2 yellow 2x2 tiles with groove.  This is a common element, 7067 Jet Copter Encounter is the only 'space' set besides MIB to sport this color of this element.  

5 in early release, 3 in later release 2x2 turntable with black base.  

4 Balloon Tires with axle hole.  Some of my earliest sets had these tires.  I have good memories building cars and moon buggies with them, they ceased distribution after 2004, but had a good shelf life and spread in the Space theme, some of the last appearances were as steering knobs for large technic vehicles.

1 black middle nose/wing plate with 1x2 indent.  This piece would begin to make a great deal of sense in space with Space Police's windows, but for the time was still a carryover into space from the mid 80's Airport additions.
1 grey technic universal joint.  This part is rather odd for the Space theme and offers a host of possible functions for which no other piece could compete.  A second one arrived for Unitron's Monorail.  Outside of the space theme the part was primarily intended for Technic, and large sophisticated models.  It finally vanished after 2008.  Space was the only minifigure theme to ever put it to use.

1 grey 32x32 baseplate.  Mine came in warped due to old age and misuse.  The base is heavy enough to overcome gentle warping.

1 Lunar surface plate.  When I was a kid my cousin had a couple of these... I was very jealous.  This 1988 moonbase is the last model to have released this plate, a later studded Crater underwater print variant appeared in Aquasharks.

Here are the remaining ordinary elements, which have altered numbers depending on whether you receive variant 1 or 2 of Message Intercept Base.  

14 in V1, or 16 in V2

9 in V1, 7 in V2
 
The part changes are related to the Hanger rack opening with the top swivel portion.  

The earlier variant is built much like Cosmic Laser Launcher's topmost hinged section

the MIB's second variant seems sturdier, and may have been taking advantage of newer pieces for a sturdier and therefore more satisfying play experience.
specifically this element was the main reason for the swap; A blue version first appeared in 1988's Metro Park and Service Tower as part of the car wash brush assembly.  





Due entirely to the sheer scale, and the fact that I've been putting off this final Blacktron review for near on a year, I will not be showing off any of the box alternates as I have been doing with the others.
I've built two alternate models, something middle sized, and something big.  

First up we have this little Space Station which makes heavy use of the MIB's very large selection of prefab windows and walls.

















You got your standard issue car, standard issue spaceship, standard issue robot, standardish issue radar, and craters; also standard issue courtesy of a fight with a meteor.


Secondly, I thought the base was nice... but Picard was like, with such a big set, is this it; really?
So I desperately tried everything to seat the Big Space window like they do in M:Tron... Let's just say, I don't think the Lego company prepared for that when they designed this set.  This time I built the spaceship to a nice Mothership size, and I used the leftovers to build yet another Moonbase (But this one's a Control Tower) and has a parking spot for a rover complete with an awkward window.












The Window took a lot of attempts to get secured, and I rebuilt the main body around the wing crossbeam sub assembly I started with 2-3 times before I started to build  anything half decent.


The thing I really like about this model is that it has a good sized interior; on the downside access through the front is pretty awful since I didn't secure the window with casual removal in mind












Best to get at the back through the opening roof.  Too bad that yellow window has nothing to see but... more yellow.

Oh look, another robot.  This rear section has the look of a removable escape pod but I didn't build it to come off; missed opportunity is what that is.  Sad day for the pod that could have been, and the rear window that lacks a view to anywhere.  Maybe Robot can pop his hatch and say hello.  
"Hehl-roh"
















Behind the pilots there's a stairway leading up, and a safe for stowing intel.  They also have a tool rack, but the height to occupant dimensions aren't optimal.
The control tower features an open form garage for its accompanying rover.  I was scraping for parts at this point.  There were mostly plates and stanchions left when the dust settled.  The Rover's kinda funky because I wanted to put that weird widow to use; at this point options were getting slim.  I ended up doing what they did for the main model's spaceship.

















Access to the tower is via that ladder design used in the main model.














Inside the garage there's a diagnostics terminal, and some standard issue Laser guns.

I'm sure that with some thought this set could turn out some pretty neat, and big, stuff.  I personally felt the challenge in my attempt to scale up to the limits of its parts.  I hadn't built anything on this scale in a while.  

So, in pictures via brochures this was always kind of a hard model to gauge.  It's big, imposing, and flimsy looking... I like it quite a lot, but I think there are better built space stations.  Used copies in good condition command quite a lot of dollars, and if you just want some of the individual parts, you can also quickly rack up a largish small bill on those, due to their poor supply.  

MIB is menacing and cool, but if your wallet's feeling pinched... Cosmic Laser Launcher makes a good second choice for similar parts and play features, Polaris 1 Spacelab makes a comparably impressive display piece.  I should review this P1S, it's a favorite of mine.


Overall B
Pros: Space Prefab walls; lots of them.  Rare computer elements, A lot of unique/uncommon element colors and prints.  5 Blacktron Minifigures, lots of accessories
Cons: sections of the center base feel incomplete, hangar's cool factor isn't an essential function, tower feels hollow, tacked on and under built.  
Mixed: There are a lot of small black pieces in the build which make for a frustrating instruction reading experience, Transparent Yellow doesn't hold universal appeal.

So, that marks the end of my Blacktron reviews... I have no other completed theme collections at this time.  I have a few other posts I'd like to do, and some minfigure packs I'd like to track down, and then I'm not sure where I'll go from here.  But I hope you enjoyed this post and the earlier ones.  
This has been a retrospective for what I consider to be the high point of Legoland Space.

Sincerely, the Cure-all Pill