We shall proceed systematically small to large year by year starting with 1987's selection.
Today that is the Invader.
This tubular rocket chassis is a segmented spacecraft designed to pair up with other members of the Blacktron gang.
Invader is composed of three stages. These stages can be reconstituted with other Blacktron vessels to achieve a variety of shapes and purposes. For now, let me show you the options provided here.
Rear Booster rocket with red solar panel wings.
This rear rocket unit has one of the uncommon grey elements of the theme used to propel the rocket based ship through space. The panels can adjust to draw more light from the solar system's sun and help conserve power for as long as possible so as to extend operations deep into enemy territory. The little eye stalks almost give it a little spy camera feel... so you could leave it floating above Futropia to plot the demise of the happy explorers.
The panels are on adjustable hinges and can be placed in more poses than the modern click hinge will provide, but lack the pinpoint placement accuracy. There is also the problem for this style of hinge loosening with heavy usage.
Overall, the design of the rear module is simple enough, yet developed enough that its vagueness lends several possibilities to what exactly its uses may be. It's at the perfect level of non-specificity to encourage various modes of play and imagination.
The central container displays the Triforce for all to see on the two castle wall/hull panels.
The top section displays the action arrow which compels us to open up the top and look inside.
Ultimately there's a small robot and a pair of tools, but for all the massive girth of the thing it is a frighteningly small load of stuff.
The front cockpit features a pair of heavy blasters, the triforce logo, and swing wings to form either a delta for speed, or a sweep for acrobatic maneuvers.
The cockpit rises quite far and has space in the back to carry the astronaut's tools if he must abandon his container.
The avionics are also quite developed. The console is composed of both the slope and the tile to create an expansive interface for an elaborate array of flight modes, of which this craft has many.
Of special note is a throwaway part that you may overlook while examining this craft. The cockpit build hides 1x1 trans green plates. They baffled me when I first built this set as the color is used nowhere else in Blacktron gen 1 and offhand they feel incredibly out of place. As I've thought about this more it's occurred to me that these maintain the pilot's night vision while lighting his console in the pitch black of an asteroid's shadow and the eternal night of open space. It's night vision built into the avionics That's one cool, elegant build solution. And thanks to the magic of photo manipulation... what is imagined has been realized: Voila! Night Vision!
Here's a sensible reassembly based on the available options. The craft retains its stabilizer dragonfly solar panels and its retractable swing wings give the craft a mean Tomcat impression.
Airspacemag: Swing Wing
If the enemy ship's lasers and armaments lock on the attack craft can jettison its rear and make like a gecko to get outta there!
When viewed as a model in images Invader can leave an unimpressive feeling of austerity, but in interacting with it I've found it to be everything I'd hoped for. It was the first model I picked up from the Blacktron theme, and as a demonstration of the series gimmicks and thoughtful construction it may be the best. Not to say the others aren't just as good... but the simple elegance of this model puts it in the same category as Stardefender 200 and Space Patroller... It's subtly tuned down to the placement of the last part.
So yeah... I dig this ship.
Of special elements there are a fair few both within the theme and overall.
The most obvious notable parts are the 2 castle wall's in black with the Blacktron print. One of mine is knicked, but the prints are strong and the impact in context is evocative of the theme. The Blacktron theme has several more of these in plain black.
The black arrow brick is a unique color, though the pattern is shared with a unique white brick in Futuron's Interplanetary Rover.
The black cockpit cover is an uncommon element color released from 1987-1998 across 4 sets... only the Invader provides it for the space theme.
1 The grey space chair has quite a spread in classic space with good representation across a few space themes. This is the only example in Blacktron, which surprisingly enough does use spare amounts of grey as part of the color scheme. This particular color is permanently out of production.
1 grey 1x1 round brick. This is a pretty regular piece in the larger Space range.
2 grey 2x2 plates.
2 trans green 1x1 plates. This element appeared frequently in Classic Space from beginning to end, but in Legoland Space this was the final hurrah... even Space Police II didn't reprise it.
4 trans red 1x1 tiles.
4 trans red wedge plates: this element had appeared just prior in equal quantity within Classic Space's final moonbase 6972 Polaris 1 Spacelab . It made its only other appearance in 2002's Alpha Team deep sea theme. Look for the 4788 Ogel Mutant Ray.
2 Trans yellow panels. This color is unique to this set.
1 Yellow hinge top. This color straddles the middle being neither exceptionally rare, nor exceedingly common. For now, this is the extent of its presence in the Space range.
1 yellow 2x3 plate. This part would appear again in 1997's 2154 Robo Master and in 2009's 5972 Space Truck Getaway. It's not a space regular, but is otherwise quite common.
1 yellow 4x4 plate Here is another common yellow element which has no other presence in the Space range.
4 yellow inverted slope 1x2 45 degree. And this is unique in the Space range
4 yellow inverted slope 2x2 45 degree. And this common piece is also unique in the space range
It's a good thing the main model is so dang appealing because the alternates presented for this set are not. I think my dislike stems from the disuse of the big parts. The options shown are limited by the use of space to demonstrate how the toy's sections may be re-combobulated. There is a limit to how much space is on the back of the box... and this is one time when I am not feeling inspired by what I see.
So great is my dissatisfaction... I have built them to express to you... just how bad these are.
For example: option 1... note the unused trans yellow, and the unused castle walls. The designers apparently wanted to show off the transparent red half octagons... but their first solutions weren't exactly awe inspiring.
The slick engine is actually kinda great, but it trails off from the lazy brick stacking of the rest of this rocket sled.
I do like the contoured nose
Option 2 is better... I still think it has a poor middle, but the front area's kinda nifty looking. And yet the canopy and walls still don't get their proper due.
The rear of the model, and the area under the wings required the process of elimination to determine what goes there. Consequently my reverse engineering may be imperfect. But I'm rather pleased with my placement of the service robot that stands below the ship.
Again, the middle is a tepid affair, but it kinda looks like a fish now.
And there's the little droid. I like the droid. It's a good simple design with a bit of character imparted to it by the wrench.
So at least one of these models is better than it seems...
I guess I gotta show off the parts I'm griping about though, so here goes.
My first attempt at the cockpit shattered into many pieces due in most part to all the major pieces going into the hull... and a weak sidewall mount point.... and after a sort of... escape to do other things I came back and tried one more time.
I had to beef up the cockpit mount point to the cargo hull/ enormous rocket engine/turbo laser battery just so I could pick it up with one hand. Now I can pick it up at many points and swoosh it with no fear of catastrophic failure.
This wouldn't be a good back of the box model as far too much of it is obscured, and I've made one or two interesting connections... so to speak. I kinda like it. I call it the Blacktron Insurgent.
As my introduction proper to the well regarded Blacktron series Invader did not disappoint. In fact... In building the various Blacktron sets after all the other themes: Futuron, M: Tron, and Space Police... I totally underestimated the appeal of this theme from looking at pictures of them. Invader in particular is one slick spacecraft.
Overall score: A
Pros: Excellent main model, good selection of unique prints and colors, wide selection of parts. Blacktron minifig. Combines readily with other Blacktron sets.
Cons: The box alternates do not do the model justice. Robot is prone to toppling.