LEGO® Set Review: 493 Space Command Center
Space Command Center
Space System / LEGOLAND Space
8 page manual: 3 models, 4-8-13 steps.
Review Written: 31 May 1996 by Rick Jenkins
Special Features / Compatibility
I'd probably buy this set again if it were on sale. It might be available on clearance, I've heard it's been discontinued.
This is the large base for the fledgling LEGOLAND Space series. The main model is a blue box on stilts that serves as the command and control center for the astronauts. Numerous antennae and dishes line the roof. The interior is lined with computers. There are 6 at one station alone! The building sits on a special gray base plate that has a crater ridge running along two sides. A moon rover and a mobile computer station round out the set and fit under the an attached car port.
This set is among the first to be successfully designed at mini-fig scale. The model abandons the four-wall school of design. The building has three walls so that the player can easily get at minifigs in the interior. The open side also removes the need for the all-too-small 1x3x4 doors that appears in older mini-fig sets. The four-wall building is a hold-over from when LEGO models didn't have to function as playsets and only had to be seen from the outside. Despite only having three closed sides, the structure is still essentially a box. Opening the model on two sides would improve the playset circulation. Careful not to go too far; or soon, most LEGO buildings will probably only have the one side.
The 1x construction of the walls is also a result of the minifig scale. 2x construction is more versatile and stable, but the dimensions of the minifig demand a 1x base.
Set Rating:Very-Good The set is a good start for the space theme, due mainly to the 7 computers and huge monitor! I'd like to see a town set beat that. In fifteen years, maybe every Town set will have walkie-talkies and satellite dishes - but none will have two TV aerials. They must watch a lot of TV on those monitors, but it's strange that they can't pull any channels off the satellite dish.
The blue/gray color scheme is sure to become a classic, but unfortunately, the colors are not so well distributed as in the #487 Space Cruiser. The building is blue, the baseplate and cars gray. The interesting
juxtaposition of color is missing and becomes ho-hum.
The new minifigs are cool, and it's interesting how the instructions suggest slinging the air tank over the back of the swivel chairs. But if
the minifigs are being so casual, why do they keep their helmets on?
The two vehicles add interest and give the minifigs something to do other than command space. I'd say they add activity, but with all the walkee-talkees it seems all they do is talk. The small rover is a simple ho-hum design, the larger vehicle is more interesting, if more confusing.
Model Rating:Very-Good The main model has some nice innovations which help set it apart from earlier models. The building is raised off the baseplate by the tail fins. This is a nice alternative use of such a specialized piece and gives the space set a futuristic, high modern feel compared with the Town sets, which have a direct foundation on the base plate (#575 Coast Guard Station is a noticeable exception.) The roof is composed of the two trans-yellow plates. Besides looking cool, the transparent plates allow light into the interior of the model.
The car port spans over an arm of the crater bump and plays against the crater plate well. Despite this acknowledgement of its site, the crater crowds the structure to one half of the baseplate. To compound the problem, the building opens only to one side - the crowded half. A better model would make use of both sides of the baseplate. If the model was built facing the center of the baseplate (a mirror image of the instructions), a plaza would be formed between the structure and the arm of the crater. The model would not photograph as well in this alternate configuration, so that may have influenced the designers' decision.
Playability Rating:Good The set exemplifies the non-violent nature of the LEGO toy line. It depicts peaceful space exploration and stresses cooperation and communication. However, the mobile computer station could be a gun turret. And the big satellite dish could be a laser cannon. So could the little radar dish. And those walkie-talkies, I've always assumed they could be used as machine guns they're black with a pointy end. If you disassemble the set, many of the pieces can be used as weapons. A gun hides behind the small dish. The set is replete with those so called 1x2 plates with handles. We all know those are lasers to mount on the leading edges of space ships. And why would all the minifigs be dressed in uniform, unless this is a military organization? This set - and this new theme - gives us a glimpse at a future arms race taken to the stars. Future sets will probably continue this trend: ships will be bristling with missiles and lasers, and commercials will tell kids to buy the sets to kick some ro-butt or [something] equally violent [and] anti-social.
The space sets are very cool, I hope they make more.
This set is typical of the new mini-fig sets, with its extensive use of specialized pieces. There is not a single 2x4 brick in the entire set!
Special pieces include:
 baseplate with crater
 tail fins
 huge satellite dish
 computer print slopes
 computer print reverse slopes
 gray television aerials
 1x6x5 wall with printed sn)
 6x8 transyellow plates
 trans-yellow bricks (3 of 1x4, 3 of 1x6) These bricks lack the normal inner structure of the 1xn pieces to increase their transparency.
 clear 60 degree slopes (2 high 1x2 to 2x4)
 minifigs (2 red, 2 white - both colors!) in the new spacesuits.
 spare air tanks (either the air tanks are not reliable, or the open helmets leak a lot of air)
 long 1x16 Technic (Expert Builder?) beam
#575, Coast Guard Station, had too many stickers. The Mini-Figures in this set sport their orbital emblems printed directly on the torsos. No more stickers to wear off the chest; the Coasties are already losing theirs. The emblem is repeated on two 1x2s and a down arrow appears on another direct print 1x2. #575 had stickers to cover similar 1x2s. The Big STAMPs that plagued #575 are avoided with a huge (1x6x5) preprinted wall section depicting a minifig performing a satellite repair in orbit. (Could this be considered the fifth minifig in the set?) As far as I know, no other sets have this piece. There is no cool set number piece as in #487 Space Cruiser (a.k.a. LL924).
Age (at review)
Space/Town (what else is there?)
I got the set a while back. I'm sorry it took so long to compose a review.
Most of the pieces in this set are tied up in a small two-story research laboratory. I wish I still had the large monitor. That disappeared over a decade before. I'm busy restoring my LL924. I haven't seen a LL928 in person since 1980.
This review is Copyright 1996, by the author as named above. The author grants publication rights for all uses, public and private, with the following exceptions: all information in the document must be published in full; any for-profit use requires express written permission of the author for publication in full or in part.
This is a fan created web site. LEGO® is a registered trademark of The LEGO Group, which does not sponsor, authorize or endorse this site.
All views expressed in the reviews on this site are those of the review author, and do not necessarily represent the views of Joshua Delahunty or the University of California.
Set names and photos are copyrighted materials owned by The LEGO Group, used according to its Fair-Use Policy. Set photo scans courtesy of Pause Magazine.
Background imagery supplied by and Copyright © Todd Lehman. Used with permission.
3-D Element bitmaps supplied by and Copyright © James Jessiman. Used with permission.
All product line and theme banner graphics hand-drawn (not scanned) and Copyright © 1996 Joshua Delahunty.
Send comments on these pages to the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.