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Lego Maniacs' Guide: Reviews: Space : Blacktron : Message Intercept Base

[Purchase Lego at Amazon.com] 6987 - Message Intercept Base

Rating: 5 Stars
Pros: An awesome-sized surface facility
Cons: None
Contents: 562 pieces including 5 mini-figs
Price: Discontinued
Reviewed: 29-Apr-1997
Reviewed by: Joseph Gonzalez

6987 All is not well at the Obeejw satellite moon base. What started out as an experiment in the isolation lab has gone terribly awry as a strange orange-grey mold is released from its vacuum canister and begins spreading throughout the lab at an alarming rate. The experimenting Doctor Headly is instantly engulfed in the suffocating mass and a frantic lab assistant has just complicated matters by slamming emergency controls to commence engagement of the lab with the main base station in an effort to escape from the threat. A moment later, the foolish assistant has nowhere to run and he too is swallowed up in a smothering cloud. Shortly, the isolation lab will connect with the main base, coupling portals will interlock, and the reproductive spores will spill into an adjoining corridor to begin a malevolent migration that will ultimately claim the entire moon base!

The Message Intercept Base is a milestone in the long list of Space Lego products. It's unequaled by any planetary base since its 1988 release. (Hey, its coming up on its 10th anniversary!) With a total of five astronauts, the most any space set comes excluding mini-fig packs.
The MIB principal model is a spacious hangar that covers a 24x22 stud area. The forward section of the hangar is open for landing aircraft while the rear section has all kinds of computer panels and lights for miscellaneous operations. There is also a small second story control booth that overlooks the hangar. Two large wall panels shelter half of the hangar and hinge back to open for vertical takeoffs/landings. (This opening panel feature was duplicated in the Futuron 6953-Cosmic Laser Launcher).
An exit at the rear of the hangar leads through an enclosed zigzagging corridor which opens onto a platform. This platform is a landing/entrance to a mobile observatory which is the second component of the station. Note that if the observatory is not in place and a mini-fig comes running out of the corridor, he's going to fall flat on his face. The mobile observatory moves smoothly back and forth on tile bricks toward and away from the station (I have no idea why it specifically needs to do this.) The observatory is a two-story structure with an open main platform and a smaller second-story platform that has a control panel and chair.
Two vehicles are included with the set: a balloon tire land rover and a one-man flying aircraft which fits neatly in the hangar.
As mentioned, the set comes with five Blacktron astronauts and includes one of each of the essential classic space utilities (communicator, sweeper, laser rifle, and a wrench). A row of five clips in the aft section of the hangar keeps these supplies easily at hand.
A quick list of unique bricks includes all kinds of six-brick-high wall panel sections (interior and exterior corners, straight and convex panels), two gear box mechanisms, one technic universal joint (?!), ridge and crater base plate and the 8x8 radar dish in black. There is also a good quantity of slopes and tiles preprinted with computer panels (if you are into that kind of thing). Side note: Is there another Lego set with 4x4 radar dishes in yellow?
Building this station was a lot of fun. With some use of castle corner wall panels, during construction I was often reminded of building a castle set and I enjoyed it as much (not something you can say about a lot of space stations). The station isn't totally enclosed but I think it makes for a great base. For more info on the set, check out Jeff Thompson's informative review at the RTL Archive site.

56 readers have rated this set as 4.725 out of 5 stars.
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