As a huge fan of the LEGO Classic Space sets of the late 1970's, I'm always on the lookout for sets that I don't already have. Boxed examples of Classic Space sets are quite thin on the ground, however, and they invariably sell for significant sums, so securing a reasonably priced one is cause for some celebration. I was therefore delighted to recently pick up a boxed Set 894 Mobile Ground Tracking Station from eBay in pretty good condition and for a good price, and I thought fellow LEGO Space heads might like a closer look...
The box (above - click to enlarge) is a bit worn but structurally intact; the smaller Classic Space sets were cursed with boxes which had to be torn at one end to open them, so unsealed boxes invariably look a bit ragged, but this one is better than many I've seen. The front of the box shows the tracking station parked up and ready for action with its rear doors open, while the rear of the box shows a series of increasingly bizarre alternative builds. The best view of the completed model is surprisingly relegated to the ends of the box, and also the front of the instruction manual (below).
The instructions are of the concertina fold-out variety rather than in booklet format. Despite the absence of part call-outs, the 15 building steps are clear and easy to follow. The back of the instruction manual (below - click to enlarge) is a terrible tease - a delicious diorama of many lovely Classic Space sets which can be an absolute pig to find boxed and in decent condition these days. Strangely, the big daddy of them all, Set 928 Space Cruiser and Moonbase, isn't shown in the photograph, but a number of other beauties such as Set 918 One Man Space Ship and Set 920 Rocket Launch Pad are shown in all their glory.
There aren't too many parts of note in this set, the whole being definitely more than the sum of the parts, but you can see a few exceptions in the picture below. Pride of place goes to the trans-clear round shield in the centre of the photograph which only appears in this set plus its U.S. counterpart, Set 452. Critically, this part is extremely fragile and snaps easily, meaning that many used examples of this set end up being listed for sale with one or both of the shields broken or missing. This can be a problem as they're not cheap to replace; at the time of writing there are only 22 of them listed for sale anywhere in the world on Bricklink, of which only 2 are in the U.K. and these are priced at £10 each. Ouch !
And so to the build. This set may only contain one minifigure, but what a minifigure ! Honestly, I will never tire of the iconic Classic Space minifig, and this set contains one in white. OK, so the gold logo on his chest may have faded since his heyday but I can live with that. Undoubtedly my favourite LEGO minifigure of all time, end of.
At only 76 pieces the vehicle itself takes but a few glorious minutes to assemble and you're done. The iconic combination of old grey bodywork, the printed Classic Space logo, trans-yellow windows and trans-green and trans-red detailing is almost enough to bring a tear to my eye.... All that's missing is a sprinkling of blue parts and you'd have the complete Classic Space package. The rear of the vehicle opens via hinges on each side to reveal the printed console within. Note the pair of fully intact trans-clear shields on the roof, not that I'm gloating or anything !
Released in 1979 this set must only originally have cost a couple pounds at retail but you'll need to be patient and prepared to stump up considerably more now if you'd like a boxed example - at time of writing there isn't a single Set 894 with box available for purchase on Bricklink, and there's only one boxed example of the U.S. version listed which will set you back $100 + shipping. Younger LEGO fans might reasonably wonder what all the fuss is about, but for oldies like me this set is pure gold...