Theme: Classic Space
Price: 17.00 EUR on Bricklink in 2013
Notes: Set number 452 in the US
What is it?
The Mobile Ground Tracking Station is a 6-wheeled vehicle with a compartment for a small command center at the back. It also pulls a 2-wheeled trailer with a satellite dish. It was one of the inaugural sets LEGO launched for their Space line in 1978 that came with a minifigure. In this case, the set comes with a white astronaut. No visor at this time for the astronauts, but yeah they can still breathe in the vacuum of space!
The astronaut is as simple as it can get: all white, basic face, old style helmet without visor, oxygen tank and gold and red colored Space logo.
The vehicle is an overall light gray color with wheels that are in red. Features include:
- A gray spare oxygen tank hanging in front of the vehicle, just in case the astronaut meets a friend out in the dunes of the moon
- A brick-built spinning antenna on the roof
- An opening command center with a console inside with space for a minifigure to watch videos
- The trailer comes with a satellite dish that can be elevated
The Space theme of this time emphasized exploration instead of conflict so there wasn’t any obvious ‘offensive weapons’ in the sets. Not that I didn’t create laser guns and missiles with my imagination though.
The main vehicle is a straightforward bottom up build with the command center being made of various 1×2 and 1×1 bricks building up into 2 essentially open-sided boxes that swing out to reveal the control station inside.
During this time, the decorations on the bricks are printed on and not stickers. I’ve always preferred this although I admit it somewhat makes the printed brick less versatile: you can’t take it off after all. 3 bricks are printed in this set: 2 with the Classic Space logo and 1 slope with a control panel.
LEGO decided to leave the wheels in red for some reason and I decided to swap these out with the more modern light gray wheel with black tire combo. I think it looks better now although it loses the ‘classic’ look somewhat.
Interestingly, the roof-top spinning antenna is made up of 2 transparent round shields which, as it turns out, was only ever available in this set. Rare indeed.
The set I received had some replacement parts (3x 1×1 plates stacked together in lieu of the 1×1 brick) and a missing 4H antenna. I replaced these with the correct parts from my spares.
This set is a classic from my childhood. It’s old fashioned by today’s standard with its boxy shape and plain color. But there’s a certain charm that I like about it: A KISS approach that LEGO doesn’t do much of anymore.
+ Sometimes reality does match what you remember from the past
+ Quite a few playable functions for its time
+ A purposeful and simple design
– The red wheels look off to me
– Being 4 studs wide and panels not existing yet, you can’t fit a minifigure inside the command center with the doors closed
– Spare oxygen tank is not very secure