Theme: Classic Space
Price: USD $7.50 in 1982
What is it?
The Surface Explorer is a 12-wheeled futuristic take on a backhoe loader. It features a grab-arm on one end and a scoop on the other end. Both of these are attached to articulated arms. It also features a rotating radar dish and 2 driver seats on each end which makes it look like it can be driven from either position. The 12 wheels makes the Surface Explorer look like it will be able to handle any terrain an alien planet can dish out.
With the majority of parts in light gray and black, only 2 clear red cylinders add a splash of color to the vehicle. 2 printed slopes (one with the space logo and the other a console) add some texture to an otherwise utilitarian exploration vehicle.
A pleasant surprise is the inclusion of a gun/scope and a wrench for the spaceman to use. An even more pleasant surprise is there are holders for the tools on the vehicle. The set also comes with 2 yellow bricks and 1 black antenna for the Explorer to ‘find’ and scoop/grab.
The set comes with 1 yellow space man which contrasts very well with the monotone vehicle.
The wheels are put together with the help of Technic T-rods and bricks. It works quite simply but effectively and all the Technic pieces are hidden from view. The articulation of the grab-arm and scoop are quite good although the scoop is on the small side and will barely hold 3 pieces of the 1×1 plate. Otherwise though, it has a surprising number of play features and gribble to enliven the looks of the set.
An interesting side effect of the 2 clear red cylinders attached to the antennas is they look like insectoid eyes when looking at the vehicle head on.
For such a small parts count, this builds into a decently big sized vehicles and I like the amount of space it has so you can add companions for the yellow spaceman. Exploration doesn’t need to be a lonely endeavour.
Unfortunately, some of the light gray pieces have yellowed due to age. The printed parts however have held up well.
+ a bigger than expected set
+ plenty of play features for its size
+ even comes with things to grab and scoop
– boring color scheme
– would be great if it came with another figure
– the grab-arm blocks access to the front console
– no space to store the bricks and antenna that were dug up
~ review courtesy of my wallet