Move over, 10497 Galaxy Explorer: this is the retro LEGO set ‘90s kids want

Forget 10497 Galaxy Explorer and 10305 Lion Knights’ Castle: for ‘90s kids, this LEGO Rock Raiders reimagining is the real deal.

With the LEGO Group’s nostalgia around its 90th anniversary pretty firmly focused on ‘70s and ‘80s themes, including Castle and Space (with just a hint of BIONICLE), it’s up to the community to fill in for ‘90s kids. Those of us who grew up with Rock Raiders at the tail end of the decade will have fond memories of sets like 4970 The Chrome Crusher and 4980 The Tunnel Transport, which used admittedly massive elements to create mining vehicles very much of their time.

Redditor Catapimbson has now brought Rock Raiders into 2022 by reimagining those huge moulded pieces – from canopies and chassis parts to laser turrets and even the base of a small glider – within the LEGO Group’s current parts library. The result is a stunning custom build they’ve labelled a Tunnel Crawler, which mashes together different aspects of the classic Rock Raiders theme (without specifically recreating a single set).

The colour scheme – a mix of brown, dark grey, teal and yellow – is completely spot on, while the canopy constructed of bars and clips is genius. It’s also necessary for the scale of the model – the builder shared an image of the roll cage next to the original element, and it’s far bigger than the moulded piece used in the official sets. That’s the same design approach as 10497 Galaxy Explorer, which sizes up the classic 497 Galaxy Explorer to reflect its fanbase growing up, too.

If you have any affinity for the ‘90s theme, this entire model should be giving you pretty big feelings right now – and a sudden desire for the LEGO Group to revisit some of its other retro themes in 2023 and beyond. Fingers crossed the success of both of this year’s flagship 90th anniversary sets will give the LEGO Group cause to consider cashing in on nostalgia for its 20- and 30-something fans, too.

There’s more to its back catalogue than just Castle and Space, after all.

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Chris Wharfe

I like to think of myself as a journalist first, LEGO fan second, but we all know that’s not really the case. Journalism does run through my veins, though, like some kind of weird literary blood – the sort that will no doubt one day lead to a stress-induced heart malfunction. It’s like smoking, only worse. Thankfully, I get to write about LEGO until then. You can follow me on Twitter at @brfa_chris.

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