LEGO debuted the M:Tron series of sets in 1990 as part of the Space System, a few years after the Futuron, Blacktron I, and Space Police series. M:Tron harnessed “the power of magnets,” to quote the series’ tagline.
The M:Tron men (female LEGO astronauts were not introduced until the “Ice Babe” with the Ice Planet 2002 series) were, like the Futurons and Space Police before them, mortal enemies of the evil Blacktrons. All of their vehicles were colored in red and black, with glowing green highlights. The figures themselves wore white pants, a red shirt with an M logo in the middle, and a black helmet with glowing green visor.
Most of the vehicles harnessed magnets in some way (after all, they were dependent on The Power of Magnets). At this point, all LEGO magnets were small disks, with a slightly smaller radius than a standard 2x2 block. Each magnet had two small pins on opposing sides of the circumference; these were snapped into the right pieces in order to affix the magnets to cranes, boxes, or wherever else they were needed. The first of these connectors was a V-shaped piece with a socket at the base of the V into which a rod could be snapped, or which could be mounted on any stud: this piece allowed the magnet to rotate, and was mostly used in cranes and other grabbing apparatuses. The other was a short 2x2 block with two tiny grips; this held the magnet steady and was seen most commonly through the M:Tron series on boxes and containers.
The sets ranged from the tiny Pulsar Charger, with no magnets at all, up through the enormous Mega Core Magnetizer, with a huge pivoting crane and a variety of magnet-equipped boxes and vehicles for retrieving valuable core samples. Common amongst them were the color coordination (which was rarely, if ever, deviated from in a set), large wheels, and, most importantly, the perceived uses of the sets. Unlike previous themed Space series, the M:Tron sets did not look like they were made for fighting, either for good or evil. Instead, the focus seemed to be on collecting data: all of the sets other than the very smallest had containers and/or cargo bays; nearly none of the protruding gewgaws on the sets were most definitely a weapon and not some sort of headlight or scanning apparatus. Note also that the British names for sets, while not as flashy and Xtreme sounding as their American equivalents, give us a clear picture of vehicles meant for rescue and research.
There were two “special” sets within the M:Tron lineup: the Mobile Satellite Uplink and Secret Space Voyager, both introduced in 1991. The Mobile Satellite Uplink was part of a Bonus Pack which contained four other small sets from different groups and themes in the LEGO lineup of the time. The Secret Space Voyager required you to buy three other sets: the Vector Detector, Celestial Forager, and Particle Ionizer (all cool sets in their own right). Once you had done this, you could send in the proofs of purchase from each, as well as a small fee, and LEGO would send you the instructions for building the superset. The Secret Space Voyager cleverly combined the pieces from the three into a fair-sized ship with wheels and seating for three figures.
The sets of M:Tron. The name in parentheses is the one which was used in the UK.
- 1476: 5-Item Bonus Pack
Special within LEGO Mania Magazine. Contains #1477, a small race car; #1478, the Mobile Satellite Uplink; #1479, a small spaceship seating two figures side-by-side; #1480, a small catapult; and #1481, a tiny island with a pirate and some animal friends.
- 1478: Mobile Satellite Uplink
1991. 26 pieces. A small jointed car.
- 6704: Space Mini-Figures
1991. 37 pieces. Contains one Blacktron I figure, one Space Police I figure, two M:Tron figures, and two Blacktron II figures.
- 6811: Pulsar Charger (Micro Bike)
1990. 25 pieces. A small flying vehicle with a large antenna.
- 6833: Beacon Tracer (Inspection Buggy)
1990. 38 pieces. A small car with a pivoting windshield.
- 6862: Secret Space Voyager
1991. 333 pieces. A large spaceship with wheels and seating for three. Built out of the parts of the Vector Detector, Celestial Forager, and Particle Ionizer.
- 6877: Vector Detector (Search Craft)
1990. 59 pieces. A medium spaceship with four wings and two antennae.
- 6896: Celestial Forager (Astro Wrecker)
1990. 87 pieces. A medium car with four large wheels and a crane.
- 6923: Particle Ionizer (Cosmicopter)
1990. 187 pieces. A large spaceship with a robot, a storage container, and a moving weapon/antenna.
- 6956: Stellar Recon Voyager (Rescue Star Cruiser)
1990. 221 pieces. A very large spaceship with a storage bay, a small car, a storage container, and a cockpit with seating for two.
- 6989: Mega Core Magnetizer (Mobile Recovery Centre)
1990. 486 pieces. A huge land vehicle with six wheels, a large crane, a huge cockpit, three figures, and several containers.
- 9401: M:Tron Team
1993. 63 pieces. Contains the Pulsar Charger and Beacon Tracer.
Thanks to archiewood for the UK names tip-off.