Release Year: 2021
Cost: AU $299.99
LEGO and Space go together like cheese and crackers. There’s a very strong pairing, not including the iconic Classic Space loved by so many fans. What I’m talking about is LEGO and NASA. One of the most highly regarded sets, the Saturn V is still listed as on back order on LEGO.com, and then there’s also the ISS and the Apollo 11 Lunar Lander. Adding in the Space Shuttle Discovery is really exciting, and especially at this scale.
There’s also been numerous space shuttles in LEGO, but this one takes the scale up a notch, measuring 54cm in length. The detail is exquisite, and it also includes a bonus Hubble Space Telescope as a separate and equally as detailed build.
Inside the box there’s 18 bags across 17 numbered steps, and a bag of the larger parts. There’s also an instruction manual, sticker sheet with the stickers for the info panels and a couple more, a foil sticker sheet for the stickers inside the payload bay doors, and a plastic sheet with the reflective panels for the Hubble. As per normal with these types of subjects, the first few pages of the manual outline some information about the actual Discovery. While the normal stickers were straight forward to apply, the reflective stickers were painful, as the doors are curved, with the stickers going on the interior of the curve. My sticker sheets were also badly curled, which didn’t help.
There’s plenty of SNOT through the set, most evident in the Hubble Space Telescope. The metallic silver sloped tiles are a great addition to the collection. Throw in some basic greebling with some pipes, and plate assemblies set at angles to complete the larger curved section. The lens end of the telescope is simple but very effective, with a radar dish embedded in one end, and a flippable cover clipped on top.
The solar panels use the two plastic sheets clipped on lances and secured with gold 1×1 flower studs. It’s unobtrusive and works really well. I have found that they’re very easy to get slightly twisted, as it all rests on the central rods. Either way, it’s a fun way to launch into the set.
Then, the fun begins. The first few bags give the outline and footprint of the Shuttle, and it’s large. Full of tiles, plates and wedge plates, it’s a lot of fun to watch it come together, and just how neatly LEGO can work with it’s geometry to make excellent connections. The fuselage bed is also where we start to see how the landing gear mechanism works, which is very clever.
I especially liked the tiling of the wings in particular – the use of all those triangle tiles was really quite cathartic. Another interesting mechanic aside from the landing gear is the use of link arms to the back of one of the booster housings. When the top housing is rotated, the two elevons are angled up and down. It’s subtle, but a great detail inclusion.
The doors are a repetitive build, and as I said before, it’s a pain to get the stickers straight, but it’s worth it, as the interior of the payload bay just looks extra special. The rest of the build is relatively straight forward, with bricks on bricks. The nose assembly and the vertical stabiliser use a bit of SNOT and I love the little detail of the thrusters across the nose, used to make slight adjustments when in space. The different angles in the nose are also great.
Inside the flight deck there’s a brilliant use of a new SNOT bracket in blue as seats. It’s excellent! The detail in here is really exciting, and the mid deck underneath is also well represented.
The Hubble is also able to be stored neatly in the payload bay of the shuttle, which is very well received.
I’m loving this set. It’s fantastic to get a highly detailed build of the Discovery and a bonus Hubble Space telescope too. There’s a black stand that is able to hold the Hubble in the manoeuvring position out of the payload bay, as the thin Canadarm is not able to hold the weight.
The stands for both larger builds look clean, although I would have loved to see the Discovery just slightly on a lean to one side. It may not have been as strong, but would look good.
When the payload bay is empty, the cameras are able to be seen easily, and the spring arms for the landing gear are only just visible too. It’s also very satisfying pushing the flap under the thrusters to release the landing gear in one click.
The vertical stabiliser also has a hidden detail, being able to split apart to be a speed brake, to slow down the shuttle on landing. I’ve not really touched on the other well thought out details – thrusters on the tail sections, the way the US flag is oriented on the side of the craft and a lot more, but I don’t want to give everything away.
What I’ll leave you with is this – if you’re a fan of Space and what LEGO does with it, you’re going to want this set in your collection. It’s big and eye catching, has some great interactive features included, and will go quite well on display with the Saturn V. There’s some interesting techniques and it’s a lot of fun to build. For AU $300, it’s worth it in my opinion.
A special thank you to LEGO for sending me a copy to review. All thoughts on this set are my own and are not influenced in any way, shape or form. The provision of sets for review does not guarantee a favourable review.