Friday 21 January 2011

Space !

I've always had a thing for LEGO Space sets. One of my very favourite sets as a kid was 928 Space Cruiser and Moonbase, and through the ages I've always been drawn to space-themed sets, be they one of the many Space Shuttles that LEGO have produced, the excellent if short-lived Discovery theme from 2003, and of course the Star Wars theme which I collect obsessively.

Set 928 - a big part of my love affair with LEGO Space....
I was therefore delighted to see that later this year, according to a NASA press release, LEGO will be giving us 4 "NASA-inspired sets" in the City theme, each of which will contain "NASA-inspired education materials". Images of these 4 sets have been circulating for some time, and now that they've been made available for pre-order by Amazon in the UK I thought it was about time I took a closer look.

As a massive fan of the real-life Space Shuttle, I really have to start my round-up with a look at the 2011 version. You can see a picture of Set 3367 Space Shuttle below :

First impressions are mixed. For sheer accuracy and resemblance to the real thing it looks pretty good, but this is in large part due to the use of a large, one-piece, custom-made cockpit section. I've made my views on such large pieces known very clearly in the past - I hate them and wish we could go back to brick-built alternatives (even at the expense of realism) - but it's the way the LEGO company are going at present as evidenced by the majority of aircraft and train sets over the past few years, so we're stuck with them. Otherwise the set looks OK, with opening bay doors, a satellite, a mechanical arm to manoeuvre the payload, and a cool astronaut minifig. Amazon is quoting a piece count of 217 and a pre-order price of £26.99 which is, to be honest, less than I was expecting.

The largest of the 2011 Space sets with 494 pieces is Set 3368 Rocket Station (picture above). It's somewhat reminiscent of a couple of older Space sets (Set 1682 Space Shuttle Launch, which I've previously written about, and Set 6339 Shuttle Launch Pad) in that it features a large red gantry. The big difference is obviously the huge rocket on the launch pad, in contrast to the Space Shuttles of old. In fact, I was surprised that the only older set I could think of featuring a large rocket on a launch pad with a gantry was Set 358 Rocket Base from 1973, which is still one of my all-time favourites, and was the subject of a previous blog entry. So we're well overdue another one ! Looking closely at the picture of the 2011 set, it also seems to suffer somewhat from "large piece syndrome", both with respect to the rocket and the launch gantry, but I do like the overall look of it anyway. It's showing as available for pre-order at Amazon at a price of £49.99 and is due for release on March 1st of this year.

Any excuse for a pic of Set 358 Rocket Base - inspiration for 2011's Rocket Station ?

The other 2011 City Space sets are Set 3366 Satellite Launch Platform and Set 3365 Space Moon Buggy. Pictures of these smaller sets, which are currently available for pre-order at Amazon at £13.99 and £3.99 respectively, can be found below :

So the verdict ? Well, on the basis of what I've seen so far, LEGO Space 2011 is shaping up to be OK. Admittedly not awe inspiring, but not bad either. That being said, even if all these sets had been utter dogs I'd probably have gone out and bought the lot of them anyway. I'm a total sucker for LEGO Space and will probably remain so until I'm pushing up daisies. Less than £100 for all 4 sets combined seems reasonable, and I have no doubt I'll be picking these up come March.


  1. It's a real shame you haven't seen the Neo-Classic Space fleet in its full glory, Dave. I can bring a few of my favourites to the next event if you like?

  2. That'd be great. Pete - I've been very impressed by what I've seen so far, and would love to check out a few more of your creations. Leicester ?

  3. Branko Dijkstra24/1/11

    There have been a few 'large rockets' really:
    7469 Mission to Mars and Saturn V Moon rocket 7468.
    Perhaps not minifig scale but those are tall rockets.