Wednesday 23 March 2011

Humble Pie

I've got a bit of a thing about LEGO space shuttles, always have done. I've therefore made it my mission to track down and aquire all the different space shuttle sets that LEGO have produced, which I think reached an all time high with last year's awesome Shuttle Adventure set.

As luck would have it, LEGO gave us another new space shuttle this year, which is part of a range of four 2011 City Space sets. I posted a few first impressions of these sets a couple of months back, and was I confess pretty lukewarm about the newest space shuttle, mainly due to the large, one piece cockpit which is just the latest in a long line of big, ugly, unnecessary parts (POOP) included in modern sets.

Anyway, POOP or not, I had to get the shuttle - it would have been rude not to given my love affair with the subject matter - and so it was that I sent £24.35 of my hard-earned cash to and they were kind enough to send me Set 3367 Space Shuttle in return.

The first thing that struck me was the box - it seemed slimmed-down compared with recent sets of a similar size. This is most welcome; while I'm familar with the argument that bigger boxes make more of a splash at retail, smaller boxes are kinder to the environment and take up less space in my already over-stuffed LEGO repository, so I'm a huge fan of this latest packaging development - bravo, LEGO.

On carefully opening the box, out fell two numbered bags of pieces. As well as the previously-identified cockpit POOP there was further POOP in the form of the rather large tail section. Also present were a crumpled instruction booklet and a Dreaded Sticker Sheet, or DSS. I was delighted to recently learn that LEGO are now packaging the instruction booklets of larger sets in plastic bags stiffened with cardboard so as to avoid them getting damaged. Unfortunately this treatment doesn't extend to the smaller sets like 3367.

The build was predictably quick and simple given the relatively modest 231 piece count and the 5-12 age recommendation. Due to the simplicity of the set and the POOP within I was not expecting to be particularly impressed when I was done, but I have to confess that once built, I quite liked it.

First thing to like : the minifigure. Although only one is provided, I think he's great ! His default attire is a regulation helmet with clear visor, but when a zero-G spacewalk is on the cards, the standard helmet comes off and he's able to don a serious heavy-duty helmet with a huge gold visor (pics below; click to enlarge). The interchangeable helmets are a nice touch, and there's even somewhere to store the bulky alternative helmet and visor in the shuttle's cargo bay when it's not in use.

Next thing to like : the satellite, which can be manouevred to some extent using an arm which rises out of the open cargo bay. OK. so it's pretty rudimentary, but given the size of the set it's nice that the shuttle has a vaguely functional Canadarm. It's also good how the satellite and arm fold up neatly inside the cargo bay, allowing the cargo doors to close completely over the payload.

"Houston, we have a problem...."
And finally, the ship itself. Notwithstanding the one-piece cockpit and tail, it's an infinitely swooshable little model with a rotating front wheel, opening cargo bay doors, moveable flaps and room inside the cockpit for the astronaut. And it actually looks like a shuttle to boot, which also helps.....

So in summary, a relatively inexpensive and swooshable model with some nice play features and a cool minifigure. Better than I expected, and worth getting if you're an inveterate LEGO space-head.

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