30 May 2019

LEGO® Creator Expert review: 10266 NASA Apollo 11 Lunar Lander

Revealed today, the spectacular LEGO® Creator Expert 10266 NASA Apollo 11 Lunar Lander comes with 1087 pieces, and will be available June 1st 2019 for 89.99€/ US$99.99. Sven Franic took this modular module for a spin, and had a blast!



The LEGO Group (TLG) has a longstanding relationship with NASA which has ensured minifigures are no strangers to space travel. They once sent three minfigures as far as Jupiter, just for fun. If the number of NASA-themed LEGO Ideas proposals are anything to go by, there seems to be a recent increase in popularity of non-fictional space sets. The LEGO Ideas 21309 Apollo 11 Saturn V rocket is great for demonstrating the different rocket stages and modules, but despite its impressive size, the most iconic landing module which touched the surface of the moon was tiny compared to the entire vessel.

This year is the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing in 1969. The Lunar Lander was what most people saw on their television sets and associate with the landing which makes it iconic enough to warrant a set of its own.

BUILDING TECHNIQUES


The Lunar Lander comes with a brick built display base, which I am sure will induce nostalgia in older fans for the old vacuum-formed crater plates from the LEGO “Classic Space” era.


The core of the descent stage model is based on an octagonal prism which is satisfyingly put together using floating segments anchored at 45° using ball joints. This is all achieved with no visible gaps thanks to the fact that many System elements are designed to cooperate at this particular angle.



There is also some interesting geometry with the module’s leg positioning where I assume the Creator Expert team’s mathematics enthusiast helped out using his new favourite element, the steering arm (Design ID 15460). The whole set is full of clip, bar and ball joint connections which make the assembly process intriguing.





RECOLOURS

Thanks to the shiny thermal insulation NASA used to cover the Lunar Lander, the LEGO version comes with a few new metalized elements which add realism to the model. After a fruitful year for new elements in Silver Ink [TLG]/ Metallic Silver [BL], we finally get an expansion in the Gold Ink [TLG] / Metallic Gold [BL] palette. It was the golden age of space travel after all.

The landing feet use a 4x4 Dish (Element ID 6265601|Design ID 3960) which is the first time we get this size of dish in Gold Ink, and the third dish size in a row, catching up with Metallic Silver’s available dishes.



The 1x2 Tile in Gold Ink has been around for a long time, ever since it was first intended as a gold ingot, but having just one size of tile with an even number of studs limits its application. Luckily, Lunar Lander introduces the 1x1 tile in Gold Ink (6264167|3070) which greatly expands our possibilities to add more bling to our models.


The final new Gold Ink element is the 2x2 Tile Corner (6265604|39726). It is a great finishing element for closing gaps left by 45° connections and has a lot of decorative potential which is where you would most likely use shiny elements.



I don’t know if the metallic coating process has become more efficient for TLG, but there is definitely an increasing trend of these colours in sets. The durability of the finish has improved considerably. The older metallized elements basically had to be kept under a glass bell to stay mint, while the newer pieces can take quite a beating before they show any surface wear. The Lunar Lander probably sets the record for the most metallic silver and gold pieces in a single set which should make a lot of parts collectors happy.



There are just a couple of other colour novelties in the set. The selection of curved tiles in Dark Stone Grey [TLG] / Dark Bluish Gray [BL] finally fills a gap with the new 2x2 curved tile (6265306|27925).



There is one final re-colour in the set worth mentioning.  With all the unusual colours of the “Unikitty” Inverted 1x3 Tile, Lunar Lander finally introduces the piece in a more tepid Medium Stone Grey [TLG] / Light Bluish Gray [BL] (6251044|35459).


STICKERS

The set uses stickers for all new decorations except the printed Black 1x8 nameplate tile we are used to seeing in Architecture sets.

The stickers are printed on a reflective foil to match parts of the lander covered in metallized tiles. The remaining stickers are used to decorate some of the 1960s instrument clusters and the United States flag. The sticker surface is more reflective than the metallized tiles, but once on the model, this is not noticeable.


MINIFIGURES

The two minifigures in the set do not seem to officially relate to the two famous astronauts who were on board Apollo 11’s Lander because they both use fairly generic yellow heads. Whether this is due to licensing complications, internal Creator guidelines, or as an act of solidarity for Collins who stood by in the command module is unknown.

Both astronauts use the same NASA suit print on their torso (Element ID 6267589). With their visors on, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference anyway.

CONCLUSION

It is unusual to get a space-themed set with the Creator Expert label, but hopefully this just shows the beginning of an even more diverse product line. NASA has become an established part of popular culture, and TLG follows trends closely.

I am expecting to see the Moon Lander join all those Saturn V models we keep seeing on shelves of people who are not necessarily LEGO fans, but just want to enjoy an icon of science & technology.

Next time on New Elementary we chat with Jamie Berard, Design Manger Specialist on the LEGO® Creator Expert team, about the Apollo 11.

READ MORE: We've touched the LEGO Braille Bricks! Read about these modified 2x4s that will be given away for free 

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Products mentioned in this post were kindly supplied by the LEGO Group. All content represents the opinions of New Elementary authors and not the LEGO Group. All text and images are © New Elementary unless otherwise attributed.

3 comments:

  1. SHINY! The 45 degree angles are well done

    ReplyDelete
  2. I've been waiting for the inverted Unikitty piece in light bluish gray since it was first introduced, But I can't remember what I had planned to do with it anymore.

    ReplyDelete