23 March 2021

LEGO® parts review: 10283 NASA Space Shuttle Discovery

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Omid (@nwbricks) has examines the upcoming LEGO® 10283 NASA Space Shuttle Discovery over 2 articles, starting here with a look at its pieces and then his review of the build. Buying this set in April? Consider using our affiliate links: UK LEGO Shop | USA LEGO Shop | Australia LEGO Shop, for other countries 'Change Region'. New Elementary may get a commission. The products in this article were provided for free by LEGO; the author's opinions are not biased by this.

Hot on the heels of last year’s 21309/92176 Saturn V reissue and the 21321 International Space Station, the latest instalment of the LEGO–NASA collaboration takes the form of an incredible Space Shuttle Discovery model. Take a trip with us back to April 1990 and one of the most important space flights ever undertaken: Mission STS-31, the launch of the Hubble Space Telescope.

The 10283 Space Shuttle Discovery is on sale from 1 April 2021 with 2354 pieces. There are no minifigs or microfigs included, so I invited some friends. It will retail for 179,99€/ £169.99/ US$199.99/ CA$269.99/ AU$299.99/ NZ$319.99. 

The 1960s must have been an incredible, terrifying time to be alive. John F Kennedy gave his famous speech in September 1962 in the shadow of the Cold War, and by the end of the decade men had walked on the moon. For a brief period — maybe just a few, grainy minutes — the world was wholly united behind a common cause in a way that would have seemed imperceptible just a few years prior. 

This is the enduring appeal of the Space Race, and of space exploration more generally, because it represents something so much bigger than any one person, country or ideal; something we need now more than ever. Whatever the future holds, it will ultimately be Voyager 1 and 2, now some 15 billion miles away, that carry our enduring legacy out into the great beyond. 

I have always been absolutely fascinated by space travel and as partnerships go, LEGO x NASA is a match made in heaven (or perhaps the exosphere) so I was over the moon when this turned up on my doorstep. 

There is an awful lot to digest here including a plethora of new and recoloured parts, so we will examine those today and the build itself tomorrow. 

As for the instructions I have some good news and some bad news. The bad news is that they are printed on black, again, although LEGO have confirmed this approach is on the way out. The good news is that as there’s no dark brown or dark blue you won’t need laser vision and the patience of a saint to build this set.

Prints and stickers

As with a lot of sets these days, the instruction manual is wrapped in plastic alongside the stickers and any extras. The sight of those big information panels and an entire sheet of similarly sized mirror stickers filled me with dread, so I’d recommend the washing up liquid method to make them a bit more manageable. The gold things aren’t stickers, but bonafide parts (6342963 | 78267). They appear to be die-cut from the same material we saw in the Monkey King Warrior Mech. 

There is a decent amount of reflective silver leftover once the stickers are applied, so it’s worth hanging onto as it could easily be cut down to make minifig-scale mirrors. 

There’s a really nice selection of printed pieces, including three normal US flags and one backwards one, but you'll have to read the designer notes to find out why! 

In the meantime, feel free to join me as I drool over that freshly-moulded, freshly-printed cockpit – more on that in a moment.

New parts and recolours in LEGO NASA Space Shuttle Discovery

If you follow New E then chances are you’re a parts nerd too, so you’ll be pleased to know there is a glut of new moulds and recolours. Let’s have a closer look at some of the most interesting ones, and we’ll list everything new at the end as well. 

When you open the box the first thing you’ll notice is a LOT of Cool Silver Drum Lacquered/ Metallic Silver. Plenty of Silver Metallic/ Flat Silver too including the Minifigure Utensil Candle (6336564 | 37762), but the majority of the shiny parts are actually shiny! It’s not ‘90s chrome, but it’s the best we’re gonna get for now. 

The 4x4 macaroni tile in Metallic Silver (6237114 | 27507) first appeared in 21311 Voltron back in 2018, followed by 2020’s DOTS Rainbow Jewellery Stand so it’s not strictly speaking new, just quite rare. The 2x2 macaroni tile (6345721 27925) however is brand new, as is Slope Curved 2x2x⅔ (6345724 | 15068). Slope 45 2x1 with Cutout (6345725 | 28192) also appeared in Voltron and shows up again here with a new element ID. 

The 2x2 curved slope’s counterpart, Slope 2x2 Curved Inverted (32803) also makes an appearance for the first time in Dark Stone Grey/ Dark Bluish Gray (6344820).

Now, that new 4x6x1 cockpit windscreen (63447788 | 76796). Its top and bottom both feature 6x3 semicircles so could be a very useful part to get in unprinted and opaque colours. It's essentially a more useful version of the existing Windscreen 3 x 6 x 1 Curved (62360), having an 1 extra module of depth.

Brick Round 3x3x1 Corner Dome Top in White (6334524 | 76797) makes an appearance for the first time. There’s two of them, both used in the cockpit roof. It is the shorter cousin of Brick Round Corner 3 x 3 x 2 Dome Top (88293) that has been around since 2010, as well as being a corner piece for Slope Curved 3 x 1 No Studs (50950) from 2005 and its recent sister, the 3 x 2 (24309). Like the latter bow bricks it has the 1x1 plate cutout at the rear, making it feel similar to the other new 3x3 corner brick from 2021, Brick Curved 3 x 1 with 2/3 Inverted Cutout (73682) as described in our review of Monkie Kid 80021 Lion Guardian.

Next up is a brand new panel. Panel Curved 6x8x6 (6334527 | 76798) has two axle connectors, eight studs on top and (whisper it) plenty of room on the underside for fiddly mirror stickers. It is similar in profile to the existing Panel 3 x 4 x 3 Curved with Double Clip Hinge (18910), just scaled up to 200%.

75301 Luke Skywalker’s X-Wing Fighter from  earlier this year finally saw the introduction of a piece I remember wishing for as a kid: the 1x1 Technic Brick with Axle Hole (73230). It’s available here in both white (6345886) and black (6344819) with 11 and 12 of each colour respectively. I distinctly remember as a kid the bittersweet feeling of getting excited about a new set with new parts, but not being able to use them in mocs without breaking up the set first! Lets just say old feelings linger on.

There’s plenty going on at the other end of the spectrum too. No new moulds, but we can finally get our mitts on the Brick, Modified 1 x 2 x 1 ⅔ in Black (6275806 | 22885) - previously only available in the slimline 1x version. 

Wedge 3x4 with Stud Notches in Black (6290416 | 50373) gets a special mention because of its weird history — first available in 2016 in 31051 Lighthouse Point, it was dormant for 4-5 years before coming back in 2020 for a couple of sets. It’s an odd piece that seems to hark back to Classic Space, and indeed the original notch-less mould was retired in 2002 after 15 years in production, before this version came out a few years later. 

Tile 2x6 (69729) was introduced in 2020 along with a crop of other new elements for the 71374 Nintendo Entertainment System. No other set has had the honour of the full monochrome spectrum so far, though! You get two white (6332042) and black (6318582), five light bluish gray (6318584) and one dark bluish gray (6321764). 

There’s also a bunch of Olive Green parts, plus two of the big Wedge, Plate 10 x 10 Cut Corner in Medium Azure (6315800 | 92584) previously only seen in 21322 Pirates of Barracuda Bay. None of these are new, but some of the longer plates have only appeared in one or two other sets so far. Maybe LEGO had a bunch of unsold Land Rovers?

Incredibly this is the first time we’ve seen Plate Round Corner 4x4 in Bright Yellow/ Yellow (6344217 | 30565), and the same goes for the Plate Modified 4 x 4 with Cutout in Bright Blue/ Blue (6339313 | 64799). 

We also get five of the confusingly named Bracket 1 x 1 - 1 x 2 Inverted in Blue (6344218 | 73825) and one Large Figure Weapon, Barrel with 2 Pin Holes and 3 Axle Holes in Bright Red/ Red (6313596 | 98585) which has appeared once before in 43179 Mickey Mouse & Minnie Mouse from 2020. 

You can ignore the 3x3 heart plate and the 1x2 plate with top clips in my photograph - I got a bit excited and thought they were new. The heart does have an interesting use though, as it sort-of fills that gap in the LEGO inventory between the 2x2 and 4x4 round corner plates. 

List of new elements in 10283 Space Shuttle Discovery

New moulds: 

  • Brick, Round 3x3x1 Corner Dome Top in White (6334524 | 76797)
  • Panel Curved 6x8x6 in White (6334527 | 76798)
  • Windscreen, Curved 4x6x1 in Trans-Clear with Space Shuttle Cockpit Pattern (6347788 | 76796)
  • Plastic Hubble Space Telescope Solar Panels (6342963 | 78267) 

New prints: 

  • Slope, Curved 3x2 with Shuttle Ejection Seat Cover Pattern (6343008 | 24309pr0007)
  • Brick 1x8 with United States and US Flag Pattern (6343010 | 3008pr0043)
  • Brick 1x8 with United States and Reverse US Flag Pattern (6343010 | 3008pr0044)
  • Tile 6x6 with Bottom Tubes with USA and US Flag Pattern (6343006 | 10202pr0013)
  • Tile 6x6 with Bottom Tubes with NASA Discovery Pattern (6343007 | 10202pr0014)
  • Slope, Curved 4x1 Double with NASA ESA Pattern (6343005 | 93273pr9993)
  • Slope 30 1 x 1 x ⅔ with Keypad Pattern in Light Bluish Gray (6343004 | 54200pr0004)

New colours of existing parts: 

  • Technic, Brick 1x1 with Axle Hole in White (6345886 | 73230)
  • Technic, Brick 1x1 with Axle Hole in Black (6344819 | 73230)
  • Bracket 1x1 - 1x2 Inverted in Blue (6344218 | 73825)
  • Plate, Round Corner 4x4 in Yellow (6344217 | 30565)
  • Brick, Modified 1 x 2 x 1 ⅔ with Studs on 1 Side in Black (6275806 | 22885)
  • Wedge 4x4 Taper with Stud Notches in Black (6344219 | 93348)
  • Slope, Curved 2x2 Inverted in Dark Bluish Gray (6344820 | 32803)
  • Slope, Curved 2x2 in Metallic Silver (6345724 | 15068)
  • Tile, Round Corner 2 x 2 Macaroni in Metallic Silver (6345721 | 27925)
  • Minifigure, Utensil Candle in Flat Silver (6336564 | 37762)   

READ MORE: Thomas Jenkins reviews 2020 LEGO® Star Wars™set 75293 Resistance I-TS and creates a landspeeder out of its parts

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  1. Good review! One minor correction—32803 is indeed new in Dark Bluish Gray, but the official name for that color is Dark Stone Grey—Medium Stone Grey is the official name for Light Bluish Gray.

    The new windscreen piece is certainly interesting. I feel like the upper studs might make it less appealing for convertibles than 62360, but for other uses the studs on top and standardized 3 module radius for both the top and bottom curves should be quite useful.

    Speaking of a 3-module radius, the 3x3x1 quarter dome is also great looking! It used to be quite rare to get a curve of that size, but we're starting to see more and more parts that use it. Now if only we could get 3x3 macaroni bricks, plates, and tiles that matched...

    I've seen a lot of criticism of the large 6x8x6 bay panel, but I personally am a fan. It seems like an elegant solution for the bay doors on this set that's still basic enough to see use elsewhere. Like its smaller cousin I could see this being usable as a plow, as an architectural shape, or as a similarly hinged opening for other vehicles. Flipped upside-down, it could make an interesting curve for a roof. It might be slightly more limited in use due to its size (you're unlikely to see it appear in smaller sets), but that doesn't mean it's too specialized. If we were really lucky, it might appear as a transparent recolor sometime in the future—imagine how great it'd work as a large skylight!

  2. The red weapon barrel part 98585 can also be found in 42120 Rescue Hovercraft, a much more inexpensive and common set than either this or the Mickey & Minnie Mouse figures. I think it was even highlighted in the review of that set on this very website about a month ago.

  3. Thinking a little more about what those bay doors could be used for, I realized that the curve on them ought to also match 24599... I'll have to think about how I could use that.

  4. In the designer video they mention that the heart piece was used in a certain location because there isn't a 3x3 L-shaped corner plate.

    I also puzzle over the "Bracket, inverted" nomenclature. Lego is only somewhat consistent in that a bracket that hangs down is just a "bracket" and one that juts upward is "inverted".

    1. It might just have depended on which part was introduced first...

    2. indeed, the first brackets were plates with a descending vertical

    3. The oldest of the standard brackets (so, excluding the space chair) that I'm aware of is the 1x2-1x4 that came out all the way back in 1987. Being a down bracket, it set the standard. Down is a "bracket", and up is an "inverted bracket".

  5. Where can we find the designer notes to see why there's an inverted flag?

    1. I'm guessing they mean in the instructions, but you could also just do what I did and Google why it's like that on the real thing.

    2. I know exactly why the flag is shown that way, because I asked the police officer who was standing guard near the cash box at the inaugural Brickworld Ft. Wayne expo why his uniform had a flag that was shown the same way, with the blue field on the right. I won't spoil that specific explanation, but I will explain a lot of related flag etiquette that's largely unique to the US.

      If the flag is flown on a pole or ship's rigging, flying it upside-down is a way to signal that the ship is in distress. This obviously doesn't work at all with many European flags that are just vertical or horizontal stripes, often with the inverse being a different nation's flag. It also doesn't work if the person viewing the flag isn't familiar enough with it to know if it's upside-down, so an alternative method is to tie a knot in the center of the flag.

      The flag should never be flown in the rain or at night unless it is fully illuminated, which is why you often see footlights clustered around flagpoles (it's an easy way to avoid having to send someone out to lower the flag every time it rains).

      If the flag is against a background, like if you hang it on a wall, or wear it on a uniform, the blue field (almost) always goes in the upper left, whether it's hanging horizontally or vertically. The ironic thing is, the starboard flag would actually look normal when the STS stack is prepped on the launch pad, but that has nothing to do with why it's oriented like that.

      If the flag is suspended in a window, the blue field goes to the upper left when viewed from the street, but if it's suspended where it's viewable on both sides (like over a street), the blue field goes to the north or the east. If it's suspended behind a speaker, the blue field goes to the observer's left, regardless of whether both sides are visible.

      There are two standard US flags. The official standard is nearly twice as long as it is tall, and looks really weird because it's so rarely seen. I believe it's mostly used by the military these days. The conventional standard is about 50% longer than it is tall, which is similar in shape to most of the other national flags of the world. The shorter version is probably also going to last longer, as the end will whip around less in strong winds.

      An interesting note is that the Apollo moon landings actually broke US flag etiquette, as outlined in Chapter 1 of Title 4 of the United States Code (it's written with lots of "should" and "customary" language, with no mention of punishment if you break from protocol). According to that, a flag that's flown on a pole should always be allowed to fly freely (i.e. only connected by the hoist side). However, since there's no atmosphere on the moon, the flag would never unfurl because there'd never be any wind. So they added a horizontal bar that would spring open and the length of the flag would hang suspended from that.

    3. I'm an US army veteran, so I can add a bit of information here.

      Purple Dave had a lot of great information about flag etiquette, some of which I did not know until now. Thanks, Purple Dave! :)

      Now, as to why the flag appears inverted at times. This is something that I picked up when I was attached to the Honor Guard in Fort Huachuca, Arizona.
      It's more imagery and symbolism, but it has meaning too. The flag showing the blue star field where it is presents the imagery of the flag always advancing and never retreating. It's also why the flag is raised swiftly in the morning on a military base and lowered very slowly in the evening.

      Hope that helped.