28 March 2024

LEGO® Friends review: 42602 Space Research Rover

Posted by tobymac

To boldly go where no mini-doll has gone before! Olivia has set out for the stars, as her next space-themed set has her exploring alien life beyond our solar system. Buckle up and join the ride with LEGO® Friends 42602 Space Research Rover.

Products in this article were gifted by The LEGO Group; the author's opinions are their own.
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42602 Space Research Rover
US$49.99/ £44.99/ 49.99€/ AU$79.99
375 parts
Released 1 April 2024

Set 42602 is available to pre-order on

The LEGO Friends team keeps pushing boundaries in terms of design, storytelling, build experience and inclusivity. Under the umbrella of the Space 2024 "supertheme", boundaries are crossed in the literal sense, leaving Heartlake City and even the Earth behind. 

In her last set before the great time-jump in the LEGO Friends Universe, Olivia joined the Space Academy in set 41713, and next we found her exploring the solar system in Mars Space Base and Rocket (read our review of LEGO set 42605 here). 

©2024 The LEGO Group

Judging by the box art of Space Research Rover, Mars appears to be just a stepping stone further into space, as we find her now cruising around on a seemingly alien planet. This was confirmed by set designer Wes Talbott on Instagram:

We found in testing that kids were excited by more alien-looking worlds, it helps push the imagination to explore beyond what we think is possible. Plus, opalescent plants are pretty!

- Wes Talbott 

Recolored elements

Exploring an alien world requires a specialized vehicle, and that vehicle comes with new elements. The first thing that will catch your eye are all the Trans-Purple windscreens, and I was surprised to find only one of them is actually new: Windscreen 4 x 6 x 1 1/3 (6507861 | 3384), of which we get 2.

I had a lot of fun working with the new LEGO Speed Champions canopies, the geometry on them is so clean and fits the shape language perfectly.

- Wes Talbott 

Reddish Orange is a new colour for 2024, and the list of available parts is rapidly expanding. The rover adds 3 new parts to the list:

The largest mold is Wheel Wagon Viking with 12 Holes [7 Studs Diameter] (6480512 | 55817); so named as it was originally introduced by the LEGO Vikings theme in 2006. With the Vikings being the first non-natives to explore the American continent (as far as we know), it’s fitting the mold is used in a set exploring new worlds. Unsurprisingly, we get 4 in the set.

So far, there are only two plates available in Reddish Orange, so more ‘universal’ parts for building are very welcome. We get 4x Plate 1 x 6 (6469087 | 3666) and 1x Plate 1 x 4 (6469089 | 3710).

A new fern was introduced in Andrea’s Modern Mansion, also designed by Wes Talbott (see our review of LEGO set 42639, with insight from Wes and creative lead Fenella Charity). So it’s no surprise the mold shows up here as well, recolored in my favorite of the opalescent colors: 4x Plant, Fern 3 x 4 x 2 in Satin Trans-Dark Blue (6507850 | 5151).

Printed elements and mini-dolls

Graphic Designer Anne Godsk has fitted the cute little dog Apollo with a space suit: Animal, Dog, Pug with Space Suit, Tan Face print in White (6480973), seen above centre left. The pug mold (24111) is not new, but it is the first time it has been recolored to White. Its bigger head is perfect to simulate the helmet, similar to how the thick cat mold was used to put a cat in a space suit in Mars Space Base and Rocket, seen centre right. (This set does not include the cat.)

The alien planet is inhabited by two Medium Azure creatures (above left) that are very similar to the Lime version found on Mars (above right), but in a different color and a slightly different print: Brick Round 2 x 2 Dome Top with 3-Eyed Alien print in Medium Azure (6466762).

The rover is occupied by two familiar faces. Olivia and William joined the Space Academy together, and have now gone on a mission together. 

Pictured above left and right are their teenage/young adult version from Space Academy, and in the center their adult forms as found in this set. Olivia is identical to the version found in Mars Space Base and Rocket, and William’s space suit can be found in that set as well. His Medium Brown head, however, has a new print (6480972).

The mini-dolls come with an additional helmet/backpack, which fits mini-dolls only. Both the White helmets (6460332 | 5149) and Trans-Purple visors (6472517 | 49480) have only appeared so far in Mars Space Base and Rocket.

Sticker sheet

The other graphics come in the form of a small sticker sheet, revealing the name of the planet we’re visiting: N1C3. Sounds like a nice place.

Set 42602 Space Research Rover is available to pre-order on

Other elements of interest

I’ve already described the recolored windscreen, but there are more Trans-Purple elements worth mentioning, all of which have only appeared in Mars Space Base and Rocket previously:

  • 1 x Panel 6 x 5 x 3 1/3 Curved Top in Transparent Bright Bluish Violet/ Trans-Purple (6472651 | 5065)
  • 4 x Panel 1 x 2 x 2 [Side Supports / Hollow Studs] in Transparent Bright Bluish Violet/ Trans-Purple (6475046 | 35378)
  • 2 x Windscreen 6 x 6 x 1 1/3 in Transparent Bright Bluish Violet/ Trans-Purple (6508202 | 5475)

  • 2 x Brick Sloped 1 x 6 x 1 with 1 x 2 x 1 / 3 Cutout in White (6507991 | 4569) has appeared in 2 sets prior
  • 4 x Tile Round 3 x 3 in Medium Lilac/ Dark Purple (6379863 | 67095) has been seen in a single set in 2022
  • 5 x Tile Special 1 x 1 with Clip with Rounded Edges in Medium Lilac/ Dark Purple (6469425 | 44842) was introduced this year in 71045 CMF Series 25
  • 1 x Equipment Camera Handheld with Central Viewfinder in White (6476587 | 4724, 30089b) has been used in 2 January 2024 sets
  • 2 x Brick Round 1 x 1 diameter Tube with 90 Degree Elbow (2 x 2 x 1) and Axle Holes (Crossholes) at each end in Medium Azure (6369800 | 25214) has appeared in 2 other sets
  • 1 x Tile Round 1 x 2 Half Circle in Reddish Orange (6510075 | 1748) has been used in 2 of the January 2024 sets
  • And finally, please welcome Plate Round Corner 6 x 6 in Bright Blue/ Blue (6093691 | 6003) into this millennium. This element has appeared in just one set, all the way back in 1999! We only get one of them here.

The build

We start off by building William on a small hovercraft, having a closer look at some lifeforms. The scene looks really cute, but having seen the Alien franchise of movies, I advise William not to get too close to those pods…

If that hovercraft looks familiar, you might have played with LEGO Space sets back in the 1990s:

I’m also super happy I was able to include a detachable exploration hovercraft which is a direct nod to 6815 [Hovertron], one of my favorite childhood sets. 

- Wes Talbott

Any excuse to purchase old sets "for a comparison photo" is welcomed by me. So just in case any LEGO designers are reading this review, I think Olivia could really use a Spectral Starguider to drive to Alpha Centauri…

The chassis of the rover is made of a mix of LEGO System and Technic System elements. Without the wheels attached, it resembles a crawler bot hunting aliens. 

The center of the chassis can be angled on its hinge, simulating steering. Unfortunately there is no steering wheel, but you can steer by just driving around and bending the rover. 

On the front of the chassis we find a face and arms. I wonder if the software is based on Zobo, the robot Olivia invented in 2012?

The cockpit of the rover is made out of SNOT walls, holding the windscreens in place. The front windscreen is hinged to allow access to the mini-doll. I just love the clean lines, and the combination of Trans-Purple and White with Reddish Orange details is stunning.

The cockpit can slide onto the axle sticking out of the chassis. I think you’re supposed to push the cockpit firmly onto the studs below for a full connection, but if you just let it rest, the studs keep the cockpit locked loosely in place, while still allowing for 45 degree rotations.

On to the back of the rover, where we find a detachable module. As in Mars Space Base and Rocket, the space is multi-functional: the research lab can easily be folded into a sleeping area. 

On the back we add a small plateau for Apollo to rest and enjoy the view. Again, the color scheme looks stunning, and the level of playability is high, but there are some ugly gaps on the edges of the top windscreen.

The module features the same airlock element found in multiple Space 2024 sets. This means it can be joined to other modules across the range.


I’m from the generation of Blacktron II, Space Police II and Ice Planet 2000. I spent many hours in my room playing with my sets, exploring alien planets and telling stories through the bricks. It’s a memory I wish every child could make in some form, and I’m so happy that 2024 introduces such a wide variety of space-themed sets spread across multiple themes, for children and child-at-heart AFOLs to explore the outer limits of their imagination. 

42602 Space Research Rover fits right in among these sets, while also bringing a unique design that looks stunning. The rover looks truly out of this world, but still fits within the LEGO Friends Universe. The set gives us multiple Trans-Purple windscreens and new Reddish Orange elements, making it a great starter pack for your own builds.

With my nostalgia triggered, I figured it would be interesting to see how this rover would look in the color schemes of  the factions I grew up with. Naturally, a lot of elements are not available in the required colors, so I had to use BrickLink Studio to create a mockup. By the looks of it, the old gang gets along great with the new arrivals!

Set 42602 Space Research Rover is available to pre-order on

READ MORE: Eero casts an architect's eye over 42620 Olly and Paisley's Family Houses

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  1. Those color-coded suits make me think of Belgian Roger Leloup's Yoko Tsuno comics, but maybe it's just an old sci-fi trope...

  2. Great review! I love the City and Friends space sets this year, and just built the Friends Mars base and rocket yesterday. The way they've made these sets visually compatible without sacrificing either theme's visual identity is truly impressive.

    Very much looking forward to this set as well. More trans purple windscreens are always a plus, and I love the space dog and new alien species. Already broadening the scope of the Friends space program to multiple planets makes me hope we may see more space missions from the theme in the future!

  3. Great review! Fun fact: Apollo's face print is apparently inspired at least partly by graphic designer Anne Godsk's dog, Frida:

    The Viking wagon wheels have proven very versatile over the years, so it's great to get them in a new color. And it's also very nice to have the narrower Speed Champions windscreen in Tr. Bright Bluish Violet to match its wider counterpart from this set and the mars base. I love how creatively both are used here to create very different cockpit/habitat canopy shapes than we've seen in other space sets from the City and Friends theme.

    It's also great to get our second color for the 1x2 fern/palm leaf piece, and in a more fantasy sort of color rather than one suited to Earthling flora. That said, I'm also still hoping future sets will include that mold in colors like Bright Green or Dark Green (classic green). I recently realized it'd make great arms for Petey Piranha if the LEGO Super Mario design team ever wants to include him in a set!

    I'm a big fan of the Hovertron reference in this set, since that was a pretty iconic set from my own childhood, and I immediately thought of it when pics of this set first emerged! The opalescent batteries are put to good use on the sides (where the original Hovertron used a pair of jet engine/pontoon pieces), and the handlebars fold down nicely for when you want to stow the hovercraft on top of the rover's crew cabin.

    The robot face and arms on the rover chassis give it an autonomous rover look, which definitely helps keep it from feeling superfluous even when you remove the cockpit and crew cabin to combine them with other sets. And the articulated steering adds a lot of playability to the rover in both manned and autonomous configurations, just as it did for many classic LEGO Space sets.

    The rover interior is also really lovely, with lots of Brick Yellow and Flame Yellowish Orange parts providing nice contrast with the cool-colored windows. Like most Friends sets, the furnishings look both cozy and practical. Also, I appreciate mission commander Aveline showing up on the stickered comms screen inside the cockpit! I wonder if she is still on Mars, or if she's accompanied Olivia and William on this subsequent extrasolar mission.

    All in all, between this set and the mars base, the Friends theme has really proven itself spaceworthy this year! I love the color schemes and the blend of traditional LEGO Space play features with the Friends theme's signature attention to detail. It's also great to see what sort of exciting things Olivia's been up to since she graduated high school (hopefully in the future we might also see some sets that highlight Emma's successful art career).

    The theme definitely shows no signs of running out of steam — or rocket fuel — any time soon, and I'm eager to see what else the designers have in store for us in the years to come!