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Great Way To Celebrate The End Of An Era
on July 23, 2011
Last week was the final Space Shuttle mission. Building a huge Lego model of the Space Shuttle was a great way to celebrate the end of an incredible era of space exploration.
The Lego "Shuttle Adventure" is a beautiful, detailed model of the Space Shuttle program. Lego did not get the official sanction to use NASA decals or names, so this is the Adventure Shuttle model. Lego could have fooled me, this looks a lot like a really fine scale model of the real live Space Shuttle, I'm sorry NASA couldn't find their way clear to license this kit.
The construction is not very difficult, I think most Lego Maniacs will find it a challenging but not particularly hard build. It is much easier to build than the 1:12 scale Ferrari Formula 1 car (LEGO Ferrari F1 Large Racer). A fifteen and twenty year old Lego Maniacs built this in a pleasant afternoon. Mr. Fifteen year old only made one major mistake with the wing portion of the Shuttle - Mr. Fifty Three year old Lego Maniac had to fix it up for him (he misjudged the big white triangular pieces by one row of bricks).
At 1204 pieces, this is a large kit. In the world of Lego, pricing is almost always by the weight of plastic, or number of parts. With that price / part ratio, this is kit is on the expensive side.
The instructions are in two thick books. The pictures are easy to follow. None of us found any difficulty picking out the pieces and only had one alignment problem. Two people can easily share building this kit - the main Shuttle can be built independent of the brown external fuel tank and the two white solid rocket boosters. Frankly, it's the way they serviced the Shuttle in real life.
The detail in this kit is incredible. The cockpit has an instrument panel. I think the people are unique for this kit in that they have a happy face on one side and a surprised look on the other. The satellite is really beautiful with the solar panels extended. The landing gear has a nice mechanism for putting the landing gear down. The gear is sturdy and has some nice play value for rolling the Shuttle around.
I've included some pictures of our completed model to show some of the detail.
I actually had some fun flying a Shuttle mission. The rocket sits solidly on the pad, because the model is fairly heavy and well balanced, there are no snap connectors to hold the rocket down, just nice sockets. After lift off, the two solid rocket boosters can be pulled off, they are held on by two yellow pegs. Sadly, there are no parachutes in the boosters! The Shuttle can then be separated from the brown external tank by pulling the shuttle away from the two yellow pegs that hold it in place. Once in space, the bay doors can be opened, the robot arm extended, and connected to the folded up satellite. Once clear of the Shuttle, the solar panels can be extended and the satellite released. Close up the bay doors, and reenter. Just before landing extend the landing gear and do a perfect landing with the rear wheels first. Unlike a lot of Lego kits, this one is very solid once put together.
What a fantastic way to celebrate the Space Shuttle missions. Lego has created a great kit that we enjoyed building and playing with.
For younger builders, this is a decent kit (LEGO Space Shuttle 3367). The finished model looks a little more like a truck than the Space Shuttle - but it is much easier to build.