Price: £109.99 / $119.99 / €119.99 Pieces: 1969 Available: Now
The largest LEGO Ideas set released to date was a collaboration between Felix Stiessen and Valérie Roche, a true labour of love. With an appropriate 1969 pieces, this recreation of the Saturn V is clearly intended as an AFOL build experience. But does it live it up the stratospheric expectations?
Before we get into that, a history lesson! In 1961, President John F. Kennedy addressed Congress and committed to the American people that he would land a man on the moon and bring him safely back to Earth by the end of the 1960s. If we ignore the conspiracy theory that this was faked in a carefully staged film directed by none other than Stanley Kubrick, this was successfully achieved in 1969 when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed their lunar module and walked on the moon. The NASA Apollo program was dedicated to this cause and ran from 1961 to 1972, comprising a total of 17 missions. The main workhorse of this program was the Saturn V which was launched 13 times with no loss of crew or payload and was the most powerful rocket that had ever flown successfully.
I have a particular fondness for LEGO Ideas sets which is due to a combination of the journey they have been on, the niche appeal, the quality, the build and ultimately the finished product – 21309 NASA Apollo Saturn V is no exception.
The experience begins with the box, which is exceptionally well done. The front of the box includes a picture of the Saturn V in flight with the Moon in the background. There’s also a really neat blueprint image and the Apollo missions logo which is a nice addition, and then there’s the piece count which totals 1969 which is a welcome nod to the year in which Apollo 11 successfully put a man on the moon. The back of the box is equally as appealing and illustrates the mechanism by which Saturn V leaves the Earth’s atmosphere and continues its journey through each of the rocket stages. Equally, the instruction manual is a delight and includes more information about the Apollo program as well as a feature on the original fan designers.
I found the entire build process for 21309 NASA Apollo Saturn V a really enjoyable experience thanks to some really interesting techniques which maintain the engagement throughout as well as ensuring that the rocket’s rounded shape is true to the original. The build starts from the bottom and works its way up through three three core rocket stages – the S-IC first rocket stage, the S-II second rocket stage and the S-IVB third rocket stage with the Apollo spacecraft and rescue rocket. All of the rocket stages are removable are also are remarkably stable when the rocket is put together and stood vertically at its impressive one metre height.
The final part on the build process is the lunar module which sits neatly on an octagonal plate to represent the surface of the Moon. The lunar module is a pleasing combination of grey and pearl gold parts which look fantastic with the printed hatch. Included in the set are three microfigures and they are accompanied by an American flag with is printed on a trans-clear 1×2 tile. The final part of the build is the splashdown and features the command module complete with orange floats which is a fairly straightforward but pleasing build.
Once complete I can’t help but marvel at how impressive this set is – the height of this model alone gives you a real perspective of the magnitude of the Saturn V rocket even if this is only 1:110 scale. I cannot fault this as a display set and the set includes three stands which allow it to also be positioned horizontally. The role-play element of this build is also fantastic, as a lot of thought has gone into the design to ensure that the rocket stages easily break away without compromising the sturdiness of the build. As an educational tool it also ticks the boxes and I would love to see this used in a classroom environment to engage the audience on one of the most significant space programs and events in history.
I cannot fault anything about this set other than it may be a little too monochromatic – though if you’re in need of sourcing 1×3 and 2×3 curved slopes it’s ideal. Not only is it an impressive completed build but it’s also great value for money.
I love everything about this set and I would anticipate that demand for it will continue to be significant as it will appeal to builders and collectors alike. I cannot give this any higher recommendation and I’m hoping that if you were in two minds about whether to purchase this set I may have just swayed you.