21312 Women of NASA has proven to be an extremely popular set thanks to its unique subject matter – the model still shares similarities and traits with a wide variety of past products
LEGO Ideas has served as a fascinating platform to see how ideas generated by AFOLs fare in the real world. Recently, the US Space Program has been a hot source of inspiration which has translated into incredibly successful sets. Even while the 21309 Saturn V remains hard to get, 21312 Women of NASA has vanished from store shelves almost as fast as it can be re-stocked. Components and traits of this popular set have served the LEGO Group well in the past as the following sets illustrate.
7470 Space Shuttle Discovery-STS-31
It is a well known fact that Women of NASA is not the first rendition of a Space Shuttle in the brick. Fans can be forgiven for not knowing that it is also not the first time the famous Hubble Telescope has been immortalised. That honour goes to set 7470 Space Shuttle Discovery-STS-31 from 2003, part of the short lived partnership between the LEGO Group and the Discovery Channel. Due to not being designed for minifigures, 7470 was not very popular when it came out which is a bit of a shame as the telescope is perfectly scaled for minifigures and is quite accurate.
21110 Research Institute
The most obvious set on this list is of course 21110 Research Institute from 2014. Due to incredible publicity in non-LEGO media, sales of this previous Ideas entry were off the charts. The three vignette format inspired many other similar sets – one of which is of course Women of NASA, that takes the same basic idea and imagined it with real world scientists instead of generic versions. Based on the incredible success of both sets I imagine this will not be the last time we see a set like this attain 10,000 votes.
3647 Lionel Lion’s Classroom
Women of NASA contains a variety of modern elements and building techniques. That does not stop it from having a connection to a set which hails from way back in the 1980s in a completely different theme – Fabuland. This is one of the only other LEGO sets that includes a chalkboard element which can be seen on the back wall of Lionel’s classroom. The chalkboard in 3647 Lionel’s Lion Classroom was a sticker applied across four 1×4 bricks.
8144 Ferrari 248 F1 Team (Michael Schumacher edition)
While minifigures of actual people are quite common due to licensing it is rare that the LEGO Group includes a minifigure of a real life person, as opposed to a movie character. Chris Pratt has multiple figures to his name but always as Owen or Star Lord, never as himself. 21312 Women of NASA is not the first set to include figures of real world people as themselves. Sports has been the theme that claims the vast majority including basketball, football and hockey stars. Racing has been another example, such as 8144 Ferrari 248 F1 Team that includes the real world race car driver Michael Schumacher.
7467 International Space Station
While the miniature space shuttle that adorns Mae Jemison and Sally Ride’s vignette will be the first such model in most collections, it is not the first miniature version of the now retired spacecraft produced by the LEGO Group. That was 7467 International Space Station from 2003. Another entrant in the Discovery Channel theme, this set included a scaled model of the shuttle paired with a model of the International Space Station.
It is fascinating to look at how seemingly disparate sets are linked and how, even with something as specific as the Hubble Space Telescope, the LEGO Group has looked at this particular item before.