After a couple of much larger entries, LEGO Ideas returns to a smaller size for the latest release. Is 21312 Women of NASA as awesome as the women it enshrines in bricks?
Price: £19.99 / $24.99 / €24.99 Pieces: 231 Available: November 1
21110 Research Institute caused a sensation when it was released back in 2014. Celebrated in both LEGO fan and mainstream media circles alike, the trio of vignettes went on to sell through multiple production runs. Continuing in its tradition, Maia Weinstock designed a fantastic submission commemorating real life female scientists who made their mark at NASA as opposed to generic scientists. The final result is a set absolutely worth owning for a host of reasons.
21312 Women of NASA pays tribute to four pioneering NASA scientists – Margaret Hamilton, Nancy Grace Roman, Sally Ride and Mae Jemison. The four figures are spread across three vignettes that commemorate, in some way, their respective contributions to the space program. The display stands themselves are plain and basic, however, the models atop each are anything but. Far from simply being a fancy minifigure pack, Maia and then the LEGO Group have delivered excellent and detailed builds that add real value to 21312. Sticker haters can rejoice, every graphic is printed in keeping with the general trend of LEGO Ideas sets.
Margaret Hamilton’s model takes inspiration from an iconic photo of her standing next to a stack of books containing listings of Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC) onboard flight software source code. Her minifigure printing is superb and features a relatively rare knit pattern and distinctive new face. All the minifigure heads for the women are double sided which seems a bit odd considering source material, but is welcome none the less due to adding more versatility to the heads for other purposes. Margaret’s build is the most plain but features some fantastic elements, most notably the printed chalkboard that many a MOCer will surely salivate over.
Moving on to the next model in 21312 Women of NASA, Nancy Grace Roman was the first female executive at NASA, ending her illustrious career as one of the principal drivers behind the Hubble Space Telescope which has been almost perfectly captured here in miniature form. The telescope and printed astronomy panel have so many possible uses beyond this set. The telescope is a very accurate re-creation that could be used as is in a space layout. Furthermore, the printed solar panels are a piece I sincerely hope are released in great quantities, they are superior to every other attempt at depicting solar panels that the LEGO Group has tried. Likewise the printed astronomy panel showcases some sort of nebula which would be an amazing addition to a Star Wars or Space MOC.
The final model is the best thanks to the mini space shuttle and NASA jump suits worn by the two minifigures. Sally Ride and Mae Jemison were the first American woman and first African American woman in space respectively, hence them shown together next to a model of the shuttle. The mini space shuttle is the highlight of this set, a nearly perfect rendering of the subject matter at this scale – I honestly don’t know how it could have been improved. It is fully functional with detachable solid rocket boosters and external fuel tank. Just this model alone would be a worthy set, the fact that it also comes with some minifigure outfits that are desirable bulk only adds to the appeal.
21312 Women of NASA truly has something for everyone. Showcasing amazing women who may not be well known to the general public, outstanding mini-models and excellent printed parts with wide applications for MOCing. It even meets the magic price to piece ratio for those who still ascribe to that. Finally, it makes a great display and conversation starter piece. I highly recommend this set to any LEGO fan, especially at this price.
This product was provided for review by the LEGO Group.