Price: £64.99 / $69.99 / €69.99 Pieces: 864 Available: February 1
21321 International Space Station is the IDEAS set that passed the LEGO Group’s special 10-year anniversary review stage during last year, before selection by public vote. The 29th overall set between Cuusoo and IDEAS pulled in over half the public vote (perhaps aided by NASA’s support on social media) to make it the fourth NASA-based set for the theme already.
Where some may have hoped for the originality of a giant Stitch, the classic arcade builds or even an artistic sculpture, from the four options available in last year’s public vote, that 21321 has become the International Space Station is perhaps most apt.
Released to signify IDEAS’ 10-year anniversary (reached in 2018, before the review and vote in 2019), 21321’s arrival in 2020 also hits a special anniversary for the International Space Station, as this year marks 20 years of continuous occupation within it, since long term residents first moved in on November 2, 2000.
But, relevance and overall theme continuity alone do not make a great LEGO IDEAS set. Importantly then, 21321 International Space Station packs in the detail, embracing the creative potential of microscale to capture not only the many modules that make up the station, but also their complex shaping and directional changes.
It is not a set that will immediately jump out at you whilst on display, in comparison to other sets across the LEGO Group’s current roster, or indeed in comparison to some of the more recent releases within the IDEAS theme. But, its strength is in its intricacy, which is remarkably achieved in what is still a very solid structure. This is a set based on a submission that fan designer Christoph Ruge admits he spent more than three years fine-tuning, and it shows.
It’s a set that is most comparable to the Architecture line, both for the display model that it creates as a final product, the level of detail that it explores in its construction, and the little techniques thrown in there that are as subtle as they are smart. Three cargo ships are also included, as well as a mini space shuttle that most accurately reflects the scale that this model has been designed at – deliberately the same as the shuttle included in 2017’s IDEAS set, 21312 Women of NASA.
Whilst there are also two astronaut microfigures (three if you include the spare) identical to the trio included in 2017’s 21309 Apollo 11 Saturn V, there’s no comparable scale between these two sets – the shuttle’s length would come in at half the height of the rocket, if they were built to the same scale.
Everything is printed, which, although a small thing in 2020 (how many years have we had high quality stickers now?), helps elevate the build experience and consistency of the final model just that little bit further. From even the design of the display stand that houses everything, 21321 is smart and celebrates everything that its fan designer (followed by the trio of LEGO designers) is passionate about.
21321 International Space Station is a set that for all that it includes and achieves is a perfect addition to any LEGO NASA fan’s growing collection. It captures the intricate nature of its subject to create an engaging display piece that on every glance reveals something new. At £65 for 864 pieces, it also offers more than decent value for money.
It may not be one for play (every time you pick it up you’ll move one of the poseable solar panels dotted all around it), nor one for those suffering from NASA fatigue in what has been a Space-heavy period for the LEGO Group, but as a detailed and accurate LEGO tribute to one of man’s most important scientific ventures of the last two decades, there’s nothing better. Be sure to not overlook this one, IDEAS sets tend not to hang around too long…
This product was provided for review by the LEGO Group.