Sunday, 4 June 2017

LEGO Ideas Set number 21309: NASA Apollo Saturn V

"We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too." John F. Kennedy, Rice Stadium, September 12 1962.

Thanks to my Mother, I have parts of that speech stuck in my head, and it is thanks to her that I have an interest in space. We use to watch a show thanks to its DVD release called From the Earth To the Moon, a show based on the missions NASA undertook to land astronauts on the Moon. To me, that point in time is probably one of the best example of what we as a species, regardless of differences, can do. We have touched the skies, traveled into the depths of our oceans and into continents. We've uncovered relics from times of old, trying to piece together what life was like thousands of years ago, what creatures walked, flew and swam on the planet and thanks to the 1960's, even if it was a race between the USA and the USSR, we touched the stars for the first time, we left the planet and traveled on the surface of the Moon. To this day we seek to travel further, we learn about what the surface of other planets look like, we're getting ready to analyze our Sun up close, and we're working on ways to travel even further. That's also just focusing on travel, I could go on with what we have achieved. You can't deny that what we have achieved is impressive. Was it with the best intentions? Not always, but you have to look at both the good and the bad.

Why do I tell you this? It's just a Lego set, you may say. Well, I think its probably best to set the stage with the importance of what the set is based on. I can speak from a bit of experience with this set as when I was going to pick it up, there were people waiting in line at the store (for reference I went to the Legoland Discovery Center in Chadstone to get this set, not a fun trip via public transport from where I live) who were there because of the importance this set represents. People who had never played with Lego, or people who played with it as children, who remember when Apollo 11 launched, when the Lunar Lander, code named The Eagle, landed on the surface of the Moon, watched the footage of the first steps on the surface, were getting this set. Encase you were wondering, yes it was a little awkward to be that guy who looked too young to be getting the set compared to the other people, but too old to go to the other part of the Discovery Center, the kids area. The day got more and more awkward as the day went as I went to see Wonder Woman that day too while still carrying around the set. Tangent aside, that's the importance this rocket has, and this was in Australia which while it played a part in the mission, the effect it had was probably much stronger in America. But enough dancing around it, lets look at the set itself, shall we?

The set itself contains 1969 (because references) pieces. You get the rocket itself which divides into multiple sections in the way the real rocket does, three small stands to display the rocket on its side, and two small diorama displays. One of the Moon's surface including a Lunar Lander which does store in the rocket and three micro figure astronauts, and another one with the re entry module floating on the water, including an orange ring to represent to represent what the module used to stay afloat and the buoyancy system to make sure it stayed afloat the right way up. The rocket itself is 1:110 in terms of scale with the real rocket, making it a meter tall, which many other MoC builders have been using to design other NASA structures and vehicles meant to go with the rocket. All detail on display is either brick formed detail or printed pieces. I am all for this because I hate stickers, to me if the detail is needed, print the detail on the plastic. What was most impressive about the set is actually hidden away in the completed model, but the effects of it are visible as you look at it. Many tricks are used to give as close to a perfectly cylindrical shape as they could get in the set and what made it interesting is ironically the colours used in it. You'd never think you'd find Red, Blue, Green and other colours like them in a Black and White model, but there they were. I recommend looking up the instructions for the build online so you can see better what I mean as it is hard to get a look at it now because the build itself is sturdy. It won't survive a fall, no Lego set does, but you can hold the completed rocket in one hand. All the modules will come apart with little force if you want them to come apart, but if you don't then the connections will hold.

One other strength this build has is that its an easy set to build with another person due to how the parts are distributed in the packaging. The set is devided into 12 main bags in the box. The first 6 bags are used for the First stage module, bags 7-10 are the Second stage, 11 is the Third stage, and 12 is the dioramas, lunar module, command module and the Launch Escape System. Its also relatively quick to build thanks to its symmetry considering the part count and complexity. I built it with my mother (read the intro again to find out why if you skipped it), and we got it done in around 2 hours, so it would be around 4 if you were building it by yourself. It was also a fun build to do because of its complexity, but I admit I have a slight bias as its rare that I build System based sets, mostly due to budget and I find the Technic sets interesting to build compared to other lines. It's also $170 AUD, so it is cheep considering the amount of pieces. It might take a while to find it as its suffering Switch distribution syndrome, but if you do find it I do recommend getting it, even if its just because you're looking for a complex Lego set.

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