Celebrating the 40th anniversary of an iconic day in space exploration history, LEGO launched its new Space Shuttle Discovery set at the beginning of the month, and now we’re taking a hands-on look. Stacking up to 2,354 pieces and complemented by a Hubble telescope payload, we’re looking into whether the LEGO Group’s most expensive NASA-Inspired creation to date is worth its $200 price tag. Head below for all of the details.
Hands-on with LEGO’s new Space Shuttle Discovery
The latest addition to the LEGO Group’s collection of space exploration creations enters in celebration of the 40th anniversary and joins a long list of NASA-inspired creations. After seeing the fan-favorite Saturn IV brought back last fall, builders are now getting yet another iconic piece of the American space program in the form of the Space Shuttle Discovery.
Stacking up to 2,354 pieces, the latest addition to the LEGO space collection arrives with plenty of authentic features packed into the over 21-inch long build. You’re, of course, assembling the Space Shuttle Discovery itself, but also its most well-known payload from the original launch, the Hubble Space Telescope.
And while Star Wars fans will be accustomed to the practice, builders will find a pair of stands and plaques included to complete the package. These solidify the kit as a display piece for your NASA or LEGO collection and further accentuate the Space Shuttle Discovery collectible emphasis.
A closer look at the actual Space Shuttle
Taking up a majority of the included 2,345 pieces, it’s hard not to notice the sheer size of the LEGO Space Shuttle Discovery. Measuring over 21 inches long, its sleek white and black design hides plenty of authentic details throughout. Across the board, the designers who worked on this build did a really impressive job at recreating the spacecraft out of the usually blocky medium, but there are a few areas where things could be a bit improved, like the hinges on the payload bay doors.
That aside, most of the set relies on various techniques to hide studs from view, which almost makes it hard to tell we’re talking about a LEGO kit depending on the angle. Most of the curves have been executed about as well as you could ask for from the bricks, and its iconic shape benefits from just how large of a model this is.
There’s also a pair of printed NASA tiles that rest on either wing, which are a nice surprise considering the reliance on stickers elsewhere. And on the topic of printed bricks, there’s also a new windshield piece up at the cockpit which ties the nosecone together.
Checking out the Hubble Telescope
Alongside the Space Shuttle Discovery itself, LEGO has included a fitting payload to deploy in your own brick-built diorama. The Hubble Telescope may not be the centerpiece of the creation, but it certainly feels like a completely standalone build in its own right. Its design is scaled quite well to match with the Space Shuttle Discovery itself and manages to pack in plenty of details for the size.
The most eye-catching thing, though, on the space telescope is the usage of unique chrome bricks to give Hubble its iconic look. But there’s also the solar arrays flanking the cylindrical body, which pull the look together, complete with its signature mirror and aperture door.
Highlights from the LEGO Space Shuttle Discovery
While this is certainly a display model, that doesn’t stop LEGO from including some play features, which are located around back with the fuselage. Rotating the top exhaust allows you to adjust the angle of the elevons. Then there’s the body flap, which, when pushed in, will trigger the landing wheels to pop out. There are some pretty clever internal mechanisms at work here to pull off the unique feature, which is easily one of the highlights.
Working your way up through the Space Shuttle Discovery, LEGO has packed quite a few notable inclusions into the payload bay. Alongside just being able to store the Hubble Telescope inside, there’s an included stand that allows you to simulate deploying the payload when up on display. There’s also a robotic arm and some other sensors throughout for added authenticity.
Then, up at the front, LEGO has managed to deliver a more or less faithful recreation of the cockpit and crew compartment despite being far from minifigure scale. Even though there aren’t any microfigs included with the set, the build is actually the perfect size to fit with the mini astronauts that were included with the International Space Station.
Now I know it’s not the most exciting thing, but the stands included are something that really caught my eye. As an avid Star Wars collector, the UCS kits can stand to learn a thing or two from the rounded bases, which frankly look much better than the typical stands that have been tolerated up until now.
As good as the LEGO Space Shuttle Discovery is, there is one drawback that I feel inclined to mention in this review. Stickers have long been the bane of my existence in LEGO kits, and the latest NASA-inspired build may be one of the worst offenders. In order to pull off the unique chrome look for the payload bay, there’s an entire sticker sheet that you’ll have to apply, which is tedious at best. The reliance on stickers doesn’t affect my ultimate rating of the set too much, but it’s worth noting nonetheless.
Value and pricing
Clocking in a $199.99, the new LEGO Space Shuttle Discovery is a solid value no matter how you look at it. From just the perspective of the bricks you get for your cash, its $0.08 per part valuation is about as good as they come from builds like this. But there’s no denying that the completed model assembles a creation that’s worth more than the sum of its parts, making it even more enticing of a release from the LEGO Group.
Should you buy it compared to other NASA kits?
On its own, there’s no doubt that those set on adding a brick-built version of the iconic Space Shuttle to their collection will feel justified in picking up the new LEGO debut. But for those looking to score the best NASA-inspired creation for their cash, this review of the LEGO Discovery spacecraft becomes less of a straightforward answer. After all, $200 goes a long way in the LEGO world, especially amongst the other space exploration models.
Would it be better to pick up the Lunar Lander and International Space Station and make out for less, or just go for a single, massive build? Or there’s the LEGO Apollo Saturn V, which might not match the Space Shuttle Discovery in part count, but measures an impressive 39 inches tall.
There’s plenty to enjoy about going either of those routes, but if there’s one takeaway from this review, it’s that the LEGO Space Shuttle Discovery is just too iconic to pass up on. It clearly earns its title as not only the largest NASA kit in the LEGO catalog to date but also the most enticing yet.
At the end of the day, the LEGO Space Shuttle Discovery is about as faithful of a recreation as you can expect from LEGO, at least for the price. That alone is going to make this an easy recommendation to NASA fans, as it looks quite lovely up on display. It has a presence to it that the other space exploration kits lack, which is only amplified by the included Hubble Telescope that makes for an even more unique collectible.
On the other hand, the LEGO enthusiast in me wishes that some of the design choices were different, but many won’t care or even notice in the first place. Even my nitpicks with the payload bay doors and the reliance on stickers barely lay a scratch on an otherwise flawless build.
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