The latest LEGO Ideas set is the NASA Apollo Saturn V. By now, you've probably seen plenty of reviews from those lucky enough to get the set before it sold out. I'm happy to bring you Rebrickable's review of this amazing model.
The box isn't as large as I was expecting given the size of the model. It has a good depiction of the rocket deployment stages during flight on the back.
- 12 numbered bags of parts (one of each number)
- plastic wrapped booklet
- No stickers :)
The booklet is very nicely produced, with some background material on the Saturn V rocket and the LEGO designers.
There are no minifigs in this set, but there are three (well four if you count the spare) tiny trophy-sized astronauts. All trophy-figs have the same astronaut print on the front.
The Saturn V rocket was 110m tall, while this LEGO model is 1m tall (so a ratio of 1:110). The trophy-figs are about 15mm tall (including the base), which scaled up would make them 1.65m. So, they are a pretty accurate size comparison to the rocket as a whole. If you haven't seen one of them up close in real life, try to picture yourself as one of these little figs :)
No new parts, but there are plenty of new prints. First up, there's plenty of USA material (25 parts in total).
Build - Stage 1
The stage 1 booster contains an inner cylindrical structure with bracing to support the outer panelling. It starts off a little fragile and bizare looking.
The strange looking contraption in the middle of the booster is there to help connect the corrugated part of the panelling later on.
Next we can see the first of the outer panelling and how it connects the two halves of the 1st stage booster.
The lower part of the stage starts to get some depth to it. The long piping/cabling running up the side of the booster is nicely done.
With the side panels complete, the booster is starting to look amazing.
The engines are very well done when you compre them with the real F-1 engines.
The completed first stage:
The first stage is almost half the height of the total rocket.
Build - Stage 2
The second stage follows much the same internal design as the first stage. A central cylindrical support structure uses plenty of SNOT techniques to attach the outer panelling. The second stage has a conical nose so there's a bit more to it, but otherwise it's very similar.
Next the outer panelling is added which adds extra rigidity to the rocket.
Lots of 4-way repetition :)
The completed second stage:
The 1st and 2nd stages connect via the four double-header connections which makes it very secure. When pulling them apart, you worry about breaking something but everything is strong enough to handle it very well.
Build - Stage 3
Since the third stage has a smaller diameter, there is no inner cylindrical walls.
The completed stage 3:
The 3rd stage connects to the 2nd stage via 2 connectors.
Build - Service Module
The Service Module is a fairly straight-forward build, with the Launch Escape System at the top and the Lunar Module fairings below.
The escape tower design looks interesting, but has a major flaw. In the real rocket, it detaches shortly after launch once it's past the point that it can no longer save the Command Module in an emergency. However, in this LEGO model, the tower is attached via a long axle that is also keeping the 4x4x2 Cone (i.e. Command Module) attached. So it cannot be removed without breaking things.
Build - Lunar Module
The Lunar Module build consists of the lander and a small scene with two of the trophy-figs planting a flag. The third trophy-fig doesn't show up in any of the instructions but it's nice they included him.
It's designed to easily be separated into descent and ascent stages (be sure you don't leave your astronauts on the moon!)
It fits snugly into the fairing too.
The Service/Command/Lunar Module docking process needs to destroy the escape tower and then use a separate axle (4L works fine) to connect them all together.
Build - Splashdown
A 2nd version of the Command Module is built, shown floating in the water after a successful parachute landing. I like the fact that it's now Dark Bluish Gray instead of the original White to simulate the atmospheric re-entry scorch marks. I'm not sure why they decided to put printing on this part but not the white part.
There are three stands for laying the rocket down horizontally. You can lay it down without them, but the tail fins on the first stage tend to span off.
Due to the size of this rocket, I wasn't able to get a full shot of it.
All the components.
Despite some initial delicate parts placements, the overall rocket is extremely rigid and well put together. There is a lot of 4-way symetrical building and repeated steps, but they are fairly small items for the most part and it never bothered me. It probably helps to build all 4 items in parallel.
I love the attention to detail - for example the external piping on the side of the rocket, all the little extra bits poking out of the rocket like ullage motors, attenaes etc. Also the colour scheme is pretty much spot on, although the real rocket had a few variations over it's lifetime.
The size is pretty deceptive from photos. Knowing it's 1m tall doesn't really prepare you for the thickness and solidity of the whole rocket. The detachable stages and command/service modules are fantastic.
The ability to extract the Lunar Module and dock it with the Service Module is neat, as is it's ability to separate it's ascent stage. The launch escape tower is the only slight annoyance making this kind of play a little cumbersome.
I'm a huge space fan, so this set was an automatic must-have from the moment it was announced. Now I just have to figure out how to display such a huge model :)
Having exactly 1969 parts is quite a clever achievement, I wonder how many iterations it took to add or remove just a few more parts to get to that magic number!
The LEGO Ideas sets don't usually stay in production for very long, and this one sold out very quickly on the first day. The LEGO shop says they are "temporarily out of stock" so hopefully more will be coming soon! Alternatively, you might find some in stores or search on Amazon and eBay via the links below.
If the set had been released a little later, in 2019 on the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission, it would get a lot more attention. But I'm sure it will still be on shelves at that time, perhaps even getting a new boost in production.
Disclaimer: This LEGO set was provided for review by The LEGO Group. Anything said in this post is the opinion of the author and not The LEGO Group.