21309 NASA Apollo Saturn V has received almost universal acclaim for many different reasons, notably including the piece count of 1969 which reflects the year of the Apollo 11 moon landing.
Huw and I recently attended the Fan Media Days in Billund and met with Carl Merriam, Mike Psiaki and Austin Carlson who designed the set. We discussed the circumstances surrounding the 1969 parts included and were interested to learn how this appropriate total came about.
Read on for the full story...
The original LEGO IDEAS submission contained 1179 pieces but it quickly became apparent that the final model would include a significantly higher number. The idea that the set might consist of around 1969 pieces was therefore considered at an early stage of production, although this was dismissed as being highly unlikely so the design process began without aiming for an exact piece count.
However, in a pleasing coincidence the completed design included 1973 pieces! Four pieces were accordingly removed from the set, leaving a final total of 1969. The additional four elements were taken from the tallest of the three display stands included as two stacks of two 1x6 plates replaced four stacks of two 1x2 plates which had originally been positioned at each corner. The designers also considered withdrawing four 1x1 plates from the lunar module, one of which is circled below, although this proved to be unnecessary.
Generating the instructions presented another issue as the inventory suggested that the set contained only 1968 pieces. However, after some research they realised that the instructions had not taken account of the orange brick separator included, bringing the total up to 1969!
Many thanks to Carl Merriam for sharing this story with us and to the other designers for creating such a brilliant model.