I suspect the unexpected success of the first, 21110 Research Institute, helped Maia Weinstock's project, on which this set is based, get the green light when it reached 10k supporters in just 15 days last year.
At first glance the set may not seem particularly appealing, but actually that's not the case at all...
Box and contents
The box is the same size as other small Ideas sets and like those, can be opened without destroying it and used to store the parts in when it's time to put it away.
There's not a lot of wasted space inside it.
Inside are three unnumbered bags and a 64-page instruction manual.
Unlike many Ideas sets manuals, this one is stapled which means it's much easier to lay flat when building (and also to photograph when open!)
Inside, in addition to the building instructions, there are brief biographies of the four women depicted in the set, and features on Maia and LEGO designers Gemma Anderson and Marie Sertillanges.
The main purpose of the set is to highlight the careers of women who have worked at NASA over the last 50 years or so, so of course the minifigure representations of them are a big part of it.
Four figures are provided. From left to right:
- Sally Ride, America's first woman in space, in Space Shuttle Challenger in 1983
- Mae Jemison, the first woman of colour in space, in 1992
- Nancy Grace Roman, often called the 'Mother of Hubble'
- Margaret Hamilton, lead developer of parts of the Apollo 11 software
All four figures feature new torsos and three have new head prints. Sally shares hers with Tina Goldstein. I particularly like Nancy's green horn-rimmed glasses.
The torso prints are exceptionally detailed and a lot of care has been taken to ensure they are accurate, as Marie explains in the manual.
They all have double-sided heads. Say cheese!
The fine printing and detail is also present on the backs of the torsos.
Margaret Hamilton & Classroom
First to be built is the least interesting of the three. It consists of a wall, coat stand and a pile of books. It is however pretty faithful to Maia's original proposal and also to the black-and-white photo of Margaret in the manual.
The tile, like every other decorated element in the set, is printed, as indeed they should always be in premium products such as this. Everyone involved in making this so should be commended.
The wall is attached to the base with clips.
Margaret can be stood next to a pile of books -- probably computer printouts on green-lined continuous paper. Remember that?
Sally Ride and Mae Jemison & Space Shuttle
Next up will be the highlight of the set for many, a miniature space shuttle complete with fuel tank and rocket boosters.
It's a great micro-scale representation of the vehicle.
Gemma has made use of the new Plate 1X1 Round W/ 3.2 Shaft (26047) to enable the two lower engine nozzles to be angled out slightly, which looks great.
The fuel tank and booster can be detached.
The figures can be stood in front of the shuttle and behind their printed name tiles. Mae comes equipped with a helmet, Sally with a camera.
Nancy Grace Roman & Hubble Space Telescope
As the 'Mother of Hubble' it's only fitting that the space telescope and a printed representation of a photo taken by it feature on Nancy's vignette.
The common or garden dustbin appears in light grey for the first time since 2009 to represent the satellite's aperture.
The solar panels, printed 1x4 tiles, are held on rather precariously with clips. There's a new Plate 1X1 Round W/ Horizontal 3.2 Shaft (32828), released this year, on top, and another spare in the box.
Like the other two vignettes, there's not much to see at the back.
Nancy can be positioned on the vignette next to her 'child'.
I was expecting this set to be an easy pass but now having built it, I like it. It offers a pleasant building experience and it makes a nice display piece. It's well designed, the minifigs are excellent and there's a smattering of new-ish pieces in it. The manual is informative and perhaps best of all, there are no stickers.
The only thing I can criticise is the placement of the name plates on the two single-figure vignettes. Surely it would have looked better to have them on the side the minifigures stand on.
I am pleasantly surprised by the price. $24.99, 24.99€ and, in particular, £19.99 seems very reasonable for a 200+ piece set with four excellent figures, and compares favourably with that of 21110 Research Institute.
Who is it likely to appeal to? I can't see many young girls wanting it if they have to choose between it and a Friends set but it's exactly the sort of set that parents and grandparents will want to buy them. They'll see it as an attractive, educational and inspirational purchase, and I'm certain that recipients will enjoy building it, and just maybe will also be encouraged to follow in the women's paths.
AFOLs will find much to like too, The shuttle, in particular, is a highlight and I suspect its inclusion will spur many people who would have otherwise overlooked it to buy it.
Overall, then, it's another superb Ideas set that I predict will fly off the shelves, just like 21110 Research Institute did, when it's released on 1st November.
Thanks to LEGO for providing the set for review. The review is an expression of my own opinions.