Almost five decades have passed since Apollo 11 delivered humans to the surface of the Moon on the 20th of July, 1969. This amazing achievement has inspired numerous LEGO models and 10266 NASA Apollo 11 Lunar Lander looks wonderful in official images, accurately replicating this classic spacecraft design.
The set contains 1087 pieces and costs £84.99 or $99.99 so seems to offer reasonable value in my opinion, especially given the inclusion of two minifigures. Furthermore, a superb selection of metallic gold pieces are included, representing the aluminised kapton foil which protects the exterior. They seem rather interesting and should result in an exceptional model for display!
Box and Contents
The packaging exhibits the spacecraft on the lunar surface and it looks magnificent against this dark background, accentuating the metallic gold elements. I like how the design integrates Planet Earth in the distance, some 239,000 miles away! The stage separation functions appear on the reverse along with an image of the interior, demonstrating that you can place the minifigures inside.
Opening the box reveals eight numbered bags and another without a number that contains the larger pieces. The instruction manual comprises 122 pages, the first several of which are focused upon the Apollo Program and provide some information about the Lunar Module. Moreover, numerous reference images are included.
Eighteen stickers are included and they are printed on a reflective surface, making it quite challenging to photograph. You might actually be able to see Huw in the reflection here! Nevertheless, the designs look wonderful and I think these stickers were necessary as the areas covered by metallic foil are very irregular so would be difficult to replicate using bricks alone.
Two astronauts are included, representing Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. Numerous minifigures are intended to depict astronauts from the Apollo program and none are especially effective in my opinion. However, this bulky helmet assembly is certainly a reasonable facsimile of the real suits and I love the metallic gold visor covering the face of each astronaut.
Furthermore, the minifigures incorporate a new torso, featuring the NASA emblem beside nozzles that deliver oxygen to the wearer. Unfortunately, these nice details are partially concealed when the helmet is attached and the famous Apollo 11 mission patch is also missing. Perhaps that was excluded so the minifigures could represent astronauts from a variety of different missions.
The heads are similarly generic but no hair components are included which is somewhat disappointing. Arm printing would have been welcome as well, especially on the left shoulder where an American flag should appear. On that basis, these are reasonable minifigures for displaying beside the spacecraft but room for improvement certainly remains.
Huw has assembled the set so describes the construction process.
First to be built is the 26x28-stud base representing the surface of the moon, complete with crater, small rocks, footsteps and indents where the craft's landing gear has hit the ground.
Rather than use large 16x16 plates it's built with a lattice of 2xn plate underneath.
The central section of the landing stage is octagonal which requires some repetitive building and some clever techniques to attach the four off-grid sides.
The red and white pieces are Technic bricks with axle hole, into which a 318 bar with ball joint on the end is inserted, which in turn is attached to the ball joint socket on the adjacent sides.
The exposed ball joints will be used to connect the landing gear struts.
The sides of this section are lavishly clad in drum-lacquered gold tiles before the landing gear, made using predominantly Technic, is attached. There's some clever geometry involved, which we understand was Mike Psiaki's handiwork.
The ascent stage consists of three parts that are connected using clip hinges. Stickers are used inside to represent the control panels.
The four reaction control system thrusters on each corner aptly utilise a piece first introduced in Classic Space, 3963 steering nozzle, which is new here in dark bluish grey.
Finally, the ascent thruster exhaust is added to the bottom.
The top section clips to the bottom and the model is complete.
Now we return to CapnRex101 for discussion of the completed model.
The Completed Model
Several models of the Lunar Module have been produced, commencing with 367 Space Module with Astronauts from 1975. The latest rendition includes far greater detail than its predecessors and offers more realistic proportions too, measuring 19cm wide and 20cm in height. Furthermore, the spacecraft stands on a dark bluish grey base which depicts the surface of the Moon, forming an attractive display.
Craters and small boulders litter the lunar surface and that texture has been replicated effectively here, although the landing site for Apollo 11 was reasonably smooth. The combination of exposed studs and tiled areas is fantastic and I love the small craters which are represented by 2x2 round tiles with a hole at their centre. A larger crater features dark bluish grey 4x4 curved corner tiles around the rim, making their second appearance in this colour.
However, my favourite details are the minifigure footsteps which are visible along the forward edge of the model. These are absolutely superb, revealing a light bluish grey surface beneath the surrounding dark bluish grey elements. An attachment point for the American flag is also included so you can plant the flag easily, although its position beside the spacecraft is not entirely authentic.
The spindly Lunar Modular can be separated from its base and looks marvellous. Metallic gold, black and light bluish grey have been used to excellent effect and I love the intricate shaping of both stages which correspond with the source material. Lunar Modules varied slightly between missions, featuring different colour schemes and payloads, but this example undoubtedly takes inspiration from the Eagle and looks almost entirely accurate!
Four landing legs support the spacecraft upon landing. These appear fragile but are connected to the central structure extremely securely, using ball joints and Technic components. Unfortunately, this has eliminated the ability to fold each leg but I think that was a worthy compromise for strength. In addition, sensor probes should extend below the landing pads, although their omission is sensible as the model is intended to be displayed on its base.
Two ladders are laid over one leg and their position is perfect, leaving a large gap beneath the bottom rung. The upper section was actually a solid platform on the original vehicle but this design looks reasonable in my opinion and I love the plaque situated underneath the ladder. This includes the signatures of each astronaut with two images of the Earth. Black is an odd colour choice though as the plaque should be primarily silver.
Neil Armstrong activated a television camera while descending the ladder and that important feature is replicated here. Opening a hatch beside the ladder reveals the camera which appears fairly simple but is instantly recognisable. I appreciate the printed tape reels and the white colour scheme distinguishes this television camera from its surroundings, although silver would have been more realistic.
Furthermore, the model incorporates another storage bay for the Laser Ranging Retroreflector which travelled aboard Apollo 11 and was deployed on the Moon. This device enables scientists to measure the lunar distance with incredible accuracy and includes a sticker that depicts the round retroreflectors. The accompanying Passive Seismic Experiment Package has been omitted because of limited storage space on this rendition of the Lunar Module.
The descent stage also contains fuel and oxidiser tanks which are represented by red and white round bricks. They only become visible when the ascent stage has been removed so I am delighted that such important details are included, despite being hidden inside. Two clips connect the stages, allowing easy separation to reveal the ascent stage engine.
Unusual shapes dominate the ascent stage and these have been replicated with remarkable accuracy, making splendid use of some 2x2 angled slopes and inverted building techniques. The reaction control thrusters appear particularly impressive, although their mounting structure was entirely enclosed on the actual spacecraft so these black click hinges are not ideal.
Transposition, docking and extraction was a vital manoeuvre during most Apollo 11 missions, requiring an astronaut to dock the Command and Service Module with the Lunar Module. The circular hatch that links the two vehicles is present here but cannot open. Moreover, the model includes two metallic silver dishes, representing the rendezvous radar and S-band steerable antennas, beside the dark bluish grey VHF antennas.
The ascent stage can separate into three sections, revealing multiple control panels inside. These are represented by stickers but feature remarkably intricate designs which closely resemble the real Lunar Module control systems. I am particularly satisfied with the primary flight controls. They have definitely been simplified but the small windows, egress hatch and distinctive yellow levers are all included.
Several studs enable minifigures to stand securely inside the Lunar Module but this space is relatively cramped so seems realistic. The cylindrical ascent engine cover is missing, although that would leave little room for the minifigures. On that basis, I am pleased with the interior design and the stickers are excellent, faithfully recreating the buttons and displays which appeared within the actual craft.
10266 NASA Apollo 11 Lunar Lander is an outstanding set, matching the high standard established by the recent 21309 NASA Apollo Saturn V. The model looks fantastic on display, featuring many realistic details and numerous metallic gold elements that really stand out against the dark lunar surface. I love how the octagonal shape of the descent stage has been designed and the ascent stage looks similarly realistic.
The only disappointing factor are the minifigures. They are recognisable as Apollo astronauts but there is scope for significant improvement in my opinion, especially where their helmets are concerned. The quantity of stickers may frustrate some fans too. Nevertheless, I would certainly recommend this set and its price of £84.99 or $99.99 seems very reasonable to me.
I hope you have found this review informative. Let us know by liking this article and share your thoughts on the set in the comments below.
This set was provided for review by The LEGO Group but the review is an expression of my own opinions.
Thanks to Huw for providing the photos in this review.