Space exploration has become a popular subject within LEGO City and the latest sets appear quite unusual. They take inspiration from NASA and its development program, striking a superb balance between present and futuristic technology which distinguishes this range from past examples.
60225 Rover Testing Drive focuses upon Martian exploration and contains an excellent research vehicle which seems reminiscent of the rover from The Martian. Furthermore, some appealing new elements are available here, including two geodes, a robotic grasping claw and an updated astronaut helmet.
Two minifigures are included, the first of whom is dressed for exploring the surface of Mars. He wears an orange space suit which looks marvellous and I like the emblem printed on his torso. Metallic silver highlights decorate this piece and continue onto the legs, depicting a mesh that presumably maintains the integrity of the suit around points of articulation on the minifigure.
However, my favourite aspect of this minifigure is its new helmet. This dual-moulded element appears highly detailed, particularly when viewed from behind. The trans-light blue visor is connected on either side, much like previous helmets, but cannot move. Nevertheless, I think this minifigure looks fantastic and the white air tanks on his back are integrated nicely.
The second minifigure is a technician and makes ingenious use of some existing legs from the recent Mining subtheme, combining them with a new torso. I like the dark blue and orange colour scheme as well as the badge pinned to her pocket which appears realistic. The subtle creasing looks nice as well.
Furthermore, the character features a pair of tinted goggles and a hard hat, suggesting that she works with heavy machinery. This minifigure is accordingly equipped with a remote to control the robotic arm which is mounted on the rover and a laptop for diagnosing any issues during the test phase.
The Completed Model
Many different designs have been proposed for extraterrestrial exploration vehicles and this example looks marvellous, featuring six large wheels and an angular crew compartment. This model is slightly smaller than I anticipated, measuring 14cm in length, but certainly gives the impression of substantial weight and its consistent colour scheme of white, orange and pearl gold is excellent.
The packaging suggests that NASA test rovers inspired this model, although it scarcely resembles the vehicle shown on the box. Instead, the rover appears more reminiscent of that featured in The Martian as its cockpit shape and wheel arrangement is similar. I love the printed canopy element and the trans-light blue headlights really stand out against the surrounding bodywork.
Removing the canopy reveals a printed control panel and room to seat an astronaut inside. There are no doors or steps to reach the cab but it looks good in my opinion. I particularly appreciate the orange upholstery on the seat. Moreover, the interior has been designed to permit space for the oxygen tanks which are fitted to the astronaut's back.
Six pearl dark grey wheels provide support to the rover and these appear suitably robust. The ground clearance underneath enables the model to traverse rough terrain but there is no suspension which is disappointing. Even a simple rocker linking the back wheels, such as that in 76017 Avengers: Captain America vs. Hydra, would have been welcome here and could have been combined with some rubber components.
An articulated robotic arm is mounted on the rover and folds very neatly for storage, as demonstrated below. There is also space for equipment which is kept behind the robotic arm, including a light bluish grey crate and a solar array. In addition, another box is situated beside the cab and you could place a geode in here.
The robotic arm features four points of articulation so offers a significant range of motion and I like its striking colour scheme. A new grasping claw appears here and features a rubber band that maintains pressure on items being held between these claws. The exposed Technic axle above the rubber band looks slightly awkward but cannot be avoided as this is an important attachment point.
Some new geode pieces have been introduced for the Space subtheme. This dark tan and trans-pink example appears in four sets and looks marvellous, including some wonderful glitter. Furthermore, the moulded detail is exceptionally intricate, especially within each geode where the minerals appear fairly realistic.
Other accessories include a laptop which displays the robotic arm, a crate containing a drill and stickered solar panels. These items can be stored on the rover but the rotating camera cannot. Presumably this represents part of the testing process as the performance of the vehicle is being recorded, should any alterations be required before launch.
60225 Rover Testing Drive is certainly an enjoyable set, although some unexploited potential remains in my opinion. The absence of suspension is rather disappointing as that would be a necessity for any Martian rover and might offer excellent play value here. However, the vehicle looks great and I like the robotic arm attachment with its useful new claw element.
Furthermore, the selection of accessories is appealing and I am particularly satisfied with the geodes. The prices of £17.99 or €19.99 in Europe seem reasonable but this set costs $29.99 in the US which feels extremely expensive so I would recommend waiting for a discount when these new Space sets are released in North America on the 23rd of June.
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