In our second review of a Game of Bricks lighting kit, BenBacardi, fits one to his 10266 NASA Apollo 11 Lunar Lander:
As I had never lit one of my LEGO sets before (just like Mr_Cross in his recent review), I was quite excited for the kit to arrive and to get stuck in. I was sent the light kit for 10266 NASA Apollo 11 Lunar Lander, which, according to the Game of Bricks website, is available in either standard or advanced versions; I received the latter, which includes an infrared remote to control the lights.
When the parcel came through the post (it fitted easily through my letterbox), the lights were packaged nicely in a box made of thick cardboard with the Game of Bricks branding. Inside the box, each component was in an individual zip-lock bag, and most had a label detailing what the bag contained. There were ten bags in total, comprising a variety of different LEDs, cables and connectors.
At first, as there was no sign of any instructions within the box, I was a little daunted by the array of parts and no guide. However, Game of Bricks provide instructions via a YouTube video which is only shared with those who have purchased the lights - I assume a link would be emailed to you if you placed an order (I had to email the company to ask.) The ten-minute video starts with a fully assembled set, and proceeds to demonstrate how to partially disassemble the set and install the lights.
At each stage, the person in the video holds up the individual bag containing the part you need for that step to the camera, making it very obvious what’s necessary to continue. Where multiple parts are needed, they’re laid out neatly on the table in the video, and there is little to no ambiguity. The pace of the video is quite fast, which necessitated regular pausing and rewinding to ensure I was following correctly. While I appreciate that a video is probably the easiest way to convey the directions, some form of printed instructions included in the box wouldn’t go amiss.
Included in the set are a number of Lego-compatible elements, which are unfortunately not real Lego. Unlike Mr_Cross, I was not asked to replace any existing parts in my set with these; instead their purpose was to attach lights to the outside of the lander.
The three connecting pegs and the blue, yellow, and red studs are used to hold three of the loose LEDs in place by threading the cable through the peg and attaching the stud to contain it. These are then threaded through the holes in the technic beam underneath the hatch to the Lunar ascent module, which is the first step in the video.
The next stage involved connecting four LEDs to the outside of the ascent module, and weaving their cables through to the inside. Various parts of the set had to be removed and used to hold the cables in place, partially hidden. It wasn’t always particularly clear from the video exactly how the cables were being routed, but it was usually fairly obvious. At one point, I was left with quite a bit less slack at the end of the cable than in the video, which concerned me; would there be enough to connect to whatever was needed later? It turned out that there was, but I am still not sure what I did differently to the instructions (if anything).
Threading the cables through parts of the set was a common theme; it seems a useful way to make the light kit as unobtrusive as possible, but it’s not flawless. The tiles and plates that are used to hold and hide the cables don’t sit entirely flush anymore, which is understandable, if a little frustrating from an aesthetic standpoint.
The included 2x2 plate was used to add a light to the descent stage engine, with the cable being threaded up through the engine housing and into the base of the lander.
So far, lights have been added to the ascent module’s hatch and each of the four thrusters, and the descent engine. None of these are connected to anything yet; the next stage was to add a strip light to the interior of the cabin (by a sticky pad - the only light in this kit to be attached by something other than clutch power), to which two of the ascent thruster lights are connected.
The final four lights are connected beneath the descent module, secured in place using the remaining supplied Lego-compatible elements, and the cables threaded through the descent module to poke out the top.
It was at this point in the instructions that I became a little confused - the video showed a part that I didn’t have! It turns out that the video first demonstrates how to connect the cables for the standard kit, whereas I have the advanced one. After watching the video further, it then showed the next step for the kit I had, but there was no indication initially that there was any difference. This step involved connecting the cables that poked through from the underside of the lander to a couple of different connector boards.
The advanced version allows you to control the lights remotely in three independent groups, whereas the standard one just powers all lights continuously. The photo below demonstrates two of the three connector boards supplied - one with the main engine light connected, and one with the four underside lights.
In order to control the lights remotely, a small infrared receiver is provided that has three connecting cables and a USB plug. This is secured via elastic band beneath the lander and the three cables threaded up through to join the boards above. The video showed the receiver being attached by peeling off a stick pad in addition to the elastic band, but that was not present in my kit.
Once all the boards were connected correctly, it was time to try the lights out! All the cables and connectors are hidden in the space inside the descent module, beneath the ascent module, which was a bit of a tight fit, but doable. Plugging the USB cable into my laptop did indeed turn all the lights on! (I was certainly afraid that something would not work and I would have to dismantle it all to figure out what, but luckily this was not the case.) A battery pack that takes three AAA batteries is also supplied.
The lights on the ascent module thrusters and inside the cabin look impressive, but I am not convinced by the three colours beneath the hatch. I think sticking to a blue or monochrome look may have been more realistic. The blue lights beneath the lander, and the main engine light, project a pleasing glow on the lunar surface below. The infrared receiver must be visible in order for the remote to work, but it is not too obtrusive in my opinion. It can be bent to different angles until you find the best compromise between aesthetics and functionality.
Speaking of the remote, it was initially not obvious at all how it works. None of the buttons did anything, and there were no instructions as to what each button was meant to do. At first I thought the battery may need replacing, but I didn’t have any of the same type to hand. I contacted the company by email again, and they provided an image of the remote with descriptions of each button’s function.
Apparently, other customers had also expressed some confusion, so hopefully they will be including the instructions with the package in future. Additionally, they have since revamped the remote control system and are sending me an updated version, although it did not arrive in time for this review.
Now that I have figured out the remote, I am able to control the lights in three groups - those on the ascent module, the main descent engine, and the four blue lights beneath the lander. Either all three groups can be on, off, or a single group lit. Additionally, the two light groups on the descent module can be set to flicker, perhaps simulating a firing engine, and all the lights are dimmable.
Once complete, the lights do provide an added dimension to what is ultimately a display set. The cables are mostly unobtrusive, although there are a few places where they were difficult to hide or route as intended, and the construction was definitely more fiddly than I had expected. Some of the cables could also have done with being a little longer, as I had some difficulty in connecting them; particularly those attached to the infrared receiver.
It was confusing to initially have no instructions, and the video was a little hard to follow along with at times. Printed instructions (or at least the video URL included in the package somehow) would have gone some way to mitigating this initially impression, as well as clearly indicating the differences between the two versions where necessary.
Customer service from the company, however, has been excellent. They provided instructions and assistance in a very timely manner, and are even sending me a replacement part after I dropped the final set and broke one of the connectors. LEGO is designed to break apart and be easily rebuildable - these lights are obviously not!
Although the kit is designed to fit the lunar lander perfectly, none of the parts are particularly specialised and could be used on additional sets if desired.
The light kit is available from Game of Bricks for £32.99 for the standard version, or £40.99 for the advanced; the sole difference is the ability to remotely control the lights. At almost half the cost of the set itself, it is not insignificant; but while the build and experience could do with some polish, the end result certainly looks pleasing.
Thanks to Game Of Bricks for sending the kit for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.