When I was young, LEGO City was my favourite LEGO product (although Town was the original name). But these days, between Star Wars and Ideas and massive Creator Expert sets and all the other cool themes I enjoy, I don’t often get the opportunity to build City sets. LEGO asked me to evaluate the new LEGO City sets that are focused on space exploration. Real-world exploration has been an enduring theme since the launch of the first spaceship set in 1990. This latest wave is inspired by NASA’s Artemis project, the planned mission to return to the moon by 2025 (the first Artemis I unmanned mission is planned for this spring). Today we’re looking at two sets in the middle of the range, 60348 Lunar roving vehicle With 275 piecesUS $39.99 | CAN 49.99 | UK £24.99 60350 Lunar Research Base With 786 piecesUS $119.99 | CAN 149.99 | UK £89.99). Each set will be on sale March 1st
The LEGO Group sent early sets of these sets to The Brothers Brick, for review. TBB cannot guarantee positive reviews or coverage by reviewing products.
The set is unpacked with all its contents. 60348 Lunar roving vehicle
Like other City sets, the boxes also have the blue brick wall located in the upper left. An inset panel is located at the bottom and shows NASA renderings. The back of the box contains the Artemis renderings and the play features exposition. You will also find a brief explanation of how you can connect these sets via a docking stations.
The 60348 Lunar Roving Vehicle comes with just three numbers bags, loose stickers sheets, and an instruction guide.
The sticker sheet is reflective with shiny gold for a few solar panels and mirrored silver for the flag, which bears the new City space line’s emblem, an updated version of the Classic Space logo that originated in the 1970s and has been a fan favorite ever since. LEGO used different versions of the logo to represent various Town/City spaces themes. The latest version is however closer to the original than previous versions. A two-tone orb has replaced the gold planet.
You’ll also get the updated logo on a trio of 2x2x2/3 slopes, which are the set’s only new printed elements apart from the minifigures.
There’s not a lot in the way of new or recolored parts, but the one does stand out: a new design for the 4×4 split rock element. Town Space Port was the first to introduce the original asteroid rocks in 1999. The new geode is dual-molded in dark gray and translight. It’s a really lovely design. The blue is ice and not minerals, as Artemis’ mission goal is to find water on Mars. When the sunlight shines through, the transparent portions of the set look cool. It would be great if the rock could glow from its inside. It would be quite possible to rig this up on your own, however, since a 2×2 section of the bottom is transparent.
A few pages of the instruction manual show the vehicle in action alongside the LEGO model. The Habitable Mobility Platform is also called a mobile house by NASA. This allows for more trips to the base camp. This is how the word “inspired”Because it’s not an exact translation of HMP into LEGO, this is critical. It’s easy to see how LEGO started with the Artemis design and ended up with this set, but play features and construction simplicity were clearly the priorities, with only a vague head nod in the direction of accuracy.
This is the build 60348 Lunar roving vehicle
The rover kicks off with a stacked-plate chassis, using three of the 2×6 Technic bricks from the Speed Champions line for the axle connection points. HMP Crew compartment is pressurized, so that the bulkhead between the cargo compartment and right-hand driving compartment can be clearly seen.
The airlocks are then added, as well as the solar panel. The windscreen’s bottom panel is inverted to create a great design. To my sci-fi hungry eyes, it’s not nearly as cool as the multi-paneled design on the real HMP, but it is a clever bit of LEGO engineering.
With the canopy in place, all that’s left is the roof, which contains the airlock doors, and the wheels and front robotic arms. The roof is attached with only a few studs so it’s easily removable to access the interior.
Model completed: 60348 Lunar roving vehicle
It also contains three miniaturefigures and a bit of moon-terrain to create the ice gede. The rover’s unusual 12-wheeled chassis gives it a passing resemblance to the real HMP, but it’s definitely not an accurate model. The LEGO model, on the other hand, has both hatches at each end.
However, it is great fun. You can drive it in almost any direction, and make zero radius turns. This is one of the most fun wheeled vehicles I’ve built in a long time.
To allow astronaut access, you can open the hatch from either side. You can access the cargo compartment by lowering your solar panels.
The interior is quiet simple, though there are a variety of computer screens and control surfaces, including a pair of black nipple elements that function perfectly as small joysticks; exactly the sort of control scheme you’d expect to find in the real rover.
These arms can be used to hold various tools but also include a drill and metal detector.
Flip down a platform if you are very successful in water prospecting and find large ice geodes.
The miniaturefigures 60348 Lunar roving vehicle
It includes two astronauts dressed in spacesuits and an untrained driver. LEGO gave some characters names, however they remain unnamed. Both of the astronauts include hairpieces for when they’re not wearing their helmets, which is a nice touch. These suits look as good on real astronauts as on sci-fi spaceships. They have the same torsos and leg patterns. It would be nice if the suits came with a logo, or better yet the arms. Driver gets a new torso with dark orange jacket, and small Classic Space logo.
Two of the printed slopes I mentioned earlier go on the astronauts’ EVA backpacks, which are constructed slightly different from one another, with the male astronaut getting over-the-shoulder lights, and the female having attachment points for a shovel and buzzsaw.
Unboxing and inspecting the contents of the set: 60350 Lunar Research Base
Now that we’ve had a drive about the lunar surface, let’s trundle home to the Lunar Research Base. Seven numbered bags are included in the larger box. Unmarked bags with large items can be plugged. There’s also a few corner BURPs (Big Ugly Rock Pieces) and a light grey 16×16 plate. All three instructions manuals and the sticker sheets come in sealed bags.
The one sheet is for solar panels with reflective surfaces in gold, and the second sheet has logos as well as maneuvering ports. It’s worth noting that while the City Space theme’s blue planet logo is the old Classic Space logo that I mentioned earlier, two of the logos here are just straight-up un-altered Classic Space logos in the iconic gold and red.
There are some completely new elements that you can inhale. These are the cylinders that will be used to build the rocket capsule. Trans-light-blue is the windscreen and base. They’re pretty similar to some existing elements, but make for a quick and simple cockpit design here. The set includes all elements, however only one element is needed. A large, trans-light blue quarter-dome is the third element. This reminds me of an old-fashioned quarter dome that was a highlight in many of my favourite space sets from the 1990s. You’ll get four of them here to make a complete circle, and they’re also available in white in 60351 Rocket Launch Center from this same line.
There are a handful of other parts that aren’t wholly new, but are relatively rare and interesting. Part of the large, white mudguard technic panel. 46882) has only been available once before in white in 51515 Robot Inventor. The part of the dish is gold 80337Part number (new-for-2022) first appeared in Disney Princess miniature doll sets. This part is also available in gold. You may also be interested in the Technic red friction pins. 89678) which is new for 2022 and has only been in a couple of sets, a new-for-2022 clear 1×1 round tile printed with a cell culture in a petri dish (part 6384069) that’s only appeared in 1 other set, the same ice geode rock that appears in several of the City Space sets including the rover we already looked at. Finally there’s a grey claw element (part 91347) that’s not new but hasn’t been seen since 2017, and has only come in four sets total previously.
The three manuals each build separate sections of the model and there’s no indication of which you should begin with, so it’s up to you whether you start with the rocket, the base itself, or the small rovers.
Like the rover’s manual, there’s a section in the manuals showing NASA’s designs of the real Artemis base camp that will be located near the Shackelton crater on the moon’s south pole. Similar to the rover, the LEGO base and rocket have similarities to the real designs but aren’t direct translations.
Build: 60350 Lunar Research Base
Although the booklets aren’t numbered, I opted to go in the order that uses the set’s bags in numbered order, which means starting with the small rovers and a few of the minifigures. Being very simple builds there’s not much build process to examine there so we’ll move on straight to the rocket, which is also fairly simple. The rocket is designed as a two-stage vessel, with the lower booster being a 6×6 cylinder with legs, while the upper stage is the astronaut capsule.
The hollow lower stage conceals the large flame element below. As the rocket is lifted, the flame will be visible. “deploys”The bottom is pushed out by gravity, creating an area of liftoff.
Three sections can be used to build the base camp. The center section is constructed on the 16×16 plate and contains the workshop garage for servicing the small vehicles. Two docking points are located at 45 degrees on the sides. The station’s back is carved into a rock face.
Large components from the aircraft’s hull are used to construct this first module. There is also a docking port on the end, which allows astronaut egress as well as further extension to the base. You will find all of the necessary science equipment in the small interior.
Although the design of this side module is very similar, it has an additional segment that has a cool function.
You can drive the HMP up to the station. The end module can then be removed from the station, just as a plane bridge. The base and rover can dock at the same time, maintaining an atmosphere of pressure. It’s an unexpectedly cool function that’s super fun and definitely makes buying both sets together worthwhile.
The second floor of the garage is finally granted to the base camp. It houses both sleeping quarters, as well as a large garden.
It’s covered with the four large quarter dome panels, which combine to make a cool dome. Look closely, and you can spot that one of the astronauts brought a postcard from Heartlake City—it’s a small world after all.
All the pieces of the base fit well together. You can easily access your garage from the top by simply attaching it with a couple of screws.
Model completed: 60350 Lunar Research Base
With all the small vehicles, the full base contains quite a lot of activity to do, which is fitting for how busy NASA’s astronauts would be on their week-long stints on the moon.
There’s a rather large remote-controlled drone with a claw attachment that can go out and hunt for ice and minerals. I haven’t been able to correlate this drone to a specific part of the real Artemis project, so I’m not clear if it’s a LEGO fabrication, though it certainly seems plausible.
This strange-looking solar-powered rover isn’t a LEGO invention. NASA has dubbed it the VIPER, AKA the Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover, and it’s an unmanned vehicle that will map out the moon’s water resources. The real VIPER—planned to head to the moon next year—is about the size of a golf cart, so the LEGO version is a bit miniaturized. But, it does come with a drill under the brick like the real deal.
The set also includes the Lunar Terrain Vehicle (LTV) which is more or less what we’d rec0gnize as the traditional moon rover from the Apollo era, but overhauled with modern technology. LEGO includes a plough to transport regolith while searching for water and minerals. NASA has not yet made plans to use a bulldozer for the placement on the Moon. While the robot is being moved, an astronaut may wear the EVA suit.
It is called the Human Landing System (HLS) and will transport two crew members between the lunar surface and the orbiting station.
You will find many play options and activities in the base, including the vehicle garage and science labs.
Minifigures 60350 Lunar Research Base
Base camp contains six miniaturefigures.
Alternate hairpieces can be purchased for minifigures who wear helmets. These torsos are identical to those in the Rover sets.
The heads of two astronauts are double-sided.
While Canadian astronaut and former ISS-commander Chris Hadfield has no direct affiliation with the Artemis project, my personal conspiracy theory is that LEGO’s designers just couldn’t help but tossing in a little easter egg of one of the most famous astronauts of the last few decades.
The Classic Space logo is worn by each pilot and researcher scientist on their torsos. These are easy to wear and can be used in any sci-fi setting.
Conclusion & recommendation
Both of these sets are packed to bursting with fun play features and enough spacey goodness to warm any space fan’s heart. The collaboration with NASA on these sets has brought them a real-world gravitas that makes them far cooler, even if they’re only “inspired by”Artemis is a project. Although they could be more precise, LEGO’s City playsets show creativity. kids 6-7 and up, not Creator Expert kits meant to look good on an adult space fan’s shelf. And even as an adult, if you’ve got nostalgia for actually playing with your LEGO, you’ll find a lot to love here. The docking mechanism between the base camp rover and rover looks amazing, and rocket’s lift-off blast is clever and simple.
What’s not awesome is the price. The sets cost an incredible amount, and the base camp is the most expensive. This isn’t the first time that LEGO City Space sets are overpriced, but that doesn’t make it any better this go around. Lunar Research Base retails for $120 USD and contains 786 pieces. That’s $0.15 per item. It’s true that it includes a handful of larger elements, but nowhere near enough to justify this price. Even at $100, this set might have earned a recommendation, but at $120 it’s impossible to say it’s a good buy. It isn’t as successful with the 275 pieces that cost $40 USD. That works out at $0.15 per each piece. It’s a fantastic set, but one that ought to be priced at $30.
These are well worth the money if you can find them on sale. They can still be purchased at retail if they are not on sale.
60350 Lunar Research Base Available from LEGO beginning March 1 and includes 6 minifigures with 786 pieces. US $119.99 | CAN 149.99 | UK £89.99. This product might also be offered by third-party vendors AmazonAlso eBay.
The LEGO Group sent early sets of these sets to The Brothers Brick, for review. TBB cannot guarantee positive reviews or coverage by reviewing products.
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