LEGO City: Lunar Roving Vehicle (#60348) by LEGO

I’m heading back into LEGO City today, or should I say out into LEGO City Space, with a look at another one of these NASA themed sets. LEGO’s goal here is to take some real concept vehicles from NASA and make them a little more toyetic and fun. Last time I checked out the Mars Research Shuttle, and now it’s time to go to the Moon with the Lunar Roving Vehicle… Let’s Go!

As the box claims, the Rover is based on the Artemis concept vehicle, but takes a lot of liberties with that design. This set is about the same size as the Shuttle, give or take a few pieces, but unlike the Shuttle set this one really just focuses on one vehicle. You get 275 bricks, which builds the Rover, a Mineral Deposit, and three Minifigs. As always, let’s start with the Minifigs!

You get two Astronauts and one Rover Pilot, and straightaway I like these better than what we got in the previous set. The Rover Pilot is great, with a blue jumpsuit and printed leather jacket. He has a ballcap and a cocky smirk on his face. There’s no hair piece, so the hat stays on, and none of these Minifigs have second face printings. The printing on the Astronaut suits is quite nice and both have shoulder harness pieces to attach their backpacks The backpacks are actual builds, which I like more than the one-piece on the EVA Suit from the last set. These are male and female figures, with the mail having a backpack with articulated spotlights and the female has a tool pack with a circular saw and as shovel, although you can switch them if you like.

The gold solar screen visors lift off to reveal their faces and, unlike the Pilot, these figures have hairpieces so you can take their helmets off completely. I dig all three of these Minifigs a lot!

The Rover is a fun build, but I’m a little iffy on the final model. It’s super clunky and looks absolutely nothing like the concept design that it’s based on. In fact, this thing is just plain ugly. The Rover rolls along on six sets of dual wheels, each of which can rotate 360-degrees, which makes for a spectacle of chaos when this thing is in motion, but it is interesting to see it roll. The cab has an upper and lower windshield, which looks good, there’s a blue lightbar on top, as well as an articulated radar dish. The back has a platform that drops down like a tailgate, which I guess can be used to haul cargo or samples, and it also has clips for tool storage. There are five stickers visible on the outside of the Rover, four are gold solar-panel type stickers on the side hatches, and the fifth is the space agency logo on the top.

The front of the vehicle has two articulated arms, one with a build in drill and the other with a clip that holds a metal detector-type device. The detector can be swapped out to be used by one of the Astronauts, and you can put the circular saw in this arm so the Rover can dig. I’m not a big fan of the way these arms are built, as they just look kind of awkward.

The vehicle opens on both sides, with the large circular ports leading into the cabin and the blue solar-panel-type hatches leading to an airlock compartment. It’s pretty tight quarters in the vehicle, but if you put on Astronaut in the airlock and one in the back of the cabin, you can load everyone onto the Rover. There’s no access from the airlock to the cabin, so that whole thing has to work with the power of your imagination! It also seems kind of odd that the side pieces with the solar panel stickers drop down rather than rise up to collect those rays!

The cabin has room for the Pilot to sit, with consoles on either side of him and joysticks to either steer the Rover or control the arms.

You get a Mineral Deposit, which is basically a big rock on a pedestal, along with a space agency flag to show those filthy Commies that it belongs to us! I really dig how they did this, with the rock opening to reveal translucent blue crystals inside, as well as a single crystal that can be removed as a sample. It’s a lot more interesting than the paltry little samples that came with the Shuttle set.

The Lunar Rover set is a fun and satisfying build with some excellent Minifigs and some promising play value, but it falls short of the Research Shuttle set, at least in my opinion. The Rover is pretty ugly, and that’s all you get, whereas the Research Shuttle looked awesome and came with a Rover and two Drones. I certainly don’t regret picking up this set, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to find it. It’s solid just not exceptional. It does, however, interact with the Lunar Base set, and I’ll be taking a look at that set in the not too distant fugure!

LEGO City: Mars Research Shuttle (#60266) by LEGO

I went through a long dry spell without looking at any LEGO sets here for a while, and that’s probably because I’ve been digging out old sets and rebuilding them to get my LEGO fix. Last year, I checked out one or two Star Wars sets, but that’s been it. Now some of the NASA inspired LEGO City sets that I’ve seen in the toy aisles have caught my interest and even reminded me that I had a couple of these put away, waiting to be built. I also bought some newer ones to build while I was on vacation. I’m starting today by building the Mars Research Shuttle!

This one is actually from a few years back and features a brick count of 273 pieces with three numbered bags and three instruction booklets. It’s not really a big set, but one that seemed to offer a fair amount of extras. The Research Shuttle is the main draw of the set, but it also comes with a Surface Rover, a Mineral Deposit, a Heli-drone, and a second Drone to transport samples, plus two Minifigs! Let’s start with those Minifigs!

You get two astronauts, consisting of a male in an orange space suit and a female in a white EVA suit. The male is a simple build with a set of oxygen tanks on his back and a helmet with a tinted blue visor. The female’s EVA suit has a one piece rig, which includes the helmet and backpack and has a gold painted visor to protect from solar exposure. The printed bodies are nice, but there’s no detail on the packs, which is a bit disappointing. You also only get one printed face on each head and no hair pieces, so you’re going to have to keep this pair’s helmets on.

The Research Shuttle takes up most of the build, and it is a really cool design, borrowing heavily from the traditional NASA Space shuttles. The spacecraft is mostly white and black, with stickers used on the tail fins and the thruster pods at the ends of the wings. The body is smooth, while the wings have studs on top, but it still looks great. You also get a number of tiny wheels on the bottom for it to rest on when it’s waiting for the next mission. The cockpit is one large translucent piece with white paint that doesn’t quite match the white bricks, but it’s close enough for me. All in all, this is a solid and decent sized model that was fun and simple to build and looks great.

The cockpit opens by removing the clear canopy piece and it reveals the one-man operators seat. It’s kind of deceptive, since the canopy piece makes the cockpit look like it’s going to be big and roomy, but there’s just the one seat.

The cargo bay doors open up to reveal another one-person station in the back along with space for the sample drone. Yeah, it’s pretty tight back there too, but considering the size of the shuttle, I think the designers made pretty good use of what space they had. The operating station here is presumably to control the Drones and the Robot Rover on the planet surface. The consoles consist of two printed bricks and one screen and it looks pretty good.

The sample drone is very simple, and really just a box with a clear hatch and four small thrusters to propel it from the shuttle to the planet surface. I kind of dig how simple and utilitarian this little guy is.

One last play feature on the shuttle involves the engines opening to reveal what looks like a power coil or some other inner workings of the drive system. So at least if the engines fail, the EVA suited Minifig can open these up and poke around in there to get it up and running again!

Moving down to the planet surface, we have the Heli-drone and the Rover. The Rover is a fun build and a cool vehicle considering it’s not the main draw of the set. It rolls on six wheels, has a turret that can rotate 360-degrees, an articulated solar panel with a sticker detailing the panels, an articulated claw, and a laser cutter. The claw springs closed thanks to a rubber band, which really should have been orange. The laser is a translucent red rod, which makes for a nice effect. There’s also a hitch on the back to possibly interact with another model from another set. Maybe a dump bin trailer for samples? The Mineral Deposit has two geode pieces, which can be collected by the Rover’s claw and placed into the Sample Drone for transport. There’s also a sticker with some coded images.

That’s where the Heli-Drone comes in! This little guy has a scanner, which is a translucent red screen and when it’s placed over that sticker it reveals the scientific data for the available samples. No, the Mineral Deposit piece isn’t all that convincing because it’s so angular, but I like the play mechanic it adds and the geode pieces are very well done, with translucent blue plastic molded into the shells.

I think this set is from around 2019 and I believe the MSRP was around $35, which feels about right. It’s actually still available at some online retailers, but it’s going for close to twice that these days. There’s a lot of fun to be had in this set and the play pattern is really well thought out. You have the Heli-Drone seeking out samples, the Rover collecting them, the Sample Drone bringing them up to the Shuttle. The Minifigs are a little blah, but they fit in fine with the rest of the set, and I’d definitely recommend it, if you can find it for under $45. Hell, the Rover itself feels like a model that could have turned up in one of those small $9.99 boxes all by itself.