Review: 10266 NASA Apollo 11 Lunar Lander

I have a young son, who nearly every night wants to go out and look at the moon. One day I told him that people have been there in a spaceship. He didn’t really get it.

While my son may be too young to appreciate it, Apollo 11 is one of those things that will never stop being amazing to me. In 1961 President John F. Kennedy set America the goal of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to Earth. Then a whole bunch of people who are smarter and/or braver than I ever will be went and made it happen. July 20th marks the 50th anniversary of the moon landing and what better way to commemorate than with a LEGO tribute.

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LEGO has unsurprisingly celebrated various NASA achievements before with some fantastic sets. This is the first time they have tried the Eagle Lunar Lander at minifigure scale. The last attempt was the microscale version included in the Ideas Saturn V set.

The Apollo Lunar Module is comprised of two stages – the descent stage and the ascent stage. This build is split up over 4 stages; the lunar surface, part 1 of the descent stage, part 2 of the descent stage and finally the ascent stage.

“Magnificent Desolation”

Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, after descending to the lunar surface

Is a model of a lunar module really a lunar module if it doesn’t come with the lunar surface? I say no, and thankfully LEGO agreed with me. This small section of lunar surface is probably not entirely accurate but it really elevates this model as a display piece.

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The black border and printed name plaque provide the same polished finish you find in the architecture theme.

There are some clever inclusions here too like the two-tone effect used to replicate mankind’s – or in this case minifigure kind’s – first steps on the moon.

“We copy you down, Eagle”

Charlie Duke (CAPCOM), as the Eagle touched down on the lunar surface.

The descent stage of the Eagle featured an octagonal shape, packed with large fuel and oxideriser tanks. The tanks and the engine allowing for powered landing. These features are all recreated with some level of accuracy in the model. In particular I really love the way that the octagonal shape is recreated.

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This octagonal body also incorparates the Modular Equipment Stowage Assembly with it’s integrated camera, as well as the opposite compartment featuring a retroreflector.

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The exterior of this stage was wrapped in thermal blankets, giving it the iconic gold look. This model uses a combination of stickers and gold elements to recreate the effect. I’m not a huge fan of stickers but I think in way they work here. My only complaint would be a little more gold.

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“Looking good here. It’s a pretty spectacular ride.”

Neil Armstrong, during the ascent from the lunar surface back in to orbit.

The ascent stage had several important roles to play in the moon landing. It was the cockpit for the Eagle, where Neil and Buzz were faced with a complex array of controls needed to guide them to the moon. It also acted as the crew cabin while they were on the moon, with its compact size making for an uncomfortable sleeping arrangement. Finally it acted as the ship that took the astronauts from the moon back to rendezvous with Michael Collins in Columbia.

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The ascent stage was not sleek. It didn’t need to be as it wasn’t a vehicle that needed to travel through atmosphere. The ascent stage featured small triangular windows, chosen to simplify the design and reduce weight. Directly below these windows was the main hatch. This gave the lander a face appearance. The designers have done a great job of capturing that “face”. This is done on the set as a separate panel that can be removed so that you can place the minifigures inside.

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There is also the full array of antennas and sensors located on the exterior. The interior also features a lot of stickered details.

The ascent stage can also be removed in case you want to re-enact your own return to lunar orbit.

“The whole world is proud of you.”

Ronald Evans (CAPCOM), after Neil Armstrong confirms the Eagle has successfully returned to lunar orbit.

The first two men on the moon were Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. I know that. You know that. Everybody knows that. It’s just unfortunate that the two minifigures included in this set appear to be completely generic. They are standard yellow faced minifigures.

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I understand that this is probably an issue with getting permission from Neil Armstrong’s family and Buzz Aldrin to use their likeness but with everything else on the set being so realistic I would have loved for that to extend to the minifigures. It’s probably a minor thing because you are going to display the minifigures with their helmets on anyway.

I’ve been really getting in to Apollo era space history lately and this set arrived at the perfect time. It’s an absolutely incredible display piece and a perfect follow-up for anybody that loved the Saturn V set.

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If you have even a passing interest in the Apollo program or spaceflight in general then you need this set.

RRP is $159.99 and it’s currently only available from LEGO online; LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Melbourne; the Bondi and Dreamworld Certified stores. Hopefully a wider retail release isn’t too far off. Note that at the time of publication the set is temporarily out of stock at LEGO’s online store.

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This set was provided to my be LEGO for review. Opinions expressed are my own.

5 Responses to Review: 10266 NASA Apollo 11 Lunar Lander

  1. MattL says:

    Great review. All I really needed to hear was “SPACESHIP!”

  2. Andrew says:

    Great review, Michael. The only set this year I have gladly paid RRP for and built the afternoon it arrived. My only gripe is the stickers, I always manage to stuff one up. Saturn V had printed “United States” pieces, I would have loved to have seen them here too.

  3. Monty says:

    Really enjoyed reading that, thank you! Gave a little more life and meaning to, an already must have, set.

  4. Jonathan Wilson says:

    This set was amazing. Bought it day one at Dreamworld :)

  5. Scates says:

    Is this available at retail anywhere?

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