Tag Archives: Planetarium

Review: 21309 LEGO NASA Apollo Saturn V

On July 21st 1969 millions of people watched Neil Armstrong take a giant leap for mankind, but you may not know that Australians saw it before the rest of the world.

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The combination of a decision by Neil Armstrong and the time it took to put on the spacesuits meant that two Australian locations were in the perfect position to receive the signal from the moon – The Parkes Radio Telescope and the Honeysuckle Creek Tracking Station outside Canberra. As Neil took the first steps the signal was received by Honeysuckle Creek, sent to Sydney and split – one feed going to the ABC and the other to Houston. The international transmission introduced a 3 millisecond delay to the broadcast, which means that Australian audiences saw man walk on the moon before anybody else on Earth. After switching to the Parkes feed NASA felt it was so good that they stayed with that for the remainder of the 2.5 hour broadcast.

The Apollo program is one of the most fascinating achievements of the human race, and that crazy dream of going to the moon has now been immortalised in one of the most impressive LEGO sets I have built in a long time.

This is my review of 21309 NASA Apollo Saturn V.

Be sure to read on for my exclusive photos of 21309 at the Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium, and a huge gallery of photos at the end of the article.

Construction

The box for the Saturn V is huge, at least on par with a modular for size. This is a standard box rather than the thicker cardboard used for other ideas sets. For the part count it’s not a surprise that they went with a standard box.

As we’ve all come to expect from Ideas sets the instructions include a heap of additional information. There is a great blurb about the Apollo program with some fantastic black and white photos; information about the Saturn V itself including a breakdown of the various stages and again some real-world photos; a timeline of the journey to the moon, and interviews with the fan designers and LEGO designers. Even if you never get the set I suggest downloading a PDF copy of the instructions and having a read.

The set features 1969 pieces (a deliberate reference to the year Apollo 11 launched) across twelve numbered bags. The build follows the bags sequentially so you don’t need to sort out all of the pieces at once.

From pictures the set may look like a boring build, with it’s essentially monochromatic colour scheme, but it is actually satisfying and complex. By step 3 of the build you are already using brackets and SNOT techniques. The inner build is also surprisingly colourful.

21309 Saturn V Build03

The early build features curved panels and I naively assumed that they were going to set the scale – only to discover that they simply form an inner core. The set itself is, for lack of a better word, thicker than I thought it would be.