Fly Me To The Moon

Earlier this year I said that in the LEGO universe all sets that are space-related are my absolute favorites.
Please let me extend my statement: 
Every space-related set AND part of the LEGO Ideas theme are my most favorite sets.
(Yes, of course, the Monster Fighters do have a special place in my heart, too, just like Fabuland. But unfortunately, those were removed from the shelves long ago.)

So I was happily surprised when Hasan Jensen from the LEGO Ideas team announced on their blog that from the 1st of November 2017 there’d be a new set available:  21312 Women Of NASA.

The set itself

This 231 pieces set is the 19th release by the Ideas theme (formerly known as Cuusoo) and comes with a 68-page instruction book. As with all LEGO Ideas sets some information on the build, here on the lives of these women, and the fan designers, as well as the LEGO designers, are included.
I’m always thankful for those pages.
I have to admit I’d only remotely heard of Sally Ride. Shame on me.

Maia Weinstock, the fan designer of Women Of NASA, obviously had a great idea with her set as she reached 10.000 votes for her project on the LEGO Ideas site within only fifteen days. Well done!

What makes this set special?

To me, there are several aspects.

Surely, this set pays tribute to four women who did pioneer work not only in their very own profession but for women in general. It is surely due to my education by my parents that I was hardly ever aware of a difference in male and female roles in work life. They told me to welcome everyone with the same respect. Yet still today it is not a common fact that women are paid equally like men and I still don’t understand why.

Back in the fifties and sixties of the last century Margaret Hamilton and Nancy Grace Roman must have been extremely brave when they entered fields of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) where no women had been before. Just as Sally K. Ride and Mae Jemison did when they took off into space. This set for sure can help teach children of both genders that growing up they can become whatever they want to be. No matter if they’re a boy or a girl.

The minifigures

Probably of slightly more interest to LEGO fans will be the beautifully detailed minifigures included in this set (dear Mrs. Hamilton, your dress, and shoes will definitely be appreciated by thousands if not millions).

Every figure is placed on a little display, setting them in their supposedly working environment:

Margaret Hamilton can be found in a lab/office where she developed computer software for space missions.
Nancy Grace Roman is standing next to a model of the Hubble Space Telescope that she developed.
Mae Jemison and Sally Ride are standing next to a space shuttle, complete with its three rocket stages. I am still stunned how such the iconic shape of a space shuttle can be built with rather few bricks. The shuttle alone would be worth getting this set.

But wait…

All across social media, you will find people complaining about this or that on this set (“Why only women?” Because they deserve it. “Why only three displays but four minifigs?” What do you need a second space shuttle for? Some even criticised that on the single-figure displays the minifigs were not placed above the nameplates but on the opposite sides. Seriously? Don’t like it? Then change it. There’s a reason why it’s called a “construction toy”).
I don’t go with them.
I like this set.
And maybe I’ll include parts of it in my Xmas card exchange

There’s only one thing not explained in the instructions that still gives me sleepless nights: Why does Sally Ride’s minifig come with a camera…?

If she hadn’t died in 2012 I’d definitely sent her an email or letter asking whether she was into toy photography, too.
Guessing I’ll never find out (unless the good people over at LEGO Ideas tell me in a quiet little moment… ).

Was Sally Ride one of the first toy photographers?

 

-Stefan

A Non-Belgian living in Hamburg, Germany. Curiosity-driven and mostly to be found on tiny adventures and great journeys.

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doughleyg
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Great post, Stefan! Thanks for the awesome review.

Boris
Admin

I can remember when you shared a glimpse of the LEGO box on the day of the release and you showing me that picture made me drive to the LEGO Store that weekend. A beautiful little set with amazing characters. I must admit I only got the women of NASA out of the box and haven’t build the rest.

I really like the last image, Stefan. I can feel the wanderlust of our intergalactic toy photographer in that picture. Can’t wait to see your next review.

Maëlick (aka Reiterlied)
Member

I think the camera might be a reference to the one in the ISS which is named after Sally Ride: https://www.earthkam.org/about

I wonder if someone has already put a minifig in front of it :-)