Perhaps reinforcing the idea that waiting until the last minute can be good for gift-seekers, Lego today announced it has produced an International Space Station-inspired set that will be available on February 1 for $69.99. (Outside of an Ars subscription, this is the perfect Valentine’s Day gift for any Arsian in your life.)
Like prior Lego space releases such as the Saturn V, this ISS model looks robust. The set contains 850-plus pieces and when built stands over 7-inches (20cm) high, 12-inches (31cm) long, and 19-inches (49cm) wide. According to the official company press release, loving details include a posable Canadarm2 and two rotating joints that coincide with eight adjustable solar panels. The set also comes with some delightful extras, such as a pair of astronaut minifigs, a brick-built mini space shuttle, and a 148-page booklet stuffed with info on the real ISS.
Besides being a drool-worthy addition to any brickhead’s collection, the Lego ISS doubles as a celebration of the Lego Ideas initiative, which turns 10 this year. Ideas is a platform where users can submit proposals for future sets, and those submissions that garner enough support through votes can ultimately end up in production. (See that awesome Women of NASA set from 2017 as just one example.) Lego fan Christoph Ruge submitted his ISS proposal more than three years ago, but it resurfaced thanks to Lego revisiting popular ideas that hadn’t been produced as a way of celebrating Ideas turning 10. Ruge’s Ideas page is a nice collection of other space proposals, by the way: can we get a Baikonur or Hubble set sometime, too?
The ISS set is listed as 16+ on the box, so presumably it’ll be a slightly more complicated, time-consuming build than your average Lego purchase. That said, the Saturn V set was 1,900-plus pieces, and Ars Senior Space Editor Eric Berger put that together in, uh, two minutes and 45 seconds back in 2017. Lego and/or NASA, if you need more speed builders this go-round, please don’t be shy.
Update, 11:15am CT: Ooooo, the Lego Ideas team released a longer video this morning detailing how they sent a Lego ISS model to the stratosphere via balloon “to get as close as possible to the real ISS.” This Twitter cut provides even more close-up imagery of the genuine set (as opposed to only having close-ups via concept images previously). The video also confirms NASA scientists helped provide feedback on this set’s final design, and the footage highlights a few additional details through closeups on the access hatch (made from a Lego ring-pull soda can element) and the solar panels (called “decorations” made specifically for this model, which makes us sweat the idea of stickers but could refer to special printed pieces).
— LEGO® IDEAS (@LEGOIdeas) January 21, 2020
Listing image by @LEGO on Instagram