Lego has made a number of space shuttle sets over the years, but none has been as detailed as this 2,354-piece set. The finished orbiter is a substantial 21.8 inches (55.46 cm) long with a 13.6-inch (34.6 cm) wingspan, and it lends itself well to reproduction in Lego bricks at this scale; the space shuttle was covered in blocky tiles, after all.
STS-31 was a mission to launch Hubble, and so it is with Hubble that you begin, a build that was reminiscent of the construction techniques used in the Saturn V. Over the past decade or so, Lego has adopted new building methods, sometimes known as SNOT (Studs Not On Top), that give designers much more freedom than vertically stacking bricks one atop another, and this set is a wonderful demonstration of that.
Although the set is aimed at adults—the box says 18+—Discovery has a decent amount of playability. The undercarriage is spring-loaded, the elevons and rudder move, and it’s solid enough to have decent swooshability. The mark of a good Lego build, to me at least, is when you build a step, then stop and exclaim “that’s so cool!” as you understand the mechanism or construction you’re putting together. I had at least five “that’s so cool!” moments with Discovery, which should be taken as a ringing endorsement of this set.
The only thing I’m not so effusive about is the price. At $199, it’s nearly twice as expensive as the Saturn V, despite a brick count that isn’t much higher.
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