Right now at my house we’re playing with Mars Mission, LEGO’s super-cool interplanetary drama. It’s a good time for LEGO to be releasing these kits because Mars has been in the news a lot lately. Right now there are more spacecraft orbiting Mars than any other planet save Earth: Mars Oddessey, Mars Express, and the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. And who could forget Spirit and Opportunity, NASA’s plucky rovers whose perseverance renews hope in the agency’s prowess? If that weren’t enough, more craft are on their way, Phoenix, Mars Science Laboratory and a gaggle of enhanced rovers.
LEGO’s version of Mars differs in some notable ways from NASA’s. Imagine grizzled but peace-loving roughnecks mining “energy crystals” in Olympus Mons, a mountain so vast it could fit Arizona inside of it. Along come some green aliens who want the crystals for themselves! Laser blasts ensue. The evildoers have wickedly-curved black and green ships, studded with multiple weapons, backed up by a menacing strike ship and mother ship. The do-gooders are well equipped with sleek orange and white fighters, a drop ship a 3-wheeled ATV, a tank and a command base. Interestingly, most of the miner ships have cryogenic tubes for “storing” captured aliens.
The individual models are super cool and definitely worth constructing once before you start building your own ideas. Plus, like many LEGO sets, there’s a built-in story in the larger boxes for those who are interested. For instance, the Recon Dropship has not one but three models: the title ship, a mini rover, and an alien attack ship. What will happen when the green baddies pounce?
I’ll be honest with you, as much as I like the the Mars Mission models there’s something about the story that doesn’t work for me. Why are the miners seizing the aliens? Are they being shipped off to some Venusian Gitmo? Maybe the Alien Mothership is actually trying to rescue their cryotanked minions? And if the miners were just minding their own business, why are they armed to the gills? Mustn’t think of energy crystals = oil or Mars = Iraq.
Fortunately, the beautiful thing about LEGO is that the storyline in your head need not match the one on the box. NASA’s Mars Rover mission is one of perseverance and peace, so we decided to make a Alien-Miner Super Rover. With a crew of a dozen, the rover (shown in the picture above) explores the Martian dunes, looking for enough energy crystals for all.