In a few areas of the country, kids have already started back at school. But for many of us, summer continues to drone on, and parents just might be getting sick of hearing “I’m bored” from their kids on a daily basis. My kids have fought their own boredom with a lot of binge watching of shows, reading books, playing Minecraft, and just generally being helpful because they’ve literally run out of other ideas. I feel it’s important to be utterly bored once in a while. It breeds creativity. But summer is also a great time for fun activities. And one of the few activities at the very top of our indoor activity lists is LEGO.
LEGO, that ubiquitous toy that has been one of my favorites since my ’70s childhood. LEGO, that helped me realize that residential architecture is one of my passions. LEGO, that universally-loved building system with infinite replayability.
So, in addition to the aforementioned other activities, we have all built with LEGO this summer. LEGO mixes well with movies, conversation, audiobooks and podcasts, date night, and more. We’ve had a few recent favorites in our house. Though I still covet the new Assembly Square (one day, it will be mine), I’ve had fun building my usual smaller Creator 3-in-1 houses along with some challenging stop-motion movies, and Rory’s taken on a Coast Guard-themed set. My son pulled out his LEGO Minecraft set, and both kids worked together to totally rebuild a favorite Harry Potter LEGO set, Hogwarts Castle.
My most recent kit in my ever-growing LEGO empire is the LEGO Creator Space Shuttle Explorer kit. At only 285 pieces and a sub-$30 price tag, this kit is a fun no-brainer, especially for space-loving kids and adults. (There are other, more detailed and more expensive kits, for those who want a more complete space exploration experience.)
I loved this kit, partly because it had so many options and partly because it reminded me of being enthralled with the Shuttle when I was a kid, and watching countless launches and landings with my daughter on television. But the options were key. I was more used to building the small house Creator 3-in-1 kits that build three different types of houses. They’re all neat, but they’re all houses, just in different arrangements. With this Space Shuttle kit, you can build a moon buggy, a moon station, and the Space Shuttle itself, complete with robotic arm and satellite. There is also an adorable minifig with two faces: one fairly calm and collected, and one that seems to go “auuuggghh!” You get to pick which one applies to his situation at any given time.
Since I knew I’d want to leave the Shuttle built the longest, I started with the other two builds first. The moon buggy was great fun, and, though it used the least number of pieces, it was probably my second favorite of the kit. I loved how you could drive it around on its six wheels, and it had two extending arms for… well… who knows what. Perhaps for taking photos of Earth or picking up rock samples. Vroom, vroom! Mr. Smirky Astronaut really enjoyed his time in the buggy.
Next up was the moon station. Not huge, probably big enough for only an astronaut or two, but this one has a lot of moving parts. First, there is an external robotic arm that you can pretend to maneuver from the outdoor control panel. Next, there are a couple of interior areas for living and working, and some solar panels to power it all. The solar panels move, a door opens, and one of the areas’ roofs opens up. Plenty of options for real moon work and life balance.
The most impressive build, though, is, of course, the Shuttle itself. Including its robotic arm and satellite, along with an Extravehicular Mobility Unit for the minifig (yeah, I watched Space Camp like a hundred times), you can perform some serious space work and space walks with the kit. Maybe you could even build a space station with some of your own bricks and find a way to dock the Shuttle. Since there are no rocket boosters, fuel tanks, or landing gear, you can’t exactly practice take-off or landing in any authentic way, but this kit is great fun. And very nice to look at on the shelf.
So, if your kid is into space travel, is nostalgic for the decades of the Space Shuttle era, or just loves everything LEGO, the LEGO Creator Space Shuttle Explorer kit is a must-have. Affordable with plenty of replayability, you may even want to buy three to be able to have all of the builds done up at once (not to mention you’d have three minifigs, perfect for a small moon family).
The LEGO Creator Space Shuttle Explorer costs less than $30 and I highly recommend it for lovers of LEGO and space travel. It’s a great summer afternoon activity when it’s too hot or rainy to play outside!
Note: I received a unit for review purposes, but all opinions are my own.
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