Saturday, March 31, 2012

Shuttle Expedition 10231 - Review

Shuttle Expedition - 10231
Classic space was one of my favorite themes growing up. I still have several of those sets (which I need to clean and inventory), although I was not too enthused by the latest Alien Conquest version of the theme. When I saw the Creator space shuttle I knew it must be mine. I just finished it up tonight and it's now on display.

It's really a fun set, although I was a little shocked at all of the Technic elements that make up the piece count. There were so many little pins, axles, and other little bits that it sometimes was kind of a pain sorting through it all to find something. I understand the necessity of it of course. Many of the finer details of the design would be impossible without them being used. This is the first Creator set I've put together, so I'm going to assume this is pretty common in a lot of the larger sets that are out there now.

I'm not trying to be critical of Technic pieces. It's just not something I'm accustomed to yet as being very common in sets. I don't remember them being as big of an inclusion in the sets I built while growing up.

We have ignition!
One of my favorite details of the ship are the engines on the actual shuttle and booster rockets. The trans 1x1 round plates do a good job of making it look as if it's ready to blast off into space.

In that photo, you can see one of the design aspects I do no like about the set. The rear landing gear poke up through the wings on each side, which is necessary to deploy and retract them, but it just looks a little bit ugly in my opinion to have those gaping holes just sitting there. The front gear uses a little tab to control them, so I'm not sure why something similar could not have been worked out for the rear set.

The tank and boosters are very cool. At first, I thought that portion of the build was going to be horribly boring and repetitive. However, there are some aspects that were actually quite interesting  and really made it work well. One of those was how the top of the fuel tank came together using a series of hinges and slopes. You can see how it all comes together in the photo right over there.

This is one of those build techniques that I found really cool. While the large shell pieces that make the tank and booster round are kind of boring, I understand the need for them to cut down on weight/piece count. This cool little detail though is so much cooler than just shoving two pieces together at the top like a clam shell.

With the set being so heavy on shell pieces for the boosters assembly, I was a little bit shocked in how the bay doors were assembled. How they attach is pretty cool and LEGO did a good job of trying to mask the area. However, the long series of 1x3x2 curved arches bugged me a little. One side of the doors is reinforced with two plates, but the other side only has a single row of them. This reduces the stability quite a bit and I found myself having to push them back together quite a few times to close the gaps.

I have to wonder whey the designers didn't just use curved pieces similar to what's used for the boosters instead. I might have to experiment a little with that to see if it's possible. There's probably a stability issue I'm overlooking.

Overall, the set was quite a bit of fun. I stretched the build over about four nights. I probably could have done it in three if I had sorted the pieces a little better from the start. I wasted a lot of time looking for some random 1x1 plate or random technic pin on several occasions. I certainly learned a lesson on that front and realize I need to prepare better the next time I build a set without numbered bags.

Next up is the Imperial Flagship I've had sitting on the shelf for the past month. I'll probably end up spending the entire first evening sorting the pieces for that one. There are so many bags filled with tiny bits.

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