“Lego® Group Releases International Space Station”

      To celebrate the tenth anniversary of the LEGO® Ideas theme, which enables fans to submit designs for sets and the public votes on designs, and The LEGO® Group produces the most popular plans, The LEGO® Group released the LEGO® Ideas International Space Station (Set #21321).  The set became available at LEGO® Stores and the LEGO® Shop worldwide on Saturday, February 1, A.D. 2020.  The designer is Christoph Ruge.  The International Space Station model measures seven inches tall, twelve inches long, and nineteen inches wide.  This is a complex set or kit with 864 pieces.  It is meant for adults and teenagers sixteen and over.  The list price is $69.99 in the U.S.A. (or €69.99 in the European Union).  It is available directly from the LEGO® Shop and at LEGO® Stores, as well as from Barnes & Noble.[1]  It is not available directly from Amazon.com, but speculators are selling it through Amazon Marketplace for $92.70 and more.

Figure 1 Credit: The LEGO® Group Caption: In February of 2020, The LEGO® Group released the LEGO® Ideas International Space Station (Set #21321).  It is a complex kit meant for adults and teens sixteen years of age and over.
Figure 2 Credit: The LEGO® Group Caption: The LEGO® Ideas International Space Station kit is a Microscale set that comes with a model of the International Space Station, an American space shuttle orbiter, a Russian Soyuz spacecraft, a SpaceX Dragon 2 spacecraft, and two Microfigure astronauts.

Credit: The LEGO® Group Caption: This is a 360° overhead view of the LEGO® Ideas International Space Station.

Figure 3 Credit: The LEGO® Group Caption: The LEGO® Ideas International Space Station uses ball joints and brackets so the space station model rotates and yet is stable instead of drooping at the ends. 

Figure 4 Credit: The LEGO® Group Caption: Connector pegs are used to attach the photovoltaic array models to the main structure of the International Space Station model in the LEGO® Ideas International Space Station kit.

Figure 5 Credit: The LEGO® Group Caption: Design Manager Sam Johnson and LEGO® Designer Corvin Stichert took the design submitted by fan Christoph Ruge as the basis for the final product which they designed. 

Figure 6 Credit: The LEGO® Group Caption: Christoph Ruge designed an International Space Station model that was large enough to accommodate Minifigures™ and it reached 10,000 votes, yet The LEGO® Group rejected it.  He then redesigned the model at Microscale and submitted it again. 

Figure 7 Credit: The LEGO® Group Caption: The LEGO® Ideas International Space Station model measures over 7 inches (20cm) high, 12 inches (31cm) long and 19 inches (49cm) wide.  It rests on a display stand.

      The way LEGO® Ideas works is that a fan (1) designs a plan for a set, either (2) physically builds the set or virtually builds it with a computer program, (3) submits the plan submits the plan via https://ideas.LEGO.com with a fun description and pictures, and then promotes the plan both online and in the real world.  If a plan gets 10,000 votes, LEGO® master builders evaluate the plan and determine if it is feasible to bring the set to market.  If so, they begin to collaborate with the fan-designer.  Christoph Ruge joins the ranks of Leandro Tayag, who designed the LEGO® Ideas Voltron set, released in 2018; Andrew Clark, who designed the LEGO® Ideas The Flinstones set, released in 2019; and Máté Szabó, who designed the LEGO® Ideas Disney Mickey Mouse Steamboat Wlllie set, also released in 2019. This process can take several years.  The LEGO® Group stated, “LEGO Ideas offers fans the opportunity to submit their own brick creations with the chance to have their concept brought to life with the help of LEGO master designers and a share of the profits.” 

      Until 2014, LEGO® Ideas was known as LEGO® Cuusoo.  It is a partner of The LEGO® Group. 

      The partnership began as the Cuusoo Community in Japan in 2008.  Cuusoo means “I wish” in Japanese.  It became a worldwide platform in 2011.

      Today, the LEGO® Ideas Website is operated by The LEGO® Group and Chaordix, Inc.    The Chaordix Community Platform enables companies to create a branded social network that is combination of public forum and insight panel.

      LEGO® Ideas succeeded LEGO Design byMe (originally known as LEGO® Factory), which allowed customers to design sets with the program Lego Digital Designer (which The LEGO® Group no longer supports) to create custom-made kits.  By its nature, most people found this process to be cost prohibitive.  The LEGO® Factory theme also included a few sets that were fan-designed.  This included Market Street (Set #10190), the second Modular Building kit released by The LEGO® Group.[2] 

      In 2014, Roland Harwood of 100%Open in London, England described the re-branded LEGO® Ideas as “a new customer-led innovation platform.” Upon the launch of the LEGO® Ideas Website, Mr. Harwood stated, “The new LEGO Ideas platform launched today, built in partnership with Crowdsourcing experts Chaordix, one of 100%Open’s innovation service provider network partners.  It builds directly on the LEGO Cuusoo community and allows you to do various new things.”

      The real International Space Station is a microgravity research laboratory.  The five national space agencies that designed, built, and own the I.S.S. are the (American) National Aeronautics and Space Administration, (Russian) Roscosmos State Corporation for State Activities, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA),[3] European Space Station (E.S.A.), and Canadian Space Station.  The I.S.S. is comprised of modules that the space agencies assembled in orbit. 

      Construction took place between 1998 and 2000.  Astronauts and cosmonauts have resided on the I.S.S. continuously since November of 2000.  This year marks its twentieth anniversary of use and habitation, so the release of the LEGO® Ideas International Space Station celebrates both the twentieth anniversary of the real International Space Station and the tenth anniversary of LEGO® Ideas.

      In a press release on Tuesday, January 21, A.D. 2020, Lego A/S (doing business as The LEGO® Group) enthused, “The realistic set features a posable Canadarm2 and two rotating joints that coincide with eight adjustable solar panels, to replicate the out-of-this-world complexity of the real space station that orbits the Earth sixteen times a day!”  This is a LEGO® Microscale model, though that may not be apparent until one sees the brick-built N.A.S.A. space shuttle model that comes with the set.[4]  The Microscale space shuttle comes with “three mini cargo spacecrafts.”  The set also includes two astronaut Microfigures.

      The LEGO® Group stated, “Measuring over 7” (20cm) high, 12” (31cm) long and 19” (49cm) wide, the LEGO Ideas International Space Station makes an eye catching display model that will perfectly compliment any LEGO brick space station collection.”  As I briefly mentioned in “Lego Space Product Lines,” one of the six sets in the LEGO® Discovery (2003) theme licensed by the Discovery Channel was a 162-piece International Space Station (Set #7467) Microscale set that included the I.S.S. as it looked in 2001 and a space shuttle.  Speculators are selling new sets via Amazon Marketplace for $280 or more.  Some speculators are selling it for less via Bricklink.

      Last year, The LEGO® Group released the 412-piece Lunar Space Station (Set #60227) as part of the LEGO® City theme rather than a revival of the LEGO® Space theme.  I described it in two articles, “Lego Partners with N.A.S.A. for Apollo 11 Lunar Landing, Mars Exploration Sets,” in June and “Lego Group Helps N.A.S.A. Get Children Exited about Space Exploration” in August.  It is realistic but is not a model of the International Space Station and does not especially resemble it.  That set includes four Minifigures: two astronauts and two crewmembers.  It is still available directly from LEGO® Shop and from Barnes & Noble.  Speculators are also selling it through Bricklink and Amazon Marketplace.

      The LEGO® Ideas International Space Station set has a 148-page illustrated instruction book that also has facts about the real International Space Station and Christoph Ruge.  The LEGO® Group noted, “LEGO fan Christoph Ruge submitted the original design for the LEGO Ideas International Space Station set after submitting other various space model entries via the LEGO Ideas platform… After three years, Christoph’s design was selected through the special review to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the LEGO Ideas programme that has seen amazing sets come to fans including The Flintsones, Steamboat Willie and Friends Central Perk in the last year alone.”

      In addition, the set has a display stand so the International Space Station model can be easily placed on a desk, table, bookshelf, etc. The LEGO® Group described the set as “a must-have for space enthusiast and adult LEGO fans alike.”

Figure 8 Credit: The LEGO® Group Caption: The LEGO® Ideas International Space Station (Set #21321) is a Microscale kit.  It includes a model of the International Space Station, which rests on a display stand; a space shuttle; and two Microfigure astronauts.  N.A.S.A. retired the space shuttle orbiter fleet in 2011 with the last flight of the Discovery. Since then, N.A.S.A. and the International Space Station (I.S.S.) have depended on the use of Russian Soyuz spacecrafts, a model of which is included in the kit, to resupply the I.S.S. and bring astronauts to the I.S.S.  In addition, the kit includes a model of a SpaceX Dragon 2 spacecraft.  SpaceX is an American private company founded by Elon Musk. 

      Hasan Jensen, The LEGO® Group’s Engagement Manager, stated, “To celebrate 10 years of crowdsourcing and collaboration between LEGO Ideas (called LEGO CUUSOO until 2014) and LEGO fans around the world, we decided to dive into the archives of LEGO Ideas projects that had gathered 10,000 supporters but hadn’t quite made it into production.”

      Mr. Jensen added, “We decided that one of these great ideas should have a second chance, so we thought we would turn the LEGO Ideas process upside down.  This time we started the internal review and came up with four exciting projects that we thought showed the greatest potential – and then it was up to the LEGO Ideas community to decide which of the four would be made into LEGO Ideas set number 29.  It was great fun to follow the fan vote and we were excited to be able to finally welcome the International Space Station into the LEGO Ideas family.”

Credit: The LEGO® Group Caption: Most of the press materials related to the release of the LEGO® Ideas International Space Station (Set #21321) refer to its design by Christoph Ruge, but the reality is Design Manager Sam Johnson and LEGO® Designer Corvin Stichert had to take his design as the basis for the final product which they designed.  They used ball joints and brackets so the space station model would rotate and yet be stable without drooping at the ends.  Messrs. Johnson and Stichert explain that originally Mr. Ruge designed an International Space Station model that was large enough to accommodate Minifigures™ and it reached 10,000 votes, yet The LEGO® Group rejected it.  He then redesigned the model at Microscale and submitted it again.  This also reached 10,000 votes, but The LEGO® Group rejected this proposed set, too.  Finally, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of LEGO® Ideas, the company reviewed archives for submissions that had not been approved for release as sets and put up four of them that fans could vote on.  The International Space Station received almost twice as many votes as the other three proposed sets.  Johnson and Stichert talked with the space agencies that designed and built the real International Space Station as well as Ruge to design the final product.

Credit: JANGBRiCKS Caption: This is the JANGBRiCKS review of the set.

Credit: Beyond the Brick Caption: Boone Langston of Beyond the Brick interviews N.A.S.A. International Space Station flight controller Kayla LaFrance to discuss the LEGO® Ideas International Space Station set.  We also see him build the kit in time-lapsed photography.

ENDNOTES


[1] I suspect if there is a LEGOLAND® or LEGOLAND® Discovery Center near you, and it is open, you would find its gift shop might also have the LEGO® Ideas International Space Station, too.

[2] The LEGO Group now releases a Modular Building kit about once a year and the most complex kits are released under the LEGO® Creator Expert subtheme for adults and teens, such as Bookshop (Set #10270), which I wrote about in “Lego® will Release Bookshop in 2020.”

[3] The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA is the successor agency to the National Space Development Agency of Japan (N.A.S.D.A.).

[4] To be the right scale to dock with the set’s International Space Station, the space shuttle model must be too small to accommodate LEGO® astronaut Minifigures™.  Of course., this is the case, because it would be prohibitively expensive to release a set with an International Space Station model large enough for space shuttle models large enough to accommodate Minifigures™ to dock with it.  Such an undertaking is the kind of custom-made model an affluent adult fan of LEGO® (A.F.O.L.) represented by the father character played by Will Ferrell in The LEGO® Movie (2014).

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