Mars Research Shuttle (60226) Review

In summer 2019, the City theme went on a mission to Mars. Consequently, this week, we are looking at the Mars Research Shuttle (60226) from that collection. I have wanted to build and review these sets for some time. The science themed kits from the LEGO® Group are always a highlight of the year from me. I was particularly looking forward to this assortment because I loved the Spaceport (60080) back in 2015.  That set still sits on my shelf. It is the only City set to achieve that honor. The Mars Research Shuttle has big shoes to fill. Let us see how it does!

NOTE: The LEGO® Group provided this set for review purposes. However, the provision of sets does not guarantee a favorable review. I will use my usual rating system (click here to learn more), and provide my honest opinion.

Mars Research Shuttle front box art.
Mars Research Shuttle box art.

Mars Research Shuttle Summary

  • SET NAME: Mars Research Shuttle
  • SET #: 60226
  • THEME: City
  • COST: $49.99 CAD
  • BRICK COUNT: 273
  • MINIFIGURES: 2
  • RELEASE DATE: June 23, 2019
Rear box art for Mars Research Shuttle.
Mars Research Shuttle rear box art.

Mars Research Shuttle Summary Review

  • VALUE: 69% (High cost-per-brick and low build-time for the price.)
  • BUILD: 85% (Nice design, but it does not outdo earlier shuttles.)
  • MINIFIGURES: 86% (Good astronauts, good brick:fig.)
  • ENTERTAINMENT: 90% (Okay display piece, loads of play potential.)
  • OVERALL: 83%
Mars Research Shuttle box contents.
Mars Research Shuttle box contents.

Mars Research Shuttle (60226) Review

VALUE: 69%

The Mars Research Shuttle costs $49.99 CAD. Additionally, the kit contains 273 pieces. As a result, the cost-per-brick for this set is $0.18. Given that my current average cost-per-brick is $0.14, the Mars Research Shuttle is actually on the expensive side. I rate it at 66%.

Front view of the Mars Research Shuttle.
Mars Research Shuttle (60226).

I spent 50 minutes putting this set together. As a result, each minute of build time cost $1.00. Again, the Mars Research Shuttle is a bit on the expensive side. My current average cost-per-minute is $0.83. This kit earns 72% for build-time value. Subsequently, averaging this score with the cost-per-brick yields an overall value grade of 69%.

Rear view of the Mars Research Shuttle.
Rear view of the Mars Research Shuttle.

BUILD: 85%

For years, my go-to LEGO® shuttlecraft has been the Spaceport (60080) variant. I enjoyed the realistic design of the set. The Mars Research Shuttle looks a little more sleek and futuristic, but I feel like it lacks the realism of its predecessor. The first actual missions to Mars will not occur in a shuttle like this. This set more closely resembles a craft used for missions closer to home.  For example, this shuttle could transport astronauts to the International Space Station.

Mars Research Shuttle side view.
Side view of Mars Research Shuttle.

The Mars Research Shuttle features two places for Minifigures to sit. You access the main cockpit by removing the roof. Opening the rear deployment hatch of the shuttle reveals the second seat, as well as a storage area for the sample collection drone included in the set. The controls in the rear compartment look good. By comparison, the cockpit controls are somewhat basic. Of the two drones included in the set, only one can fit in the shuttle when both Minifigures are inside.

The rear compartment control panel.
The rear compartment control panel.

The Mars Rover and collection drone make for fun play.

In addition to the shuttle and two small drones, you also build a Mars Rover. According to the box art, real NASA designs inspired this rover as well as the collection drone. I assume the idea is that the rover will collect the rock samples, and the drone will return them to the waiting shuttle. It is a fun idea for play.

Shuttle cockpit controls.
Shuttle cockpit controls.

In the end, I still like my old Spaceport shuttle more than this one. It had many of the same play features, and then some. The cockpit of the Mars Research Shuttle is sleeker, and its rear compartment computer panels are a nice touch. However, the Spaceport shuttle has rocket boosters, adjustable stabilizers, a robotic arm, and more rocket engines. The wheels are also more substantial and realistic on the Spaceport model. It would be fun to hybridize these two rockets if I could find the time. However, I still quite like the Mars Research Shuttle. It loses half a point for the lack of realism (in that shuttles like this at Mars are a LONG way off), and another for not outdoing its predecessor in terms of details. There are many spaceships in this new Mission to Mars theme. To get top marks, I feel they really have to stand out. I rate the build for this set at 8.5/10 (85%).

Astronaut and drone in rear shuttle compartment.
Rear shuttle compartment with astronaut and drone in place.

MINIFIGURES: 86%

Two astronaut Minifigures were included in the Mars Research Shuttle set. One of them is equipped with the one-piece helmet/visor/oxygen tank, while the other sports a separate helmet and tank. Neither of the characters has a double sided face, but both have front and back torso printing, as well as front leg printing. Other than the astronaut gear, you do not get very many accessories. There are two of the new geode pieces, and four computer panel bricks. I rate these Minifigures at 27/30 (90%) for design.

Two Minifigures in a kit containing 273 pieces gives a brick-to-Minifigure ratio of 137:1.  That is good, but not great. The ratio score in this case is 81%. Averaging that with the design score gives the Mars Research Shuttle an overall Minifigure score of 86%.

ENTERTAINMENT: 90%

I mentioned earlier that from an adult collector’s perspective, this is not my favorite LEGO® shuttle. While I do like it, I do not think it is as good as the Spaceport shuttle from a few years ago. Ideally, combining elements from both kits creates my perfect shuttle.  Additionally, I am early in my review process of these space sets, but there seems to be too many shuttles and ships. I will not be keeping this one built. However, I can see how others might like to display it, especially if you missed out on the Spaceport, or do not plan to buy the larger sets in this sub-theme. The Mars Research Shuttle earns an AFOL score of 4/5 (80%).

Mars rover, collection drone, and geode collection.
Geode collection.

Kids will enjoy this set. There is an allure to space travel, and imaginative play does not need to adhere to rules of science. I would have loved the Mars Research Shuttle in my youth. I cannot think of any reason not to give this set 5/5 (100%) as a KFOL score. Averaging this with the AFOL score yields an overall entertainment grade of 90%.

The second drone.
Another drone.

OVERALL: 83%

The main drawback of the Mars Research Shuttle is the price. It does not come at a good value. The set has a nice design, comes with good Minifigures, and a lot of play potential. It is not my favorite shuttle, but it is a good one. If you plan to buy this kit, I suggest waiting a while. 20% off sales are common, and at that price, you are much closer to an average cost-per-brick.

Exterior of the Mars Research Shuttle.
Mars Research Shuttle cockpit exterior.

Do you have any thoughts that you would like to share on the Mars Research Shuttle? Be sure to leave them in the comments below. Also, if you like the content at True North Bricks, please follow me on FacebookPinterest, or Twitter for regular updates.

Until next time,

-Tom

What do others think?

Brick Insights is an awesome LEGO® set review aggregator. Below, you can see what other reviewers think of the Mars Research Shuttle set.

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