International Space Station Review (21321)

While I do cover major set releases here on True North Bricks, this week I have some extra special to share. Today, the LEGO® Group has announced the release of the latest Ideas set, the International Space Station (ISS). Additionally, this time around, I received a pre-release copy of the set to review through the LEGO® Ambassador Network (LAN). Therefore, I can share my thoughts on the set with you before it even hits store shelves! Without further ado, let’s delve into the International Space Station review.

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

International Space Station front box art.
ISS front box art.

International Space Station Summary

  • NAME: International Space Station
  • SET #: 21321
  • THEME: Ideas
  • COST: $99.99 CAD
  • BRICK COUNT: 864
  • MINIFIGURES: None (includes three micro figurines)
  • RELEASE DATE: February 1, 2020
International Space Station rear box art.
ISS rear box art.

International Space Station Quick Review

  • VALUE: 85% (Above average scores for cost/brick and build-time.)
  • BUILD: 95% (Good experience, but at times repetitive.)
  • MINIFIGURES: N/A (There are no Minifigures in this kit.)
  • ENTERTAINMENT: 80% (Nice display piece but caters to specific tastes.)
  • OVERALL SCORE: 87%
International Space Station box contents.
ISS box contents.

International Space Station Review

VALUE: 85%

At full price, the International Space Station costs $99.99 in Canada. With 864 pieces, you are paying $0.12 per brick. By way of contrast, my current average cost-per-brick is $0.14. Therefore, this set is a good value even when paying full price for it. This is good news since Ideas sets do not often go on sale in my experience. I rate the cost-per-brick at 87%.

The LEGO® International Space Station.
The LEGO® International Space Station.

The International Space Station took me two hours and eleven minutes to build (131 minutes total). At $99.99, each minute of build-time costs $0.76. Currently, my average cost-per-minute is $0.82. Therefore, again, you get a good value in terms of the build-time. I rate that at 83%. Averaging the build-time and cost-per-brick scores gives an overall value grade of 85%.

Overhead view of the International Space Station.
Overhead view of the ISS.

BUILD: 95%

This set begins with the assembly of a couple of mini cargo spacecraft, a space shuttle, and the stand that holds up the ISS. The shuttle looks similar, though not identical, to the shuttle seen in the Women of NASA Ideas set from a while back. Most of your time will obviously go to assembling the ISS proper. It is a fun build too. The only slightly tiresome part of the build was assembling the solar panel arrays at the end. It gets a little repetitive at that point.

Display base.
ISS display base.

Once fully assembled, the ISS measures about 49 cm wide. It has two rotating sections that allow the realistic positioning of the solar panel arrays. Each of the eight panel arrays can also rotate. Additionally, the Canadarm2 inclusion is a fun detail for Canadian space enthusiasts. I am not familiar enough with the construction of the real ISS to accurately name all the modules included in this model. However, from a quick comparison with a diagram of the actual ISS, I believe that I can locate the ESA Columbus Orbital Facility, the Japanese experiment module, the US habitation module, the US Destiny lab module, the Zarya control module, and the Russian service module. Also included, there are radiators on the exterior of the station.

Amazingly, the ISS set does not contain any stickers!

Solar Panel Array.
Solar panel array.

While being a micro-scale set, the ISS is none-the-less detailed. The build experience is a good one, and it is fun to see how it all comes together into the final product. I also learned a lot about the actual ISS as I tried to figure out what each part of the model was. Repetitive building is at times an issue, if that sort of thing bothers you. It did not bother me that much. I rate the overall build experience for the International Space Station at 95%.

Canadarm2 on the International Space Station.
The Canadarm2 in action.

MINIFIGURES: N/A

There are no Minifigures included with the ISS kit. Therefore, I will not give the set an actual Minifigure rating. However, it is worth mentioning that you get three micro figurine astronauts. The official product description only lists two. But most sets containing micro figures normally include extra ones among the extra pieces. I received one extra in this kit.

Astronaut micro-figurines included with the ISS set.
Astronaut Micro-figurines.

ENTERTAINMENT: 80%

The International Space Station markets as a 16+ set geared for adults. The result is a nice display piece with no play value. As such, I will rate the entertainment score for this International Space Station review only using the AFOL score this time around (usually I average it with a KFOL score).

Micro-figurine spacewalking on the International Space Station.
Astronaut mico-figurine spacewalk.

With that said, this set will stay on display for a while in my LEGO® room. I am a science geek, and I love space sets. However, I probably would not have bought this set for budget reasons if I am being honest. That has a lot to do with my personal preference for sets with Minifigures. Including some Minifigure representations of actual astronauts to put on the display base would have gone a lot farther towards making this set marketable to me personally. I suspect others with less enthusiasm for science might feel the same. However, now that I have it, I do really like the set. I will display it with my Apollo 11 Lunar Lander set from last summer. Since I am not sure about the wide-scale interest of this set, I rate the AFOL score at 4/5 (80%).

Click here to read my Apollo 11 Lunar Lander review.

Columbus Orbital Facility and Japanese Experiment Module.
Columbus Orbital Facility and Japanese Experiment Module… I think.

OVERALL SCORE: 87%

In the end, the International Space Station is a solid set. Even buying it is at full price, you are getting a good value for both individual bricks, as well as build time. The set sits on a nice display stand and has multiple points of articulation that allow you to position it just right for your shelf. My main point of contention with the kit is the lack of Minifigures. Minifigures drive a lot of my purchasing choices when it comes to LEGO® sets. Including actual astronauts who have worked on the ISS as Minifigures to display on the base would have made this set much more appealing to me. As it is, the science geek in me still likes it. Additionally, I plan to keep it built and on display.

Russian modules of the International Space Station.
Russian modules.

What are your thoughts on the new LEGO® Ideas International Space Station? Feel free to leave a comment below or shout out on social media. I am eager to hear if this is a wish list item or a solid pass for you.

Until next time,

-Tom

The International Space Station Shuttle.
Front view of shuttle.

What do others think?

Brick Insights is an awesome site that aggregates LEGO® set review scores from around the web. Based on their statistics, you can see what other reviewers think of  the International Space Station (21321) below.

Rear view of shuttle.
Rear view of shuttle.

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Underside view of the ISS.
Underside view of the ISS set.

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