NASA Apollo Saturn V (92176) Review

In March 2021, the LEGO® Group treated me to the amazing NASA Space Shuttle Discovery set. As a science enthusiast, I really enjoyed the build. The sheer size of the set really impressed upon me the scale of actual shuttle. In fact, I appreciated the build so much that I went out and got a copy of the NASA Apollo Saturn V from LEGO® Ideas. This is the reissue of set 21309 from 2017. The LEGO® Group retired the set only to bring it back with new packaging by popular demand. Does the Saturn V impress as much as Discovery? Read on to find out.

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NASA APOLLO SATURN V SUMMARY

  • NAME: NASA Apollo Saturn V
  • SET #: 92176 (reissue of 21309)
  • THEME: Ideas
  • COST: $149.99 CAD
  • BRICK COUNT: 1969
  • MINIFIGURES: None
  • RELEASE DATE: November 1, 2020
NASA Apollo Saturn V displayed on my mantle.
NASA Apollo Saturn V displayed on my mantle.

NASA APOLLO SATURN V QUICK REVIEW

  • VALUE: 94% (Excellent cost-per-brick with a good amount of build time too.)
  • BUILD: 100% (Amazing build experience that stays true to the real deal.)
  • MINIFIGURES: N/A
  • ENTERTAINMENT: 100% (Great display piece with huge educational value.)
  • OVERALL SCORE: 98% (Amazing set.)
NASA Apollo Saturn V Rocket

NASA APOLLO SATURN V REVIEW

VALUE: 94%

At full price, Saturn V costs $149.99 in Canada. The resulting cost-per-brick works out to $0.076. Incidentally, that is the best value I have seen for an Ideas set. The True North Bricks average for the theme is currently $0.101/brick. Compared to LEGO® sets in general, the set also fares well. The current average cost-per-brick across all themes is $0.139. I rate the cost-per-brick for Saturn V at 99%.

In terms of build time, this set took me three hours and 44 minutes (224 minutes total). Therefore, at full price each minute of building cost me $0.67. Comparatively, the True North Bricks average for the Ideas theme is $0.76/minute, while across all LEGO® themes it sits at $0.85/minute. Consequently, you get a good amount of build time for the price tag. I rate that at 88%. Averaging this score and the cost-per-brick rating gives an overall value grade of 94%.

BUILD: 100%

If you are looking for a set that helps develop your repertoire of round building techniques, then Saturn V is for you. You learn a number of great strategies that make your structure look round while maintaining a solid core. Interestingly, much of the core of the ship is actually composed of round wall elements. However, the set achieves the exterior look through mostly curved plates and round 1x1x1 bricks.

First stage of the NASA Apollo Saturn V rocket.
First stage of the Saturn V rocket.

Saturn V assembles in four main sections, ending up at one meter in height. You start with the base, which features the first stage of rocket. In real life, this section of the rocket fired at takeoff and lifted the Saturn V to an altitude of about 67 km off the ground before detaching. This part of the ship was largely a fuel tank filled with RP-1, which is essentially refined kerosene. It is the bulkiest part of the build as well as the actual rocket.

The first stage of Saturn V lifted the rocket up 67 km.

Second stage of the Saturn V rocket.

The second section features the second stage of the rocket. This was the part that actually pushed the real Saturn V through the upper atmosphere. The compartment contained liquid hydrogen fuel. Once spent, Saturn V flew about 190 km above Earth’s surface. That is still within the thermosphere (second to last layer of the atmosphere). The second stage jettisoned at that point.

Third stage of the NASA Apollo Saturn V rocket.
Third stage of the Saturn V rocket.

The third section of the build consists of the third stage of the rocket. This part propelled the Apollo mission out of Earth’s gravity and into space. It also relied on liquid hydrogen fuel and detached from the command module a few hours into the trip to the Moon. Looking at this model you get a sense of how much power, fuel, and money was required to launch a tiny object into space. Additionally, think of all the waste. Unlike modern reusable rockets, the Saturn rockets were essentially garbage after launch. Only the command module ever made it back to Earth. NASA built 15 Saturn class rockets, each costing $185 million to launch in the late ‘60s and ‘70s. Applying inflation brings the modern-day cost of launching one Saturn rocket to around $1.23 billion. However, I am geeking out a little and straying from the review…

It was the third stage of the rocket that boosted Apollo missions into space.

The third stage also stores the lunar lander.

Saturn V is a masterfully designed set that stays true to the real thing. You get an excellent sense of each stage of the launch, as well as the scale of the actual rocket. The fourth part of the build brings microscale versions of the Apollo Lunar Lander (which is also an amazing LEGO® set), the adapter section, the command module, and the launch escape system. However, what really makes you realize the scale of Saturn V is the micro-figurine astronauts included in the set. That blew me away in similar fashion to the tiny chairs included in Space Shuttle Discovery. I really love how each stage of the rocket sticks together firmly, but also comes apart to simulate the actual launch. This is a great build; I rate it at 100%.

Micro-figure next to the stage 1 Saturn V thrusters.

ENTERTAINMENT: 100%

As a teacher, I love the Saturn V. I have used it in my classroom to demonstrate the technology, cost, and fuel requirements needed to get to space. It makes an amazing visual to really help understand how the rocket worked and what was required just to send three people to the moon. The educational benefits are not limited to the classroom. I am sure anyone building this model will learn a lot about early space travel just through the act of building and wondering what each section of the rocket did.

NASA Apollo Saturn V rocket thrusters
Stage 1 thrusters on the Saturn V rocket.

Saturn V is also a majorly impressive display piece. The finished model is about a meter tall. I displayed it for a time after building standing vertically in the corner of my LEGO® room. However, the kit also comes with a stand to lay the model horizontally. As such, it now occupies a place on top of a shelf. I do not think there are many people in the world without any fascination for space and space travel. As such, I am sure this set holds wide appeal. I just love it, so it earns 100% for entertainment.

Stage 2 thrusters.

OVERALL SCORE: 98%

I will admit, I missed out on the first Saturn V because I was skeptical if I would enjoy it. However, I liked building Discovery so much that I bit the bullet, hoping for a similar experience. I was not disappointed. This build wowed me from an AFOL perspective, but also from a space enthusiast’s point of view. I spent hours reading about the Saturn rockets after building this set. I wanted to know how all the parts of the model functioned in reality. This was really an immersive experience for me that went beyond the build. However, the build remains on display in my LEGO® room as well. If you are into space history, interesting build techniques, and geeking out over models, I cannot recommend the NASA Apollo Saturn V enough. What do you think? Feel free to share your comments below or on social media.

If you want more Saturn V content, check out my unboxing, speed build, and visual review from YouTube below. Until next time,

-Tom

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