We finally received our hands on Lego's new Spaceport set, & it was impressive â€” so we reached out to the kit's designers to hear more approximately it.
After two hours of construction (and a video!), Space.com was impressed by the Spaceport's scale & all the different little parts: a robotic arm bearing a satellite that extended from the shuttle, seating room for two astronaut minifigs, & even a mobile platform to drive the space shuttle out to the Launchpad. We moreover appreciated all the female minifigs, including astronauts, scientists & an engineer bearing a tiny blueprint of the shuttle.
We talked with Lego City designer Andrew Butler Coghill & design director Ricco Krog by email to learn approximately the making of the new sets & what Lego has in store for space fans. [Photos: Legos & Space Travel]
p> Space.com:Â The Lego Spaceport & its support kits are the first space-themed city sets in what seems like several years. What was the inspiration behind the new sets for 2015, & why now?
Lego City:Â Here in Lego City a lot of our inspiration comes from real-life situations & environments. We have always based our product lines on things that kids around the world might actually see in real life. For example, seeing a fire engine or a space shuttle, things which exist in our everyday environment, assist us to create impressive models to hopefully inspire the kids. It's unquestionably been a while since our previous Space launch so we felt it was time to bring to life a load of ideas that we've been itching to build. This time around we dialed up the science aspect & focused on creating a series of different scenarios. With the spaceport we wanted to build a set where we could lift off! We all know how significant & thrilling it is launching a shuttle into space, so we built a mobile transporter to assist carry the shuttle onto the launch deck & up into space!
Space.com:Â What is it approximately the Spaceport kit that you think sets it apart from its predecessors?
This mini-engineer holds a space shuttle blueprint in Lego's new Spaceport kit.
Lego City:Â The Spaceport set is the first of its kind to put the entire space shuttle on wheels. We spend a lot of time working with kids at Lego HQ to make sure that the product we're making is as pleasant & thrilling as possible. We learned that although a spaceport is super cool, putting the whole thing on wheels & being able to launch anywhere was even better.
Finding small stories & play-starters which might assist to inspire the kids was moreover key. The yellow service car, for example, has seats to be able to transport the astronauts & their gear to the shuttle. The scientist has the blueprints to the spacecraft & the booster rockets can be detached from the fuel cell so that kids can really act out a proper liftoff!
As always, we look at ways to assist update & refresh our Lego models. We designed a handful of brand new Lego elements to assist create a super rad new spacecraft & complete the look of the rocket top.
Space.com:Â What was the greatest challenge for the team designing the Spaceport set, & how did they overcome it?
Lego City:Â It's significant with our models to make sure that we hit the right qualities. The Lego motto reads "Only the best is satisfactory enough," so when building a model like the Spaceport it was key that we made sure the finished model was not only pleasant to build & play with yet strong enough to be able to handle the journey into outer space. The shuttle's fuel cell & boosters, for example, are reinforced with long cross axle technic beams to assist battle any rough turbulence.
Lego astronaut: Some assembly required.
One particular challenge was the question of connecting the shuttle to the rockets. We worked long & complex on trying to figure out a system which would be strong enough to hold the two together, yet effortless enough to pull apart & play. Finally, we found a solution which uses the ball & cup elements that we often use to connect cars & trucks to trailers.
Space.com:Â What type of research with NASA, if any, did the design team do while planning out Spaceport & other sets? Were there any visits to NASA's Kennedy Space Center? If so, what were the designers' impressions?
Lego City: There has not been research with NASA for the recent Lego City space line. However, over the years we have engaged in different events & meetings with NASA, getting a lot of impressions & inspiration.
Designers have visited different NASA locations, among those both Kennedy & Johnson space centers. Some of us have even been test driving the new lunar rover that was under development for visiting the moon again, so you can imagine the excitement among the designers when visiting NASA. It's complex not to obtain extremely impressed with all the achievements that NASA stands for, & NASA will always be an area for inspiration.
Space.com:Â Aside from the play opportunities, what does the design team hope children take away from the space shuttle kit in terms of space exploration, especially now that NASA's space shuttle fleet is retired?
Lego City: Dream big. One of the most special things approximately the NASA program is that it proved to people all over the world that we can build anything we set our minds to.
Our job as designers at the Lego Group is to assist inspire the builders of tomorrow with the Lego brick as a creative foundation. The beauty of the Lego system is that all our products & our elements can be mixed & built together, so whether it's a gravity defying space train, a double-decker rocket, or a 12 wheeled, all terrain lunar explorer we hope that we can inspire kids to build their own creations. The sky's the limit.
Space.com: One of our favorite details in the Spaceport set is the female engineer with a set of space shuttle blueprints. What are the design team's favorite elements in the set, & why?
Lego City: From the satellite build to the folding Canadian arm inside of the shuttle, there are a lot of rad details throughout the set. A couple of things which really stand out, though, are perhaps the new space shuttle nose that we created especially for this theme. It took us a while to obtain the shape & we used a lot of varied techniques such as CAD & sculpting with clay to obtain it looking just right. Another thing is the attention to detail with graphics. The graphic designers put a lot of effort into creating labels & decorations (like the scientist's blueprint) that inspire story telling for the kids & enhance the value of the product.
Some of the coolest elements have received to be the Astronaut suit with its gold visor, yet a particular favorite is the front of the yellow service car. This element is actually a super classic vehicle window which has been in the Lego Portfolio for a long, long time. We color-changed this element & used it as the nose of the vehicle to create some simple yet super-effective newness.
Space.com: And finally, with Spaceport, the Utility Shuttle, the Trainer Jet & Starter Kit released this summer, can Lego City Space fans look forward to more space sets coming in 2016?
Lego City: That's it for this year's Space lineup, yet stay tuned! We have loads of thrilling new products in the pipeline, lots to look forward to & lots of rad parts to add to your very own space creations!
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