back to article The Reg builds official Lego Artemis and Milky Way sets

Lego has added plastic brick representations of NASA's Space Launch System and the Milky Way Galaxy to its range. We had a go at building both to see if they merit a holiday investment. lego milky way and artemis As seen in the brochure – click to enlarge (Image courtesy: Lego) The Artemis Space Launch System is part of …

  1. Jay 2

    Not the Playmobil of older El Reg, but I very much appreciate such an article. Interesting to see how the SLS literally stacks up against the mighty Saturn V.

    The Milky Way set also seems to have tipped my brain into the Lego as art view (opposed to just a model on display). I like the attention to detail pointing out it would be a bugger to dust!

    1. rpawsey


      Glad to see I am not the only person who remembers the Playmobil re-enactments on here.

      Did something ne take their toys with them when they left?

      1. imanidiot Silver badge

        Re: Playmobil

        I think the Playmobil re-enactments were very much a Lester Haines / Special Projects Bureau production and unfortunately with his passing we pretty much lost the SPB projects.

        1. LogicGate Silver badge

          Re: Playmobil

          RIP Lester Haines.

          Sad we never got to see LOHAN do her thing to join the mile high club..

    2. WonkoTheSane Silver badge

      Sadly, the Artemis & Saturn sets are at different scales.

    3. Belperite

      Careful application of a hoover with the upholstery brush attachment would be my strategy.

      1. Little Mouse

        Hmm. I would advise against such a strategy.

        1. ThatOne Silver badge

          Who downvoted the rodent? I agree using a hoover might eventually suck some pieces from the construction, given the "painting" looks to be quite textured. Lots of tiny little pieces hanging on a single plot... (And even if it doesn't, do you really want to risk it?)

      2. phuzz Silver badge

        Take a piece of fabric and put it between the attachment and the rest of the hoover. That way, if/when you suck up some pieces, they'll be caught before they end up in the vacuum bag.

        1. ThatOne Silver badge

          But you will still need to find out where they came from, so you can put them back...

      3. NXM Silver badge

        this vacuum...

        ... would definitely do the job

        Mind you, a to-scale one against the Artemis would be a dot, and against the Milky Way only the size of an electron. Or smaller.

    4. My other car WAS an IAV Stryker

      "I like the attention to detail pointing out it would be a bugger to dust!"

      Customize the frame into a "shadow box" to keep the dust off, then add LED strip lights to combat the shadow -- white is fine or RBG for rainbow fun against all the different colors of the set.

    5. druck Silver badge

      That's not any old Saturn V, but SA-513 with Skylab onboard.

    6. jake Silver badge

      Don't dust it. Instead, preemptively build a simple wood frame to set it in, and stick a piece of UV resistant glass in front of it. Solves the dust problem, and the inevitable fading problem in one swell foop.

    7. The Dogs Meevonks Silver badge

      I solve that using a very soft bristled large make up brush... I use it along with a little blower to clean all of my computers and other tech stuff. It's great for cleaning fan blades and getting into nooks and crannies... It's also good for dealing with delicate lego builds. I brush to lift the dust into the air whilst holding the vacuum a decent amount away on the lowest setting.

  2. Marki Mark

    Vulture Lego mission to Mars Can't wait to see that! Get on with it!

    1. LogicGate Silver badge

      All commentards of a certain age knows that it is the Playmonaut that must go to Mars, not the Legonaut.

  3. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    Not interested

    The original idea of LEGO, Meccano etc. was (to the best of my knowledge) supposed to be toys that inspire originality and creativity. Predefined sets do exactly the opposite.

    1. Casca Silver badge

      Re: Not interested

      You dont have to buy the kits.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not interested

      Sort of agree with the point .... but the greater 'fun' was taking the original set and making 'something else' with all the custom pieces + extras from the 'Big box of lego bits', you of course, also had !!!

      Predefined sets are LEGOs ... 'Here is what I did !!!' ..... your challenge was to 'improve on it' !!!


    3. Bebu Silver badge

      Re: Not interested

      《Meccano etc. was (to the best of my knowledge) supposed to be toys that inspire originality and creativity.》

      A vivid memory from childhood was the meccano set from my father's (pre-war) childhood augmented with newer additions (all were red or green.) Learnt a lot about basic geometry, statics and mechanics. The clockwork motor had a centrifugal governor which was fascinating in itself. Pulleys, belt drives, gears, worm screws all still found in modern machinery.

      The labour of fastening literally hundreds of tiny nuts and bolts taught perserverance and was character building. :)

      I don't remember any construction manual for models apart from some simple examples on the inside of the box lid - you had to use your imagination and then work out how to realize your concept.

    4. Phil the Geek

      Re: Not interested

      I've got a big Lego 4WD V8 sportscar and it turned into a fine Huey helicopter complete with main and tail rotors properly geared together. The suspension springs powered the "rocket" launchers, which were actually quite dangerous. I used over 90% of the parts too!

    5. deadlockvictim

      Re: Not interested

      As we talking about originality, I am firmly of the belief, that if space-faring craft are to be built of Lego, then first amongst equals has to be the Lego Friends Death Star.

      It is creation of Steve Price with some inspiration from a Mr. Lucas of Medesto, California and Mr. Christiansen of Filskov, Denmark.

      It can be seen in all of its glory here:

    6. Rafael #872397

      Re: Not interested

      When I was a kid I got several Hering Rasti block sets. I guess just a few countries outside Brazil and Argentina got those.

      Each had instructions and pieces to create variations of vehicles, houses, etc.

      Having mastered the basic instructions and variations the pieces were tossed into a Big Box o' Pieces, which I used to build whatever I fancied. The kits were nicely built, some had gears, plastic chains, wheels, and motors that ate lots of AA batteries. That was in the 70s...

      Obligatory Calvin and Hobbes

    7. MonkeyCee

      Re: Not interested

      I'm fond of buying lego by the kilo, and making my own builds with my son.

      Making personalised minifigs or little diaromas for gifts is fun. Did them as cracker presents one year, and some people still have theirs on their mantlepiece :)

    8. ravenviz Silver badge

      Re: Not interested

      I thought the original idea of Lego was for you and your school friend to each build a car and see which one would break apart first by repeatedly smashing them into each other!

    9. TheProf

      Re: Not interested

      Well thanks for pointing out that I am neither creative nor original.

      I still enjoy assembling ready packed model kits though. And looking at them when I've finished.

    10. steelpillow Silver badge

      Re: Not interested

      Like proprietary vs. open licensed, or TV dinner vs. home cooked. How often do you make your own pizza dough from the ingredients available? Enjoy the choice.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Not interested

        "How often do you make your own pizza dough from the ingredients available?"

        A couple times per week, usually. It's not exactly rocket surgery.

    11. harmjschoonhoven

      Re: Not interested

      I find LEGO useful. Solved in aceton it makes excellent glue. Meccano was my toy, augmented by special parts from my fathers machineshop. My mother sometimes threatened to hoover it all up, although she never even tried. Moreover at the time she had no Nilfisk GAD.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Obligatory Owld Git Comment

    Back in the good old days, building something from Lego involved no (or very, very few) custom parts, but that Artemis kit looks more Airfix than traditional Lego.

    1. Little Mouse

      Re: Obligatory Owld Git Comment

      I remember the "good old days".

      The only custom pieces in my Big Bag of Lego were wheels (fun), roof tiles (not fun), and windows (also not fun).

      1. jdiebdhidbsusbvwbsidnsoskebid Silver badge

        Re: Obligatory Owld Git Comment

        "The only custom pieces in my Big Bag of Lego were wheels (fun), roof tiles (not fun), and windows (also not fun)."

        I remember loads of custom parts in my old Lego boxes. Doors, minifigure body parts, propellors, gears (not technic, just regular Lego offset gears at the correct angle for enabling vehicle steering wheels on a single specific kit), windscreens, dumper truck shovels and buckets. I remember having a small dumper truck kit where the whole chassis was specific to that kit.

        I've made my fair share of custom Lego kits as an adult with lots of parts that I would consider custom. But when my kids break them down and play with them, it turns out they aren't as custom as I thought, it's my lack of imagination that has grown over time, more than the proportion of custom Lego parts.

    2. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: Obligatory Owld Git Comment

      To my mind, Lego pre-1970s, with basically just rectangular bricks, was just a small step up from wooden building blocks. The only difference is that Lego bricks would stay attached to each other.

      It wasn't until the mid 1970's when they started introducing the dreaded 'custom pieces' that it actually became a fun toy. For me, co-opting the custom pieces to build new things was where I found my entertainment.

      eg, Part 6021197 (released in 1974) might have been intended as a crane bucket, but for me it made a great mouth for a monster.

      But hey, you can still get buckets of just Lego bricks if that's what you prefer. They never stopped making them after all.

      1. Martin an gof Silver badge

        Re: Obligatory Owld Git Comment

        mid 1970's when they started introducing the dreaded 'custom pieces'

        I suppose it depends what you mean by 'custom'. I definitely wouldn't count the angled 'roof' pieces as custom as someone upthread does, and in the late 1970s I inherited lattice fences, windows and a very custom 'garage base and door' from my (much older) brother's 1960s collection. He also had Lego 'people' with bodies made from 2x2 bricks, one of which had connections for articulated arms. I note an official Lego history page which says these were launched in 1974 but somehow I can't see my 16 year old brother buying a Lego family. Hmmm. Might have to have a word with him.


    3. steelpillow Silver badge

      "that Artemis kit looks more Airfix than traditional Lego"

      I have an Airfix "Quickbuild" Spitfire that looks more Lego than Airfix.

      Meanwhile we first got Lego Builder software tools, then plastic Lego Minecraft sets.

      Run a Windows VM in a Linux environment will you? Right you bastards, now you can spin up a Linux VM in a Windows environment!

      And my car is something marketed as a "crossover," while I dine on "fusion" cooking.

      Even Barbie is getting the educational play value that used to be reserved for My Little Pony.

      Is nothing sacred for all eternity any more?

  5. Roger Greenwood

    Saturn Launch Umbilical Tower

    Well played for a kids toy Lego, well played.

  6. Wobblin' Pete

    Lego, it's mine...

    Lego have had a very "Artemis" like rocket in their range a couple of years now - Lego City Rocket Launch 60351 - so it seems a little strange that the new one's design was compromised at all to make it more playable?

    And I also miss the Playmobil re-enactments too - but note the Playmobil rocket is very much based on ESA designs, and so would not really fit in an Artemis story. Done a quick check and it's available in various shops but not in their current catalogue

    Probably should declare that I have both of these rocket sets - both great fun, but if you don't like putting stickers on bits don't buy playmobil (stickers on control panels and other fiddly bits), but then this is normal for their sets. And for me the playbobil wins, having a bi-lingual choice of cool sounds....

  7. Mike 137 Silver badge

    "It's Lego, but not as we know it Jim"

    There seems little point in it being Lego if it can only be assembled one way to create only one model. Yet another example of the provision of a 'sense of achievement' rather than a real achievement itself. But it's not a new phenomenon. As far back as 2009 Matthew Crawford1 described a service called Build-a-Bear, whereby children could choose wanted attributes of a bear on a computer screen, the bear then being made on their behalf. So a somewhat misleading service name.

    I'm also reminded of a supposedly 'instructional' kit for an electronic Theremin (musical instrument) that consisted of a proto board, a bunch of analogue components, a layout diagram and a pre-programmed microcontroller that did all the work, but no code listing. The 'instructional' element was thus no more than the application of manual dexterity in pushing wires into the board in the right places, rather than any understanding gained of how it worked.

    The underlying drive in all these cases seems to be to gain satisfaction without expending significant effort. This was brought home to me when a few years back I designed a PIC breakout board that could accommodate practically any current 40 pin PIC 16F or 18F microcontroller using any clock speed and source with any comms option simply by adjusting onboard links. Its aim was to allow maximum versatility for experimentation, but it never got off the ground, being swamped by elementary (often pre-populated) breakout boards supporting just one device at one (low) clock speed and serial comms only. Nobody, it seems, was interested in going beyond the absolute basics.

    Sadly, the shallow 'sense of achievement' resulting from having the 'hard work' done on one's behalf is much less satisfying than a the feeling derived from actual achievement predicated on successful application of one's own ingenuity and initiative, but of course the former is much easier to sell.

    1: Matthew Crawford, Shop Class as Soulcraft, Penguin Books New York 2009 [p 69]


    1. sabroni Silver badge

      Re: if it can only be assembled one way to create only one model.

      that's not how lego works. All the bits stick to each other.

      What these kits do is show people one way to arrange a certain set of blocks and demonstrate techniques for building various mechanisms. Enterprising builders can then applly those techniques in their own builds, or use them to extend these pre-designed models in their own ways.

      People who just like to follow the instructions and build what they're told get a nice display piece to put on a shelf after a couple of hours of pleasant entertainment.

    2. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: "It's Lego, but not as we know it Jim"

      As a small example of how Lego parts can be re-used in a completely different way, the engine nozzles on the Saturn V kit were the 'crows nest' from a Lego pirates kit, but made in grey and used upside-down.

      If you think a Lego part can only be used in one particular way, that's your imagination letting you down.

  8. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge

    Peak Grumpy Old Fart

    "Kids today are playing with Legos wrong."

    Dear Lord, get over yourselves. There is nothing precluding using the Lego kits to build something else, and perhaps other people find it *gasp* fun to build something large, intricate, and representational which would not otherwise be possible without a custom design.

    And yes, I said "Legos." You'll get over it.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Peak Grumpy Old Fart

      While I agree with you, when you've just spent over 200 quid on a "kit" and 2 or more days building it, how many people are going to break it back down and chuck the parts into the "Lego bin" to use for building other stuff with?

    2. Antony Shepherd

      Re: Peak Grumpy Old Fart

      I don't think these sorts of things are aimed at 'Kids'.

  9. xyz Silver badge


    Lester et al would have actually stuck something in actual space just for the shear hell of it and not presented photos of some pos models that I used to have in my bedroom as a kid.

    Still miss Lester.. Proper bloke.


  10. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    "Each set has its own focus and story to tell …

    So, it comes with a whole load of "dollar bill" shaped/printed blocks so can have a stream leading to all the Usual Suspects*

    * Models of SLA, Boeing et al available separately, batteries not included.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Don't forget the environmental costs ...

    And the negotiations with SWMBO in order to keep them in the living room.

    That's without the extras incurred for having had to build a roof opening so that you can point them in the appropriate direction ....

    1. Gene Cash Silver badge

      Re: Don't forget the environmental costs ...

      If she wasn't equally as interested in space as I, and insisting that it go in the living room, she wouldn't be SWMBO.

  12. Gene Cash Silver badge

    Playmobil Starship Enterprise

    I have this, and indeed, it required over a hundred stickers to complete, but it sits proudly on a bedroom credenza. (edit: fortunately the really hard ones, like the saucer logos, are preprinted)

    The stickers did turn out to be exceptionally easy to apply, even for a hamhanded spastic git like me. The bridge main screen and some others are the "3D holographic style" which is nice.

    It used to make noises and lights via a phone app, but they screwed up the Bluetooth permissions on the last release. You have to disassemble (unzip) the apk and add a BT scanning permission to the manifest, IIRC.

    It comes with 7 crew figures, including Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Scotty, Chekov, Sulu, and Uhura.

    The display stand is one of the best designs I've seen.

    (edit: and it's quite large, roughly 39" in length)

  13. CorwinX Bronze badge

    I do miss the LOHAN missions

  14. xyz Silver badge

    The jury is in....

  15. Evil Auditor Silver badge

    "The decision to use stickers allows for more detailed decorationincreases our profit."

    Here, corrected that for you.

  16. sabroni Silver badge

    It's for kids!

    Grow up!

    (Or don't, I bought and built the Vespa kit last weekend.....)

  17. ArguablyShrugs

    "The downside of all this excitement is the price"

    What? The SLS is only $2bn a pop, that's pretty cheap!

    1. steelpillow Silver badge

      Re: "The downside of all this excitement is the price"

      Agreed. I'd buy a Lego Falcon Heavy for a tenth the price. As long as my £22 gets one the same scale.

  18. DaveLS

    Lego alternatives

    Lego spacecraft models?

    In my day it was Ray Malmstrom's "Eagle Book of Spacecraft Models" — — together with assorted blocks and sheets of balsa wood, plywood, fretsaws, glue, sandpaper, paint, dope (don't sniff), etc., —and Jetex rocket motors. OK, the Jetex motors removed the need for a lot of the skill and creativity of building your own rocket engines, but one could have fun augmenting their thrust by boring holes in the solid fuel pellets (slowly, in order not to ignite them) to increase the surface area and hence burn rate.

    Lead (to make weights for balancing the flying models) came from melting-down the little lead seals that used to accumulate in the bottom of the electricity meter enclosure after the meter man called to empty the coins, clipping-off the seals and replacing them in the process.

    Life was just a breeze in those days.

  19. diguz

    Milk or Cider?

    That milky way gave me strong mac os x lion vibes, where the main wallpaper was a galaxy (far far away...)

  20. RegGuy1 Silver badge

    Thunderbird 1?

    When I saw the picture with the skylight above my very first impression was of the Thunderbird 1 launch site, looking upwards with the swimming pool fully retracted.

    Then I realised it wasn't!

    Wonderful. I love these types of stories. Have a beer. :-)

  21. The Dogs Meevonks Silver badge

    Still haven't built my Saturn V

    I've had the Saturn V for 2yrs now... can't build it yet. Was moving home a few months after buying it, so left it boxed... Now 20 months later, still doing building work and DIY on the new house, so my current home office isn't big enough and I have to concentrate on stuff like a garage conversion, 3 bathrooms and 4 bedrooms before I get to do my main lounge... at least the kitchen, utility are complete, as are a load of replacement doors and windows.

    I keep looking at the launch tower MOC for it.... itching to pull the trigger and get that... But also wanting to get a display case and do a launch effect with supports, cotton wool and LED's.

    My super star destroyer is also still in bubble wrap on top of the wardrobes waiting to be freed... But at least my large X, B, A & Y Wings are out, as are my smaller Tie & Tie Bomber... Just need to add the Tie Interceptor and Tie Advanced to complete the set of original trilogy fighters.

  22. Ian Johnston Silver badge

    The Man Upstairs : You know the rules, this isn't a toy!

    Finn : Um... it kind of is.

    The Man Upstairs : No, actually it's a highly sophisticated inter-locking brick system.

  23. xyz123 Silver badge

    Boeing releases a rocket lego set, unfortunately 18 of the most expensive yet critical pieces missing.

    Boeing offers to send replacement bricks for $149.99 each, but each brick must be sent seperately and will take 6months to arrive.

    1. Excused Boots Bronze badge

      Do bricks spontaneously fall off at random intervals for no discernable reason?

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