Tag Archives: 21104

Exploration Isn’t Dead

…We just have further to go. Meet the Curiosity Rover, LEGO Cuusoo’s latest offering.

Lego Mars Curiosity Rover

Set number 21104; coming soon to Legoland Mars.

Of all the Cuusoo models to date, this is undoubtedly the one that stays most faithful to the original project. There seems hardly any difference between this set and Stephen Pakbaz’s proposal. Mr Pakbaz is not only a LEGO fan, but a Mechanical Engineer working on the Curiosity project, so we can trust him to make a faithful model.

So far, the Cuusoo project has been a bit hit and miss. It’s a fantastic idea, and I hope LEGO persist with it; models like this make the exercise well worth it. We probably don’t need all the IP-dominated models of wildly varying quality (DeLorean, anyone?) but at least this model shows you don’t need to exploit a popular franchise to get noticed.

One thing I really like about these sets is the presentation. They come in a sturdy, tastefully decorated Architecture-style box with a glossy, square-bound instruction book that includes some fascinating information on the model and its designer. You pay a little more as a consequence but it’s well worth it. That said, this isn’t too expensive – £30 for 295 pieces presented with this quality is perfectly reasonable value.

So, the build. You start with a little slice of Martian terrain for the vehicle to roll over and show off its suspension. Simple, but a nice touch. Next, it’s the body of the rover; a slightly irregular white box with plenty of greebles. Wait, they can’t be greebles – on the real thing, all this stuff does something… There are 17 cameras and many scientific instruments to analyse this vehicle’s surroundings. With much data to process, there’s no need for a fast machine – how does 200 metres per day grab you? – speed freaks need not apply, I guess, despite the nuclear power…

It’s a fairly quick build; reasonably straightforward with a smattering of SNOT and a touch of Technic to liven it up. It’s an enjoyable thing to put together. As you go through it, the book tells you little tidbits of information about the rover and its mission and it’s fascinating stuff. For instance, this vehicle can roll over obstructions up to 65cm high while keeping it’s body full of delicately calibrated instruments amazingly stable.

The model will do something similar. It features the same type of rocker-bogie suspension and it works brilliantly. Roll it over any uneven surface (not too fast…) and it really impresses with the stability of the body. It’s done fairly simply but it works superbly. So, an impressively realistic model at a reasonable price with a dose of playability – what’s not to like?

Criticisms? Come on, there’s gotta be something…. Well, if you’re going to push me, I could wonder why it has conventional truck-type wheels and tires when those hard plastic wheels you sometimes see in space sets might be closer to the real thing. Hardly a big issue, that, and it looks fine as it is. Can’t think of anything else to carp at.

Together, LEGO Cuusoo and Stephen Pakbaz have scored a home run. If the idea of exploring other worlds is at all interesting to you, you’ll enjoy this a lot. 10/10.

Highly Recommended.