Set Review: Cuusoo 21104 Mars Curiosity Rover
Sunday, March 9th, 2014 at 9:04pm by Benjamin, BZPower Reporter
After the Mars Rover Curiosity had a successful landing on Mars in August of 2012, Curiosity's LEGO Cuusoo page skyrocketed to 10,000 votes and into the review stage. Made by an engineer who worked on the real rover, Curiosity was found to be just what LEGO was looking for in another Cuusoo set. Today reporter ChocolateFrogs takes a look at what made this the perfect choice for Cuusoo and if it promises learning opportunities for science, space, and beyond.
Along with some pictures of key building moments and amazing features of the set, I've also done a video review which really shows off the functions incorporated into the rover, including the wheel movements and other learning opportunities:
From the design of the box to the instruction manual, these are the first things you see before building the set.
Your set won't come signed.
The Cuusoo boxes stand apart from other LEGO sets in that they open nicely and close securly. While the DeLorean can fit in its closed box, Curiosity can not. Still, it gives reason to keep the box around just in case and to hold the instructions.
Aside from that, all the usual things are on the box: LEGO logo, piece count, product line—in this case the Cuusoo logo is in the bottom corner showing that this is the fifth set in the Cuusoo line. Above a vibrant rendition of LEGO Curiosity is a long title explaining what and where Curiosity comes from.
The back shows Curiosity along with pictures of the real one being tested and made ready for its journey on Mars.
Half the fun is had building the set. How fun is it to build and how easy or challenging is it?
Building Curiosity is a learning experience, not just with some clever LEGO techniques but in seeing how the rover is built for Mars' terrain. The various levers and beams so the wheels do not wobble too much so Curiosity is kept steady is well represented in LEGO form and demonstrated with the faux-Mars terrain you also build. On top of that there are all kinds of pieces used that look like actual instruments and parts of the rover, like minifig binoculars and several levers. The radioisotope power system sticks out the end and is another learning feature.
Now that the set is complete, we can critique how it looks from every angle. New or interesting pieces can also be examined here.
Curiosity, as a set, pays attention to the detail on the actual rover. This is primarily because the creator of this Cuusoo set helped work on the rover as a mechanical engineer and strove to make every aspect as accurate as possible. The extremely detailed instruction booklet shows what each part of the rover does in real life as it continues exploring the red planet.
It is incredible as how much functionality Curiosity has. The camera arm extends and rotates to make sure it can observe everything, the head camera pivots and contains the amount of detail not seen in other LEGO sets. All of these parts make Curiosity the set a learning opportunity. The set is a marvel in its own right.
The rover is best described as “miniland scale” and not minifig scale. Placed next to a miniland figure, Curiosity would be about the proper height in keeping with real-world proportions.
Life on Mars?
The other half of the fun is in playing with the set. How well does the set function and is it enjoyable to play with.
The biggest playing point is how the rover roves. The wheels and chassis are designed to allow Curiosity to balance as it moves over rocks and bumps to remain level with the ground. The camera arm moving about is another play feature that gives the rover a sense of personality. More simply, Curiosity as a whole is great for play to have it explore the far reaches of your home or yard as it searches for signs of life.
Once it's all said and done, how does the set stack up? Should I get it?
What's to like?
- An affordable $30 for a Cuusoo set!
- LEGO returns to NASA for a set.
- Great learning tool.
- Many points of articulation to bring some character to the rover.
- Great for any fan of space.
- Looks great on the shelf for display.
What's not to like?
- Probably won't take it apart for pieces. (Is also a plus.)
- Doesn't fit in Cuusoo box for storage (though probably could if the wheel chassis are removed).
- Hard to find in stores.
What have we here?
The Curiosity set is most likely going to be one of those sets that sits on display to show the world what a cool LEGO geek you are, and that's just fine. It looks cool and has some great features to show off to friends. The fact that the instruction booklet teaches about Curiosity and Mars and the set gives a hands-on approach to learning about the exploration is something not found in many LEGO sets today. If space exploration, especially the current Mars mission, interests you, I wholeheartedly recommend this set!`
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