BrickJournal Review: Brickmania’s Lunar Rover Vehicle

Art from Brickmania’s site.

Getting Around on the Moon Just Got Easier!

With the release of the Apollo Lunar Lander by LEGO last year, there was an accessory that was missing. In truth, this particular accessory wasn’t onboard the Apollo 11 lander – it took a couple of years and a few more missions before it was stowed in the lander.

The accessory was the LRV – the Lunar Roving Vehicle, otherwise known as the Moon Buggy. There were three taken to the moon on Apollo 15, 16, and 17 and proved their worth by expanding the area that astronauts could explore. Brickmania designer Yitzy Kasowitz designed a kit of the rover, and here’s a review!

LRV Lunar Module (BKM5009)
98 parts, Skill Level 3/5
$75.00

Before any comments are made on price, I will make the following statement: Brickmania’s sets are seen by many to be expensive, however, it should be pointed out that the price is dictated by the expenses of production. A designer’s fee is part of that expense, and while a LEGO release has thousands of sets to spread these expenses, custom designers don’t have that luxury.

In this set, there are some other unique items. Literally. This set has some custom parts that were 3D-printed. The fender, wheels, golf club, and antenna dish are not LEGO parts. Here’s a look at them.

The fender is made in a burned orange color (the pic above is not very accurate, as there is a color cast – there are some pice below that are closer) and for it’s perceived delicateness is pretty solid. Its one fastening point is the hole.

The tire takes advantage of the 3D printing process to create the mesh detail. It’s a nice part and like the fender has the hole as the attachment point.

The golf club is based on a real one – Alan Sheperd took one to take a shot of golf on the moon on Apollo 14. And it’s a pretty interesting part.

There’s a lot of detail on the club.

The antenna is the only part that ‘looks’ printed, but that’s because of its transparency.

Under harsh lighting you’ll see this if you look close. Attachment point is the hole.

As these parts have only one point of attachment, they have limited potential for use as parts to another build – they are rather specific accessories. That said, the wheels would be nice as parts that could be bought on their own for custom rovers.

The custom printed part is a cheese slope:

It’s the ‘dashboard’ of the rover and is another nice part to use for building other models. The rest of the parts are LEGO plates and elements, all new. The packaging looks like this:

The custom parts are bagged separately, and the instruction book is the back of the blister packing.

The instructions book is printed on heavy paper and has some nice art with the building directions:

Now let’s get to building…


The Build

As seen in the page photo above, the instructions are clear most of the time. There are a couple of places where you have to pay attention to plate placement. The placement of the seats, due to the view of the instructions, is not what it appears.

Mid-step correction from aligned plates (bottom of photo) to offset (top of photo). Don’t speedread instructions.

The construction of the wheels and fenders revealed a neat build trick – by making the fender’s attachment point a hole, it could be inserted on a bar with ball to make an independently positionable wheelpod!

This is on a ball joint, so it can swivel around.
A look at the assembly before the wheel is added. Here you can see the articulation a little more clearly.

Further down, there are a couple of minor issues with the rover’s TV camera:

1. Building the television camera unit became a little complicated because one part refused to stay:

The bar on the gold 1×1 slipped into the hole inside the stud, but was too small, so it slipped off. Constantly.

And when installing the camera on the rover itself:

In the instructions, the cameras pushed into the bar clipped on the rover. This would be an easy step, but the construction of the rover is structurally weak (only one plate holding that section of the front) meant that pushing with too much pressure pops the front end plate open. Be careful.

Outside of those two issues, the build was pretty quick. Outside of some builder error (the seat placement and assortment of 1 x 1 plates that I always seem to send flying in a random direction when adding them), this was a 45 minute build. And it looks cool!

It turns out that the set, like its name sake, can fold up, but some parts have to be and replaced to do so. Without the original parts, the rover would sag in the middle. Its a neat detail.

The good:
Custom parts!
Independent wheel positioning!
Solid final build!

The bad:
Parts that don’t fit (I’m looking at you, LEGO!)
Custom parts that are too specific (the fender)
Nitpick: Where are the seat backs? (Note – there isn’t a way to add those, as the minifigures have backpacks that push the seat backs into the wheel wells)

The ugly:
A builder that was in a hurry to see the finished result and made a few mistakes while building (um….)

Should you buy it?

If you are..

  • a space geek
  • a space builder
  • love small detailed models
  • need a car for your astronaut minifigure
  • need a rover for your Lunar Module set

then YES, you need to get this set! I do hope that the wheels somehow become a part to order.

You can get the PRV at the Brickmania website  or at one of the Brickmania stores – I bought mine at the Chantilly, VA location.

 

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