In 1978, Lego launched the first units in its line of space toys, nearly a decade after the Apollo 11 mission landed on the Moon for the first time. Since then, the corporate has consistently launched sets featuring spaceships, astronauts and lunar bases, together with detailed sets that draw on the hardware from real space missions.
We spoke with Lego designer Simon Kent recently, who explained that he and his colleagues recently visited with NASA engineers and personnel to compare their toys in opposition to the real spaceships, rovers, and space stations presently in operation today. “Throughout the corporate, space is such a giant theme, that we will tap into it in many alternative ways, whether or not its a plaything like Lego City or a display model that goes into the fine details of the spacecraft’s design,” like the recently-launched Apollo 11 Lunar Lander.
“Space is a theme or topic that appeals to kids and adults alike,” Kent defined, “there’s always this kind of need for kids to have space toys to pique that interest.” He noted that during the last four decades, Lego had explored many corners of the universe, from more fantastical units about aliens, space police, or martian colonists, to extra some of the more realistic units that he and his team are responsible for with the corporate’s Lego City sets.
Those little differences help provide a little bit of an educational aspect to the sets. By including a little bit of realism to the units, they’ll present a way for kids to get interested in science and space. They already know that they’ve done that. Kent mentioned that once they visited Mission Control at the Johnson Space Center, “almost all of them had Lego space stuff on their desks,” and that many had been inspired by the toys they performed with as kids. Hopefully, the latest crop of Lego toys will inspire the next generation of rocket scientists and astronauts.