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LEGO Shuttle Expedition 10231 Review

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We feel like it’s safe to say that the Lego 10231 Shuttle Expedition build is a build with a bit of an identity crisis. Is it a completely functional display model? Is it a very detailed play set? Who knows? But the fact here is that the 10231 is a completely re-designed set of a past build – The Lego 10213, to be specific (even the numbers are practically the same), which had plenty of issues during the time of its release. Comparing the two builds is tough since we don’t have a copy of the older iteration.

Contrary to the Lego 7470 Space Shuttle Discovery build, released in 2003, the 10231 was never endorsed by NASA. So because of this, you won’t find any NASA logos, while the name of the 10231 is the ‘Expedition’, and not ‘Enterprise’.

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The build comes with two instruction manuals. The amount of pieces needed with each step of the build has pretty much confirmed that this is meant for Lego builders with loads of experience

The 10231 comes with a wide selection of really good parts. Beginning from the box, you can already tell which bricks you’re bound to get. There are loads of white and black plates, white curved pieces, both arched and macaroni style. Also included here are dark orange pieces, which are meant for the main tank. This isn’t really obvious when you first take a look at that photograph on the box’s frontal side, but you’ll also be getting a good hand filled with lots of Lego Technic pieces for the landing gear.

 

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There are a couple of printed pieces included here as well, but unfortunately for some, you’re going to have to deal with a sticker sheet too.

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The set comes with over three types of minifigures. One male, one female, both working as astronauts (obviously).

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Each minifigure comes with a golden visor and a helmet, together with a hair piece, and over one ground crew member.

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The whole process of constructing the shuttle is a very interesting one. It’s not often that you encounter a Lego build where the vehicle itself is still three plates tall by the time you reach step 25, but apparently, that’s what happens when you first build up the complex shape of the rocket’s wings. There are a couple of interesting angles found at the backside as well, while some parts of the cockpit, along with many bay doors, use SNOT. It’s not easy putting the stickers on the satellite’s wings.

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The most boring part of the entire build has got to be building the booster rockets. Stacking up all of those white macaroni bricks, along with plenty of 4 x 4 bricks and rounded plates is already repetitive enough during the first time you do it. And what’s worse here is that you have to do it all over again. The gigantic fuel tank is much more interesting thanks to the shape located on top.

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As a whole, the Lego 10231 is a great build. The colors and shape are easily recognizable. If you look at the build a bit closely, you will notice the landing gear poking right through the build’s wings. You will also find two strange grey beams that run on both sides of the tank.

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The minifigures are slightly too large for the size of the rocket itself – Or maybe it’s just the shuttle that’s a tad bit too small. A minifigure-scale rocket build would measure almost a meter long. If the real shuttle contains a flight deck along with living quarters for a crew of at least seven, then the build’s cockpit is big enough for just one.

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There’s a tiny lever located right on the outside of the cockpit, which was made for extending the front side of the wheel, while the rear side has to be pushed down through its wings.

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The Lego 10231 sometimes tries hard to be two things at the same time, and unfortunately, it falls short on both ends. In regards to it being a playset, it doesn’t contain too many functions for it to be qualified as such. The landing gear falls out, the bay doors get opened, and finally, there’s the arm with a satellite on it. The flaps located at the back of the wings move nicely, but only in a downwards direction.

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As for the build being a static display model, there were way too many compromises when it came to these functions. The rear side wheels that pop up through the build’s wings, the tiny lever located on the side of the cockpit, as well as the ugly grey bars that prevent the main tank from falling apart during play.

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The build, however, is an excellent value for its money. And with a couple of spare pieces, you can’t take those landing gear scars away if needed. You can also remove those grey bars as well. If you hide the minifigures that came with the build, then you’ll definitely have an excellent model of a Lego space shuttle right here.

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The building is great, overall. It slightly bogged down while we were constructing the part with the external propellant tank However, it was practically past midnight when we built this, and we’ve been doing it for five hours during this point. But apart from that, we found the whole thing a tad bit engrossing, even though we did end up pausing on occasion to take several photos of the build.

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All in all, it took two days for us to construct the whole thing, and over twelve hours, tops. Much like all of the other Lego builds we have constructed through the years, we took our time and enjoyed the whole process while doing so. It was quite enjoyable, especially when you reach the technic bits. And as always, we enjoyed the amount of detail that Lego has thrown right inside the build’s parts, which you can’t really see – Not to mention the amount of work and effort that goes right into the build. This makes sure that the build is able to stand in its own weight when you leave it alone.

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Little details, such as assembling the rocket’s nose of the build’s external propellant tank, are, in our opinion, the reason why this build is so enjoyable, especially when you learn that there’s so much more beneath its surface.

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You have to be careful if you must move the completed build from one place to another, since the whole thing is fragile unlike most Lego builds. The rocket’s external propellant tank, in particular, shouldn’t be handled too roughly. And when you consider that the tank, the SSRBs, as well as the shuttle aren’t connected to each other with at least more than twice the amount of technic plates, then the whole thing must be handled with care. The body of the rocket itself is quite sturdy. Its satellite arm does tend to wobble up a bit, but not as much. We do enjoy the fact that Lego has made sure that you can store the completed build inside the cargo bay.

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We’re not exactly the type of builders who would collect spare parts just for the fun of it. Nor have we purchased Lego builds in the past just for the parts alone. We will say, however, that we liked the combination of Lego Technic and regular parts. The Technic parts are, as always, well-integrated and fill up a niche.

We’re completely aware that between the Lego 10231 and the Lego 10213, there were several changes made. We think these small changes were connected to the rocket’s stability, along with the several parts that come with it. Thankfully, Lego has managed to address these issues. Now, the set is as stable as ever.

The only complaint we have about the Lego 10231 is that with the very tight tolerances that came with the build, we noticed that the rocket’s shuttle bay doors do catch a bit slightly at both the bottom and top side (especially near the cockpit and the rocket’s tail). There’s a small amount of extra pressure, which requires a tiny amount of back-and-forth jiggling in order to get them to close up properly. The shuttle bay doors in most Lego rocket builds always contain a gap that measures -0.5mm, give or take. This isn’t exactly a big deal per se, but some fans complained about how the doors wouldn’t close together cleanly, like what the build does in the box pictures.

The Lego 10231 is highly recommended for the most experienced Lego builders out there. There were still a couple of fragile pieces that slipped off during play, but you can place them back easily. Each brick costs over $0.10, so it’s pretty much an excellent value for your money, especially when you think about the fact that plenty of Lego builds like this don’t contain any swoosh value. Its scale is just right while the proportions match the actual shuttle it was based from.

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