REVIEW: Women Of NASA

Set number:
21312
Release year:
2017
Theme(s):
# of parts:
231
# of figures:
4
RRP
GBP 19.99
WARNING: this review may contain content unsuitable for children.

The verdict

There are two ways of looking at this particular LEGO Ideas set.

The feminist way

You could see it as the feminists and their allies who voted for it do/did: yet another step toward “empowering” and “encouraging” women.
But notice that nobody – including those virtue-signalling AFOLs – has an answer for what exactly the Research Institute actually did, beside being the first female minifigure only set we can think of. That was actually its original purpose (originally called “Female Minifigures Set”), and now Women Of NASA makes two.

While I praised LEGO’s seeming reluctance to endorse feminism with the Research Institute, this isn’t the case with Women Of NASA.

From the photos of the team behind the set, to LEGO’s social media activity surrounding the release, I get the very strong impression that this set was going to be made regardless. It might explain why – despite going against their own rules – the project was allowed on LEGO Ideas.

That’s literally my only major criticism of Women Of NASA, especially as a project for encouraging young boys would have been blocked. (Prove me wrong.) I’m now wondering how much the vetting process on LEGO Ideas, introduced a couple of years ago, is being used to “steer” what’s allowed and what passes.

The practical way

You could also see it in a more practical, and I’d argue more positive light: as a tribute to skilled and accomplished females in STEM.

My favourite part of The DeLorean was the mention of the Michael J Fox Foundation. As someone who hadn’t heard of any of the women: each of the biographies, along with the quality of the minifigures, did them justice. I’ll also admit to getting teary-eyed – just a little! – upon reading that Sally Ride died in 2012.

Katherine Johnson, a mathematician featured in the Hidden Figures movie, was proposed as a fifth person. She wasn’t included due to LEGO being unable to obtain the rights to her likeness. I think five figures would have been overkill anyway; four was a good size.

As you might have guessed, the standout part of the set is the space shuttle. I would support having a similar model as its own polybag set, even if the craft is disproportionate to the fuel tank and rockets. I was also impressed with the technique for Margaret Hamilton’s wall, which I might have to appropriate.

There was obviously great care taken with the minifigures. I don’t think it’s an accident that Margaret Hamilton has the standout minifigure, particularly as she has additional leg printing. The other figures, though they have plain legs, are appealing in their own way. Mae Jemison’s inclusion is also significant, in that contributions shouldn’t be stifled by ethnicity.

The irony is that a display case of some kind would have improved this repurposed “battle pack”. Either because of the quality, or that they represent real people, I don’t want to play with or use the figures. However, those who are actually into LEGO would be able to fashion their own solution.

Final thoughts…

Women Of NASA follows the same mould as the Research Institute, but is an improvement. While the lack of changes to its predecessor’s design was made a selling point, more attention to the set was clearly paid this time around.

No doubt the feminists and their allies care more about having their second day in the sun, and they’ll continue to do nothing to support anyone entering STEM fields. For the rest of us, it’s an opportunity to appreciate people who actually did something, who happen to be female.

For anyone who thinks I’m over-egging the ties to feminism: consider this tweet from LEGO Ideas, specifically posted on International Men’s Day.

Thank you for reading this review, and hopefully I did a good enough job.