Among LEGO universes, space exploration is the new Pirates. And the new Castle, too. Space is trending like never before. Quite uniquely, LEGO isn’t only revisiting historic moments, but also gives us a glimpse into the future of space traveling; this is what LEGO City summer 2019 sets are all about. The lineup consists of familiar concepts for ships and vehicle, but there’s one set that stands out from the rest, 60230 People Pack – Space Research And Development. The set brings a stunning assembly of 14 minifigures along with a bunch of accessories and equipment. It consists of 209 pieces and retails at US $39.99 | CAN $49.99 | UK £34.99.
The box and packaging
The set is in an ordinary box containing three plastic bags, but only two building booklets. Since minifigures are equally distributed among the bags, it’s the most fun when assembling the set with a couple of friends.
Although there are only about 200 pieces in the set, among those there are a couple of geode pieces, which are brand new for 2019 sets. You’ll find geode rocks of three different colors in the newest LEGO sets. Dark-tan and pink are the most common yet, and you will also find them in this set. To be honest, no picture does the pieces justice, as the mineral inside the rock looks just magnificent.
A couple of the pieces can be put side by side forming a “solid” rock. “Breaking” it in two is oddly satisfying; the contrast between the matte outer surface and the shining mineral inside the rock is stunning.
Unlike other LEGO City people packs (for instance, 60202 Outdoor Adventures), the Space Research and Development pack is devoted to a particular occupation — aerospace engineering and space exploration. All 14 brand new minifigures introduce children (and adults, too!) to the variety of NASA careers including rocket engineers, space biologists, and of course, astronauts.
The long journey to the stars starts with the blue jumpsuit of an astronaut candidate. There are three brave future pilots in the set sharing the same torso design, which you can find in other LEGO City space sets as well.
While both male candidates have alternative facial expressions, a female candidate remains cheerful throughout the training.
The training is supervised by a stern trainer who definitely knows how to motivate the team. A pizza on a horsewhip is one of the most bizarre LEGO minifigure accessories I have ever assembled.
Although the astronaut candidates have to pass endless tests and exams, the set introduces just a couple of those trials. First comes a very simple but neat treadmill. A printed slope with buttons and indicators looks a little bit overladen for a treadmill, but it will come in handy for custom spaceship cockpits and panels.
A centrifuge is one of the most simple functioning devices you can build with LEGO pieces, and the set wouldn’t be completed without one. Even if you don’t like its design, this mini-build is valuable for tiles in white and a huge 6×6 round plate.
While astronaut candidates are fighting for a slice of pizza, space engineers and mechanics are busy creating and testing new engines and thrusters. This is a job for another female minifigure with one of the best alternative facial expressions I have ever seen in a LEGO set. A disappointed look as she’s covered in dust and smoke looks absolutely fantastic and gives this minifigure a lot of character.
The engineers’ workplace consists of a model of a thruster and a computer along with a cup of strong coffee. Just like the equipment described above, these builds are small and sketch-like. And, of course, the engineer’s alternative facial expression implies a scenario of total chaos in the lab, which is very easy to play out!
Space is a perfect place for experiments in numerous fields including biology, hence we are getting a space biologist. The design of the minifigure resembles those from LEGO City 60204 City Hospital, but a magnifying glass implies that she’s a scientist or a researcher.
While still on Earth, the biologist is busy carrying out experiments using a low-pressure dome. NASA researches use similar equipment to grow plants like lettuce, but the LEGO-version includes some kind of a flower under the glass.
This build is fairly simple, yet has decent playability thanks to the opening dome, adjustable lights, and pieces discovered in the set earlier.
In my opinion, a drone engineer is the coolest minifigure of the set. A brand new face design featuring red protective goggles and a mask, white protective lab overalls and a hair cap (which appears for the first time since 2012!) are responsible for yet another brilliant female minifigure. The remote control has a printed tile with trajectories and indicators pattern, which will suit any aircraft cockpit as well.
The drone itself looks so simple, it’s hard to believe it is high-tech in any sense. Obviously, the target price of the set doesn’t allow for more complex models. But thanks to many other accessories in the set, there’s a ton of play scenarios for every minifigure.
Space robot and its mechanic
Star Wars droids are cool, but have you met Valkyrie, NASA’s space robot? Here comes a LEGO version of one of the most advanced human-made robots ever designed. Just like its real-life version, the figure features a light-blue round circle in the center of its chest, but instead of a transparent visor here is a minifigure head in chrome gold.
The mechanic looks a lot like the welder from series 11 of LEGO Collectible Minifigures. Besides, this set is the cheapest way to get a minifigure toolbox in dark blue.
While still on the Earth, the robot is pretty useless, so you have to use your imagination to play out some scenes using it.
Throughout the history of manned space flights, astronauts have suited up in numerous versions of spacesuits. Depending on their purpose and functions, the spacesuits were colored in silver, orange, blue, or white. This set introduces three different types of spacesuits. The most unusual of the three is the blue one. It looks retro and futuristic at the same time, reminding me of the old Navy Mark IV high-altitude pressure suits. I’m not quite happy with how the white helmet goes with a light blue body and dark blue gloves, but this is just my opinion.
The blue astronaut carries a flag. Fortunately, the set includes a small piece of an extraterrestrial landscape. Depending on how strong the gravity of the planet is, planting a flag can be a lot of fun.
Next come a couple of brave astronauts in “pumpkin suits”. Unlike the blue one, these must be based on Advanced Crew Escape Suits (ACES), which NASA started to use in the mid-’90s. The suit looks fantastic with the new helmet piece and a transparent-blue vizor.
The female astronaut is very charming with her smirky alternative facial expression and a complementary hairpiece. However, you have to take the air tanks off her neck to put the hair on.
Her crewmate is the biggest comedian in outer space. He carries a huge alien head on a stick and, of course, his alternative facial expression comes in handy when the joke has success.
Both astronauts are followed by a TV-crew ready to capture their first impressions of their space journey. The reporter is a pretty ordinary LEGO City minifigure in a suit, while the cameraman is a very impressible guy.
TV-crews have always been a part of LEGO City play, and even though they aren’t space scientists, they significantly increase the set’s playability allowing for a gag with an alien’s head or reporting any of the scientists’ achievements.
Switching heads and any other minifigure accessories let you play out more scenarios, making each funnier than the last.
Finally, here comes a female astronaut in a classic white spacesuit, which resembles an Extravehicular Mobility Unit suit. Obviously, this one is designed for work in the open space. If I were to choose an accessory for the minifigure, a camera wouldn’t be my first pick for sure, but here we have one.
I must admit this version of a white spacesuit looks really great, and it goes well with a massive helmet piece. Another recent example of astronaut minifigures carrying the same helmet pieces is a couple of minifigures from LEGO Creator Expert 10266 NASA Apollo 11 Lunar Lander. The minifigure design was one of the weakest points of the Expert set, so comparing the two sets in terms of spacesuit designs is particularly interesting.
When in full kit, the most noticeable difference between the figures is the lack of prints on the legs of the astronauts from the Lunar Lander set. Although both torsos have pretty much the same amount of details, it’s important to remember that one of the minifigures is supposed to be modeled after a real astronaut who took part in the historic event, while the other minifigure is just generic character of a modern space explorer.
Conclusion and recommendation
LEGO City 60230 People Pack – Space Research And Development set has so many strong points and features, it almost feels silly to criticize it for any reason. Of course, some builds are a little bit weak and the design team could have included a couple more minifigure accessories. But the purpose and the idea of the set are so great, the set looks like a perfect set to start for a LEGO space collection. No doubt you will build your own spaceport and spaceships, and this brilliant collection of minifigures can easily give inspiration for this.
LEGO City 60230 People Pack – Space Research And Development comes with 209 pieces and 14 minifigures and is available from the LEGO Shop Online for US $39.99 | CAN $49.99 | UK £34.99, as well as from third-party sellers and Amazon and eBay.
Check out the full gallery of images below.