10231 – Shuttle Expedition

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This afternoon I sat down and started building the latest acquisition – set 10231 in the Creator series (or at least packaged in the Creator series colours).  I picked up this set at the local K-Mart for AUD $129, it looks like a decent kit for the price point.

The box contains two instruction manuals inside a plastic bag and guarded by a cardboard backing slip (what a great innovation!).  There are a number of little plastic baggies (un-numbered) and a base plate plus two really long black connectors.

The first instruction book focuses on building the main shuttle.  This is a fairly easy build, and starts with the base of the shuttle.  The most time consuming aspect of the build is finding the appropriate bricks.

As the set contains un-numbered bags, you have to sort through all 1230 parts to find sparsely used items – in many cases small parts.  I’d recommend a pre-sort of the parts to make the build faster (although I didn’t).

The initial build is, as always, assembly of the included minifigs (3) plus the assembly of a small support vehicle which, presumably, transports the two astronauts to the shuttle.  It’s nice that alternate hair parts have been included, and I particularly like the gold helmet visors.

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Once you have finished with the main shuttle – which includes interesting technic parts which construct wheels and a a deployable arm from the cargo bay – the next focus is on the building of the support rockets.

Be warned that colour matching is key – it can be a little hard, at times, to distinguish in the manual between black and dark grey.  In honesty, I only misused two parts and they were easy to rectify once I started on the ground plate.

Having finished the shuttle, it actually looks bigger than I had anticipated once I’d completed the base structure.

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This is a fairly easy task as by now a majority of the smaller parts are not necessary.  The fuel container (middle) is straightforward and can be built within 10-20 minutes easily, especially if the smaller parts have been sorted.

Once you have finished with that, the remainder consists of the two booster rockets which can be built in parallel.  Again, a very easy and consistent design makes for reduced build time.  Notice that the parts are offset between layers.

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The last phase of the build is to assemble the base plate.  The only disappointing part is that it lacks a gangway and elevator to allow the astronauts access to the cockpit of the shuttle. 

Having said that, the shuttle has some nice features – retractable landing gear, cargo bay doors and detachable fuel and booster rockets.  There are even four ground flood lights to set the scene.

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All in all, a solid build which should take experienced builders about 3-5 hours or so (depending on if you pre-sort the parts or not).  This would be a fairly challenging kit for a child under the age of 16, but worth it if they have good experience in building larger sets.

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