I recently reviewed the upcoming LEGO® Creator 3in1 set 31116: Safari Wildlife Tree House, due for release on March 1 2021. Another Creator 3in1 set due for for release on that date is the 31115: Space Mining Mech.
The set has three alternate builds, all based around space exploration, and particularly mineral surveying/collection.
This Creator 3in1 set has 321 parts, and will retail for $AUD32.99/ £24.99 /USD24.99 and €24.99. As such, it looks like particularly reasonable value for Australians, where, after currency conversion, we seem to have the best value compared to these major currencies. So should we exploit this relative bargain and buy many? Read on for my thoughts.
The Space theme seems to have received a bit of love in Creator 3in1 sets over the last year or so, as have many of the ‘Classic’ LEGO® Themes:
Pirates (31084 Pirates Coaster (2018), followed by LEGO Ideas 21322 Pirates of Barracuda Bay (2020), and in the second half of 2020, the 21109 3in1 Pirate Ship).
Town/City constantly receives a bit of love from the theme: the modular builds, and last year’s 31108 Caravan Family Holiday, looks like it draws on imagery straight from the olde worlde catalogs of the 80’s.
Last year in Space we saw the 31107 Space Exploration Rover, and this year we have 31111 Cyber Drone as well as 31115 Space Mining Mech. Can we join these 3 recent releases together? There are certainly design cues that strongly suggest this.
This just leaves Castle crying out for a Creator 3in1 reboot. And we have just seen a LEGO Ideas set with a medieval setting released. It would be a shame to see those new Black Falcons Torsos go to waste… Just Sayin’.
What do we have to work with?
Back to our feature set… The elements come in several unnumbered bags – so as to not predetermine which model you choose to build first. It’s your choice. I choose to start on the front of the box, and then build the two alternate models…
Let’s take a look at the elements present in this set:
With the exception of a few elements, most elements are present in only one colour. Exceptions include 1×2 plates, cheese wedges, the 4 studs in diameter dome, 1×1 round tiles and 1×1 rounded plate with bar (green and grey). The majority of the recolours are in greens, used for a specific part of the model (an alien, as well as minerals to mine, in the hero build).If you have these parts, as well as the 1×2 plates and domessorted out by a sighted friend, it would be an ideal model to be built with the aid of audio instructions. I am hoping it will be featured on the audio instructions site in the near future.
Otherwise, we have the requisite parts for Mech Building: click joints, small ball and socket connections, lots of brackets, both up and down, and a cockpit dome, as well as another double to function as pauldrens in the main model.
The brackets/angle plates are interesting to look at from a colour coding perspective:
- 1x2x1(down): cool yellow;
- 1x2x1 (up) medium stone grey;
- 1x2x2 up: white
- 1x2x2 (down) medium stone grey.
This also aids in the building experience because you only need to look for 2 parameters regarding the bracket in the instructions to easily pickup the correct one: size, and colour. Direction (up or down) is not important to search for, as this has been predetermined in the set construction.
The cool yellow might seem like an odd choice here, but is is still a relatively new colour for this part, debuting in the 2020 Creator Expert Fiat 500, and only appearing in three sets to date.
The Anthropomorphic Hero Build
I put together each of the three builds, starting with the hero ‘anthropomorphic mech’. We actually start with a small piece of tan landscape, along with transparent bright green minerals, as well as a small alien critter. That said, I felt such a Space Build might require something a little more alien… so I grabbed my medium stone grey BURPs and LURPs, plates and bricks and went to work.
We start building up the body of the mech, using some rackets, the double technic socket hip joints and combination inverse slope/plate elements. Mid torso, we have a layer of red and dark blue plates. These, in combination with white bricks matches the livery of the 31107 Space Explorer Rover from 2020, making me feel as though they are part of the same organisation.
The cockpit contains two control sticks for its operation, and is covered over by a 4×4 x 1 2/3 hemispherical dome. Two more of these domes, in white, are used for the shoulder pauldrons
The shoulders, hips and ankles are technic clickjoints, while the elbows and wrist are small ball joints. The shoulders are secured by attaching the ‘click sockets’ to each other via an 8 stud long technic brick, acting as a yoke.
A yellow arched backpack is added, providing somewhere for any collected minerals to be stored. There are four maneuvering thrusters, for operation in low G/Weightless environments, attached to this backpack.
The arms start off in a similar fashion to each other, but the left arm progresses to a forearm, wrist and four fingered hand, while the right arm terminates in a circular cutting instrucment, for extracting ore samples.
The legs flex at the hips and ankles. The thighs and calves are wrapped in brackets, and encased in tiles. The knees are fixed at 120º, through the use of paired technic Y-plates. The feet finally involve the technic click joint brick encased in brackets, and bound to another pair of brackets using tiles and wedge plates.
All of this mech’s casing is white, which makes me think that it could well be fairly easy to recolour, with any colour scheme you choose.
Finally, we build the pilot. This set is interesting, in that it does not come with a minifigure.
The pilot is a double ended affair, with both trans right green and trans ?violet 2×1 plates acting as visors, depending on which way you place it in the cockpit. That said, the cockpit is large enoug to contain a minifigure, so long as they are not wearing air tanks, so it might be an ideal job for the droid pilot from 71111 Cyber Drone.
As you can see, this mech is extremely posable. It is quite stable on its legs, and able to manage a squat of sorts.
I really enjoyed this build, and I think it has a lot of potential to be reskinned according to your favorite theme, whether it be Spyrius, Blacktron, Iceplanet, Classic Space or City- Deep Sea Explorers. I rebuilt the frame, without specific markings: I will try to return to this project before too long: As you can see, he is mostly armless. What sort of tool or weapon would you issue him with?
Chicken Leg Walker:
Of course, if you are surveying a planet for resources, and transmitting your findings back to a central base, you might be well advised to be operating at a greater altitude, on tippy toes and with an elevated antenna.
We have all of these features in the second built: along with a more anthropomorphic pilot.
The build doubles up on the length of legs, by dispensing with arms, but as this is more for traversing long distances than digging for ore.
I really like the use of the octagonal ring used as the aerial, as well way that the two white domes are a-posed to form a spherical container for transporting mineral samples. Which flies in the face of what I said in the previous paragraph.
How did the samples get in there? How did the pilot for that matter?
The feet, based around the Technic Y-plates are sturdy, and there are a couple of angled toes added.
The cockpit can also be readily occupied by a minifigure:
The final build is a low riding quadrupedal construction, with a small cabin up the front, a pair of posable claws, as well as a storage area in the back.
It also has this cute little driver.
During the building process, the front and rear half of the model felt a little unstable during construction, but after adding the legs, which are based on a crossover, again structured around the Y-Plates, the stability increased significantly.
The cabin with this build did not readily hold a minifigure. And so the subjugation of alien races by the interspacial mining conglomerate begins…
Unlike the 31118 Safari Wild Life Treehouse 3 in 1 that I reviewed last week, which gave us a treehouse, boat and biplane, this set brings us three different Space mining mech suits.
I appreciate the fact that these mechs are all piloted by different brick built pilots. It would have been nice to have a minifigure of some sort included in this set, although I suspect many space fans would have already obtained a copy of the 81111 Cyber Drone, or have another appropriate figure on hand.
I am excited to see Space builds appearing with increasing regularity in the Creator 3in1 theme. One of the highlights of the Classic Space sets in the 70s and 80s was the presence of alternate builds on the back of the box, with no instructions other that a single image to facilitate their reproduction. Of course, that was possible back in those days, when the flagship set of the theme came with less than 300 pieces, and studs basically all pointed in the same direction.
While the colour scheme of these sets might be more minimalist than was used in the halcyon days of LEGO Space themes, it certainly does not prevent them from being recoloured in the theme of your choice.
Overall, I really enjoyed this set. It offers a lot of potential for modification, and incorporation in other themes. As a simple, sturdy Mech frame, it is hard to go past.
Thematically, I am not sure that the right message to send out is ‘Let’s go and start to strip other worlds of the resources we can no longer find on earth,’ but it is inline with exploration and discovery, which would be more palatable than ‘Let’s go out and wage war against the universe.’
The quibbles I have with set design are minimal: I praise the use of brick build pilots, and while the main mech suit will hold a minifigure, it will not readily contain one which is wearing air tanks, which has been the defining character of virtually all LEGO Space figures since the year dot.
Still the Cyber Drone pilot works well here… so long as he is on the correct side, and not merely infiltrating on behalf of Spyrius… but that is a tale for another time.
Otherwise, the quadropedal build felt a little unstable during construction, but was sturdy enough when complete.
I love the versatility of the alternate builds, even if they are all on theme, the consistency in colour matching with last year’s Space Explorer Rover, and the fact that it feels as if we are getting a creative in house Space theme back by stealth. (If only we had a castle build available Creator 3in1, too!). I appreciate the colour coding used for the brackets – it certainly improved the overall building experience for me, even though there are small bits of cool yellow poking between some of the tiles.
The price point is pretty attractive, and the brick built characters are cute: they remind us that minifigures are not the only way to tell stories with our LEGO bricks.
I give this set four out of five (4/5) Arbitrary Praise Units.
You can order this set from LEGO.com from March 1st, along with the other LEGO creator Space sets. Consider using our affiliate links: The Rambling Brick might receive a small commission for any purchases you make.
What do you think of these builds? Do they have a place in your line up? Is this set on your to buy list? What do you want to see from Creator 3in1? Why not comment below, and until next time,
This set was provided by the LEGO Group for review purposes. all opinions are my own.