Taking a Test Drive with the 60348 Lunar Rover [Hands On Review]

The new LEGO City Space sets are drawing heavily on the LEGO Group’s Classic Space Heritage, as well as design mockups for the Artemis Program – the NASA’s planned return to the moon in 2024. As I discussed in my review of 60350 Lunar Research Base, the theme is drawing design cues from Space sets of the 80’s, along with a reimagined Classic Space Logo.

Today, I’m taking a look at the 60348 Lunar Rover – AUD49.99 – which I picked up at a local toy retailer. It is now available through LEGO.com and other retailers. The model is inspired in part by the Habitable Mobility Platform (HMP) proposed for NASA’s Artemis program and it also draws on the traditions of Classic Space rovers from the 1980s. It is the least expensive of the City Space sets currently available.

The HMP is a pressurised rover, with the ability to travel some distance from the proposed Lunar Base Camp, without forcing the crew to spend all their time in bulky EVA suits. Essentially an RV for the astronauts. As such, it should be possible to drive the vehicle in shirt sleeve comfort.

The set comes with 3 numbered bags, containing 275 elements. That said, all of the elements were able to be laid out on the one tray (thanks again to Ann for all her knolling)

Bag one includes 3 minifigures: male and female astronauts in the new white spacesuits with the dual molded dark azure and white arms. They have slightly different designs of backpack: one with plates attached to the top, with lights attached. The other has clips facing outwards on the backpack, allowing for hand tools to be carried on the back – a spade and power saw are provided to help dissect any geodes that might be found.

The male astronaut has a black, very short hairstyle, with a black beard and a smile. The female has a half smirk, and a cool yellow ponytail. Both figures have the same white helmets with golden visors seen in the Lunar Research Base.

The third figure is the ‘pilot’ of the rover, hanging out in the pressurised cabin: they are wearing the dark azure coveralls with an impressive zippered jacket. Their torso is medium nougat with a dark azure coverall, along with a dark red yoke. The sleeves are dark red, too. There are 2 zippered pockets and a silver printed space logo over the right breast. The pilot is wearing a cap.

Next we put together a small, circular crater, which features light trans blue cheese slopes. In the middle, we mount one of the geode elements, with a crystal element in the centre. Finally, we attach a flag.

The flag is glorious!

Sure, it is a white flag element attached to a grey antenna element. But we place mirrored stickers, featuring the new (blue and red) space logo on either side.

Next, we start work on the second bag.

Looking at the elements, we see that the City Space colour palette is adhered to. Dark Blue, White,and transparent light blue. There are some dark and medium stone grey elements, as well as some yellow curved slope elements.

We start work on the chassis of the vehicle. The overall shape is quicklty established, with arched bricks over brackets. The front cockpit features two white 2×2 45º slope bricks with a new computer design. there are windows between the main cabin and the rear section.

A new sloped brick computer, in the spirit of Classic Space

We build up the front of the cabin, including the drivers control pads. The hatchway/corridor elements seen in the research base are used on either side of the pressurised cabin.Then we have the really clever part: the front windscreen. This part of the build recalls the front windscreen of 6927 All Terrain Vehicle. Of course, in those days, an inverted windscreen element existed. Today, we don’t have such a piece.

In the lunar rover, the bottom windscreen is installed upside down, held in place with clips attached to a brick with vertical bar.

Compared with 6927, there are 2 plates, rather than one, betweeen the windscreen elements.

60348 Lunar Rover and 1981’s 6927 All Terrain Vehicle.

The walls of the rear section of the vehicle are hinged solar panels – again, stickers – you can comfortably fit 2 minifigres in this compartment. On the back of the vehicle is a hinged platform, perfect for transporting large moon rocks. Clips on either side mean that our explorers can leave their tools attached, without bringing them inside.

As we start the third and final bag, we add the robot arms to the front of the vehicle: one carrying a scanner of some sort, the other a drill, perfect for splitting moon rocks or taking core samples.

Now for the wheelie fun part. 6 axles, 12 wheels, all needing tyres to be placed. It felt onerour for about a minute, and then the wheels were installed and the manaeuvrability of the vehicle became apparent. This vehicle will roll hppily in any direction: the use of the tube connector between technic pins provides easy, effective rotation.

Finally we build the roof: it easily attaches and removes via 4 studs- one in each corner. there are 3 46 x2x3 elements that make up the bulk of the roof, with 2 plates with a bar attached on each side: these bars are attached to the 6×6 white hatches through the use of two robot arm elements. Along the centre of the roof, there is a curved sloped element featuring the new space logo, a head lamp, and a small radar dish to finish the task.

One thing that becomes apparent, putting these sets together, is the use of yellow elements to indicate pinch points, or areas where people should be careful to avoid injury or air leak.

These doors and hatch ways are perfectly suilted for the vehicle to take on crew from the Lunar research base. The corridor from the base ‘clicks’ up and is aligned with the Rover’s door. Of course, you need to open the hatches first.

Inspiration

I really like the final build: there are call backs to Classic Space sets, as well as drawing on the proposed Habitable Mobility Platform rover, currently under development for the Artemis program. With a pressurised cabin, the crew will be able to undertake extended missions far beyond the Base Camp, and not be required to remain in their EVA suits for the duration, but rather work in shirt sleeve comfort within the primary cabin.

Prototypes of the rover have already been built, and being put through their paces, before the Artemis program sets out to achieve its goals – putting the First American Woman and the Next American Man on the moon.

As I have already alluded, this vehicle draws some aspects of its design from the LEGO Classic Space sets of the 1980s. I have included a few of those here for consideration. This period of LEGO Space sets had vehicles characterised by their use in peaceful exploration – especially mineral exploration – and perhaps just a few more wheels than many might have considered healthy at the time.

There is no doubt that this design for a lunar rover – 6 wheels, pressurised cabin, room for several people – has been considered the most practical for extended extraplanetary work. That or NASA engineers decided to take inspiration from their childhood LEGO Sets while designing the HMP. I feel 6901 and 6927 are probably two of the most representative types of vehicles to have inspired the design of this set.

Indeed, if you put the Lunar Rover and All Terrain Vehicle together, there are definite similarities. While the Lunar Rover is inspired, in part, by the HMP it also draws on the legacy of LEGO Space designs.

Like the Lunar Research Base, I really enjoyed this build. It draws on the heritage of LEGO Space (from back in the day, when I was a boy), and gives us a new colour palette, innovative design, with interesting techniques. There are so many things I like about it: the front windows, the driver’s torso, the flag, the docking hatches, the rock, the computer panels, the mobility. The list goes on. I was not a fan of the stickers. I found it a real challenge to get them aligned properly on their panels. The flag was not so bad, but I did not get the best results with the solar panels. And then there is the worry of getting it completely wrong. While you might be bothered by it for a while, what might become of it in the future?

As an example, a few years ago , I was gifted some space LEGO from the early 80’s. there were so many great sets tucked away in there, including the 6927 shown above. The flag was still in one piece, in near mint condition. However, the stickers had been applied somewhat enthusiastically, without proper attention to the instructions. A sign of distress, or happy accident? You be the judge.

Ultimately, I got as much joy out of putting this set together as I did the 60350 Lunar Research Base and award it 4.5 out of 5 Arbitrary Praise units. Its a good selection of minifigures, and the accessories will come in handy for mining those moon rocks. I enjoyed the play action with the vehicle and features to integrate it with other sets in the theme.

I have only one request: This jacket needs to be released! It’s an instant classic, and I predict that there will be at least one worn to a major convention in the next 12 months. Possibly more. Mark my words.

I’d love to know what you think of the Lunar Rover. If you are looking to purchase it, may I kindly ask you to consider using the affiliate links below? The Rambling brick might receive a small commission, which is used to help offset the costs of running the site.

In 1978-79, when Classic Space made its debut, we were looking forward to the forthcoming Space Shuttle missions. Today, the launch of Artemis is drawing ever closer, and I feel this current range of LEGO City Space sets might be drawing on some of that anticipation. They may not be grey blue and transparent yellow, but they certainly embrace the spirit of classic space. I’d love to know what you think of this set, and the City Space line overall. Leave you comments below, and until next time…

Play Well.

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