The LEGO Friends line was created 10 years ago to get girls more interested in building toys, so it’s about time these strong female LEGO characters blast off into space. Designed for kids ages 8 and up, Olivia’s Space Academy is the latest set in the collection. Rather than building one big structure, this LEGO set features several different components that kids can build to create a sprawling Space Academy. This is not a set for beginner builders, but it’s not too difficult to complete with a little patience and the ability to follow instructions.
There are a lot of pieces (757, to be exact), but they are not too overwhelming because they’re organized into numbered bags. Kids don’t even have to build all of the different projects at once if they don’t want to because each project is assigned its own numbered bag. The smaller pieces are separated even further by a bag within a bag so you don’t have to worry about all the pieces getting lost in a big, messy pile when you first dump it all out.
The 215-page instruction manual is long, but only because it’s so thorough, featuring detailed illustrations that show exactly where each piece goes. Kids will feel the satisfaction as their pile of LEGO bricks gets smaller and smaller as they work their way through. The builds that make up the academy don’t have official names, but kids can build a space shuttle, an observatory with a telescope sticking out, a multi-axis trainer/flight simulator, and a three-level academy building with all kinds of high-tech LEGO machinery inside.
The instructions will indicate where kids can place certain stickers to add even more detail to the builds, like adding a panel of constellations to the observatory, adding control panels to the computer screens, and sticking planet decals to the outside windows of the academy building. There are plenty of moving parts that make the set interactive. For example, kids can place one of the LEGO Friends figures in the seat of the flight simulator, spin the seat upside down, and twist the gears on the ground level to make it rotate. Kids can also adjust the position of the telescope and the computer monitors, rotate the satellites on the roof of the academy, extend some type of space ladder out of the space shuttle, and more. Builders might not even realize that they’re learning important STEM skills as they play (that’s what we like to call a “stealthy STEM” toy).
The level of detail in this set is impressive, just like the inspiring message behind Olivia working hard to earn a spot in the Space Academy as she trains to be an astronaut. Don’t let anyone tell you the sky’s the limit when there are footprints on the moon.
This set will officially blast into stores on May 1.