Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Brick-by-Brick, To The Moon

On Family Day this year, Glory and I sat down to assemble the final souvenir of our trip to Texas: the Lego Saturn V Rocket kit. After having been sold out for ages and going for up to double the retail price, it had returned to stock in November, and I was astonished to find it still available after we returned. I placed an order with Amazon.com, and Tara graciously agreed to mule it up to Alberta for me.

We had been planning this day for a while. so after a modest long weekend lie-in, we had our breakfast and got down to brass tacks. It took a bit to get things set up the way we wanted so that a) we had adequate space and light for our task, b) we could have appropriate cinematic inspiration on the tv, and c) we could set up a camera in hopes of making one of those cool time lapse recordings.

Once the camera was rolling, we unpackaged 12 bags of bricks totalling 1,969 pieces (a beautifully significant number). The paper manual is almost 200 pages long, but thankfully I found a downloadable pdf version online I could refer to on my iPad, which sped things up immensely.

We took a bag apiece, ripped them open and started building, while Gravity played on the big screen. Sometimes the movie prompted discussion about what we were working on, or advancements in space travel, or the sheer courage it must take to work in such a hostile environment, but how we would still visit there given the opportunity.

The instructions are extremely well laid out, and the sub-packaging is a stroke of genius on their part, reducing the intrinsic sorting to a much more manageable degree. There were a couple of pages where the arrows weren't highlighted very well, or the instructions to rotate a sub-section or hinged piece weren't as clear as one might like, but for that big a manual, it feels petty to quibble.

We threw a pizza in the oven for lunch, and much later, a chicken florentine lasagna for dinner. On the tv, we rolled through Interstellar, Apollo 13 (with commentary by director Ron Howard), and Men In Black. This final movie didn't really fit the theme, but it was important to inject some levity into the proceedings because Glory discovered, to her horror, that two subsections were not connecting due to a misplaced brick somewhere in the assembly process of the second stage booster.

Her frustration was evident on her face, but, like a trooper, she resolved to break two whole bags of assembled rocket into their components and then re-build them in order to assure a proper fit. I think some of the replicated sub-assemblies could have stayed together, but she was adamant that a limited do-over would give her the greatest odds of success, and knowing she draws far more of her fortitude from her mother than from me, I immediately recognized the futility of standing in opposition to her.

(Looking at Glory's face in the video below, both before and after her terrible revelation, might lead you to believe I press-ganged or otherwise coerced her into service - not so! This is simply the expression she wears when she is bring her not inconsiderable focus to bear on a task. When questioned about it, she described this countenance as her "RBF", which I believe stands for "Resting Brick Face.")

I finished my final bag, built the (unused) stand for horizontal display, and fetched Glory some cake and ice cream for dessert. It took a while, but at long she had the final pieces in place, and we assembled our tiny version of one of humanity's most impressive vehicles.

I was unable to find software that would perform the necessary time compression, but Pete graciously offered the services of Rare Hipster Productions and did a bang-up job somehow making 9 hrs of brick building look and sound entertaining -my thanks, sir!

The Lego Saturn V represents a fair amount of work and almost the entirety of a holiday Monday, but I'm glad we did it, and ecstatic that we could do it together. The assembled model (and LEM, and capsule) now stands proudly on a corner shelf of the Batcave, a towering reminder of not only a tremendous chapter in history and a wonderful vacation, but also of time well-spent with my youngest in the most constructive of endeavours!


  1. Fantastic!!! And Resting Brick Face, hee hee :)

  2. Great story, and Pete did an amazing job editing the video.