I admit it. I love toys. I don’t always buy them for myself — sometimes I only admire them from afar because adulthood, etc. — but this shit right here? This is going on my Christmas list.
LEGO is releasing a Women of NASA set, and the story behind it is as beautiful as the finished product. It began as a submission through their LEGO Ideas forum, where fans can generate their own ideas for new LEGO sets, other fans can throw their support behind those ideas, and any idea that gets 10,000 supporters will be reviewed by LEGO. If LEGO likes your idea enough to put it into production? You get 1% of the profits for life (which is cool if it ends up in that Ninjago show or something…)!
And THIS idea, from a fellow woman working in science, made it all the way through the pipeline! As LEGO stated when they announced it had won:
As a science editor and writer, with a strong personal interest for space exploration as well as the history of women in science and engineering, Maia Weinstock’s Women of NASA project was a way for her to celebrate accomplished women in the STEM professions. In particular those who’ve made a big impact through their work at NASA.
We’re really excited to be able to introduce Maia’s Women of NASA set for its inspirational value as well as build and play experience.
The concept of the set is to highlight the legacies of some outstanding women and their contributions to NASA throughout history. Weinstock’s initial proposal included five women:
Margaret Hamilton, computer scientist: While working at MIT under contract with NASA in the 1960s, Hamilton developed the on-board flight software for the Apollo missions to the moon. She is known for popularizing the modern concept of software.
Katherine Johnson, mathematician and space scientist: A longtime NASA researcher, Johnson is best known for calculating and verifying trajectories for the Mercury and Apollo programs — including the Apollo 11 mission that first landed humans on the moon.
Sally Ride, astronaut, physicist, and educator: A physicist by training, Ride became the first American woman in space in 1983. After retiring as a NASA astronaut, she founded an educational company focusing on encouraging children — especially girls — to pursue the sciences.
Nancy Grace Roman, astronomer: One of the first female executives at NASA, Roman is known to many as the “Mother of Hubble” for her role in planning the Hubble Space Telescope. She also developed NASA’s astronomy research program.
Mae Jemison, astronaut, physician, and entrepreneur: Trained as a medical doctor, Jemison became the first African-American woman in space in 1992. After retiring from NASA, Jemison established a company that develops new technologies and encourages students in the sciences.
The final product being released only features four of those five women — Katherine Johnson, who was featured in the film Hidden Figures (portrayed by Taraji P. Henson), is no longer included. According to Gizmodo, it was a rights issue. A company spokesperson told them, “In order for us to move forward with a partner we need to obtain approval from all key people, which was not possible in this case. We naturally fully respect this decision.”
(Perhaps she’s had enough of her likeness being used, considering she was literally JUST depicted in a movie? Or perhaps her likeness is still tied up in that movie somehow, and she couldn’t approve it? We’ll probably never know.)
Still, the four women who DID approve their inclusion in the project are more than enough to excite me. The 231-piece set includes the four minifigs, plus enough parts to piece together three themed diorama displays to show off their accomplishments. Astronauts Ride and Jemison get their own Space Shuttle, while Roman can pose with the Hubble Space Telescope and Hamilton gets… a stack of books. Look, software engineering isn’t the most action-oriented profession but she’s still a damn boss!
Here’s the box, proving this is the real deal:
The set has a SRP of $24.99 and goes on sale November 1st. Hopefully it will inspire kids to go into STEM fields… but let’s face it, a lot of sets will be snatched up by adults like me who plan to clear space on their shelves for the Awesome LEGO Ladies Of Space!
Now, do you think they’ll make it into the next round of LEGO Dimensions expansion packs…