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#2344 SET REVIEW: 42602 Space Research Rover

Updated: Mar 30

The mini-dolls are off to strange new worlds with this exciting research rover! Take a spin with us as we explore this sleek rover that brings Olivia, William, and Apollo face-to-face with the cutest little aliens we’ve ever seen. This set is an exciting companion to an earlier Friends exploration into space - check out our post 2285 for a review of that set!

Alt text / image descriptions are available for the images in this post.

#2344 Set Review: 42602 Space Research Rover Mini-dolls are off to explore space with the newest 2024 Space set! A press release photo shows the white and trans-purple rover, with its rounded cockpit and tapered back end, and large orange wheels with white and purple interiors. A small hovercraft with a mini-doll flies nearby, while another mini-doll in astronaut gear with a small astronaut dog are staring at a small brick-built floral scene. Blue and pink fern leaves hold small brick-built aliens. £44.99 $49.99 €49.99 for 514 parts. Our score is 16 out of 25.

[Review products provided by the LEGO group, but all opinions are our own and honest - we don’t have to praise sets to keep receiving them.]

Part selection: our score is 4 out of 5. There are a few interesting recolours. If you like purple and the new reddish orange, this part selection is for you! New recolours include: 2 of Windscreen 6 x 6 x 1 1/3 Curved, part 3383, in trans-purple. 2 of Windscreen 6 x 4 x 1 1/3 Canopy Sloped Sides, part 3384, in trans-purple. 4 of Wheel Wagon Viking with 12 Holes (55mm D.), part 55817, in reddish orange. 6 of plate 1 x 6, part 3316, in reddish orange. 1 of plate 1 x 4, part 3710, in reddish orange. 4 of Plant Plate, Round 1 x 2 with Curved, Upright Leaf, part 5151, in trans-blue. Rare parts include: 4 of Panel 1 x 2 x 2 with Side Supports - Hollow Studs, part 87552, in trans-purple. 1 of Panel 6 x 5 x 3 Curved Top, part 5065, in trans-purple. 4 of Tile, Round 3 x 3, part 67095, in dark purple. 5 of Tile, Modified 1 x 1 with Open O Clip, part 15712, in dark purple. 2 of Mini Doll, Headgear Helmet Space, Friends Astronaut with 4 Studs on Back, part 5149, in white. 2 of Minifigure, Visor Large with Trapezoid Area on Top, part 89159, in trans-purple. Each of the previous parts are in only one other set. The following four parts are included in only two other sets: 2 of Brick, Round 1 x 1 d. 90 degrees Elbow Macaroni - No Stud - Type 2 - Axle Hole, part 25214, in medium azure. 1 of Tile, Round 1 x 2 Half, part 1748, in reddish orange. 1 of Minifigure, Utensil Camera Handheld Style with Extended Bar Handle, part 30089b, in white. 2 of Slope 10 6 x 1, part 4569, in white. New prints include a Friends puppy mold; it is all white except for silver accents on the ears and a printed tan and brown face; the puppy is named Apollo and is dressed as an astronaut; 1 is included. 2 of part Brick, Round 2 x 2 Dome Top with Bottom Axle Holder in medium azure are included; they feature a small smile, three eyes, and dots of black. One sticker sheet features space logos, screens showing things like alien life or astronaut, sleeping beds, a robot face, and solar panels.

Mini-dolls: Our score is 2 out of 5. Olivia is wearing a reddish-orange space outfit with white boots and gloves, space logos, zippers, and pockets. She has nougat skin with a reddish brown hairpiece featuring braided buns. William is wearing a lavender space outfit with white boots and gloves, space logos, zippers, and pockets. He has a new head in with a smile and his hairpiece is black coiled hair with straight sides. The new mini-doll helmet mold looks great! They can turn slightly to the right and left, which is useful for posing. William is shown wearing the helmet/ visor from front and back angles to show the full helmet. We love the new alien builds! The printed heads are a delight. This is their first appearance in medium azure. The heads feature a small smile, three eyes, and dots of black; the dome piece is placed on top of the Plant Leaves 2 x 2 with 4 Petals and Axle Hole part, and a Plate, Round 1 x 1 with Flower Edge (5 Petals) part is placed on top of its head. Though only two mini-dolls can reasonably fit in the rover, we were disappointed that both bodies are the exact same as the ones from #42605. This is the cheapest set with adult Olivia, but we would have appreciated a new facial expression or hairpiece instead of the exact same ones for her third appearance.

Techniques. The body of the rover is built in two sections. Each has Technic bricks to attach the liftarms that hold the wheels. The sections are connected with modified plates for a great range of motion! A photo of the wheelbase is shown; the center body is made in two parts that are mostly dark-bluish gray; one side is tiled with slopes while the other has open studs and an axle facing up. A few parts are pointed out on the build: 32348, the Technic liftarms that attach to wheels; modified plate 3176, four of which are used to connect the two parts of the body; axle 87083, which runs through the modified plates. The wheel’s interior actually faces out! Slopes and tiles give the exterior a smooth finish: we see the inside of the wheel, which is decorated with part 27295, lavender 2 x 2 macaroni tiles, part 65617, white 3 x 3 round bricks without studs, and 67095, dark purple 3 x 3 tiles.

Techniques, continued. An overhead shot of the wheel base is shown: the center body is angled to show how the modified plates and axle on the previous slide allow the two bases to rotate from one another. The wheel base has an axle and open studs that are used to secure the cockpit section. An arrow points to the back of the cockpit section, which has two pins that connect to the research/ living area. The research/ living area connects with the new airlock piece. This means it can combine with other 2024 Space sets! The airlock piece, Reddish Orange Panel 1 x 6 x 4 1/3 with Window and 4 Pin Holes, part 49699, is also shown. A picture shows the robot attached to the front of the wheelbase; a sticker on a 2x4 rounded tile shows a robot’s face. It has arms made with the Arm Mechanical, Battle Droid, par 30377; Bar Holder with Handle, part 23443; and Bar 1L with Clip Mechanical Claw - Cut Edges and Hole on Side, part 48729b. The robot’s poseable arms are awesome, but we were disappointed that it can’t detach.

Techniques, continued. A shot of the entire rover points out the front section, which is a cockpit, and the back section, which is a research/ living area. With clips and bars, both interiors are easily accessible for play! The cockpit section is shown with its large panel lifted up; we see the interior with tans, trans-yellow, and bright light orange colors. Part 43886, the Plate, Modified 1 x 2 with Bar Handle on Side - Closed Ends, is pointed out, which is used to lift the cockpit panel. The exteriors have a clean finish, but the SNOT bricks underneath are surprisingly involved. A side view of the cockpit with the exterior removed is shown; a mix of SNOT bricks, an open window pane, bows, and bricks create space for tiles and windows to be placed on top. A 1x1 studs-on-side tan brick is pointed out; two face in different directions to add detail to the front and the side. Another shot of the open cockpit shows bright light orange ingots as the flooring. The dog, Apollo, sits on a 2x2 jumper right behind where an astronaut would sit. A blown-up image of Apollo sitting here is shown, with the text reading there’s even a spot for Apollo to join the action!

Techniques, continued The second section features two research areas that can swing down into beds.No sleeping on the job, Olivia! An overhead shot of this area shows William standing in the middle, facing outward with his hand over a printed keyboard. Olivia is opposite, lying down on a 2 x 6 tile stickered as a bed. Apollo is at the tail end of the area, standing on a lavender plate facing a printed dog print tile and trans-green tile. Another, similar shot shows this area completely empty. The bed that Olivia was lying on has been rotated upward and shows a printed battery gauge, a grille plate, and bright light orange ingots on the floor. This section has studs on top to store the hovercraft! We wish there had been similar storage space given for the explorers’ helmets. The research/ living area is shown closed, with the hovercraft placed on the two studs on top. The hovercraft is also shown with William in his helmet steering it. Two rounded plates, part 18980, create the hovercraft’s footprint. It has an orange base with dark purple tiles, 1 x 2 cheese wedges, and 1 x 1 round bricks and tiles facing outward like engines. The white handlebars can be held by a mini-doll standing on the hovercraft. For techniques, everything is straightforward, but the variety of slopes and SNOT techniques create clever angles. The wheel base is sturdy, fun to build, and creates fantastic movement! Our techniques score is 3 out of 5.

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Building experience: our score is 4 out of 5. There are four instruction booklets, making this ideal for building with others. Though nothing here will surprise experienced builders, the rover’s three main segments are satisfying to put together, and the alien life scene is adorable and functional too!

The alien life scene is on a rounded corner 6 x 6 blue plate. Trans-blue fern pieces along with blue and azure slope and bows form the base. Stalks are made with elbow macaroni pieces with axle holes, 3-stem plant pieces, and 1 x 1 round bricks. They are topped with a build made with Plate, Round 1 x 1 with Bar Handle, part 26047, holding a fern piece attached to the Technic, Pin Connector Round with 4 Clips (Horizontal Grip), part 90202.

The fern pieces make a wonderful hiding spot! Images show them closed to hide the aliens posed in the middle, or open to reveal the aliens.

The enormous wheels are ready to tackle any type of terrain! The rover is easy to navigate by grasping the rear section, which is not attached to the base. A video shows the rover going over stacked plates that are a 16 x 16 footprint and graduate to a small center of 4 x 4 studs. The rover easily goes up the plates and back down.

Value for money: our score is 3 out of 5. At £0.09/ $0.10/ €0.10 per part, the value isn’t great on its surface. However, large parts like the windshields or wheels do present a higher value. Its price tag compares reasonably to similar 2024 sets. Press release photos and prices are shown for four sets. Set 42602 Space Research Rover costs £44.99 $49.99 €49.99 for 514 pieces. Set 60431 Space Explorer Rover and Alien Life costs £24.99 $34.99 €29.99 for 311 pieces. Set 60432 LEGO® City Commander Rover and Crane Loader costs £59.99 $84.99 €69.99 for 758 pieces. Set 42605 Mars Space Base and Rocket costs £79.99 $79.99 €89.99 for 981 pieces. Check out our review of the Friends Space Base in post 2285! A thumbnail of that post’s title slide, featuring a press release photo of the set, is shown.

Final Thoughts Because we score specific criteria from an AFOL’s perspective, our review criteria doesn’t always match exactly how we feel about a set. We love this year’s synchronicity of multiple themes in space and felt this rover was a fantastic way to land the Friends on a strange new world! A picture shows the entire set: the rover is in the background facing toward camera with William driving. The robot on the front points its camera to the alien life, with Apollo standing on the blue rounded plate holding the alien plants. Olivia is on the hovercraft facing the alien plant life. Which 2024 Space rover is your favorite? Share with us in the comments!


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