The Guide to Space-Themed Hobby Ideas

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Everyone Needs a Hobby—and You Need a Space-Themed Hobby.

Come on, admit it. Spending hours alone playing ES:O is great and all, but sometimes you need to take a break from the screen and the keyboard and just try something new. In this week’s article, we’ll take you through a bunch of different space-themed hobby ideas that might just become your next obsession. From LEGOs to model rockets, we’ve got you covered.

Let’s Start With LEGOs

By now, just about everyone knows that LEGOs aren’t just for kids. The amazing little blocks come in some incredibly complex and awesome kits. Some even include mechanized parts.

What you may not know, however, is just how Zen-like and relaxing assembling LEGO models can be. Finding the correct blocks, then carefully placing them in the right order is akin to standing in a rock garden all day raking the perfect pattern. While you’re in the midst of it, your mind focuses intently on only the task at hand, and all of your other stress and worries melt away. There’s also an immense sense of pride and satisfaction when you finish an especially complicated set. That’s what makes LEGO-building an especially fun and rewarding space-themed hobby.

1. Realistic Space Sets

There are all kinds of Star Wars and other sci-fi LEGO sets out there, but there are also quite a few models of real (or soon to be real) space tech. Here are a couple of such models:

Lunar Space Station

LEGO Lunar Space Station Set

This relatively easy and inexpensive set makes getting into LEGO construction a real treat! It’s rated for ages 6+, and the kit contains 412 pieces. Even though there’s no such thing as a lunar base yet, The details in this set are based around realistic looking NASA vehicles and designs. The set features two astronauts, two crew members, the station itself, a shuttle, and even a robot! Once you’re done assembling the model you can set it up in a diorama or carry out your own imaginary lunar missions (we won’t tell anyone). 

At an affordable price, the LEGO Lunar Space Station set is a great way to get into your new space-themed hobby. You can buy it here.

 

NASA Apollo 11 Lunar Lander Set

LEGO Apollo 11 Lander Set

Now, once you’ve acquired a taste for building LEGO sets, you may want to step up your game a bit. And for only a little more than you shelled out for the Lunar Space Lander set, you can have the doubly-difficult NASA Apollo 11 Lunar Lander set.

That’s right! Now you too can create your very own conspiracy theory. Just take a few days (or hours, depending on your dedication and skill) and set up this 1087-piece set that replicates one of NASA’s most iconic and (unnecessarily) controversial vehicles. Then, put it on a piece of plywood covered in ashes and tiny rocks, put a black sheet up in the background and take a picture. Surely you’ll be able to find someone on the internet who believes it’s the real deal.

You can buy your very own conspiracy kit Apollo 11 Lunar Lander set here!

 

NASA Apollo Saturn V Rocket Set

LEGO Saturn V Rocket set

Of course, it won’t matter how good your photos of the Apollo 11 Lunar Lander are if you don’t also build the rocket that got it to the moon! Nobody’s gonna buy that you landed your LEGOs on the moon if you don’t build the Saturn V set as well. You’ve got to think of credibility. That’s just basic.

So then, it becomes inevitable that you move from a roughly 400-piece LEGO set to a 1000-piece one, and now all the way to a set with 1969 pieces (and don’t tell me you don’t appreciate the damn irony! I mean, come on… The model of the rocket that famously launched Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins to the lunar surface in 1969 just happens to have 1969 pieces? Right… Nothing shady there.)

All kidding aside, of course, the final assembly of this bad boy is certainly impressive. It stands a full meter high (1:110 scale to the real McCoy) and you can even remove the three rocket stages! Get your own Saturn V Rocket set here.

2. Fantasy Space Sets

So LEGOs are a great space-themed hobby. However, as cool as all of those realistic space sets above are, the reality is, LEGO has a lot more to offer when it comes to sci-fi sets. Particularly Star Wars sets. But there are also some other universes to explore, so let’s take a look, shall we:

Starting with the Echo Base Defense Set

LEGO Star Wars Echo Base Defense Set

If you’re looking to get into building sci-fi LEGO sets, you may want to start with this one. At just 504 pieces, it’s not overly complicated and will give you a really cool display piece when you’re done.  Or again, you could just play with it. Seriously, this set has real missiles that fire into targets and make for some fun de-stressing even after the build is complete. Whether you side with the Imperial scourge or the Rebel scum, I’d be willing to bet you won’t be able to resist firing a few shots at your enemies.

The set’s got a Rebel fortification, An AT-AT Imperial walker, plus both Rebel and Imperial troops. It’s relatively inexpensive and provides a fun way for the Star Wars fan to get into LEGO-building. The Echo Base Defense Set is a lot of fun both to put together and to play with afterward. And again, we won’t tell anyone. Just enjoy yourself, won’t you!

You can find the Echo Base Defense Set here.

 

Marvel: Thanos Ultimate Battle Set

LEGO Thanos: Ultimate Battle Set

If MCU is more your thing than Star Wars, you may want to hurry up and get your hands on this soon-to-be-discontinued set. At 674 pieces, it’s not a super-difficult set to build, and, like the other LEGO action sets, offers a lot of fun once it’s assembled. 

This one features the Guardians’ ship, an Iron Man figure, and even Star-Lord and Gamora. Of course, it’s also got a Thanos figure—’cause you have to have a villain, right?

All of the figures come with appropriate weaponry, and of course, you can replace Thanos’ hand with the Infinity Gauntlet!

Even though LEGO is moving away from MCU sets, there are still quite a few out there, and this particular set hasn’t been discontinued quite yet, so it’s a good springboard to get you hooked. Then you can spend the rest of your life hunting down the other MCU sets. 

Buy the Thanos: Ultimate Battle set here.

Betrayal at Cloud City

LEGO Betrayal at Cloud City Set

Okay, this set is expensive, and it’s becoming rare, but it can still be had. And for the Star Wars fan whose gone completely down the LEGO rabbit-hole, this may be one of the coolest sets out there. Be prepared, though, constructing this bad-boy’s not for the faint-of-heart or weak-willed. Need the Force as your ally you will if complete this build you wish to. 

The reason: 2812 pieces. That’s right. The Betrayal at Cloud City is a serious space-themed hobby that’ll keep you busy for quite some time. And once it’s finished, you’ll have your own little slice of Bespin on your mantle or in your display case. 

This extensive set features 19 minifigures, including Luke, Han, Leia, Chewy, Vader, R2D2, C3PO, Boba Fett, Lando, and more! Of course, if Boba Fett is there, then Slave 1 has to be there, too—along with the twin-pod cloud car that escorted the Falcon toward its ill-fated landing. Cloud City also features the dining room where Vader laid his trap for Han, the carbon-freezing facility, and even the stage for Luke’s iconic confrontation with Darth Vader. 

If you’re serious about LEGOs and Star Wars, you need to get this one quickly because it’s becoming rare. Fortunately, you can buy one here.

Model Rockets—The Ultimate Space-Themed Hobby

Before we continue on, let’s just take a moment to appreciate this:

Okay, so you don’t have to be a Trailer Park Boy to enjoy model rockets, but it’s sure funny watching them do it! The reality is, though, that model rockets are some of the most fun you can have as a space enthusiast. If you’ve got kids, they’re a perfect project to complete as a family, and they can teach you a ton about physics, aerodynamics, propulsion, and the like. 

The other beautiful thing about model rockets is that they’re almost as unpredictable as the real thing, if not more so. You never know if all of your hard work is going to pay off in a glorious launch with the rocket leaving behind a trail of smoke as it climbs to amazing heights, or if it’s going to explode on the launchpad. Of course, it could also go completely catawampus and make a dazzling display of smokey curlicues before it crashes nose-first into something like the ground or a car. The uncertainty is half the fun!

Finally, you can actually get into model rockets on a shoestring budget. In fact, you can even get some beginner kits for under $20! However, one should know the kits themselves often don’t include engines, so make sure you research which engine types your model will support before making a final decision. Let’s look at three different levels of model rockets available.

Engine Types and Ratings:

Here’s a great video explaining how to understand model rocket engines:

In an insanely simplified run-down, the letters at the beginning of each engine designates its power. Each letter designates twice the power of the previous letter. In other words, a C motor is twice as powerful as a B motor. Most model rockets don’t go past F. The number is more about how many newtons of thrust the engine will put out on average. The thrust level determines the speed, while the letter classification determines the altitude capability. So a B-3 motor will go twice as high as an A-3 motor but will accelerate with the same amount of thrust. 

Entry Level

Estes Tandem-X Flying Model Rocket Launch Set

Estes Tandem-X Kit

If you’re looking to break into model rocket-building, the Estes Tandem-X is a good place to start. It’s relatively inexpensive and actually includes two rockets! The Amazon is an entry-level rocket that’s easy to assemble and already colored. The Crossfire ISX takes things to the next level. It’s slightly more involved to assemble and finish, so it will help beginning rocketeers hone their crafting skills.

As I mentioned above, these kits do not include engines. However, both rockets in the Estes Tandem-X kit are compatible with several engine types. The most powerful engine that will work with both is a C6-5. 

With that engine configuration, you should expect the Amazon rocket to reach around 600 feet of altitude, while the Crossfire ISX could reach 1150 feet.

You can buy the Tandem-X Flying Model Rocket Launch Set here.

 

Intermediate Level

Rocketarium Super Chief II Two-Stage Rocket Kit

Rocketarium Super Chief II

This is a proper intermediate-level rocket—and it’s still inexpensive! After you’ve had some fun with simpler one-stage models, you’ll be ready to move on to the two-stage variety. Two stages, of course, means more altitude and a more spectacular launch!

It also means the assembly and preparation takes a lot more effort and care in order to pull off a successful launch. The Rocketarium Super Chief II, however, rewards all of that effort. Like the Crossfire ISX included in the Estes Tandem-X kit above, the Super Chief II is compatible with several engine sizes. As a two-stage rocket, however, it will, of course, require two engines.

Rocketarium recommends either a D12 or E12 engine for the main stage and a B6 or C6 for the second stage. With the most powerful engine configuration, an E12/C6-5 combo, the Super Chief II should reach heights of over 1500 feet.

Unlike beginner kits, the Super Chief II doesn’t come with a launch rod, so you’ll need to buy a 3/16″ one in order to launch it.

You can buy the Super Chief II here.

 

Advanced Level

Estes SA-2061 SASHA Kit

Estes SA-2061 SASHA Rocket Kit

Another two-stage build, Estes’ SA-2061 SASHA Rocket is inspired by Russian military design. It’s not only a master-level build, but it’s extremely powerful and wonderful to behold when it’s completed. 

At 31″ tall and only 6.1 ounces, this behemoth can support E engines in both stages! That means it can fly nearly half a mile into the sky at a max altitude of 2300 feet!

As this is an advanced rocket, the manufacturers assume that you’ll have all of the other rocketeering accouterments. For example, you’ll need a 3/16″ launch rod, an E launch controller, and of course, all of the model-building tools the avid hobbyist needs (glue, paint, scissors, hobby knife, etc.).

After all of the work, you’ll be rewarded (hopefully) with a successful launch, after which, SASHA’s main rocket will land under an 18″ parachute. Best of all, SASHA is no more expensive than either of the other two kits listed here. That means that even with higher engine costs, building a powerful model rocket is probably the least expensive space-themed hobby in which one can indulge.

Get your Estes SA-2061 SASHA Rocket Kit here.

Other Space-Themed Hobby Ideas:

Aside from building models (be they LEGO or otherwise), there are several apps that one can have fun with on a mobile device. After all, hobbies are about passing the time, and checking out where the constellations are during the daylight hours can be surprisingly intoxicating.

Star Tracker is one of my favorites for iOS and Android. It’s available in an ad-supported free version or you can purchase the pro-version. Of course, looking at the stars in augmented reality doesn’t compare to the real thing. Fortunately, you can also take up star-gazing. Check out last week’s article for our guide on how to get into amateur astronomy!

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Brandon Humphreys

Brandon Humphreys

I'm a wizard. I write stuff and it goes from my head into yours - Magic! Apart from that, I am the Senior Editor for Space Porn, a veteran, a rock guitarist, and a teacher.

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