The space shuttle program has always been near and dear to my heart, ever since my parents took me to the very first launch back in April 1991 (we spent the night on the causeway in our car and watched the launch in the morning!). Shortly thereafter I constructed a number of different versions of the Shuttle "stack" for myself, using the parts in my collection...needless to say the result wasn't as good as any of the current and past offerings from Lego, but it was all this 12-year old needed.
In later years I have picked up just about all of the "official" Lego versions of the shuttle, culminating in the Christmas gift of set 10213 by my wife...
This set was fun to build, although I would say that the addition of operating landing gear added some questionable complexity to the build. Operating gear on this model is certainly a nice feature, but I found it to be a bit fragile to raise/lower once the model was finished. On top of that, the main gear is visible between the fuselage and the wings when retracted- again, not a really huge deal but I found it distracting. The model also features operating flaps on the trailing edges of the wing, another nice feature to have. One other thing I noticed was that the shuttle's nose profile was a bit off- yes I realize that it isn't easy to model all these complex curves using bricks. Just my opinion that this portion could have been done a bit differently. Also, the two astronaut minifigs included sit in a cockpit with very small windows, and in fact you'd never even know they are in there just by looking at the orbiter.
The remainder of the kit was nice, although I did find the solid rocket boosters (SRB's) to be undersized in both circumference and height- with the latter being more noticeable. The way they went together was rather innovative (to me) and the result was quite solid.
The external fuel tank also has, in my opinion, profile issues at the very top. Again, I recognize that recreating complex curves with bricks is not always the easiest thing to do.
The launch pad is functional, and holds the completed stack securely. I could see a companion set for 10213 featuring the gigantic gantry that sits on the pad next to the shuttle...or perhaps a bunch of Technic girders would do the trick.
The completed model had a high degree of "swooshability" and stayed solidly together through a number of simulated launches (much to my wife's amusement), complete with SRB separation in the hallway and dropping the external fuel tank near the bedroom door...
All in all I would rate this model:
Design 8/10: the curves on the orbiter and EFT could have looked a bit better in my opinion.
Figures 10/10: No complaints here.
Playability 9/10: solidly assembled, this model "swooshed" around the house nicely, SRB and EFT separation was easy.
Parts 8/10: Nothing really stood out here to me, but it seemed like a good number of parts for the price
Price 10/10: I thought $99 was a steal for this set...
Final score: 9/10: I'd certainly recommend this set for any shuttle fan. This AFOL had fun with it, and the negatives noted above were not a deterrent to my enjoyment.