Since 1963, Lego pieces have been manufactured from a strong, resilient plastic known as acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS). As of September 2008, Lego engineers use the NX CAD/CAM/CAE PLM software suite to model the elements. The software allows the parts to be optimised by way of mould flow and stress analysis. Prototype moulds are sometimes built before the design is committed to mass production. The ABS plastic is heated to 232 °C (450 °F) until it reaches a dough-like consistency. It is then injected into the moulds at pressures between 25 and 150 tonnes, and takes approximately 15 seconds to cool. The moulds are permitted a tolerance of up to twenty micrometres, to ensure the bricks remain connected. Human inspectors check the output of the moulds, to eliminate significant variations in colour or thickness. According to the Lego Group, about eighteen bricks out of every million fail to meet the standard required. Lego factories recycle all but about 1 percent of their plastic waste from the manufacturing process. If the plastic cannot be re-used in Lego bricks, it is processed and sold on to industries that can make use of it. Lego has a self-imposed 2030 deadline to find a more eco-friendly alternative to the ABS plastic it currently uses in its bricks.
As is the norm with LEGO sets these days, there are a fair few stickers in use for this item. I’m still not a fan of their use, but at this point in time, it is something I have come to expect and just get on with it now. In their defence, they do add to the overall presentation, making it that little bit harder to complain. As I said, this is my favourite of the three planes in the set, mainly because it looks superb and offers a great build experience. Seriously, I had so much fun building this. The instructions – as always – are clear, and it is not going to provide any major issues. Stability-wise, there are no concerns here, with the finished product very sturdy and, as proved by my daughter, can handle itself when being flown around the room by an excited seven-year-old. One minifigure can be seated at the controls, with suitable space for application and removal. The other pilot has its place on the top of the plane, with a single piece of black fencing to provide support for the death-defying pilot.
This set is designed for children aged 6+, and one of the ways that it is suitable for them is the inclusion of separate instruction booklets and numbered bags for the different parts of the set (see my post about LEGO age range suitability here). A younger modeller can build the plane or other item of their choice as soon as they open the box. It's not so much one big set as 5 different parts which make a whole scene. My 7 year old son chose to build a jet first of all...
Attention then shifts to construction of the three aircraft. When I first spied this set I assumed that the two red jets were the same, but closer examination reveals a number of differences. First up is a red jet with a canard wing configuration as seen in the Saab Viggen amongst others. The lower fuselage is fashioned from a number of double and triple inverted 45 degree slopes with a pair of 1 x 14 Technic bricks running through the centre; there’s no obvious reason for Technic bricks to be used in this situation – standard 1 x 14 bricks would have done the job just as well - so I assume that LEGO just happened to have a bunch of them lying around…. A printed black 1 x 2 tile in the cockpit represents the instrument panel, while a substantial air intake is attached on either side of the fuselage at a 90 degree angle by way of brackets.
LIC - LEGO Instruction Creator, developed by Jeremy Czajkowski, is a cross-platform, Python, OpenGL & Qt powered desktop application for creating and editing LEGO instruction books. LIC imports 3D models, organizes them into submodels, pages & steps, and exports the end result as images or PDF. A rich, WYSIWYG UI editor, which provides a fully interactive preview window along side a drag & drop-enabled navigation tree, to help organize and layout your book. Portions of LIC are based on work of Remi Gagne. LIC will be part of the AIOI - LDraw All-In-One-Installer.
Colour-wise, it is mainly yellow, with only a dash of green and red, and a little more white, there to break it up. The worker has space to stand and drive the vehicle, and has a walkie talkie attached on the side of the car. Around the other side is a coiled-up, what I assume is a, fuel pump. It looks pretty good when coiled up on the side of the car. Stickers come into use again here, this time for the number plates.