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.
Primary concept and development work takes place at the Billund headquarters, where the company employs approximately 120 designers. The company also has smaller design offices in the UK, Spain, Germany, and Japan which are tasked with developing products aimed specifically at these markets. The average development period for a new product is around twelve months, split into three stages. The first stage is to identify market trends and developments, including contact by the designers directly with the market; some are stationed in toy shops close to holidays, while others interview children. The second stage is the design and development of the product based upon the results of the first stage. As of September 2008 the design teams use 3D modelling software to generate CAD drawings from initial design sketches. The designs are then prototyped using an in-house stereolithography machine. These prototypes are presented to the entire project team for comment and for testing by parents and children during the "validation" process. Designs may then be altered in accordance with the results from the focus groups. Virtual models of completed Lego products are built concurrently with the writing of the user instructions. Completed CAD models are also used in the wider organisation, for marketing and packaging.
Other than the planes, I do find it unfortunate that the Friends set focuses on shopping and food like so many Friends sets, and I also think it is unfortunate that the City terminal only has the basics of the airport structure in the control tower and service truck. Having a control tower for the Friends set would have been great. Having a gift shop/cafe for the City terminal would have been a worthwhile addition and not something we have seen in many City sets.
A minifigure can comfortably fit seated inside the cockpit, and it is here that I found the first issue with the set. I had no issue inserting and removing the figure from his seated position, but my seven-year old struggled to get him out, deciding to leave him onboard instead of disembarking after she brought the jet back into the hangar. The physical connection between LEGO pieces in the cockpit and the pilot minifigure didn’t seem to present an issue, so whether or not this was just a one-off issue remains to be seen.
Agent 13 has a pretty plain appearance, with caramel-coloured wavy hair, and a black, spy-like top. Her torso has some nice details, with sharp, angular lines that all combine to form a rough outline of an upside down star. She has plain sand blue pants and rocks a sub-machine gun accessory. I like regular LEGO firearms, so it’s very nice to get one in this set as they’re fairly uncommon.
I cannot stress just how much I love this item, it may well be the highlight of the whole set. LEGO have released bi-planes before of similar design, but it still something to marvel over. Harking back to those older days of LEGO relying on imagination and not movie franchises, this is what we had to play with, and it is great to be able to relive that in today’s world.
LEGO CITY has some recurring themes that can get old after a while and obviously are meant for younger LEGO fans. The Fire and Police themes within CITY quickly come to mind as it seems like they have a new run each year. The Airport theme is one of those that doesn't quite occur every year. The last airport set was released in 2010 and was set #3182. This year (2016) another airport was released. #60104, Airport Passenger Terminal, was released on 1 August 2016 in the US. It costs $99.99 in the US and contains 694 pieces or $0.144 per piece. I picked the set up from Amazon at 20% off or $80 ($0.115 per piece). Yay sales! Onto the review...
By 1954, Christiansen's son, Godtfred, had become the junior managing director of the Lego Group. It was his conversation with an overseas buyer that led to the idea of a toy system. Godtfred saw the immense potential in Lego bricks to become a system for creative play, but the bricks still had some problems from a technical standpoint: their locking ability was limited and they were not versatile. In 1958, the modern brick design was developed; it took five years to find the right material for it, ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) polymer. The modern Lego brick design was patented on 28 January 1958.
The main constituents of the set are a tanker truck, three aircraft and a hangar. Each of these gets its own instruction booklet and bags of elements. First up is the tanker truck (below) which at only four studs wide and less than ten studs in length reminds me of the 4-stud wide vehicles of my youth. This impression is reinforced by the inclusion of a couple of late 70’s-style 2 x 4 mudguards in the build.
Inside the box we find eight numbered bags, two unnumbered bags containing large molded plane parts, two loose 16x16 plates, the large airplane wing in medium grey, a sticker sheet and four instruction booklets of varying sizes. Unfortunately there is no cardboard to keep the booklets and sticker sheet flat (though fortunately mine were not crumpled), but never fear, there is a brick separator!
There are 3 cardboard boxes with more Easter eggs. We get a few references to Marvel organisations such as A.I.M., who you may remember from Iron Man 3 as an R&D agency run by Aldrich Killian, Hammer, one of Stark Industries primary rivals which made an appearance in Iron Man 2, bankrolling Whiplash and finally a box with the Stark Industries logo on it.
The intelligent brick can be programmed using official software available for Windows and Mac computers, and is downloaded onto the brick via Bluetooth or a USB cable. There are also several unofficial programs and compatible programming languages that have been made to work with the brick, and many books have been written to support this community.
Merlin Entertainments operates seven Legoland amusement parks, the original in Billund, Denmark, the second in Windsor, England, the third in Günzburg, Germany, the fourth in Carlsbad, California, the fifth in Winter Haven, Florida, the sixth in Nusajaya, Malaysia and the seventh in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. and the eighth in Shanghai, Peoples of Republic of China. On 13 July 2005, the control of 70% of the Legoland parks was sold for $460 million to the Blackstone Group of New York while the remaining 30% is still held by Lego Group. There are also eight Legoland Discovery Centres, two in Germany, four in the United States, one in Japan and one in the United Kingdom. Two Legoland Discovery Centres opened in 2013: one at the Westchester Ridge Hill shopping complex in Yonkers, NY and one at the Vaughan Mills in Vaughan, Ontario, Canada. Another has opened at the Meadowlands complex in East Rutherford, New Jersey in 2014.
Over the years, Lego has licensed themes from numerous cartoon and film franchises and even some from video games. These include Batman, Indiana Jones, Pirates of the Caribbean, Harry Potter, Star Wars, and Minecraft. Although some of the licensed themes, Lego Star Wars and Lego Indiana Jones, had highly successful sales, Lego has expressed a desire to rely more upon their own characters and classic themes, and less upon licensed themes related to movie releases.