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.
Next we have the two Jet Pilots, one female and one male, both of which have identical torsos and helmets. The dark blue torsos, which are unique to this set, are printed with a nice design featuring a red jet with a red, white and gold jet wake plus gold jet insignia on the left breast. The white helmets incorporate a trans-black visor which can be raised and lowered; the helmets feature a print consisting of a star flanked with gold stripes, and like the torsos they’re currently exclusive to this set.
Even in terms of play value it mostly seems to be a trade-off — 60104 loses the vending machine, cafe, baggage x-ray scanner, and a few seats on the plane but gains a baggage conveyor, a restroom, a refueling tank for the plane, an additional minifigure, and more seats in the waiting area. It's pretty nice to see the value of a LEGO air terminal remain fairly stable even though the price has not increased.
The capabilities of the Mindstorms range have now been harnessed for use in Iko Creative Prosthetic System, a prosthetic limbs system designed for children. Designs for these Lego prosthetics allow everything from mechanical diggers to laser-firing spaceships to be screwed on to the end of a child's limb. Iko is the work of the Chicago-based Colombian designer Carlos Arturo Torres, and is a modular system that allows children to customise their own prosthetics with the ease of clicking together plastic bricks. Designed with Lego's Future Lab, the Danish toy company's experimental research department, and Cirec, a Colombian foundation for physical rehabilitation, the modular prosthetic incorporates myoelectric sensors that register the activity of the muscle in the stump and send a signal to control movement in the attachment. A processing unit in the body of the prosthetic contains an engine compatible with Lego Mindstorms, the company's robotics line, which lets the wearer build an extensive range of customised, programmable limbs.
Since around 2000, the Lego Group has been promoting "Lego Serious Play", a form of business consultancy fostering creative thinking, in which team members build metaphors of their organizational identities and experiences using Lego bricks. Participants work through imaginary scenarios using visual three-dimensional Lego constructions, imaginatively exploring possibilities in a serious form of play.