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.
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.
The programmable Lego brick which is at the heart of these robotics sets has undergone several updates and redesigns, with the latest being called the 'EV3' brick, being sold under the name of Lego Mindstorms EV3. The set includes sensors that detect touch, light, sound and ultrasonic waves, with several others being sold separately, including an RFID reader.
The Lego Group's motto is det bedste er ikke for godt which means roughly "only the best is the best" (more literally "the best is never too good"). This motto, which is still used today, was created by Christiansen to encourage his employees never to skimp on quality, a value he believed in strongly. By 1951 plastic toys accounted for half of the Lego company's output, even though the Danish trade magazine Legetøjs-Tidende ("Toy-Times"), visiting the Lego factory in Billund in the early 1950s, felt that plastic would never be able to replace traditional wooden toys. Although a common sentiment, Lego toys seem to have become a significant exception to the dislike of plastic in children's toys, due in part to the high standards set by Ole Kirk.
I did prefer the previous 3182 airport set as it had a lot more components. But, I realise that it makes more business sense to offer a little less than raise the price of an already expensive product. However, 60104 is still a nice set and is often very well discounted in the UK so, I ordered a pallet load from Tesco during their 3-for-2 which made them a half-priced no-brainer ;-)
City has had many games since it was released. One in particular, The Robot Chronicles, was a cross-over game which saw the City, Racers, and Agents 2.0 all together in Lego City, where the player controlled and unlocked vehicles in each theme to play through a campaign. This campaign/game was also tied into a My LEGO Network The Robot Chronicles campaign- playing the game earned rewards in MLN which could be used in that campaign to eventually get the Key to LEGO City.
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!
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.