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.
The construction of the new airport was carried out during 1964 and the airport opened on 1 November, with one runway at 1660 meters in length and 45 meters width, a small platform where aircraft could be served, and a control tower to the controller. Hans Erik Christensen, the former chief pilot at LEGO became director, and the passengers were handled in LEGO's hangar until the first terminal building was opened in the spring of 1966. The airport was continuously expanded the following years, with new facilities, terminal buildings, lounge, tax-free area and hangars where LC Johansen's studio often participated as an architect (today called the Johannsen Architects), while other work was carried out by the airport's own studio.
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.
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.
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The set contains six minifigures. Even though they all incorporate standard, unprinted minifigure legs together with commonly-available headprints, it appears that all six are unique to the set. First up are two members of the Ground Crew (below). The bearded guy has an orange torso printed with a hi-viz jacket, ID badge and red pen pattern. This has appeared in nine sets to date including all of the 2016 Airport sets plus 60080 Spaceport which I reviewed here last summer. His red construction helmet, which incorporates a pair of non-removable black ear muffs, has appeared in less than ten sets to date. The other member of the ground crew has a rather nice printed medium blue torso which is new this year and has only appeared in a total of three sets including this one. It features a shirt print which includes the Octan logo and a top pocket complete with a pen.
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.
I like the nod to the classic LEGO Ideas Book with the 'Follow Me' sticker, but overall I think the F-18 type jet is redundant, making the whole thing over-priced. Had it been presented in a different colour scheme from the Viggen, and maybe a bit of a sleeker or more agile design in itself, it might have been a worthwhile inclusion. But as it is, it just superficially looks like two fairly similar aircraft, and thus quite a bit less value for money as a set.
I purchased this set the day it was released for my LEGO City, as an upgrade from my previous airport (10159 Airport from 2004). First off, the build is great and although it's not very challenging, it's exciting to see the plane come to life and the use of the big plane pieces (eg. the nose, the wings, the tail etc.) was new to me, though I know there have been a number of planes in the past that use these pieces. There are 4 instruction booklets (2 for the plane, one for the airport, and one for the luggage/fuel/stairs car), 8 numbered bags, and two separate bags with the bigger pieces in. This makes the build very easy to follow. The completed set is very grand (especially the plane) in scale, and great looking. It's nice to see that a different colour scheme been used for the plane as opposed to the usual red and white or blue and white colours as seen in previous sets. The plane is HUGE, with a wingspan of around 2 32-wide baseplates (bare this in mind if you want to make a runway). However, despite its huge size, the inside of the plane is very bare. There are 5 seats for the passengers, another one facing backwards which I presume is for the cabin crew (although there isn't a cabin crew minifigure, which would have been a nice addition), and two seats in the cockpit. There's a tiny bathroom at the back of the plane, and a small galley area at the front with a sink and cupboard. There's easily room for a sixth chair in the plane, which I think should have been included, and the space within the plane could've been arranged better to fully optimise the area. The airport terminal has a very nice modern look, and includes the revolving door, tower, waiting area, security scanner and check in desk with luggage conveyor. Although this sounds like a lot of features, the inside of the terminal is, again, very bare and the space could've been used better. There are only 4 seats in the waiting area, and a lot of the space is taken up by the revolving door. The operational conveyor belt for the luggage is a nice touch, though, and there is a fair bit of playability within. The service car is a nice addition to this set and gives it more playability. All the trailers (fuel, stairs and luggage) connect together and attach to the service car, which has a really cool "follow me" sign on the back. This is a really nice addition to the set. Overall, I really like this set because of how it looks and because there's plenty of opportunity for play, but I think a lot more thought could've gone into maximising the space within the plane and the airport. Some more minifigures would have been good, such as a member of the cabin crew, a check-in clerk and a security officer. The value for money is okay with this set, as you do get a lot of big pieces, but the bare interiors are a little disappointing for the price you pay.
So that's it... It's the first passenger airport set released in 6 years. It comes with a jet, 6 minifigures, a terminal, and some equipment for servicing the aircraft. Should you get it? After getting it, I'm glad I got it on sale, but I'm still not sure it was worth what I paid. I think it needs at least another terminal worker and then a pilot and flight attendant. Also you're paying for a lot of BURPs to help smooth the aircraft out. The age range listed is 6-12 years old so clearly it is not meant for old farts like me looking for a good building experience. However, if you're a LEGO CITY fan and you build your own MOCs to go with your city, it has some good additions. If you're looking to build an airport terminal of your own, you'll find some useful parts to make it realistic. We'll see if it takes another 6 years for an upgrade.
I'm not sure what to make of the set yet. I like the planes (although that biplane really doesn't need the bubble canopy). The idea of adding a hangar is interesting and I don't mind that it's a bit open. But the fact that it'll only house one of the three planes is annoying. Having said that, I'm not sure what you could do about it. Tripling the hangar would make it big and boring and push the price up. Could they have done two planes and a double hangar?