The latest wave of City sets takes us to the airport, for a wide selection of aerial adventures. Whether it’s delivering the mail, or making sure a VIP gets to where they need to go, the LEGO City Airport range has a wide selection available. With five sets of varying prices, there truly is something for everyone here. The Airport Air Show – which we are looking at today – offers two stunt jets and a vintage plane – as well as a hangar and the staff required to keep things ticking over.
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Manufacturing of Lego bricks occurs at several locations around the world. Moulding is done in Billund, Denmark; Nyíregyháza, Hungary; Monterrey, Mexico and most recently in Jiaxing, China. Brick decorations and packaging are done at plants in Denmark, Hungary, Mexico and Kladno in the Czech Republic. The Lego Group estimates that in five decades it has produced 400 billion Lego blocks. Annual production of Lego bricks averages approximately 36 billion, or about 1140 elements per second. According to an article in BusinessWeek in 2006, Lego could be considered the world's No. 1 tire manufacturer; the factory produces about 306 million small rubber tires a year. The claim was reiterated in 2012.
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.
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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.
Bag 4 finishes the fuselage and all that is left are the engines and tail section. You'll notice that this aircraft has a bathroom on board as well as some storage for a non-existent flight attendant. I think this is the first time that LEGO has put some additional details into aircraft besides just seats. Also there is only one pilot for a 2 seat cockpit in the set.
The rest of the model is pretty standard for a Marvel release. Most of the larger sets revolve around a vehicle and/or small structure. This one doesn’t disappoint in that respect. First up, you get the airport control tower. It’s fairly uninteresting, although they have added an exploding wall-play feature which kinda makes up for it. Otherwise, though, it’s simply a tower. In addition to that you get a small baggage car, which is pretty neat. In fairness, as cute as it is, it feels like an attempt to bump up the number of pieces. Lastly, the set comes with a Quinjet. This particular vehicle is considerably smaller than the previous two minifigure-scale Quinjets that Lego gave us last year and in 2012. That said, it’s a great model with some great features.
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...
The Lego Group began in the workshop of Ole Kirk Christiansen (1891–1958), a carpenter from Billund, Denmark, who began making wooden toys in 1932. In 1934, his company came to be called "Lego", derived from the Danish phrase leg godt, which means "play well". In 1947, Lego expanded to begin producing plastic toys. In 1949 Lego began producing, among other new products, an early version of the now familiar interlocking bricks, calling them "Automatic Binding Bricks". These bricks were based on the Kiddicraft Self-Locking Bricks, which had been patented in the United Kingdom in 1939 and released in 1947. Lego had received a sample of the Kiddicraft bricks from the supplier of an injection-molding machine that it purchased. The bricks, originally manufactured from cellulose acetate, were a development of the traditional stackable wooden blocks of the time.
@josekalel: I think the size of the terminal is kept in check for price reasons more than anything. This is a $100 set, and while bigger and pricier City sets exist, they tend to be few in number. What's more, the disadvantage to having a plane wide enough to seat two rows of passengers is that it inevitably takes up a big portion of the budget even for a larger set like this one. If the set were just the airport with no plane, then the terminal could probably be around twice this size at the very least… but then the set would not offer such a complete play experience.
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.
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.
Compared to other major European hub airports, like Charles de Gaulle or Heathrow, CPH has a similar number of connections, but is much smaller in both actual size and passenger volumes, and can provide a calmer, more pleasant experience. Its location in the south of Scandinavia makes reaching most European destinations reasonable, and flying to destinations in the Baltic region and in Eastern Europe generally only takes half the time as from major hub airports in Western Europe.