Lego pieces of all varieties constitute a universal system. Despite variation in the design and the purposes of individual pieces over the years, each piece remains compatible in some way with existing pieces. Lego bricks from 1958 still interlock with those made in the current time, and Lego sets for young children are compatible with those made for teenagers. Six bricks of 2 × 4 studs can be combined in 915,103,765 ways.
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.
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 main wings are made up of a pair of white 10 x 10 wedge plates with cut corner and no studs in the centre; these are rare, having only previously appeared in two sets in this colour. The red 1 x 1 plate with tooth on each wing tip is also uncommon, having appeared in less than ten sets to date. The sides of the cockpit are made up of stickered red 1 x 4 x 1 panels, and it definitely helps if you concentrate when you apply the stickers, which I clearly didn’t as you can see in the picture below…. The area behind the cockpit canopy is nicely contoured by a red 4 x 4 triple wedge which, I was surprised to discover, has only previously appeared in a single set in this colour. Not to be outdone, however, the large 12 x 2 x 5 tail is appearing for the very first time in red. The hinged trans-black cockpit canopy is yet another rare element, appearing here for only the second time ever; rare it might be, but its pronounced curvature unfortunately means that it somewhat spoils the hitherto sleek lines of the jet. The flipside of this, however, is that the cockpit can comfortably accommodate the pilot.
My Lego Network is a social networking site that involves items, blueprints, ranks, badges which are earned for completing certain tasks, trading and trophies called masterpieces which allow users to progress to go to the next rank. The website has a built in inbox which allows users to send pre written messages to one another. The Lego Network includes automated non-player characters within called "Networkers", who are able to do things which normal users cannot do, sending custom messages, and selling masterpieces and blueprints. The site also has modules which are set up on the user's page that give the user items, or that display picture compositions. Before My Lego Network, there were Lego Club Pages, which essentially held the same purpose, although the design lacked complex interaction.
After World City's discontinuation in 2004, it was replaced with City as System's primary town-life related theme in 2005. However, unlike its predecessor, it was not limited to sets involving rescue services like Police, Fire or Coast Guard, but also introduced the first new construction site related sets since the discontinuation of City Center in 2000. In 2006, the first new airport set that included the first jetway since 6597 Century Skyway (1994) was released, as well as the first new hospital since 6380 Emergency Treatment Center from 1987. These releases expanded City to a scope only comparable to the original Town theme, and in 2009 it even went slightly beyond that, by introducing the first farm-related System sets. Also, in that year, City followed this route to release more truly civilian town life sets such as 7641 City Corner and 7639 Camper. In 2010 City released more civilian sets including 8403 Family House and 8404 Public Transport. In 2011 City re-introduced the Space sub-theme along with some new Harbour sets. In the first wave of 2012, City had forest police and fire sets as well as some more commercial/civilian sets. The second wave of 2012 featured the introduction of the Mining theme and respective sets, as well as a hospital. In the winter of 2013, Police and Fire sets were once again focused on but, contrary to those released in the previous year, were set in the city. In the summer of 2013, the Coast Guard and Cargo subthemes were brought back.
The differences between the two jets mainly come on the top and rear of the builds. One has a larger single rear fin and two larger wings at the back, while the other has two smaller fins and the large wings positioned in the middle of the vehicle. The nose and cockpit areas are identical on both jets, and both come with stickers; the airshow logo on the wings, and a plane motif on the sides.
It’s always tough to sum up a set that has the sort of price tag that this one carries; because it doesn’t necessarily offer the collectors value that a Marvel or Star Wars set will offer, it can be a little harder to justify an outlay on, in this case, a few planes and a aircraft hangar. However, if you have a love for the City range, whether it be a nostalgic look back at your childhood, the general consistently-superior design of the range, or simply because your kids want an airport to build, this one has to be recommended. Once I finished building this, I set it up in my daughter’s bedroom, and the overjoyed expression on her face, followed by the extended time taken to play with the planes and flying them all over her room, made every single minute of the build worthwhile. Watching her swirl around her room – and later, the rest of house – clutching the planes and bringing them in for landings into the hangar, reminded me of why I fell in love with LEGO in the the first place; imagination.