Lego operates 132 so-called "Lego Store" retail shops. There are stores at the Downtown Disney shopping complexes at Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts as well as in Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota. The opening of each store is celebrated with weekend-long event in which a Master Model Builder creates, with the help of volunteers—most of whom are children—a larger-than-life Lego statue, which is then displayed at the new store for several weeks.
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 intelligent brick can be programmed using official software available for Windows and Mac computers, and is downloaded onto the brick via Bluetooth or a USB cable. There are also several unofficial programs and compatible programming languages that have been made to work with the brick, and many books have been written to support this community.
As is the norm with LEGO sets these days, there are a fair few stickers in use for this item. I’m still not a fan of their use, but at this point in time, it is something I have come to expect and just get on with it now. In their defence, they do add to the overall presentation, making it that little bit harder to complain. As I said, this is my favourite of the three planes in the set, mainly because it looks superb and offers a great build experience. Seriously, I had so much fun building this. The instructions – as always – are clear, and it is not going to provide any major issues. Stability-wise, there are no concerns here, with the finished product very sturdy and, as proved by my daughter, can handle itself when being flown around the room by an excited seven-year-old. One minifigure can be seated at the controls, with suitable space for application and removal. The other pilot has its place on the top of the plane, with a single piece of black fencing to provide support for the death-defying pilot.
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.
The body of the plane is built with five seats for passengers. The wings are added next with what I think are filler stickers added to the top of the wings. There is a small galley with sink and oven in the front of the plane right behind the cockpit. The cockpit uses only one sticker to show navigation equipment - the other is printed, which is always welcome (though not a new piece). A lavatory is installed in the back, and then the inside is complete. There is an odd choice for the door to the lav - a swinging door. Not much opportunity for privacy!
SAS is a member of Star Alliance, meaning that many of their flights are code-shared or can be interlined with local Star Alliance partners. Therefore, you can take advantage of a one-ticket flight to, from, or via Copenhagen even if your origin or destination is not directly served by SAS. Norwegian is not a member of any alliance, but they offer connecting flights from Copenhagen to their European destinations on one ticket with an intercontinental flight.
Lego also initiated a robotics line of toys called 'Mindstorms' in 1999, and has continued to expand and update this range ever since. The roots of the product originate from a programmable brick developed at the MIT Media Lab, and the name is taken from a paper by Seymour Papert, a computer scientist and educator who developed the educational theory of constructionism, and whose research was at times funded by the Lego Group.
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.
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'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?