Although no longer being published in the United States by Scholastic, books covering events in the Bionicle storyline are written by Greg Farshtey. They are still being published in Europe by AMEET. Bionicle comics, also written by Farshtey, are compiled into graphic novels and were released by Papercutz. This series ended in 2009, after nine years.
The mechanic is a rather basic design, with an all-blue colour and a work shirt pattern. He comes equipped with a walkie-talkie and a full tool truck, containing every piece of equipment a mechanic could need. The airport worker looks like every other workman from The LEGO Movie that joined Emmet in a chorus of Everything is Awesome, and is a nostalgic hark bark to the old construction figures that I grew up playing with.
While I like their characters, I really don’t like LEGO recycling their characters. I can make an exception for Bucky, who until this year has only been made available as a pretty exclusive (and pricey) polybag but having this exact same Captain America show up in so many sets is pretty damn lazy. If a super hero minifig has been used a year ago, it really isn’t too much to ask for LEGO to update it slightly.
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.
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 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.
Every good airport needs a hangar for the planes, and this is no exception. The satisfactory hangar included here does come across as rather basic, and while it doesn’t detract from the overall package, it isn’t going to swing your decision over whether to purchase this (and truthfully, I think you would have already made that decision before you come to the hangar). The design itself is simple, with the build unlikely to take you more than 10 minutes. That being said, it is a well-built piece and doesn’t feel flimsy, which was the impression I had when I first saw a picture of it. The criss-cross pieces towards the base give it a firm foundation, and there are plenty of long pieces which add further stability to it. Plane-wise, it is best suited for the old-fashioned vehicle, with the orange colouring in the design going well with the plane. Only a couple of stickers in use here, with just the AIRSHOW HANGAR words needing to be added.
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.
This set has essentially all that's needed for airplane-related play: the plane, an airport terminal, and a service vehicle. And each part of the set is quite detailed. The plane feature a galley and a toilet; the service vehicle has stairs, a baggage trailer, etc; and the terminal has revolving doors, security check, and a baggage conveyor belt. The building process is also well planned out and documented. The child is eased into building by starting out with the service vehicle, then comes the plane, and last the terminal, which can be challenging.