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.
Minifigures are the real draw, although we’ve seen most of these characters before, but the completist will want them in their updated costumes. Among the figures are Iron Man, War Machine, Scarlet Witch, Agent 13, Captain America, Winter Soldier, an Ant-Man micro-figure and of course the Giant-Man Brick built figure. These are all fantastic, and it’s the first outing for the Agent 13 figure. The printing on these figures is excellently detailed; in particular Iron Man and War Machine, who both get leg printing, are fantastic. I’m one-hundred percent sure, but Agent 13 has what looks like a new hairpiece that is really well sculpted. And this time around, Scarlet Witch gets correctly coloured hex blasts. If there is a slight downer on the mini,figure side of things, it’s Captain America. Sadly we’ve seen it all before and despite the new detailed printing on his torso, he just looks really plain when stood next to the others in this set.
Bag 3 starts the aircraft and includes 3 minifigures (2 passengers and a pilot) The aircraft has the standard wings and fuselage sections. I am not a fan of the giant wing piece as it limits the number of seats. It does however help to make the aircraft more realistic. Given the size of the aircraft, there are only 5 seats for passengers which is rather disappointing.
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.
This brings us to the main reason most people will get this set. The Giant Man figure. What a revelation. Lego could’ve simply released him as one of their larger scale figs like The Hulk or Thanos. Instead they’ve really outdone themselves and designed a brick built figure that looks like a regular minifig grew really big. Huzzah! There are quite a few stickers to apply, but it’s so fun to build him and put him next to the others. On the negative, they could’ve done something to spruce up his back. From the front he’s almost perfect but you turn him around and you just see the bottom of his constituent parts. It’s a minor negative on an otherwise impressive feature, however.
Here’s a look at the Iron Man and War Machine minifigures. Tony Stark is rocking his Mark 46 Armour which should delight LEGO Iron Man collectors as it’s another cool variant. If you ask me, I can’t quite tell most of the suits apart, but I do appreciate that LEGO give us a fresh new Iron Man minifig with each movie-themed set. Both Iron Man and War Machine are exclusive to this set.
Unlike the City set, there is no control tower or truck that services the plane. Instead, there is a passenger check-in/baggage carousel, a rolling staircase to gain access to the plane, plus the airport entrance that includes a gift shop and a café (or, one could argue, something that is very much like many other Friends sets out there). There are only three mini-dolls in this set compared to the six in the City set.
Since around 2000, the Lego Group has been promoting "Lego Serious Play", a form of business consultancy fostering creative thinking, in which team members build metaphors of their organizational identities and experiences using Lego bricks. Participants work through imaginary scenarios using visual three-dimensional Lego constructions, imaginatively exploring possibilities in a serious form of play.