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.
Last to be assembled is the hangar, which given its size is a surprisingly quick build – even though I’m a notoriously slow builder it took me barely ten minutes to put it together. The first step involves stacking dark bluish grey and orange plates and tiles to create a three-sided enclosure covering an area of 24 x 32 studs. Two side walls are then constructed from 1 x 6 x 5 rectangular girders topped off with dark bluish grey bricks and orange tiles, after which the roof is assembled, predominantly from a few large plates including a black 8 x 16 plate only previously available in two sets, and four dark bluish grey 6 x 24 plates which are only appearing in a set for the second time ever. A couple of stickers at the front of the structure identify it as an Airshow Hanger; to be frank, describing it as a hanger is probably exaggerating the case a bit as with its open front and rear it’s more akin to a large shelter.
The remainder of the build is the control tower and terminal building. First there is a metal detector screener leading to the waiting/secure area of the airport, which seems taller than it needs to be for the minifigures. I think the same effect could have been made with half the height, except that would not allow for an impressive height for the overall tower. However it does seem to be similar to many modern airports with the high ceilings. This area also seems to be someplace to check luggage as evidenced by the rather nifty conveyor belt that comes in a full part. The moving parts of the set include a revolving door (a very tall one, for the first floor) that leads from the secure area of the airport out to the tarmac, and of course the conveyor belt.
Stickers are used for decorations for the outside of the plane. I like how the stickers for the outside match colours with the piping on the plane. I found the sticker for the top of the door to be a little big; if you line up the orange on the bottom of the stickers with the orange on the plane the sticker overlaps a bit at the top. The stickers for the nose of the plane are not as difficult to apply as I thought they would be. They do seem a bit superfluous, though they do make the plane look nice. The plane is finished with the tail fin, that uses yet more stickers. It is interesting that this plane actually uses more stickers than the Friends plane does.
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.
The cockpit, including the stickers on the sides and the canopy, is identical to that of the first jet, as is the front of the aircraft. As previously noted, however, the wing configuration is different, as is the tail design which features twin tail fins and a pair of fuselage-mounted tailplanes. The red 4 x 1 x 3 tail fins, which have appeared in a total of seven sets including this one, are angled outwards similar to the arrangement on an F/A-18 Hornet. Overall, it’s another sleek design but once again the smooth lines are somewhat spoiled by the prominent canopy.
This was bought for my son's 5th birthday. If your kid likes to really play with the sets like mine does (not just bought for building it) be aware that the door of the airplane likes to pop off if it is not opened/closed just the right way with gentle hands. My son is a typical rambunctious boy and is not great at opening/closing things gingerly, so the door presents a bit of a problem for him. He doesn't have the dexterity or patience to snap the two tiny joint pieces onto the little pole just so yet, so whenever the door comes off he gets frustrated and needs help. Which is fine, we help him and he will eventually learn to do it himself, but just wanted to make y'all aware of this in case you have someone who is picky about the door opening and closing easily/correctly :) I know some little ones get fussy about these things!
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.
Basically, the only thing that the two sets have in common is that they both have planes. However there is quite a bit of difference on the inside of the planes. There are a lot more details in the Friends plane. In addition to the seats, there is a rolling service cart complete with refreshments, emergency lighting as well as a larger galley and lav in the back of the plane.
Colour-wise, it is mainly yellow, with only a dash of green and red, and a little more white, there to break it up. The worker has space to stand and drive the vehicle, and has a walkie talkie attached on the side of the car. Around the other side is a coiled-up, what I assume is a, fuel pump. It looks pretty good when coiled up on the side of the car. Stickers come into use again here, this time for the number plates.