Structurally, the plane model is sound and very well-built. A little too well-built in some areas you would say, but they are necessary measures like the awkward humps in the interior of the plane you will discover. Space is very wisely used in this model as they’ve managed to fit a proper looking cockpit for 2 pilots and even managed to squeeze in a sink, a mini-bar with the one drink, seats for 6 more passengers and even a tight little space of a washroom. That door hinge though, is a work of art.
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.
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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 final two minifigures are the Biplane Pilot and the intrepid Wing Walker. Both of these minifigures share the same white torso which is printed with a flight suit design overlaid with dark red and bright light orange flames plus a logo over the left breast. The torso design is superb and it can at present only be found in this set. Both minifigures are provided with a reddish brown aviator cap and dark bluish grey goggles, and the pilot (below left) also gets an alternative to this headgear in the form of medium dark flesh mid-length hair which has only ever appeared in five sets in this colour.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but is the hangar only large enough to house the biplane? A bit of a cock-up if that's the case. As good as the planes are, the hangar is a major failing. It looks like it's only about 30-40 pieces; just a bunch of big plates, some prefab cross-bracing and ... errrm ... air. Not so much a "hangar" as an aviation-equivalent of a car port!
Attention then shifts to construction of the three aircraft. When I first spied this set I assumed that the two red jets were the same, but closer examination reveals a number of differences. First up is a red jet with a canard wing configuration as seen in the Saab Viggen amongst others. The lower fuselage is fashioned from a number of double and triple inverted 45 degree slopes with a pair of 1 x 14 Technic bricks running through the centre; there’s no obvious reason for Technic bricks to be used in this situation – standard 1 x 14 bricks would have done the job just as well - so I assume that LEGO just happened to have a bunch of them lying around…. A printed black 1 x 2 tile in the cockpit represents the instrument panel, while a substantial air intake is attached on either side of the fuselage at a 90 degree angle by way of brackets.
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.
I cannot stress just how much I love this item, it may well be the highlight of the whole set. LEGO have released bi-planes before of similar design, but it still something to marvel over. Harking back to those older days of LEGO relying on imagination and not movie franchises, this is what we had to play with, and it is great to be able to relive that in today’s world.