The Lego Movie, a feature film based on Lego toys, was released by Warner Bros. in February 2014. It featured Chris Pratt in the lead role, with substantial supporting characters voiced by Will Arnett, Morgan Freeman, Liam Neeson, Alison Brie, Will Ferrell and Nick Offerman. A contest was held for contestants to submit designs for vehicles to be used in the film. After the release of The Lego Movie, independent Canadian toy retailers reported issues with shortages of Lego products and cited cancellations of Lego pre-orders without warning as a motive to stock compatible, rival products.
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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.
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!
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?
The last of the three aircraft is a modern biplane. This incorporates a number of rare orange elements including right and left 8 x 3 wedge plates which make up the wings and have only previously appeared in three sets, a 3 x 4 wedge brick only previously found in two sets, and a 3 x 6 round half plate with a 1 x 2 cutout which has only previous appeared in a single set in this colour and which forms the tailplanes. Similar to the two jets the tail fin is stickered rather than printed, as are the pair of 1 x 4 x 1 panels making up the sides of the cockpit. Unlike the jets, however, the instrument panel is stickered, which seems odd as there are existing printed 1 x 2 light bluish grey tiles which could have done an acceptable job. There are also a pair of stickers which represent the engine exhausts and which are applied to a couple of modified 2 x 4 x 1 1/3 bricks with curved top which sit just behind the propeller; applying these neatly to the curved surface takes a steady hand, and that’s also the case for the pair of checkerboard stickers which are stuck onto the propeller cowl. As if stickered exhausts weren’t enough, there are also a couple of light bluish grey exhaust pipes with Technic pin which emerge from the propeller cowl and run along either side of the fuselage. They’re entirely superfluous given the presence of the stickered exhausts but they still look cool regardless!
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.