The definitive shape of the Lego bricks, with the inner tubes, was patented by the Lego Group in 1958. Several competitors have attempted to take advantage of Lego's popularity by producing blocks of similar dimensions, and advertising them as being compatible with Lego bricks. In 2002, Lego sued the CoCo Toy Company in Beijing for copyright infringement over its "Coko bricks" product. CoCo was ordered to cease manufacture of the products, publish a formal apology and pay damages. Lego sued the English company Best-Lock Construction Toys in German courts in 2004 and 2009; the Federal Patent Court of Germany denied Lego trademark protection for the shape of its bricks for the latter case. In 2005, the Lego Company sued Canadian company Mega Bloks for trademark violation, but the Supreme Court of Canada upheld Mega Bloks' rights to sell their product. In 2010, the European Court of Justice ruled that the eight-peg design of the original Lego brick "merely performs a technical function [and] cannot be registered as a trademark."
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!
Yes, the famous franchises will remain the selling point for many a LEGO fan, but for those who spent years of their childhood sitting in their lounges or bedrooms building hospitals – nay, worlds – LEGO City is everything that you could need. And for a set such as this to bring back your childhood, as well as give you a thoroughly enjoyable build experience – and the added bonus of seeing a new generation of excited faces – this is a must-have set and worth every penny.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Other than the planes, I do find it unfortunate that the Friends set focuses on shopping and food like so many Friends sets, and I also think it is unfortunate that the City terminal only has the basics of the airport structure in the control tower and service truck. Having a control tower for the Friends set would have been great. Having a gift shop/cafe for the City terminal would have been a worthwhile addition and not something we have seen in many City sets.
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.