The programmable Lego brick which is at the heart of these robotics sets has undergone several updates and redesigns, with the latest being called the 'EV3' brick, being sold under the name of Lego Mindstorms EV3. The set includes sensors that detect touch, light, sound and ultrasonic waves, with several others being sold separately, including an RFID reader.
The latest wave of City sets takes us to the airport, for a wide selection of aerial adventures. Whether it’s delivering the mail, or making sure a VIP gets to where they need to go, the LEGO City Airport range has a wide selection available. With five sets of varying prices, there truly is something for everyone here. The Airport Air Show – which we are looking at today – offers two stunt jets and a vintage plane – as well as a hangar and the staff required to keep things ticking over.
Over the years, Lego has licensed themes from numerous cartoon and film franchises and even some from video games. These include Batman, Indiana Jones, Pirates of the Caribbean, Harry Potter, Star Wars, and Minecraft. Although some of the licensed themes, Lego Star Wars and Lego Indiana Jones, had highly successful sales, Lego has expressed a desire to rely more upon their own characters and classic themes, and less upon licensed themes related to movie releases.
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.
The road distance is to Billund 3 kilometres (2 mi), to Vejle 28 kilometres (17 mi), to Kolding 41 kilometres (25 mi), to Esbjerg 61 kilometres (38 mi) and to Aarhus 98 kilometres (61 mi). There are airport buses to Horsens, Skanderborg and Aarhus. Eight additional bus services operate from the airport. There are six parking zones named after countries of the world, USA, Australia, Kenya, Spain, Egypt and Greenland. Three of the zones are connected by a shuttle bus, the other three being within walking distance.
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.
The Lego Group's motto is det bedste er ikke for godt which means roughly "only the best is the best" (more literally "the best is never too good"). This motto, which is still used today, was created by Christiansen to encourage his employees never to skimp on quality, a value he believed in strongly. By 1951 plastic toys accounted for half of the Lego company's output, even though the Danish trade magazine Legetøjs-Tidende ("Toy-Times"), visiting the Lego factory in Billund in the early 1950s, felt that plastic would never be able to replace traditional wooden toys. Although a common sentiment, Lego toys seem to have become a significant exception to the dislike of plastic in children's toys, due in part to the high standards set by Ole Kirk.
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?
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.
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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.
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Inside the box we find eight numbered bags, two unnumbered bags containing large molded plane parts, two loose 16x16 plates, the large airplane wing in medium grey, a sticker sheet and four instruction booklets of varying sizes. Unfortunately there is no cardboard to keep the booklets and sticker sheet flat (though fortunately mine were not crumpled), but never fear, there is a brick separator!
It’s always tough to sum up a set that has the sort of price tag that this one carries; because it doesn’t necessarily offer the collectors value that a Marvel or Star Wars set will offer, it can be a little harder to justify an outlay on, in this case, a few planes and a aircraft hangar. However, if you have a love for the City range, whether it be a nostalgic look back at your childhood, the general consistently-superior design of the range, or simply because your kids want an airport to build, this one has to be recommended. Once I finished building this, I set it up in my daughter’s bedroom, and the overjoyed expression on her face, followed by the extended time taken to play with the planes and flying them all over her room, made every single minute of the build worthwhile. Watching her swirl around her room – and later, the rest of house – clutching the planes and bringing them in for landings into the hangar, reminded me of why I fell in love with LEGO in the the first place; imagination.