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.
I like the nod to the classic LEGO Ideas Book with the 'Follow Me' sticker, but overall I think the F-18 type jet is redundant, making the whole thing over-priced. Had it been presented in a different colour scheme from the Viggen, and maybe a bit of a sleeker or more agile design in itself, it might have been a worthwhile inclusion. But as it is, it just superficially looks like two fairly similar aircraft, and thus quite a bit less value for money as a set.
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!
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 main wings are made up of a pair of white 10 x 10 wedge plates with cut corner and no studs in the centre; these are rare, having only previously appeared in two sets in this colour. The red 1 x 1 plate with tooth on each wing tip is also uncommon, having appeared in less than ten sets to date. The sides of the cockpit are made up of stickered red 1 x 4 x 1 panels, and it definitely helps if you concentrate when you apply the stickers, which I clearly didn’t as you can see in the picture below…. The area behind the cockpit canopy is nicely contoured by a red 4 x 4 triple wedge which, I was surprised to discover, has only previously appeared in a single set in this colour. Not to be outdone, however, the large 12 x 2 x 5 tail is appearing for the very first time in red. The hinged trans-black cockpit canopy is yet another rare element, appearing here for only the second time ever; rare it might be, but its pronounced curvature unfortunately means that it somewhat spoils the hitherto sleek lines of the jet. The flipside of this, however, is that the cockpit can comfortably accommodate the pilot.
A minifigure can comfortably fit seated inside the cockpit, and it is here that I found the first issue with the set. I had no issue inserting and removing the figure from his seated position, but my seven-year old struggled to get him out, deciding to leave him onboard instead of disembarking after she brought the jet back into the hangar. The physical connection between LEGO pieces in the cockpit and the pilot minifigure didn’t seem to present an issue, so whether or not this was just a one-off issue remains to be seen.
LIC - LEGO Instruction Creator, developed by Jeremy Czajkowski, is a cross-platform, Python, OpenGL & Qt powered desktop application for creating and editing LEGO instruction books. LIC imports 3D models, organizes them into submodels, pages & steps, and exports the end result as images or PDF. A rich, WYSIWYG UI editor, which provides a fully interactive preview window along side a drag & drop-enabled navigation tree, to help organize and layout your book. Portions of LIC are based on work of Remi Gagne. LIC will be part of the AIOI - LDraw All-In-One-Installer.
Agent 13 has a pretty plain appearance, with caramel-coloured wavy hair, and a black, spy-like top. Her torso has some nice details, with sharp, angular lines that all combine to form a rough outline of an upside down star. She has plain sand blue pants and rocks a sub-machine gun accessory. I like regular LEGO firearms, so it’s very nice to get one in this set as they’re fairly uncommon.
This set is designed for children aged 6+, and one of the ways that it is suitable for them is the inclusion of separate instruction booklets and numbered bags for the different parts of the set (see my post about LEGO age range suitability here). A younger modeller can build the plane or other item of their choice as soon as they open the box. It's not so much one big set as 5 different parts which make a whole scene. My 7 year old son chose to build a jet first of all...