Lego also initiated a robotics line of toys called 'Mindstorms' in 1999, and has continued to expand and update this range ever since. The roots of the product originate from a programmable brick developed at the MIT Media Lab, and the name is taken from a paper by Seymour Papert, a computer scientist and educator who developed the educational theory of constructionism, and whose research was at times funded by the Lego Group.
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.
This is a good set if you want an airport. The set includes a big plain and a terminal. The terminal has a control tower, check-in, luggage handler, fuel tank, ... I expanded my terminal and built it on a 32x32 baseplate and used the 2 grey 16x16 plates for the roof. The backside is not completely closed. Otherwise is the luggage belt is not accessible with my hand. I added 2 extra seats in the plane. Normally you have 6 seats in the plane, but I raised it to 8. I wanted more than 8 but that is almost not possible. The plane is brought with a big brick which includes the middle of the plane and the 2 wings and that one limits the possibilities. The toilet in the plane is still on the backside.
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.
@josekalel: I think the size of the terminal is kept in check for price reasons more than anything. This is a $100 set, and while bigger and pricier City sets exist, they tend to be few in number. What's more, the disadvantage to having a plane wide enough to seat two rows of passengers is that it inevitably takes up a big portion of the budget even for a larger set like this one. If the set were just the airport with no plane, then the terminal could probably be around twice this size at the very least… but then the set would not offer such a complete play experience.
Lego pieces of all varieties constitute a universal system. Despite variation in the design and the purposes of individual pieces over the years, each piece remains compatible in some way with existing pieces. Lego bricks from 1958 still interlock with those made in the current time, and Lego sets for young children are compatible with those made for teenagers. Six bricks of 2 × 4 studs can be combined in 915,103,765 ways.
The remainder of the build is the control tower and terminal building. First there is a metal detector screener leading to the waiting/secure area of the airport, which seems taller than it needs to be for the minifigures. I think the same effect could have been made with half the height, except that would not allow for an impressive height for the overall tower. However it does seem to be similar to many modern airports with the high ceilings. This area also seems to be someplace to check luggage as evidenced by the rather nifty conveyor belt that comes in a full part. The moving parts of the set include a revolving door (a very tall one, for the first floor) that leads from the secure area of the airport out to the tarmac, and of course the conveyor belt.