In which I postulate a trend of rebooting Classic LEGO Town vehicle sets in a year otherwise chock full of LEGO Celebrations. A conspiracy? A cover up? An unexpected Easter Egg? Step inside the Rambling Brick House of Advanced Aluminium Millinery and join us on a rollercoaster ride of unfounded supposition, speculation, and imaginary voices calling from inside the LEGO Room as we look at Jet Cars, past and present.
Coincidence or Coverup? The Covert Celebrations in LEGO City, 2018
As has been previously discussed, this is a year for celebrations at the LEGO Group. We have seen sixty years of the LEGO Brick, forty years of the minifigure (to be celebrated next month with series 18 Collectable Minifigures), and twenty years of Mindstorms. The fortieth anniversary of the Minifigure also commemorates the arrival of classic town, space and castle. Now space and castle don’t have individual representation at present, but LEGO Town has Grown over the last 40 years to LEGO City.
There are themes in LEGO City that recur on a regular basis: Fire, Police, Coast guard. And there also less frequent themes: Volcano, Jungle and Arctic Explorers to name a few. But fitting in between all of these are some Great Vehicles. They fit in your city, but are possibly off theme for this year’s main City sets. And they are sure to return every so often.
As I looked through this year’s catalog, I spied some familiar subjects, from catalogs in my youth, ‘classic’ sets on display at shows and a mysterious feeling of delay vu. This year, I believe we are seeing a number of vehicle sets revisited on their 40th, 30th and 20th anniversaries. I accept these concepts all come and go in LEGO Sets on a regular basis, but with all of the aforementioned anniversaries I am suspicious that some sets from the past have been revisited and given a contemporary spin on the occasion of their 40th, 30th and 20th anniversaries.
Here at the Rambling Brick, we would far rather believe in a conspiracy than a coincidence, and so I would like to believe that these might be a covert celebration of sets celebrating their decennial anniversaries this year. Over the next few months I am looking to explore some of these past sets which, while not necessarily classics, provide some insight into how things have changed over the last forty years.
While I get my tin-foil hat fitted to protect me, we will look at elements that no longer exist, compromises made in design, and tie them into the design of the sets of today. There will be trucks, helicopters, caravans, trucks with helicopters. and more. Are these comparisons between the past and present valid? Am I drawing a long bow? In the mean time, I would like to look at a type of vehicle that seems to have only appeared twice over the last forty years – the Jet Powered Car. Okay, maybe more than that if we include Jet Powered Drag Racers, but I can see myself heading out to the Bonneville Salt Flats to investigate these two vehicles.
Jet Powered cars: Land Jet 7/Fireball(6580) and Speed Record Car (60178)
Land Jet 7 (7580) was released twenty years ago, in 1998, and was part of the Extreme Team sub Theme of LEGO Town. I purchased a used copy on eBay, which was in good condition, had all of the stickers neatly applied and the original instructions. It has 109 pieces, and comes with 2 mini figures, the pilot/driver and a mechanic. It initially retailed for $US12, and I paid a bit than I probably should have for it.
The Speed Record Car (60178) was released this year, and is part of the Great Vehicles sub theme. It has only 77 parts, and one minifigure. It retails for $US 9.99/ AUD15.99. I bought it for 20% off from a major retailer (although I forget which one at this stage).
There are a number of elements in used in this 6580 that were instrumental in its striking design: particularly the wedge 4×4 without stud cutouts (BL element 6153a). A similar element with stud cutouts has appeared as recently as last year, but the use of this element (6153b) would affect the striking lines of this set. The windscreen (BL 2507) has not been available since 2002. The wings (or more formally, Wing Plate Bi-level 8 x 4 and 2 x 3 1/3 Down; BL element 30119) have not been used in a set since 2002. The Technic wheels 20 x 30 (BL 4266) have not been seen since 2005. There are a number of pieces that may no longer be available in their original colour, especially grey elements.
One part that surprised me by still being in active use is the Vehicle, Base 4 x 10 x 2/3 with 4 x 2 Recessed Center with Smooth Underside (30029) which is still used today as an integral part of many of the Speed Champions sets. This part was introduced in 1989, and appeared in only 2 sets that year, making 6580 one of its debut sets. Another element introduced in this set and still found strong is the black airplane rudder. Both of these parts feature in the Speed Record Car, released this year. The colour of the Technic pulley wheels are now dark stone grey, and the smaller wheel is no longer transparent.
The Bright Orange livery of the 60178 Speed Record Car sees the return after 10 years of the brick 4×6 with bow/angle in this colour. There are also two 1×10 plates in bright orange, and this is the debut of this element in this colour.
The other relatively new elements are the black engine elements, which first appeared last year in Knighton Castle and the Ultimate Batmobile. These look like they could be useful elements in MOCing.
There are a total of eight stickers on the Land Jet 7, and, having been applied back in the day, they appear to have stood the test of time, which is more than can be said for more recent LEGO stickers in our house. There are only six to apply on the newer vehicle, consistent with there being only one ‘rudder’/tailplane element. However, I might have hoped that the sticker sheet was a little smoother when it arrived in the build room. Perhaps I should have opened it the day I brought it home, rather than a month or two later.
These are vehicles designed to swoosh and zoom. The builds are both fairly quick and simple. I like the outrigger wings in the Land Jet 7: they connect to the main body at multiple levels. Large Technic wheels with half connectors serve as the Jets, with several small flame elements used on each of them. This seems to be the weakest part of the build, as the flame elements tended to fall out of the ‘holes’ in the half connectors. This might just be a product of the age of the parts in use. To enhance the play value, the set also comes with a mechanic/technican and a tool set.
The newer set is a much narrower, rounded and sleeker vehicle than the Land Jet 7,and seems much more based on the real life Jet powered vehicles. Unfortunately, the rear of the car looks a little unfinished and this makes it look a little untidy.
The jets at the rear of the newer vehicle have a single giant flame each emerging from the engine, which gives the vehicle a more cartoon like feel. The smaller flame elements used in the Land Jet 7 give a more realistic look in my eyes.
The cockpits of both vehicles are similar, with a slope for our driver to recline on. The older set is more angular, while the newer cockpit is rounded. The steering wheel in the Land Jet is tilted back while the newer set has the control positioned as in most other vehicle sets.
Land Jet 7 comes with two mini figures, and they are both a little off beat: the mechanic wears a green Octan badged jacket, and has a regular smiley face, with additional eyebrows. The driver has some white hair that pokes down below the line of the helmet, as well as a pretty relaxed expression. All in a day’s work for members of the Extreme Team!
The Speed record car has a single driver, in a more modern Octan themed fire resistant suit. He looks as though he is working up a sweat to ensure that his vehicle does not dissolve into a flaming mass of twisted metal and fibreglass. Both drivers have double sided printing on their torsos.
These vehicles have a lot in common in their construction: running on Technic wheels with a tyre, using the same chassis element, using a similar front wheel. The rest is garnish. I like the final effect with both vehicles immensely: they zoom nicely and glide across the floor. The older set has an additional minifigure and toolset, which possibly enhances the playability a little.
A Valid Comparison?
I think it is valid to compare these two sets: similar thematic material, construction techniques and swooshability. Despite my quibbles with the design of the older set, I find it holding more appeal to me: more figures, interesting elements and being a little fantastical in its design. Perhaps a hybrid, involving the best of both sets would be appealing?
I give the Speed Record Car 3/5 arbitrary praise units, and the older vehicle 3.5/5 APU’s, gaining with its fantastical design and extra minifigure. I feel it is quite reasonable to
What is your favorite set that has been rebooted in the past or present? Are there any classic town sets that you would like to see reimagined using contemporary design trends, colours or building techniques? Why not leave your comments below, and follow the Rambling Brick to receive updates as they arrive.
There might just be another now and then comparison coming up… until then,