2015 has been a pretty good year so far already, with an impressive amount of small sets in the first half of the year. And with an even more impressive amount of new parts, as I reviewed for New Elementary some months ago. We hope to bring you a review of this year’s flagship, the impressive 42043 Mercedes Arocs 324 in the upcoming weeks. But to warm you up a little (pun intended), we start with the 42040 Fire Plane.
This was the set that was kept hidden from the general public the longest, since everybody was focused on the Arocs and 42042 Crawler Crane. The Fire Plane however is a charming set, of average size that may lack new parts, but that is loaded with functions. It has an impressive amount of usable panels and also provides younger builders an excellent lesson in the basics of studying building techniques, gear and movement transmission and even a bit of good old geometry. This review will mainly focus on the building experience.
Judging a Box by Its Cover
Technic boxes have become a bit more adventurous in layout, not simply showing the main model with a studless brick background. The box of 42020 shows the plane in full flight (maybe wrongfully suggesting the propellors are motorized due to the added swooshing effect) with cliffs and the shore on the background. There are even some red sparks visible, which is a sweet touch. In the bottom right corner there is an inset demonstrating the plane’s main functions.
The back of the box shows the ‘water’ dispension function (simulated by eight Bricks Round 2 x 2 (Design ID 6143) in Trans Light-Blue [TLG/BL]) in more detail as well as the B-model, a Jet Plane with separate fueling compartment.
It’s the Inside That Counts
Once opened the box is about two thirds filled with tangible, mostly buildable stuff, with the remaining third consisting of Billund air. We find two tightly sealed booklets (that’s the non-buildable part), one for each model accompanied by a sticker sheet of regular quality. The gold touch of the Phoenix logo is worth mentioning, but I never use decals on Technic set, because I want to use the parts for MOCs and other projects.
Now that Technic instructions no longer are divided into several booklets, the cardboard protection also has been removed. That is okay, since sealed instructions do not tend to bend or tear very easily. This set is also the only one of the second 2015 wave that contains printed instructions for two models. So you do not have to bring your laptop or tablet to build the Jet Plane, something I wholeheartedly applaud.
There are seven unnumbered bags of several sizes. The biggest one holds all the panels and some studless beams, while the smallest bag contains only black pins. The total number of parts of the Fire Plane is 578. The general part distribution is: 21 panels, 9 gears, 64 axles, 221 pins and 263 beams, connectors and other parts.This confirms the widespread assumption that Technic sets are comprised of half pins and axles. But hey, it’s the glue that holds it together.
Even though this set does not contain any new parts, it does have a staggering amount of useful panels. This new family of panels, called the third generation, was introduced in 2009 and are by far my favorite. Their look is slick and streamlined and I love how they can be combined.
The Fire Plane marks the first set that has the Panel with Angle [Design ID 18945] in White, a new type of panel that was introduced in this year’s 42035 Mining Truck. You get the impressive amount of seven of these, which is a real treat. Other interesting parts include two Cylinder pieces [Design ID 2850], three Propeller Blades [Element ID 4651820] and two Pin Connectors Round with Slot [Design ID 62462] in Cool Silver [TLG]/Metallic Silver [BL] rather than the bland (and, if you ask me, rather unattractive) Silver Metallic [TLG]/Flat Silver [BL].
Let the Build Commence
Enough with the talking, let’s build the plane!
I Love It When a Plane Comes Together
The left-over parts are nothing to write home about. In fact, when opening the sealed bags of a set I make a game out of keeping the spare parts separate. I always get it right and actually I never miss one of these small parts. In the case I miss something (which occasionally happens) it is always a bigger, heavier part.
The plane looks amazing from all angles and even without the stickers this is a very handsome looking plane, very close to its real life counterpart. The build is straightforward but entertaining, without too much repetition. The instructions are easy to follow and I am glad LEGO has now made a good distinction between Black and Stone Grey [TLG]/Dark Bluish Grey [BL] thanks to the use of white outlines. Although there is not much red in this set I did not notice any remarkable unwanted colour varieties. Same goes for the white parts, even though this usually occurs in regular bricks and plates, types of parts that are not present in this set.
The Fire Plane lacks open spaces, courtesy of the wide array of panels used. Aside from the formation of the front window and the steps that lead to the cabin, nothing looks unfinished or rushed. For a medium-priced set your household gets a cute and satisfying set that teaches you (or your offspring) the basics of aircraft engineering. And most important of all: it is extremely swooshable!
Here is a list of all the functions:
- opening the roof allows you to access the cargo door
- a lever on the roof can be pushed to unload the cargo (the eight ‘water bricks’ included)
- moving the plane makes the fake engine pistons move and the propellor rotate
- moving the back lever forwards or backwards actuate the elevator flaps of the tail wings
- turning the lever sideways causes the wing ailerons to move
- manual adjusting of the tail rudder
Our thanks to the LEGO Community & Events Engagement Team for providing this set, which is released in August. Consider using our affiliate links to buy it (or anything); this helps support New Elementary!
USA: Amazon.com | The Official LEGO Shop
Canada: Amazon.ca | The Official LEGO® Shop
Canada: Amazon.ca | The Official LEGO® Shop