As promised here are my musings on one of the greatest Lego sets ever-Solo Trainer 6673. I touched on this in my review of the new Lego Airport 3182.
Way back in 1990 I was just knee high to a grasshopper. But already my Lego addiction was in stage 5 (meaning I was willing to sell the family television for a hit). At the time the hot item was the International Jetport set, but my folks cringed at the large price tag on it. They more than made it up by getting me the 6673 Solo Trainer. To this day it is one of my favorite things that Lego ever released. This little plane is so simple but it offered hours and hours of enjoyment.
First of all it has such a great design. The plane came with a minifig pilot, a gas tank with nozzle and even a little wrench accessory. With this plane and my existing Lego collection I remember creating my own airport. That’s the beauty of Lego-all you need is imagination and you can make anything!
I used to fly my little Solo Trainer all over the house. The minifig pilot was especially good at loop-de-loops. Occasionally, something would go wrong with one of the plane’s wing mounted props so he’d have to make an emergency landing. Even though he was miles from the airport he was smart enough to take his trusty wrench with him. The wrench some how was always the right tool to fix any problem and the Solo Trainer was once again up and away!
I think another reason I liked this plane set was because a few years before it was released my folks took me to the nearby airport one evening. We weren’t going anywhere, we just went to watch the planes. It was a small airport so most of the planes were small one person craft just like the Solo Trainer. I was so excited watching them take off and feeling the wind rush by as they zoomed over our heads.
Lego Seaplane set 3178
Currently for 2010 Lego is coming out with a new solo plane, Seaplane set 3178. This plane is about the same size as the old Solo Trainer and even comes with the gas tank and minifig. Instead of landing gear this plane is made for water landings. I absolutely love the look of this new set and they are definitely doing this as a nod to the old Solo Trainer. Lego knows if it worked before it will work again.
The minifig from the Solo Trainer seems a bit friendlier than the new pilot of the Seaplane. Maybe its the cool shades the new guy is wearing that gives him that bad boy edge. Plus, I can only assume that the case he is carrying is some kind of contraband he is smuggling into another country. That’s why he uses the water landing, to sneak under their radar and deliver his naughty goods. “Don’t mess with me man, I’m wearing shades!”
I still think the Solo Trainer is my favorite. And guess what? You can build your own Solo Trainer. Here’s the Lego Solo Trainer’s parts list and building instructions on Peeron.
Froot Loops Cereal Box with Lego Offer
Back in the early nineties Kellogg’s and Lego teamed up for a great mail away offer. I remember eating nothing but Froot Loops for a whole month just to collect every proof of purchase I could get my greedy little hands on. This was one of the first mail-in offers I ever did on my own.
newspaper advertisement of the promotion
As you can see in this newspaper clipping, all you needed to do was clip out the proof of purchase and redemption form off of the box of cereal and mail it away. (I also think I had to include the $1.50 shipping and handling). They were offering four different sets and you could select which one you wanted. I didn’t just send off for all four, I sent away for multiple copies of each set. And this meant I needed a separate form and proof of purchase for each set. I told you I ate a lot of Froot Loops that month! You can also see even at that young age my Lego addiction was taking over my brain.
Waiting for the 6-8 weeks for delivery was sweet suspenseful torture. You know how Ralphie from the movie “A Christmas Story” would come home from school and check the mailbox for his Little Orphan Annie secret decoder ring? That was how I was everyday after school, only I was jonesing for Lego sets baby!
They finally arrived and I was so excited to get something in the mail. Here are the sets they sent.
Lego Glory Glider 1560
Lego Stunt Chopper 1561
Lego Wave Jumper 1562
Lego Track Blaster 1563
Not bad for freebee sets, huh? Each set was about 25 pieces and made a vehicle with a minifig. There was a glider, a helicopter, a boat (it didn’t float-I tried) and a race car. They all had a black and yellow color scheme so they went well together. The minifigs were great too and had helmets with moving transparent shields. The minifig with the boat came with a life preserver vest, and he really needed it to because like I said before – boat no float! These were great sets to collect and offered an inexpensive way to add to my collection some versatile pieces and several minifigs.
I think Lego still does these kinds of cereal box promotions from time to time. To this day every time I open a box of Froot Loops and smell that sugar-filled fruity aroma I am reminded of those mail away Lego sets!
New for 2010 Lego Airport set 3182
New for 2010 Lego offers set 3182 Airport. This is a great set and brings back some great memories. In fact this Airport set is an update to a classic Town set called International Jetport 6396. This set came out in 1990 and I was only ten years old at the time. I wanted it soooo bad. This set was the first time I realized how expensive Lego could be. I think Toys R Us priced it at around $50. This was a lot of dough for one toy, especially in 1990 when action figures only cost about $3.50 each.
Classic (1990) International Jetport set 6396
Though my folks cringed at the large price tag of the International Jetport they more than made it up by getting me the 6673 Solo Trainer (I’ll talk more about this great set in a future post). With that plane set and my existing humble Lego collection I was still able to build my own airport and probably had more fun doing so. That’s the beauty of Lego-all you need is imagination and you can make anything!
Let’s compare the new Airport with the International Jetport from 1990. As you can see in the images both sets come with a main building, a radar tower (this is separated in the newer version), a luggage cart (the newer set includes a stairway), five minifigs and a large jet. The jet in the new Airport set is much larger than the old set. I love this and I think it matches minifig scale a lot better. The new jet is made out of the special smooth fuselage pieces as seen in planes released over the last few years. I like the look of these alright and it is beautiful. However, part of me really misses the angular look to the old planes. I feel that angular look is part of the charm of Lego. Fans of SNOT designs probably appreciate this smoother style pieces. But I can’t help feeling it looks like a plastic model of a jet, not a Lego jet. Let me know how you guys feel about that in the comments.
International Jetport Overhead Catalog view
Instead of a palm tree like the old set the new Airport comes with a fuel station and lamppost. One thing missing entirely from the new set are baseplates. The old International Jetport came with four baseplate including runway, helicopter landing pad and one for the building to sit on. I think the reason they were left out of the new Airport set is price. The real feature of Airport is the huge jet which I’m sure makes the price hefty. Including even a few baseplates would add $30 or more dollars to the retail price. Probably smart to leave them out.
The new set also left out the helicopter. Have no fear, I’m sure Lego will release a separate helicopter to go with this wave of new Airport sets.
Note: You may also be interested in 7894 Airport released in 2006. It consisted of the same formula of airport, jet and luggage cart. But I think the new Airport 3182 captures the spirit of the original even better!