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Walter Kovacs

Review: 456 - The Spirit of St Louis

Rate this Set   13 members have voted

  1. 1. How would you rate this set:

    • Poor
      1
    • Below Average
      3
    • Average
      2
    • Above Average
      3
    • Excellent
      4

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11 posts in this topic

INDEXED

Everyone remembers their first time. For me, it was in 19*cough*somethingsomething*cough*. We were at her house, and her mother was gone for at least an hour. She slowly unzi... uhhh. :blush:

Sorry, wrong story. :look: Um, yeahh. :blush:

Anyway, I do remember my first time. It was 1977, in late summer. Our neighbor, who worked for a department store called Famous-Bahr, said that the main store had a travelling LEGO display. So my family filed into the car and drove into downtown St Louis to see this display. To tell you the truth, I don't remember much about the display itself, but I DO remember that my parents bought me my first LEGO set. Set # 456, the Spirit of St Louis.

Set #: 456 (also sold as Set # 661)

Name: Spirit of St Louis

Theme: LEGOLAND / Large Vehicle

Year: 1977

Pieces: 49

Minifigs: 0

Price: $5.00 USD? (Bricklink MISB start @ $175.00 USD, Used Complete ~$35.00 USD)

Links: Peeron, Bricklink, Brickset

Packaging

Box Front:

box.jpg

The original box that my set came in was most likely trashed 5 minutes after returning home. This image was lovingly stolen off of the Peeron page for this set. I feel lucky that I even got this much.

Similarly, I have no pictures of the plastic baggies the set came in. Truth be told, I can't be sure that there even WERE plastic baggies that the parts came in.

THE SET

Side View:

b.jpg

Well there she is. My first set ever :wub: . Actually, I seem to recall the real Spirit of St Louis was silver colored, not Black and Yellow. If you need a history lesson, the Spirit of St Louis was Charles Lindbergh's plane when he made the first trans-Atlantic solo flight. More details can be found on the Wikipedia page.

The overall shape is pretty close, at least. The cockpit window could stand to be moved forward one stud, but everything seems to be relatively close. The tail piece isn't the right shape, but it is likely the only tail piece LEGO produced at the time.

If you look closely, you can see the various bite marks that my brother and I inflicted over the years. I know some people would be aghast that there are bite marks, but brick separators wouldn't come out for another 10 years. Besides, we were young. We didn't know any better. I certainly had no idea that it would become my obsession.

There are some interesting part choices here. Everything is brick and plate built, as you might expect. The same set nowadays would have lots of slope, wedges and wedge plates to round things out. But LEGO was all about the brick in '77, so bricks are what we got. The black inverted slopes worked pretty well asthetically as the wing struts. The wings are simple 4 x 10 plates, nice and square.

There were no minifigs in this set. If I remember correctly, 1977 was just about the time when minifigs made their first appearance. I know I have one other set from '77 that does include a minifg, at least.

I don't have a lot of comments for the following photos. I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.

3/4 View

a.jpg

Back

e.jpg

Back 3/4

c.jpg

Top

f.jpg

Front

img_2286.jpg

PARTS

Interesting Pieces

parts.jpg

I have no idea if there were any extra pieces that came with this set. I kind of doubt it. Instead I took a photo of some of the interesting parts to the model.

That translucent white piece didn't photograph so well, but it is a Technic Axle 8. That's right, sets from 1977 contained Technic elements. The two black parts are the forerunners to the 1 x 2 Technic Brick, as well. Everytime I hear someone on the forums complain about Technic elements in system sets, I think back to this set.

The round brick is special as well. Here is a closer view of it, complete with bite marks :wink: .

Round Brick

stud.jpg

As you can see, the stud is closed. It is only one of two closed stud 1 x 1 Round Bricks that I own. They stopped appearing in sets in 1981, for those that are interested.

The DSS

dss.jpg

You thought you were going to escape this heading, didn't you? Surprise! Yes, even in 1977 LEGO sets had stickers. The oldest printed elements I can remember were in the Classic Space sets that started in 1979. Again, when people in the forums complain about DSS in sets, I can only help think of this set. And chuckle to myself maniacally.

The sticker has held up really well considering it's been stuck on the brick for 32 years. No discoloration, very little curling. I think if all stickers held up this well over time, there would be less DSS complaints.

THE RATINGS

Playability: 6/10 - The set is quite swooshable, and the propellor spins. Outside of that, though...

Minifigs: N/A

Design: 6/10 - The overall shape is quite good, especially given the era. The color choice leaves a lot to be desired.

Price: 1/10 - It's been retired for 30 years. It's going to cost you to get your hands on it.

Overall: 13/30 - This set is for true collectors only. I can't imagine anyone wanting one because they want to play with it. It was a great set back in the day, but the design feels REALLY dated. And if you're wondering, mine is NOT for sale. Ever.

All the photos, plus more, can be found in the Gallery.

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Very brave to give an impression about one of the oldest sets ever reviewed! :thumbup:

A lot members here are younger than the set itself. :laugh:

I think you will have to have grown up with it to like it.

Nowadays we have seen quite a few better airplanes than that one, for example this years 7643

7643-1.jpg.

But thanks for letting us know.

Btw., the 1x1 round brick with the solid stud is no. 3062a instead of 3062b (with the hollow stud).

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Great job! I love reading vintage reviews, as it reminds of our childhood days. Glad to see this in very good condition. By the way, I will move this to LEGO Trains & Town, to see if TheBrickster will like to include this set inside the review index over there. I believe he is maintaining vintage town set reviews over there, and this suits there well.

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I'm sorry you had to move this topic, White Fang. When it was in the Reviewers Academy, the teachers agreed it belonged in Other Themes. *shrug*

I guess it ended up where it belonged eventually.

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Great review, It's good to see some of the old sets reviewed. I think I learned something about the history of Lego from this one.

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fantastic review!

I´d love to read more like this, trivia about old/rare pieces is almost as fun as the set itself.

:thumbup:

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Outstanding review of a very special set! I actually remember seeing this set on the store shelves of local department stores. Can you believe it? Fantastic review Walter. I really enjoy looking at these vintage sets.

This one deserves a BLOG!

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In 1977, trans or yellow slopes existed already, and using them would have made the plane more realistic. A third rear wheel would have enhanced playability and design, rather than this ugly black round brick.

It's the reason why I voted "below average" even considering 1977's standards. However this set is nice and simple, offering good playability.

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Here is the Spirit of St Louis. Just go there (Washington) and have a look of this legend :

800px-Spirit_of_St._Louis1.jpg

In 1977, trans or yellow slopes existed already, and using them would have made the plane more realistic.

I don't think so. There is no 45° slope in the original plane design ... and no front cockpit window.

A third rear wheel would have enhanced playability and design, rather than this ugly black round brick.

Except that it wouldn't have been the Spirit Of St Louis.

This set is a great one and I wish I'd bought it in '77. It is the Spirit of the 70ties ...

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[...] There is no 45° slope in the original plane design ... and no front cockpit window.

[...] Except that it wouldn't have been the Spirit Of St Louis.

Oooops, you're completely right, the Spirit Of St-Louis didn't have any front window nor rear wheel.

Anyway, I think a standard Ryan M-1/M-2 plane would have been a better choice. Less a legend, but more a flexible plan for multiple uses!

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I really like the design, it has an aesthetic value lacking from most official Lego planes and follows closely to the real thing (minus the colours), something that can't really be claimed for more recent sets.

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