I flew out to Vancouver recently with British Airways on a short business trip. It's a long flight at about 9 and a half hours. It doesn't matter how much diversionary material you pack along for a trip that length, you'll still find yourself perusing the inflight magazines... and possibly inventing amusing scenarios for the chracters that grace the safety card!
British Airway's Highlife is the king of airline editions in that they have a rather nice shop selection... stocked with LEGO. Instant win! I hadn't travelled with them for a quite a while I flew at the chance to buy 7688 stunt plane as I flicked through the heavily leafed pages.
3 nights, 3 days and a dose of jet-lag later and I reached for the Highlife magazine to find the newest edition. I didn't think it likely there'd be a new set within it's pages, but was pleasantly surprised to find 7696 landed but ready for take-off from it's pages! Again I dived at the opportunity to get this, the latest arrival to the airline promotional fleet. And very glad I am that I did too...
Set name: Private Jet
Set number: 7696
Release date: 2011
Price: GBP 15
Resources: Bricklink Highlife Shop
The first thing to notice about the box is that it follows the space-saving dimensions of LEGO's other airline promo sets - here compared with 7688 - and stream-lined so that many can be stocked in limited space. In the past I've still found that the boxes can suffer some crushing, but as you'll see by the pictures, this wasn't so bad this time (the box of 7688 was flawless...).
The front of the box features a scene picturing the set in typical LEGO format, with a nice 3-quarter view of the jet and the captain personally greeting the business man prior to the flight. The environment behind them is pictured in typical LEGO cut-out sytle with the indistinct shape of airport and city in the background, completing the scene.
The back of the box is split into 3 panes showing various actions and functionality shots such as the opening passneger compartment.
As always, a minifig is depicted on the side to give an indication of scale - in this case the jovial, bearded captain.
Inside the box there's the instruction manual, 2 un-numbered plastic bags, 2 loose elements and a DSS for the tail fin. I did find it slightly odd that one wedge plate was loose and the other wasn't?
There's a fair selection of parts. I hastily counted 110 but I'm not too sure. If anyone wants to count the number in the image above, be my guest . There's no uniques parts, with everything available in other LEGO sets.
The instruction manual, folded in half so that it fits snugly into the box.
...and a random page from the manual.
There are 2 minifigs are included in the set are standard LEGO fayre: a captain in nicely printed uniform and a young, russet haired business man with suitcase. Both minifigs are composed of commonly found parts but are nice nonetheless, though I think the captian would look better with a black 'police' hat.
As always, starting off simple..
...each step adds only 2 or more bricks, but never more than a handful. I'd imagine this keeps things simple for the young 'uns.
Wings are attached...
...and the engines are added. The jet takes on easily identifyable features and begins to take shape.
The jet is build to open from the side so that the crew can easily be positioned within. There's even a little space for luggage!
Finally the wheels are attached... this bird is ready for take-off!
The Private Jet in all it's glory. For it's size and parts count, this is a beautifully realised aircraft.
Side view: the jet has a nice, aerodynamic shape to it. The details on the wings add to the sleek design.
From the rear of the Private Jet, there's a small indent directly behind the engines due to construction constraints but this doesn't harm the overall aesthetic.
Mr Entrepeneur embarked and ready for his flight. His suitcase fits neatly in the space behind his seat... though tends to shake around a bit if the flight gets bumpy! There is a small space right at the back of the plane whcih could be used as an alternate storage area or used for additional cargo.
The front of the cockpit can be detached to position the captain at the controls. It's a snug fit but there's enough room for some basic posing.
Over the past couple of years' travels I seem to have inadvertently become a collector of airline promo sets... much to my delight!
With the 7696 Private Jet, you get a superb, solid little private jet that's highly swooshable and in my opinion soars above the previous stunt-plane style offerings. It's a simple build, taking around 20 minutes, and reminds me of the classic passenger aircraft that LEGO used to be available but scaled down to a level of neat efficiency - for example it's great to see a modest interior in such a small model. There's even some potential to increase the capacity of the cabin by removing some of the elements that act as luggage storage.
For £15 this set may not have the best price to parts ratio, but it's exclusivity and simple yet effective design make it well worth the investment. If you find yourself flying with British Airways then you can't gor far wrong investing in this, whether you fancy some in-flight building or savour it at home. Alternatively you can buy it from the Highlife shop online without having to step on a plane, just hit the link at the top of the review.
Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed the ride!
Edited by Zorbas, 15 March 2011 - 10:13 PM.