Although not released as frequently as Fire Stations or Police Stations, LEGO airports have seen many installments through the years; most recently 60104 Airport Passenger Terminal which just became available. Surrounding those flagship sets have always been a variety of smaller offerings ranging from personal pleasure craft in the vein of a Cessna to larger cargo planes and passenger planes. But when did they get their start? When did LEGO minifigures first, in the words of a US airline slogan from the 1990s, fly the friendly skies?
Interestingly, it would be over half a decade from their introduction in the late 1970s before minifigures would take to the skies in aeroplanes. Prior to that, they could only fly in helicopters. This may seem like a curious choice – after all most of us have flown in aeroplanes but far fewer have ridden in a helicopter. The answer, however, is relatively simple and can be illustrated in one picture:
None of the pieces pictured above existed before 1985, and it is in that year we find our original minifigure scale aeroplane, or more accurately aeroplanes. The LEGO Group seek to get new parts into as many sets as possible to quickly start recouping the cost of their expensive moulds and 1985 was no different. The aviation wasteland gave way to minifigures being spoiled for choice in the form of a full airport (6392), an air cargo terminal (6377) and a standalone airliner (6368). Each of these offerings contained all of the new parts shown in different colours. The excitement of the new flight sets was captured in the many images included in the catalogues at the time.
Ever since there have been a steady stream of flight based sets produced by the LEGO Group. We have now had over half a dozen airports, numerous planes from small pleasure craft to humongous cargo jets. The planes have gotten steadily more detailed, but all of them can trace their origins back to those three sets from 1985.