Blue Jet or what? – LEGO Creator 3in1, Supersonic Jet (31126)

I used to do a lot of plastic scale modeling in my youth and while I eventually gave up the hobby in favor of other things, I retained that interest in (military) aviation and try to keep up with latest developments as well as discovering new pieces of info about older aircraft types, their development and operational use. That’s also of course one of the reasons why I love it when LEGO come out of the woods and release sets that at least somewhat resemble contemporary fighter jets, even if disguised as something else. It’s been a while since they had such a model in their range, but now here we are, talking about another one after almost two and a half years by ways of the simply titled Supersonic Jet (31126)

LEGO Creator, Supersonic Jet (31126), Box

Contents and Pricing

The set officially comes with 215 pieces and is supposed to retail for 20 Euro which is within the normal range of what you would expect for a Creator 3in1 set. Here it could be considered a good deal already based on the fact that the package contains several rather sizable parts such as the four Orange fins and the large wedge plates used for the wings. On top of that you get a good number of the triangle tiles along with other notable Dark Blue pieces plus even bits for a stand and overall the model is reasonably large. This gets even better once you consider the discounts out there in the wild and you can’t go wrong buying it for the 14 Euro that now have pretty much become the standard price. This is really good value, even if admittedly a few things could have been done differently.

LEGO Creator, Supersonic Jet (31126), Takeoff, Front Right View

The Model

Much has been made of the shape of the plane and which exact type it is meant to represent, but that’s a discussion that can be had better elsewhere and even then it’s slightly pointless. Given how similar modern combat jets have become in appearance simply due to identical mission requirements resulting in nearly the same technical solutions, this could indeed be an endless, yet unproductive debate. From an old F-16 to an Eurofighter to modern stealth types like the F-22 you can see anything here if only you wanted to and squint your eyes hard enough, yet you’ll never be able to pin it on an exact model simply because LEGO don’t want you to and keep the illusion alive of not doing actual military stuff.

That being the case here, it’s also the single biggest issue I have with this set: The color combination is just a bit weird. Usually Dark Blue elements are very desirable as they can be used nicely for many custom builds, but here things just don’t click in combination of Orange and White. The model feels drab and ultimately the color scheme poorly designed. Things just don’t “pop”. Now of course LEGO never would give us a plain Light Bluish Grey/ Dark Bluish Grey/ White combo, cool as it would have looked here, but at least using some different colors would have helped a lot. Using for instance Coral instead of the plain Orange would have made things more vibrant and lively. Likewise, using Bright Light Orange for the fuselage while retaining the other colors would have looked better. there’s a number of ways this could have turned out, but I feel the option they went with is not the best choice.

The assembly is pretty straightforward with the fuselage being built around a central core of a few long Technic bricks and layers of plates onto which a slew of tiles and curved slopes are shimmed over. On the sides this is apparently done with brackets, but this follows the recent trend of not covering every gap with a stud, so a few areas will only mutually stabilize once everything is complete. I can see why they are doing it this way to minimize stress on some of the angled areas and to keep the walls of the air intake as thin as possible, but occasionally it feels odd and really only begins to make sense when a certain step in the building process is finished. On that note, another serious oddity is the nose cone based on a square roof slope piece. While it contributes to the stealthy appearance and is simply plugged on in one of the final steps, I really would have preferred a more elaborate construction e.g. based on a few of these wedge pieces.

The landing gear is serviceable in that it’s robust enough to hold the model, but due to the thick Technic beams used still feels rather inelegant. In the end I’d gladly have sacrificed stability in favor of a slicker construction using the wheel elements from City airplanes, bars and minifigure android arms, especially if you leave the model perched on its stand and there are no forces on the struts. Another such thing that bugs me is the lack of wheel well covers. For the sake of argument those wouldn’t even have needed to be functional with hinges. Simple slot-in replacements like some pre-built blocks that could be plugged into the pin holes instead of the gear elements would have been fine. Even if they’d gotten in the way of the ratcheted hinge construction for the wings (you can actually make them droop down with anhedral), this would have been better than staring into those somewhat crude openings.

LEGO Creator, Supersonic Jet (31126), StandAs a bit of a novelty this set contains an actual stand for the plane so it can be displayed in an airborne position. It’s the simplest possible solution using a few Technic connectors and a large dish, but it works and looks acceptable if you’re not looking too closely. Somehow I think using the new tail piece would have looked awesome and much more dynamic, though.


Alternate models – Are they worth it?

As you can see from the absence of some photos I haven’t actually built the alternate models, but allow me to share my thoughts, regardless. One of my reservations that also factors in here is of course the color scheme. It’s acceptable for the helicopter, but a Dark Blue racing catamaran? I don’t think so, for the simple reason that this would just not provide enough contrast for these ocean racers and the ship kind of disappear against the water. Also, judging from the promotional photos and the instructions the build process is very similar and I’d probably be bored out of my skull repeating nearly the same steps as I did on the jet.

The helo on the other hand would be just fine in this regard, but it’s a tiny build by comparison and doesn’t use a major chunk of the pieces. I feel that this would have been better relegated to its own little set and instead a more complex build be included in this one. In light of these things there would apparently also be little motivation to buy a second or third package to build all models – that is, unless you really also want the leftover parts for your other projects.

Concluding Thoughts

This is an odd set that unfortunately wastes its potential with a few rather dumb decisions. The color scheme is a bit of a turn-off and in fact this isn’t helped by the atrocious package design with its all too apparent fake stadium in a very unattractive toxic green. On the shelf this looks very unappealing. The jet plane itself could be interesting, but is apparently falling short in a few areas where fixes would have been easy to implement. The consolation here is the very acceptable pricing for this set, though it’s not enough to warrant multiple purchases, at least in my opinion, since the alternate models don’t hold up. Perhaps it’s really one of those sets where you would emphasize the play aspect and at least that seems possible, given how sturdy the builds are…

Setting Sail – 42074

Since every second model in Technic (or for that matter in most LEGO series) is some sort of wheel-bound vehicle, I’m always a sucker for a bit variety and alternative designs and so I was immediately a bit giddy when first images of the 42074 Racing Yacht appeared. No, I’m definitely not the naval type (beyond the loose connection of my brother having served in the German Navy), it’s really just about diversity. That and I have definitely developed a taste for the new Dark Azure color. That’s why for the time being I can’t seem to get enough of it.

Lego 42074, Box

In addition, this set has four curved yellow panels, which might come in handy if I ever get around to re-building and MOCing some of my more construction-site-themed older kits plus some other projects that might come along the way. Generally this set is rather colorful, with LEGO seemingly going out of their way to introduce several parts not only in the new azure, but also offering some tried and trusted parts in different colors. This in particular refers to the two types of 3L axle pins, with the male version (previously dark grey) coming in red and the female version in orange (formerly red, black and light gray), see aft section in the image below. It really tickles my visual nerve and makes we want to buy a larger lot of the orange pins. 😉

Lego 42074, Bottom View

In terms of construction none of this is necessary, though, since ultimately the pins are hidden and wouldn’t blend in with the rest of the colors one way or another. the same unfortunately can’t be said for some other places, where red pins and axle connectors peek out. this looks a bit iffy, as the 2L short axle definitely exists in black just like the axle connector exists in light gray and those colors would have been a better choice here.

Lego 42074, Left View

The overall proportions are okay, though these kinds of models that deviate from the trodden path of automobiles always painfully illustrate the lack of genuine large radius Technic panels. It would definitely look much better if there were some curved transition piece between front and aft. Personally I also think the cabin fairings could have been complemented with small yellow no. 21/ 22 shields as a side wall.

I also feel that the model could sit higher on the wheels. Why? It would have allowed to add at least one or two liftarm bricks to the rudder plus possibly some emergency propeller beneath the hull or as an external motor unit. In my view the whole thing looks clipped a bit too high up above the waterline and unless you are playing on a plush carpet, the ship being immersed in water is a hard sell as a play fantasy.

Lego 42074, Right View

Speaking of which – while it’s an acceptable rendition, I feel LEGO these days never does seem to go the full mile when it comes to play value. I’m not in the least tempted to build the B model (the catamaran), because that would have required to throw in more components to mimic the two hulls. Yes, even a catamaran isn’t an affair of two half-shells.

Similarly I feel that it would have been easy enough to through in some rope elements for the railings, perhaps a chain and an anchor, some ladders, flagstaffs or even the safety mesh from the LEGO Friends recreational yacht. You know, all those little details that bring these things to life. It wouldn’t have increased the cost by much, but done a lot to make this more attractive. I honestly don’t get why they always have to be so measly about these things, even more so since those parts exist plentiful in pirate sets and others and should be at hand in the factory without much trouble.

Arguably the same could be said about the sails. I totally understand that it takes time and effort to design and produce these things, being a graphics artist myself, but in a day and age where printing on plastic foil is so common, would it have hurt to throw in another pattern or even a plain white pre-cut foil that could be colorized with suitable felt pens? Now that I think of it, it would have been a wonderful marketing idea – imagine opening the package with a bunch of white sheets and a box of sharpies in it… 😉

Lego 42074, Detail

Mechanically this model is robust enough to withstand stronger handling, though in fact some of that can ironically be attributed to some flimsy connections just as well. That is to say if somethings wriggles out of place, it would either totally fall off and remain undamaged or easy enough to reset in the right position with the rest forming a solid “core”, i.e. the center beams at the bottom and the upper deck. The only point of concern is the long mast that may totally break when your model hits the floor at an unfortunate angle.

The winching mechanism and the steering wheel work just fine, though I’d feel safer if LEGO were more generous and threw in a couple of spare silicone rubberbands. The steering mast also could probably have been constructed using five small cogs to make it a bit less obtrusive. I guess there’s another idea for a simple future MOC here in addition to adding more details.

Regardless of my niggles this is a neat little model for the simple fact that due to its flamboyant color scheme and choice of subject it pretty much stands out in any collection. Sure, it doesn’t bring much new to the table if you are an experienced builder, but it makes for a relaxing and enjoying quick build for an evening with an almost immediate gratification. Also the price is pretty okay, given that now it can be had for slightly above 22 Euros in some online shops. I picked up mine during one of my excursions due to my many medical appointments and paid a bit more, but that’s still okay with me.