I bought a few sets in the past couple of months - the new sets that should be out everywhere now. Here's my impressions of the sets I got:
4953 - Fast Flyers: This is a $20 set with 312 parts, with a lot of wedge plates. Colors are red, white and blue, with a few transparent-smoke parts for canopies.
The Builds: So far, I have built two out of the three models (a helicopter and the main fighter jet). The best model is the jet - there are swing wings and folding landing gear (with the rear wheels folding into wheel bays with doors)! The swing wing mechanism is very clever - there is a really simple mechanism for the wings that I just had to admire for a few minutes. I built a swing wing plane ages ago and used gears, which wasn't a very good solution - on wing was off just a little bitbecause the gears did not align. The plane in the set uses no gears.
There are a couple of other clever ideas in the models, like using the arched window frames as air intakes. I immediately started building alternate models with teh parts and built a push prop plane (that I haven't posted yet) that resembles the Starship (private plane). I haven't done much else yet, but the part assortment in the box has enough variety to make many, well, planes! So am I happy with it? Yes!
4939 - Cool Cars: This is a $10 set with 206 parts, most of them of the smaller size. This set has three models in the instructions, and I built the sports car.
The car is pretty impressive, as not only do the doors open in a gull wing style, but the trunk opens, and has a nice size to it. the car, when built, is actually a little heavy - which is an interesting surprise. I also like the dark red accents for the interior.
However, this set does not push me to build - I think it's because I don't like wheels for some reason. I'm too impressed with the car than to build something else right now.
So what was my favorite set for 2006? Good question.
My favorite set is the NXT. Even though I am not a master of it yet (and have a long way to go), I am looking at the potential.
The NXT has two different levels with it - the physical building and the programming. With those two factors, there's a completely new dimension to building - there's building, then building the program. I think that's really cool, as the end result is a robot that does something. I can build a plane out of System parts and plates, but with an NXT I can build a helicopter that has rotors that spin, landing gear that retracts, and one more function with the third motor - and I can program the helo to retract its gear when it reaches a certain altitude, thanks to the ultrasound rangefinder. How cool is that?
So what's your favorite set this year?