Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Blast from the Past : Set 657 Executive Jet

Just back from a week in the sun, and there's nothing like spending a few days in temperatures of 30 degrees plus to make you 'appreciate' the UK November chill.... My timing was actually pretty poor - I managed to pick the week when The Sun newspaper ran their biannual LEGO promotion to be away, and it's only thanks to the kindness of Brickset member Kevbags plus my folks that I didn't miss out on some pretty excellent sets this time around.

Anyway, what better way to cheer myself up on my return to chilly Blighty than by wallowing in some LEGO nostalgia and looking back at another set that I owned as a child. Set 657 Executive Jet, concisely but rather unimaginatively known only by the name "Aircraft" in the U.S., was released in 1974 at a cost of £0.65.

I still have the very set I owned as a child together with the buillding instructions, but the box is long gone. I was however lucky enough to find a boxed example on eBay for less than a tenner including postage earlier this year. The box (pictures below - click to enlarge) is far from perfect but is at least intact and even still has the original price sticker on it. The image of the model barely fits on the front of the box, and consistent with other sets of this era the image is untidily split in two when you open the box. Three out of four sides of the box feature a stylised side-on view of the model, and the fourth side is completely taken up by "LEGOLAND" branding.

The back of the box (below) is an early attempt to highlight close ups of a couple of features of interest, focusing on one of the jet engines and one of the wheels in addition to a side-on photograph of the finished model. I think the engine and wheel may be featured because at the time the set was released they were new parts - the light grey engine part appeared in sets for the first time in 1974, and the blue single wheel holder first appeared in 1973.

The building instructions (below) are of the fold-out variety and consist of a mere 5 building steps. The rest of the space is occupied by a multitude of photographs of other sets, including another of my childhood favourites, Set 687 Caravelle. I was pretty chuffed to realise that I have at least half of the sets featured in the photographs.

Most of the 37 parts making up this set are pretty unremarkable, but there are a few worth singling out for attention (picture below - click to enlarge). Pride of place goes to the three printed 2 x 4 blue bricks which make up the fuselage of the jet. This is the only set that these blue printed bricks have ever appeared in. There are also three of the single wheels with wheel holder, two light grey engines and the blue 4 x 2 x 2 tail, complete with (badly applied) stickers.

Unusually, my purchase came complete with the original sticker sheet which still contains two unused stickers; I don't recall LEGO including spare stickers with sets, but these two are certainly spares. I've not yet decided whether to remove the cack-handedly applied existing stickers from the tail and neatly replace them with the spares; I'm actually leaning towards leaving the remains of the sticker sheet unmolested for posterity, but we shall see.

As you'd expect, it only took a matter of moments to assemble the model, and you can see the results below. I suppose it's maybe hard to see anyone without an emotional connection to this set getting too excited over the finished model, but to me it's pure gold - I can still remember more than three decades later how exotic and sleek it looked back then, not to mention the hours and hours I spent swooshing it around....

If like me you're partial to a generous slice of nostalgia you can pick up your own copy of this set for a song; boxed examples can be purchased via Bricklink for less than £10 plus postage, or else keep an eye on eBay and one will no doubt pop up eventually. Happy hunting !

1 comment:

  1. You are not alone in loving this set, or the Caravelle!