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Review: LEGO 40450 Amelia Earhart Tribute
Amelia Earhart was a globe-trotting pioneer, author and feminist icon whose disappearance, somewhere over the Pacific Ocean in July 1937, during her around-the-world flight attempt, immortalized this trend-setting aviator for generations to come and spawned legion conspiracy theories regarding the mystery of her vanishing
One of these theories speculated that Earhart was a Navy spy, in the 1943 film, Flight for Freedom, where she was portrayed by Rosalind Russell, a major star at the time, who surely cemented, along with Earhart’s versatile accomplishments, the female pilot’s enduring legendary status which continues to this day.
Amelia Earhart bought her beloved scarlet red Lockheed 5B Vega in 1930 and nicknamed the aircraft her ‘Little Red Bus’. Earhart set two of her numerous aviation records in this aeroplane: in 1932, she made a solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean, from Canada to Londonderry, Northern Ireland, for fifteen hours and flew it nonstop across the United States for 2,026 miles later. Both were not only records in their own right but also firsts for a woman. Therefore it seems fitting that Lego chose to launch this tribute to her on the 16th March, two days prior to International Woman’s Day.
The plane now resides in The Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, Washington DC. However, there’s no need to take a trans-Atlantic flight to pay homage: not that is, if you were wise enough to secure this magnificent freebie (along with the Lego Dots Mini Frame 30556) by placing a £100 or more order prior to 14th March 2021.
This incentive proved so popular with Lego buyers that news of its imminent disappearance (like that of AE herself which prompted over 1,950,000 websites rife with conspiratorial crackpot theories) spread like wildfire on quite a few social media discussion groups. Lego listened and extended the offer by three days. Now you have to shell out £17.99 for the privilege.
Apparently, it’s still available as a free gift-with-purchase in the US but who knows how long that will last. In the UK, these tribute sets have already begun popping up on eBay and Facebook groups, at inflated rates, triggering much price-shaming annoyance.
Lego Designer Melody Caddick follows up her similarly-popular Charles Dickens Tribute (40410) with this beautifully-conceived and executed tribute set (40450) which, like its predecessor, comes in a dense, weighty box (this one has 203 pieces) that feels far too good to be a free gift. What’s that old saying about nothing in life ever comes for free? Turns out, it does: assuming you place your orders in a timely fashion, that is!
There are five bags of elements inside, two loose elements and one loose sheet of stickers, comprising of ten stickers. Once you get stuck in, you will be delighted with the speed of your progress as the JB Vega materialises with a simple yet fun building experience with nothing too complicated if you are novice builder.
Firstly, the aesthetics of the piece are spot-on: the eye-catching simplicity of its red and yellow colour scheme with its neat, narrow stripes and elegant lines, making for an exceedingly attractive display item that, with its handsome black base mounting component, more closely resembles a display ornament to adorn one’s mantelpiece than a children’s toy (it is aimed at 8+).
Master builders will no doubt marvel at the inclusion of an exclusive piece – 2 x Equipment Oar Paddle End making its debut in light bluish grey – used for the propellers; and of the rare Wedged Curves in bright red which appear in only 4 other sets. One could also mention the 4 x Plate Special and 1×2 with handles on ends in red plus 4 x tile 2×2 curved Macaroni in red that were only available since last year now appear in 3 sets.
This is a neat little build, employing an economy of parts to render convincing, authoritative forms that ring true of the sturdy and streamlined 5B Vega: especially the realistic, cantilevered wings on top of the fuselage and the springy float components of the aircraft’s landing gear which hang beneath. Sadly, there is no cockpit included, which emphasizes the model’s ornamental function.
The base has drawn some criticism as an unnecessary feature that wastes a good portion of the set’s brick tally, but this blogger would argue that it makes for a classy addition to the piece and transcends its brick origins to forge an attractive display ornament.
The coolest aspect is that the model’s stand or pillar is topped with a hinge element that attaches to the base of the plane whereby you can convey the illusion of flight. To cap it off, the base is adorned with a sticker proclaiming ‘Amelia Earhart – Aviation Pioneer’, sealing the item’s prestige.
The Mini Figure
The ubiquitous aviator hat and goggles, found in a number of recent mini-figure ranges, have understandably been included here. There are new prints for element 6338706/3626 and the double-sided torso with neckerchief with leather flying jacket in chestnut brown captures the distinctive likeness of the legendary aviator from famous photos, as does the head piece’s singular facial expression, right down to her enigmatic smile.
But, when you take off her hat and goggles, the lack of an alternate hairpiece to the one provided is a bit of a misfire: eschewing Earhart’s iconic cropped bob, she looks more Bake Off than Chocks Away with her sculpted hair do. The creamy colour of the hand elements may seem a weird choice also but are intended to resemble aviator gloves, I’m sure.
Finally, we get a map tile, stickered not printed unfortunately, depicting the path of her record-breaking transatlantic flight which neatly encompasses the pioneering spirit of this tribute itself, coming at a time where the need for feminist icons has never been more relevant.
A tantalising lead, recently announced, that part of the aircraft from Amelia Earhart’s final flight had been found near a remote atoll off an obscure Pacific island nation, sadly proved to be unfounded, but if anything it revitalised interest in the mystery of her disappearance and stoked the furnace of her legendary status, ensuring its longevity for generations to come.
Let us know what you think by dropping a comment below!
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