Following the launch of The Lego Car Blog’s new Lego Review Library it’s time for another trip back in time to take a look at one of LEGO’s great sets; 5590 Model Team Helicopter Transport.
5590 was part of LEGO’s three set line-up for their spectacular Model Team range that was launched in 1988 for US ‘Shop at Home’ customers, and in 1990 in European stores. We’re using the European name for the set as we can’t really bring ourselves to use the US one.
The flagship of the new range, 5590 took detail to a level previously unseen outside of the Legoland theme park (there was only one back then). Based on an attractive if slightly generic European cab-over semi the set was really two models in one, as the helicopter could easily be a unique set in its own right. 5590 also brought a few new pieces to Lego fans, chiefly those marvellous wheels, but also two new windscreens that would reappear in later sets.
The build is a relatively straight-forward one; whilst a there is no doubt 5590 is a detailed model the techniques used are fairly basic by today’s standards, but for this builder at least that is part of its charm. It features a few working functions too, bridging the gulf between System and Technic for the first time. Working steering, trailer support legs and opening doors all make appearances and certainly add a degree of playability to what could otherwise be simply a nice display piece.
5590 has, like most sets from the era, aged a little when compared to sets from the late ’90s. There is barely a smooth piece to be seen and SNOT (studs not on top) was but the dream of a madman back in 1988. However, it is still perhaps one of the best Model Team sets made to date, combining detail, a ruggedly playable exterior, and sheer scale that wowed children perusing LEGO’s catalogue back then, and continuing to wow collectors on eBay and Bricklink today. If you can find one for sale you won’t be disappointed, but you will likely be quite a bit poorer.
To read all The Lego Car Blog’s set reviews and comparisons, including the 5580 counterpart to this set, click the ‘Reviews’ tab in the main menu.