The Lego Car Blog Review My Set Competition is drawing to a close, but we have just enough time to squeeze in a couple more reader reviews before the end of the year deadline. Today’s set review comes from a TLCB reader, and also one of our Master MOCers, the brilliant Andrea Lattanzio aka Norton74, and things are getting decidedly 1990s. Over to Andrea…
This Red Bird is ready to fly.
My love affair with the set No. 5591, also called ‘Mach II Red Bird’, started during a very cold Sunday morning of a past winter when I saw the big truck displayed on a flea market counter. I immediately bought it even though a few yellow pieces were replacing the missing originals, red train doors in place of the white ones, and other things like that were afflicting it. But for the price it was on offer for I got it with no hesitation! Without difficulty I replaced the incorrect parts with the right ones and the set is now restored in all its glory alongside the other Model Team sets in my collection.
Let’s step back. The Red Bird is the eighth set of the Model Team series, released by LEGO in 1994. Model Team was the large scale vehicle line that LEGO produced from 1986 until 1999, with a total of 15 sets, plus a re-release of the 5541 Hot Rod in 2004 as part of the Legends series.
Model Team vehicles were characterized by realism, although whilst there is no doubt they were detailed and charming models the techniques used are fairly basic by today’s standards.
5591 Red Bird is a big set and it’s rich in pieces, an impression I had the first time I looked at it. Despite the basic colours – white, red and black – the livery is really spot on, reminding me of the “B.J. and the bear” colours. The wide usage of stickers makes the set more appealing too.
The set is composed by three parts: the tractor truck, the low loader semi-trailer and the Red Bird jet aircraft. Let’s take a look.
The tractor truck is probably the best part of the set. It’s based on a typical US truck with the cab behind the engine and a long front nose. The truck has a very well balanced design and it’s rich in details, among others: side mirrors, windshield wipers, opening doors and many auxiliary lights, with the side ladders located on the lateral fuel tanks.
You can open the hood to reveal the cool looking engine which was probably influenced by the first LEGO Model Team engine ever, found in the 5580 Highway Rig. The hood is wedge shaped too, which I really like as it helps to make the front of the truck more streamlined. 5591’s interior is quite simple featuring two yellow seats, a steering wheel and the dashboard constituted of two printed slopes. The front wheels can steer by turning a knob located on the roof and the Hand of God control works well – all good so far.
However, the back of the truck is a little bit poor without a realistic fifth wheel and with a simple bumper featuring only rear red lights. We’d have to wait until 1996 for the 5571 Black Cat to see a decent rear to a truck with a convincing fifth wheel.
The second part of the set is the semi-trailer, which is quite simple and it perhaps looks more Technic than Model Team. Naturally the trailer can be hooked unto the truck by a plate modified with a towball socket.
From the trailer’s flat bed you can pull out two long 2 X 12 plates to create a nifty little ramp for the jet plane to be loaded thanks to a string reel winch located at the front – very ingenious – although to load the jet you have to open the two stylised ‘spoiler’ supports at the rear of the trailer (a little bit unrealistic). Another function that’s worth mentioning is the two little wheels that can support the trailer even when it’s unfastened from the truck – a nice touch.
The trailer’s rear bumper is more complete compared with that found on the truck, featuring red lights, bars and other stuff to make it more appealing, although the presence of four expensive and rare light grey 1 x 16 lattices is a bit odd.
The third part of the set is the Red Bird itself, a little aircraft propelled by two giant jet engines. I think the jet looks really cool and I can imagine a kid playing with it for hours. Like the truck the attention to detail is high; it has a cockpit, a rear storage area, two realistic looking engines on the bottom of the wings, a front turning wheel and much greebling all around. The engines are very well built and the entire jet is of solid construction.
Unfortunately though, the cockpit doesn’t open and a Technic-figure doesn’t fit, although surprisingly there is the presence of a wedge with three pre-printed red Chevrons; a piece only seen in this set.
As per the other Model Team sets 5591 includes instructions for an alternative model too, in this case a jeep pulling a trailer with a dragster as cargo, but honestly the main model is better and more fun to build and showcase.
Overall 5591 Mach II Red Bird is still perhaps one of the best Model Team sets made to date with the right dose of detail and playability, and it’s perfect to be displayed with the rest of the Model Team sets from the era. 5591’s size and piece count are very impressive as well.
If one day you find a 5591 set at a Sunday flea market don’t hesitate to buy it – you won’t be disappointed! 9/10
A big thank you to Andrea for joining us here at TLCB to add another set review to the Set Review Library. You can can see all of the sets reviewed in the current Review My Set Competition, as well as those reviewed by our in-house team, by clicking this link, and if you’d like to review a set to add to the library as Andrea has, then get in touch!