On Thursday 20th December last year London's second busiest airport, Gatwick, was brought to a standstill by someone flying drones over it. All departures were cancelled and inbound flights diverted to other airports in the UK and even to mainland Europe.
My family and I were due to fly to Barbados from there first thing on the Friday so we had booked a hotel at the airport to stay the night before. We went there on the Thursday as planned, not knowing whether we'd be flying or not. When we arrived the place was pandemonium, with long queues for the information desk snaking around the terminal, full of desperate people trying to get on with their journeys.
After a mostly sleepless night we woke to find that the runway had reopened, following reassurances from the military that any further drone incursions would be dealt with by whatever (undisclosed) means they had at their disposal. So, thankfully, we were one of the first flights to depart that morning, and virtually on time, too.
I suspect that the military have more sophisticated means of downing drones than attempting to throw a net over them from a helicopter but that, apparently, is the tactic employed by the Sky Police in 60207 Drone Chase.
I wouldn't normally buy or review a City Police set but I thought I'd make an exception for this one as a reminder of my ordeal...
Three minifigres are provides: a helicopter pilot, a crook and a gold statue.
The pilot is, quite simply, superb. The light royal blue legs and torso are printed with a flying jacket and straps. I'm not sure the police badge was entirely necessary: I don't think a pilot would need to wear one and it also limits the reuse potential of the torso, although I concede that the word Police on the back does a good job of that, too!
The helmet has been used on collectable minifigures in series 4 and 8, but the visor and breathing apparatus are new and, it could be argued, long overdue. No longer will pilots be reliant on crash helmets!
The breathing apparatus, Mini Mask, No. 8, fits ove the neck and fits snugly with the bottom of the helmet and the new visor. Given the height that helicopters fly at I don't believe such breathing apparatus is needed in this set but it looks superb and you even get a spare, so I'm not complaining.
The crook is comprised stock parts used dozens of times before but I guess they are adequate even if I'm sure a real-life prison escapee would find a change of clothes somewhere before committing more crimes.
He's equipped with a drone controller, with the object of his attention, a gold statue, showing on the screen.
I am sure the the gold statue of a fireman will be appreciated by monifig collectors because I believe it's not been easy to make one until now.
I don't know the significance of the date on the plinth. Although 1932 was when LEGO started making toys that doesn't seem particularly relevant. 1942 might have made more sense given that's when the first LEGO factory fire occurred.
The completed model
As police helicopters go this one is decent enough. The net shooter is mounted on the left while a searchlight is affixed to the right. Its position, set back and above the mini-wing must limit is usefulness considerably.
The tail is printed; all other decorations are stickers. The tail rotor doesn't really match the rest of the design and feels like a lazy afterthought.
SNOT work on the sides of the cockpit allows a minifigure to fit inside the 4-wide body.
The drone is unrealistically huge compared to the size of helicopter and must weigh a tonne. I'm surprised it even gets off the ground!
The red 'eyes' at the front and 'legs' make it looks more like a flying creature than a drone. It doesn't appear to be equipped with a camera, unless the eyes are supposed to represent one, or two.
The 'legs' at the bottom are actually claws that the crook can presumably operate remotely to try and grab the statue from its plinth.
Here, with the help of a couple of Wicked Brick display stands, is what the police hope to do to drown the drone: fire the net on top of it.
In play, however, it's virtually impossible to do so because the trajectory and opening of the net as it's fired can't really be influenced. Still, I guess it's a fun play feature for the young!
Other than the new helmet parts on the pilot minifigure, there's nothing particularly special about this set and it's unlikely to appeal to many AFOLs.
I'm certain, however, that the target audience -- particularly those without a plethora of helicopters in their collection already -- will enjoy it and have fun with the net.
The 191-piece set weighs in at £17.99 / $29.99 / 19.99€ so would appear to be much better value in Europe than the USA, for a change.
Following the incident Gatwick and Heathrow airport operators have spent millions of pounds on anti-drone technology which should prevent copycat attacks. The culprits have not yet been caught.
I arrived in Barbados on schedule and had a wonderful two weeks cruising the Caribbean on P&O's Britannia with my family.
The set is currently available from shop.LEGO.com: