Colonel Alberto Rossini allows himself a small chuckle. Obtaining the priceless map to the ruins of the black scarab pharaoh was far easier than he imagined and within only a few more minutes of flying he will arrive at his destination and the treasures of the renowned Egyptian ruler will be all his own. The chuckle stops short in the Colonel's throat allowing only a dry gasp to escape, for with one backward glance, the Colonel sees something that almost makes his heart stop. Thick dark clouds rise up from the desert floor below and behind him, roiling up and forward in a furious gigantic sandstorm that will surely engulf his tiny plane in minutes like a flea in an enormous arid tidal wave.
There is no turning back, but literally thousands of miles of desert ahead of him as the Colonel's mind now all too clearly recalls the rumors of a curse upon any that seek the treasure of the black scarab!
Although the 5918 Scorpion Tracker was my first 1998 set, it was only because the 5928 wasn't yet on the shelves. I'm a big fan of period pieces like the ones being released in the Adventurers theme, and the bi-wing plane and pilot with a cap and goggles was a set I drooled over until it finally became available. This set introduces what I assume is the villain in our little Adventurers setting (although the Lego company needs to be careful about portraying the bad guys with aesthetic disabilities considering the number of lawsuits flying around these days). It comes with the bad guy and his heavily armed bi-wing airplane plus an Egyptian treasure map.
Close on the tail of the 6615 Eagle Stunt Flyer (another bi-wing model from 1996), the Bi-Wing Baron begs a few comparisons to that earlier model for which I hope fans will forgive me. First off, the Baron compares well to the Eagle in that both models are of comparative size (and pieces) but close inspection to the assembly of both models reveals some lack of attention to details on part of the Baron. Where the Eagle's fuselage consists of about fourteen pieces, the Baron plops it all in with one large specialized piece (though I did like getting the fuselage piece in grey)
Next, the Eagle's forward wheels took approximately sixteen elements to construct while the Baron totals in at only six (they're ugly, bulky and almost look as though they were thrown on as an afterthought and the plane is STILL missing a rear wheel).
The Eagle has a total piece count of 71 while the Baron has 69 so where did all the pieces go? In the Baron's defense, I'll say that I like its overall design with the addition of guns for dogfighting scenarios. I also like the fuselage piece that has slots on either side of the pilot's chair for storage of tiles.
The high point (and ultimately saving grace) then of the model is definitely the mini-fig himself (with a monocle, white epaulets and the pilot cap with snap-on goggles that can be raised or lowered). The addition of one hook hand was kind of dumb but this is still going to be one of my favorite mini-figs of all time (and I've yet to say that about any mini-fig). Very cool!
New/unique parts included in the set are two 1x2 grey log bricks, a couple of 1x2 clear plates (not terribly new, but I haven't seen them in a set for ages) and more use of dark grey bricks and plates. One other minus to the model is the propeller that snaps into the housing by way of a 1x1 brick that is not very stable (last comparison with the Eagle is that its propeller is very secure with a technic pin that inserts into the housing).
If I were only to compare this model against the Eagle Stunt Flyer it would come up with only one star but it's a fun model without the comparisons and I'll add another star for overall appearance and a very fun mini-fig.