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6399-1: Airport Shuttle
Published 1 year ago
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The build is incomplete, with most of the monorail track missing, the electric motor, bogies, 9V battery box, etc. I only used one MOC-assembly of 16 parts to substitute a 4x20 Monorail Train Base #2687 for a "Shuttle's Rear Car."

The rest of the train and both stations are 98%+ correct—just a few secondary substitutions (and no stickers).




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This 1990 "Classic Town" set no. 6399-1 'Airport Shuttle' is one of Lego holy grails, featured on virtually every list of "most expensive Lego models." It's so valuable and sought-after in real life for the same reason that's preventing me from completing the model here on Mecabricks: those ultra-rare monorail track/electric parts.

The 'Airport Shuttle' is one of only three Lego models ever to feature an electric monorail. The 9V system debuted in 1987, in a set no. 6990 'Monorail Transport System' in a newly-launched Space subtheme "Futuron." Four years after the 'Airport Shuttle,' in 1994, another Space-themed model came out, Unitron's 'Monorail Transport Base' set no. 6991.

All three were largescale sets, and at a premium price too! Futuron's 'Transport System' with 730 parts was the most expensive Lego ever at the time ($155 in 1988, or around $360 adjusted for today's inflation). The 'Airport Shuttle' with 760 parts and nine minifigs was priced $140 in retail (equal to $280 in 2020). The smallest of three, Unitron's 'Transport Base,' had 570 parts and four minifigs, at a hefty price of $178 in 1994 (over $315 in 2020's money).

Even at these prices, the monorail ended up hugely unprofitable for Lego. Production costs were way too high between the plastic tracks manufactured by a third-party subcontractor and an entirely new electric motors line. The monorail supplier went bankrupt in the mid-nineties, so all master molds and tools were lost—Lego now had nowhere to go for more parts, even if they wanted.

It must've been a massive blast for The Lego Company—almost 30 years later, the concept still never returned. However, Lego paid homage to the Airport Shuttle in 2013, with an easter egg in the Creator Expert's 'Palace Cinema' set no. 10232. One of the decal movie posters for imaginary Lego films was for the "Mystery on the Monorail," with a notorious bright red train on raised tracks. Very cool gimmick!

A complete 'Airport Shuttle' set in decent condition scores anywhere between $700 and $1,700 today. That's just for a full inventory of parts, maybe in some original packaging; unopened 'Airport Shuttle' boxes are $2,400–4,000+ on auctions.

And finding one ain't easy. Unlike contemporary collectible Lego models, such as Architecture or Star Wars Ultimate Collector's Series (readily available and rarely unboxed, expensive as they are), vintage Lego sets from the '80s–'90s in mint condition are genuinely scarce. They were just ordinary toys; almost no one cared to preserve or treat them as a potential investment.

In the late eighties, an AFOL community was still rudimentary, as far as I know, since Lego barely even had enough sophisticated models that would appeal to grown-ups. Most flagship Technic sets were yet to exceed 500 parts, "Model Team" series had one or two advanced builds, and that was it, pretty much.

So excluding time travelers (or Lego employees with insider knowledge), how many people in 1990 bought the Lego set, even the most expensive, just to put it away in a safe deposit box for thirty years? Not too many, I'd bet. But those who did undoubtedly enjoyed a rather lovely return on investment!

Going "brick by brick" won't save any money—even in used condition, monorail tracks are viciously expensive. The 'Airport Shuttle' is at least $250 just in two most common monorail parts, long and short straights (here on Mecabricks). The rest of the monorail: curves, the ramp, switch assemblies—goes $12–118 a pop, depending on the condition.

The train chassis is even worse: a 4x20 Monorail Base #2687 is between $74 and $160 on BrickLink, a 9V Motor with Couplings—$70 to $400. And that's without a Monorail Motor Cover #2619, which is around $300 on average (!) today. Offers go as high as $465.75, just for one Lego brick.

Even minus the monorail and locomotive, the 'Airport Shuttle' model is exceptionally well-designed and nicely constructed. There are two stops on the route, one ground platform and one raised, with a staircase.

There are plenty of accessories and neat little details: curved wall panels on each platform (with a timetable and informational posters as stickers), tiny yellow turnstiles where minifigs can scan their "tickets" (cute blue 1x1 flat tiles), street lamps, flowers, payphone, even a burger stand. The 'Airport Shuttle' is a classic nineties Lego at its best, so much fun to build and mess around! Even in virtual reality.

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6392-1: Airport (1985), the first proper Lego airport

6597-1: Century Skyway (1994) by @Batka
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