Friday, January 25, 2013

TBs TechReview 20 - 42010/42011, Technic Racers

When the first rumours of the 1H2013 LEGO Technic line-up started there was quite some speculation about the apparently large number of “small” sets in the list. Besides the more traditional sets, 2 racers were included. In this review we’ll have a closer look at these two sets, the 42010 and 42011, which are linked by more than the fact that they belong to the same sub-theme in Technic.

42010 – Off-road Racer

Number of parts: 160

Despite the fact that the number of pieces should have told me something, I was rather surprised to find just three bags with pieces, two of which seemed to be half empty.

Even so, as the building process progressed the model soon started to look more impressive than the amount of pieces seemed to indicate.

Alongside the pieces there were the instruction booklet, a sticker sheet and a second booklet I will get back to later in this review.

A curious detail in the instruction manual of both sets is the new and revised way of indicating that it is a good idea to sort your elements before you start to build (although especially with the smaller sets I enjoy the challenge of spotting the right piece in the heap):

The construction of the set is quite straight forward. The only salient points are the use of the new axle and pin connector piece 10197 which is included 6 times in the inventory of this set and comes in quite handy. Apart from the pull-back motor, the only other “moving element” in this set is the opening roof.

It isn’t much of a function. At the end of the building process the following pieces are left over:

Intriguing, right? A worm gear and an 8-tooth gear included in the box, but no function to use them for.

The buggy is quite sturdy. The pull-back motor is powerful enough to give it a good push and the largish wheels help it to reach a respectable speed. The blue bracing at the bottom of the model doesn’t appear to be strictly necessary, but since it is still higher off the ground than the lowest part of the pull-back motor it isn’t in the way either. The front wheels stick out further than the nose of the vehicle so they serve as a bumper when it runs into an obstacle like a wall. A nice detail in view of the speed it can build up.

A total of 8 stickers are provided on a sheet, but I didn’t really feel like applying them. The car does look a little plain without them, but I prefer it this way.

The model is however very light (as a small LEGO model obviously would be) and this means that on very smooth surfaces (tiles, glass, linoleum) the wheels tend to lose grip easily (first time use will work perfectly on almost any surface, but as soon as the wheels gather a little dust their grip is reduced considerably on very smooth surfaces). This results is initial slipping and much of the speed being lost. In addition one wheel will frequently get a grip before the other one does, sending the buggy off at an angle. On rougher surfaces (carpet, concrete, asphalt, …) grip is excellent.

In the additional booklet there are some images with play ideas for this set, including the building of ramps and obstacles to jump over with the buggy. The tires and the design of this set lend themselves very well to this purpose.

Contrary to the traditional Technic sets, both this set and its companion come with a single set of building instructions; that is, there is no secondary model for either of the sets. However, as is displayed prominently on the back of the box, there are building instructions available online for a model that can be made combining the parts of both sets.

First however, lest have a closer look at the 42011

42011 – Race Car

Number of parts: 158

The height and width of the box for this set are identical to its companion, but it is significantly less thick. The boxes are approximately 5 and 6 cm thick each.

Again the contents of the box is appear rather limited at first glance; even more so than the previous set:

There are a few more stickers than on the other set – 12 in this case – and they come numbered, but again, I prefer the model without them and I feel this set gains less with the stickers than the buggy does. The set does not include any new pieces other than the mini panels (4 are included, the same number as in the buggy) and they really help to define the shape of the car.

While in the buggy the pull-back motor is built in at an angle to help create the characteristic downward slope (back to front) of the model, in this case the motor is used straight and the chassis is flat and very low to the ground. The model is quite realistic for the number of pieces it includes and the differ sizes of the front and rear wheels only makes the model better.

The car is quite sleek and will almost fit inside the box:

Like the buggy, the car includes a steering wheel at a realistic angle and a driver seat. It does not have any other function than the pull-back motor.

Again the extra pieces include a surprise:

Another worm wheel and 8-t gear. The plot thickens…

Side by side:

While the two models use virtually the same number of pieces, the Race Car is much more compact and so appears smaller. The Off-road racer is indeed very slightly longer and obviously quite a bit higher:

The additional booklet appears to suggest the possibility of racer the cars against each other, but this makes little sense. Despite it’s better aerodynamics the race car must lose as they both use the same pull-back motor and the Off-road Car’s tires and much larger.

The second suggestion in the booklet doesn’t really apply to the Race Car either. The car is so low to the ground (and the chassis even tilts slightly to the front) that a ramp must be very thin or the Race Car will get stuck on it. The same goes for the inclination of the ramp which must be very small or it will not be able to take it. That doesn’t mean the Race car isn’t fun, but it isn’t anywhere near as versatile as the Off-road Racer.

The alternate model

On the backside of both boxes, a simple illustration indicates that by combining the two sets a larger model can be built following the instructions  provided here on the LEGO Technic website.

Although neither of the sets include any real Technic functions (other than a pull-back motor), but do include a worm gear and an 8-t gear each, it would make sense to expect some technic functions in the larger model.

This larger model is a dragster of sorts. The front wheels are actually rather too wide and the rear wheels too small, but the model is nevertheless not at all bad. As suspected, the worm gears and 8t gears are used in two mechanisms that are controlled from the back. One opens and closes the cockpit:

and the other regulates the angle of the spoiler; the second one has rather too much travel (it can double over forwards)

and neither mechanism is realistic in that they would never be used like this in real life, but they are mechanism nonetheless, which is appreciated in a Technic set.

I didn’t apply the stickers and the model looks relatively nice. The 4 small panels from the Race Car are used for the spoiler and with the stickers applied this leaves a curious pattern. The other panels fit in nicely however. While this additional model is larger than either of the original sets, it only uses part of the available elements and a considerable amount of pieces are left unused. Not counting the second pull-back motor, the wheels and hubs and second steering wheel, over 80 pieces are left over – a quarter of the total amount of pieces.

Even so there are a few nice details in the build, like the light next to the steering wheel or the pedals in the floor of the cockpit:

Here’s another pic to give you a bit of an idea of the scale of the model, putting it in front of the Of-road Racer box (aligned with the right side):

While these sets are certainly no must-haves for an AFOL on a tight budget, they do come with a nice selection of pieces (read panels). If you are doubting which of the two to get I’d definitely recommend the Off-road Racer. Both the model and the parts are more interesting than the Race Car, although the Race Car is probably aesthetically more interesting.

If you do decide to buy both sets, here is my challenge:build a combined model that uses 90% of the pieces, and if possible, both pull-back motors!

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