Thursday, April 4, 2013

TBs TechReview 22 - 42000 Grand Prix Racer

Set reference: 42000                                                                                                                                                               
Set name: Grand Prix Racer
Theme: LEGO Technic
General availability: 2013.Mar

Number of parts: 1141 (plus few additional spare parts)

LEGO Designer: UFGE (Uwe Wabra)

Model under review: Main model
Weight: Unrated
Approximate set dimensions:
Length - 58cm (22,8")
Width - 25cm (9,8")
Height - 14cm (5,5")
Approximate box dimensions:
Length - 478mm (18,8")
Width - 378mm (14,9")
Height - 90mm (3,5")

Stickers: Yes
Building instructions: 3 booklets included (84, 84 and 52 pages): 1/3, 2/3, 3/3
B-model: Race Truck - Building Instructions available online only: 1/3, 2/3, 3/3

Recommended for ages: 11 - 16
Building difficulty level: Advanced
Estimated Building Time: ca. 3 hours

Price range: 99,99 - 119,99€ or $129,99
Price per part: 8,8 - 10,5 euro cents or 11,4 US dollar cents

Inventory (Bricklink): Link
Other user reviews (Brickset): Link



When Fernando did an interview with me several years back, one of his questions was what a Technic F1 racer would look like with the new panels. Well, with set 42000 TLG shows us what it can look like. Is it a worthy follow up of the classics 8458, 8461, and 8674? Let's find out.


1. Box & Content

The first thing one notices is the size of the box. Normally you expect a bigger size for this price and piece count. Just compare it with its predecessor, the 8674 F1 Ferrari. At least the box doesn't feel and look so empty now. Furthermore it's better for the environment and saves TLG money, because less air has to be transported. Good developments if you ask me, although I'm doubtful the extra savings will make retail prices go down...



When it comes to content, besides the usual beams, pins, axles and connectors, this kit is a great source if you want to get more of the new panels, with a staggering total of 33! The downside, however, could be that they come in different colours; 19x white, 8x red, of which 4 new mini panels, and 6x black ones. That said, the white is a nice addition to the usual red, black and yellow, and this kit contains quite a bit of it!



Furthermore we can find  some other new parts: special wheelhub pieces, different for front (2x) and rear (2x), the return of a hard to find tire (4x) (not included in the picture), and probably the most useful newcomer is a thin 1x5 liftarm with 2 crossholes (6x).



Other not so common parts are the mini linear actuator (3x), steering CV joints (4x), steering CV axle joints (2x), 4L double perpendicular connectors (4x),wishbone suspension arms (16x), 1x9 links (7x), togglejoint (3x), some frames,...  and a 1x7 gearrack (not included in the picture).

Overall a decent inventory, certainly worth the money when you do not own any of the previous F1 racers. If you already do own one of those, you might want to reconsider your options, unless you really want to have those new and rare parts, and expand your collection.


2. Build

There are no numbered bags, and therefore it doesn't take long before all bags have to be opened. The build then starts with the floor of the monocoque, which basically consists of beams and connectors. It gives a nice foundation for the rest of the modules to be mounted on.



The first module is the gearbox, but not like what you expect in a car. Instead, this gearbox will be used to switch functions between opening the enginecover or changing the rear wing's angle. But more about this later.



Once this module is connected to the frame, we continue to expand the floor until the full chassis has taken shape.

The next big module consists of the rear wheel  drive and suspension together with the engine. In that respect the build-up of this racer has similarities with its real life counterpart, which adds a nice educational flavour. In the rear suspension are also the first new hub elements used. Together with other new introduced parts, the rear suspension is now technically more correct than how it had to be done previously.



Once mounted onto the chassis, some parts are added for reinforcement, before moving on to the next module...

With most of the rear functions done, it's now time for the front section. Again we start with the suspension. Here it becomes once more very clear how certain parts like the frames and T-beam have made it possible to design much tighter and smaller solutions now compared to its predecessors.



Next step is extending the steering mechanism with the rest of the nose section. Both HoG and steering wheel are available for manoeuvring the vehicle.

Then of course, as before, the whole section is attached to the chassis. With the long front added, the total size of the model starts to look quite impressive!



We finish the front section with the front wing. This part is really well done with a good use of the new panels. Certainly an improvement from previous incarnations.

After the last technical parts are in place, the mini linear actuators for lifting the engine cover, it's now time to cover the rest with some bodywork. The white gives it a very clinical look.



We finish with the adjustable rear wing, and as always the wheels. It looks pretty good even without the stickers, which to me shows that a model has the right spirit.

Overall a pleasant and well thought out build. A few minor annoying moments, when parts can come of when attaching others, and some less intuitive steps, but generally speaking very enjoyable.


3. Functions

The rear axle is connected to a V8, so when you move the vehicle, the pistons will go up and down in a nice pace. Furthermore the rear has independent double wishbone pushrod suspension, with the dampers in a horizontal position, identical to real racers.



A similar construction is used on the front suspension, although here the dampers are in constant decompression, which is not ideal, because it means internal stress. Another difference compared to the rear axle is of course that the front has an incorporated steering system.



This steering can be controlled either through the HoG or steering wheel, although that last option is not recommended; the steering wheels is not easy to reach because it is actually embedded too low in the cockpit, which looks kind of odd. It's a bit small in proportion as well...

The last 2 functions are controlled through a gearbox from the right side, and involve lifting the engine cover or adjusting the rear wing, both of which make use of the mini linear actuator. Those functions work well, but feel a bit tacky though, like an afterthought to cross-promote the 8293 PF motor set. Considering that motorizing those functions does not add a lot to the playability, and the fact that the battery box on the back looks just plain ugly, only makes it feel tackier in my opinion.




One other thing I find unfortunate is the wobbliness that the new wheelhubs have, due to their tolerances. Now that TLG finally took the time to redesign the old wheelhub, which I think is great, I would have expected a much improved version, so I'm a bit disappointed with the quality of this new one. A missed opportunity if you ask me. The same can be said for the steering angle, which is too little, resulting in a turning radius that's still too wide.

Overall the functions work well, which is of course the main concern. The new wheelhubs however are too wobbly, which is a real pity now that TLG did take the time to design a new version. Furthermore, you could ask yourself if the extra functionality of the adjustable rearwing and the engine cover really add that much value to the set, or was it more a bad excuse to cross-promote PF?  When I was working at TLG there was a clear vision to use and cross-promote PF only when it made sense and added good value. Lately it seems like PF almost becomes a necessary evil, infiltrating its way in sets that really do not benefit from it. This is one of those examples.



4. Aesthetics

With the adjustable rear wing in mind, I think it's safe to assume that this model is based on the Formula 1 race class, which is almost exclusively using the DRS (Drag Reduction System) that was introduced in 2011. So this model should represent an F1 racecar from either 2011 or 2012.

Because many F1cars had a stepped nose in 2012, which this model (luckily) doesn't have, and because the development at LEGO Technic is often close to 1 year ahead, the best estimate is to compare this model to real F1 cars from the 2011 season. Of course this model is not based on any particular model, like the 8674 Ferrari was, but still I think it's fair to do a generic comparison.

The first impression is pretty good; it certainly looks and feels like a fast Formula racer. The new panels definitely give the model some nice smooth surfaces, but at the same time it seems a little rough on the edges, with the lack of some flexible axles. I would have liked seeing some smoother lines like its predecessors - the whole nose section doesn't flow very well -, just as I would like to have seen the engine lower positioned in the model.



The most aesthetically pleasing part is the nose cone and front wing in my opinion where the new panels work really well. However, when comparing this to the real F1 racers from the 2011 season the wing is simply not wide enough. Ok, I admit, I'm a big Formula 1 buff and very keen on details. I can accept this issue though as the front wing just looks so nice.



Bigger problems I have with the wheel size. This is the first LEGO Technic F1 racer in this scale that uses a narrower wheel and tire, which unfortunately doesn't work out so well.  They just don't have enough volume, and the model suffers because of them. It's a pity, because if the tires would have been slightly wider and/or higher, the model would have looked so much better in proportion. Unless TLG still had the old mould lying around somewhere and they wanted to save costs, I don't really understand why they didn't go for a more suitable, more iconic and better looking F1 tire. Otherwise I hope that TLG has a good excuse for reintroducing  this particular type of tire by launching another model using the same tires real soon...



Last, but not least we have a look at the colour and livery. The cool thing with F1 cars is that you can pretty much use any color and livery, especially because this one is not based on a real life counterpart, and the white, red, black with some light gray accents does the job. Perhaps other colour combinations would have looked even better - what about a black/orange or blue/yellow combo -, but my hunch is that the new upcoming Mindstorms, which uses the exact same colours, might have something to do with this colour choice.


Overall the model looks ok, with some good parts and some that are not so good. Nothing really exceptional here, but the general perception is that it looks like a formula racer, which is what it needs to be. The biggest flaw is the size of the tires, that are just too small in proportion to the rest.


5. Conclusion

It's good to see another Formula racer after 8 years. The set contains some interesting bits, either completely new ones or elements in not the most common colours. The build is very enjoyable and for the most part the instructions are easy to follow, with a few trickier steps.

In many ways this model reminds me of its predecessors, but thanks to some new elements, certain mechanisms are now technically more correct than previously.

However, some of the design choices do not make much sense. Normally more is more, but in this case more is less. The added functionality seems more of a gimmick, PF upgrade is to say the least questionable, and the new hub parts didn't improve enough over the 12 year old one, although admittingly they are a little more versatile. Aesthetically the model has some nice surfaces and a great looking front wing, but upon closer inspection it is a bit rough on the edges and the tires are too small. The result is that other parts also end up out of proportion.

Overall it's a good model, but due to some flaws it doesn't have the potential to become a real classic, a must buy that you just need to have in your collection. It provides however a satisfying build and some useful parts for those who want to expand their collection.


6. The Ratings

   as value for the parts inventory
   as value for the building experience
   as value for the functionality and playability  (   for the added value with PF)
   for set innovation
   for parts innovation
   for aesthetics
   for value for money

Overall rate: Good  

9 comments:

Junkstyle Gio said...

Nice and honest review.
Thanks to Nathanael for writing it!

Anybody got an idea on which rims and wheels to us instead of the original ones?

therealjustin said...

I built this set a few days ago and quickly took it apart again. It just looks and feels cheap and unfinished to me. I even changed the horrendous yellow pieces and that still didn't help.


Kind of regretting my purchase to be honest because the money could have gone toward the much nicer 8458, 8461 or 8674.

rm8 said...

Very good review.
Thank you Nathanael!

Fernando Correia said...

I think this "it doesn't have the potential to become a real classic" says it all. ;)

Andy Fawcett said...

Regarding the wheels/tyres, I also had a problem with the aesthetics of it. There was also the same problem with the 1/8 Ferrari F1 (can't recall the model number).

Fortunately, I improved both cars (IMO!) by putting the front wheels from the Ferrari on the back of 42000, giving a more typical "wider wheels at the back" look to them both.

Now, colour was a problem (black on 42000, silver/grey on the Ferrari) but I handled that by swapping the black wheels from 42000 with the grey ones from my Unimog. At least now the race cars _almost_ look perfect (again, IMO!)

Joshvt said...

My son just got this kit and we are in the process of building it. Was wondering if someone could tell me if the transmission is connected to the engine? i.e. When you push the finished model and the shifter is in the appropriate (middle) position should the engine and tranny both spin? We are at the end of the first instruction book and it does not seem like the engine and tranny are connected- wondering if we made a mistake? Thanks for your help!

Joshvt said...

Is the transmission connected to the engine? I am helping my son build this model and wondering if we made a mistake. Or does the tranny just control the wing and body lift ?

Kristoffer Amadeus said...

Joshvt: The transmission is not connected to the engine. It's only used to control the wing and engine cover :)

ick flick said...

Hey is the steering wheel proportional when you turn it left and right or is it lob sided?

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