Friday, July 12, 2013

TBs TechReview 25 - 42001, Mini Off-Roader

Set reference: 42001
Set name: Mini Off-Roader
Theme: LEGO Technic
Release date: 2013. Aug

Number of parts: 100 (plus a few spare)

LEGO Designer: Lars Thygesen

Model under review: Main model + alternative

Approximate set dimensions:
Length - 10 cm (3")
Width - 7 cm (2")
Height - 7 cm (2")
Approximate box dimensions:
Length - 15 cm (6")
Width - 13 cm (5.5")
Height - 4 cm (1.5")

Stickers: No
Building instructions: 2 booklets included
Booklet 1: Main frame (12 pages)
Booklet 2: Bodies (36 pages)
B-model: Mini Buggy

Recommended for ages: 7-14
Building difficulty level: Easy
Estimated building time: ca. 15 min

Price range: 10€
Price per part: 10 euro cents

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

It's seems to become a bit of a trend lately, in which TLG launches a mini version of one of their popular flagships. In 2009 it was the 8259 Mini Bulldozer, obviously based on its big brother 8275. And last year we had 9390, the Mini Tow Truck that had a close resemblance to the 8110 Unimog. This year is no different with the 42001 Mini Off-Roader, which seems inspired by the 9398 4x4 Crawler from last year. If you can not afford the big flagship, is this mini version a satisfying alternative, or is it better to save your money? Let's find out.

1. Box and Content

Different than usual, the graphics on the front include some rocks, setting the model in a more natural environment and highlighting the off-roading capabilities. The box is quite small, but that's what we can expect from this price range. The benefit is also that the box doesn't feel so empty now.

Inside we find 2 bags, 2 instruction booklets and 4 tires. Once the bags are opened we have the following inventory.

The parts worth mentioning are the liftarms 1x5 thin with axleholes on end (11478), axle and pin connector hub with 2 axles (10197) and a pair of very small panel fairings in orange (11946 & 11947) The rest is mostly the usual beams, axles, connectors and pins.

2. Build

Normally with the smaller sets we get a separate instruction booklet for the A and B model. In this case however we use the same base in both models, so book A, containing only 12 pages, covers the chassis. As we are used by now, just a few pieces are added every step. In that respect 12 pages for showing how to make the chassis seems a lot, but it makes sense when considering the tiny steps, so (almost) any 7-year old can build it.

Once getting to booklet 2, we can choose which body we want to build. The main model obviously uses all the pieces, whereas the alternative has a few extra bits left. Of course we start with the model on the cover of the box.

The build is pretty straight forward. There was just one occasion where you need to push a 2M axle through 3 elements with crossholes, which takes a lot of force. Very doubtful a 7-year old is strong enough to do this. Other than that no issues.

3. Functions

The main feature is the independent suspension using 2 elastic bands; all wheels can move up and down without any one of them losing contact with the ground surface.

Another nice touch is the opening doors on the main model. Perhaps not really considered a function, but pretty cool nonetheless, especially for this scale.

4. Alternative

Before you get to the instructions for how to build the alternate, you first need to go through instructions for how to remove the body from the main model, and that you have to take apart only this bit for building the alternative.
It's a pity that the alternative is based on the same chassis, thus having the same functions, but I don't think the designer had many other options with the pieces available.
So here are both A and B model.

A nice detail is the slightly slanted bonnet on the B model. From this angle the models look a little different, although not that much, but when looking at the official pictures, I can't help but think that A and B model are pretty much the same model.

Doing a bit of research online confirms this, where we see both A and B model used interchangeably for adverts. So perhaps this is not the best move from TLG. Are there no other options for alternates? Well, I admit, it's not easy, but I tried anyway. Here's my attempt, which I believe could offer a slightly differentiated build as well.

5. Conclusion

On its own the model is quite ok. It also wouldn't be fair to compare this to the other 2nd half models, and considering the price we should not expect too much. However, I think we need to have some reference for a decent conclusion. So to give it a fair chance I'd like to compare it to its predecessors: 9390 Mini Tow Truck and 8065 Mini Container Truck, also priced at 9,99€.

Although I have to admit that I do not own those, I unfortunately have to conclude that they seem to offer better value. Not only do you get at least 20% more pieces, but also, in my opinion, those models fit better with the Technic DNA. What I mean by this is that those sets actually include some gears and/ or linkages. In case of our mini Off Roader, the bouncy suspension using elastic bands is not something I would consider very Technic like. I could easily see a similar function with a brick built top in the City line or in any other action theme.
Also when it comes to alternative models, 8065 and 9390 offer a complete different model and experience, which I think is another benefit.

6. The Ratings

   as value for the money
   for parts innovation
   for set innovation
   for set design
   for functionality and playability

Overall rate: Subpar    

So if you'd like to get a nice little model, I wouldn't recommend the 42001, unless you really want a mini version of the 9398 Crawler, desperately need some of the new pieces, or are a die-hard Technic collector. Other than that, this set offers nothing new, and you could even question if it fits the LEGO Technic DNA, because the suspension set-up could easily fit in other themes too. And then a mini-figure could actually sit in the model as well...


Allanp said...

Thankyou for this honest review.

Anio said...

And I hope the review of 42008 will be as honest as this one. :p

Fernando Correia said...


Honest it will be for sure!
Doesn't mean the opinion will be the same as yours. ;)
Anyway I'm not the one preparing that review, so I don't know what the outcome will be. :)

crowkillers said...

I hate rubber bands...

AVCampos said...

Nice review!

Indeed, more than the lack of gears (which I had already seen in the box image), I'm surprised at the lack of difference between the A and B models. For big models, it can be daunting to create a wholly different model using that specific selection of parts (that's why I believe the 8275-B is so much simpler than the A model)... but for a model of this size, it's odd. Maybe it's another nod to the "big brother" 9398, which also changes only the body for the B model. I believe the 8288 lost the crown of "lamest B-model"!

I do own both the 8065 and the 9390, and can confirm that they're both fantastic models for their size. The 8065 has a complicated functionality achieved with a small number of parts and can be easily modified for extra realism (removing an axle pin to enable cabin tilting), and the 9390 has lots of functions and playability with its functional steering and winch.

@ Crowkillers: I actually don't dislike rubber bands: they're good for "gear" reduction at high speed and low torque while being nearly silent and providing a degree of "24T clutch" effect. The problem with them is that the rubber degrades with time (less with the modern LEGO material).

Allanp said...

I agree that the belts are great for quite gear reduction from a fast motor as well as adding a saftey clutch effect. A benefit of that system was that you could switch to gears fairly early on in a gear train to give you an very strong clutch (way stronger than the white clutch gear if needed) or later on to give you a very weak one. The only downside was that belts could waste power from the motor if they were too tight.

Allanp said...

Oh, and belts add variety to a gear train too!

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