Saturday, November 30, 2013

TBs TechReview 29 – 42025, Cargo Plane

Set reference: 42025                                                                                                                                                               
Set name: Cargo Plane
Theme: LEGO Technic
Release date: 2014.Jan

Number of parts: 1.295 (plus a few spares)

LEGO Designer: Lasse (Lars Krogh Jensen)

Model under review: Main model
Weight: 1.170g (41.3 oz) approx. - w/o batteries
Approximate set dimensions:
Length - 65,4cm (25.7")
Width - 61,4cm (24.2")
Height - 21,4cm (8.4")
Approximate box dimensions:
Length - 37,8cm (14.9")
Width - 57,8cm (22.8")
Height - 8,5cm (3.3")

Stickers: Yes, a lot!...
Building instructions: 3 booklets (72, 72 and 84 pages)
B-model: Hovercraft - Building instructions available online only

Recommended for ages: 10 - 16
Building difficulty level: Medium+
Estimated building time: 4h - 6h

Price range: 135€ (estimation)
Price per part: 10,4 euro cents (estimation)

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

So we start the LEGO Technic 2014 sets reviews with the biggest set in the season (others will follow), a large Cargo Plane with reference 42025.

Apart the recent mid-scale Jet Plane (9394) in 2012 and a few recent helicopter releases all in this decade, the mid/large sized flying machines have not been very common within LEGO Technic assortment, despite they provide some unique functions and opportunity for some specialized parts.
To see another proper large plane we need to go back in 1988, when the 8855 Prop Plane was released. A pre-studless set with plenty of system bricks as well. Although one exemplar among the mythic sets in the LEGO Technic wall of fame. You may understand why I've not considered another mythic set like the 8480 Space Shuttle as a plane, or 8425 Black Hawk as really large plane, because of its smaller wingspan (both from 1996).

In recent years the 1H LEGO Technic set used to be generally available in March and get an exclusive release at some large chain store in January (e.g. Argos). As it seems this time the largest 1H set will also have its general availability in January, for several countries (some market strategy change here).

I recall the first blurred image leak we got to see from this set, where it appeared in plain white and without any stickers. The origin of this is image is still unclear and quite strange, as it seems to be some kind of marketing fabric banner at some sort of presentation, although I wonder who would produce such material from images of an unfinished product...

The fact is that the Cargo Plane got some very positive reactions since the day we saw that image, and the fans praises seem to have generally raised when we recently got to see the final product official images with the full "stickered" plane. Somehow uncommon to see a set with such amount of stickers and even rarer to find such level of acceptance to stickers from the fans community. Something weird is originating from the kingdom of Denmark.

1. The package and contents

Like any other large Technic set released in the past years, this one also comes within one of those boxes which we need to tear the "ears" on the sides, before being able to lift the cover. 
The box has the Power Functions decoration style, since there are some PF elements included, which make this set a bit more expensive than its equivalent in 2013.

Some illustrations in the front and back sides, show the model main functions (powered and manual) which we will see ahead in detail.
The back side also reveals the suggested alternate model and respective functions, whose building instructions will be only available from upon the set market release.

It turns clear the Cargo Plane has a rich set of powered and manual functions.

Powered functions:
  • Motorized spinning rotors
  • Motorized landing gears (front and rear)
  • Cockpit elevation to access cargo bay from the front
  • Motorized hatch to access the cargo bay from the rear
Manual functions:
  • Ailerons
  • Flaps
  • Elevators

Continuing with the box images, each of its sides has the appearance below. There we can also see the PF elements included with this set (PF M-motor and Battery Box). This time we don't have them highlighted in the box cover.

Once opened the box I looked for the bag containing the three building instructions books and two sticker sheets. It was already mentioned the huge amount of stickers included with this set...

Next I took out the rest of the contents, which consist of 13 unnumbered bags, including the bags for the motor and the battery box. There are no loose parts inside the box this time.
After sorting the bags over the table, here they are!

2. The new parts

Despite its size, this is not the set in the season which includes the largest variety of new elements or even the largest amount of those.

Although it includes some good exemplars as seen below.

With this set we get 6 of the new 3x11 Technic panels in white color. This is also the unique Technic set in the 1H which includes these new panels.
Additionally there are three 'long axle pins with friction' in DBG (also present in 42021 Snowmobile and 42023 Construction Crew), and one single 'axle 5 with stop' in dark tan (also present in 42024 Container Truck).

I'm particularly pleased with with the new panels as they come to fill one of the gaps in the new Technic panels system. They just took too long to come trough as we have already seen them prototyped and used in concepts for a 2011 model.
Even more interesting turns to be the 'long axle pin with friction', which I've missed sometimes when trying to create something out of my stock of Technic elements...

3. The parts assortment

Because it does not include many specialized parts, this is a good set for one willing to increase his parts collection and very effective for that objective. Besides some mini LAs and small rotor blades, this does not include many other specialized parts like pneumatics, large and very common wheels/tires and alike.

It is does not make an exaggerated use of gears (37 in total) or Technic frames (just 2), but includes a very good assortment of beams and panels, and of courser a generous assortment of pins and similar...
The five mini LAs are not common in one single set and might come handy in your model's functions.

Above everything this constitutes a good resource for everyone looking for white parts, and to some extent also blue ones.

Additionally to the partlist print above, in some time you should be able to find the full inventory listed here.

4. Building experience

This time I didn't sort the parts at all. Just opened the bags, thrown the parts over the table and started building right away.

And this is how it starts, the assembly that transmits power to the rear landing gears in the bottom of the plane body.

At half of the first book it looks like this. The mechanisms for the rear and front landing gears are assembled (3 mini-LAs used), the battery box is in place and the rear hatch that will give access to the cargo bay starts taking shape.

The building proceeds with the assembly of the gearbox in the top, which will control the four motorized functions (the two parallel red levers). The M-motor is already in place besides it is hardly seen in this picture. And two mini-LAs were just added to command the rear hatch and the cockpit elevation at the front.

The second book proceeds with transmissions parts, specifically the assembly that takes the power from the gear box in the top to the landing gears in the bottom.
It is followed by the assembly of the cockpit and the respective interiors like the seats and fake controls.

This is however the part where I found a strange error in the building instructions.
For several pages until step 55 (book 2, page 27) inclusive we can see a black Technic pin in the cabin fuselage (see the green circle in the image on the left). In fact there is one at each side of the cockpit structure.
On step 56 (book 2, page 30) this pin is not there anymore. Actually it cannot be there, as it makes impossible to attach the sub-assembly at step 56, and it makes the builder to wonder on what's that pin doing there.
It is the kind of error that hardly won't hit everyone building the plane. Of course I don't know what caused such mistake, but can only imagine there was some late change in the fuselage attachment method and the pins were left behind in the building instructions.

The fuselage assembly and the mistake repeats for the other side, and this is the final result for the cockpit.
Very well done and it looks as realistic as it can be done with the Technic parts assortment.

The building steps proceed with the fairing panels for both rear landing gears.

And then it continues with all the tail structure of the pane which includes the vertical and horizontal stabilizers, elevators and rudder which is not actually anything like a functional rudder.
And it is how it will look like when you reach the end of book two.

Before moving on, here some intermediate details.
The two levers that will command the gearbox controlled functions (electrical) and the two levers which control the manual functions - Third lever from the left controls the flaps and fourth lever controls the ailerons and elevators.

Also notice the inscription in the rear panels (LKJ 1960). It turns obvious these are the initials from the Designer's name (Lars Krogh Jensen) and most likely his year of birth, considering his bio page at the LEGO Technic website in 2008 mentioned he was 48. In 2013 it mentions he his still 50, but everyone knows that after a certain age the anniversary comes only once each two years.

A more detailed view of the vertical and horizontal stabilizers in the tail, along with the elevators.
This one gave me a bit of a bad time, but it was all my mistake, as I've taken a beam with a wrong length in the wrong place...

And finally the bottom view, as it is at the current stage.

Third book is fully dedicated to the wings, the propeller engines that come along with them and the wheels in the landing gears.
I've not taken early intermediate building pictures from the wings but following it is a picture from one engine before adding the slats to the wing and the propeller blades.

This is the end result, i.e. the finished plane and I'd raise your attention to the long transmissions that command the ailerons in the wings. Because they're pretty long and the moveents precision is not of big relevance here, it is made with several knob wheels which are very appropriate for this use.

And this is the final aspect from the bottom view.

It all ended with a fair amount of spare parts.

Another way to follow the building process, if you have fast eyes, is to see the time lapse video that I've prepared once more.

Now it rests to build the B-model, once the building instructions become available.

5. Functionality and playability

As mentioned before and also as usual for larger models like this set, it comprises both electrical and manual functions.
The electrical functions are obviously powered from a battery box, well hidden inside the model is this case. The interface to switch the batteries on/off is made through a beam linked to the battery switch. This is the first time this is done into an official model as far as I can recall.
It needs some practice if you intend to switch-off to avoid going all long the other direction and reverse to motor.

As previously explained, the battery power for different functions, selectable trough a 2x2-way switch box whose commands lay in the top of the fuselage, behind the wings.
Two levers assure the functions selection and nothing prevents anyone two use two off them simultaneously. Not even the relative week power delivered by the PF M-motor, which is enough to have all combinations of two functions to run simultaneously.

One lever switches between the spinning rotors and the motorized rear hatch, another between the motorized cockpit elevation and the motorized landing gears. Hence we can have the following combinations of two simultaneous functions:
  1. Spinning rotors + Cockpit elevation
  2. Spinning rotors + Landing gears
  3. Rear hatch + Cockpit elevation
  4. Rear hatch + Landing grears
Not all the combinations make sense though. We can say the model is not idiot proof in that sense...
I'd say combinations 2 and 3 would make sense, the others not much.

Another thing you should realize when playing with the switch box levers and operating two functions simultaneously while the motor is already running in one direction, is that functions are not always in the same operating range. One function may run properly and the other one may be already locked or locking soon, and some mini-LA internal clutch will start to grind loud. It may not happen with the landing gears when extended as they simply lock but there is no available torque to trigger the three mini-LA clutches involved. 

Still about the levers, the third one from left in the picture commands the Flaps, which change Lift and Drag in a real plane, and the fourth lever commands the Ailerons (change Roll or rotate the body) and the Elevators which change Pitch (move up and down).
There is no Rudder working function to change Yaw in this model, which is a pity and probably wouldn't have been too difficult to add in favor of the realism.

Now lets proceed with images from the elements covered by each of the electrical function, one by one.

One spinning rotor. There is one at each side and they work simultaneously as you should expect.
No observed thrust generated from these, though... Even when the model was suspended by a thin nylon string.
Although they spin really fast, which is nice and looks realistic!

The cockpit elevation and front access to the cargo bay.

The hatch motorized function and rear access to the cargo bay.

The rear landing gears retract and expand, while some moving panels cover / uncover them. A really nice feature and visually appealing.

And the front landing gear. Also in expanded and retracted positions.

Moving into the manual functions, lets see the effect of each command in the model.

The Elevators turn up and down simultaneously with a longitudinal movement of the fourth lever, which actuates via a 9L link underneath.

The Ailerons in the wings move in opposition of phase as expected and required to make the plane body to rotate.

And finally the movement of the Flaps, commanded by the third lever.
Think this movement could have been done a bit more realistic though. The Flaps seem to pivot too high, relative to the wing.

Comments that I've found online from the fans, suggest some would expect that at least a few functions could be somehow operated from inside the cockpit. This is unfortunately not the case and it should be quite difficult to do even considering the large size of the model.
There are indeed a couple of levers inside the cockpit, but they're completely fake. Remember the nose elevation function and imagine what would be needed to do in order to have functional controls inside the cockpit. Probably some knob wheels could give you the solution, but then you can already see what it means in terms of space...

After the working functions another important aspect regarding the playability of an electrical model, is the access to the battery box and easiness to replace the batteries.

As said before, the battery box is well hidden inside the plane body, although it is of relative easy access. One just needs to detach the side panels on both sides of the fuselage, and unplug a few pins with stop bush (32054) to partially release the BB from the plane structure. After that we just need to push the BB a little bit forward to make it completely loose.

Then it is easy to take it out and replace batteries. It is not mandatory to disconnect from the motor, although it may turn things a bit easier...
Finally one just needs to revert the previous steps until the side panels are again in place. Don't forget to reattach the beam lever to the battery switch.

For a live demonstration of the functions above described, you can also see the video below.

As for the non-functional aspects I'd highlight the some traffic lights present around the plane, like in a real plane.

Some nice details that also bring a little diversity to the predominant white/blue color scheme used in this beautiful set.

6. The B-model

The B-model proposed with this set it is just another confirmation of my theory, that once we get to see a new type of vehicle in the LEGO Technic theme, not seen for a long time before, we will most certainly see it again soon in a different scale (many times larger, but not always). Just have not yet found one way to predict the next sets to release in a reliable form, based on this observation...

This time the Hovercraft from the last year (42002) reincarnated in the form of an alternate model of another set. And this way we got a huge hovercraft, which is a quite uncommon vehicle in the LEGO Technic theme.
The only other one that I found, was the 8824 from 20 years back (1993). There have been other similar vehicles in aspect but much smaller in size and function, like the Hydrofoil (8223) and Hydro Racer (8246).

The large amount of panels present in 42025, turned into a perfect opportunity to design a big hovercraft like this.

Although I've not built this model it seems we get some fewer functions than in the main model. Without having access to the building instructions at the moment for a confirmation as they're not yet available, I'd say we get:
  • Motorized front door to access the cargo bay
  • Motorized spinning rotors
  • Rotors seem to be manually orientable
  • Model is likely to move on wheels

It looks a model that is worth to try, once the building instructions do become available.

    7. Final thoughts

    This half's LEGO Technic flagship, a double-engine plane, seems to be inspired on a civil version of Alenia C-27J, or some other similar aircraft. It follows almost the same proportions in terms of length and wingspan, besides the C-27J has larger wingspan and 42025 a bigger length.

    I've seen some commenting about the intention to use two Cargo Plane sets to build a really huge and longer version of it. It reminds me the most famous and common C-130 Hercules transport aircraft from Lockheed Martin. Being (not Boeing...) a four-engine turboprop it would be a perfect challenge to build width two exemplars of 42025.
    It should have somehow a larger wingspan (if it cans sustain the weight) to accommodate the four motors, and it could be also made longer to keep the proportions of the original Hercules. Although one could even try the C-130H-30 stretched  version...

    Here you can see the reason for my observation above. In its current form the wing plus the propeller is already a considerable weight to sustain. Because of the intrinsic tolerance from the holes in Technic elements, the wings already tend to bend a bit under its own weight, since the support bar (in black) has a limited reach.

    The challenge is launched!...

    Honestly and unexpectedly I like the massive stickers effect on this model, although I'm not a big enthusiast of the chosen decoration theme. Too many waves IMO, which fortunately do not affect the B-model in the same extent, where I guess some panels are not use or simply not visible. Although some wave lines would make a bit more sense on the hovercraft.

    The nose and rear hatch makes me remember 9396 Rescue Helicopter, so similar they're. Although I like this set's nose more because it looks smoother to the eye.

    And finally some spare pictures that I've taken but were not used in this review.


    1.jpg 1.jpg 1.jpg 1.jpg 1.jpg 1.jpg 1.jpg 1.jpg 1.jpg 1.jpg 1.jpg 1.jpg 1.jpg 1.jpg 1.jpg 1.jpg 1.jpg

    8. The Ratings

    This is a quite uncommon and innovative set, both in terms of the main and alternate models.
    It could be also a great source for parts, specially white ones and not to mention the good bunch of the new 3x11 panels also in white color.

    And of course a great excuse for a big Technic swoosh!

    Apart the new elements which are necessarily rare at this moment, there are no other rare or significant amount of high value elements. Given this, apart the playability, the innovation or the set coolness, there is not much contributing to the overall set value than the respective price per part. And here the indicative value is not very promising for the typical on a large set like this. Hence the lower rank in this aspect (nothing beats 42009 in this regard...).

    Parts innovation is somehow saved by the new panels and a fewer amount of two other new elements. Although we should expect to see a bigger assortment of the new 1H14 Technic elements in the 1H flagship...

    On the other hand the innovation is well present in this set as we had never seen something similar this size and we also get something unique and cool, like the cockpit elevation.

    The set is cute, it looks nice and the functions are appealing, although there is always something to improve and the Rudder, is really a good example of a miss here.

    Finally the functionality was already extensively described above and the swoosh factor assures the playability...

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

    Overall rate: Recomended  

    This is a set that most LEGO Technic addicts and not so addicts will want to have. If you intend to keep it built for exhibition, just think if you have a free shelf this large or consider to get a clear nylon reel to hang it  somewhere...


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