Sunday, December 15, 2013

TBs TechReview 32 – 42021, Snowmobile

Set reference: 42021                                                                                                                                                               
Set name: Snowmobile
Theme: LEGO Technic
Release date: 2014.Jan

Number of parts: 185 (plus a few spares)

LEGO Designer: Mic (Michael T. Jeppesen)

Model under review: Main and alternate models
Weight: 120g (4.2 oz) approx.
Approximate set dimensions (main model):
Length - 23,9cm (9.4")
Width - 12,7cm (5.0")
Height - 8,6cm (3.1")
Approximate box dimensions:
Length - 26,0cm (10.2")
Width - 14,0cm (5.5")
Height - 4,8cm (1,6")

Stickers: Yes
Building instructions: 2 booklets (48 and 40 pages)
B-model: Snow Motorbike

Recommended for ages: 8 - 14
Building difficulty level: Easy
Estimated building time: 30m - 45m

Price range: 15,99€ (estimation)
Price per part: 8,6 euro cents (estimation)

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

Here we're today taking a deeper look at LEGO Technic Snowmobile 42021, one of the 1H2014 releases. We didn't see anything similar since 2007 when 8272 was released. With almost twice the parts (331) this red Snowmobile had of course a larger scale, which turns obvious if we realize it uses the newest and larger tread links instead of the old style used in the new 2014 model.

It is also something new from Michael T. Jeppesen, who also worked in a different model (42023 Construction Crew) for this upcoming semester arriving in a few weeks.

1. The package and contents

This Snowmobile comes in the same size box as the 42002 Hovercraft and it uses the standard decoration art as used in most LEGO Technic sets.
From the backside we can see the proposed alternative model, a slim Snow Motorbike.

As it is a small set we get no PF or much sophisticated functions. Basically we have the steering and suspension. Although we immediately realize this set comes with several interesting novelties in terms of new elements as we will see ahead.

From the sides view there is not much to add as it is usual for sets this size.

Inside we find the two small building instructions books covering both the main and alternative models (one for each) as usual for the smaller sets, and one small loose sticker sheet for set decoration.

The building elements arrive in 3 unnumbered bags and no other loose parts. One bag with tread links only, one with pins and other small parts, and another for the main elements.

2. The new parts

The Snowmobile is the set which includes most new different elements (5) among the 1H2014 sets and the third one delivering most new elements (11) in terms of quantity. This is a notable fact as much as unexpected.

Most of the new molds here introduced are dedicated to the front suspension function.

From the image below you can see both the new parts (left side and center) and the other parts in this set we want to highlight (right side). Just because they are already existing elements now released in a new color for the first time, as it is the case of the mini panels (#21 and #22) released in black (3 of each).

As for the new parts I'd start from the center with the DBG Long Axle / Pin with friction (2x), released also with 42023 Construction Crew and 42025 Cargo Plane, and one exemplar of  the new 3x5 Dog Bone or H-frame also present in the Construction Crew (3x). Both these specialized parts seem very useful for future sets and fan made MOCs, to help making the models sturdier and more robust.

The three remaining new parts were all designed with the purpose of achieving more compact solutions for new steering and suspension designs. Particularly useful for small and mid-size vehicles.

So we have, a 5L Steering Arm with just one module width. A premier in terms of already existing steering arm designs.
Notice the small groove in the lower side opposite to the ball-joint connection. Never saw this in similar molds and have no idea about the reason for its presence, although there is likely a good one.
First remembered about the movements expected from this part, but don't think this is the reason and still can't figure what the reason might be...


Along with these we get a new type of 3-Ball Joint Steering Gear (on the right side). This is similar to a former version (32186 on the left) used only once in the old 8448 Super Street Sensation supercar.
Again a more compact design which allows for smaller steering solutions. It allows the connection to a forward-facing and closer link instead of an upward-facing and more distant one. Then for the same displacement it should also allow slightly larger steering angles and smaller turning radius.

Finally we also get a special connector to hold the upper and lower suspension arms together. This is a kind of an intriguing new element as it would have been possible to achieve the same solution with several other existing parts. Again there might be a good reason that led the designers do decide for a new element, despite it is not obvious.
It is in fact a more compact design than other solutions would have been, and its use in the B-model is strictly for an aesthetic function. Probably we will find the real motivation for this new element, when / if we will get to see it used in future sets.

In resume I guess the plethora of new elements in this set, might be more than enough to make it a good sales success.

Below the respective element IDs if you want to order these in quantity from LEGO Customer Service.
  • 6055519 - 3x5 Dog Bone or H-frame (LBG)
  • 6015356 - Long Axle / Pin with friction (DBG)
  • 6055628 - 1x5 Steering Arm (LBG)
  • 6055629 - 3-Ball Joint Steering Gear (DBG)
  • 6055630 - Suspension Linkage (Black)

3. The parts assortment

The amount and variety of new elements is definitely the most distinctive factor of this set. Immediately after maybe we should highlight the fact it is lime colored and that the previous lime Technic set was released in the 1H2012. Once the LEGO Technic lime sets tend to be small ones, the Technic lime parts tend also to be scarce in our parts assortments. Hence this could become an useful set if you're in need of additional lime parts.

Additionally this is also a source of the older link treads, which are always needed in large amounts, and the above mentioned small Technic panels in black, exclusive of this set so far.

Below you can see in detail the parts assortment included with this box.

No more small wheels or tires which we tend to accumulate in large excess...

4. Building experience

This is a fairly straight and short build for one experienced in building LEGO Technic models.
It starts with the front suspension and steering basic structure, after which we have used most of the new parts included with this set - only the Long Axle / Pin with friction elements remain to be used some steps ahead.

This is followed by the front volume, headlights and the structure that will support the driver's seat.

The builder then proceeds with the structure that will support the rear traction skids, and will build the traction unit itself (the module shown below).
The solution is pretty simple and robust. The track does not derail with ease, hence it works perfectly!

We have now passed the 1st half of the instructions booklet. After some bracing beams, the front suspension assembly, some fairing panels, the handlebar and a few stickers, this is how the model will look like (here some more stickers that as per the instructions should applied only in the final step).

Realize on the half pin protruding on the top of the traction unit (on the white beam). This serves to limit the pivoting movement of the rear traction unit like a real suspension would do.

At this point we're just missing the front skids, that will attach to the new steering gears.
Below it is a photo from one of these skids, ready to be attached in its place.

And this is how your Snowmobile  will like after completion.

Just a small note regarding the last step where the final stickers should be applied. Here there is a small error in the building instructions, where it is missing the label indicating that sitcker "7" is also applied in this step on the driver's seat.
Although I've sent notification about this small issue, don't know whether it will justify a fix for a future print run of the building instructions. We will see when they'll get available online.

Nevertheless the model is ready and these are spare parts included with this set.

If you like a time-lapse, here you have one that I've recorded while building this small set.

Enjoy it!

5. Functionality and playability

Being a small set its functions are quite obvious and basic. Realize for instance that besides using a few gears, this set does not include one single function driven by gears.
So we basically rest with the list of functions below, from which we could even discuss whether some of these are proper functions or not.
  • Steering
  • Front suspension
  • Rear "suspension" (sort of)
  • Drive

The most relevant in this set are obviously the first two, and also those where most of the new parts are used too. Hence it is worth to show some close-ups of the front suspension.

Here the suspension setup from a front view, where we have also detached one steering linkage, for a clear view of each new part and its function.

And here a rear view from the same suspension setup, where we see also the new link part holding the upper and lower suspension arms, as well as the shock absorber attached to the lower arm.

For a better visualization we have also prepared the video bellow to demo this model's functions. It also covers the B-model which we will briefly discuss ahead in this review.

This set playability is somehow limited by its size and functions, but this is also nothing we shouldn't be expecting beforehand.

The plastic construction and small weight nature of this model may lead you to think the track in the back will easily lose traction on smooth surfaces. Although as you can see from the video (in fact you should hear it more than seeing) this is not the case and you don't need to look for a carpet to play and have fun. The surface where I've tested it is really smooth and slippy, but it still works just fine.

And here some additional pictures from the main model that I've taken, but have not use 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

6. The B-model

As mentioned in the beginning of this review, the alternate model for this set is a Snow Motorbike - somehow in the in the same kind of bikes as a snowmobile. This was also really straight forward and fast to build.

It starts with the chassis and is followed by the rear traction unit. But it is almost near the end of the building instructions that we come into something new and worth to mention. And this is the suspension of the front skid.

This is very simple and well done. It works pretty well as you may have seen from the video above.

Now one photo from the rear traction unit - not that different from the main model, although it is a bit smaller. And notice again the protruding half pin that limits the pivoting movement when one lifts the model from the floor.

Finally one detail from the articulation for the steering column built with some relative recent elements (92907). Very useful in this context!

And these are the leftovers after having built the B-model. Considerable more than those left by the main model.
As you can see most of the new elements included for the Snowmobile, were left unused by the alternative model. Only the Long Axle / Pins and the Suspension Linkage got used. The last ones just for an aesthetics function (where the driver would rest his feet).

And that's time for some photos from the Snow Motorbike which is now complete.

By way of conclusion this is a simple and effective alternate model. It works fine and it is a nice variation on the same subject!

    7. Final thoughts

    As I use to leave something for the final comments, this time it won't be the exception.

    From the photo below you can see the traction unit on the main model protrudes considerably from the chassis, leaving a significant part of the track uncovered. This is not realistic if we compare with photos from actual snowmobiles and it would be quite dangerous if they would be like this.
    Definitely something that could have been done different, and which its ancestor 8272 handled also in a bit different way.
    Some snow guards or rear lights would have been sufficient to make it more realistic.

    Another detail can be observed from the photo below, also from the main model. You can certainly notice there is a misalignment of the 2x4 L-shape liftarm in the center (here exaggerated and pushed a bit down).
    This was most likely made on purpose to give it some detail and volumetric effect, because just one simple pin would have been enough to prevent this. Furthermore there is one pin left in the spares from this model...

    Of course none of these will ruin the model itself, which for its size and price offers quite a nice play experience.

    8. The Ratings

    I think all of my positive and negative observations have been covered above, and now we can only go through a very short resume.
    • The price is average for the size and value put inside the box.
    • This was a very good addition to the LEGO Technic line-up this half, in terms of new elements introduction.
    • The set is not really innovative as it was already done once before, although in a different scale.
      But it is still uncommon in the portfolio, and it was well managed the introduction of two similar vehicles within the same set, what was not the case with its ancestor.
    • The design is very positive for both the main and alternative models, with some nice details and good use of the new elements (specially for the main model).
      The color scheme was also well chosen given the type of vehicles represented.
    • Finally the functions vs playability are as expected for a model this size.

    These with some some other observations made along this review, made me to decided for the final ratings below.

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

    Overall rate: Recomended  

    I think you won't regret in anyway, if you buy this set for you or to offer someone.


    Alessandro Bartoli said...

    Amazing and detailed review, much appreciated! I think lime color is looking great on this model.

    Jim van Gulik said...

    Nice review!

    This seems to be a nice parts pack. Will buy this as soon as possible.

    iPelaaja1 said...

    Very detailed and depthful review, Im studying and living at university accommodation so I dont have any of my Lego with me but Im really tempted to buy two of these as soon as they come out :) Really want the treads and the steering arms anyways

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