This is the first new LEGO I have built in over 25 years, and marks my return to one of the greatest pleasures of my earlier years. And what a return! This is without a doubt the most impressive Technic model I have ever seen or built, and I would recommend it to anyone without any hesitation whatsoever. This model has it all: power functions, pneumatics, and it also looks the part too; this is a really nice vehicle which really looks close to, if not better in some respects than the real thing.
- Power functions driving an impressive gear train to select four different functions: tipping the truck bed, extending the stabilisers, rotating the grab arm and driving the compressor
- Impressive pneumatic functions: two pistons control the angle of the grab arm, one extends the arm and a final small one opens and closes the grab itself
- Straight six cylinder engine driving (or driven by!) by the eight rear wheels, which have suspension and a separate differential for each axle
- Incredibly detailed cab with Mercedes-Benz livery, which tilts to expose the engine just like on a real truck
- Front steering via a hand-of-god knobs is well done, with independent suspension for each wheel
- Locking back door on truck bed, which opens during tilting
- Cab and platform on the side of the cab are sized appropriately for Technic figures from earlier models, so they can drive the truck and operate the controls (see the photos!)
- Clutch gear on the grab arm turn/stabiliser extending functions prevents damage when these reach their limits and come to a hard stop
- The pneumatic lines are routed through colour-coded T elements which makes some of the instructions easier to follow
- The diagrams in the instruction booklet were easy to follow, and perhaps broken up into too many steps compared with the earlier instructions I was used to, but were easy to follow; I only made a few mistakes due to my own fault and these were thankfully easy to rectify without dismantling too much!
All the controls for the functions operate well, with a few caveats I'll mention below.
(Very minor) cons:
- Due to the weight of the grab arm, the arm can drop abruptly when lowering the arm; this can be prevented by being very careful with the valve operation, so that the air doesn't escape very quickly. This isn't a design flaw in the model as such, it's a limitation of how the pneumatic valves operate. The weight can also mean it takes a good bit of time to raise the arm since it takes the compressor a while to build up enough pressure in the system.
- The amount of pneumatic lines running through the centre of the turntable (8) makes the turning action ever so slightly stiff and this can lead to jerky turning motion due to the clutch slipping. This got better on my second build of the model due to dust making the lines stick to each other less--when brand new out of the box there was a good bit of friction between them. Fiddling with the precise amount of slack and routing of the lines helped a little bit, but didn't eliminate this entirely.
- The compressor and tilting mechanism could have used a clutch gear; when I dismantled it to build the alternative model, the axle driving the compressor had noticeable wear I think due to the load put on it when the pressure is high and all the pistons are at their limits, and the linear actuator ground horribly at the limits of the bed tilt if not quick enough to stop the motor
- The stickers aren't compatible with the alternative build; it uses a reversed arrangement of two of the pneumatic valves, and some of the valve control stickers are out of place on the alternate model due to where you need to place the pieces. The valve arrangement could have easily been made the same--it's just a matter of switching the routing of the lines, I think.
- The instructions showing the routing of the pneumatic lines could have been clearer. I was not much in doubt of which line went to which nozzle of which valve, but the spatial arrangement of how the lines were routed around each other was not as clear as it perhaps could have been.
Note that these are very minor criticisms, and I have absolutely no regrets about purchasing this model. It was an absolute blast to build, with very different parts to it to make it not get too repetitive -- the main chassis and engine, the gear train, the pneumatic arm, the cab, and the bed. Seeing it come together bit by bit was great! And I've spent hours playing with it after building it. The slow, majestic sweep of the truck bed tilting up and down, the rapid open and close of the grab, and the graceful raising of the grab arm are all just a wonder to behold. The amount of functionality crammed into the model is incredible, and the result is a technical wonder you'll marvel at for hours.