Monday, 4 August 2014

Lego Technic 42030 Volvo L350F Wheel Loader, flagship set review

I only use this blog mainly for posting about my cycling exploits and stuff to do with my leg, but I'm going to start writing about other things I'm interested in too. Here, Lego. I'm an unashamed AFOL (Adult Fan Of Lego), and have been since I was 25, since 8448 :) I will probably write another post about that, but here, I'll reproduce and expand a bit upon a review I wrote of the new Lego Technic flagship set for - it's a licensed model of a Volvo L350F Wheel Loader, so follows in line from the famous Mercedes-Benz Unimog model of 2 years ago. Last year's flagship was the Mobile Crane MkII, an incredible model, so this one has something to live up to...

The beginning of August is special for Lego fans - it's when the 2H (2nd half) of the year sets are released. In particular, it's when the year's Technic flagship set comes out. When I saw online what this year's set was, probably sometime back in March, I have to admit I wasn't filled full of excitement. After the lovely surprise of the Cargo Plane, another construction vehicle. And one that we have a previous (reasonably recent) version of too, 8265. And I will now have a hundred million yellow beams. Pfff.

Still, sometimes looks can be deceiving, and as I have said in a previous review about Technic flagships, I was pretty much always going to get this set. It's expensive - I winced slightly as I parted with 170 pounds (OK, 161.50 with VIP discount) at the Discovery Store in Manchester on Saturday. The pleasant shop assistant made me feel better though by asking "is this for you?" - "yes :)" I replied, smile included. There are few better arguments, it seems to me, for getting an education and a good job than being able to buy the biggest Lego sets....

In-keeping with the price, the box is big, much deeper than the usual boxes. When you open it of course it is not full, but there are lots of bags in there, some big tyres and that enormous bucket, which I think I read is the biggest element Technic has ever had. Wow, it is big - put it next to a minifigure! You also have a whole bunch of power functions stuff: battery box; one each of the four different motors; two remote controls and two IR receivers. There are three linear actuators. I dare say that those parts I just listed account for most of the cost of the set. You get tons of yellow beams, surprisingly few gears, lots of axles, and the portal axle assemblies too. At 1600-something pieces, this set is a lot smaller in piece count than last year's flagship, but when you have all the pieces out on your desk, you do still feel like you have bought a lot of pieces, and piece count isn't everything anyway, as we all know.

The box emptied.
That's one big bucket.
And big tyres too!
All the PF stuff.
There is also of course the sticker sheet, which I won't use, as usual. The instruction book (yes, singular, book) is one of the ones with lots of pages and a spine - can't remember the last time we got one of those, a welcome sight rather than the 3 or so thinner books we've had recently. And I really love that Lego now put the books in bags with a cardboard sheet. I used to despair at the book and sticker sheet being all mangled in the box! Thank heaven those days are over.

Nice manual with a spine, not 3 flimsy separate books.

On to the build then: it's great. Not as long as some of the other flagship sets, but strangely I liked this. It's still a good 4 or 5 hours including unboxing and everything. There are no really tricky bits, and no particularly complicated steps which I suppose is a shame. The build is also slightly weighted towards form rather than function, meaning that there are a lot of steps that make the model look nice as opposed to simply working. You can take that both ways though - sometimes it's nice to put some effort into having it look right. It's very satisfying seeing how the motors fit into the model - they're not all mounted in the way you might expect, and there's stuff too to get your head around that makes the model work. All the way through you are struck by how solid this model is - I guess it has to be to cope with the forces needed to move a good fraction of the weight of the model with the servo motor for steering. Probably it will be hard on the fingers to take to pieces but that's worth it, always.
I like the green engine blocks - usually I find building the engine the worst bit of these models, but because of the new colour it seemed altogether new, like I hadn't actually put one of these engines together a thousand times and could almost do it in my sleep ;) I am also now pretty much convinced that Lego have tried hard to avoid being too tedious with symmetrical builds. This model has a few bits where you are building the 'other side' but it doesn't feel like you're repeating something. I like that a lot.

Here's all the bits, before starting to build - note green engine blocks on right.
Well into the build here, motors and receivers mounted, engine done.
Very near the end, bucket just mounted.

When you get it finished, you are struck by what a beast of a model this is. It's heavy, and big. That's really satisfying. Looking at it on my desk now, I'm happy I bought it. Last year's Crane MkII is awesome, but this year's is awesome in a different way. It's impressively solid. I love it. The wheels and bucket are massive. Did I say that already? Well, they are :)

The remote control functions are great fun too - having two controls and the fact that the functions are arranged sensibly between them means that you can drive it properly, and when you want, operate the bucket properly, both functions at once. I spent a good while just doing n-point turns on my desk top and trying to scoop things up in the bucket.

This is a big, heavy, impressive model!
Impressive front view.
Next to 8265 there is no contest - this thing is amazing. At some point I will probably build them both and put them side by side like I did with the Mobile Cranes, but I already know what the outcome will be. 42030 is awesome.

I rated this set 4/5 overall even though while writing this review I felt like I wanted to give it 5/5. I think it's expensive, but then you do get all the power functions stuff. There are no really new pieces, but then the exception is the new massive bucket. It's not the most complicated Technic model ever, nor is it particularly difficult or challenging to build, but then it is so heavy and big, and the remote functions and play value are excellent. I'll give it 4.5/5.

The finished model, after a bit of playing with the remote control functions.

1 comment:

  1. Lego Technic 42030 Volvo L350F Wheel Loader, flagship set review. I only use this blog mainly for posting about my cycling exploits and stuff ...