LEGO® and licenses are often an exciting combination, so it was no surprise the Billund people from Technic started to work closely with renowned companies. The first licensed Technic set (if you do not take the 800x-series Technic Star Wars sets that appeared in 2000 and 2001 into the equation) was the 8110 Mercedes-Benz Unimog. Not only did it mark the first official collaboration between the LEGO Group and the German car factory, with a piece count of 2,048 in 2011 it was also the biggest Technic set ever released. A second licensed set appeared last year, the 42030 Volvo L350F Wheel Loader and 8110’s record had been broken a year earlier with the arrival of 42009 Mobile Crane MK II, which had a total number of 2,606 parts.
2015 has been a pretty exciting year when it comes to the Technic line-up - one of the best ever. It also marks not only an even bigger set than 42009, but also a second collaboration with Mercedes Benz. Now, I am not a real connoisseur when it comes to trucks or even plain cars (hey, I don’t even know how to drive either), but even a quick look at Technic set 42043 Mercedes-Benz Arocs 3245 proves that this is an outstanding set that fulfils all the dreams of avid Technic fans. It is one of the most aesthetically pleasing Technic models imaginable, has a minimum amount of stickers (this review proves it looks even good without decals), full suspension on all wheels and a real wish come true: new and longer pneumatic cylinders. It is a set with some small flaws, but these are easily clouded by the sheer awesomeness of the build and the truck as a whole and for a huge licensed set it is very decently priced (GBP 169.99, EUR 199.99, USD 229.99). Let’s take a closer look at the building process and the amazing new parts it offers.
Boxed and Stored
Inside are a tightly sealed instruction book (a hefty volume of over 480 pages!) accompanied by a comparatively modest sticker sheet. There are five general bags, two containing this set’s Power Functions (a battery box and an L Motor to be more precise), two bags with a total number of twelve tyres and a bag full of pneumatic hoses, valves, cylinders and a pump. The set is divided into six stages with numbered bags. Even though some may be of the opinion this takes out the fun of a big build like this, to me it kept things a bit more organised. So we will take a closer look at the innovative building sequence and the new parts in six steps.
One: Why Don’t We Get Things Started?
By far the most awe-inspiring feature of this stage is the build of the two steering axles. It makes use of an intricate combination of pins and the Steering Arm 5 x 1 with Towball Socket (Design ID 15459) introduced last year. These front axles can freely swing but are restricted by the use of these Steering Arms and the four sturdy yellow Shock Absorbers (Element ID 6027566). Also, the steering is generated by two links with different lengths, respectively a Technic Link 1 x 9 (Design ID 32293 and Technic Link 1 x 6 (Design ID 32005). These links, combined with the difference in length of the steering rods they control, cause the two axles to steer at a slightly different angle. Clever! The steering mechanism is linked to an upward-moving axle mounted to one side of the chassis. With the use of gears this is taken all the way to the top to the two emergency lights on the cabin’s roof.
Two: Geared Up
The second stage of the build is the construction of the gearbox. This one is pretty much in the centre of the truck, somewhat reminding me of the gearbox of a similar set, 2009’s 8285 Crane Truck. This part of the build also gives us the first new elements. There is a new gear rack with a length of 14 studs that is featured in Dark Stone Grey [TLG] / Dark Bluish Grey [BL] (Design ID 18942 | Element ID 6114979) that has both axle holes and round holes. This part fits into a new Bright Red [TLG]/Red [BL] bracket (Design ID 18940 | Element ID 6114965) with a length of 15 studs and a height of 3 studs. These two parts, who only seem to work together, are quite limited in use. The lack of versatility may be an issue, but attached next to each other it provides a very sturdy and compact system of outriggers.
The gearbox itself however is not as sophisticated and complex. I am still not sure what I think of the use of the Red 16 tooth gears, since the colour is quite prominent. I would have picked a less bright colour. The gears are mainly situated on one level, but even though the gearbox is not as complicated (that title goes to this year’s 42042 Crawler Crane), it is quite effective.
This is also the time to speak about the updated parts of this set. Basically there is a new mould for all of the pneumatic cylinders and valves that we already knew. The compressor pump we find in set 42043 is an updated version of the one we saw in Medium Stone Grey [TLG] / Light Bluish Gray [BL] in sets 8110 Mercedes-Benz Unimog and 42008 Service Truck. This time the pump is featured in Bright Blue [TLG] / Blue [BL], but most importantly the outlets of the pump have been changed. Now it is a lot easier to remove the rubber pneumatic hoses. We see this new type of outlet on all pneumatic parts in this set except for: the T Piece (Design ID 4697) which is a big shame since removing hoses from these is pretty hard, and the Pneumatic Hose Connector with Axle Connector (Design ID 99021). All of these updated parts have a new Design ID, distinguishing them from their previous counterparts. The position of the compressor pump is interesting, since it is completely hidden inside the model.
Three: Back It Up
The two components containing the differentials are similar. They are connected by a small turntable, enabling the two axles to swing independently. It is a satisfying thought that the designer of this set did not pass up any opportunity to give Technic fans what they eagerly longed for; not only does it have a double set of differentials, but also the rear axles have double wheels.
The axle components are then mounted with two 6-stud long links to the rest of the rear section. This causes the lower part of the back to not shift too much to one side once the shock absorbers (this time the version with the soft spring, Design ID 76138) are applied. The whole assembly is then put into place with the use of Steering Arms with Ballsockets and Pins with Towballs. This is an amazing way to create suspension in several directions. Not only can the two axles move independently, the whole truck is now suspended. There is a huge difference between the suspension arrangement of the front and the back.
Four: Under Pressure
Next up is the most complex section of the whole build. It may look easy at first glance, but building the crane (which uses a lot of hoses) was quite a drag. In a good way though, but making it work smoothly is quite the ordeal. There are so many hoses that I made some errors in the building process. Not in the arrangement of the hoses per se, but it is important to let the hoses run flat to the back of the crane section without installing them too tightly that the air cannot run freely.
Since some hoses are just a bit too long there is a lot of extra space used at the bottom of the arrangement, but this arrangement also needs to be attached to the rest of the truck. I really wish the Billund people would have given the young builder some more guidelines on how to attach the hoses. Take a look at the pictures to see which is the best way to make everything work smoothly.
What also struck me is the fact the existing Axle and Pin Connector Perpendicular Double Split (Design ID 41678) is now being made from shinier plastic. I found both the old and the new type in my set. Something similar happened last year with the Axle and Pin Connector Perpendicular 3L with Center Pin Hole (Design ID 32184). Maybe this is a sign that the LEGO Group is replacing all connectors with shinier ABS, but I am not sure if I encourage this decision, I kind of like the old versions more. If so, dear LEGO, please leave one very essential part alone; the Axle and Pin Connector Perpendicular (Design ID 6536), because this will drastically change the look of many sets!
Five: The Look Of It All
Once the crane is put into place things look a little bit silly and half-naked. Next up is the cabin. a very enjoyable build that uses the six bags labelled with the number five. I love the fact the build of this Arocs truck now switches from technical parts to the aesthetics of the cabin and the tipping bed.
Within the build of the cabin, the most important section is the construction of the grille, which is what makes an Arocs an Arocs. The real-life counterpart of the truck has four rows in its grille, but this LEGO rendition only has three. The bottom row is diagonal but set put securely into place at the backside. It makes use of an impressive number of Pin 1/2 with 2L Bar Extension (Flick Missile - Design ID 61184) by using the stud at one end to put plates on, and the bar at the other end fits tightly inside a regular Technic Pin. You are provided with a staggering amount of thirty of these.
I will not go into further details of the build of the cabin, since it is pretty straightforward. It is put into place with several Technic liftarms, enabling the cabin to tilt to reveal the inline motor.
The last phase of the building process is the construction of the tipping bed. This is also the moment to let you in on a little confession, which I strongly advise you to heed. The tipping bed is made out of the two bags numbered six and by far the most monotonous and repetitious part of the whole set so I built it first, before starting with the really exciting stuff of bags one to five.
Final ThoughtsThis utterly amazing set arrived on my doorstep about a month ago, when I was in the midst of writing a review for the outstanding 42040 Fire Plane. Building it, taking over 200 pictures and writing this review took me way longer than I could have possibly imagined, also considering I had other deadlines to meet. The downside is this review was not published before the set arrived in the regular toy stores. On the other hand, the delay gave me some time to let my feelings sink in.
My verdict is quite simple: if you can afford it, buy it! There is no way you will possibly regret the purchase. The set is an amazing, varied build (especially if you decide to build the tipping bed first) and the techniques applied are simply mind-blowing. Yes, it is that good! Who would have guessed the LEGO Group would ever release a Technic set this size with full suspension and new longer pneumatic cylinders?
In this review I tried to focus on the build, the techniques used and the new parts. There are already many vids on the Tube to show you all of its functions. I did, however, discover one flaw. It may be due to a problem with the bottom cylinder, or the construction itself, but the cylinder had major issues lifting the entire crane arm when the second cylinder was already extended. Also, I once left all cylinders extended when I went out for a few hours, and on return the crane arm had fallen down due to the weight of it all. I tried to discover any potential air leaks but failed to find any. I called the wonderful generous people of TLG who provided this set and e-mailed them a video demonstrating the issue. It is important you let no air escape, by closing the valves you don’t use. I urge to point out to y’all that this issue may be incidental and in no way affects my opinion of this set. It may be one of the most astonishing sets ever produced and I am extremely curious to find out what the wonderful Technic designs can come up with to top this licensed Mercedes-Benz truck.
Our thanks to LEGO Group's CEE Team for providing this amazing set.
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