2016 already seems to be a record year when it comes to licensed Technic sets. Whereas one licensed set a year seemed to be the rule, in 2016 alone we have a staggering three sets involving some form of partnership. The smallest of these is 42053 Volvo EW160E, a wheeled excavator that the Swedish vehicle manufacturer introduced rather recently. The set contains 1166 parts, relies heavily on the new V2 pneumatic system that came with last year’s 42043 Mercedes-Benz Arocs 3245 and retails for £69.99/US$119.99. Now, do we actually pay loads for the license or is this a pretty good deal... and is it an interesting build? Let’s find out.
Box and contents
It has become a welcome tradition to provide the bigger Technic sets with boxes that can be easily opened and flattened. This Volvo excavator is no exception. The box has a square shape and shows the main model on its cover against a rough terrain background. An insert shows one of the two geared functions, namely the lifting and lowering of the cabin. This is just like the real thing which, it is interesting to note, is not shown at all on the box. It is not pictured until the last few stages of the instructions.
Once opened we see a 252-page instruction book with a rather extravagant sticker sheet sealed in plastic. An amount of 41 stickers for a set this size is rather insane. It must be pointed out, however, that 18 stickers are used for the B-model. I never actually apply decals on Technic sets (as you can see from the pictures in this review) and leaving them out becomes somewhat of an issue with the left side panel of the excavator, which is black but becomes partially yellow with the application of the biggest of all the stickers. Leaving this sticker unused very much alters the overall look of the set. The box contains 11 bags of regular parts, one bag with pneumatic pumps and valves, one bag of pre-cut pneumatic hoses and four loose tyres.
This pneumatic set only contains one new part: a pneumatic pump. For the last few years, pneumatic sets have all came with a motorised compressor. In fact, the last set that had a pump that had to be manually operated was 8049 Tractor with Log Loader, in 2010. That was also the last time the stud-based yellow pump (Design ID 74720) was officially seen.
That said, the build of the lower part of this Volvo EW160E is as simple as it can possibly be. It starts with the front steering unit, which is operated with a long axle. There you go: half of the six gears already have been used.
This is followed by a similar back unit that also has the beams necessary to mount the outriggers. It is somewhat disappointing that these have to be moved by hand. Nonetheless, the designer did include a rather intricate locking system that consists of two dark grey beams that can either be stored upwards or turned downwards to keep the outriggers in place Nifty! Yet, it would have been nice if these outriggers could be lowered and raised with a gearing system going through the central turntable. This would perhaps been too much of a hassle, considering we are dealing with a moving cabin. I see a challenge for builders here.
By far the most interesting part of the build is the upper half. It starts by attaching beams and liftarms to the turntable. With this model you cannot construct the entire upper portion and then click it on the turntable. Inside the jungle of beams, one Liftarm 1x2 with Bar (Design ID 85940) is placed. This causes the upper structure only to make the aforementioned 347° turn. This is somewhat of a peculiar choice, since there are no axles or pneumatic hoses going through the centre so no restrictions are present to make a full 360° rotation. Further inspection of the back of the instruction book, where the addition of Power Functions is explained, gives you the answer. A wire for the motor has to go through the centre of the model and a full turn would make it twist and tangled.
This utterly satisfying build is concluded with some finishing touches like a black left side panel and some orange railings.
Functions and conclusion
The steering is as straightforward as it could possibly be and the raising and lowering of the cabin is a bit unstable and shaky, due to the weight of the cabin. The pneumatics work as they should, but because of its weight, the arm is likely to freefall once the designated switch is operated. Also, as with last year’s Arocs, I found the pneumatic valves suffer from some sort of leakage. I left the excavator arm up and when I returned home a couple of hours later it had fallen down.
You can motorise this set with Power Functions 8293 but be warned: never ever I saw such an extensive way to include both LED lights and an M-motor. Even though a lot of the required arrangements are built in, a lot of parts still have to be removed and reinstalled to make this Volvo EW160E run on its own.
Considering its affordable price, this is a very good set. The license hardly plays any role and you also get just about every pneumatic piece there currently is on the market. This is a recommendable set, yet it has quite some flaws that ask for (AFOL) improvement.
Products mentioned in this post were kindly supplied by the LEGO Group. All content represents the opinions of New Elementary authors and not the LEGO Group.
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