17 July 2019

LEGO® Technic review: 42098 Car Transporter (part 1)

We have three of the upcoming LEGO® Technic sets to show you over the coming weeks. First up is 42098 Car Transporter which has 2493 parts and will be available from 1 August 2019 priced €149.99/ £139.99/ US$179.99. Our technically minded friend Alexandre Campos (Ambassador for PLUG, a Portuguese LEGO User Group) took a look at its parts and construction.


Amongst all the construction machines, trucks and sports cars released in the LEGO® Technic range, a car transporter is something almost unique: the only previous example is the B-model of the 8872 Forklift Transporter, from 1993.

The 42098 Car Transporter picks up this legacy. Let's see what 26 years of LEGO Technic evolution has brought.

Noteworthy parts in 42098 Car Transporter

Unfortunately, the set doesn't bring any moulds that we haven't seen previously, I was especially hoping to get a few of the new Double Beveled 28 Tooth Technic Gear (Design ID 46372) created for SPIKE Prime and appearing in the 10269 Harley-Davidson Fat Boy, but no luck here.

While there are no new moulds in this set, there are a few welcome new colours for existing parts.

The Shell 3X9X2, W/ 4.85 Hole, No. 1 (Design ID 42531) was introduced in this year's 42093 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 in Bright Orange [TLG name]/ Orange [BrickLink name], and this set now brings two of them in Bright Red/ Red (Element ID 6254783) and four in Dark Azure (6257067). Technic car builders will certainly be quite happy about this.


The other novelty is Bright Red for the Panel With Angle 5X11 (Element ID 6258093 | Design ID 18945). This part doesn't come in many colours yet, and such a common one is welcome. The set includes four of these.


More than new moulds or recolours, this set is notable for including many rare elements, some of which appeared in very few sets. Such notable parts in Bright Red are these:

  • Flat Panel 3X11M (Element ID 6224922 | Design ID 15458)
  • Ball With Friction Snap (6254216 | 6628)
  • Bowed Panel 3X7X2 W/ 4.85 Hole (6227232 | 24119)


Not only the mudguards should make car builders happy: this set brings four of the Tyre Normal, Narrow, Dia. 43X14, No.1 (6182551 | 30699). These were previously only present in the aforementioned 42093 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 and the 10258 London Bus.


Left and Right Panels 5X7 (Design IDs 64394 and 64680, respectively) appeared in Medium Stone Grey/ Light Bluish Gray in a single set from 2010, the 7160 Drop Ship. This set brings back one of each, which have new Element IDs: 6030215 for the Left Panel and 6030217 for the Right Panel.


I'm glad that, after the "Fifty Shades of Blue" mess we witnessed in 2017, it seems TLG has definitely settled on the third blue for Technic: Dark Azure (the others being Bright Blue/ Blue and Earth Blue/ Dark Blue). This set includes quite a few parts in this colour, some of which were previously available in few sets:

  • Shell 3X11X2 Ø 4.85 08 (Element ID 6214766 | Design ID 62531)
  • Flat Panel 3X11M (6176880 | 15458)
  • Right Panel 2X5 (N0 21) (6203232 | 11946)
  • Left Panel 2X5 (Nr 22) (6203233 | 11947)



The Flat Panel 3X11M in Dark Stone Grey/ Dark Bluish Gray isn't particularly rare, but in this set you'll get a whopping 24 of them!


Many other sets that contain the Flex Tube, 21 Module, W/ 3.2 Hole in Silver Metallic/ Flat Silver (6210590 | 27965), but none comes close to this set's quantity of 12. Furthermore, I'm assuming this element is prone to damage, as we also receive two spares of it, for a total of 14.

Also of interest is the Single Bush 2 Module, Dia. 4,9 (6253271 | 15100). This element has previously appeared in White only in the 42096 Porsche 911 RSR and in the 60250 People Pack - Space Research and Development. The Car Transporter comes with 31 of these.

Modern Technic sets come with weirder and more specialised elements all the time, and this is a prime example: I have no idea what this strange thing is and what the thought process behind its creation was. The set comes with two of these.

Instructions and stickers


The instructions "booklet" is a massive beast, totalling 552 pages that contain the usual stuff like the instructions themselves, a summary of the finished model's functions, a cross-sell of the other LEGO Technic sets, and the parts inventory. Note that not even the phonebookesque size is enough to also include the instructions for the B-model; you'll have to go online for those.



Since this specific set is composed of three more-or-less independent models (each with its own set of numbered bags), it could have come with three separate instructions booklets, one for each model, instead of the monolith. That would have made it easier for several people to build the set simultaneously, and thus turn the assembly process into a family activity.


The stickers are abundant. While I agree that they add detail to the model, I personally don't like applying them, as they reduce the parts' MOCability. Still, they're better than printed parts, which don't give you the option of decorating or not. Love them or hate them, though, they're still too many of them here; you'll see below that there are some situations where a large sticker would have worked better than two small ones.

Building the set

Construction begins with bags number 1, which build the Dark Azure car that is to be transported.

If you already built the 42093 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1, you'll feel right at home here: while the colours are obviously different, apart from small differences in function implementation the two models are quite similar. Both feature front wheel steered from a knob in the rear and a small V8 engine driving the rear wheels via a differential.

Here you can see a design defect in the stickers that go on the engine head: they're the same and off-centred, but placed with opposite orientations. This makes them misaligned, and could easily be avoided with distinct printing for each sticker.


After a few more steps, the car is done. I wasn't a big fan when I first saw it in product pictures, but, having it in the hand, its design grew on me. It has a pleasant mix of boxy "muscle car" with a pinch of sleek modern curves. I especially like the brick-built sides that help the wide mudguards flow into the narrow midsection.



Next, the truck itself is built. I find it interesting that the raising and lowering of the upper deck is performed indirectly, by moving forward and backward the lower point of attachment of the rear arms that support the deck. This is achieved by the rack and housing assembly that debuted in the 42043 Mercedes-Benz Arocs 3245, well anchored in the heart of the model.


It is at this point that I found a building technique that stretches a bit the strict LEGO official set building rules. After building the axle-based assembly that has the Black connector (Design ID 87408) in one end and the Bright Yellow 3M axle (4519) in the other, we're supposed to insert the Bright Yellow axle in the main structure (on the right in the photo below).


However, the space for that is very tight and requires the assembly to be inserted at an angle. This still works within the tolerances in the parts' dimensions and I'm sure many people (including myself) did worse stuff in their MOCs, but nonetheless this is something weird to see in an official set.

Now comes what I talked about earlier: the excessive number of stickers.

Each of these angular panels (24116) takes two stickers, instead of a larger one that could cover the same area as the small ones plus the space between them. This breaks even more the design already broken by the (admittedly very welcome) absence of STAMP (Sticker Across Multiple Parts). Maybe there's a usability problem with applying stickers over a curved surface? That would be strange, as in the past there have been LEGO sets with stickers on curved surfaces. Anyway, this has a large impact in the model's looks, as these stickered parts are used smack on its front.

After a few more pages, steps and parts, the truck's chassis is done. Before adding all the panelling and wheels, we can see all the mechanisms: the gear rack that lowers the upper deck, the steering assembly, the cabin tilt linkage, and the small V6 engine. The designer of the 9393 Tractor's B-model hit the jackpot with the idea of making a smaller cylinder engine using generic parts, and TLG really went with it! First with the 42078 Mack Anthem, then with the 42093 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1, and now twice with the 42098.



Mock... uh, I mean mark, my words: just like the construction of V-engines using the "traditional" cylinders (Design ID 2850 et al.) got simplified by the introduction of the specialised V-Engine Holder (32333), it's only a matter of time before we see elements popping up that focus on facilitating the construction of these new, smaller engines.

To top off the truck, the railings that ensure the safety of those folks frolicking on the upper deck are installed, using the aforementioned numerous flex tubes and Sticks 6M W/Flange (63965). There are no markings on where exactly where along each stick the tube should attach, so I used a spare pin to "measure" the spacing and make it constant throughout all the railings.





The truck is now ready, and looking at it I can't shake the feeling that it's just one rear ramp short of a very capable set by itself.


Finally there's the construction of the trailer. The gear rack-based mechanism that raises the upper deck is almost the same as on the truck, with a difference whose reasoning I don't understand. I'll address this below, when the set is fully built.


The mechanism for lowering the rear ramp is interesting: a knob near the front drives a worm gear (27938), which then moves a set of long linkages (in Black, Bright Yellow and Bright Red in the photo) that stretch along the full length of the trailer until the rear. This complexity wasn't strictly necessary but helps keep the controls near each other, which is convenient.

After assembling the intermediate ramp that allows cars to pass between the truck and the trailer, the construction of the support arms, upper deck, and railings is very similar to that in the truck. Then it's just a matter of connecting the trailer to the truck and appreciating the monster.





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9 comments:

  1. Great detailed look at the set. Very nice review!

    However, I would disagree on the V8 stickers on the blue car's engine. Those don't have to be symmetrical. There is a bunch of examples of real-life engines with "misaligned" logos (https://jdmspares.pairsite.com/PARTS/19094-001.jpg) and I won't say the LEGO design is an issue. Plus, in my opinion, it looks much better this way.

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    1. Great to hear other opinions, thanks Alexander!

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  2. Long time reader, first time poster. I have to say you guys absolutely kill it with your reviews - great humor, details and photography! This one is a definite buy for me, my kids will get a ton of play out of this set. The B-model is surprisingly interesting given how strong i feel the A-model is.

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    1. Thanks so much r12! Kind of you to take the time to let us know, it really is a boost.

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  3. That black piece is a bit weird. It doesn't really look like anything. I mean what can you build with it? Is there more than one in the set? The four nubs on top are interesting. Are there corresponding sockets underneath? It makes me think you could stack them possibly. I guess you could try sticking other pieces to it and see what you get. Good luck with that!

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  4. I just looked at Bricklink and apparently it is similar to a piece they call 'Brick 2 x 2' which was released in 1954 and redesigned in 1988. Whatever will they think of next?

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  5. I don't like that weird black piece at all. It just doesn't seem to fit the "system". I've noticed that LEGO seems to be making more and more specialised pieces, but this latest incarnation is a step too far. I just can't see it being useful for anything else.

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  6. The Other Mike19 Jul 2019, 12:08:00

    My guess as to why they did two stickers is because that piece doesn't have a smooth curve, it has an angle. If they'd done one sticker, you'd have to bend it, which could lead to creasing or make it more susceptible to wear and tear.

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    1. It's a possibility, but I still believe (haven't tested it, though) that a rectangular sticker would have no problems being applied in this kind of mould.

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