09 January 2019

LEGO® Technic 42079 Heavy Duty Forklift

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LEGO® Technic 42079 Heavy Duty Forklift retails at £54.99 / US$69.99 / 49.99€ but given this is a release from summer 2018 perhaps you'll now find it cheaper at Amazon USA or Amazon UK. However, is it worth forking out money to pick this one up? Ryan Welles investigates, without resorting to awful puns.

Forklifts were a popular subject for the LEGO® Technic line in the days were there were only studded building techniques. When the studless era began, forklifts became less common. There was a small one in 2003 (set number 8441), a rather impressive forklift in 2005 containing 729 pieces (set number 8416) and yet another mini-set ten years ago (set number 8290). But that's about it. It has been at least 15 years since a big or even medium sized forklift hit the shelves. With set 42079, the smallest of 2018's Technic summer wave line-up, the hiatus came to an end.

But does it make a good purchase for or is it better to save your money for the 2019 sets?

With a total number of parts a little less than 600, this 'Heavy Duty Forklift' (as it is officially called) could be considered a medium set. It comes with two instruction booklets: one for the main model and one for the B-model, the latter being a rather attractive looking tow truck that is not the subject of this review. Also included is a modest sticker sheet containing just 8 decals. This set does not include neither any new parts, not any new parts in new colors, so there is the option that you could build this with your own parts.

The build is not divided into any official stages, so the bags with parts are unnumbered.

The build starts with the section that will control the lifting mechanism. It contains two linked universal joints and is place right above the front wheels that contain the differential. 

At the other end of the build is the steering mechanism and rear axles. Eventually, this is where the fake 2-cylinder engine is placed. Seeing the long 8 stud-long Technic axle in red is still rather awkward, even though it ends up at the bottom of the model. The yellow axles are more defendable in this case, since the set is partially yellow.

The steering is operated with a lift arm directly attached to it, so without the use of gears. Although utterly effective, this has always been a rather unsatisfying way of steering to me, since it makes the motion of steering abrupt.

Next is the unit that will make sure the lifting mechanism can be operated from the top of the roof. It is mounted upright with the use of a black Technic bracket piece (Design ID 8708); a technique we have seen in many other sets since its the part was introduced in 2010. Now most of the back of the model is covered with beams. 

To increase the number of functions, and basically to fill up the back part of the model, a 2-cylinder fake engine is included. It is a good addition, which also allows a younger target audience to learn about basic Technic functions.

This is followed by the build of the cabin, that contains a light grey panel as a seat and a fake steering wheel. At both sides of the cabin a lever is placed that operated the tilting mechanism.

The final phase of the main structure is made of wheel hubs and panels, side mirrors and lights, giving the forklift a closed and refined look.

On the picture above I accidentally swapped the round brick used for the flashing light on top of the cabin (that operates the lifting mechanism) with the dark grey one that should have ended up in the exhaust pipe that functions as a steering knob.

The final part of the build is dedicated to the lifting mechanism.

Where other sets (like 8416) used chain links to arrange the motion, here is it controlled by the gear rack and its accompanying housing that were introduced three years ago (respective Design IDs 18942 and 18940). These parts do the job well, but have a limit in the height the fork can lift. A piece of string with studs is placed to make sure the forked section is raised into two stages with different pace. A nice and remarkable touch.

The last part of the building process is dedicated to a tray with a barrel for extra play value and an exhaust pipe that works as the steering knob.
© 2018 The LEGO Group


In front of me stands an attractive looking set, with the following functions: back wheel steering, a 2-cylinder fake engine, tilting the lifting section and raising and lowering the forklift itself. On second look, there are some flaws: the steering is the simplest it can possibly be and does not allow for a lot of precision, the tilting goes too deep with the negative side-effect that the forked section reaches the floor too quickly and does not allow possible cargo to really set comfortably on the fork once tilted upwards. But most importantly: the lifting mechanism does not provide a lot of height, despite its clever set up. It hardly reached the same height as the flashing light on top of the roof operating it. My thoughts with this set were quite similar to 42080 Forest Harvester: the idea is nice, the set is good looking, but what should be just as important – the functions – are far from fulfilling. The initials on the stickers show this set was designed by Markus Kossman, who did some of the most impressive big sets the past few years. This obviously was a B-project for him. Hopefully, the designer is concocting something spectacular for 2019.

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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. All text and images are © New Elementary unless otherwise attributed.

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