16 December 2019

LEGO® Technic review: 42100 Liebherr R 9800

Posted by Admin
As we approach Christmas, we will be reviewing some of the sets from 2019 that caught our interest parts-wise, in case you're looking (or asking!) for a present... or just hoping for some discounted sets in the post-Christmas sales! We start with LEGO® TECHNIC 42100 Liebherr R 9800, with Ryan Welles on reviewing duties.

This last summer, with an appropriate amount of excitement, here at New Elementary we showed you the new Powered Up System that replaced the Power Functions mainly used in the LEGO® TECHNIC product line. In our review of 42099 4x4 X-Treme Offroader we showed you the possibilities of the system that can be controlled with a smart phone device with the use of Bluetooth technology. We also predicted that the true potential of the system would be demonstrated with set 42100 the Liebherr R 9800, that includes a total amount of seven motors and two smart hubs.

Considering the fact it has been on backorder ever since its release, expectations for this €450/ US$450/ £400 set are even higher. For many brick-stackers this is quite a hefty sum of money. So, is it all worth it?


To give you a little bit of background to a behemoth of an excavator: the Liebherr R 9800 is the biggest of its kind. Operating as a mining excavator it comes in both a diesel and electric driven engine and weighs over 800 tons. Because of its immense proportions, this white and grey hydraulic operated machine is able to load and haul large amounts of dirt, rocks and debris. Its total length is approximately almost 23.9 meters (78’ 4”) and it has a height of 9.9 meters (32’ 6”).

Yet again, this set is marketed as the biggest Technic set to date. We begin to hear this story practically every year and in the case of this giant Liebherr excavator it all depends on how you count, since it includes a hundred round 2x2 bricks as load (or studded dirt if you wish to consider it that way) that may be considered as not part of the actual build. The box is big and heavy and almost filled to the brim with a bunch of plastic bags, a small black box containing all the Powered Up elements and a bigger white box containing even more bags with parts, two hefty volumes with instructions and two of ‘them dreaded’ sticker sheets.

New LEGO Pieces in 42100 Liebherr R 9800

Aside from the new Powered Up components, this set contains a few new parts.

Digger Bucket 10 x 19 in Dark Stone Grey/ Dark Bluish Gray (6257338|46891) was developed especially for the Liebherr R 9800 and has four mounting points: two axle holes on the back on both sides and a row of three axle holes in the front on both sides. It is, in fact, half a bucket because it has no back side, allowing the bucket to have two functions: digging and releasing.

A new clutch wheel consisting of a white ‘female’ part (6257336|46834) and a Dark Stone Grey ‘male’ part (6257337|46835). Three duos are included. This new clutch wheel replaces the old white one (6198486|76244), although it remains to be seen if the latter will be completely phased out because it has other uses. This new wheel does not have a gear function, so I see uses for both types of clutches. It seems to be able to resist quite some pressure, but takes more room since it is three studs long. Once the male and female parts are joined it is hard, even almost impossible, to separate the two. Clutch wheels are used to prevent the gears and motors of a model becoming damaged from too much torque. When the torque gets too high the clutch wheel no longer transfers motion to the extending axle but starts to rotate on its own base.

Linear Actuator Long with Dark Stone Grey base and Medium Stone Grey/ Light Bluish Gray shaft (6240630|40918). You get six of these and its length varies from 15 studs to 23 studs extended. This has been a long-awaited wish of Technic fans, because the ‘standard’ linear actuator that has been around since 2008 and whose length ranges from 10 to 15 studs does not fit all the needs, especially in bigger sets. Its set-up and build is similar to the existing Linear Actuator (4528037|61927) and also includes an inner clutch mechanism to prevent the part from damaging when there is too much pressure put to it or the range of motion is reached.

Existing Parts in New Colors in 42100 Liebherr R 9800

  • Tread Sprocket Wheel Extra Large in Dark Stone Grey (6254781|42529). Four are included.
  • Technic Liftarm 7 x 11 Open Center Frame Thick in White (6247435|39794) of which you get four. This is a relative new element that was introduced this year and is now part of the Technic range. It also appears in white in set 75255 Yoda.
  • Connector Beam 1 x 3 x 3 in Bright Yellow (6252654|39793). Two are included.
  • Axle and Wire Connector (49283) in Dark Green/ Green (6263072) and Bright Yellow/ Yellow (6263069). You get five and three respectively. It appears to be useful because of the wide array of wires in this set.
  • Pin with Friction Ridges Lengthwise and Pin Hole in Bright Yellow (6259269|15100). Introduced five years ago, it is hard to imagine building Technic sets without the use of this element that provides solutions for small spaces as well as new connection arrangements. 16 are included here, mainly as decoration. Subsequently, this part also appeared in Bright Yellow in the aforementioned Yoda set.

Building the LEGO Technic 42100 Liebherr R 9800

The build is divided into six phases, each instruction book covering three phases. Part six is not really part of the build, yet it is insanely complex: it consists of opening a bag containing a hundred round 2x2 bricks and dumping it into the bucket. That aside, let’s take a look of the fascinating building process, commencing with the lower structure.

A. Lower Structure

Roughly put, the substructure is a unit on its own, containing its own smart hub, two XL motors and one L motor. It consists of two mirrored modules containing the tracks and its gearing, and a central unit with the turntable and its motor and one of the smart hubs.  Although it is not the most charming solution to keep this part of the excavator separated from the rest of the model, it is a practical one: it prevents from wires having to go though the turntable with the risk of becoming twisted and it also makes use of the maximal limit of four motors that can be linked to the control hub.

This is also the part of the build that contains the most elaborate and complex gearing of the whole set. It merely comes down to slowing down the rotation speed of the XL motor with a series of gears. This is then covered by a series of panels. The motor is placed at the inner part of the substructure and ends up in the lower center of the structure. This is the first time I see two gears – namely, the relatively new 28-tooth Bevel Gear (46372) and the 36-tooth Bevel Gear (32498) – linked by Technic pins, making sure they remain tightly secured and strengthening the gearing.

The central section not only contains its own motor but also some angled gearing for the central turntable. I was somewhat surprised to discover it ‘only’ requires an L motor to make the entire heavy upper structure rotate. The motor is placed perpendicular to the gearing arrangement, that entails some reduction to slow down the rotation of the upper part of the excavator. This excavator is not a fidget spinner after all.

Once joined, a couple of Technic beams and the control hub are added. This is then followed by the second half of the track unit, the tracks itself and four Quarter Circle Gear Racks in Black (24121) similar to the ones used in last year’s 42082 Rough Terrain Crane. At first I was a bit hesitant about the low placement of the control hub. Not only it is a rather dull way of controlling the motors used to move the tracks and the central turntable, I also thought it would be placed too low to the ground. I am happy to admit I overreacted. With the use of the new wire clips, nothing touched the ground and the control hub has some ground leverage.

By having finished this stage of the build (bags marked 1), you are also welcomed to test the first three motors. To be honest, that was quite the ordeal for me. I could not make it work without unpacking the other control hub, inserting six more batteries and connecting the remaining four motors. It was also quite confusing to find the testing option in the Control+ app. Now, it may be due to my incompetence or fatigue, but I can imagine this to be an issue for younger builders as well. These testings occur a few times more often in this build. It it is necessary to test the motors, to make sure you did not make any errors, but this also takes away the magic of the first time you see this huge set in action.

B. Upper Structure 

The second phase of the build basically comes down to building the skeleton of a big open box, containing two of the lower linear actuators that are being controlled by an XL motor. There is no way to construct the upper structure separately from the base, so you need to build on top of the turntable. Because of the heaviness of the final upper structure it uses four section of wedge belt wheels (4185) that rest on the quarter gear racks, therefore distributing the weight evenly. Since the Linear Actuators have an inner clutch mechanism, none of the new clutch wheels are used for the upper structure.

The third stage of the build finishes the big white box. The result is a rather blocky, empty looking arrangement with the second control hub placed at the lower back of the structure. A range of both stickered Technic panels and LEGO System plates give some indication of the final polished look of the Liebherr R 9800.

It has to be noted the stickers used are somewhat transparent. Not an issue, because they are applied to white surfaces, but it does attract dust and dirt quite easily especially if you wrongly applied a decal and need to fix it afterward resulting in an unwanted see-through effect.

Most of the linear actuators and main functions are incorporated in the next stage of the build. It comes down to building the boom and excavator arm, as well as the part that moves and opens the bucket. A series of double Linear Actuators, both the new XL-versions and the small type are placed in a row, almost directly driven by a series of three motors placed at the base of the boom (subsequently providing a counter weight).  The parts of the boom and arm can rotate around four small turntables and are covered by a series of white panels on all sides.

The final phase of the build is all about the finishing touches. It struck me by surprise; the quite heavy boom is not even that securely connected to the base of the model, but I did not experience wobbly parts once the excavator was in operation.

Exhaust pipes, fake diesel engines, vents, fans and a cabin are added in a nice combination of Technic and LEGO System parts. The fans are covered by transparent panel pieces, in turn covered by transparent stickers. Not my favorite type of stickers to apply, since fingerprints and dirt show off easily.

Just before the bucket is attached, a bunch of fake hydraulic hoses and pipes are applied, giving the machine a finished and complex look. The use of pneumatic hoses is genius, even though some of these hoses go literally nowhere. To finish things off a lot of foldable stairs and railings need to be attached – the process being rather monotonous, but the result is worth this tediousness.

The LEGO Powered Up app

In my review of set 42099 X-Treme Offroader, I already extensively discussed the Powered Up app. To summarize, it contains the following options also present in the aforementioned X-Treme Off Roader:

  • Control by using on screen levers: At the top you see two levers that control the individual tracks. Moving them in opposite directions make the excavator steer. The lower two levers can be moved both horizontally and vertically. One direction is used for the rotation of the upper structure, the other three are for the boom and arm. Two separate small buttons are used to either open or close the bucket in an all or nothing set-up.

  • Control with one finger. Simply put your finger on that part of the boom you wish to operate. Although it is not very precise and takes some skills and patience to get used to, it is a welcome addition.
  • The option to do assignments or perform challenges.

Besides these functions, the app also allows you to program the model. You can either do a range of motions and save this under a quick access button in the main operating screen, or you can program the excavator with proverbial building blocks you can place in a sequence. This is a very intricate function that deserves a lot of attention and play time.

Final Thoughts

The Liebherr R 9800 is a robust-looking and thoroughly detailed toy that is not only a true joy to look at and behold, but also the uttermost fun to play and experiment with. This set demonstrates the almost endless possibilities of the new Powered Up System.

It does not have a B-model, to the disappointment of many, and because of the pre-programming involved with the app there is not much else you can do with the control hubs and motors. LEGO have announced that this will be addressed soon. The movements are rather slow, but same goes for its real-life counterpart… so call it extreme realism.

From a technical point of view this set offers few complex building techniques, caused by the motors being almost directly linked to their functions; the functions of the lower structure being the big exception. On the flipside, it would not be fair to compare the gearing mechanism – or lack of – to set 8043 for example that used only four motors with one enabling to switch between functions. So basically it is just a lot of beam stacking and axle connecting, but despite the lack of a complex gearing layout, I had a lot of fun seeing this beast come to life.

Because it is unparalleled in the Technic line-up I highly recommend it, if you can get over the steep price.

Recently, the LEGO Group announced LEGO Powered Up version 3.0 is coming soon. You will be able to:

  • connect, address, code, and control up to four hubs
  • connect the new LEGO TECHNIC hub, and use the internal tilt sensor, as well as the new LEGO TECHNIC motors
  • read values from internal sensors (orientation (X, Y, Z), and acceleration (X, Y, Z) of the TECHNIC Medium Hub (Hub128)
  • pair motors on port AB, and CD
  • use the TECHNIC Large Linear Motor (Motor no. 2) and TECHNIC XL Linear Motor (Motor no. 3)
  • regulate power, speed and position of motors.

They have also made a commitment to keep improving and listen to your feedback. If you have ideas for improvements you can comment on this post before 21 January 2020, and we will share them directly with the LEGO Group.

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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.


  1. I tried to post a comment like this earlier, but it didn't seem to have succeeded. If this still turns out to be a duplicate, please delete it.

    It's good to hear that Lego intends to update the Powered Up app, but I have a question about licensed software.

    A lot of software and apps have become unavailable due to licensing issues. And I somehow doubt that an IP holder like Top Gear just grants licenses in perpetuity.

    Sets like the Liebherr are basically paperweights without the dedicated app. Does Lego have any plans to keep these models running after the licensing period runs out?

    Aside from that, thank you for this review, and the site. Every update is interesting, well-researched and valuable.

    1. Great question thank you! Will ask.

    2. Thanks again mahjqa! Obviously TLG will take a while to reply officially but many of the other fan ambassadors on the LAN had unofficial things to say about your question! -

      "I'd say that most likely the app will remove support for that specific set, or it will be changed to be "generic car controls"."

      "The Top Gear license can easily be removed and substituted for something generic. The Liebherr excavator is a different story. That profile is extremely specific and needs to stay that way for the set to make sense."

      "Soon or later, the App will go away, I don't see LEGO maintaining it live for like ten years I hope LEGO can prove me wrong, but I would feel more safe by having a simple remote in the box, programmed to execute the basic operations every model can do. I would ultimately loose the combination/programming fuctions, but some kids still would be able to play with those very expensive toys."

      "Buy a dedicated, "cheap" (smart)phone, download and install the Control+ application and "put in a closet" the set and the phone together. :) "

      OK that was an extreme idea!!