The vast majority of licensed LEGO® vehicles tend to be sports cars or heavy machinery. 42122 Jeep Wrangler is a different case: a sports utility vehicle, or, more specifically, an “off-roader”. These kind of vehicles are appreciated for their versatility; let’s see if this pedigree permeates into this set’s inventory.
New Moulds in the Technic Jeep Wrangler
2021 brings us some interesting and potentially useful new moulds, and 42122 offers three of them.
The first is the small 'tractor' tyre, with the dimensions 56x26 mm. It matches with 30.4x20 mm wheels, such as the Wheels 30.4 x 20 without Pinholes with Reinforced Rim in Flat Silver/ Silver Metallic (6106303 | 56145) that are included in the 42122. Extrapolating from its big brother that debuted in 42054 Claas Xerion 5000 Trac VC , I’d say that its Rebrickable name will beTyre Tractor Dia. 56 X 26. I couldn’t find a Design ID on it, but its Element ID in Black is 6325260. There are five of these in the set: the four you’d expect plus a spare.
Here you can get a better idea of the size difference between the two types of LEGO tractor tyre. Although the difference between them might be too great to comfortably use both on the same vehicle, for example on a backhoe, smaller Technic vehicles like the Wrangler may benefit from using just the newer kind of tyre. Plus, I have absolutely no doubt that we’ll be seeing this tyre used in minifig-scale tractors and monster trucks.
The tyre isn’t the only new mould that complements existing parts. The 42122 also introduces the Technic Panel 3 x 7 x 1, with Design ID 71709. This set contains one of these in Black (6331935) and three in Bright Yellow / Yellow (6334490).
We already had rectangular narrow Technic panels before, in almost all combinations of length and curvature: curved and long (62531 and 11954), flat and long (15458), and curved and short (24119). The missing link used to be the flat and short one. The family is finally complete!
The final new mould in this set also complements existing Technic panels, but this time it’s the smallest ones. As far as I was able to discern, the Design ID of what could be called Technic Panel Curved 3 x 2 is 71682. The Wrangler comes with three of these in Yellow, with Element ID 6334491.
Since the panel has only one connection on each edge, this connection is for an axle, not a pin, which prevents it from rotating out of alignment. This element allows us to extend the curved edge created by the panels it was made to match with: Technic Panel Fairing #22 Very Small Smooth Side A (11947) and Side B (11946). Detailing without the need for System elements should now become easier.
These three kinds of panels also allow building small, smooth, rounded surfaces, suitable for wings, spoilers or shields.
Printed elements in 42122 Jeep Wrangler
Even though the set includes a dreaded sticker sheet, two elements come printed.
These are the Technic Liftarm 1 x 3 Thick in Yellow (6335195 | 32523) and the Technic Liftarm 3 x 5 L-Shape Thick also in Yellow (6335196 | 32526). The set comes with five of the former and two of the latter. Each has a pattern that helps forming Jeep’s trademark 7-slit front grille.
I suspect the reason behind the decision to print these parts instead of supplying plain ones with stickers to apply on them is because it’d be tedious and difficult to correctly align all seven grille images, and having a single big sticker covering multiple parts is thankfully no longer an approach that LEGO take.
Having no user control over the alignment of patterns on printed elements, however, is not always a blessing: at least on this copy of the set, the 3 x 5 liftarms have their pattern slightly higher than the one on the 1 x 3 liftarms. While it’s not as bad as the stripes on the 10265 Ford Mustang, the misalignment still exists and slightly spoils the overall appearance. If the patterns were stickers instead it would be only a matter of personal patience and precision to have everything perfectly aligned.
I couldn’t find any parts in new colours. This is not unexpected, as yellow is prevalent in the set; a common colour. I personally prefer getting more parts in fewer colours than having them thinly spread out amongst several colours and having insufficient quantity of each to MOC with.
The rest of the inventory is quite standard. I did notice one thing: the lack of gears (assuming that turntables don’t count as gears). There is exactly one Technic Gear 12 Tooth Double Bevel in Black (4177431 | 32270) and one Technic Gear 16 Tooth Reinforced in Medium Stone / Light Bluish Grey (4640536 | 94925), which is surprising for a set of this size. I can only remember one other large Technic set with fewer gears: the 8264 Hauler with only one gear - again discounting turntables.
The instructions booklet is standard fare, dividing the build in two numbered sections.
As is usually the case with licensed sets, the booklet shows photos of the source material together with its LEGO rendition. The main inaccuracy I see here, besides the addition of the perhaps optional roof rack and front winch, is the roll cage at the back. The real-life Jeep has it in yellow, whereas on the LEGO version it's black. I don’t mind it that much, as you’d never know it without a side-by-side comparison and it helps with breaking the colour monotony. Also, tractor tyres are weird on an SUV, but that’s an inaccuracy I’m more than glad to overlook in the name of more tyre variety for MOCs.
42122’s instructions take this real-life photo gallery a step further and go all out on making you want to spend some money at your nearest Jeep dealership. Maybe Fiat Chrysler Automobiles agreed to lower the licensing fees in exchange for some advertising?
Building Technic set 42122
The build is straightforward, with nothing complicated to pay extra attention to. I found the rear suspension interesting, though.
The rear axle doesn’t move up and down like regular car suspensions, but rather pivots on a Technic Turntable Small Top (99009) and Base (99010), around a longitudinal axle: this is a pendular suspension. What is more interesting is the spring assembly, here present to prevent the body from tilting on its own.
As you can see, pushing down on one side of the body makes the spring on that side compress, and would make the other one extend. But LEGO springs can’t extend, so instead of being mounted directly on the body, here they connect to it through the white linkages. This allows the spring’s mounting point to move down as needed.
I was intrigued by the asymmetrical construction of the back of the rear seat: one side is mounted with an Axle Pin with Friction, while the other uses an Axle 2 Notched.
Maybe the axle was chosen to make it easier to assemble the element used for that side of the car; otherwise, there would be too many pins to be inserted at once for an easy assembly.
The base of the windscreen has the two Technic Beams 1 x 2 Thick with Pin Hole and Axle Hole in Black (6265091 | 60483), one of them in the foreground on the above photo, fixed at an odd angle thanks to the precise dimensions of two elements: the Technic Pins 1/2 in Light Bluish Grey (4274194 | 4274) underneath them, and the Technic Pin with Friction Ridges Lengthwise and Towball in Bright Red/ Red (6254216 | 6628) more towards the middle of the build.
The completed model
The resultant model is a chunky, tough-looking, SUV-esque yellow brick. Then again, so is the subject matter, even if just a little less chunky.
The misalignment of the grille prints is still visible: the two liftarms 3 x 5, which on the finished model surround the central 1 x 3, have their prints sitting higher. Again, this is not as serious as in other sets, and is only noticeable if you’re consciously looking for it.
As can be expected of a Technic car at this scale, it has the basic functions of an opening bonnet and doors.
The three main functions are the suspension, the steering, and the winch. Unlike most Technic cars, which have either solid axle or independent suspension, the 42122 has pendular suspension on both axles. Having them on both axles would make the body constantly tilt to one side, but, as we saw earlier, the rear one has springs to keep it centred. The two pendular axles give the model surprising rock-climbing abilities.
The model is steered by a Hand of God control located at the rear, implemented by gear in the middle of the above photo.
As you can guess by the above photo of the wheels fully turned, the model's turning radius is rather poor, especially considering it represents an off-road vehicle.
The winch is a simple affair, with a friction pin to keep it from freely turning with a gear to wind it.
An undocumented and neat feature is the folding rear seat, which increases the cargo capacity. I don't remember seeing folding seats on any official Technic model since the 8865 Test Car from 1988.
Sadly, a function that is curiously absent is a working cylinder engine. Instead of an engine built from the dedicated engine block elements that appeared in 1990 or one built with axles and bushes like on the 42093 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1, opening the bonnet reveals a truly Spartan engine bay, with just a Technic Panel Curved and Bent 6 x 3 in Black (6268012 | 24116) representing the engine cover.
This is disappointing for a model of this size, considering it could be possible, as you can see, to make enough room for an axle-based V6 engine and rear-wheel drive. I suspect it was decided against this because full 4-wheel drive wouldn't be easy at this scale with a pendular front axle, and RWD just wouldn't cut it on a licensed off-road car. Either that, or the set's price bracket didn't allow for the extra complexity and elements. Or both.
Another weird design choice (or corner cut for budget) is the 'floating' rear of the body, disconnected from the rear axle. This doesn't bother me much, though: it doesn't affect the model's functionality or stability and is only noticeable from some angles.
In case you're wondering, 42122 can fit four people (plus any eventual bonnet-riding cats). But it's extremely hard to squeeze anyone in the front seats, and only children are able to ride at the back at all. Still, this is a nice vehicle for a family picnic in the wilderness.
Changing the steering wheel for those countries that drive on the wrong side of the road is a trivial effort and, with greater effort, can be done even after the model is fully assembled. The sticker representing the dashboard, however, will have to be either cut or placed upside down for the gauge cluster to remain behind the wheel.
Another simple steering wheel-related modification is making it functional: just mount it on the Hand-of-God control instead of the gear, and you get the literal meaning of the expression "back seat driver".
Answering the question I know you're asking: yes, 42122 does fit inside 42098 Car Transporter ... with two caveats. It is too tall for the lower deck, which means the only place it can ride on is the trailer's upper deck, and its ground clearance is too high to be secured in place by the upper deck's yellow clamp. Maybe removing the roof rack will barely enable it to be loaded on the lower deck.
Here is the Wrangler compared to other similarly-scaled models: the muscle car from 42098, and 42093 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1. It has the same width as the others, and while it's slightly shorter, it's considerably taller. This explains the difficulties it has fitting inside the carrier.
Finally, this is the reverse-engineer's favourite shot: the underside. From here you can see the two turntables for the suspension, as well as the Universal Joint 3L (61903) involved in the steering.
So, is the 42122 Jeep Wrangler a good set for its price of 49.99€/ US$49.99/ CA$69.99/ £44.99/ AU$89.99? I'd say it's neither too cheap (if such a thing exists) nor too expensive, although 10 euros lower would certainly make the price a lot more palatable.
As a model, it is fun to drive around, bouncing its pendular suspension over obstacles without risk of it coming apart. Keep in mind the disappointing turning radius, though. Also forget about seeing any engine pumping; just pretend it's an electric vehicle. This set also won't wow you with any intricate building techniques or mechanisms.
As a parts pack, it is a decent sampler of some new elements for 2021. All three new moulds should be very useful for many kinds of builds, and they're available here in common colours. To recap: it contains 5 small "tractor" tyres, 4 short rectangular panels, and 3 small curved panels. You also can't go wrong with more regular yellow parts in your collection. On the other hand, gears are disappointingly scarce, with the springs and small turntables the only parts of above-average interest here.
This final photo serves three purposes: to contrast the real model’s yellow colour to the Flame Yellowish Orange/ Bright Light Orange that was rumoured, to give a better idea of the size of the model (I didn’t have any bananas on hand for scale), and to show that the 42122 really can climb any terrain.
Massive thanks go to our 'Vibrant Coral' patrons: Jorgito Mozo, Mevits Bricks, Font Review Journal, Baixo LMmodels, Andy Price, Anthony Wright, Chris Cook, London AFOLs, Gerald Lasser, Big B Bricks, Dave Schefcik, David and Breda Fennell, Huw Millington, Neil Crosby, Antonio Serra, Beyond the Brick, Sue Ann Barber & Trevor Clark, and Kevin Gascoigne. Vale Iain Adams, a great supporter of New Elementary.
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