15 February 2021

LEGO® Technic review: 42120 Rescue Hovercraft

Today Alexandre Campos brings us a pre-release review of the latest LEGO® Technic set, 42120 Rescue Hovercraft, which will be available from 1 March 2021. Buying this set? Consider using our affiliate links: UK LEGO Shop | USA LEGO Shop | Australia LEGO Shop, for other countries 'Change Region'. New Elementary may get a commission. The products in this article were provided for free by LEGO; the author's opinions are not biased by this.

After 42113 Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey got cancelled at the last minute, Technic Rescue Services had to scramble to find something else to rescue figures with: a hovercraft.


Namely, 42120 Rescue Hovercraft. Let’s see what it does, and what interesting elements it brings. 

New Moulds in LEGO Technic 42120

42120 brings some of the same new moulds other Technic sets from 2021 have introduced us to.


The first of these is the Technic Panel 3 X 7 x 1, here in Dark Stone Grey/ Dark Bluish Gray (6321715 | 71709). It first appeared in this colour in 42119 Monster Jam Max D, and returns here with two present. 


As mentioned in my review of 42122 Jeep Wrangler, the 3x7 panel is the missing link in the combinations of long/short and flat/curved rectangular Technic panels.


The other new mould, previously appearing on 42125 Ferrari 488 GTE 'AF Corse #51', is the Technic Beam 2 x 3 L-Shape with Quarter Ellipse Thick in Black (6326047 | 71708). The set contains 3 of these. 


Very broadly speaking, Technic elements have either a mostly “decorative” purpose, such as panels, or a mostly “structural” purpose, such as L-beams. I find this seemingly simple element exciting, because it can pull double-duty as both decorative and structural, in an elegant and unassuming shape. As decoration, it can extend the curve on curved panels with a 3x2 section as shown above, where other panels could be too long.

It is also comparable to existing L-shaped beams, in which it can act as structural reinforcement. 

Parts in new colours

Being a predominantly Bright Orange/ Orange model, you would probably expect to find some existing parts debuting in this colour, and you wouldn’t be wrong. There are indeed new orange recolours for two parts.

One of them is the Hose, Ribbed 7mm D. 5L (9326215 | 78c05), and the other the Hose Soft Axle 7 (6326051 | 32580). The set contains 5 of the former (one of them surprisingly a spare, not that I’m complaining), and 2 of the latter.

I wonder if ribbed hoses are so fragile that TLG decided to include a spare to cover the possibility of part breakage, or at the end of the design process there was a small budget leftover that the designer took advantage of to give fans a little bonus?

Other parts of interest

Besides the new moulds and colours, this set contains some interesting specimens.

The Large Figure Weapon, Barrel with 2 Pin Holes and 3 Axle Holes has appeared in Bright Red/ Red (6313596 | 98585) in only one set, 43179 Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse. The Hovercraft includes one of these.

This element is buried inside the Hovercraft and performs a purely functional role, so the designer could have chosen any other colour; however, I’m glad Red was chosen, as it makes this Weapon Barrel more accessible to M-Tron builders like me (just ignore the part’s name in the context of this civilian theme).

The Technic Pin Connector Hub with 2 Pins with Friction Ridges Lengthwise in Bright Yellowish Green/ Lime (6308233 | 87082) has previously appeared only on the expensive 42115 Lamborghini Sián FKP 37 and this year’s hard-to-find 30465 Helicopter. Therefore, it’s nice to see this element in the mainstream 42120. It’s odd to see a lime element in an orange model, but thankfully the two this set comes with are hidden away inside it and thus our retinas are kept un-melted.

The set also contains 2x Technic Wedge Belt Wheels in Lime (6335116 | 4185). While these are not that uncommon, and like the aforementioned connector hubs with pins, their lime colour is weird in an orange model but is thankfully hidden away. Of interest to me was the colour consistency, which plagues the Lamborghini Sián. As far as I could tell, these two elements are of the same hue.

I’m quite surprised that the common Slope 45° 2 x 1 with Bottom Pin had never been produced in the common Transparent/ Trans-Clear (6277460 | 35281) until 2019 with 75957 The Knight Bus. The older version of the mould, Slope 45° 2 x 1 without Bottom Pin (3040a) was indeed available in Trans-Clear, but only during the ‘70s. The inclusion of two of this element in 42120 is in my opinion a bit superfluous as far as the model goes (more on that later), but from a parts availability standpoint is very much welcome.

42120 comes with 2x Large Figure Weapon Lightsaber Hilts with Axle Hole and Two Bar Holders in Black (6280097 | 24122). This element began its life in Constraction figures (hence its name) and never appeared in Technic until last year, in 42114 6x6 Volvo Articulated Hauler.

In case you’re a gearhead like me and aren’t familiar with this part: it has an axle hole that goes through its middle, and on either side a hole that accepts parts with a 3.18 mm bar.

Plant, Flower, Plate Round 1 x 1 with 5 Petals in Orange (6214234 | 24866) isn’t particularly rare, but is a really weird thing to find in a Technic set, especially since it’s built deep inside the Hovercraft, hidden from sight. I don’t see any advantage in using this part instead of a normal 1x1 plate, either square or round.

While researching the rarity of this element, I was surprised to find it also used in 42114 6x6 Volvo Articulated Hauler. Could this be the designer’s ‘signature’, just like Nick Vas likes to include frogs in his sets?

While the Technic Pin Connector Toggle Joint Smooth Double with Axle and Pin Holes in Black (6278412 | 87408) isn’t new or rare, the Hovercraft is noteworthy for coming with 6 of these. This part is quite useful for bracing pairs or trios of perpendicular gears together and helping prevent that horrible teeth grinding noise mechanisms under heavy loads make. This relatively small and inexpensive set has a very generous number of them, six.

Changes to the LEGO Technic pin

I read rumours saying that the ubiquitous Technic pin with friction went through a redesign, and it turns out they’re partially true. This part appeared in 1982 in its original form and has been a staple – maybe the most fundamental part – of Technic models ever since, being changed in 1990, and now again.

Pictured above are the three “generations”. The oldest, on the left, can be identified by the longitudinal ridges and lack of central slots. The second, in the middle, adds the slots in the centre to make it far easier to insert and remove, and therefore reduce the number of kids’ visits to the dentist. The newest, on the right, can be considered a “hybrid” of the previous two: it has neither the ridges nor the slots. As can be expected, this makes it easier to insert/remove than “Gen1” but harder than “Gen2”. I wonder what was the motivation for changing a part that was kept unchanged for 30 years without, as far as I know, any complaints?

Anyway, while this copy of 42120 already contains “Gen3” pins, the copy of 42122 Jeep Wrangler I reviewed still has the “Gen2” version. This is most likely a transitional phase until stockpiles of “Gen2” pins deplete, and future copies of 42122 and other 2021 sets will all come with “Gen3” pins.

Sticker sheet

The dreaded sticker sheet actually has one for every orange panel in this set. Thankfully, the model looks good even without them applied.

The only other sticker represents the instrument panel in the cabin, and is meant to go on a 1x3 tile. While I dislike stickers for making the parts they’re applied to harder to repurpose, this design is generic enough to be used in a variety of situations, and would have benefited from being a printed part instead of a sticker.

Instructions

The instructions divide the build in three sections, each with its group of numbered bags. I don’t remember a set of this size, comprised of a single individual model, being divided in so many sections.

I’m not particularly surprised to see this disclaimer on the instructions booklet’s cover. The LEGO Group wants to make absolutely sure you understand that this model does not float, as if the gaping holes throughout it weren’t indication enough, to prevent any disgruntled parents from suing because their precious children were scarred for life when their “legos” [sic] sunk in the bathtub.

Unlike many recent Technic sets, 42120 has a B-model. Hurray! There are no printed instructions inside the box, though; you’ll have to download them. We’ll take a quick look at this B-model later in this review.

Building the set

The building process doesn’t provide many surprises.

After the first set of numbered bags, the model looks to me like some kind of rocket-inspired soapbox racer, most likely due to the tiny front wheels and lanky appearance. Already the two main functions, propulsion and steering, can be tried out. You can also already see the lime elements, as well as the red weapon barrel, but they won’t be visible for long.

The second set of numbered bags finishes the lower hull and starts the upper body, with its fancy blue and black seats. Unusually, we reach the end of a set of bags with two separate assemblies instead of the typical one.

Here is a close-up of the craft’s nose during assembly. Can you spot the orange flower mentioned earlier, under the curved slope? Maybe, but only if you know what you’re looking for. And, when the model’s finished, it will be even harder, if not impossible, to see.

After the third set of bags, the Hovercraft is built. The whole assembly process, including the photo session, took less than an evening at a leisurely pace.

The completed model

The finalised model is about as big as I expected. It feels quite swooshable.

The hidden wheels protrude just a few millimetres from under the model, which gives it the intended illusion of hovering above the surface.

The front of the craft is a bit confusing. Near the tip are the red and green navigation lights, and I’d expect those to be placed instead more apart from each other and at a higher position for better visibility. Also, the low placement of the trans-clear slopes, placed behind these navigation lights, and apparently representing headlights, is weird. Low-mounted headlights on a rescue vehicle, meant for tough atmospheric conditions, just aren’t ideal.

The steering is done via the black 12T gear at the top. It turns both engine nacelles, the hidden tiny front wheels, and, in what was a very pleasant surprise, the steering yoke inside the cabin. Countless larger Technic models with Hand of God steering have non-functional steering wheels, and this small Hovercraft is an honourable exception.

Pushing the model on a smooth surface makes the propellers at the rear and the warning light at the top spin. Disappointingly, the protective cages around them spin as well, which completely defeats their purpose. I don’t see any easy way to keep them stationary with a spinning axle going through them without some major changes. Also, the warning light really should have been geared down: as it is, it spins as fast as the propellers, and if you zoom the hovercraft along the floor at high speeds this warning light will feel more like a helicopter rotor.

The B-model

42120 has instructions for an alternate model, a Twin-Engine Aircraft. It’s a shame that this relatively small set doesn’t come with printed B-model instructions, requiring some nose-on-screen time downloading and building from them instead. Still, nowadays Technic B-models are unfortunately an endangered species, so I’ll take online-only instructions over no instructions at all any day.

I can’t fully comment on the build process of functionality of the B-model, because, as of writing this, the instructions still aren’t available. But I always appreciate B-models that aren’t just a variation of the A-model (helicopter rebuilds into a different helicopter, motorcycle rebuild into a different motorcycle, and so on), because they demonstrate the versatility of LEGO parts. A hovercraft “converting” into a plane is an example of this.

The propellers are comically small, the lime wheels are now screaming amongst the orange, and that black cockpit should really have been transparent instead, but these are understandable effects of repurposing parts from an A-model. Judging from the video at the LEGO site, the functionality appears to be very interesting, especially considering this is a B-model.

Conclusion

42120 Rescue Hovercraft will be for sale on 1 March 2021, with a price tag of EUR 29.99 (the same amount in USD and GBP). What do you get for that money?


On paper, the Hovercraft has only two simple functions: spin the propellers and steer. In practice, however, those functions are more complex than that, with the spinning warning light and the functional steering yoke. This is a fun model, and the availability of an official B-model is nowadays unfortunately a valuable commodity. It looks mostly fine and detailed from all angles, but the front really has some dubious design choices.

As for parts, if you’re looking to build in orange, this set is a reasonable source of them in this colour. The real value, however, is in the new/uncommon elements; sadly, there aren’t much of each. To summarise, they are:

  • 2x Technic Panel 3 X 7 x 1 in Dark Stone Grey/ Dark Bluish Gray (6321715 | 71709)
  • 3x Technic Beam 2 x 3 L-Shape with Quarter Ellipse Thick in Black (6326047 | 71708)
  • 4x (+1 spare) Hose, Ribbed 7mm D. 5L in Bright Orange/ Orange (9326215 | 78c05)
  • 2x Hose Soft Axle 7 in Bright Orange/ Orange (6326051 | 32580)
  • 1x Large Figure Weapon, Barrel with 2 Pin Holes and 3 Axle Holes in Bright Red/ Red (6313596 | 98585)
  • 2x Technic Pin Connector Hub with 2 Pins with Friction Ridges Lengthwise in Bright Yellowish Green/ Lime (6308233 | 87082)
  • 2x Slope 45° 2 x 1 with Bottom Pin in Transparent/ Trans-Clear (6277460 | 35281)

There are also the 6x Technic Pin Connector Toggle Joint Smooth Double with Axle and Pin Holes in Black (6278412 | 87408) and the generous number of gears (15 in total), all of these surprisingly numerous for a set this small.

Overall, I recommend this set if you’re specifically after some of the rare elements and/or to bolster your orange arsenal. Or if you want to have some fun speeding it around on smooth surfaces (just don’t put it on water). The price is actually reasonable, so you should be happy with it, especially if you find it with a discount. If you are buying this set, released 1 March 2021, consider using our affiliate links: UK LEGO Shop | USA LEGO Shop | Australia LEGO Shop, for other countries 'Change Region'. New Elementary may get a commission.

The store didn’t have any bananas, and an orange would be too boring for this set’s colours, so I had to find something else to show the model’s scale. As a bonus, the model got thoroughly inspected for its seaworthiness.

READ MORE: The new LEGO® moulds, recolours and prints for February 2021

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9 comments:

  1. Do you have a less blurry image of that M-Tron mech?

    And for the instruction booklet, I'm actually more surprised that it apparently includes two(!) variants of French - possibly Metropolitan and Canadian (?)

    Unless my School French fails me, the only difference is that the upper text says "The boat does not float", while the lower says "This boat does not float", so it's unlikely that a single text would have confused some speakers, anyway.

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    1. Ha. For the texts for the B-Model, it was deemed unnecessary to include a distinction between Metropolitan and Canadian French, but the text about the boat that does not float was clearly a different matter!

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    2. Regarding the mech image, it originally wasn't blurry... I just blurred everything on it except the Weapon Barrel it's holding in its claw, to emphasise it.
      The mech is part of my M-Tron/Blacktron 2 layout, whose latest version is in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gHRHxfoWo7U (sorry for the shaky cam)

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  2. Good review!

    I've been building some of the new Monkie Kid sets on Stud.io so can confirm that the rare 1x2 clear slopes in this set are also used more heavily on the waterfalls in the Flower Fruit Mountain set.

    This set is pretty cute. Some Technic fans scoff at smaller sets that tend not to be nearly as groundbreaking as larger flagship sets sometimes are, but I'm always fond of when they can pack some clever functionality into a small package like this. These sorts of Technic sets are essential for younger newcomers as an introduction to the theme. I'm reminded a bit of the much, much smaller 8246 Hydro Racer I had as a kid (which coincidentally shared a name with my very first System set, 6537 Hydro Racer).

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  3. Just a note that Large Figure Weapon in Bright Red could have easily been replaced with the much simpler Technic 2L beam with axle hole. It appears the Red Barrel was added just to give builders more access to the part.

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  4. Regarding the navigation lights, aircraft mount the red/green lights on the wingtips, but marine craft of sufficient size mount them only on the bow. Red and green are both visible directly ahead, while one or the other is visible off each front quarter. A white light is visible from all sides. If you can see all three colors, it's heading towards you. If you can only see the white light, it's either a very small boat, or it's headed away from you. If you can see red and white, you're facing the port side, while green and white is the starboard side. The four blue lights have no purpose in terms of navigation, but would make sense on a Coast Guard vessel (which seems likely given the name of the set...though a single-seat hovercraft doesn't seem very useful for Search & Rescue).

    Aircraft navigation lights were based on marine navigation lights, but factor in the wingspan so you can also see the full width of the aircraft. They also avoid the tricky problem of where to mount them on any plane with a prop (or an air intake) mounted right in the nose of the aircraft. Neither is really a problem in watercraft.

    Incidentally, there's also an additional light required for hovercraft, which is a flashing yellow beacon used at all times to make it more visible. On this model, they got the bow beacon correct, including a divider that prevents you from seeing both colors past a very small arc. The clear slopes don't really make a lot of sense as navigation beacons, but may be some form of headlights, with the rack-mounted lights on top as ORV-style floodlights (I'm not sure how compatible either of these are with navigation lights, but hovercraft can go on land, so...). What's missing is the flashing yellow beacon, and the 360 degree white beacon. This would be illegal on the water during daylight, and doubly so at night.

    Regarding the parts, is the crinkle tube listed as 5x or 4x in the parts list in the back of the instructions? Is it possible that they just screwed up the bag sort and only intended to include four?

    The floatation warning might be because of the single-hull Technic sailboat that came out a few years ago which obviously did _NOT_ float (as compared to the more recent catamaran, which I believe does).

    The model bears almost no resemblance to the white Technic hovercraft I got nearly two decades ago. That was probably the last Technic set I got that was based around the old bricks before they fully shifted over to beam construction.

    The plane requiring downloaded instructions is a cheap cop-out. The set is clearly billed as a 2-in-1 set. Creator 3-in-1 sets include paper instructions for all three models, while #31088 Deep Sea Creatures also pointed you towards digital instructions for a _fourth_ model, but it was still badged as 3-in-1, not 4-in-1.

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  5. There are actually two variants of the "gen 2" technic pin Im pretty sure. Older ones in my collection (from the early days of Bionicle, far too young to be gen 1 pins) dont allow a 3.18 shaft to be inserted into them, the walls are too thick. At some point, I think in the 2000s, they were made thinner to allow 3.18 shafts.

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    1. I've actually run into a few of those older Type II pins, and I do remember that the hole is too narrow to accommodate a bar.

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  6. Type 1 pins are worth a pretty penny :)

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