Zachary Hill (@zaxbrix) gets behind the wheel – and all the other parts – of LEGO® Technic 42128 Heavy-duty Tow Truck for you today. Buying this set? Consider using our affiliate links, New Elementary may get a commission: USA LEGO Shop | Australia LEGO Shop | UK LEGO Shop/for Europe 'Change region'. Products in this article were provided by LEGO; the author's opinions are their own.
A new highway king has been released by The LEGO Group. LEGO® Technic 42128 Heavy-duty Tow Truck brings pneumatic functions back after their last appearance in 2018 and is decked out with a heaping helping of geared functions to boot. This truck released on 1 August 2021 and is available from LEGO.com for £139.99 / US$149.99 / 149.99€ and includes 2017 pieces.
Every couple of years a new air-powered Technic set hits the shelves and it’s usually construction equipment, forestry machinery, or a tow truck like this one. This model is a completely updated design which borrows inspiration from the similarly-shaped 8285 Tow Truck from 2006. The 2021 truck looks familiar but its side outriggers, moving pistons, a rotating crane, and third axle are all new. A few new elements are used to build the wrecker including a huge pile of 2021’s “flip-flop” liftarms and a couple recoloured pieces.
The new elements in Technic Set 42128 Heavy-duty Tow Truck
- 16x Technic, Liftarm, Modified Perpendicular Holes Thick 1 x 11 (6330585 | 73507)
- 7x Technic, Liftarm, Modified Perpendicular Holes Thick 1 x 15 (6321716 | 71710)
The second variety of flip-flop beams is spreading quickly with 16 11-module-long pieces present in this set. At LEGO® Fan Media Days, Milan Reindl said “It helps make the structure a bit more solid so I think it's a great usage on this model.” The strength of the finished truck is impressive so he’s spot-on. My enthusiasm for these new beams has only grown with each set.
- Technic, Gear Rack 1 x 14 x 2 Housing in Bright Blue/ Blue (6339022 | 18940)
- Technic, Liftarm, Modified T-Shape Thick 3 x 3 in Bright Orange/ Orange (6305545 | 60484)
Just a couple elements have been recoloured for this set. Orange has been used extensively through Technic so it’s no surprise most of the truck’s body is built out of existing pieces. These gear racks are uncommon but typically seen in red or light gray - this new colour adds a bit of variety to the mix.
- Technic, Panel Plate 3 x 11 x 1 in Bright Blue/ Blue (6057722 | 15458)
- Technic, Axle and Pin Connector Perpendicular 3L with 2 Pin Holes in Bright Orange/ Orange (6330986 | 42976)
- Technic, Panel Car Mudguard Arched 9 x 2 x 3 Straight Top in Bright Orange/ Orange (6249344 | 42531)
A few rare elements from the last couple years help complete the truck’s body. One blue panel was included with this year’s 42125 Ferrari 488 GTE 'AF Corse #51’, the middle connector is in just two other sets, and the fenders have only seen use in 42093 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1.
The truck’s sharp looks are reminiscent of custom Peterbilt or Kenworth an owner-operator might use around the United States. The sunshade, air filters, side tanks, and radiator frame would complete the true road king look if they were a metallic colour instead of light bluish grey, but pearl or silver ink (oh how I wish for chrome) colours would certainly limit part selection and drive up the set’s cost. If the aggressive hot-rod-style graphics aren’t in line with your tastes it can be toned down by leaving off the flame and block lettering stickers. I adore custom trucks so the flaming Thing-like monster is absolutely welcome on my truck.
The boxy-but-detailed looks are quickly upstaged by the model’s numerous mechanical functions. During New E’s interview with Samuel Tacchi he noted “it comes with so many functions - we stopped counting them really!” By my count this truck has a dozen moving systems to play with - scroll to the bottom of this article for a video demonstrating all of them.
Even with all these mechanical pieces taking up space inside this model, the truck is as tough as it looks. The frame is hard to flex and the crane had no issue lifting and maneuvering a full 12 ounce (355 mL) can. Non-Technic accent pieces such as the roof lights, mirrors, and taillights can sometimes come loose with a light bump but everything else is commendably difficult to tear apart. Pumping flexes the axles a bit but caution is only needed when the outriggers are extended - most of the time I support the truck from the bottom when pumping anyway.
The air-powered functions are mesmerizing to watch in action. With a fully pressurized system there’s enough air to flip the levers a few times to toggle the cylinders before pumping is needed again. With an empty system, a full movement of the crane or tow fork extension takes about two pumps’ worth of air and the crane elevation’s large cylinder takes about four.
I’m curious what effect adding air tanks (75974) to the arrangement would have on the system’s capacity. I have none of these rare tanks in my collection to test with but the truck’s side fuel tanks seem ripe for replacement. Technic 8462 Tow Truck from 1998 showcases that arrangement but pressure tanks are long past production: the last LEGO playset to include a pneumatic tank was in 2004. There’s nothing at all wrong with the 2021 truck’s air system without tanks, in fact it all works quite well, so my hypothetical tanks would likely only add unnecessary complexity and cost.
After all, this truck is already a tightly coiled bundle of hoses, axles, and gears. No particularly tricky techniques should invalidate the set’s ages 11+ rating but the instructions require a bit of focus for several hours to put it all together. The time spent assembling this truck was an enjoyable journey with each system slowly built up and intertwined with others, which I couldn’t resist sampling as soon as enough pieces were in place.
Technic is all about mechanical functions and this showcase of power in a tough, compact package is my favorite Technic set I’ve had the pleasure of building. “Hats off to Markus Kossman who designed this set, which is genius, really,” said Samuel Tacchi, and I’m fully in agreement with him. Just watching the moving parts go through their paces is enthralling and dragging things around with the crane hasn’t gotten old yet.
There’s not many new elements beside the plentiful flip-flop liftarms but there’s certainly enough intrigue to be found outside of this set’s inventory. All 2017 pieces are used efficiently to put together a tough truck with functions running from bumper-to-bumper - watch them all in the video below.
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