25 July 2023

LEGO® Technic review: 42146 Liebherr Crawler Crane LR 13000

Posted by tobymac

The Liebherr LR 1300 is the largest crawler crane in the world, capable of hoisting loads of 3,000 tons up to 236 meters. Naturally, such a massive machine requires a massive LEGO® Technic set, and 42146 Liebherr Crawler Crane LR 13000 delivers just that.

Let's take a look at this massive parts pack and see how that build stacks up!

Products in this article were provided by LEGO®; the author's opinions are their own.
LEGO® Technic 42146 Liebherr Crawler Crane LR 13000
US$699.99/ £579.99/ 679.99€/ AU$1049.99
2883 parts
1 August 2023
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Standing at 100 cm high and 111 cm wide, it’s the biggest LEGO Technic model to date. With a price tag of €679.99 / £579.99 / $699.99 / AUD1049.99, it’s also the most expensive. But at 2883 parts, it only ranks 8th place in part count. So what’s going on here? To figure out why this set has a price per part of 23.6 (Euro) cents, we’ll have to take a closer look at all parts in the box. 


Normally at New Elementary, we pay little attention to the box and dive right into all the new elements inside. In this set, the box uses an unusual (although not unique) way of packing the parts. Instead of all loose bags, or a single white inner box as a divider as seen in larger sets, the entire box is filled with inner boxes. We have 4 smaller boxes, containing all the large elements like frames, weights and electronics. Only the bottom box, making up for just under half of the volume, contains the usual numbered bags.

New molds in LEGO set 42146

Putting the set in frame

Let's start with the largest parts, contributing to the massive size of the model. To get the right look for the tower sections, 2 new Technic frames are introduced.

On the left we have Technic Beam Frame 7 x 15 with 3 Truss Bars (6362751 | 79766) and on the right, the 5 x 15 partner (6362752 | 79767), both in a quantity of 20. 

I love the addition of the truss bars, adding to the tower crane effect. This makes it impossible to run axles across the length or width, however, limiting the part's usage. 

The bars are of the standard 3.18mm size, allowing for clips to attach. The bars are set at a 60 degree angle, meaning that parts like the propeller plate can bridge the trusses. 

The spacing of the trusses is such that using some tiles 1 x 1 with clip on top allows for a plate to be placed in the center of the frame. In the large frame, the center bar requires a jumper plate for 3 connection points. Placing the plate without using jumper plates is possible, but brings it out of the standard grid. In the smaller frame the bars are spaced differently, and line up directly in the center. 

Combining 2 of each frame quickly makes a tower. By moving the frames by 1 module, 2 sections can be joined together by pushing in 2 7L axles. 

One thing to keep an eye out for is to make sure you have the frames flipped around the same way to line up the truss bars. You can of course go for alternating bars, but no matter your choice I do suggest keeping the same system throughout all sections for a consistent look. I’m sure I’ll overlook this in the build portion of the review.

The new frames allow for some nice action shots.

Heavy stuff

Lifting heavy loads requires counterweights. Instead of using the standard 2 x 6 x 2 Weight Bricks (73090) which have been around since 1980, a new mold is introduced here, which looks closer to the real life thing. 

I find Weight Brick 7 x 11 in Light Bluish Gray (6389939 | 80428) a bit of a weird mold to be honest, as it doesn’t contain any LEGO System connections, and for a weight brick it doesn’t have much weight. Despite its size of 7 x 11 x 2 modules it only weighs 41 grams, compared to the 53g of part 73090 (shown at right above, dating from 1980!). I wish I had access to an X-ray machine, because I want to find out if the part even contains any metal. I won’t discuss cutting them open.

I’m not even sure if this is a weight brick or a design brick that is slightly heavier than normal bricks due to being solid ABS. Still, 24 of these add up to nearly 1 kilo, providing for 13% of the total weight of the set, not counting batteries.

To hoist this load, we need string. A lot of string. 

The set comes with 3 strings in 3 different lengths: 6500mm, 3500mm and 2000mm, with EIDs 6371192, 6404233 and 6404245. Seeing as the list in the instruction booklet uses the same image for each element, I won’t know which length goes with which Element ID until the set is released. The numbers on the cardboard boxes don’t correspond with the EIDs in the instructions, as these usually refer for the complete package rather than the item inside. 

The 6500mm is the longest string found in a commercial set, beating the 4870mm of part 14728c487 from 2003 and the 5000mm of part 56823c500 introduced by another crawler crane in set 8288 from 2006 (which is one of my white whales). If we include LEGO® DACTA sets, the longest string is a whopping 24000mm.

Of course, all that string needs to be stored somewhere, bringing us to the finial new mold: String Reel 4 x 4 x 2 Drum with Axle Hole in White (6362568 | 80295), seen above left next to 61510 String Reel 2 x 1 x 2 Drum with Axle Hole, for scale. We get 4 of this new mold in this set.

Recolor me impressed

Next up are the recolors, and again the Technic frames are well represented.

Starting off with the largest molds:

  • Technic Beam Frame 3 x 19 with 2 Center Cross Beams, 3 Openings Thick is a great way to add strength to your MOCs while staying sleek, and we get 7 in neutral Dark Bluish Gray (6396964 | 67491).
  • Less neutral in color, but great for tower crane MOCs, is Technic Beam Frame 3 x 19 with 2 Center Cross Beams, 3 Openings Thick in Yellow (6366745 | 67491), of which we get a whopping 26 in quantity.
  • Support Girder 7 x 16 has only just passed the stage of being a new mold, as it appeared in 71799 NINJAGO City Markets and 42157 John Deere 948L-II Skidder earlier this year. But seeing as the Liebherr set had some delays to its launch, and the girder is the perfect shape for the model, I suspect the mold was developed for this set first. We get 16 of them in Dark Bluish Gray (6396965 | 79768).

Moving on to relatively smaller molds:

  • Eye-popping in Red is Technic Beam Frame 5 x 7 with 3 x 5 Opening Thick (6016155 | 64179). This recolor has been around the secondary markets for years, but as far as I can find these are all pricey test bricks that were not supposed to leave the factory.
  • In front we find Technic Beam 3 x 5 Thick [90° Offset Centre Beam Holes] in Dark Bluish Gray (6396959 | 14720), making this the 5th recolor for the mold.
  • The baller in the back is Technic Beam 3 x 5 with Ball And Castor Joint in Pearl Dark Gray (6317441 | 39370), previously only seen in Medium Azure in LEGO SPIKE Prime sets. With all the other Dark Bluish Grey recolors I’m surprised to find this recolor is Pearl Dark Grey. One theory is the purpose of the part: being a large ball bearing on the crane, the color might represent oily lubricant.
  • Technic Beam 1 x 15 Thick with Alternating Holes in Dark Bluish Gray (6396963 | 71710).
  • Technic Panel 5 x 11 x 1 Tapered in Dark Bluish Gray (6396962 | 18945) is new. Technically. It also appeared in the canceled 41223 Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey.

Also worth mentioning

A big crane is nice, but it needs to have some moves as well. These are provided by 6 Motor, Large Angular Position, Light Bluish Gray Housing, Black Wire in Dark Stone Grey / Dark Bluish Gray (6384835 | 99089), used in 3 sets prior. The motors are powered by two Hub, Powered Up 4-Port (Technic Control+) - Screw Opening in Medium Stone Grey/ Light Bluish Gray (6380608). This screwed version has only been used in 42140 App-Controlled Transformation Vehicle so far.

Two other elements worth mentioning are Technic Link 1 x 16 in Medium Stone Grey/ Light Bluish Gray (4211556 | 2637) coming in a record quantity of 24, and Technic Link Tread Wide with Two Pin Holes Reinforced in Dark Bluish Gray (4566742 | 88323) in a record quantity of 150, including all mold versions and the new 7L wide version from 42131 Cat D11T Bulldozer.

The final elements I want to have a look at are the ones that appeared in 3 sets or fewer:

  • Technic Tread Sprocket Wheel Large Diameter 7 Holes in Dark Bluish Gray (6254781 | 42529) has been seen in 3 other sets. We get 4 to move the Liebherr.
  • Flag 5 x 6 Hexagonal with U Clips in Black (6334515 | 53913) has been seen in 3 sets prior.
  • Wire Clip with Axle Hole in White (6278194 | 49283) was used in 2 other sets.
  • Ball 19mm in White (6261647 | 52629) was introduced by SPIKE and has since only appeared in 21337 Table Football.
  • Technic Shock Absorber L with Internal Spring in Titanium Metallic/ Pearl Dark Gray (6328490 | 67498) has only appeared in 42130 BMW Motorrad M 1000 RR. It’s always nice to see a part you wouldn’t expect in a set, and a motorcycle shock doesn’t directly scream crawler crane to me.
  • The only Sand Blue part in the set is Technic Gear Rack 1 x 14 x 2 Housing (6330364 | 18940), only seen in 71741 NINJAGO City Gardens.
  • Another part you don’t expect in a threaded crawler is Wheel Hub with Planetary Gear Reduction in Medium Stone Grey/ Light Bluish Gray (6365803 | 46490), seen in 3 other sets.

The build

With all interesting elements discussed, we can start the build. For a set this size, the build goes pretty fast. 

We start at the bottom, with the turning table and tracks, using up most of the gears in the set. The Wheel Hub with Planetary Gear Reduction is used to power the tracks, reducing the rpm while providing more power to drive the heavy crane around. 

The turntable is made out of 2 double rings, with in between the same bearing system found in 42082 Rough Terrain Crane. 

With the bottom done, we get a first impression of the massive size. At this stage I was supposed to open the app and test the functions added so far, but the set was not available in the app yet. Luckily it’s possible to make your own controls in the Powered Up app instead.

We next move on to the upper structure, housing the 3 motors that control the towers and lifting. The motors are directly connected to the reels. The hub doubles as a counterweight. 

At the back we find the 2 Technic Beam 3 x 5 with Ball And Castor Joint holding a ball, taking on some of the weight of the upper structure. The Sand Blue Technic Gear Rack 1 x 14 x 2 Housing functions as a spring, taking any shocks from the hoisting. 

It’s hard to see on the photos, but the whole structure relies heavily on large frame pieces for shape and sturdiness, using a lot less standard beams and other Technic parts usually found in a Technic set. I understand the need, but it feels a bit like cheating.

Then it’s time to bring in all the new frames and build the towers...

I ran out of room in my photobooth and my attic in general very fast, and had to move the whole thing downstairs to the kitchen table to continue. And just in time, because the finished model would have been very hard to fit down the stairs.

The towers are constructed very fast, again feeling a bit like cheating, but then again the thought of building a model this size with just beams would be very off-putting. The shape of the frames reminded me a bit of LEGO Znap (do check out my "Is This LEGO?" article about that system on Rebrickable), but with better integration into the LEGO System.

The part I was dreading was the threading. 

One of the reasons why I love building with LEGO is the System: stud in anti-stud, pin in hole. Always neat, always straight. String is much more real-life, with them ending up a knot, stuck behind parts, or slipping of pulleys constantly. Luckily, the designers seem to have the same feeling, as most pulleys are sort of covered up. 

Once the string is threaded, it stays in place very well. The instructions are daunting at first, but going picture by picture it is possible to get the string in the right place. Just be careful not to miss any steps, or you’ll need to start again. This was still not my favorite part of the build, but much less stressful than I anticipated.

Suddenly, the model is finished. And it’s a massive beast. 

With the set not available in the LEGO Technic app until release date, I used the Powered Up app to control the motors directly. An early preview of the app arrived as I took off on vacation, so i was unable to include a look at it. I assume the dedicated app will have custom controls and maybe additional options, as often seen with Technic sets. I did notice I was able to over-extend some sections making the long bar-connections running along the towers sag, so I do expect the app adding some reach limitations.

I shot a video showing all its movements. I had to shoot the driving and turning in my living room, as the ball bearings in the back require a smooth surface.

Is it worth it?

I think you would agree that the 42146 Liebherr Crawler Crane LR 13000 is a great parts pack. The new frame pieces allow for the quick and easy creation of large, sturdy models. You could argue that they might be too big and easy, functioning as a sort of POOP element, but I think making a model this size out of standard pins and beams will be too daunting; a task that regular builders won’t take on, limiting the set to the die-hard fans.

Combined with the high quantity of other frames, this is the perfect starter pack for your own large-scale models. Add 6 motors and 2 hubs for control, and you’re set.

But there is an elephant in the room: that price tag.

Going by the part count, this is a very expensive set. (Note that ‘expensive’ means ‘a lot of money for what you’re getting’ and not just ‘a lot of money’.) The high price-per-part might be explained by the following factors.

First up are the Powered Up elements. Electronics always drive up the price. Both the angular motor and hub start at €13 of you were to buy them on Bricklink, totalling €100 for the 8 of them. If you buy the motors on LEGO.com, they are €34.99 a piece, taking the total to €270. Nevertheless, set 42100 has 7 motors, 2 hubs and 4,000+ parts for €449.99.

The average LEGO Technic set contains a load of pins and small connectors. The Liebherr is no exception, but we also get an unusually high amount of large parts, which is a lot of ABS, as can be seen in my "city skyline" photo above. Of those large parts, 3 are a new mold (4 if you count the Support Girder 7 x 16), which add another bump to the price tag. I highly doubt getting these loose at B&P will be much cheaper. For example; the Technic Beam Frame 3 x 19 is currently listed as €3.28 in Europe, coming to €108.24 for 33 of them.

The set has been in development for a long time, and the model requires an IP license, both presumably giving another bump to the price.

Taking all that into account, the price tag can partially be explained. But no matter how many explanations I can come up with, the impact on your bank account will be the same. Unfortunately this means the set will be very heavy on most budgets, and stay out of reach for many Technic fans. 

This build has me split. It’s an incredible experience building a model of this size. All functions work smoothly without endless tinkering, and simple enough for my 7 year old to control without instructions. It's great to see such a massive model moving with such ease. The model is also pretty sturdy. We managed to have it fall over (the crane doesn’t like driving sideways on ramps apparently), but aside from restacking the weights, everything was still in place. 

I've hoisted up to 1 kg of weight. I don't think it's the limit, but I didn't dare to add more.

But the build is also very fast, relying a lot on the large frames for the sturdy structure. I’m not saying I’m disappointed, but it didn’t really feel like a challenge or as intricate as some other LEGO Technic sets I’ve built. The functions are driven directly or with a minimal drivetrain, so that didn't feel like a complicated build either. I had planned at least a week for the build, but it was done in 3 days, while also doing most of the writing in between. 

Don’t get me wrong, it's not boring, and I think children or less experienced builders will love it, but besides the size and price tag it doesn’t really feel like a 18+ set to me. I had more sense of accomplishment after finishing the 42082 Rough Terrain Crane, and was more in awe of the details in the 42143 Ferrari Daytona SP, where the Liebherr banks on being big.

So do I recommend buying the set? It depends on what you want in a LEGO Technic set. If you’re after the parts, and you’ve checked if getting the set is indeed cheaper than getting the parts loose, I think the new molds can contribute to some great new MOCs. The model itself looks decent and has nice playability, but I have no idea where to display or store this colossus, so I think it will be torn down fast.

In Closing

“I’m innocent! I’ve been framed, I tell you!”

Yes, terrible pun. But why is Ahkmou locked up? Some say he’s being framed by Nidhiki to extort the location of the Great Kanoka Disks out of him, but cynics say he's accused of being a crime against LEGO System.

READ MORE: LEGO® ICONS™ review: 10321 Chevrolet Corvette

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  1. I think a fair comparison for the price is going off of the weight, this set has a better weight/price ratio than a lot of other sets. However this still feels like a 500 $ max set. Seems interesting with a discount, well see.

    1. Agreed; aside from the electronics, the weight of plastic involved is certainly an important factor for TLG's costs.

  2. The instructions better come with a detailed explanation of how to justify the price to our spouse, and maybe some hints on how to seamlessly integrate this into any living room decor. I'm sure IKEA is salivating at this as they see a boost in sales of their obnoxiously bland shelving to accommodate this behemoth.

    Please excuse my clear irritation here, but I question the direction of late. First we see a rudimentary '61 Vette with a depressing lack of detail and style drifting away from the Bugatti/Porsche/Ferrari line, then we're dealt an unsophisticated yet massive monster without challenge. Both unjustifiably overpriced, this one more than the latter, and both missed opportunities. When I see sets like these, if I can go without paying my mortgage for a month, I better be blown away. If I am the target demographic here as a consumer with Lego experience (hence the Technic), a very disposable income (hence the inflated price), dedicated space for the hobby (hence the enormous size), and an inclination towards highly detailed models with reusable parts of an 8-bit nature (hence the decision to buy Lego instead of a model kit), then I want a formidable challenge that Lego has shown capable of forever providing instead of a toned down, milquetoast model designed to be inclusive of younger builders that will NEVER buy this over the latest X-wing.

    Nonetheless, good review. Personally, I don't believe I would be able to recommend this set at all (and especially the Corvette).

    1. It will be interesting to see how this does in sales.

    2. There’s a lot of riggers/operators that are salivating over this set, we of course will heavily modify it and compete with each other online to see what this thing can ACTUALLY lift

  3. Good review!

    I don't build much Technic these days but I'm eager to see if any of those new frame pieces find their way into System sets (the way the triangular one already has in the newest Ninjago City set). They remind me slightly of the large "bridge truss" pieces from the early City set 7900 Heavy Loader, which was later reused for industrial scaffolding in the Exo-Force set 7709 Sentai Fortress.

    1. They do look like useful scaffolding parts that might be found in upcoming Lego City Construction sets...

  4. So like, does the weight "brick" not have any connection points what-so-ever? What size are those round holes in it?

    1. no lego compatible holes. only undersized half holes that are useless. i am currently looking at trying to model a 7 x 11 frame into a counterweight with a pocket for a steel/lead weight

  5. As for the counterweights, I did a quick back-of-the-envelope calculation:
    the volume is about 77 cubed modules, or 39cm3. With ABS density around 1g/cm3, this is super close to the measured 41grams. So I'd bet on pure ABS. Probably works out cheaper for LEGO, as they can mould them in-house. The weighted bricks are probably more expensive, as they require additional manufacturing and assembly steps. Just my 2 Canadian cents :)

    1. Archimedes has a simple solution to calculate the density but I tihnk he’s in the bathroom again.

    2. "Eureka is Greek for 'this bath is too hot'."

    3. My guestimate was to calculate the weight of a slab of assembled plates with equal volume. 18 1x3s and 18 1x8s would make a 7x11x1 chunk of ABS weighing 34g. Seems reasonable to chalk the remaining 20% discrepancy to void space in my assembly.
      I concur that the new part is most likely solid ABS, and it makes sense from a manufacturing perspective.

    4. Eureka is rather the 'reason' for the bath...

      -You reek, gah!

      (I'll let myself out...)

  6. Thank you for the amazing effort to bring this article about; a big effort in every sense!

    This really hit a chord with me:
    "One of the reasons why I love building with LEGO is the System: stud in anti-stud, pin in hole. Always neat, always straight."

    You're talking about how it relates to string,
    it it also PERFECTLY sums up why having to interrupt the flow of a build to put stickers on upsets me so much. Perfect words.

    1. Interesting point! The same for me, but with cloth...

  7. You guys are the best! By a long shot...

  8. Did Hakann volunteer to be hoisted into the air or was he forced?

    Great review, unfortunately I don't think I'll pick this up without having to sell my left kidney. Looks amazing though

  9. Would love to know where you got that 61510 String Reel 2 x 1 x 2 Drum with Axle Hole in yellow! Needed one in that color for a project.

    1. That's not 61510, but rather 32012 (3 x 2 x 3 instead of 2 x 1 x 2). It appeared in 12 sets from 2001 to 2017.

    2. Correct, I fot them mixed up while searching the part number.

    3. That's what I thought--that the yellow reel pictured is the 3x3x2 version.

      But if that's the case, is the new white reel really only 4x4x2? It looks like the axle hole is the same height as the smaller reel, making the larger one a 5x5 circle. And it looks wider, too--3 modules? From the building photos, I'm thinking the new reel is 5x5x3?

  10. Reading the New Elementary review of the LEGO Technic Liebherr crane set was a nostalgic trip down memory lane. LEGO's attention to detail in replicating real machinery is impressive, and it's a fun way to learn about the intricacies of heavy equipment. This set seems like a great addition for any LEGO and construction enthusiast.