When news first broke that we'd be getting some decent City sets in 2013, and not just more fire and police, a lot of people, myself included, could not wait to get our hands on them.
60018 Cement Mixer is one of three new 6-wide trucks that LEGO now refers to as 'Great Vehicles'.
The 'Great Vehicles' range was introduced in 2007, with a recycling truck (7991) and a cement mixer (7990). Before them, Town and City vehicles were largely 4 wide and/or juniorised. We can consider 2007, then, as the year that LEGO started making decent City sets, after more than 10 years of mediocre offerings.
Since then, LEGO has made some excellent vehicles, and it looks as if the three 2013 sets will continue to live up to the high standard we've come to enjoy.
Box and contents
The front of the box looks excellent and I think will significantly contribute to the set flying off the shelf. The yellow of the cab contrasts superbly with the blue of the box and the picture shows a hive of activity and play possibilities.
The back amplifies the play possibilities and shows what moves and how.
Inside, the parts are in two numbered bags. The two halves of the mixer are loose in the box, along with a sticker sheet and one instruction book.
Bag one contains the minifigs, which I'll mention later, and the chassis. There are few new parts in the set, in fact the only ones I noticed are two 'Plade 1X2 M. Van. Hul Ø 4,8' [sic] which you can see above the mudguard at the front.
Bag two builds the cab and mixer. The cab attaches via clips at the front...
...which form a hinge and, in a first for a 'Great Vehicle', allow the cab to be tipped forwards to reveal the engine underneath. The back of the cab is a yellow 'Wall 1X6X3 W. Studs' which was used in last year's tipper truck, in grey.
The completed model
The mixer mechanism is also attached to the chassis by way of clips. The grey wheel on the side is used to rotate the mixer which has a helical screw in it. Turn it one way and the 1x1 round plates provided remain in the mixer, turn it the other and they are ejected out of the end.
I haven't applied the stickers. I don't mind doing so when there's a good chance they can be applied perfectly, but I'd probably have difficulty getting the two large ones round the mixer exactly lined up. You only get one chance with stickers. Mess them up and they are ruined.
The main design difference between this version of cement mixer compared to 2007's 7990 is the addition of a chute and guide at the back. The chute can be rotated and angled, and the guide tilted up and down.
This means there's a good chance the 'cement' will land in the wheelbarrow.
The minifigs in City sets are rarely reason enough to buy a set, and the pair in this one are no exception. They are perfectly suited to the model, but nothing special.
Comparing to 2007's 7990
7990 was a superb model, so much so that it's one of the few that I haven't broken down and bagged up. However, this new cement mixer is better in many ways. They are very similar in size and design but comparing the two you can see that the mixer on 7990 is mounted at a much greater angle which has resulted in the end of the mixer being much higher than the cab. This design flaw has been addressed in 60018 and the result is much more realistic.
The chute at the back provides for much better playability than the pipe on 7990 which of course was not functional.
Looking at 7990 in isolation you could be forgiven for thinking it was pretty much perfect, but with this set LEGO has shown that you can improve on perfection...
Of the 2013 sets I've built so far, this has been my favourite, and proves that LEGO does not need licenses or fancy IPs to be able to create superb sets.
City sets remain some of the best value LEGO sets available and this one is no exception. This is definitely one that every City fan, and those who are looking for an exceptional 'old school' LEGO set, should add to their collection.
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