• Crane Truck

    Overall rating
    Building experience
    Parts
    Playability
    Value for money

    One of the most interesting & exciting technic sets produced

    Written by (AFOL , bronze-rated reviewer) in United Kingdom,

    This set holds a certain place in my emotional mindset - after coming out from the 'dark ages' and building a large collection, I had to sell it all up after starting a family - and this was the set which was about to be released at the time.

    Fast forward 5 years, and I'm amassing my collection again - and although I bought this set as part of a large batch job of used sets, I'd been holding off as long as I could muster - so building it was something a little special for me (ok, yes, I'm sad - I don't care :o) )

    Parts

    This is a large set, on the same scale as the unimog and mobile cranes. At 1,877 pieces, it's joint 4th largest set. For your money, you get some PF parts (xl motor ,switch) and 11 'frame / box' beams but mostly a good mix of beams, panels, gears without too many 'specialist' parts.

    I'm not a fan of using stickers - but this model has lots of them! Thankfully, not using them doesn't detract too much. (Although I did eventually relent and added the functions guide stickers on the flip-down panels!)

    The build

    Despite the size of the model, it wasn't an overly complex build - needs a bit of attention at times, and an 11-year old may need a little guidance from time to time, but there isn't anything too difficult to deal with. I enjoyed the fact that you very quickly get stuck into the may gear-box area, which, unlike most models where it's built as a standalone module and bolted on, is built directly onto the chassis.

    The completed model

    What you're left with is a very large model - much larger than I expected it to be. In fact, it's only a few cm shorter than the new Mobile Crane (mkII).

    The functionality is great though - you have 2-axle steering, the cab flips down, the stabalisers extend (and lower, albeit manually) and of course that amazing crane on the back.

    My criticisms are fairly minor, really - I'd have liked to see the extending of the final boom and winch operation somehow connected elsewhere on the body, even if not connected to the PF's (sure, it'd have been pretty complex - but sure it can be done!). I'd have liked to see the stabalisers lowered differently than by hand - a minor thing.

    I also found that although packing an XL motor - mine really struggled with raising the upper arm - really protested about it. Perhaps I'd made an error in the build, as the lower arm raised without too much of an issue though.

    Overall opinion

    This is a stand-out set - and worthy contender of Best Technics Set, were there such a title! The truck itself and chassis are nothing special on their own, other than the size of them - but that crane is a work of art. Well worth the 5 year wait to build it, and actually preferred it to the new Mobile Crane. Don't have it yet? Get it! 5 stars from me.

    0 out of 0 people thought this review was helpful.

  • Cowboys

    Overall rating
    Building experience
    Parts
    Playability
    Value for money

    Cowboys from Father Christmas

    Written by (AFOL) in United Kingdom,

    '617: Cowboys' was the very first Lego kit I ever owned - and it was not 'bought' for me exactly. Instead it was handed out in wrapping paper by 'Santa Claus' as a gift after visiting his grot in a local department store in 1978, just before Christmas. It actually must have been a close-run thing, as the immediately following Christmas Day brought me 'Lego 40'.

    There are not many parts and no minifigs at all! Instead everything is brick-built. Back then Lego was presented at least partially as an 'art' toy, more used for 'painting' with coloured bricks than building. Nonetheless, this kit actually does a good job of representing its subject, albeit in an abstract way. The attention to detail is also surprizingly high - the horse's ears and the Cowboys' scarves for instance. The bricks for the Cowboys' bodies are also fascinating, a kind of forerunner to real minifigs with clear hints where LEGO were going. There are no seperate arms, but the shape is very close to modern figures and the head also, albeit expressionless and slightly rounder. There is a great deal of lego 'archaeology' on display here!

    It is a simple enough kit to build, although I am fairly sure I was given help by my parents, being very young. I do clearly remember putting the fence together and getting it wrong - stacking the two yellow 1x8 plates together and thinking one was missing when it came time to add the second rail!

    At the end of the day this kit transcends any usual values for a lego review. It is peerless and priceless for me. Even my parents always remembered it. Very, very fond memories for such a small set.

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  • The Gatehouse Raid

    Overall rating
    Building experience
    Parts
    Playability
    Value for money

    70402 - The Gatehouse Raid

    Written by (KFOL) in United Kingdom,

    This set was my first Castle set, purchased not long ago, to see what Castle would be like. It made a good first impression...

    Box/Instructions

    The box has a typical Castle layout on the front, with the Dragon Knights attacking the King's Gatehouse. There are some interesting things in the background too... The instructions are simple, and easy to follow, with no more than six bricks per step.

    Minifigures

    Dragon Knight - A nice knight with a little surprise under his helmet... The breastplate armour is rather nice, and he holds a sword and a shield with an image of the Dragon on.

    Dragon Soldier - The soldier is a rather menacing-looking one, with an unpleasant, hard face, and a spear.

    King's Knight - The Knight is exclusive to the set (excluding the Knights' Accessory Pack), and has very nice weapons and a helmet.

    King's Guard - The Guard is not really special. He has the typical torso for a Guard and a helmet. He holds a silver spear.

    The build

    The build was quite nice, and took me no more than 20-25 minutes, so it is quite a quick one.

    The completed model

    The completed model is wonderful, with a nice, strong, large Gatehouse for the Dragon Knights to attack with their catapult and horse. I couldn't actually stop playing with the set for a good 30 minutes even as an older KFOL, so it has quite a high standard.

    Overall opinion

    My overall opinion - 10/10. I would recommend this set to everyone who collects Castle or anyone who just wants to have a fun LEGO set.

    0 out of 0 people thought this review was helpful.

  • NASA Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity Rover

    Overall rating
    Building experience
    Parts
    Playability
    Value for money

    The chances of anything coming from Mars are a million to one he said...

    Written by (AFOL) in United Kingdom,

    Having a passing interest in space exploration, this set caught my eye on Lego’s Cuusoo page as it neared the number of requisite number of supporters. Having achieved this and passed Lego’s own internal review process with seemingly few changes (certainly when compared against previous Cuusoo set #21103 Delorean), and with it having been primarily designed by someone who actually worked on the Mars Rover programme, my expectations were high!

    Box/Instructions

    The box is the same high quality affair as the other recent Cuusoo/Ideas sets – it opens via a top-lifting flap and contains four unnumbered bags, the instruction booklet and a couple of tan 8x16 plates. The instructions are clear, with the black background contrasting nicely with the primarily white build for the main unit, though it does require a bit of refocusing when it comes to building the mostly black suspension system. This problem is greatly exacerbated in the online instructions, which are very hard to make out in places. The booklet is peppered with interesting facts about the Mars Rover and these snippets give a lovely extra dimension to the build, making sense of the sometimes bizarre looking instruments that are recreated in Lego form.

    Parts

    There is nothing particularly remarkable in the selection of parts in the set except perhaps for the two steering arm connector pieces used for the rocker suspension. However, what it lacks in novelty it more than makes up for in sheer variety, with quite a few small pieces for adding detailing, as well as a smattering of Technic elements for the suspension and the front-facing robotic arm.

    The build

    Following a quick basic build of a small rocky terrain baseplate, construction of the main body of the Rover itself is also fairly simple, but the frequent digressions to add in all the various implements and tools on the rover prevent the build ever getting boring. There are some subtle but effective little tricks that I’ve not seen used in official sets before, most notably the upside-down build of the camera and arm, as well the method to create the rocker suspension which allows the rover to keep all wheels on the ground while maintaining stability.

    The completed model

    The final model is everything I had hoped for when I heard it was going to be produced as a set. It looks great and feels solid, whilst being packed with moving parts which can be rotated and bent into a variety of poses.

    It’s a shame that the Mars-like red rock formation from the original Cuusoo submission has inexplicably been replaced by grey bricks, but that’s a minor point and those who have a burning desire to correct can do so. The base plate makes a handy little stand for the model, which can be posed in an ‘action shot’ as it makes its way over the terrain.

    Overall opinion

    For a set that could be considered primarily ‘educational’, the model still exhibits a fair amount of playability, with potential to explore any surfaces you can find around the house (though if you have highly-strung cats I don’t recommend trying to run it over them – it doesn’t end well). It is excellent value for money at RRP, though the set’s high after-market price, driven by the very limited time it was available, is more difficult to swallow. Those looking for a complex and involved build may be disappointed, but that's not what this set is about - it's a fantastic representation of the Rover, chock-full of nifty little building tricks and looks great when posed over any uneven ‘terrain’ (except cats).

    4 out of 4 people thought this review was helpful.

  • Recycle Truck

    Overall rating
    Building experience
    Parts
    Playability
    Value for money

    Town services mainstay

    Written by (Parent) in Belgium,

    Together with #6693 Refuse Collection Truck this one was responsible for cleaning up our lego town, in all these years since nothing has changed yet as these two are still as important as ever.

    Box/Instructions

    A slightly bigger sheet compared to other contemporary (early nineties) road vehicles I had, but this was one of the bigger ones and some more steps are needed: 18 in total for the truck and 8 for the container so 26 in total. By way of comparison, #6693, which is about five years older, needed 13 steps for the truck plus another 13 steps for sub-models so in the end it evens out. No entire booklets for a build of ~100 pieces yet!

    Parts

    Several new parts came in this set: those wider wheels and tyres, the hinged gate for the container, the hook arm, the brick with moulded grille... Also some other parts I never had that many of: the minifig torso with black coverall, the black shovel and the included bracket 1 x 2 - 1 x 4 was the only one in gray in our collection, they were still exciting back then as we didn't have that many of them in other colours anyway.

    Minifigures

    Just one, but as mentioned the black coveralls have been rare in our collection so points for that. The same for his tools, the only other black shovel we had was in #6693. And another broom is never missed.

    The build

    I was never too fond of the 2 x 2 hose reel holder as it never was as easy to manipulate as its bigger older brother, the 2 x 4 winch. In this case however, a nice solution was given that made these small holders instantly better and made me try similar solutions for #6081 King's Mountain Fortress. There, in my eyes, the difference between both pieces was most obvious as the drawbridge there was never as easy to handle as the one in #6080 King's Castle. The rest of the truck is nice too, especially the flatbed construction supporting the container and the way the rear window on the truck is built (it is very close to the hook of the container lift arm though, but that's another story).

    The completed model

    This was one of my favourites back when I got it and it still is very nice now although it doesn't look all that impressive anymore with the newer six-stud-wide trucks in town. The container function works very smooth, the rubber band is still holding up even after more then 20 years of play and storage! There are some (small) negative points too: the container should be a bit heavier as it tends to get pushed up by the rubber band so it wobbles a bit, the container hold is actually very small and there's nothing included to throw in there. The worst part of this set are the stickers which go over several bricks, needless to say these have not survived...

    Overall opinion

    Nicely complements #6693 as a more ecological alternative, more importantly both are still extremely well liked and are considered absolutely necessary in any lego town. I guess getting rid of garbage in big trucks never gets old...

    2 out of 2 people thought this review was helpful.