In this, my third and final review of the summer Technic sets, I am taking a look at 42054 CLAAS XERION 5000 TRAC VC, which weighs in at 1977-pieces, and is priced at £120, $180, 150€.
You might be inclined to think that a model of a tractor would be boring but you should think again: this one is packed with incredible feats of Technic engineering.
CLAAS is a German manufacturer of farm machinery and is apparently the largest manufacturer of combine harvesters in the world.
The XERION 5000 TRAC VC is a relatively new model of tractor whose defining feature is four equally sized wheels on steered axles. The VC version has a 'variable cab' that can be rotated to allow the operator to reverse more easily and to get a better view of whatever is being done at the back.
Packaging and parts
Once again it's worth mentioning the picture of the alternative model that's shown on the box but nowhere else. It's a silage plough that's rebuilt from the logging arm. Although the product page is live at LEGO.com, the instructions for this, and for the other two summer Technic sets, are not available at the time of writing.
Parts wise, the only new parts that have not been seen elsewhere this year are the huge balloon tyres, labelled 107x44R. They are pretty much an exact replica of those seen on the CLAAS website pictures.
Also of interest are the red 6x6 radar dishes that were highly sought after and hard to find after I suggested that the Ferris Wheel released last year looked better with four colour gondolas rather than three. They still fetch over £5 on BrickLink.
The 340-page instruction manual covers construction of the tractor in 422 steps and of the logging arm in a further 148.
Parts are divided into bags numbered 1 and 2. Bags #1 build the tractor, and account for around 70% of the parts total; bags #2 provide parts for the counterweight at the front and the logging arm.
The chassis is incredibly densely packed with moving parts and gearing, most of which is for the complex steering mechanism, which I will discuss later.
There is not a lot of bodywork beyond the bonnet.
The cab is built as a separate assembly and is one of the more fiddly parts of the build because there are bits flapping about in the wind until late in the build.
The cab is attached using four grey pins and once in place the body is complete and awaiting the wheels.
Here's the counterweight for the front, which is easily attached and removed.
After building with black, grey and lime green, it's a refreshing change to red for construction of the logging arm.
The completed model
Let's take a look at the tractor on its own first. It looks fantastic, doesn't it!
The levers on the side provide control of the motor: the top one turns the battery box on and off, the lower rotates the cab. Steering is performed using the horizontal black gear at the rear of the cab.
The bonnet can be raised and propped up to reveal the battery box.
Both front and back have attachment points for equipment to be added, and both can be raised and lowered. The grey axle joiner at the bottom provides rotational power for the equipment.
Here is the counterweight attached to the front.
And here's the logging arm attached to the back. It's actually a bit fiddly to attach because a small axle needs to be inserted into the drive shaft at the back of the tractor and there's not much space.
It's equipped with outriggers that can be lowered manually to stabilise it during operation.
The gearbox at the bottom controls rotation of the arm and raises and lowers it. However the 'hand of God' needs to be used to raise and lower the grabber, and to open and close it.
The most impressive and complex part of the tractor is that which controls the steering. A three way lever at the back can be set for either 2-wheel steering, 4-wheel steering or crab steering, where both sets of wheels point in the same direction.
When in the middle position the rear axle is locked...
... so operating the steering gear moves just the front wheels.
When in the left hand position...
...the rear wheels rotate in the opposite direction to the front ones.
When in the right position, things start to get clever...
...the rear wheels move in the same direction as the front ones which is known as crab steering. This is useful for tractors to enable them to move sideways while keeping ploughs or whatever is attached to them perpendicular to the direction of movement.
How this actually works is still a mystery to me, despite having built it! It's a very complex and clever mechanism that takes up most of the space within the body so kudos to the designers for getting it working and squeezing it in. I am not aware of any other Technic vehicle that features such a system.
The other main feature is the rotating cab. It's operated by moving the bottom lever on the side. As it rotates it also lifts slightly which enables the front of it to clear the rear mudguards. In the image of the cab above you will see a wheel at the bottom. This simply rides over the bodywork and pushes the cab up a bit as it does so.
Here's the cab in the rear view position. Motorising it seems a bit pointless to be honest because it can be pushed round easily enough.
This picture shows the axle that runs the length of the body to provide rotational power to any attached equipment. It rotates all the time the battery is switched on.
This is a model of two halves. The tractor is a fantastic looking model that closely resembles the real thing. The variable steering mechanism within it is an incredible feat of Technic engineering that works very well. Construction is varied and interesting. I really cannot find fault with it.
I am not so impressed with the logging arm though. It's a bit big and bulky, has restricted movement and relies too much on manual intervention for its operation. It's not really up to the same standard of design and operation as the tractor. Of course, something like it needed to be included in the set to provide playability and I suppose it's more interesting than a plough, thresher or seeder or something, but I think the model looks better without it.
Despite this, it's a superb Technic set that will delight fans both for its engineering and aesthetics and one I do not have any hesitation in recommending.
The beauty of LEGO is of course that if you don't like something you can change it so I will be removing the arm and seeing what other compatible equipment I can come up with. Perhaps we should have a competition...
Here's Sariel's video review. The bit worth watching starts at about 21m 30s.
Thanks to the LEGO community team for providing the set for review, which is an expression of my own opinions and not those of The LEGO Group.