42068 Airport Rescue Vehicle is the smallest of three Technic sets that are released today. As we learned in our interview with Technic designers it was originally slated for release last year but with a very strong product line-up already it was postponed a year it to ensure it was not overlooked.
So, was it worth the wait?
The set's 1094 parts arrive in un-numbered bags so, again, I found it helpful to pre-sort the larger ones before commencing construction.
The cleverest mechanism in the model -- the steering -- is built first. Compared to many Technic sets, parts density in this one is low so there's plenty of room for the somewhat chunky mechanism that converts rotation of the dark grey axle connector at the end of the blue half-beam at the back of the chassis into front and rear axle steering.
The axles are turned at proportionately different angles: the front a maximum of 20 degrees, the rear by 12.
There's no complex gearbox in the model, just a single two-way one, so construction is straightforward throughout the build.
As you can see there's plenty of fresh air in it.
Once the framework has been completed, large panels are added to the sides before the model is completed by the addition of the cab and the extinguising arm to the top.
Overall I think it took around 2 hours to complete.
The competed model
The current range of Technic panels is vastly superior to the many different versions that have gone before and, at last, they allow for very realistic and aesthetically pleasing models.
Some may prefer the open-look of studded and older studless Technic models but personally I like the added realism the panels provide. This vehicle, particularly when adorned with its stickers, looks excellent.
The sides are hinged at the top and can be opened in three sections to reveal the interior.
Inside there's a equipment/tool rack that can be slid out and removed.
A selection of tools -- spanners, hammer, drill, wrench and so on -- is provided.
The truck may look great but what about its functionality? To be honest it's a bit lacking in that area.
There are four controls: steering, using the tan gear on the top; rotating and raising the extinguishing arm by selecting one on the gearbox then rotating the black gear at the back; and extending the arm by operating a gear on the arm itself.
The arm can be rotated 360 degrees and raised/lowered by 180 degrees, so it has a wide range of movement.
The end of it is raised and lowered independently of the main section by rotating a gear at the start of the arm
Instructions are provided for motorising the model. A Power Functions M motor can be fitted under the bodywork in the area shown below, along with a battery box, which takes the place of the equipment rack.
To be honest, I haven't bothered: it doesn't power the vehicle, just the rotating and raising of the arm, which are hardly strenuous on the fingers. I believe the switch on the battery box has to be used to change direction so it's not really worth the bother; I guess it's good that it was designed with PF in mind, though.
This is the fourth Technic fire truck and the second airport specific one. It's certainly a vast improvement on the previous models, particularly 8454 Rescue Truck, released in 2003 when Technic was going through its weird 'futuristic' phase.
It's a great looking model but one that's lacking any real functionality. The steering mechanism is clever, and... actually that's pretty much all really. The gearbox is superfluous other than to make it possible to motorise the arm movement with a single motor.
If this were a first half of year 'basic' Technic model I'd be very satisfied with it but as a second half of year one, which we expect to be complex and sophisticated, I'm a little disappointed, although it's not a bad set by any means.
The alternative model is another fire rescue vehicle:
Instructions will be available at LEGO.com but are not there yet.