42078 Mack Anthem is the largest of the Technic sets just released and in fact, with 2595 pieces, it's also the fifth largest Technic set of all time.
Although it's been available for a while, Mack has just issued a press release this week which provides more information about its collaboration with LEGO. Apparently it's the first time the introduction of a LEGO set has coincided with the launch of the prototype.
So, let's crack open the seals and see if it's as good as it looks to be...
The set consists of two parts: the tractor unit itself, and something for it to haul. A box car or flat trailer would probably have been more typical but a bit boring so instead we have a self-unloading container carrier which looks great and packs in some cool Technic functionality.
Parts are packaged in seven numbered bags, the first four of which provide parts for the Anthem.
The Mack Anthem
The Anthem is a new tractor unit designed for the north American market that's aerodynamic, full of technology and driver comforts. The version that's been modelled is that with the stand-up sleeping area at the back of the cab. You can find more about it on the Mack Trucks website.
Construction begins at the rear of the chassis, which is fairly straightforward. The axles are connected via differentials, as you'd expect. Above the wheels the plate for attaching the trailer can be seen.
The front of the chassis is much more interesting. Unusually, the straight-6 engine, which is connected to the rear wheels, is not constructed using the normal cylinder parts. They would be too big, so instead axles with bushes on the top are employed, pushed up by a cam shaft made using six 2l beams with an axle hole.
As a result the cylinder movement is not accurate because, as you'd expect given the parts used, the cam offset is 90 degrees, so during the cycle two cylinders 'fire', followed by another two, followed by one and then the last one. But it doesn't really matter...
What does matter is that the steering mechanism has been implemented properly: the actual steering wheel is coupled to it, in addition to a wheel at the back of the cab.
There's some neat mechanical coupling involved to get it working in the confined space available, which you might be able to see in the next two photos showing wheels turned left and then right.
The upright red axle joiner on the left will eventually connect to the wheel on the back of the cab.
The bodywork is built using the parts in bags three and four. What becomes apparent during construction is that this is almost a hybrid Technic/System set. A lot of System parts have been used to create the curved lines around the front wheels, the headlight arrays, the steps to the cab. and the front grille.
The majority of decorated parts are stickered but the 1x4 tile 'Mack' at the front, and the drum-lacquered silver 1x3 tiles either side to it are printed.
Its good looks and attention to detail extend to the back of the cab. Here you can see the wheel used for steering, which has been hidden away at the back so as not to spoil the overall appearance of the vehicle.
You could probably get away without applying the stickers but they do improve the appearance and break up what would otherwise be a boring surface without them.
The bonnet/hood can be raised to reveal the engine.
There is just one new part in the set: the gold bulldog hood ornament, which has a 1l Technic axle at the bottom to allow attachment.
The interior is nicely detailed. The sleeping area at the back has been modelled, but it can't really be seen or accessed once the model is complete.
For those that like pictures of the bottom showing the workings...
Overall, the vehicle is 40cm/16" long, 13cm/6" wide and about 20cm/8" high.
Now we turn our attention to the trailer. The chassis is a straightforward Technic build that comes together in no time. It's a rigid structure, thanks to the use of 3x11 panels.
There's a mechanism operated by the gear on the side to raise and lower the balancing wheel, for use when it's not attached to the tractor unit.
The container lifting mechanisms are built as separate subassemblies then attached to the trailer once complete. They are complex and take a while to construct. One is the mirror image of the other so you might not want to build them both in the same session; I certainly didn't!
The completed trailer measures about 50cm/19" in length.
The container unloading mechanism is operated using the two gear wheels at the end of the trailer.
The outriggers are lowered individually using levers on the right hand side. When they are fully extended they are locked in position to prevent the trailer toppling over.
Here, both linear actuators are at their full extent:
Finally, the container is constructed, almost entirely from 5x11 and 3x11 Technic panels.
The doors can be opened...
...and locked using a mechanism similar to that on real containers.
First the outriggers need to be extended and locked to prevent the trailer from tipping. The chains can then be attached to the bottom of the container, if they are not already.
Then, the knobs at the end are rotated together, with a bit of trail and error, to lift and move the container over the side of the trailer.
Care must be taken to avoid hitting the side of the trailer as it's lowered, particularly as the container is prone to swinging on the chains a bit.
Eventually, after a lot ot knob twisting, the container can be rested on the ground.
Generally, once you have the hang of it, it works well. The knobs require quite a lot of force to turn, as a result of the weight of the container, so once the novelty has worn off you probably won't be operating it frequently.
This is a fantastic model in every regard that knocks the socks off those released in the theme's 40th anniversary year last year.
The Anthem itself looks stunning and it's great to see increasing quantities of System parts being used in Technic sets to improve the aesthetics and to provide small details that are normally lacking. At first glance you might be hard pressed to tell it's actually a Technic model.
Packed within it is a very clever steering mechanism that's coupled to the steering wheel, something that's rare in sets these days.
The trailer is more 'traditional studless Technic' than the Anthem but that's not a bad thing at all. The unloading mechanism is suitably complex and works well once you have the hang of it.
The container is perhaps the most surprising aspect of the entire model: a lot of plastic, and thus cost, has gone into making what is essentially a box. Back in the day we were lucky to get a pallet made from a few bricks, or a cubic Technic frame, to unload from our vehicles. Now we have something that probably accounts for 20% of the cost of the set. Of course, conceptually, the set wouldn't work without it.
Overall, then, it's an impressive model and surprisingly reasonably priced, given its size. Even at the full retail price of $179.99 / £139.99 / 149.99€ I have no hesitation in recommending it.
Thanks to LEGO for providing this set for review. The review is an expression of my own opinions.