Review: 42078 Mack Anthem

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View image at flickr

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.

View image at flickr

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...

View image at flickr

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.

View image at flickr

View image at flickr

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.

View image at flickr

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.

View image at flickr

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.

View image at flickr

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.

View image at flickr

The bonnet/hood can be raised to reveal the engine.

View image at flickr

View image at flickr

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.

View image at flickr

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.

View image at flickr

For those that like pictures of the bottom showing the workings...

View image at flickr

Overall, the vehicle is 40cm/16" long, 13cm/6" wide and about 20cm/8" high.


The trailer

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.

View image at flickr

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!

Each one contains two linear actuators, one large and one small, as well as the relatively new gear rack and housing, which form the outriggers.

View image at flickr

The completed trailer measures about 50cm/19" in length.

View image at flickr

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.

View image at flickr

Here, both linear actuators are at their full extent:

View image at flickr

View image at flickr


The container

Finally, the container is constructed, almost entirely from 5x11 and 3x11 Technic panels.

View image at flickr

The doors can be opened...

View image at flickr

...and locked using a mechanism similar to that on real containers.

View image at flickr


Operation

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.

View image at flickr

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.

View image at flickr

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.

View image at flickr

Eventually, after a lot ot knob twisting, the container can be rested on the ground.

View image at flickr

View image at flickr

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.


Verdict

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.

View image at flickr

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.

 

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32 comments on this article

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By in Italy,

Wunderbar!

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By in Sweden,

Looks like a fantastic model to me! But I would have preferred a large scale Lego model of the new Scania S730 instead of the Mack. But anyway it sure is a nice model/truck.

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By in United Kingdom,

I’m not a Technic collector, but this one is on my purchase list!

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By in Canada,

I bought this bad boy on release - one of my favourite sets of all time. Absolutely fantastic set

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By in United Kingdom,

I'm buying this tomorrow to get the 60th Anniversary freebie!
Looks fantastic, and as Huw says, a step up from last year's 6 wheel truck.

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By in Canada,

This set immediately stuck out among 2018 sets. I love this set!

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By in United Kingdom,

That's an amazing model! Nice review.

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By in France,

It is a good looking rig. Are the wheels a bit small in proportion to the body ?

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By in Sweden,

^I think the proportions have been captured nicely—the real truck does have silly looking small wheels. Good to hear that system parts are used and that the Technic line is recovering after an awful 2017. I feel tempted to buy this but as always I’ll wait for a big discount.

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By in United Kingdom,

Love this set definitely getting this set !!

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By in United States,

Wow, I thought Lego was bringing back Model Team--it's incredible that -technic- is now looking this good. Nice work, designers!

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By in United States,

I don’t know if anyone else saw this, but Khalil Mack of the Oakland Raiders (my favorite football team) was actually sent a copy of this set by either Mack or Mack and LEGO. He has a licensing deal with Mack, and said on Twitter that he will be building it. It’s always cool to see athletes or celebrities having fun with LEGO.

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By in Russian Federation,

But this one is dull! LEGO, make some new technical gear, like 42055. Just new machine with new play expecrience. Make giant moving spider, batmobile with moving body parts and ejecting batcycle or whatever real monster technics from youtube:)

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By in United Kingdom,

I like this too.. Optimus prime would be proud,
This is one of my fave lego technic sets after the orange porsche and the bucket wheel excavator..

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By in New Zealand,

Boy I'll have my work cut out to change this to right hand drive for our roads.Wow this is going to be fun what a great set

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By in Netherlands,

I’ve bought it on january 2nd and still, once a week or more, I lift or lower the container from the truck. Building it was fun and it keeps drawing attention to it. One of the best Technic sets in years! But that’s just my opinion...

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By in Hungary,

It's a great model, however, it's not technic anymore.
For this much of money it can manually place down the container. And thats all. So thats why I am saying, more of a model than a classic technic set.

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By in United States,

Ah jeez, that tractor unit is just fantastic. So much realism & cleverness. So much System though, too, and I'm not sure how I feel about that! I'm only a Technic fan on off days, so I just don't know whether I'm supposed to be a purist and shun the studdy bits, or just enjoy the fantastic end result. The engine? I can't stop smiling about how that works.

I don't care about the trailer at all, though.

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By in United States,

@Huw will you be doing a separate review of the b-model?

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By in United States,

This set would’ve been a much better flagship set for last year. I’ll be getting this set Tomorrow for the freebie

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By in Australia,

Not feeling the love. I do like the shipping container though.

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By in Australia,

@Huw According to the press release "The pistons even move in the correct firing sequence for a Mack® MP® engine". What your probably seeing when two pistons reach Top Dead Center (TDC) is one piston on a compression stroke and another on an exhaust stroke.

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By in Canada,

I with Jang I wish I could just get the truck and forget about the trailer.

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By in United States,

Too cheap to make a new steering wheel mold. Heh, that's ok I guess.

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By in United Kingdom,

@darkstonegrey, yes.

@Hayai05, interesting, thanks.

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By in Australia,

Return of Model Team? I think its great alot of system parts are used. I'm no purist though!

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By in Germany,

Bought this set in early january and it is fantastic! But where the Anthem mostly is for the stunning looks, it minimaly lacks technic.
The complete opposite is the B-Modell which I do prefer over the original model when it comes to technic. The front loader is way more interesting in my opinion and especially the unloading mechanism is simply stunning!!!
Please, do a review of the B-Model as well!!

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By in United Kingdom,

I plan to review the B model as soon as I find the time to build it. I'm busy fiddling about with GBCs at the moment ;)

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By in United States,

More studs in Technic sets please!

How difficult would it be to add Power Functions with IR remote to this?

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By in United States,

Thanks for this review, Huw! As a kid in the 80's and 90's, I was fascinated with 5580 (Highway Rig) and other Model Team sets. I can recall staring at that model in the catalogs every year. I ended up piecing together my own copy of 5580, semi-recently (pun intended), through my own inventory and lots of help from Bricklink. To this day, I still have a soft spot for LEGO semis.

So of course I fell in love with this set as soon as I saw it. If this is a soft return of the Model Team, I am all for it. I waited until this morning to make my purchase, though, so I could get the 60th anni set as well. I literally went from confirming purchase to seeing this review, so I'm thrilled to hear you liked it so much!

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By in Germany,

I don't understand negative comments about System pieces in Technic sets. Back in the good old days when I grew up with Technic, most of the sets' contents consisted of System pieces. Even Technic bricks themselves were just System bricks with holes. How I miss those days before all those annoying liftarms...

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By in United Kingdom,

> How difficult would it be to add Power Functions with IR remote to this?

There's no room on the trailer for motors etc., so without a lot of aesthetic compromises it's not really possible.

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