42080 Forest Harvester introduces a type of vehicle that hasn't been modelled in Technic before.
The machines are impressive bits of kit that cut down trees, removes the branches then chops the trunk into logs in seconds. There are many videos on YouTube showing them in action.
Although this set is the second smallest of the summer Technic sets it still packs in over 1000 pieces and includes motorised pneumatic functions so on paper it sounds like it should be something special. Let's take a look...
New Technic parts have been thin on the ground this year and this set contains just one: a new pneumatic switch (part number 6099773), which is the third variation of the part. This one is better suited for use in studless models and, being only one unit wide with connectors on the bottom rather than the side, they can be mounted side-by-side.
There are a few recoloured panels which you can identify in the set inventory by sorting by the 'element in sets' column.
There's also a sticker sheet...
Instructions are provided in one manual and parts are packaged in bags numbered 1 to 3.
Bags #1 provide parts for the cab and front of the body. The pneumatic switches are mounted at the back of the cab, which is attached to the body with a Technic turntable. This allows it to be rotated freely, by hand.
The rear section of the body contains a Power Functions L motor, a pneumatic compressor and battery box.
It's connected to the front using a large turntable which provides articulation.
The top of the rear section is hinged to allow easy access to the battery box.
Lastly, the arm and cutting head are constructed from parts in bags #3.
The completed model
The two-tone green and white colour scheme is very striking and as a result the model is attractive. The body and cab are pretty close, design-wise, to real-world machines of this type, but the arms aren't accurate at all. There should be a single arm on one side of the cab and it should have another point of articulation, at the 'shoulder'.
Nevertheless, it looks pretty good and if I hadn't researched for this article I wouldn't have known, so it probably won't bother many people.
A few System elements have been added to the rear of the body to provide detail.
A couple of superfluous extras have been included: the designers must have had a few Krone left to spend to hit the required price point.
It looks pretty good, then, but what does it actually do?
Steering / suspension
The cab rotates, freely, by hand, as mentioned above. When it's at 90 degrees to the body it tips over a bit.
It can be steered, using the gear on top of the rear of the body. Twisting it causes the front and rear sections of the body to rotate relative to each other and the front wheels to turn. The second from front axle is fixed.
Suspension: the vehicle is not equipped with proper suspension but the first, third and fourth axles are floating so it can just about handle uneven terrain and small obstacles.
The main functionality of the set is of course the pneumatically operated arm and cutting head.
The pneumatic compressor is powered by a motor to provide continuous pressure for operating the cylinders. The switch for the battery box is exposed on the side of the body to enable easy access. Once switched on, the compressor springs into life.
The arm is raised and lowered by two large cylinders, one either side of the cab. At it highest position, the cutting head is above the cab.
At its lowest it touches the floor.
The arm is controlled by a gear connected to one of the two pneumatic switches, on the left side of the cab. Why a gear has been provided to enable the switch to be operated instead than a lever is a mystery because it's impossible to tell which position the switch is in without peering into the darkness behind the cab.
The cutting head can be twisted and rotated, but only by hand, and the circular saw has to be moved by hand, too.
Twisting the gear on the side rotates the head from vertical, above, to horizontal, below.
The log gripping jaws -- 2x2 round bricks with spikes -- are opened and closed by a small pneumatic cylinder which is operated by a gear on the right side of the cab.
A real-word machine would approach a tree, close the jaws around the trunk, then move the circular saw to cut it at the base.
Two 'trees' are provided to perform the operation on.
Once the tree has been felled it's lifted away and the head twisted 90 degrees so the trunk is horizontal.
Then, by moving the trunk through the head, the branches are stripped and it's cut into smaller sections.
With the exception of closing the jaws and lifting the arm, all that has to be done by hand with this model.
It's an impressive looking model with a pleasing colour scheme. It's a relatively quick and easy build with no complex gearboxes, or densely packed or repetitive sections. It's therefore a great introduction to the Technic pneumatic system for those who have not encountered it before.
However, like almost all Technic pneumatic sets, operating it is ultimately disappointing.
Pneumatic functionality is limited to two motions and it all seems a bit of an overkill having a battery box, motor, compressor and inches of pipework to provide them when it could have been done more efficiently mechanically. If the whole cutting head could be controlled without the need for intervention with one's hand then I can see that it would be worthwhile but as it is I'm not so sure.
Having said that I imagine that for kids it will be very cool and satisfying building the pneumatic system, getting it to work, and operating it, so maybe I'm just being too cynical and expecting too much in my old age.
At £120 and $150 it's a little expensive for a 1000-piece set but it's already been available for a lot less at Amazon.co.uk so bide your time and grab it at a discount later.
Here's Technic expert Sariel's video review:
This set was provided by LEGO for this review, which is an expression of my own opinions.