Review: 42080 Forest Harvester

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View image at flickr

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...


Parts

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.

View image at flickr

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...

View image at flickr


Construction

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.

View image at flickr

The rear section of the body contains a Power Functions L motor, a pneumatic compressor and battery box.

View image at flickr

It's connected to the front using a large turntable which provides articulation.

View image at flickr

The top of the rear section is hinged to allow easy access to the battery box.

View image at flickr

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'.

View image at flickr

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.

View image at flickr

A few System elements have been added to the rear of the body to provide detail.

View image at flickr

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.

View image at flickr


Functionality

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.

View image at flickr

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.

View image at flickr

Arm

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.

View image at flickr

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.

View image at flickr

At its lowest it touches the floor.

View image at flickr

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.

View image at flickr

Cutter

The cutting head can be twisted and rotated, but only by hand, and the circular saw has to be moved by hand, too.

View image at flickr

Twisting the gear on the side rotates the head from vertical, above, to horizontal, below.

View image at flickr

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.

View image at flickr

Once the tree has been felled it's lifted away and the head twisted 90 degrees so the trunk is horizontal.

View image at flickr

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.

View image at flickr


Verdict

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.

View image at flickr

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.


Video review

Here's Technic expert Sariel's video review:


42080 Forest Harvester is currently available from shop.LEGO.com:
USA ($149.99) | Canada ($179.99) | UK (£119.99) | Germany (€129.99) | France (€144.99)

This set was provided by LEGO for this review, which is an expression of my own opinions.

15 comments on this article

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By in Germany,

I really like the idea of a pneumatic harvester, but they should have made this the flagship set with four times the piece count. The split arm around the cabin is actually a design of the Ponsse Scorpion, which this set is probably based on.

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By in United Kingdom,

^ That one does have an arm attached both sized of the cab but they meet in the centre to become one.

^ I'm not sure exactly what you mean, it looks right to be, assuming that on real machines the saw is moved to cut the tree once it's been gripped.

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By in United States,

Looks decent, probably my favorite of the wave, but it’s still pretty expensive. Definitely getting it for the new pneumatic switches.

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By in Netherlands,

Hi Huw!
Are you aware that viewing the site on iOS, only while not logged in, currently shows ads that load literally between each picture? It’s very disruptive to the viewing experience..

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By in United Kingdom,

^log in?

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By in United Kingdom,

^^ you know the solution...

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By in United States,

^ Get an ad blocker.

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By in United Kingdom,

"but the arms are accurate at all."
Sorry, but isn't there a word missing here?

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By in Canada,

^ That's to balance out the extra words here: "the designers must have had a few Krone left to left to spend to hit the required price point."

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By in Australia,

Is the compressor new? I can’t find it listed anywhere.
Just curious because it has a PF not PUP connection.

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By in United States,

These timber harvesters all look very similar to this model. For example, the Komatsu America 931XC 8WD Harvester has 5 different attachments for the harvester arm. One of them has the saw like this model, to grab and cut. Others have rollers to remove small branches and bark. I think it is quite nice and fairly accurate as usual with Technic models.
If you'd like, google (or whatever you use) search for: komatsu 931xc and check a similar real one working.

I agree I would have liked it better if it had more pieces, but I'll get it anyway. I love my Technic models.

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By in Netherlands,

My knowledge of forest harvesters is limited to having read this review and watching some videos on YouTube but I think KLF is right: in order for the spiked cylinders to move the tree through the head while stripping it (“feed” the tree to the saw so it can cut it into smaller sections), the cylinders should be perpendicular to the saw. In other words, the gripper function should be seperated from the feed-through&strip-function.

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By in Germany,

"It's an impressive looking model with a pleasing colour scheme."

I couldn't disagree more.
While the two greens and the white works on the trailer, this vehicle in total is made of these 17 (SEVENTEEN!) solid colors: red, orange, yellow, lime, green, azure, blue, tan, dark orange, brown, dark brown, white, light grey, dark grey, black, silver and titanium metallic - and most of them are visible in the final model!
Is that a new contest to fit in most of the colors of the existing palette?

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By in Germany,

just a quick google search shows some mocs with way more realism and not neccesarilly use of more parts. Even though the idea is neat the execution isn't imho.

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By in New Zealand,

While building 42080 & reading this review, I was thinking it would have been cool to have had some reference to 8443 Pneumatic Log Loader. In many ways it has very similar features to 42080; 2 pneumatic functions (lift & grab), multi-point steering & rocking suspension. Such a great little set from the golden age of Technic, way back in 1996!

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