Review: 42097 Compact Crawler Crane

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View image at flickr

Cranes have been a staple of the Technic assortment since the birth of the theme in the 1970s so it's perhaps surprising that the design team is still finding different types for inspiration.

42097 Compact Crawler Crane is the first time this style of machine has been tackled and at first glance it's hard to tell at what scale it's been modelled.

Compact crawler cranes are, as might be surmised from their name, small, with some designed to fit through doorways, as shown in this video, so the model is built to a much larger scale than most Technic sets.


Box and contents

The box contains 920 pieces, one instruction manual and a sticker sheet. The parts are not in numbered bags so all have to be opened simultaneously.

There are no new parts and few recolours: the most notable being the yellow outrigger housing. Clearly this year's Technic element budget has been spent elsewhere.


Construction

There are three distinct phases to construction. First, the chassis. There are no complex gearboxes or subassemblies so it comes together quickly.

The five turntables on the top will be used to mount the outriggers and boom.

View image at flickr

View image at flickr

A frame to mount the boom is added to the central turntable. It can be raised and lowered by turning a lever on the far side, which you'll see below.

View image at flickr

Next, the boom, the end of which folds back on itself for compactness.

View image at flickr

It's attached using non-friction pins at the back and to the linear actuator at the front.

View image at flickr

Finally, the four outriggers, which are built as two mirror-imaged pairs.

View image at flickr

They're affixed to the small turntables using axles which completes the model.

View image at flickr


The completed model

With everything collapsed, lowered and tucked away, the model is 33cm x 17cm x 15cm high.

View image at flickr

View image at flickr

View image at flickr

You will no doubt have noticed that the model does not have a cab to house an operator. That's because the real machines are only about 2m tall and are controlled either remotely or via a panel which, on this model, folds down at the back.

View image at flickr


Operation

You will see in the photos above that there are small black gears all over the model, and it is with these that it's operated.

Outriggers

The outriggers have three controls each. One to rotate them...

View image at flickr

One to angle them down...

View image at flickr

And one to extend the foot. That's a total of 12 knobs that need twisting to put all four into position.

View image at flickr

Boom

The boom has a further five controls: one to lift the base, one to raise it via the linear actuator, one to extend it, one to rotate it, and one for raising and lowering the hook.

Here it is fully extended:

View image at flickr


Verdict

It's an interesting model, primarily because it's something we've not seen before in Technic. It offers a lot of control of its various moving parts but it's a shame that none of it is interconnected. It would have been nice, for example, to twist just one knob and have all four outriggers rotate at once.

There's nothing complex, technically impressive about it so I suspect it'll be a set that most Technic fans will overlook, particularly as it will be overshadowed by other far more compelling models released at the same time or later this year, which introduce us to Control+.

Nevertheless, it's decent enough and once it inevitably becomes available at a discount below its RRP of £80 / $99 it will be one to look out for if only for its parts, which include around 60 gears.

View image at flickr

42097 Compact Crawler Crane will be available on August 1st at shop.LEGO.com.


Thanks to LEGO for providing the set for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

25 comments on this article

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By in United States,

That's a lot of gears...

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By in Switzerland,

I really like the look of this model and might be tempted to pick it up at some point.
The large number of manual functions needed to operate it is on one side interesting, but look to be rather time consuming as well.
The main drawback for me, which Sariel has pointed out in his video review, is the fact that the outriggers fail in their function of stabilizing the crane while lifting anything over a few 100+ grams.
It just tips over when even just a low weight is to be lifted, which defeats the purpose.
Thanks for the review.

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By in United States,

I’m no crane expert, but why would you want all four outriggers doing the same thing? I would think they’re explicitly designed to be independent of each other

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By in United Kingdom,

The video I link to suggests that they are all deployed at once.

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By in United Kingdom,

Good job the chap who didn’t get paid by Travelodge didn’t get hold of one of these.

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By in Latvia,

Not a Technic fan, but their is cool!

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By in United Kingdom,

Having not yet bought 42082 Rough Terrain Crane, this crane looks pretty cool as well. I'll have to choose between them.

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By in United Kingdom,

Yes! A Technic review! It's been so long. Thanks, Huw.

...it's just a shame that the set is not as exciting as those first sneaky pictures suggested. Motors & remote control would be wonderful.

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By in Germany,

The linked video also clearly shows that the outriggers should be able to lift the entire machine off its tracks, for which these are truly inadequate.
But it would make a fine base for a homemade StarCraft siege tank :)

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By in Australia,

Pretty Average really, Flimsy and undignified, to more important topics, Does anyone have any information on the press release of the Tree house, I've been checking Brickset every 5 minutes

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By in United States,

I have little interest in this model, and even less after learning quite a bit from your review that I didn't previously know. What I most want to say is that the photography is very good. It's not just the background color & value, but the choice of lens that's not too wide, and the well chosen angles that convey a lot of information about the design and features. Thank you for all that.

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By in Germany,

Contrary to the general opinion here I love this model.
It looks like a classic Technic model, it has lots of manual functions, and it doesn't take days to build.
Of course, the outriggers could be implemented less flimsily, but overall, this ticks many of the right boxes for me.

And tbh, I just watched Sariel's video, but who honestly lifts a coffee mug or an AT-ST with such a crane? He even admits that lifting normal loads isn't a problem at all. So overall, more or less a non-issue really.

Plus, in time this will be available for around 50 to 60 Euro, which is great value, even if someone is only interested in the parts.

Must say this to me is far more what Technic is about than for example that coming Liebherr monstrosity. That will be more like a Technic/UCS mashup.

I know I will be in the minority with those views, but I stand by them.

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By in Australia,

^ Indeed, simple and classic. Back to basics, nothing fancy shmancy...wonder why AFOLs keep wanting more more more me me me me

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By in Germany,

I quite like it. It is not a set that tries to over-do everything, but just a nice technic set that you (kids) can play with. The outrigger could have been a bit longer and I will have to see how much it can actually lift. But it is a nice set which I will surely buy.

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By in United Kingdom,

Thank you @theJANG. As always I use a 50mm lens equivalent (25mm on MFT). Anything wider distorts and makes it look unnatural.

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By in United States,

Great review.

Concerning the outriggers not operating together. While I am an office guy, I work with the men and women who operate cranes, including this style for renovation work in existing structures. In the real world, you want the outriggers to be fully independent so you can accommodate any situation you come across. The controls for the real thing might be all together so you can push them with one hand at the same time, but there is definitely an option to move each one independently. I don't knock this set for the outrigger control.

I think this will be a great set for my 5 and 7 year olds. They have been very interested about mechanical movement lately and I think this will be a great intro into that, as well as a good source for pieces and inspiration to build their own ideas. While they love playing with my big cranes, 42009 mobile and 42042 crawler, the internal gear boxes are just too complex and hidden for them to see what's going on. This new crane seems simple enough, exposed, and the mechanisms are independent so I think it will provide education while also being a really fun toy with lots of play options.

Summary: I don't mind the outrigger independence as it mirrors the real world crane, and I think this will be a great set to learn mechanical movement.

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By in United Kingdom,

Great comment.

It is indeed a great set to learn basic mechanics with. Not too complex, but with enough going on inside to make it interesting.

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By in Germany,

@Huw: correct, and if I am not totally mistaken, this was the original intention of LEGO when they introduced Technic.

One can't say something like the Bugatti or many of the other recent Technic sets manage to offer that kind of education.

With older sets you saw what was going on and could follow the instructions in a way that made you understand the inner workings of the machines portrayed. Nowadays the sets are so complex that you just follow the instructions in the hope of finishing the set some hours later. You usually don't understand anymore what is built for which reason until the set is finished. Plus, thanks to all the panels you often don't get to see the mechanics in the finished set anyway. Again, sets like the Bugatti, the Porsche etc. being prime examples of this.

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By in United Kingdom,

Great review.

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By in United States,

I forgot this in my previous comment but I truly appreciate the time put into the quantity and quality of pictures posted in these reviews.

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By in Poland,

The size of foldable control panel suggests that the scale of the model is different. But maybe the panel is just way to small.

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By in United States,

It occurs to me that children can learn as much from what a model *can't* do as from what it can. Seeing what weights overwhelm this crane, even with the outriggers fully deployed, teaches an appreciation that there are also limits to real machines--a lesson that some adult engineers seem to have forgotten lately, to judge by the number of fallen cranes in the US news lately.

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By in United Kingdom,

I rather like it. Perhaps this will be the set when I finally pull the trigger on a Technic crane.

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By in United Kingdom,

AMAZING set love it

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By in United Kingdom,

AMAZING set love it.
going to order it ASAP

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