42098 Car Transporter doesn't seem particularly exciting on initial inspection but it's a set that, once I'd built, admired, and operated it, exceeded my expectations by some margin. It's also tremendous value for money, even at full retail price, which is not something that can often be said for a LEGO set.
However, it's not without its faults. There's one particular aspect which mars the overall aesthetic, but luckily it's easily fixed with a few extra parts. I'll show you how after the break.
Box and contents
The box is large and heavy, more so than you'd expect for a set of this size. This is partly down to the weight of the 550 page, 2cm thick instruction manual, but also to its 2498 pieces which thus makes it the 8th largest Technic set yet released, in terms of number of parts.
Parts are packaged in numbered bags, 1-3, corresponding to the three sub-models: the car, the front section of the transporter, and the trailer. Half are numbered 2 so you'll still be dealing with a lot of pieces during much of the build.
As we've come to expect for recent Technic sets, there's also an extensive sticker sheet.
For information about new and noteworthy parts, please refer to New Elementary's article.
In many ways the car similar to 42093 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 which was released earlier in the year; the chassis and engine are built using the same techniques and mechanisms, and it's roughly the same size.
For example, in the engine a crankshaft pushes up the 'cylinders' (3l axles with yellow bush) in sequence as it's rotated.
The rear wheels are connected to the crankshaft and steering is neatly routed to the back of the car to be operated by a gear at the rear.
Its dark azure bodywork looks excellent. A matching roof would have been nice, although I guess it could be depicting a convertible with a black cloth roof.
It looks sleek and expensive...
The gear at the back.operates the steering. I'm not sure that I like gears being used on the controls but I guess it does up the number included in the set, and they are more useful than, say, wheels.
The alignment of the print on the stickers on the engine is not particularly good: the V8 markings do not line up.
So, it's an excellent model that would be appealing as a set in its own right.
The front section of the transporter
This vehicle probably accounts for 2/3rds of the parts in the set and certainly accounts for the lion's share of the time taken to build the model.
It has a moving cylinder engine much like that in the car, which is connected to the first rear axle via a differential.
The rack and pinion mechanism at the back facilitates the raising and lowering of the upper car deck. Other than that, there's not a great deal of complexity in the model so it's not a difficult build but it is quite time consuming.
The left seat is upside down in this picture. I'd like to say that I corrected it later in the build, but I've only just noticed. Duh!
The cab's bodywork is made with red and grey panels, so without the stickers, which help tie the two together, it would not look particularly attractive.
The lower and upper car decks are added in turn to complete the model.
The railings on the upper deck are constructed using eight Flex Tube, 21 Module, W/ 3.2 Hole (6210590). More on those later...
I think it looks great from all angles and, like the car, could make for a very decent stand-alone set.
Here's how the cab is tilted forwards to access the engine, using the lever just behind the front wheel. The top car deck moves out of the way, which is presumably what needs to happen on the real vehicles. It's very well implemented.
I'll take a look at how the car deck moves in a minute.
The chassis of the trailer is similar to the front part of the transporter, and features the same rack and pinion mechanism.
It also has a few other tricks up its sleeve, such as the rear ramp,
and another at the front to allow vehicles to drive onto the front section of transporter.
Altogether the set took a surprisingly long time to build: I think I must have spent at least 8 hours on it. It wasn't particularly complicated and there are no complex mechanisms to catch you out and which need careful attention; there's just a lot of pieces that need to be connected together!
The completed model
At around 85 cm long and, with the car on top, 25cm high, it's way bigger than I anticipated. It only just fits on my photography table.
The red and white of the transporter contrasts well with the blue of the car: it's an attractive combination.
I'm no expert on car transporters but it looks pretty realistic to me and I particularly appreciate that it's based on a European prototype rather than a long-nosed American eyesore (although your opinion may vary!)
It's possible to raise and lower ramps and decks to drive up to five cars onto it. All the controls required to do so are situated at the side of the front of the car decks: the black gear wheels.
Before anything can be loaded onto it, the rear ramp needs to be lowered. It's hinged in the middle so extends to roughly double the height of the vehicle, which thus provides a nice shallow slope.
The rear of the top deck of the trailer is lowered via the rack and pinion mechanism in the chassis. It's a bit of a steep slope: I would not like to drive a new car up it, and stop it once at the top!
A platform to bridge the gap to the front section of the transporter is lowered to access the space for three cars on it.
The upper deck is lowered in the same way as on the trailer. It's not possible to fit two cars the length of the one included on the top deck: to fit one at the front half it would need to be about 6 studs shorter.
The yellow right-angled pieces mate with a corresponding hole at the front of the car which hooks in place, and keeps it there when the ramp is lowered.
There's a lever on the other side of the vehicle that tilts it slightly to release the car for unloading.
The controls work flawlessly, although some do require quite a lot of twisting, and with the car sitting on a lowered ramp, it takes some effort to raise it.
Improving the railings
So far, so very good. But there's one aspect that I really don't like and which spoils the overall aesthetic of the model: the railings on the top.
You can see straight away what the problem is: It's a chore getting them horizontal, all six spaced the same, and they do not remain taut, which results in them looking like they are bowed. This is partly because the black bars are not held securely enough -- the blue half pin wobbles in the hole -- so there's some movement side-to-side, so they are not necessarily the exact same distance apart at the top as they are at the bottom.
The solution is simple and I really don't know why this pure Technic solution was not implemented to start with.
I had some 21l grey flex tube laying around, probably from an old LUGBulk order, which is just about the same length as the piece I've replaced.
The stanchions don't wobble, the vertical gap between railings is fixed, and the flex tube doesn't, er, flex, which results in a much tidier and Technic-like appearance.
Ideally I'd have used slightly longer ones for the back of the deck and that on the trailer but I didn't have any.
I think you'll agree that it's a significant improvement.
I thought this would be a dull and boring set but I was mistaken. It looks very impressive, the controls are manifold and work well, and -- I haven't mentioned this yet -- it's a fantastic parts pack for Technic builders.
Of course many of the 2500 parts are pins (over 900, in fact) but there are also an awful lot of beams -- around 220, including 88 length 15s -- and panels (about 60). And, best of all, not many are black. I'm sure you, like me, have too many black Technic parts already. This will definitely be a set I buy multiples of for parts when it's been reduced.
However, as I said at the start, it seems surprisingly good value even at RRP (€149.99/£139.99/ US$179.99), particularly given that the similarly sized car 42093 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 retails for £40, which is just under 30% of the total cost of this set.
Notwithstanding the issue with the railings on the top, this is an excellent model for many reasons, and one that I highly recommend.
42093 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 is designed to be used with this set, so apologies for not photographing it with it on. CapnRex101 reviewed it earlier in the year and I don't have one.
Thanks to LEGO for providing the set for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.