Technic fans have never had it so good. Not only is the most technologically advanced and largest set being released in a couple of weeks (42100 Liebherr R 9800), so is the excellent looking 42110 Land Rover Defender, the subject of this review.
It's said to have the most complex gearbox in a Technic set yet so it should be a challenging build. Let's find out...
Parts and instructions
The set contains 2573 pieces, making it the 9th largest Technic set to date. Thankfully they are packaged in numbered bags, 1 to 4, which simplifies construction considerably.
Instructions are provided in a single 494-page manual which contains 860 steps. They are, or will be, also available via the LEGO Life app.
While we wait for LEGO to publish the inventory so we can easily see what's new, here are the inventory pages from the back of the instructions.
Note the 7x11 rectangular beam, in black, which was first seen when SPIKE:Prime was announced.
There is an extensive selection of olive green Technic parts, including beams of length 1, 5, 7, 11, 13 and 15 as well as both sizes of 'L' beam and 5x11 panels.
The olive green mudguard/fender pieces and the wheels are the only brand new part designs in the set.
Sticker sheets are par for the course in Technic sets like this, but thankfully it's not too daunting.
Construction and gearbox
To replicate the gear-changing functionality of the real vehicle, the model contains two gearboxes. The first is built around the rear axle assembly and implements a 4 speed sequential gearbox using the same shifting mechanism introduced in the Bugatti Chiron last year.
It's a complicated build and you will want to make sure that you make no mistakes.
The second part, however, is even more complex. The front of the chassis contains the reverse/neutral/drive and high/low gear shifting as well as the steering and the engine.
Take your time with this because mistakes are likely to require the whole thing to be dismantled. Did I build mine correctly? Find out later...
Now is the time to investigate how the gearboxes work because shortly they will be buried under seats and bodywork and inaccessible.
The controls are surfaced by the driving seat, as you'd expect. The lever on the left selects reverse, neutral and drive, the one on the right selects high- or low- gear ratios and the knob at the back twists to shift between the four gears in the rear gearbox.
Here are closeups of the front gearbox:
And the rear...
The 6-cylinder engine features a crankshaft which pushes the pistons up and down as its rotated. The speed at which they do so is dictated by the gearbox.
Pictures can't really do justice to its complexity so I recommend taking a look at RacingBrick's excellent video that demonstrates how it all works, and determines whether it works correctly (the jury is still out, I believe...)
Did I build mine correctly? Actually, I'm not sure. I think so, but I experience a lot of gear 'cracking' in higher gears, which I believe is due to friction. It's discussed in the video above, and Sariel mentions friction preventing the engine from running in his video, so I might be in good company.
The dashboard and seats are added and already half the gearboxes complexities are buried away. The back seat pads look way too high here but they are not visible once the bodywork has been added.
Once parts from bags #2 are exhausted the chassis and interior is complete, so the rest of the build should be plain sailing.
Indeed, things do become much simpler now as the bodywork begins to take shape.
After bags #3 are empty there's just the front, bonnet and roof rack to complete.
The completed model
The white roof was getting bit lost against the white background so I switched to a grey one for pictures of the completed model. I had hoped to take it outside today for some action shots but it's pouring with rain for the first time in weeks in the UK, so they will have to wait...
The spare wheel attached to the back has a hidden function which you'll discover below.
The vehicle is fitted with roof rack and equipment for a remote adventure but these can easily be removed if you'd rather model the Chelsea Tractor variant.
The olive green looks excellent and suits the vehicle perfectly. It's not quite the right shade of green compared to that on the real vehicle but it's close enough.
LEGO System parts have been put to good use on the side of the vehicle and on the bonnet to form slopes and curves not possible with Technic pieces alone.
Apart from the aforementioned gearbox, which is now buried inside the vehicle and unlikely to be played with again, functionality is scant, as you'd expect for a vehicle of this nature. However, all the features you'd expect to find have been implemented: steering, suspension and opening doors.
The 4-wheel suspension works particularly well and does not suffer from sagging. Take a look at Sariel's video for a demo.
The doors open to reveal an impressive level of detail inside the cab, and on the inside of the door. The steering wheel is functional, and steering control is replicated on the roof via the gear visible on the pictures above.
The back door is opened by turning the spare wheel which operates a spring-loaded catch.
The bonnet can be lifted to view the engine and operate the winch, via the gear on the left and a red lever bottom right, just out of view, that operates a simple ratchet mechanism to prevent it spooling out unintentionally.
The stairs on the left of the vehicle can be lowered to give access to the roof.
I think it looks absolutely beautiful. The boxy shape of the real vehicle lends itself well to being modelled with Technic, and in many ways it looks better than the real thing. The colour suits the style of vehicle perfectly, even if it's not exactly like the prototype. I don't usually like a lot of System parts in my Technic sets but I do appreciate their judicious use here to help with the styling.
The first stage of construction is arduous and care must be taken to ensure the gearboxes are built correctly but once they are out the way things become more enjoyable as the bodywork comes together. There's very little repetition, other than left- and right-handed sub assemblies, but that's unavoidable.
The gearbox is, frankly, a bit pointless. It's incredibly complicated and mine fails to run smoothly in all circumstances. Of course I could have made a mistake, or perhaps built it more carefully to minimise friction, but if I, with 20+ years of Technic building experience, have trouble, what hope does a kid have. Perhaps the boundaries of what's possible with Technic have been pushed just a bit too far.
Like the gearboxes in the Chiron and Porsche, it's nice to know it's there and that you built it, I suppose, and your friends will be impressed when you tell them what's inside, but it has no practical value at all.
The other functions -- winch, steering, suspension and doors -- all work well, though, and are much easier to play with.
Overall, though, there is a lot to like here: a challenging build, complex mechanisms and an attractive end product: everything you could want in a Technic set.
Here's the Chelsea Tractor variant, with roof rack removed.
Thanks to LEGO for providing the set for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.