The Liebherr R9800 is one of the largest mining excavators in the world. It's fitting, then, that it's the subject of the largest and most expensive Technic set to date.
I've been putting the recently released 42100 Liebherr R 9800 through its paces for the last few weeks, in between trips to Denmark.
This first part of my review covers the parts, construction and the completed model. I will write about the app and controlling the model on your phone early next week.
This industrial behemoth weighs 800 tonnes, it's shovel can lift 80 tonnes of material, it's fitted with a 16-cylinder 4000BHP diesel engine and it's almost 9m wide and 10m high. Its technical specifications make for fascinating reading.
It's hard to tell just how big it is from pictures that provide no context:
However, this one puts it into perspective!
Box and contents
The box is massive, as you'd expect for the largest Technic set to date.
The back goes into some detail of how the vehicle is controlled from a phone/tablet app.
Inside, half the parts are packed inside a plain white box and the PoweredUp components are inside another smaller box, which helps prevent everything from rattling around in the large box and potentially getting damaged.
There are exactly 1000 steps of instructions which are spread across two manuals, both with about 360 pages.
Parts are split into numbered bags, thank goodness, which eases and speeds up building considerably.
There are two sticker sheets.
The most notable new parts are the new clutch pieces and the linear actuators.
The clutch allows far more torque to be transmitted than the old clutch gears. Its two parts clip together and it's pretty much impossible to rotate the two sides by hand. When it slips, it clicks.
A new linear actuator allows for a much longer reach than the old one. The body has been redesigned so it's likely that the internals have been, too.
There are no less than seven motors -- 4 medium, 3 large -- and two Control+ hubs in the set. You'll need 12 AA batteries to power them!
The underframe is the most complex part of the build. Packed inside are three motors (two large, one for each track, and one medium to turn the body, plus one hub.
The drivetrain, to gear down the motor, is fairly involved and includes the new clutch piece.
Once one side has been built, the central section containing the medium motor and hub is attached.
Then, a mirror image of the first section is added to the other side of it.
The three motors are connected to the hub and as you can see the new cable clip parts (design 49283) ensure that the cables are kept tidy and away from the tracks.
The bottom of the hub is accessible from underneath to allow its batteries to be changed.
Step two of construction is largely concerned with building the bodywork.
The third large motor in the set powers the lower linear actuators, which take the weight of the arm.
Other than the engine and the hub, both of which you'll see in more detail below, ther body is pretty much empty.
The lower section of the arm houses three medium motors all of which power a pair of linear actuators (LAs) further up it.
The arm is built flat before the LAs are fitted underneath.
One pair of LAs open the 'elbow' of the arm, another pair tilts the shovel, and a third pair, the smaller all-plastic variety, which are out of view in this shot, open the shovel.
The arm is attached to the body with a couple of pins, and the lower LAs connected underneath to hold it up.
Now's a good time to look inside the body before it's covered. The hub and tidy cable management is can be seen.
The final two stages of construction involve a lot of System parts and are primarily concerned with adding details to the outside: all manner of machinery, walkways and the cab. The white panels with black stickers on them open to allow access to the hub.
Note the fans under transparent panels with a mesh pattern sticker on them.
Lengths of pneumatic tube are threaded along the top of the arm and through various holes to the LAs to represent hydraulic hoses.
The completed model
Just like the real vehicle, it's hard to tell just how big this thing is. Perhaps the minifigure in this picture will help...
I reckon it's pretty close to minifig scale, in fact.
Whichever way you look at it, it's awesome...
A walkway can be folded down to allow access to the cab.
Two doors on the right-hand side open to reveal engine details.
The full extent of the pneumatic hoses can be seen from the top.
This photo shows the extent of the movement of the arm and the bucket open. It looks to be close to that illustrated in the technical specification document.
Here it is as the other extreme. It's possible to lift the front of the body up slightly, or 'dig' at material lower than the tracks, which is the case for the real vehicle.
It really is a thing of industrial beauty...
The model can only be operated using the Control+ app on a phone or tablet, so it's is an important part of the set. Without it, the model just an expensive paperweight.
I am happy to say, then, that it works flawlessly and makes it a lot of fun to operate, but you'll have to wait for part two of my review to find out more. Sorry, but I've not had time to fully put it through its paces yet!
Verdict so far
This is the most technologically advanced Technic set to date but from a Technic construction point of view it's actually fairly simple, with lots of empty space inside. There are no huge, complex and ultimately pointless gearboxes in it. Everything is there for a reason and everything works very well.
Construction, therefore, was a pleasure. It's possible to understand what you're building, there's little repetition and you don't get bogged down with manifold gears and axles at any time. I start off with good intentions of timing how long it takes but always lose track half way through. I suspect it was something like 8-10 hours.
A lot of effort, and parts, have gone into realistically portraying the real vehicle, and that's something that sets models such as this based on real prototypes apart from those that aren't. Consequently it looks excellent.
It's now available to purchase at LEGO.com for £399 / $449 which is a huge outlay but you do get a lot for your money: over 4000 pieces and a shed-load of the latest PoweredUp technology.
I will deliver my final verdict in part two, so stay tuned...
Thanks to LEGO for providing the set for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.