Although not the most trumpeted of the 2HY 2017 range, does this by no means small set pack in all of the detail and quality that Technic fans demand?
Price: £129.99 / $179.99 / €149.99 (DE) Pieces: 1977 Available: Now
When the mighty (and we mean mighty) 42055 Bucket Wheel Excavator (BWE) was released last summer, it rather overshadowed the rest of the Technic sets that sat along side it. Which is a shame, because this workhorse of a tractor might just be one of the best Technic sets released in the past five years. So if you’ve got a Technic itch to scratch, and like me you’re looking at the 2017 sets and feeling a little underwhelmed, let me tell you about this gem from last year that you may have overlooked.
At £130 this set was too expensive for an impulse buy, but if people had more than £100 burning a hole in their pocket, they will almost certainly have gone for the BWE. But if you were smart enough to pick this up, what did you get? Well you definitely got a chance to improve your sorting skills, as the box contains 15 bags, 11 marked ‘one’ and four marked ‘two’. In addition you get a medium motor, a battery box, four huge wheels and the obligatory manual and sticker sheet.
There’s often a rhythm to building a Technic set. A complex section followed by some simple bodywork. A fiddly gearbox and then some basic chassis. Not so the Xerion – it starts complicated and stays complicated. While the instructions are clear, they require unwavering concentration and nimble fingers as you work through the 1977 pieces. I can’t remember ever enjoying a Technic build quite so much – even the stickers weren’t too much trouble. Things ease off a little as you get towards the end of the manual, with the white cab and lurid green bodywork, but as sets go, you certainly won’t feel short-changed by this one.
Sitting back and admiring your handiwork you cannot help but be astounded by the designer’s skill. Not only is it an accurate representation of the real thing (apart from the approximately £250,000 price tag), but it’s packed with functionality.
Much of the unseen internal workings of the tractor, which is the first thing you build, relates to the remarkable steering system. Four wheel steering, which as well as large tractors, is starting to appear on high-end cars, allows the vehicle to either lock, or alter the direction of the rear wheels. While the front wheels turn as normal, to enable a tighter turning circle, the rear wheels can turn in the opposite direction. In addition, the rear wheels can turn in the same direction as the fronts, in what is known as ‘crab steering’.
This mechanism is selected by a three way lever situated just behind the cab. The vehicle itself is steered by a ‘Hand of God’ gearwheel behind the cab.
And talking of the cab, in order to make life easier for the driver, it rotates, facing forward for driving, and rearward when using the liftarm. This function is motorised, and the mechanism lifts the cab slightly as it turns in order to clear the bodywork. You can see it in action below.
Rather less complicated is the counterbalance at the front consisting of a number of Technic plates. These can be manually raised or lowered by way of a small gearwheel.
In real life, the tractor can be equipped with any number of pieces of agricultural equipment. In set 42054 it comes with a substantial claw arm, used to lift the also-supplied tree trunk. In order to stabilise the tractor when the arm is in use, the rear of the vehicle has a pair of outriggers which just lifts the rear wheels clear of the ground. They are operated manually and snap into position with a satisfying click.
The arm is a mixture of powered and manually operated functions, rotating and raising by way of the switchgear at the rear, while the extension and the claw are moved by hand.
This is a fantastic model – enjoyable to build, great to play with and equally good to look at. If you’ve got any interest in Technic at all, make a space on your building site for this gem of a set.
This product was provided for review by the LEGO Group.