Way back in the 80s when music was epic and fashion was questionable, my LEGO® journey began with pre-built Christmas Day classics such as the 6080: Castle or 6392: Airport. Along with my favourite set as a kid is 6482: Light & Sound Rescue Helicopter. A few years after this I was given my first ever Technic set, one I still have. That set was 8837: Pneumatic Excavator and it was powered by pneumatic pumps. Back then it was cutting edge, today that particular set looks a little primitive. The power of the pump can still be integrated into modern-day sets but how does it hold up against the bells and whistles of powered functions? Let’s find out in my review of the LEGO Technic Heavy-duty Tow Truck.
Open up the world of engineering with this LEGO® Technic Heavy-duty Tow Truck (42128) model. Packed with details, it’s a great tribute to the world’s best-loved tow trucks. Check out its authentic grille, air filters, lights, exhaust pipe, and fresh colour scheme. Then explore all the pneumatic and mechanical functions that make this model so realistic.
A construction toy packed with working functions
This tow truck toy with crane is filled with impressive features. Open the bonnet to see the 6-cylinder inline engine with moving pistons. Steer by rotating the pin on the roof. Activate the crane, pump up the boom, pull out the winch and extend the outriggers. And for the first time in LEGO Technic history, this vehicle has a lifting axle to pull down extra wheels and spread the weight of loads.
- Set Name: Heavy-duty Tow Truck
- Set Number: 42128
- Theme: Technic
- Pieces: 2017
- RRP: £139.99/$149.99/279.99€
- Measurements: measures over 22 cm. (8.5 in) high (with crane down), 58 cm. (23 in) long (with boom down) and 14 cm. (5.5 in) wide
- Availability: LEGO.com, LEGO Stores & LEGO Retailers from August 1st
The Tow Truck is styled after those more commonly found in the US. They are often made by Kenworth or for those of a certain age, think the Rhino truck from M.A.S.K. So the cab features a long bonnet nose, which can be flipped forward to reveal the engine. Which cleverly has working pistons thanks to a system gear system connected to a set of wheels. But this is a minor detail compared to the rest of the set. Large-scale Technic vehicles often have a complex gear system to work the various moving functions. But for this set, this is paired with a system of tubing to power the pneumatic elements. I normally struggle a little with some parts of these connected systems as they can be a little fiddly but the only bit I found tricky here was the tubing system. They are shown in the instructions with their numbered measurements so I highly recommend measuring before fitting them in place. I also recommend following their placement within the set as you build around them. I forgot to thread one tube up a certain gap, so I had to awkwardly pray apart a section to redirect it. This is not an issue with the set or the instructions, but an easy to make an error on my part.
There are two methods of ‘control’ for the various moving parts of the Tow Truck. The tubing system powers three different functions with the others being powered by good old fashioned twisting of handles. So the pneumatic function includes dropping down and raising a towbar at the rear. As well as raising and lowering the crane-like arm and extending it out as well. The whole pneumatic system is powered by a single pump switch. Giving it a few pumps is enough to work any of the functions and is rather satisfying to use.
The other functions work by turning a couple of different gears. These include raising or lowering the central set of wheels. Turning the platform on which the tow arm is fixed and the final works the anchorage points. There are a pair of legs that drop from either side of the truck and at the same time, the rear section also drops. The handle which controls this is a little difficult to work and the gear used for the handle can be a little rough on the fingers. The other manual function is a gear knob on the cab of the truck, turning this as you move the truck, acts as a simple more effective steering system.
The combination of the two different systems results in a variety of play functions. The pneumatic ones are certainly the most entertaining and far more advanced than my first Technic build. Once the inner section of the Tow Truck is complete, it’s then clad in its outer shell. The orange, white and blue colour scheme works really well and it is certainly enhanced by the number stickers. Some of which have a purpose of labelling the various working functions.
One of my feature parts of the build is the Technic plates used to cover the truck’s rear bed. It’s a simple use of parts but gives the set and great finish. Shame the same can’t be said about the front of the truck. There is an unfortunate gap between the side wing elements and the front of the bumper section. That being said the front grid looks very cool, especially with the shiny silver grate plates. Another section that isn’t as fun as the other functions is the pair of strings running along the arm. This is manually controlled and uses a gear and Technic rod pin to unwind and lower the tow hooks. Doing so is a little fiddly.
It may not have the technical draw of the Control+ and app control, but you must marvel at the pneumatic system woven into the more traditional functions. I normally stress when building a big Technic set, any slight error could result in major issues later on in the build. Apart from the slight hiccup with the tubing placement I really enjoyed building this set and despite the size, it would be a good but challenging introduction to LEGO Technic.
This set was provided by the LEGO Group for purposes of review. The thoughts within this review are that of BricksFanz and do not reflect those of the LEGO Group. Providing the set for free does not guarantee a favourable opinion of the set.