Continuing our series of reviews of sets aimed at the more mature builder, here’s the 5580 Highway Rig, from 1988…
5580 got the ‘Model Team’ line off to a good start. It was the same scale as the earlier ‘Hobby Sets’ (12 studs wide) and, albeit after a long hiatus, appeared to carry on where they left off; although this time, LEGO managed to produce an attractive, well detailed model of a popular subject. They even went to the trouble of designing nice new wheels for it.
5580 had the look of being designed by someone who loved the subject – often the sign of a winning model. He had fun with all the greebling, too – perhaps a little much, especially when it came to festooning it with little yellow lights all over the place. Against the white panels, these do make it look a little as if it’s got a bad case of zits….
Still, all the other detailing was very successful, the colour scheme was attractive (using printed pieces – not stickers – hurrah!) and, if you lift the bonnet forward, there’s a very pleasant show engine (LEGO’s first ?); the influence of which is still seen in many medium sized MOCs by car builders everywhere.
LEGO also included steering, operated by the spare wheel mounted on the back of the cab. It didn’t work that well (too many twists and turns in the linkage ‘twixt rack and wheel) but it was a start. It might have been better if the control was on the roof, as on later models.
There was an interior, of sorts, featuring some seats, a steering wheel and a single printed slope that constituted the dashboard. Pretty basic inside then, but again, not a bad effort at the time. There was a bed behind the seats as well, wherein sleep would be rendered impossible by the steering gubbins in the way.
After the wealth of detail on it’s front half of the set, the rear looked a little underdone. The trailer hitch thing (or whatever you call it..) was just a 4×4 turntable, there was no attempt at wheelarches and little else of interest back there. However, mounting the eight rear wheels on movable axles was a nice touch to give the illusion of suspension.
Overall, this 5580 a very nice model indeed. One of those that manages to look right, despite the compromise of using train doors on the cab. A rare combination of refined good looks with a dose of playability. There’s a very good reason why they’re expensive to buy now.