Big Is Beautiful.

Welcome to another TLCB review of a Model Team classic. This one’s from 1996 and ain’t it pretty?


The 5571, or ‘Black Cat’ as it was known, was the crowning glory of the Model Team line. It certainly went out in style. However, over £100 was a lot to ask for a Lego set at the time and they didn’t sell many. A pity, as it was actually good value; with more pieces than any Lego set ever, at the time.

If you want one now, it will cost you more than double… still worth it.

So, what do you get in exchange for all that moolah ? Many good things, including unique wheels (they look the same as those on 8285 but they’re slightly bigger), a pair of very large one piece printed doors that do at least look more at ease than such items on the smaller models, lots and lots of black plates, some shiny chrome – properly shiny – loads of tools and the sort of greebly bits that spaceship designers love. And a Fabuland shovel!

Putting all these together takes time, naturally enough, but there’s nothing difficult here – Lego hadn’t yet got around to incorporating many SNOT techniques in even their most elaborate sets, but the appearance of this doesn’t suffer for it.

Instructions for this are easy to follow, with not quite today’s baby build steps but they are simpler than contemporary Technic models. There’s a nice B model too, a European style truck that’s good enough but is rather blown away by the main event.

Whoever designed this was having fun. It’s possible that they got a little carried away with all the bars and doors and bits and bobs festooning the body, but it’s all very nicely done and you really can picture this haulin’ ass across the wide open spaces of America. Probably not Denmark, though. Us Europeans never see trucks like this, but we do love them, and so do Lego – look at how many they’ve made over the years compared to flat fronted European trucks. There’s a romanticism here entirely missing from the more utilitarian domestic lorries, good as they are; and this set makes the very most of that.

Features; if it’s technical wizardry you’re after you’re looking in the wrong place, although it does steer (slightly) via a hand of god control on the roof. This can be improved upon easily enough, and there’s room for a ‘working’ engine to replace the – very nice – show engine supplied. Other than that though, this is all about the details.

So many details. Starting with the little black cat perched on the hood, and all manner of steps and bars and stacks and lights and, and… I’m out of breath. It could have done with bigger windscreen wipers, though… As well as all the stuff you see on the outside, there’s some comfortable looking seats, that tilt forward to get at the bed behind, the driver’s got a well stocked dashboard – including a dash mounted coffee maker that we can only hope succeeds in keeping him awake, there’s little opening compartments on each side full of little tools, ladders and levers and things on the back, the doors and bonnet open; the latter to reveal the well detailed V8 every self-respecting rig of this size’ll need… I could go on forever…

…Until I get to the back half. Was it done by a different person ? Was he given no budget ? Aft of the cab, this does look a bit… underdone, and not just because of the OTT front part. There’s a start at a rear fender, but it is just the start, there’s only two wheels on each axle, the trailer hitch looks OK but not strong enough. The rear bumper and lights set-up is nicely done – something that’s often neglected on Lego models; then and now. I guess it’s 80% there, apart from the lack of wheels, but it just looks naked behind the exuberantly decorated cab. Maybe that’s a little unkind. Give it complete fenders and double up the wheels and it’ll probably be just fine. Or build a trailer for it to cover it’s nakedness, but you’ll need lots of pieces – this isn’t a small model.

But this is proudly American, and biggest is best. It really is. If you like these kinds of trucks at all, you’ll really enjoy this. 9/10

2 thoughts on “Big Is Beautiful.

  1. Pingback: 5591 Mach II Red Bird Review | THE LEGO CAR BLOG

  2. Pingback: The Best LEGO Sets Reviewed by TLCB - Toy Newz

Comment here!