…or the Elves go Technic. Regular readers of this blog will remember that the Elves have “helped” us to build some of sets that we have reviewed, including some of the 3-in-1 Creator series. We decided that it was time to let them go solo with the smallest, cheapest Lego set that we have ever reviewed (we have to buy this stuff you know!).
After the usual explosive opening of the two bags of parts in this set, we helped the Elves to gather the pieces up into a pile and then realised that there were no tyres. These are packed loose in the box and had all rolled under The Lego Car Blog executive beer fridge and champagne chiller. Fortunately a skinny Elf fitted under the fridge. He was soon forced into the gap by his colleagues poking him with the axles from the kit. He reappeared a few seconds later with all four tyres and a Malteser that had rolled under there two months ago.
The Elves then set to work on book one of the two instruction books that come with the kit. “What?!?!” we hear you cry, “Two instruction books for a set with just 100 pieces?”. LEGO have come up with a new concept for this model. The first booklet builds a common chassis and then the second booklet has instructions for two alternative bodies to fit onto the chassis. A novel, fun concept, with lots of play and re-building potential.
The instructions are in the usual clear, LEGO format, with just a couple of parts per stage. This is slow for a Technic set but remember the starting age for this kit is just 7 years old. By stage 6, a 5-wide frame has taken shape, with swing arms for each wheel. The Elves had to resist the temptation to bash each part down hard and tight, so that the suspension would work on the finished buggy. The first Elf-fight broke out at stage 8, with the adding of the two elastic bands which make the “springs” of the suspension. The temptation to flick the bands at each other was too great to resist and order was only restored when both bands had vanished under the beer fridge. Annoyingly, for a set aimed at kids, LEGO provide the usual spares for some of the smaller, cheaper parts but don’t give you a spare elastic band. The skinny Elf was sent under the fridge again and this time returned with the elastic bands and something blue and furry: possibly left-over cheese nibble from the office Christmas party. The last stage of the instructions is to turn the chassis the right way up, though even the Elves didn’t really need a page of instructions for this.
The first body quickly builds up in typical Technic style, with some 1×1 round trans plates for front and rear lights. Stages 3 & 4 have a bit where you have to do things in the right order or pieces won’t connect but that’s the trickiest part of the build. Stage 12 requires strong fingers to insert a 2 stud-long axle and we had to do this for the Elves. After 22 short stages the Elves were left with a nice-looking, orange and grey, short-wheelbase off-roader. It rolls across carpets and desks and its long-travel suspension bounces really well. There’s space inside for a few of the smaller Elves and they had great fun zooming around the office until two of them were car-sick into the jacuzzi (again!).
The seven stud long axle, which pins the body to the chassis makes a very handy tool for disassembling the body to build the second version. As this set is aimed at younger builders, the instructions could perhaps be improved by including some pictures showing tips and techniques for pulling the model apart. In the booklet, the first body just magically changes into a pile of parts, ready for the next model. Modern Technic components have quite high clutch-power and the Elves needed quite a bit of help to take the body apart, otherwise they would have used their teeth.
The second body is slightly trickier to build, partly because of the novel techniques used to get the sloping body bonnet and angled tail fins. The resulting body is definitely the “B” model and looks a little small for the chassis. Nonetheless, it is still a robust build, capable of sustaining the odd knock on its off-road adventures.
The Elves were really happy with their first adventure in Technic building and especially the solid playability of the finished product. The first body looks good on its bouncy chassis too. At £7.99 for 100 pieces the set isn’t bad value for money and is a cheap, fun introduction to Technic building techniques for young builders. If you’re an AFOL you could add this set to your next amazon order for a “proper” Technic kit: go on, have some fun!