There was a time you had to watch out for Volvo drivers; unpredictable, incompetent pilots who felt ‘safer’ in their tank while putting everyone else at greater risk… then two things happened. The unsure drivers migrated to even more tank-like SUVs and Volvo started making decent cars. Terrible drivers don’t like good cars so the ones who didn’t fancy a 4WD got themselves a Peugeot, who as luck would have it stopped making good cars at about the time Volvos got better. So now you know who to watch out for. You, of course, are a perfect driver…
For the ultimate get-out-of-my-way, bog-off-Range-Rover experience you’ll need one of these…
Yes, TLCB has finally got around to reviewing the set that everyone’s talking about… last summer. It is of course the Technic 42030 Volvo L350F Loader.
The Technic range is always best topped off with something big and yellow and this is bigger and yellower than most. It’ll drive right over a Peugeot, and it rivals the 8110 Unimog for sheer size. So it should for 170 smackers….
At just over 1600 pieces, it doesn’t scream value at that price, but the 4 PF motors and remote control gubbins makes the outlay more palatable. And you do get a very big box for your money; not the fullest box in the world, exactly, but there’s plenty of good stuff in there.
One innovation I really like here is the single, thick instruction book. So much better than half a dozen thin ones… now how about another one for the B model? Anyone? Hello? Nevermind… let’s crack on and build the thing. What’s surprising here is how easy it is compared to other recent large sets. This is mostly down to each function having its own dedicated motor so there’s no complex gearbox arrangements to contend with. There’s not even that many gears… it’ll only take about 3-4 hours to assemble, but it still makes for an enjoyably lazy afternoon.
As for pieces, there’s little new here, apart from that huge bucket – the biggest Technic piece ever, apparently – although ‘Mog wheels in yellow are nice to have, and engine cylinders in green are a thoughtful and accurate detail. I did see some ‘5L axle with stop’ which fortunately are a different colour to the older ‘4L axle with stop’ but that’s about it for elemental innovation. Maybe Technic has enough connectors and brackets and beams and so on to be going on with. There certainly seems to be plenty of choice now.
You might think 170 quid is a lot to pay for 3 hours of building, but consider the many hours of playing this fully remote controlled beast will give you… this model actually does do quite a lot:
Engine: An inline six, as per reality, and it’s 4 wheel drive. It’s green too, but I don’t mean environmentally friendly… It doesn’t turn terrifically quickly but it’s always a nice thing to have. It’s impressively accessible too; the grille on the back will hinge open, as will both side panels. You can even unlatch the rear mudguards to open another panel and walk right in! It’s driven, as are all four wheels, by the XL motor beneath it, at what seems to be an appropriate pace. Not too fast, not too slow. Just right.
Steering: This is articulated in the middle, just below the operator’s cab, and it’s actuated by a PF Servo Motor. These do make the steering easier to operate than a standard motor, but with the standard remote control it’s all or nothing. I think I’d still prefer an M or L, geared down to make it controllable unless I had the speed controller. This is minor quibbling really; the system works very well and PRAISE BE! The in-cab steering wheel is connected!! There’ll be dancing in the streets tonight! Or maybe just in my house…
Suspension: Yes, there is some. Sort of. The rear axle is pendular, albeit unsprung. It’s one of those features that doesn’t need to be there but I’m glad they made the effort.
Bucket Elevation: Controlled by two large linear actuators driven by an L motor, the bucket will move up to impressive height, and it’ll maintain the tilt angle through the upper two thirds of the travel. All very good. The box makes the proud boast that it’ll lift up to 1Kg, and this it will do. It absolutely will not lift 1.1Kg however. You can’t fault LEGO for honesty…
Bucket Tilting: A single linear actuator, controlling the bucket’s angle through a wide range of movement via some clever leverage, this works seamlessly and well. An M motor does the driving and it proves to be strong enough. If you feel the need to lift 1.1Kg, I’d swap it for an L at the same time as stuffing in an XL for the bucket elevation though. Having said that, it sounds like the limiting factor is the LAs’ internal clutches rather than the motor.
42030 feels like a belated successor to the sainted 8043 Excavator, in that it does all it sets out to do, and it looks pretty good doing it. It’s not quite as sophisticated as that model, and styling-wise, while it looks enough like the actual Volvo to wear it’s stickers with pride, the areas beneath the cab and under the bucket are a tad sketchy. This may be just because the back half is so thoroughly detailed, with all the railings and panels and so on that give this some real visual heft.
The B model looks good as well – it’s an articulated, tipping quarry truck, modelled after another actual Volvo, for which there’s a complete second set of stickers; presumably you just have to peel off the A model’s stickers first! It’s got the typical Technic tipper see-through bed however… I’d stick with the better, more sophisticated Loader.
Overall, I’m very grateful that a Technic designer has a mate who works for Volvo (true story – it’s why this exists) and it deserves it’s place at the top of the range. Like all good RC vehicles, it’s excellent for spooking the dog. 9 and a half / 10.