A Clockwork Elf – 42034 Quad Bike – Set Review

42034_Quad-Bike_01

What could be more fun than a hoard of The Lego Car Blog Elves, balanced on top of a careering vehicle, powered by a large, metal spring? For just £17.99 for 148 pieces from our local toy shop, we decided to find out!

Opening the box revealed two bags of Lego parts and a pull-back motor plus four tyres packed loose. As usual, the tyres rolled off under the TLCB office champagne cooler and had to be retrieved by a skinny Elf. The sticker sheet was also packed loose, resulting in the usual slight crumples (come on Lego put them in a bag with some cardboard!). Lastly, came the 60 page instruction book, which thankfully no longer features the terrifying, screaming child on its back cover. Why was he so angry?

60 pages of instructions, might seem a bit over the top but remember that this model is at the “fun” end of the Technic range and aimed at builders from 7 to 14 years old. That said, some of the steps did seem a bit small, such as adding two decorative bushes to the wheel axles in the final step. If you are ever in need of a mental challenge, go and build one of the big Technic sets from the early 1980s and you’ll be thankful for Lego’s modern day approach to instructions.

Disappointingly, there is no “B” model for this set. You can buy the other “Pull-Back” model in this year’s range (42033) and combine the two sets. However, that was too much of an investment for us as we weren’t sure if this model would survive the Elves “testing” regime for long enough to be re-combined.

Having distracted all 271 Elves in the office by giving them a Smartie to fight over, we started the build. The model starts with the chassis, in short rapid steps. By step 8, the pull-back motor is already fitted. For us, the motor was the exciting, interesting bit. How powerful would it be? How long would it last? How many Elves could we smush? Just 40 more pages and we’d be there…

The build continues in, what is now, traditional Technic style, strongly embedding the motor in a frame. Disappointingly there is no gearing in this model. It’s great introduction to Technic for younger builders but perhaps some gearing would have added to the educational value and interest? Maybe the motor wasn’t up to it? Just 35 more pages to go…

The decorative “engine” of this model is a two cylinder “V”. It’s neatly made from a 57585, 3 Branch Cross Axle and a pair of wheel hubs. The stickers start to come in at this point too. Applying them looked quite fiddly. We prefer to leave our pieces clean and ready for re-use in MOCs, so fortunately we skipped that part. The instructions now moved on to make the bodywork. Lego leave adding to wheels until the end of the build. How fast would our quad bike zoom?

Page 27 has a fiddly, combined axle and peg connection, with three things to go in. It’s a bit tricky and builders at the younger end of the age range will probably need a hand here. Page 30 adds an axle to the pull-back motor and the front axle too. It turns out the at the steering handle bars are just decorative. Perhaps a simple, friction based, steering could have added to the fun by allowing the quad bike to go in straight lines or in curves? It seemed quite hard to wind the motor up. Perhaps it would be easier once the wheels were on?

A few more steps, adding familiar Technic parts and panels (there were no exciting new components hidden in this build for the collector). Then it was time to add the wheels! Even though this model is aimed at younger builders, this took three whole pages of the instructions, which seemed a little excessive. The finished article is a nicely chunky, good looking, strong toy. It easily survived being dropped 30cm onto a table, thanks to its balloon tyres.

We loaded 13 and ¾ Elves onto the quad bike in the style of the White Helmets and started to wind up its motor. After four sets of easy 30cm pull backs, which stored a lot of energy in the spring, a ratchet cut in to stop it being over-wound and broken. The model easily covered the 6 metres across the TLCB executive sun deck, spraying Elves as it went. Fortunately it is light and has a strong front bumper built into it. Parents might want to guard some of their more delicate furniture.

To sum up. Value for money: perhaps not for the parts but you can buy this model online for a couple of pounds cheaper than we bought it in a shop. The palette is just black, yellow and grey, so the parts will easily combine with parts from your other Technic sets in MOCs. There are also two pairs of useful wheels, unlike the 42033 set. The model looks good, even without the stickers and is strong, fun and fast to play with. This is the model’s best point: it’s a fun introduction to the Technic style of building and a great toy to play with once it’s built.

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P.S. If you’re wondering what an Elf on a quad bike looks like, click this link.

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