It’s time for another TLCB Set Review! But this time it’s one of our readers – the winner of TLCB Summer Building Competition – Thomas Graafland, who has picked up the Reviewer’s Pen. Thomas has got his hands on LEGO’s 2015 Technic flagship set, the 42043 Mercedes-Benz Arocs, and he’s joined us to explain all…
Browsing on Flickr a while ago I noticed this neat looking Mercedes truck displayed at a Lego fair.
Thinking at first that this was a MOC I was quite shocked that this was actually an official set. The second big shock was the €170 price tag. Normally there would be no chance of me spending that much on a single set, but being a fan of both trucks and LEGO, I knew this was THE set for me.
The box is as per usual with big Technic sets: large and decorated showing the model and the systems used; in this case both Power Functions and Pneumatics V2, and the cover folds open to reveal the model’s functions and some specifications of the real truck.
The box feels heavy, which is always a good sign. Inside are lots of plastic bags, each numbered from 1 to 6, except the one containing the pneumatic parts. The battery box is not in a bag and just slides around in the box between the plastic bags. Instructions are in a single book of 470 pages and the instructions booklet is packed in plastic too, so no folded pages.
The building process is lots of fun. You start off with the chassis, working from the front to the rear. Then comes the cabin, next the crane, and you finish with the bed. The building is very straight-forward, until you reach the crane, which requires some intensive studying of the instructions to get the tubing through the turntable right. It’s not like the instructions give you no clues on how to do it, but it does require a bit of extra attention. The finished truck is not huge, being similar to the 8285/8258 in terms of size. It is heavier, though!
The trucks cabin looks very neat and it definitely looks just like the real deal. The overall shape of the cabin is very smooth, and the cab doesn’t lack detail either. All mirrors, lights, horns and whatnot are present, showing that LEGO went quite some attention to getting the cabin right. I personally really am a fan of the way they did the front grill. I do think it would’ve looked better if the middle part of the grill would’ve been angled too, though, because it just looks a little odd to have only angled the lowest part. The doors open up, to reveal a very, very basic interior. The white colour of the cab looks very clean, but it doesn’t really stand out, which is quite a shame – it doesn’t do justice to that good looking cabin. The ever-boring dark bluish grey doesn’t help making it exciting either.
Steering is done with the two orange beacons on top of the cabin. The steering system works very well, but you have exactly zero grip on those slippery round beacons. There is some slack with the gears too, which only makes steering more difficult. The two front axles steer and turning feels very smooth thanks to the different steering locks on the two axles.
The truck features live-axle suspension all-around. The suspension is a bit on the hard side, but it works very well apart from that. One big downside of the suspension is that the truck sits really high on its wheels. This would’ve been no problem if the suspension travel was as big the gap between the wheels and fenders, but unfortunately it isn’t. Even when fully compressed, there is still about 2 studs room above the wheels and I feel that lowering the truck would actually have been quite possible. However, the suspension will be a very good base to re-use for Model Team MOCs.
The drivetrain is simple and smooth. The two rear axles drive the engine, which is hidden underneath the cabin. The inline six turns at reasonable speed and especially at higher speeds it makes that nice rattling sound. It’s bit of a pity that it can’t be seen from outside while driving it around, because it is completely hidden by the cab. The cabin folds forward neatly, but even then you can only see the first four cylinders. With some effort you can see the fifth one under the battery box, but the sixth cylinder is completely invisible underneath the crane.
The battery box is hidden very neatly in the rear part of the cabin and is easily replaced. The Power Functions L-motor that drives all the functions resides somewhere in the middle of the chassis and has no trouble driving any of the functions. The gearbox that is driven by the L-motor uses the new driving rings and gears and it drives four functions in total;
First are the outriggers. These use two new parts that seem to be specially designed to just be used as outriggers. They extend by 7-8 studs and need to be lowered by hand. They won’t lift your whole truck off the ground but they do provide the required stability and their red colour adds a bit of visual interest to the whole truck.
The second function is crane rotation. The crane rotates at what I think to be the right speed, where it doesn’t spin so slow that it gets boring, yet it can still be easily positioned precisely. It is a shame that the crane is limited to 180° rotation, though. Due to the pneumatic tubing going through the turntable, it has been limited to just a half circle turning. I’m not asking for 360° reach, but just a tad more would not have been unwelcome.
The pneumatic pump is the third function to be driven. All the crane’s functions except rotating work with pneumatics. The raising, lowering and extending of the crane all work seamlessly and especially in terms of height I’m impressed with its reach. Overall I find the crane to be really good. A small downside is the bucket. It seems to have a bit of trouble opening sometimes and although it can technically swing in all directions, it doesn’t do so, because of the stiffness of the pneumatic tubes. I would’ve personally also liked if it would have been able to turn, but I do understand that the pneumatics prevented the designers from doing so.
Don’t think the it isn’t well engineered though; overall the crane is really the most fun thing to play with on the truck and apart from the bucket I have no complaints about its performance. The pump has no trouble manoeuvring the crane and the tubing along the crane creates a more realistic feeling than using linear actuators would have done. The tubing does make the crane look bigger than it already is, though, and that while the crane already is about 10 studs higher than the cab roof. When looking at it from birds eye view this doesn’t matter, but from ground level it looks a bit off.
The crane uses what the box calls ‘Pneumatics V2’. The only differences I could see from the V1 components are the slightly different mounting points for the pneumatic tubes and the length. Performance-wise there is no difference, so they’ll seamlessly blend in with your regular pneumatics.
The last Power Functions driven function is the tipping of the bed, done by a single large linear actuator. The rear hatch can be locked with a handle on the side of the bed. The cargo-bay has practically no holes, so you can actually cram it with bricks without losing half the load during transport. Unloading works without problems there is nothing to complain about on this part of the truck.
Overall 42043 is lots of fun. All the functions work well and are easy to control, making it a very playable set. The cabin looks very convincing and is done neatly when you look past the dull white colour. The crane is a bit high when collapsed, but the smooth way it works makes up for that. 42043 does cost a lot of money, but it’s worth it. 9/10
Thanks to Thomas for joining us here at TLCB to review LEGO’s 2015 Technic Mercedes-Benz Arocs set. You can read all TLCB’s set reviews by visiting the Set Review Library – click this link to see the dozens available!