The Lego Car Blog Set Review Library is packed with over seventy sets, but we want mooooah! This is where you come in, as we’re looking for TLCB readers to add their own sets to the Review Library, and in doing so you could even win some loot! You also get to become a TLCB writer for the day, with literally none of the privileges that you’d expect this to offer you. Still, this hasn’t put off friend of TLCB Thirdwigg, who has joined us here at TLCB Towers to add one of his favourite sets to the Review Library. Yes, we said favourite. We’ll let Thirdwigg explain…
8081 Extreme Cruiser gets a bad rap. It’s not extreme. It’s not a 4×4. It has a funny engine. It’s black. On and on it goes. Blah Blah Blah.
I love it.
But it took me some time. When I bought it for $60 through LEGO, I tagged it onto my 8110 order as an afterthought. I was decidedly more excited about 8110. After 8110, I got to work on 8081. Opening the box, you find a number of bags, wheels and tires, and a number of loose instructions books (ugh). There are a lot of black parts, and some red parts, but the set really has no new parts among the 590 included. However some interesting pieces include the newer frames, four pistons and cylinders, suspension parts, a bunch of black panels. There are also instructions included for a B Model. You’ll like A better.
The builds starts with the frame of the 4×4. LEGO uses red for the chassis, which seems silly at this point. You add the knob gears for the steering, and add the rear suspension. The suspension is a single pivot design like we saw in the car from 8042. But there is a differential (clap, clap), and the structure is solid. We can let it slide. You then build the engine and the front suspension. You build a V4?! What is this, a motorcycle? Then the front suspension. Independent setup with no drive?! On an Extreme Cruiser? Who named this set?
Yep, no four wheel drive, and an anemic engine.
The bodywork comes next with the second bag, and the model is finished with bag three. Redemption for 8081 is starting. The structure is solid and cohesive. The black works well, and the execution comes together as the Technic panels fill gaps and lead your eyes to a quite a pleasing overall shape. The hood is long, as is the roofline, and 8081’s stance looks great; balanced and not too heavy. The tires fill out the wheel wells appropriately. The doors, hood, and tailgate all open – simple, nice features to include. The blue seats are basic, yet they look good and compliment the aforementioned red, which highlights the chassis well.
When it’s all done you cannot help but like the cute little SUV. The front grill and headlights smile at you. The rear is clean and complete. The fenders look strong. The doors welcome you inside. The Light Bluish Grey connectors on the windshield top tell you it needs a little love and care.
And then you play with it. It’s larger than you would have thought (that’s what she said! Ed.). The suspension is balanced. Not too stiff, and not too light; although a little more travel would be welcome. The front functions well. The rear single pivot may bother you a little (lateral articulation would be great), but you can let it slide because it all works. The steering works well too; smooth and light. A better turning radius would be nice (when wouldn’t it? Ed.), but since the wheelbase is short it’s not often a problem. All the doors opening is a thoughtful touch, and it adds additional play value. But you do pop the hood, and think, “hmmm that engine.” It is small, and there is lots of room around it. “What can I do with that?”
Here is the rub. 8081 taunts you to be creative. It screams at you to improve it; to make it better, and it gives you plenty of the space and a great structure to do so. Many builders do not like 8081 because of the features it lacks. I like it for what is has. It has a sharp body design. It has simple functional features. It’s robust, and it’s inexpensive.
The cost of LEGO Technic has been climbing, and perhaps we don’t need every Technic set to have all the features we’d like it to have straight out of the box. Most purchasers are not willing or could not afford to pay for a wealth of additional features on a set like 8081, yet new Technic builders will love this set as it teaches many technical aspects of automobiles and Technic design. It’s also a good set to develop a growing parts collection, so experienced Technic builders should love it too. Buy this set, use your collection, and get creative! Show what you can do. Add four wheel drive. Give it a V-8, Make a sport version. Add power functions. With every modification you make you’ll love 8081 and its cute body work a little more.
A big thank you to Thirdwigg for joining us here at TLCB with a top-quality Review to help us increase the Set Review Library‘s stock. If you’d like to write a Set Review for TLCB as Thirdwigg has, either for a set you love or for one you hate, then get in touch! At the time of writing there are even prizes available for the best reviewer too!