It’s review time here at The Lego Car Blog and this time we’ve got a big one. Literally. This is the 42078 Mack Anthem Technic set, and it’s huge. Very possibly the longest Technic set ever(?), 42078 consists of two separate models, and one large white shipping container.
Inside all of that bigness there are no motors, no electronics, and no pneumatics, just lots of cogs and gears. This is an old-school Technic set. Apart that is, from the way it looks.
There’s been a trend within the Technic range in recent years to add ever more visual realism, sometimes to great effect, and 42078 continues this but takes it to a whole new level. Sort of. We’ll explain…
The Mack Anthem truck is a realistic replica of the real deal, being officially licensed from Mack and including some of both the biggest and smallest stickers ever fitted to a Technic set to help achieve the desired look. It’s also festooned with lights and intricate detailing (including a unique golden bulldog mascot piece), contains a fully equipped interior that even includes a bed in the sleeper portion of the cab, and features… well, not all that much Technic.
It’s a trick that the Lego Community has used for years, adding working functions to visually realistic creations, to get the best of both worlds. LEGO have definitely taken this approach with 42078, and we think they may have started with the look and added functions afterwards, which is probably the opposite to the way Technic sets were designed in the past.
The result is rather a pleasing one as the truck looks great, certainly better in reality than it does in the pictures. The hood opens up to reveal a miniature straight-6 piston engine (of the sort the Lego Community has been building for years) driven by the rear wheels, the doors open to reveal a very realistic interior, there’s steering via Hand-of-God that also turns the steering wheel (although not much – surely as you’ll never steer this set from inside the cab it could have a realistic steering wheel ratio LEGO?), and a working fifth wheel. And that’s it.
So not a lot if we’re honest, especially considering its size, but just enough to qualify it as a Technic set. And then we come on to our earlier-mentioned ‘sort of’; the trailer…
42078’s trailer is massive and – in contrast to the truck that pulls it – looks worse in reality than it does in the pictures. It’s a stark difference to the truck, appearing almost as if it has come from a different set, so bare bones and simplistic is its appearance.
However underneath it’s far from simple, containing one of the most fiendishly complicated pieces of gearing that we’ve yet come across in a Technic set. In fact two of the most fiendishly complicated pieces of gearing…
42078 features an unusual (at least in our part of the world) side lifting crane mechanism, designed to lift a shipping container from the ground onto the trailer without the need for an overhead crane. The Mack Anthem set does this courtesy of two brilliantly engineered but boring to build linear-actuator driven folding cranes that unfurl themselves in unison via the twiddling of a set of cogs mounted at the back, whilst alongside each crane is a horrendously ugly stabilising arm activated via the flick of a lever.
The cranes themselves do the job, successfully raising the container off the trailer and lowering it onto the ground, or the other way around depending on which way you twiddle. The problem is it takes seven years.
Seriously, 42078’s crane mechanism has to be one of the most infuriating ‘play’ features on any set in the history of Technic. Attach a motor and it’s probably a whole lot more palatable, but as it is the trailer’s one defining function is horrendously, glacially, tortuously slow. Which might not matter so much if the trailer looked nice. But it doesn’t.
The B-Model on the other hand is a breath of fresh air, and surely one of the most attractive of any Technic set in recent times. A front-loading Mack garbage truck complete with a dumpster thingy it not only looks rather lovely, it functions rather well too, with steering, a working lifting mechanism and even a trash compactor. And it leaves a huge array of parts left over, including the pieces from the trailer’s ugly stabilising legs which we’re sure can be put to much better use. Be aware though that the B-Model’s instructions are digital-only.
Overall the 42078 Mack Anthem set is an odd one. The truck is a really well judged blend of Model Team’s visual realism and Technic’s functionally (even if this writer would prefer just a bit more functionality…), and probably pitches the set in a sweet spot that the Lego Community has occupied for some time. On its own it would be highly recommended.
The trailer on the other hand feels like an after-thought, albeit one that uses a substantial amount of pieces and probably features some rather clever engineering.
The truck therefore is a decent 8/10, as long as you value a bit of aesthetic over technical realism. The trailer, despite the ingenuity that must have gone into the two incredibly annoying cranes, is a 5/10 at best. Average the two and it’s a score of 6½, but we’ll add in the excellent B-Model and make it a respectable 7/10 overall.