It’s review time here at TLCB! The guys over at Game of Bricks, makers of bespoke LED lighting kits for LEGO sets, offered us a few of their products for review, and because either a) we’re awesome, or b) this site is too incompetent to be sent sets from LEGO, this time we’re handing over to our readers!
Wojtek Hildebrandt was one of the readers to respond to the offer of a free lighting kit (via our Facebook page) the fastest, and fortunately for us he’s a throughly good reviewer too. Check out his thoughts on Game of Bricks’ lighting kit for his recently reviewed Technic 42114 6×6 Volvo Articulated Hauler set below! The answer was (b) by the way…
They see me hauling, they lighting.
The LEGO Technic set 42114 6×6 Volvo Articulated Hauler is a big and very yellow piece of equipment that I really like and that’s hard not to notice. That is of course if there’s light outside. But what if you need to haul whatever it is you are hauling around when it’s dark? The Game Of Bricks lighting kit comes to the rescue and frees you from filling in endless Health and Safety forms so I’m glad that TLCB together with GoB came up with this review idea. The kit I got is the full version – lights and sound with remote control. How does it look? How does it sound? What about installation and control? First things first.
The package comes in a nice black box with components divided into steps and packed in separate string bags containing required wiring, boards, and LEDs as well as any additional LEGO pieces needed to install it. Depending on the version of the kit – standard, remote, or remote + sound – there are different motherboards and additional equipment like remote or speaker. There is also a user manual, but it’s not the one that gets the user through the installation. It’s rather a general description of components and how to handle them. An actual step-by-step instruction is available on the Game of Bricks website, which is mentioned both in the user manual and in the order confirmation email from GoB. For the 42114 lighting kit, it is a series of pictures showing where to put which components, how to route the wiring, and sometimes what to remove from the set and when to put it back. Some other sets get video instruction – perhaps this one will get it too at some point.
Read twice, place once.
Before you start your installation or even before you open the bags, have a good look over the entire web instructions. Twice. Game of Bricks’ pictures are usually rather clear but not as much as LEGO’s own instructions. Black wires can sometimes hide in the shadows, other times some important details can get unnoticed as there is no description to point it out – this is, in particular, the case for rear lights that have two different LED colours. Still, I was able to follow the instructions with only a minor slip so I guess everybody should be fine. But knowing what to do is one thing and knowing how to do it is another thing entirely.
Do you fancy some knitting after a day of hauling? Have I got news for you!
Installing the lighting kit is a totally different experience to building the LEGO set itself. It feels more like knitting or sewing – at least I guess so. LEDs and wires seem fragile (even if they aren’t, excuse me for not running the stress test) so be gentle and patient. Get a pair of trusty tweezers, maybe even a magnifying glass, and make sure you have a good strong light on your workplace. You’re thinking of a headlamp? Why not. It takes light to install the lights, let’s call it a “circle of light”.
As for the LEGO set, you will need to remove or collapse the side mirrors to be able to lay the hauler on the side, and some wheels will need to be temporarily removed too. The beacon can be a problem when the hauler needs to be put upside down, so prepare for that as well. I need to say it quickly became tricky to handle this heavy set with an increasing number of wires leaving less and less space to firmly grasp the vehicle without worrying. The wires are a bit springy which is both a blessing and a curse. You will need to force them to your will, but eventually, they will obey. Connectors are tiny, they need to be put into ports precisely and with a click. Motherboard, extension boards, and optional speaker are attached to the set with double-sided adhesive tape. It seems to keep things together well, even the big speaker sits firmly in place. My only fear for the future is how to uninstall the lighting kit when I’d like to disassemble the set – will I be able to put it all back together?
Anyway, slowly but surely – like the hauler stuck on the first gear – you will get to the final step of the instructions; plugging in the power source. You can choose either the battery box that’s included in the lighting kit or any power bank – power goes through a USB connector so there are plenty of possibilities. Where to store it? If only there’d be a vast free space on the rear part of the hauler… Finally, the set should be ready to shine…
Shine on you crazy(?) hauler.
Once everything is installed (and paired if necessary) switch off the lights in the room, close the curtains and watch. The basic setup will show all the lights on with blinking side hazard lights and a seemingly rotating beacon. The remote version offers three predefined modes or the possibility to control each group of lights separately – intuitively enough, numbers on the buttons correspond to a step at which given lights were installed. Optional sounds are also connected to groups of lights – engine sound turns on with front lights, flashing high beams are accompanied by the horn, hazard lights have the indicator sound, there’s a distinctive sound of pneumatic brakes that comes with rear lights and even a cheerful operator smashing the doors when cabin light goes on together with roof beacon. Each of the three predefined modes is a different sequence of these lights. The remote also allows changing the sound volume as well as LEDs brightness. I noticed that the remote control misbehaves sometimes after a long session of changing settings. Hard reset at the power source helps.
I like these lights. They look good and suit the set. My favorite is the rotating beacon. My least favorite are the blinkers. They flash with different frequencies and get out of sync quickly. I don’t know the reason, but I guess it’s not my fault as the instruction doesn’t provide any guidance about it and the promo video on the product page shows the same thing. Still, I guess this would be an actual problem only for a real vehicle.
The sounds are cool too, but there is kind of a trade-off; the Control+ profile for the LEGO set already has some built-in and when the application is connected, the engine sound and reversing warning are responsive to what the vehicle is doing. So even though the sounds come from the mobile device rather than from the hauler, they are better suited to the job. But when the Control+ app is off and the vehicle is a display piece, the Game of Bricks sounds are very handy – they come from the right place (the speaker is under the engine bay) and have a nice variety. My choice – for playing and hauling the lights are on and the sound is off. For standing and making a mighty impression – the full-blown GoB experience. Just make sure it’s reasonably dark around to show the lights and hide the battery or power bank presence.
My conclusion is that even though the installation process is somewhat troublesome, the end result is totally worth the effort. The lights add a bit to the playability, both lights and sound make this vehicle a proper display set. I would only wish they could be at least powered, if not controlled via the Control+ hub. There is a free port after all, so perhaps the former is possible. The latter – I don’t think so at this stage of PoweredUp ecosystem development. For now, I’m thinking of creating a display stand that would allow for all the Control+ functions to run “in place” and contain the power supply for the lighting kit. If you want to add a very nice touch to your hauler and you’re not afraid of hard work – get yourself one!
A huge thanks to Wojtek for joining us here at The Lego Car Blog to – frankly – write a far better review than we’re capable of. If you’d like to get your hands on Game of Bricks’ lighting kit for the brilliant 42114 6×6 Volvo Articulated Hauler, head over to the Game of Bricks shop via the link below.