LEGO’s 5571 Model Team Black Cat set from 1996 is surely one of the brand’s best ever. With nearly 1,800 pieces the set was entitled simply ‘Giant Truck’ in some markets, which is an apt name. But it could be even gianter!…
Cue Havoc of Flickr, who has appeared here previously with his fantastic scaled-up redux of the 5590 Model Team Heli-Transport set, matched to a real world Freightliner cab-over and Bell 206 helicopter.
Like his previous build, Havoc has based his latest work on both an original LEGO set and a real world truck, this being a stunningly detailed Peterbilt 379 that’s also packed with references to its ‘Black Cat’ source material. A detailed interior includes a sleeper (complete with a to-scale 5571 box, road movie ‘Duel’ on the TV and – of course – a black cat (the original set’s hood ornament), plus the hood opens to reveal a replica Caterpillar diesel engine.
There’s much more of Havoc’s Black Cat redux to see at his ‘Peterbilt 379‘ album, plus you can see his previous homage to another vintage Model Team set via the link in the text above.
We’ve finally seen the new Star Wars – The Force Awakens movie, so here’s our token nod to the franchise. What? It’s got some Star Wars stickers down the side… Anyway, this splendid Model Team rally truck comes from Flickr’s bigcrown85, it’s based on the pieces from the huge 5571 Black Cat set of 1996, and there’s loads more to see – including images of the fully detailed interior, engine and cab – on Flickr at the link above.
Welcome to another TLCB review of a Model Team classic. This one’s from 1996 and ain’t it pretty?
The 5571, or ‘Black Cat’ as it was known, was the crowning glory of the Model Team line. It certainly went out in style. However, over £100 was a lot to ask for a Lego set at the time and they didn’t sell many. A pity, as it was actually good value; with more pieces than any Lego set ever, at the time.
If you want one now, it will cost you more than double… still worth it.
So, what do you get in exchange for all that moolah ? Many good things, including unique wheels (they look the same as those on 8285 but they’re slightly bigger), a pair of very large one piece printed doors that do at least look more at ease than such items on the smaller models, lots and lots of black plates, some shiny chrome – properly shiny – loads of tools and the sort of greebly bits that spaceship designers love. And a Fabuland shovel!
Putting all these together takes time, naturally enough, but there’s nothing difficult here – Lego hadn’t yet got around to incorporating many SNOT techniques in even their most elaborate sets, but the appearance of this doesn’t suffer for it.
Instructions for this are easy to follow, with not quite today’s baby build steps but they are simpler than contemporary Technic models. There’s a nice B model too, a European style truck that’s good enough but is rather blown away by the main event.
Whoever designed this was having fun. It’s possible that they got a little carried away with all the bars and doors and bits and bobs festooning the body, but it’s all very nicely done and you really can picture this haulin’ ass across the wide open spaces of America. Probably not Denmark, though. Us Europeans never see trucks like this, but we do love them, and so do Lego – look at how many they’ve made over the years compared to flat fronted European trucks. There’s a romanticism here entirely missing from the more utilitarian domestic lorries, good as they are; and this set makes the very most of that.
Features; if it’s technical wizardry you’re after you’re looking in the wrong place, although it does steer (slightly) via a hand of god control on the roof. This can be improved upon easily enough, and there’s room for a ‘working’ engine to replace the – very nice – show engine supplied. Other than that though, this is all about the details.
So many details. Starting with the little black cat perched on the hood, and all manner of steps and bars and stacks and lights and, and… I’m out of breath. It could have done with bigger windscreen wipers, though… As well as all the stuff you see on the outside, there’s some comfortable looking seats, that tilt forward to get at the bed behind, the driver’s got a well stocked dashboard – including a dash mounted coffee maker that we can only hope succeeds in keeping him awake, there’s little opening compartments on each side full of little tools, ladders and levers and things on the back, the doors and bonnet open; the latter to reveal the well detailed V8 every self-respecting rig of this size’ll need… I could go on forever…
…Until I get to the back half. Was it done by a different person ? Was he given no budget ? Aft of the cab, this does look a bit… underdone, and not just because of the OTT front part. There’s a start at a rear fender, but it is just the start, there’s only two wheels on each axle, the trailer hitch looks OK but not strong enough. The rear bumper and lights set-up is nicely done – something that’s often neglected on Lego models; then and now. I guess it’s 80% there, apart from the lack of wheels, but it just looks naked behind the exuberantly decorated cab. Maybe that’s a little unkind. Give it complete fenders and double up the wheels and it’ll probably be just fine. Or build a trailer for it to cover it’s nakedness, but you’ll need lots of pieces – this isn’t a small model.
But this is proudly American, and biggest is best. It really is. If you like these kinds of trucks at all, you’ll really enjoy this. 9/10