5580. One of LEGO’s earliest attempts at a more advanced high detail vehicle, and one of the three founding sets of the Model Team line. One of our earliest Set Reviews too…
But time marcheth on and today 5580, whilst undoubtably still a lovely set, looks a bit basic, both against LEGO’s latest releases and against many of the creations that the online community is building. Cue serial bloggee Ralph Savelsberg, who has re-booted the classic 1988-1990 set for 2016.
Based a little more closely on a real truck (the Kenworth W900) and using LEGO’s latest parts, Ralph’s model has grown a bit when compared to the original, squeezing in more detail and looking a lot like the sort of model that you’ll find at a Legoland theme park.
There’s more to see of Ralph’s excellent update of one of LEGO’s most famous classic sets at his photostream – click the link above to make the jump.
.. And living buried inside the Creator range. Meet set 7347, ‘Highway Pickup’
Mmmmm stripey! Nicely detailed too, at least as far back as the exhaust stacks. In case you’re wondering, this is one of TLCB’s occasional reviews of current sets – I’m back, baby!
So, where to start… how about unpacking its nice big, shiny box; that’s reasonably full for a change, with 800 or so pieces and there’s loads of good stuff here for vehicle builders of all kinds. The bags aren’t numbered, so there’ll be much sifting but we’re used to that, aren’t we? There are 4 instruction books – 2 for the main model – and isn’t it nice to have printed instructions for the secondary models ? Come on, Technic! Be careful, though, with the only blue parts of the set (two hinge pieces that fix on the dashboard) as they don’t appear all that blue in the book. Maybe it’s these old eyes again, but I spent several minutes looking for grey ones…
Building it is a pleasure, if not at all difficult, and there’s an intriguing mix of old and new Technic in the chassis. Studded beams give it a dose of rigidity, and studless ones at the back allow the truck bed to slide and tilt. Very effective. There are no mistakes in the instructions, at least for the main model – I haven’t built the others, mostly because they don’t look nearly as good.
The first part to build is the yellow car that goes on the back, and what a curious beast it is… out of scale with the truck (it ought to be two studs wider, at least), it’s otherwise nicely proportioned but clumsily detailed. You’ll be able to fashion something better, even if you just use these bricks.
Thankfully, a great deal more design effort was put into the truck. I’ll call it a truck, since it’s very much in the American style; although the second model is very definitely a lorry… Anyhoo, it features that sliding and tilting bed on the back, a winch, opening doors and bonnet and working steering. Just remember NOT to put in those black ball joint pieces at an early build stage, lest it end up with the turning circle of a supertanker. You’ll need something there, else the wheels will drag on the inner arches, but I found a 1×1 plate, stud in the beam’s hole did the trick. Now it’s got the turning radius of.. an ordinary tanker. Never mind, at least it’s nice and smooth in operation.
There’s also a pair of light bricks in the roof, that blaze forth when you press down in front of the steering control. It wouldn’t be too hard to make them flash authentically, or even stay on. A nice feature, but a bit of a gimmick.
Putting the cab together, with its very attractive stripes and comprehensive detailing is what reminds me most of the old Model Team sets. This is the same size as 5580 from 1986, and where this scores over that classic set is in the way the paintjob is achieved. It’s entirely brick-built. No stickers or printed parts. Hurrah!
And here it is in the company of an old friend..
I must say I do prefer 5580’s grille; those grille tiles on the new one do tend to look a little flat. The oldie also has a nicer engine, and the fenders are attached to the hood as they should be. Still, the new boy’s got some tricks, not the least of which is to be found around the back, precisely where 5580 ran out of ideas…
That tilting and sliding bed is very nicely contrived, but the thing could have looked less… basic, perhaps? Especially given the exuberance of the front. Lego have always been better at the front part of a truck : even the fabled 5571 ‘Black Cat’ looked a little unfinished aft of the cab, so I guess everything’s as it should be. Still, some rear lights and a licence plate back there might have been nice.
But enough carping. This really is a nice set, and it’s level of features and detail is just fine for the market it’s aimed at. Trouble is, the market it’s aimed at might baulk at paying £60 ($80) for it.
Is Model Team alive and well, then? Kind of, but you wouldn’t call it alive and kicking. 7/10.
Continuing our series of reviews of sets aimed at the more mature builder, here’s the 5580 Highway Rig, from 1988…
5580 got the ‘Model Team’ line off to a good start. It was the same scale as the earlier ‘Hobby Sets’ (12 studs wide) and, albeit after a long hiatus, appeared to carry on where they left off; although this time, LEGO managed to produce an attractive, well detailed model of a popular subject. They even went to the trouble of designing nice new wheels for it.
5580 had the look of being designed by someone who loved the subject – often the sign of a winning model. He had fun with all the greebling, too – perhaps a little much, especially when it came to festooning it with little yellow lights all over the place. Against the white panels, these do make it look a little as if it’s got a bad case of zits….
Still, all the other detailing was very successful, the colour scheme was attractive (using printed pieces – not stickers – hurrah!) and, if you lift the bonnet forward, there’s a very pleasant show engine (LEGO’s first ?); the influence of which is still seen in many medium sized MOCs by car builders everywhere.
LEGO also included steering, operated by the spare wheel mounted on the back of the cab. It didn’t work that well (too many twists and turns in the linkage ‘twixt rack and wheel) but it was a start. It might have been better if the control was on the roof, as on later models.
There was an interior, of sorts, featuring some seats, a steering wheel and a single printed slope that constituted the dashboard. Pretty basic inside then, but again, not a bad effort at the time. There was a bed behind the seats as well, wherein sleep would be rendered impossible by the steering gubbins in the way.
After the wealth of detail on it’s front half of the set, the rear looked a little underdone. The trailer hitch thing (or whatever you call it..) was just a 4×4 turntable, there was no attempt at wheelarches and little else of interest back there. However, mounting the eight rear wheels on movable axles was a nice touch to give the illusion of suspension.
Overall, this 5580 a very nice model indeed. One of those that manages to look right, despite the compromise of using train doors on the cab. A rare combination of refined good looks with a dose of playability. There’s a very good reason why they’re expensive to buy now.