The Elves are a happy bunch today. Several of them are riding around the office in the back of this chunky red truck courtesy of Flickr’s Peter deYeule, whilst several more do the pushing. It’ll probably end in a horrific Elf accident, but it’s fun while it lasts. Peter’s truck is made exclusively from the pieces found in the 7347 Creator set (reviewed here two years ago) and is one of the nicest ‘alternatives’ we’ve seen yet. You can see more at the link, and if you’ve got a 7347 too give some ‘alternativing’ a go and let us know the results!
.. 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.