Some things are better left alone. Any forum on Mumsnet for example. The comments section of the Daily Mail website. Your Mom’s ‘Special Friends’ chest. However the LEGO Technic 8081 ‘Extreme Cruiser’ set is not one of them.
Reviewed here at The Lego Car Blog by reader Thirdwigg a few years ago, he noted that the 8081 set “taunts you to be creative. It screams at you to improve it; to make it better, and it gives you plenty of the space and a great structure to do so.” Which is handy because 8081 is… well, not particularly good.
Not so this version though. Taking his own advice, Thirdwigg as fully repurposed the decidedly average 8081 Extreme Cruiser set into this most excellent Land Rover Defender 110 style off-roader, complete with four-wheel-drive (which the original set didn’t have), a V8 engine (which the original set didn’t have either), working suspension and steering (which it did), and huge Fischertechnic tyres (which it definitely didn’t).
The result looks marvellous and there’s more to see of Thridwigg’s 8081-inspired 4×4 at both his Flickr photostream and the Eurobricks discussion forum (which, unlike Mumsnet, is forum which won’t leave you terrified for the future of humanity).
The Lego Car Blog Set Review Library is packed with over seventy sets, but we want mooooah! This is where you come in, as we’re looking for TLCB readers to add their own sets to the Review Library, and in doing so you could even win some loot! You also get to become a TLCB writer for the day, with literally none of the privileges that you’d expect this to offer you. Still, this hasn’t put off friend of TLCB Thirdwigg, who has joined us here at TLCB Towers to add one of his favourite sets to the Review Library. Yes, we said favourite. We’ll let Thirdwigg explain…
8081 Extreme Cruiser gets a bad rap. It’s not extreme. It’s not a 4×4. It has a funny engine. It’s black. On and on it goes. Blah Blah Blah.
I love it.
But it took me some time. When I bought it for $60 through LEGO, I tagged it onto my 8110 order as an afterthought. I was decidedly more excited about 8110. After 8110, I got to work on 8081. Opening the box, you find a number of bags, wheels and tires, and a number of loose instructions books (ugh). There are a lot of black parts, and some red parts, but the set really has no new parts among the 590 included. However some interesting pieces include the newer frames, four pistons and cylinders, suspension parts, a bunch of black panels. There are also instructions included for a B Model. You’ll like A better.
The builds starts with the frame of the 4×4. LEGO uses red for the chassis, which seems silly at this point. You add the knob gears for the steering, and add the rear suspension. The suspension is a single pivot design like we saw in the car from 8042. But there is a differential (clap, clap), and the structure is solid. We can let it slide. You then build the engine and the front suspension. You build a V4?! What is this, a motorcycle? Then the front suspension. Independent setup with no drive?! On an Extreme Cruiser? Who named this set?
Yep, no four wheel drive, and an anemic engine.
The bodywork comes next with the second bag, and the model is finished with bag three. Redemption for 8081 is starting. The structure is solid and cohesive. The black works well, and the execution comes together as the Technic panels fill gaps and lead your eyes to a quite a pleasing overall shape. The hood is long, as is the roofline, and 8081’s stance looks great; balanced and not too heavy. The tires fill out the wheel wells appropriately. The doors, hood, and tailgate all open – simple, nice features to include. The blue seats are basic, yet they look good and compliment the aforementioned red, which highlights the chassis well.