Come with us on a journey as we review the cheapest set that The Lego Car Blog has ever examined. We thought that we’d have a change from the big Technic sets that usually feature here. At £3.49 (30% off) from amazon will our purchase prove to be value for money? How will it rate for fun and playability? Will the Elves eat most of the 64 pieces before we can use them? Read on…
Packaged in LEGO’s usual bright and attractive box, 31041 scores over a large Technic set by only requiring a strong thumb to open its cardboard tab. None of that cutting or ripping sticky tabs here. Collectors will obviously want to cut the packaging open with a sharp knife in order to preserve its collectability, in a manner similar to this video. A recurring theme of our reviews is the need for parts to come in numbered bags in order to reduce confusion & sorting and to help make building more pleasurable. Sadly the bag of parts is not numbered, possible as there is only one. On the up side, a quick flick through the 32 page instruction book reveals that it contains instructions for all three models. As we’ve mentioned in other reviews, it would be great it if LEGO did this for their big, expensive Technic sets too. At the moment, builders having to traipse off to Lego.com and download PDF files.
Moving on to the build, the headline model is rapidly built in 14 pages. The construction is the conventional, studs up type. There’s nice use of commonplace bricks, such as 1×1 round bricks and headlight bricks with 1×1 round plates to give the detailing. There’s also the neat use of a 1×2 tile, at the centre of the model, which will make it easier for children to take apart and re-build (which is what LEGO is supposed to be for!). The backhoe is a conventional bit of building too but the front bucket and its arms, are a good example of economical use of parts to good effect.
Builders young and old can learn quite a bit from this tiny model. As with short stories when compared with novels, micro-scale builds force modellers to consider each and every brick carefully. With model completed, you’re left with a spare 1×1 trans-orange round plate, a dark grey clip arm and three 1×1 light grey round plates to shovel around.
In terms of functionality, this is a strong build, which rolls well across a floor or table. Sadly it suffers from the usual problem in LEGO vehicles of having poor Ackerman steering geometry. This is probably due to it having no steering but let’s skate over that one. Both buckets are firmly attached to the body of the tractor and have good ranges of movement. It’s a bit tricky to keep the grey plates on the front bucket, though this can be improved by swapping the corner pieces from the backhoe with on of the 1×2 edge pieces. Overall the model is fun and nice proportioned. It would be great if it had different diameter tyres, fore & aft, like a JCB but that would reduce the flexibility for making other models.
The other two vehicles are strong and fun to build and play with too. The dumper is a particularly nice little model. The way that the rear skip hinges is neatly and interestingly done.
This set is a great little parts pack, with most of the pieces in standard LEGO colours such as black, yellow and grey. There are four, yellow 1×2 curved bricks amongst other useful stuff. It’s also a brilliant, cheap bit of fun for the younger builder in your household: a great addition to that order for the 42055 that you’re buying for yourself (yes, we know, those big yellow rings are essential for your next MOC and it’s the only way to get hold of them). At this price, you could buy three 31041s and build one of each vehicle to use together in a diorama (obviously you wouldn’t be playing with them). Go on, make that investment!