Yay for civilian vehicles! 2012 looks to be a great year for CITY.
I thought LEGO would have a hard time topping the awesome 7991 Garbage Truck from 2007 (also a great year for vehicles), and my first impression from the pictures of this latest version was that, whilst it's certainly a modernisation of this crucial CITY set, 4432 seemed a little ... bland. Let's see how it bears up to some Rufus-scrutiny
Name: Garbage Truck
Release: 2012 (January)
Price: GB £14.99 | US $19.99 | EUR €19.99 | AU $29.99 | CA $24.99 | DKK 179.95
The workers are busy collecting the trash in LEGO® City. Wheel the bins onto the moving rear loader to empty the trash into the garbage truck! Then take it away to the dump. Includes 2 worker minifigures.
- Includes 2 worker minifigures
- Features moving rear loader
- Accessories include 2 trash bins, banana peel, fish, shovel and brush
- Take out the trash!
- Lift the garbage with the moving rear loader!
- Measures over 8” (21cm) long
Click for a larger picture
Same old, same old... the tried and tested CITY box art still looks good. Those of you who have read my 4435 Car & Camper review will notice again the Orthanc-like Clock Tower in the background, proving that it is indeed the same CITY; perhaps the Garbage Truck is clearing away the detritus left behind by those selfish caravanners? Alternatively, maybe a row of wonderful town-houses occupy the Fourth Wall of this picture: if so, I want to live there; the views are stunning.
The rear reveals this set to be one of the subversive marketing 'Collect them all!' series: and do you know? I just might.
Click for a larger picture
HEY! Garbage-man shows off the set's features with a gesture that might appear excruciatingly painful from a minifigure's perspective. Amidst the expected modular construction, 'tipping action', and hands-free bin-emptier is what appears to be a Magnetic Banana.
An ethereal finger seems to want to draw attention to this magic banana, perhaps rubbing it on the off-chance a Bin Genie will appear.
No such luck! And - bad LEGO, bad! Making the poor lady garbage-collector ride on the outside in the cold! Or is she there by choice? If so, she's like no lady I know.
From this angle, that's one big CITY - and it seems to rise out of an empty plain like there's no suburbia, and makes me think of Altanta, Georgia (based entirely on one picture I happen to have seen of Atlanta).
Well, good job Atlanta for keeping your environs free from bananas and expired fish. Pity the Magnetic Banana isn't working for the lady.
The disappointingly empty box yielded two baggies, ...
... a pristine instruction booklet, and an only-slightly crumpled sticker sheet.
The Decal Sticker Sheet was crumpled enough to make photography tricky, but not enough to dislodge the decals themselves, thankfully.
The now familiar registration plates flank white-on-green, and green-on-white Recycling logos, which cause a slight paradox. This is a Garbage Truck; the sister-set to this one is a recycling truck (it's even called 4206 Recycling Truck), and the figures are clearly clearing away rubbish (recycled fish, anyone?), so why the 'recycling' logo? It seems a little disingenuous to me; if teaching the kids that Recycling Is Good is the lesson of the day, then the even more important lesson that Not Everything Can Be Recycled has been skipped entirely.
But I digress. Leaping from the moral high ground to a horse of equal height, let me rant instead about the Radiator Grille sticker. Why? Two white grille tiles would have been perfectly fine, and would teach the kids the important lesson that Simple Pieces Can Produce Impressive Effects (and appease the sticker-haters like me ).
Gracing the front of the single instruction booklet is the same picture as the box front, except that the figures have encroached further through the Fourth Wall into the hazy blue universe beyond.
Simplicity abounds; at one to two parts per step there is no need for the additional clutter of piece call-outs.
The usual colour-differentiation issue between dark bluish-grey and black is wisely averted by have no identical parts in both colours. See the bluish-grey 1x4 brick behind the SNOTty front panel? That's a 1x4 brick with studs on one side, and will be mentioned later.
The few sub-builds are handled smoothly; here we see how a soupçon of Technic provides the functionality of the bin-emptier ...
... and we can admire the interesting use of a door-frame piece.
Towards the rear of the manual is the expected Inventory, spread over two pages: see Inventory 1 and Inventory 2; also as expected, the set's features are displayed in the rear of the booklet ...
... but rather surprisingly, they are in drawing-form rather than the usual photographic representations. Here we see the bin-emptier in action...
... and the tipper mechanism follows.
Quite why they were done this way escapes me, particularly as the box back shows the same features quite nicely in photographic form.
Bag One builds the cab and chassis of the truck, the figures, and some Rubbish.
The banana is there, but sadly seems to be neither magnetic nor magic. Otherwise, the parts selection is much to be expected... but wait, what's this? Compare the green plate at the top right to the other green parts ...
... and there's a definite colour difference. Here I've displayed some of the green parts separately, along with three of my own green tiles.
Yes! Most of the green parts from this set are, in the 2011 LEGO Colour Palette, 37: Bright Green rather than the usual 28: Dark Green (Bricklink's 'Green'; not to be confused with 'Emerald Night' 141: Earth Green) Previously, the Bright Green colour was used principally for large 'grass' plates, but its use in multiple pieces here (and in 4206 Recycling Truck) possibly heralds a new Bright Green era. There are even cheese wedges in Bright Green! (This says nothing: there'll undoubtedly be cheese wedges in Octarine before too long )
I confess to being completely and pleasantly surprised by this. Maybe you weren't; maybe you've already raved and/or ranted about it in the relevant Discussion Thread, or maybe you just looked more carefully at the box art than I did, but I was expecting nothing more than the usual green. My interest in this set went up several notches when I discovered this.
Otherwise, I must also point out that one of the longer bluish-grey plates came out of the bag decidedly warped:
These two plates are used in a plate-sandwich as the central spine of the chassis, so the bent piece doesn't affect the outcome; still, it's a quality control issue.
I was also quite excited by these new hinge-plate pieces:
Bottom and Top on Bricklink, they are connected via a technic pin, allowing you to vary the friction in the hinge action; they might also have interesting other uses: if, for example, you were to thread a Technic axle through several of (say) the top part, you might be able to create an interesting variety of spiral staircase. But they are currently available only in this set and the 4434 Tipper Truck, so it'll be a while before they are widely available.
Seeing these, I was reminded of this old piece which I remembered from the Classic Space era; however, when assembled, the new hinge leaves a one-plate gap between top and bottom.
Bag Two builds the main container of the truck, and the rear end with the bin-emptier function.
More Bright Green - in 1x2 bricks, wall elements and slopes as well as the already commonplace large plates - brightens up the selection; the eight white 2x4 bows might be useful. The two door frames are unexpected (but I've already hinted at their use in the Instructions section).
Leftover after building is the usual pile of 1x1 rounds, a technic pin and cheeses, but one of the leftover cheeses is Bright Green.
Meet Graham and Diane:
The inclusion of a female figure is interesting. In this set of all sets it demonstrably breaks a gender stereotype - though in 37 years I've seen women doing all kinds of jobs traditionally the realm of men, but I've never seen a female garbage collector. I like how she appears to be wearing lipstick and mascara!
The set doesn't provide minifigure hairpieces, but I like to think that under that cap she looks like this:
I love that Friends hair mold!
The figures' dungaree torsos are not new, having appeared in several sets since 2010. They work quite well as a sort of uniform in this set, but I perhaps would have preferred Diane to have a female torso. From the back, the two figures are indistinguishable:
Oh well, at least there's back printing.
Here they are in action collecting rubbish:
It's worth mentioning their facial expressions here. Having grown up with the permasmiles of Classic Town, I find every 'neutral' minifigure facial expression to seem somewhat sad, or at least resigned. In the Car & Camper review I drew attention to this, because in that set at least you'd expect the poor couple to be enjoying themselves; here, on the other hand, the expressions seem to say, 'Well, it's a dirty job, but...' Maybe I'm reading too much into this.
I haven't included build shots in this review, but will show interesting construction details as we look around. I did however take a shot at the end of Bag One:
Here you can admire the smooth tiling of the chassis, which is necessary to support the main container whilst allowing it to tip; note also the white tiles which secure the bottom part of the new hinge, and reveal why there is the one-plate gap in the new design. Clever!
Here's the completed truck:
This is one of the best views of the vehicle. It's functional, yet smart and compact. I'd have liked to have seen a little detail on the roof - even just a few grille tiles or something - but it'll do. Note the clippy-hinges which allow the rear end to pivot. The mass of orange lights at the rear look a little over-the-top to me, but I guess kids like flashing lights (though of course these don't flash).
Moving closer to the ground, this is how the truck would look from street level:
This view highlights one of the features which brings this set in line with most modern garbage trucks (in Europe, at least): the low-set cab. It seems to hunker down to carry the weight of the bulky container; the latter has that wonderful 'bulge' which is certainly authentic, if the myriad garbage trucks to be seen in my locality are anything to go by.
Now might be a good time to compare 4432 to a 'real' garbage truck, in this case made by Mercedes:
This particular example is a long-wheelbase version with three axles, but shorter two-axled versions exist, and I think you'll agree that the LEGO designers have done a darn good job of rendering this. Even the sticker for the front would look realistic (had I applied it, though I maintain that two white grilles would do just fine ), and I like the LEGO solution for the wing-mirrors.
The front view emphasises how low to the ground the cab is. I guess this allows quick entry and exit to the cab, and therefore speeds up the collection of garbage; well it would, but the cab doors are brick-built, and unfortunately don't open. The steering wheel is mounted rather high up, and looks a bit obtrusive.
I'm less satisfied, however, with the rear, which looks a little sixties-retro to my eyes. Perhaps it's something to do with those round lights; the bin-emptier mechanism also looks rather blocky and bulky here.
This point is emphasised also in the side view. I love how the green slopes and white aeroplane fins create a slanted junction between the sections, but otherwise, the truck seems to go rather suddenly from a svelte, functional beauty ...
... to a utilitarian monster. The rear is the 'business end', I guess, so it can be forgiven for being so.
Perhaps the overhang of the bin-emptier is partly to blame for this impression. It sticks out rather too far beyond the truck's actual rear, and could lead to some interesting incidents whilst reversing.
We'll look more closely at the bin-emptier mechanism presently, but my first impression was that it looks clumsy and too bulky, thus detracting from what appears so far to be a gorgeous design.
Women can drive just as well as, if not better than, men, and Diane is driving the truck today.
See how high up that steering wheel is? This could be modified, using two 1x1 SNOT bricks rather than the 1x4 which secures the front panel. With six-stud wide vehicles, it is possible - with the ingenious use of jumper plates - to sit two figures side-by-side; however this would overcomplicate the build for its target market, and in any case the wheel-arch pieces intrude into the low-set cab making it impossible in this case.
Poor Graham therefore has to hang on to the side as Diane tears through the city.
At least he has something to grab on to! I should mention at this point the clippy-bricks that allow you to attach the broom and shovel - it's a thoughtful addition, and helps prevent them getting lost.
Now we get to examine that Bin-Emptying Mechanism I've been going on about.
The figures have to lift the bin on to the sticky-out rear platform, where it stays attached via a 2x2 jumper tile.
Diane turns the wheel (for dramatic affect, I assume - there would surely by a motor in the vehicle to do this) ...
... and the whole bulky structure tips, emptying the bin's contents into the main container, and exposing some ugly red Technic bricks
in the process.
The slope-brick helps to guide the rubbish into the container ...
... but not very far. It has a tendency to pile up on the studs at the very rear of the container, and the red door frame actually prevents it spreading further inside. Some tiling would fix this (and help with the tipping process later).
Now let's compare this to the bin-emptying method employed in 4432's predecessor, 7991:
This is Steve. Despite working alone, Steve enjoys his job - possibly because his local council has provided more appropriate attire (and gloves!)
All Steve has to do is push the bin on the ground to the edge of the platform - no lifting for him - and the little droid-arm claw does the rest.
This method is more in keeping with what really happens at the business end of a garbage truck; 4432's new mechanism provides an added play-feature, but it is bulky, obtrusive and - in my opinion - downright ugly, and as such seems to me to be an inelegant solution to a non-problem.
Interestingly, as my good friend WhiteFang has pointed out, 4432's mechanism is similar to that of an old Classic Town garbage vehicle, 1987's 6693 Refuse Collection Truck:
Even the dungaree uniform has carried over.
At the end of their shift, Diane and Graham return to base to empty their load, and now we get to see the Tipper Mechanism in action.
The ugly rear end swivels upwards, seen here at the limit of its movement ...
... and the container tips upwards ...
... dislodging some, but not all, of the container's contents. You can just see a single tan stud is refusing to shift, and the white rear end prevents the container tipping further. I guess it would work better with the fish and banana.
Here it is again, from the side:
This shows how the white rear end, which only pivots to 90 degrees, in turn limits the movement of the container. To be fair, this was also a problem in 7991.
With the container upright, we get to explore a little more of the vehicle. Here we can see the rear of the cab, where some primary colours begin to show themselves:
The jarring red piece at the rear of the cab roof is actually a 2x4 plate, which allows the orange lights to lift off with the cab roof (you may notice it is sitting on a white 1x6 tile). I can live with this; I'm more concerned about the rear of the cab being open to the elements.
Not only would this be drafty on those cold winter mornings, but it also means that those nasty stinky garbage odours will permeate the cab, particularly as there are holes at the front of the container:
I've removed one of the sides here to show the container's construction. You can observe how the SNOT side-panels are attached via only two studs; the red door-frame at the rear prevents these panels collapsing inwards. It's surprisingly sturdy.
Comparison to 7991
We've already looked at the bin-emptying mechanism (there must be a better way to describe that ) for both sets, but let's see how the two as a whole compare.
I was really impressed with 7991, back in the day. It has some fantastic little details: the steps up to the cab, the binocular horns on the cab roof, the ingenious way the little red trolley attaches to the roof ... it's a geat design, if a little flimsy. I wondered how on earth 4432, occupying the same price-point and having an almost identical part-count - could possibly top that.
But it does, in a way. Gripes about the rear end aside, 4432 looks stunning: realistic and modern. Beside it, 7991 looks like something from an earlier age, belying the mere five years between them, mechanical and industrial. This is probably a good thing: 4432 is no replacement for the earlier set; the two could exist in your CITY, doing different jobs: 4432 smartly patrolling the streets, keeping them free of slippery banana skins and stinky fish, whilst 7991 belongs in the industrial and construction areas, the gritty coal-face of the ever-expanding cityscape.
In 4432, The LEGO Co. has again shown how it is able to keep bang up-to-date; continuously modernising and improving an already fantastic line-up of vehicles. I thought that the range of CITY trucks exemplified by 2007's 7991 had already reached its zenith; but no, 4432 makes 7991 look decidedly clunky and outdated, and the Bright Green colour scheme brings new life to the current range, and the hope of a much larger variety of Bright Green bricks to come. Might it even replace 28: Dark Green as the 'standard' LEGO green?
This being said, the ugly rear end of the vehicle is an unfortunate triumph for function over form. For the dubious benefit of a minor play-feature - turn a wheel and the bin tips, rather than having to do it by hand - the blocky rear-end contraption quite spoils the otherwise aesthetically pleasing lines of this truck; I'd much rather the designer had stuck with 7991's neat (if a little fragile) solution to this feature.
Design & Build - 8 From the front and side, the Garbage Truck looks great - it is realistic and accurate, with a simple but stunning colour scheme; what it loses in technical detail compared to 7991 it gains in overall aesthetics. The build is simple but still entertaining, with some interesting techniques: the SNOT sides to the container and the green slope - white fin boundary towards the rear are superb for a set of this size. Minor niggles aside, if it weren't for the rear-end monstrosity it would be getting full marks here, but I really don't like that thing.
Parts - 8 Truck construction has started to follow a pattern in recent years, and so we wouldn't expect much of interest in the parts section; however, some new pieces, and a whole load of commonplace parts found for the first time in an interesting colour, make this one of the more excting parts collections I've come across in recent years. I still wish they hadn't decided on that front grille sticker, though.
Figures - 6 It's great to get two figures - remember the similarly-priced 7991 only had one - but the figs themselves are a little disappointing. Their 'uniforms' are neither rare nor interesting, and nor are they really appropriate for their job; their face-prints are nothing new (though this year's minifigure heads appear to have a new, closed-recessed stud configuration; see here). I like that a female figure has been included, but the only thing that makes her female is her head.
Playability - 9 With two figures, two bins, some rubbish, and a truck with a two-fold tipper action, there's fun to be had! Even the ugly-monster rear-end mechanism scores some points here (making up not entirely for the 'Design' section losses); however, I think the real beauty lies in the cross-compatibility: forget the 'Collect Them All!' range - go and buy 4206 Recycling Truck which matches this set perfectly.
Price - 8 This set - like the rest of the range at this price point - is good value for money. You get an interesting part selection, an enjoyable build, and a (mostly) great-looking result, that is both playable and integrates well into an existing CITY layout.
Overall: 78%. My score: 8/10. 4432 doesn't have the wow-factor that 7991 had for me, back in its day, but it is a wonderfully realistic update of an essential Town set.
Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed the review.
My flickr set
My 4435 Car & Caravan Review
7991 Recycle Truck by xwingyoda, Erdbeereis, Macoco