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Lego 42008 Service Truck

Thanks to EuroBricks for making this review possible! As I looked at the recent Technic sets, this was one that I thought looked interesting, but not enough to buy. So when the opportunity to review it came up, I jumped! It's a European-style heavy tow truck with pneumatics and motors, so that's pretty cool. And it's GREEN. It's a surprisingly uncommon Technic color. There's the 2015 24 Hour Race Car, but other than that and some of the small sets, this is it. So there should be lots of new part availability and so forth for people to geek out over. Let's see how it looks....

Name: Service Truck

Set Number: 42008

Pieces: 1276

Price: $129.99

Minifigs: n/a

Theme: Technic

Year of Release: 2013

Links: Bricklink Peeron Brickset

The Box


A normal Technic box. Except for the exciting info in the bottom corners indicating that this set has BOTH Power Functions and pneumatics. That's pretty rare but very cool.

The Back of the Box


A lot more detail back here - both the main and B models are shown with their functions and sizes highlighted in a multitude of languages. With all the details I'm surprised that the HOG steering isn't identified anywhere. The main model does show that there IS steering, and most Technic fans see the gear on the cab roof and immediately know what that means, but I was surprised it isn't called out anywhere. As for the B model, instructions are online only, not printed, but that's normal. It seems to have a lot of functionality for a B model but is very similar to many other Technic sets with a claw arm and trailer.

The Contents


There are a TON of bags in here. Small ones with small parts, big ones with big parts, some PF parts, and a bag full of pneumatic stuff (including precut hoses, unlike old pneumatic sets). Oh, and 3 manuals and a sticker sheet in a bag together. No cardboard, but the books are enough to be reasonable protection for the stickers. Seriously though, SO. MANY. BAGS.



The reason for so many bags? Not just the 1200+ parts, but also bags like this. There are TWO identical bags like this. Why on earth weren't they combined? I just don't get it. I'm sure there's something in Lego's packaging and logistics to explain it, but I don't see it.

The Manuals


Three thin books. Not much to say, other than this is a 2013 set so one book has that Win kid on the back. Eek.

The Sorting Instructions


So Lego obviously thinks you should sort the parts. Makes sense, since there are no numbered bags or anything like that. Just 1200 and some parts to look through. Being Technic, it's easier, since there's tons of black pins and blue axle pins and so forth, but there's still a lot to look through. However, sorting it right either needs a bunch of dedicated space, or a bunch of containers. I had neither, so I did this:

The Part Sorting, Sort Of


That's most of the parts, in the box. I kept them sort of sorted by size. There are a few things I left out - the wheels, big panels, pneumatic and PF parts, etc, but that's 90+% of the parts right there. Not TOO bad, and as long as you're careful, you can move the box around when you need to clean up for the night. It does how how oversize the box is though!

The Stickers


A BUNCH of stickers for this set. And they're not terribly useful for anything else. They're very specific to the tow truck, and they're mostly cut for the Technic panel shapes so they'd be weird on anything else. They do add a LOT of detail and color to the finished set though, so for once I will actually use them!

The First Step


The first actual page of the manual. I'm used to manuals having a picture of what you're making at the front - makes sense when it's a City set with multiple vehicles. Here? I just found it hilarious to see the finished truck there at step 1. The manual is standard Technic though - plain blue background, part callouts, and lots of sub-assemblies.

The Build, 1


After a few pages, we have this. Anyone used to modern Technic can figure it out pretty quickly. This is the steering for the two front axles. As usual, it's some great engineering. The green beams under the arms of the second axle make the distance from the pivot point to the gear rack different, giving different turning radii to the axles. It may not be exactly right due to the limits of Lego parts, but the concept is certainly there and the functionality of the set is better due to it.

The Build, 2


More pages, more pieces added. Again, any experienced Technic builders can recognize what's happening here. A vertical axle for the HOG steering, some frame at the front for a cab to be built off of, and some beams out the back to start building the body of the truck. And of course, a bunch of random-seeming pins and parts that'll be used for connections later.

The Build, 3


Now things start getting interesting. This is the main gearbox. There's two red driving rings with then the dark grey gears to transmit the power to the light grey gears below. I'd bet money that the axle between the driving rings will be powered and there's gears coming that'll drive both axles from that simultaneously. And as an important note - the axles below (with the light grey gears) are NOT connected all the way through. The gap in the beams below the red driving rings is a gap in the axle as well, so there's 4 totally separate outputs on this gearbox.

The Build, 4


This is now rotated and flipped from the last pic of the gearbox (note the axle with the universal joint in each photo). But I was right - the tan gears let the center axle drive both of the side axles with the driving rings. A motor will get connected in there and then we have 4 outputs, 2 of which could run at the same time. There's the axle with the universal joint, the black axle above the three tan ones (parallel to the u-joint), the back left output which gets redirected and ends up going to the dark grey 8 tooth gear in the top middle, and then the back right output which is not currently visible. The yellow connector sticking off to the right is a control handle to shift between two outputs, and there's a matching one on the right. All in all, a LOT of complexity in a small space!

The Build, 5


That universal joint gets connected to another in order to take an off-center drive axle and connect it to a centered linear actuator. It also of course allows the LA to pivot.

The Build, 6


The pneumatics appear! This grey cylinder is a pump. Turning the tan axle will rotate the short blue liftarms and power the pump. I'm sure this will connect into the gearbox for power, but there's a ways to go before we get there.

The Build, 7


Actually, nope, I was wrong. That frame with the pump mounts right into the gearbox and onto the chassis. I've also added the winch, so now 3 of the 4 outputs from the gearbox are in use (large LA, pump, and winch). You can't see it, but the motor is also installed under the gearbox to drive it.

The Build, 8


The 4th output of the gearbox drives these mini linear actuators. The drive is coming in on the gear closest to the camera and then the other 2 gears transfer power up to the far LA in sync.

The Build, 9


Here's what those mini-LAs drive. A pair of spade-type outriggers. Since this is a heavy-duty tow truck that'll often need to pull loads out of ditches and so forth, these can dig into the ground for a lot of holding force.

The Build, 10


Time to set the chassis aside for a while and build this. It's interesting how differently they can use identical pneumatic cylinders. The one in the black section can only swing the lower piece through a 90 degree angle. The one on top, despite a 2 stud stroke, manages to move the 15L beams a massive 9 stud distance thanks to the clever lever design using the 3x5 L beam and 5L beam.

The Build, 11


So much added, so fast. The arm from the previous step attaches to the large LA to form the main crane arm of the truck. The pneumatic tubes all come together to a pair of valves to control those functions. Mechanically, the truck's pretty much done and there's still a book and a half to go in the instructions. That's a lot of bodywork to be added!

The Build, 12


The bodywork starts with the cab. The battery box sticks in the usual Technic truck location behind the cab. Thankfully, it gets a sticker with green and red arrows that will help with knowing direction for functions later. The seats are black and grey instead of the blue that they often are. This is also an unusual case of a bare connection that ends up in a finished model. See the pin sticking forward between the seats? It's one of these 87082.jpg used to stabilize the vertical axle that will be the steering. Only the pin on one side is needed, but this piece (15100.jpg) wasn't available yet.

The Build, 13


And that takes care of the cab. A few stickers here, but there's lots left on the sheet. Susanne gets a nice license plate too. It almost actually feels bland though. Especially once the rest of the truck is done and stickered, it feels like there should be more detail on each side of the grill here. And the black tubes for the sides of the windshield are a cheat. They don't line up vertically - the bottom is a stud farther forward than the top, so it needs to be something angled. It makes sense, most windshields ARE angled, but where many Technic vehicles would use axles there, there's no easy way to modify the bottom to put a connector for an axle instead (the top could take an axle though). That's why it's tubes - they have enough flex to do it. As for functionality, the doors open. That's about it. There's enough going on in the back of the truck I can forgive it though.

The Build, 14


Here is one of the side panels. The other side is just a mirror image. It's a nice decorative panel, but why didn't they put one more of the small triangular panels above the "service" to smooth out the slope some more? Anyway, once you put these two side panels on and add the wheels, it's all done.

The Side Comparison



The side panels REALLY add a lot to this design, so I wanted to show exactly how much "mess" they're hiding. All the mechanicals of the bare truck are so cluttered by necessity, where the panel just smooths everything out and makes it look less Lego. I like the finished look. And since each panel is held on by just 3 pins, they're easy to remove to get to the battery box or fiddle with the internals.

The Good


Here's everything in the "deployed" position. You'd never actually use them all at once, but here it is. The crane arm has a decent amount of height, considering it's usage on a tow truck, and the extension on it works well enough. It's also good that the main boom uses an LA rather then pneumatics so you have height control. Full up there would be WAY too high for the wheel lift!


Now that we have tires on, check out the front steering. Nice engineering making the dual steered axles do different angles like that. It's not something we see on real trucks here in the USA since the dual-front axle design is not common, but it's nice to see implemented.

The Bad

There are several small things that annoy me (and those of you with OCD will feel the same I'm sure) so let me point a few out.


Each side of the truck has a flip-up panel with one of the gear shift levers underneath. There's a sticker to indicate functions, but due to the design of the truck, the sticker isn't centered over the lever. What?


Look at the hoses coming off the small pneumatic cylinder on the hoist. They get in the way of the wheel lift coming up all the way. I'm not sure why they didn't design it with those hoses coming off the other side of the cylinder - I might have to mod it and see if there's a reason I'm not seeing now. There also is no good place to put the hook. As I played around with the truck, it kept snagging on other parts as they moved.


The outriggers only come just to the table surface. They don't extend far enough to actually dig into the ground if you had it on dirt. but that's probably ok. They're nice looking but a little flimsy, so if they extended further, since most kids will use this on a hard surface, they'd try to lift the back end of the truck and fail.


Access to the battery box switch is fairly tight. It looks roomy enough, but as a 6'3" guy with man-hands, it's tight getting my fingers in there to control it. Too bad they didn't use the PF switch and put it somewhere more accessible.

The Video

Note when I show the pneumatics at the end, there's an issue with the pump. Since there's very little tubing and no air tank, it builds up to max pressure very quickly. That leads to a loud clicking sound when the pump is running, since it's being forced to compress with no room for the air to go, and then the pump slams back open as soon as the gear turns a bit further. It's loud and annoying. Once you start using the functions, it quiets down, but then gets loud again a few seconds later.

The Conclusion

So, what's my conclusion on this set? Pretty cool! This was one of a series of service trucks in a short span - 2012 had the Pick-Up Tow Truck, and 2011 had a Flatbed Tow Truck - but you have to go back to 2006's famous 8285 Tow Truck to get a more direct comparison. I've built the 8285 and it's an awesome truck, but different in many ways than this one. 8285 is much larger and has a bigger piece count, so everything is bigger. However, that leads to a lot of empty space in the truck. There's not many Technic vehicles made that have as much empty room in them as the 8285. Also, 8285 had no motor, so you had to pump the pneumatics by hand. This one is much nicer in that regard. Overall, I like it better. For a non-flagship set, this packs a TON of features.

The Ratings

Value: 10/10 - It's so close to the famous 10 cents a part mark, and there's so many useful parts. Lots of panels, PF, pneumatics, so it's solid.

Design: 8/10 - As a whole, great, but there's a few details that could be improved.

Minifigs: n/a -

Playability: 9/10 - Lots of functions, and it's in a common Technic scale so I bet it would work well for towing other vehicles around. It'd be better for smaller fingers than mine though.

Parts: 10/10 - It's got both pneumatics and PF, plus if you want green Technic, it's the only place to go. It's the only source of 1x7 beams, the best source for 1x9 and 1x13 beams, and the only current(ish) source for green panels.

Overall: 9/10 - Very solid.

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Interesting, I thought this set was a bit of a mess. While a nice idea in theory, the haphazard mix of pneumatics and LAs just doesn't work IMO, severely limiting playability.

Edited by jantjeuh

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Playability: 9/10

Overall: 9/10 - Very solid.


If you are a newbie at Lego Technic, build this set. rouliano34.gif?f-ed=1

Keep in mind how poorly engineered it is, and never reproduce any of this stuff in any of your MOCs.

Then, maybe one day you will be a great MOCer. rouliano34.gif?f-ed=1

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Curious, care to explain what you didn't like about the set? Sure it's not perfect, but more details would be nice.

I'm not a high-level Technic MOC-er, but I've build basically all the big Technic sets of the last decade and I didn't see glaring flaws here other than what I pointed out.

Interesting, I thought this set was a bit of a mess. While a nice idea in theory, the haphazard mix of pneumatics and LAs just doesn't work IMO, severely limiting playability.

It does use both, but used each where it made sense. The wheel lift just needs to be up or down, so use pneumatics there. Ditto for the extension of the crane (though a way to slow them down would be nice rather than slamming each way). But the crane boom and outriggers benefit from slower motion and being positionable, so LAs make sense there. I suppose the outriggers could have been pneumatic, but the fast action would have been awkward.

Now, I'll grant that actually USING all the functions here is a bit awkward, since you've got pneumatic valves on both sides, gearbox levers on both sides, and a battery box direction switch on top. But that's due to the compact size of the set. Moving everything to one side would have been impossible on this scale.

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Great write up!

Like many others, this set doesn't quite do it for me (for many reasons), but I'm surprised at the seemingly intricate/elegant and somewhat compact gearbox. I think this set would have benefitted from the new, long, slim pneumatic cylinder being introduced in the 42043 later this year for the extention of the crane arm.

IMO the set looks pretty good, but better with black rims :classic:

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Poll added, sorry I forgot that.

And yes, the new longer pneumatic would have been nice. The crane extension seems overly complex, but it had to be. They shoulda made the longer cylinder for this set and then maybe they would have sold better :)

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Yeah, I did like the design of the gearbox. I love 'complicated' builds like that. 42038, for instance, also has a nicely designed complicated gearbox.

Still, nice review, even though I might disagree with the final score :wink: Each to his own!

Edited by jantjeuh

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what an outstanding review! i did buy this set but have not built it, still M.I.S.B. most of the comments about this have not been great. the cab in this model was not completed as well as 8109 if you have a comparison. maybe the designers got lazy on this one


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Making the cab more like 8109's would probably require several parts to be newly produced in green.

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T.L.G. has that power ? they could have easily done that? or similar. they made the same flop with 42024

Edited by dougstar

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Producing parts in a new color isn't cheap :classic: That's something usually reserved for flagship sets and/or sets in more popular ranges (think Star Wars).

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I'll certainly agree that 8109 has a nicer cab.

Producing parts in a new color isn't cheap :classic: That's something usually reserved for flagship sets and/or sets in more popular ranges (think Star Wars).

And this set already has a bunch of new color parts.

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Good review. I think you may have to return the RA tag for missing the poll. :wink: How well does it tow another Technic vehicle?

I find the rear wheels spacing look off compared to the front wheels. I would have preferred blue seats in the cab. Nothing that can't be easily MOD by someone not limited to designing to a price point. :classic:

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I read your review and I really liked it. :thumbup: The set ... not so much. And no way it is better then 8285, even with all the empty space.

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I left a review of this set on the Shop at Home site. Overall not as good as some, mainly because the engineering lets it down and the price per piece is better in other sets, even accounting for the motor and pneumatics.

It could do with the thinner wheels at the front, like the VW camper van. Those wheels have not appeared in enough sets, especially as a set of 4 or more.

the trapping of the pneumatic hoses really lets it down. I tried the rear cylinder the other way round but then the hoses clashed with the stabilisers. It would be possible to open up a gap in the stabiliser system to accommodate the hoses.

The rear wheel beams move about, which is sloppy. These could be easily fixed more rigidly.

The chassis bends a bit in the middle. Needs extra beams for rigidity.

If I remember (before I took mine apart) the uni joints liked to pop off the large LA under load.

The motor lead was not easy to route to the battery box without it becoming trapped or fouling the steering mechanism.

The steering rake is better than in some sets - this is a function at which Technic sets are usually poor.

The best part of the build was the gearbox. There was a lot of adding panels towards the end - it even felt like a lot as I mirrored the green side panel builds as a single process.

A good parts pack for green parts and pneumatics but not quite so good as the model it is meant to be. I would have preferred black or grey for the chassis beams, though I expect red was the colour of the prototype vehicle.

I agree that the new 1/11 pneumatic cylinder would have improved the crane arm extension function.

Perhaps a comparison is needed between the pneumatic cylinders in this set (1/5.5?) and the 1/5 cylinder in 42043. If the one in 42043 is shorter then this might explain the reason for doing this set, to use up the stock of older cylinders, especially if a newer design includes a reliability improvement. The 1/5.5 cylinder has been a bit awkward to build with as its extension is just less than 2M. I used it for some pneumatic stepper motors but they have to stretch a bit as the parts flex.


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Everyone except Anio loves this set, or so it seems. He sure is a good example of a vocal minority ;)

Edit: I see the extensive reply by Mark Bellis only now. Good post :) /edit

I do like this set. I don't own it, but I think the designer has pulled of something quite remarkable, seeing the almost complete lack of unused space in the truck. It surely forfills the "interesting build" criterion with ease.

It might have a playability problem, as you can read on the Techlug review which, if I remember correctly, is written by Anio and that this Eurobricks review doesn't really touch upon (however I haven't watched the video, so maybe it's there). For the rest, the review is great, and I really love the photography here - crisp, colorful and without distractions. The conclusion talks about 8285 too much, which is not what I'm interested in if I click a 42009 review, but as for the rest the review seems pretty extensive. So great job on that :)

But, that said, Anio should really work on his communicative skills. Also, in my opinion, you can't turn a whole set down because of a single design decision. Anio has a muddled view - he has decided he doesn't like it, so any positive aspect is waved away and every negative aspect is strengthened, due to confirmation bias on his part.

Edited by Erik Leppen

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Thanks for the review and all the great pictures and observations. I think the fact that this set draws such strong opinions from many at least proves it is interesting, if nothing else. From a purely engineering and technical standpoint, I'd tend to agree that many of the functions don't work all that well. On the other hand, it is not clear what objective this set was trying to achieve.

If you are a newbie at Lego Technic, build this set.

I think Anio meant this negatively, but I actually think this could be good advice and could be seen as a positive. This set was released in a time when pneumatics were rare or had been absent for a decade. It managed to give us Power Functions, pneumatics, and mechanical functions all in the same set, and with a rare color at the same time. If you consider that the purpose of the set is to introduce a broad range of topics in a single model, I think it achieves that admirably. From that point of view, I'd actually recommend this set very highly to a new user. I'd recommend it as a parts pack for the same reason. As a study in optimally acheived intricate mechanisms, not so much. I like 8109 for that!

8285 was much the same. Mechanically it was quite simple, but you get a really BIG model with pneumatics and dampers for what was then a reasonable price. It was a good way to get lots of different things in just one model.

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On the other hand, it is not clear what objective this set was trying to achieve.

I think that is the fairest criticism. I really wanted to like this set. When it came out there were bad reviews, but the box images really caught my attention. Having built the A model, and the B model, both left me underwhelmed. The A model is significantly better designed than the B model, but that's hardly praise. I'm looking at it with 36-year old eyes though. :classic:

If I was 8 or 10 years old, I think I would have loved this set. The A model packs a lot into a small space, it showcases how LAs work, how pneumatics work, and how a motor can power both via a gearbox. It's also got a great range of parts for building other things with. Being fair, the B model has some 'interesting' ideas, even if it looks ugly as sin and is useless to play with. I think the A model design is thoughtful (even if the tyres look daft), and the colour scheme is striking.

With the new long slim pneumatic pump, and new tyres from the Skip Truck (http://www.bricklink.com/catalogItem.asp?S=42024-1) it could have been much more cohesive. :classic:

As it is I wanted to strip it for useful parts, but my 5 year-old won't let me, and wants me to rebuild the B model back to the A model. So it has fans in the core target market I guess. Maybe it needs modding. Take an ugly duckling and fix the flaws?

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I've seen this set and IMO it seems a bit awkward. It's compactness is extremely well done and it fits everything in very well. It also looks very nice, but the combo of LAs and Pneumatics isn't that great and the functions don't work that great.

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Great and thorough review with high quality pictures!! Well done :thumbup:

Although the idea of combining PF with Pneumatics sounds cool, looking at your video I can only come to the conclusion that it's not very well executed. Still on the fence about picking this one up. I might, just to complete my collection.

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Speaking as an an adult returning to the hobby after a 10 year hiatus, I actually like this set. I missed out on a lot of advancements in Technic over the last while so this set was a fantastic learning experience as to how current Technic Power functions, LA's and pneumatics can work together. Is it my favorite set? - No, but it was a great parts pack for my collection, and it was the first set in quite some time with pneumatics (I missed out on getting a Unimog).

Playability is a bit lacking, but it does have a reasonable number of functions, and it comes in green which is something my collection was short on.

I don't regret my purchase, but I may have a different perspective. I got a lot of pieces that I have simply missed out on over the last few years.

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Thanks for a nice review!

I own the set and mostly like it. It is nicely engineered if you consider compactness and use of variety of mechanisms (you get pneumatics, compressor, winch with ratchet, linear actuators, interesting linkage (outriggers), two-axle steering, gearbox), and I like the looks (even without stickers).

But, playability/usability is horrible, which is the real problem with the set, depending on how much you care about it. For me, usability is part of design, and here makes the set less impressive, even though I don't really play with the set.

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As someone who own's this set, I believe that it's really good. You get a really good array of functions in a small space, with a solid looking outside. The functions work at good speeds, and don't have problems. I feel like everyone keeps criticizing set's like these for minor problems and making it a big deal. The only problem I had was the hook getting stuck on the pneumatics, but that's it. I swear, people here seem damn near unpleaseable. When a flagship set comes out, almost everyone calls it "crap" and nothing more than a "piece pack". Not every lego fan out there wants +1000 piece lego creations that weigh almost 3 kilograms with +6 functions. Some people (like kids and teens) just want a moderately big set that looks cool with 3-4 functions. These aren't high-end pieces of art for you people to criticize, there're god damn lego sets.

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