[REVIEW] 42128 - Heavy-duty Tow Truck

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It's been a while since I have done a Technic review and I was actually looking forward to building a cool set with lots of functions. That is the main reason I started with this set instead of the Mercedes. It wasn't exactly love at first sight. I wasn't really fond of the color scheme when I saw the preliminary pictures. Not sure why, because I do love the orange-white color scheme on the 42052 - Heavy Lift Helictoper. You can probably guess by my tone of voice that this will change during this review.

This set is kinda reminiscent of the 8285 - Tow Truck from 2006. Feels like ages ago and Technic has come a long way since then. However, both models represent a heavy duty tow truck. The 8285 was a cool looking set, but it did lack some polishing, and possibly some functions. Its main function was looking cool on the shelves. Let's start building this tow truck to find out if it packs more functions than its "predecessor" if you will.

When it comes to rescuing stranded vehicles, this LEGO® Technic™ Heavy-duty Tow Truck takes any job in its stride. Take your time building this mighty truck then check out all its neat features and classic design details. With realistic pneumatic and mechanical functions, this model is the perfect way to experience the power of a classic tow truck.

Pictures can be clicked to view hi-res versions. My Flickr album contains all the photos taken for this review.

The CEE Team of TLG has provided this set. It's not my goal to promote this set. It's my goal to give you an honest opinion about it. Therefore, the opinion in this review is my own and is in no way linked to TLG.

Number: 42128
Title: Heavy-duty Tow Truck
Theme: Technic
Released: 2021
Part Count: 2017
Box Dimensions: 57,5 cm x 37,0 x 11,0 cm
Weight: 2937 gram
Set Price (RRP): 149.99 EUR / 139.99 GBP / 269.99 AUD / 149.99 USD / 199.99 CAD
Price per Part:  0.074 EUR / 0.069 GBP / 0,1334 AUD / 0.074 USD / 0,099 CAD
Links: Brickset, Bricklink

Comparing it to the box of the Mercedes, this box is slightly thicker but less high. The box was a bit dented, which shows at the left side of the picture.


The back of the box shows a lot of functions and it tells us that the model is 58 cm long.


The box contains:

  • 1x Instruction manual
  • 1x Sticker sheet
  • 11x Numbered bag
  • 3x Unnumbered bag

Packed as usual, not in the new paper envelope.


One thing that immediately stands out is the size of the booklet. The number of pages, to be more precise. 688 steps for a set containing 2017 parts. That's an average of 3 parts per page. I wouldn't be surprised if that's a record.


The sticker sheet, which I won't be using for this review (spoiler alert).



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This section describes some of the interesting parts.


An awesome selection of pneumatic parts. The pneumatic switch can only be found in the 42080 - Forest Machine and the 45400 - BricQ set, whatever that may be :tongue: Anyway, this is your chance to get three of them, which is a good deal. You will also get two of the smaller longer cylinders, which are very useful in my opinion.


First seen in the 42043 - Mercedes Arocs 3245, these gear racks have made an appearance in a total of 12 sets. However, this is the first time we see the Gear Rack 1 x 14 x 2 Housing in blue.


I was pretty sure that these parts already showed up in another set, but since I haven't built last year's sets, I wasn't entirely sure. Apparently, the 15L variant appears in the 42124 - Off-Road Buggy. These are the liftarms that completely mess up your storage solution. Especially if they start appearing in different colors and lengths. I can't help but think this is TLG's answer to some clone brands using these. Picture below shows 16 x 11L liftarms.


This set also contains 7 x 15L liftarms. Sometimes I'm baffled by the logic behind packaging. The 15L ones were packed in numbered bags while the 11L ones were provided in a separate bag. Mind blown.


Eventhough Bricklink shows that this parts exists in orange, it immediately caught my eye, since I don't have any in my collection. Upon further investigation I noticed that the entire list of sets containing this part does not include orange. This can be attributed to the Osprey set being cancelled.


The blue version of this thin liftarm appeared in only three sets, last seen in 2003.


The complete parts list consisting of 2017 parts.



If feels like ages ago, building a LEGO Technic set, so I am anxious to get started. The build consists of only four steps, so let's start by opening the three bags for the first step.

Step 27 shows me something which cannot be unseen. I sure hope I can catch some sleep tonight, because this is messing up my brain. The two bushes pointing in the same direction?! This can't be real! ;-) The person in charge of the instructions probably doesn't care, because it happens on numerous occasions.


The picture below shows I was a rebel and simply ignored the dubious orientation of the bushes. This set implements a double differential. "Why are my rear axles turning in a different direction and blocking my drive train" questions incoming. This time I paid attention and placed them correctly right off the bat.


After building the lower part of the chassis, a sub-assembly is added which is used to rotate the boom and raise/lower one of the rear axles.


Here is a short video demonstrating the inner workings.

The picure below shows the end of step 1. In can honestly say that I thouroughly enjoyed the build so far. For me, this is what Technic is all about. I can  appreciate a full RC set as much as the next guy, but having loads of manual functions is the core of Technic. There is no gearbox in the chassis, so all manual functions are directly linked to their respective function. It's too early to be sure, but I will throw out a bold statement saying this set might be one of the best recent sets, looking at the functions and price point etc. And we haven't even started using the pneumatics.

By the way; the pic also shows the left-over parts for the first step. Needless to say, I figured to have missed some of the pins. I back-tracked the entire manual and I couldn't find a step where I could have skipped the pins. After starting the second step, I did find the obvious mistake. On both sides I missed the perpendicular liftarms, which both use two pins. You can probably figure out where they need to go.


This video shows the four manually operated functions.

The second step requires some of the pneumatics to build the wheel-lift. No stickers are used in the first step. Early on in the second step the first sticker needs applying. I have decided to build this model without stickers, because I think it will look great without stickers. And some of you are probably interested in how it looks without. I might decide to apply some stickers after the build. That depends on the outcome. For now, I will omit the stickers.

The boom of the wheel-lift can be raised and lowered and the rack at the end of the wheel-lift can be retracted as well.


The picture below shows the wheel-lift assembly connected to the chassis. One of the gears is used to raise and lower the boom. This marks the end of step 2. This time the left-over parts are the ones we can expect. Like the first one, the second step was very enjoyable to build. This set keeps getting better and better.

By the way; I do have a picture showing some of the internals behind the orange panels, but it is terribly out of focus, so I didn't use it in the review. Check out my Flickr album if you are interested.


During the third step we will be building the front of the truck, starting with the fake engine and rack-and-pinion steering.


The 7L thin liftarms are used on the doors of the cabin. I am not entirely sure why TLG decided to bring back the blue ones, because they could have easily used a 7L thick white liftarm, to match the rear of the truck. 


Hand of God (HoG) steering can be seen at the top of the completed cabin. I don't regret omitting the stickers, because I still think the truck looks awesome. The vibrant orange-white with a touch of blue color scheme is really working out. Come to think of it; I was very enthusiastic about orange-white in my review of the 42052 - Heavy Lift Helicopter. I'm not really sure why I didn't like it on this truck when I saw the first pictures.


Let's continue the fourth and final step of the model, in which we will finish the front of the truck and the crane. The hood can be opened and closed, albeit not very smoothly. It requires a certain technique to open the hood. Or simply pull a little harder hehe.


When you open the hood (or bonnet) you can see the working fake engine. Some people love it, other people hate, but I do like the smaller scale engine setup.


Before completing the crane, the rear of the truck is covered with panels. The model has very few gaps, while maintaining a genuine Technic look. This is something I am absolutely on board with.


The penultimate step, before the obvious tire placement, consists of completing the pneumatic crane with double winch.


Both winched are manually operated by turning a knob at the top of the crane. There's also a manual lock for both winches.


That brings us to the end of this fantastic build. The build wasn't very complex and I completed the steps pretty fast. But that doesn't mean I didn't enjoy the build. On the contrary; this build is everything you can hope for in a Technic set. Loads of manually operated functions. The only thing missing from this set is a gearbox to switch between different functions. That and suspension are probably the only things that are missing compared to bigger scale sets. And missing isn't exactly the right word, since this set packs so many features, you hardly miss the suspension or gearbox.


Here is a selection of pictures of the completed model. 










This set is packed with functions. So many thing packed at the back of the vehicle. I do like to highlight the pneumatics in this set. I have said it in a previous review, but pneumatics usually feel like some sort of proof of concept. That is definitely not the case with this set. Especially raising and extending the boom works like a charm.

The list of functions goes on and on. I probably missed a couple of them in the list below. 

  • Driving
  • Steering
  • Working fake engine
  • Opening doors
  • Opening hood
  • Rotating the boom/crane
  • Raising/lowering the crane
  • Extending/retracting the boom
  • Raising/lowering the rear stabilizers
  • Raising/lowering the wheel lift 
  • Extending/retracting the wheel lift
  • Raising/lowering the rear axle
  • Double winch with manual release
  • Side outriggers
  • Rear outriggers

I might go as far to say that this is the quintessential Technic set of the last decade. I know there are bigger sets, motorized sets, remotely controlled sets and all that jazz, but this is a prime example of Technic at its core. A smaller scale Technic truck with loads of manually operated functions. This set packs it all.

Another big plus of this set is the lack of license, which you can see in the price. 150 bucks for 2000+ parts is about 7,4 cents a piece. And 150 bucks is the MSRP, so you will probably pay less. Not to mention the inevitable discounts you will find later on. I can see people buying two or more sets for the pneumatics alone.

I couldn't resist looking at the price of the 8285 - Tow Truck from 2006. You had to fork out 120 bucks back in the days. In return you got 1877 parts, which is in the same ballpark as this set. Inflation between 2006 and now is approximately 25-30% (did some quick Google searches), so the price is about the same as the old tow truck. The main difference is that this year's tow truck is packed with functions. 

All things considered this set hits it out of the park. Must have for every Technic fan.


  • Loads of functions
  • Pneumatics actually work this time
  • Loads of functions
  • No license
  • Very affordable
  • Great value for money
  • Loads of functions
  • Looks great without stickers
  • Loads of functions


  • No intricate gearbox (if that's your thing)

How do I rate this set?


Great gapless design. Looks great even without stickers.

So much fun to build. Thoroughly enjoyed it.

Deserves a 10, but I will leave some room for improvement.

Lots of functions offer loads of playability.

Great selection of pneumatics and perpendicular liftarms. Other than that a nice selection, but mostly common parts.

It doesn't get any better than this when it comes to price vs what you get in return. Insane value if you can get this at a discount.


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Posted (edited)

Very nice review! If you like trucks this seems to be a good set, and probably the best technic set this wave!

And Price isn't too bad as you'll probably be able to pick it up for ~100€ if you have a little patiance. I disagree with a lot LEGO is currently doing, butI have to give credit is due!

Edited by Gray Gear

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It appears that this set delivers on every expectation that I had. Going to buy as soon as it becomes available here.

Thanks for the review, great photos as always!

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9 minutes ago, Gray Gear said:

And Price isn't too bad as you'll probably be able to pick it up for ~100€ if you have a little patiance. I disagree with a lot LEGO is currently doing, butI have to give credit is due!

:thumbup: and :thumbup:

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Looks great without the stickers, but i would still apply the ones which show what knob is doing what function.

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Very good set. Compared to the horrors of Creator "Expert" series, the insides are quite clean, though the random VISIBLE yellow axles are grinding my gears... The non-stickered version looks much nicer.

If ever feel a need for pneumatics, this would be the set to pick up from TLG, perhaps the only thing missing is a (or couple of) small cylinder(s) for the outriggers, but as it is, it's well done too. 

Feels really refreshing to see that much functionality in a set, and hoping to see more like it in the future.

Also, in spite of your rebellious efforts to allign the bushes, you've forgotten to allign the slits on them as well :tongue: 

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I do not any interest in modern Technic, but this is a proper set! And like you said, no need for stickers :thumbup:

Recently I got a non-LEGO friend hooked on Technic (he build the Porsche GTR (the white one) as it was part of a special sale here). i'm going to forward this review to him and recommend it highly

I'm not fond of the high mounting of the crane arm, but I can see lowering it may interfere with the pneumatic tubes. Still the up/down pivot the arm does not look beefy enough to me

And please TLG DO make a solution for 1x1 pistons. The brickbuild engine looks cool/well propertioned, but works rather poor (compared to the old 2x2 blocks with proper crankshaft)

All in all, nice review of a very nice set with a nice price for once :laugh:


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Impressive photos again, nice review. About this set - it is packed with functions (and parts - bunch ifframes and 11 alternate pin beams) for  reasonable amount if money.

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Nice review :thumbup:
The set looks really above average, that's definitely a technic set.
It's probably going to be a great base for mods and upgrade.
One thing I'm not sure to have understood is how the stabilizer works. Are they all operated by one gear ?

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13 minutes ago, Coolusername said:

Looks great without the stickers, but i would still apply the ones which show what knob is doing what function.

Huw's done that in the Brickset review.

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Thank you for this review.  This will be the first new set I get in years - tons of functions and useful parts at a good price, and good looking if the stickers are left off.

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Posted (edited)

And modified the white panels on the cabin to be flush with the orange parts. Looks much better. It might even be possible to extend the blue line all the way to the back of the vehicle

Edit : Talking about Huw's mod on BS

Edited by 1974

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Posted (edited)

@Jim And how do the functions of this set compare with those of other pneumatic Technic sets, like, say, 42053? :wink:

Edited by Ngoc Nguyen

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28 minutes ago, 1974 said:

At the end of the review

Thank you very much

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This is the best set of the year (so far) imo. Great looks, great functionality, pneumatics (always a plus in my book) and fair pricing. The set looks much better without stickers imo. The leaked photos had different stickers, which did look better. The ones that come with the set look too “toy-ish”. 

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Posted (edited)

This is almost as good as the Arocs set, apart from having no power functions or Control+ elements. This leads to another gripe. The only way of using the Control+ elements is making the set remote controlled, which isn't always wanted. Otherwise this is a great set with lots of functions for a reasonable price tag.

Edited by Scoar Sonander
I miss the stickers...

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Just now, Scoar Sonander said:

This is almost as good as the Arocs set

It is. First one to come up with an integrated electric powered pneumatic pump that doesn't destroy the looks/build is a real true modern hero (cape not needed)

Who's first?

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1 hour ago, 1974 said:

It is. First one to come up with an integrated electric powered pneumatic pump that doesn't destroy the looks/build is a real true modern hero (cape not needed)

Who's first?

Who knows?

I know that'll be the first mod I attempt once I build a LBG copy of it, but who knows when I'll have enough MOCs apart to build this?


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Thanks for the great review Jim, really glad you showed it with no stickers, as that is what I will be doing. Looks just fine without them, unlike so many other sets. Since I have only glossed over the review, for now, I was wondering how hard would it be to motorize the pneumatics. Great to hear they work smoothly, as that is always my biggest gripe with pneumatics, herky jerky movement or not moving at all them suddenly moving through full range in the blink of an eye.

Anyway big thanks for taking the time to review this set, you are one of the best in my eyes.

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Posted (edited)

This is one of the best Technic sets in years! 

Great review! 

Edited by Citromon

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