Technic Cement Mixer
Thanks to Lego and EB for this review set.
Name: Cement Mixer
Set Number: 42112
Price: $119.99 (US)
The Box Front
Yup, it's a cement mixer alright. I really like that it's something so different - we've never had a Technic truck like this before. It's something other than a crane, forklift, or airplane. Got a mix of blues with a splash of orange highlights. Looks pretty decent to me. (Unsurprisingly, Lego picked the best angle as the front of box image. They do know product photography.)
The Box Back
It's not the most functional set ever, but it covers the necessities. Looks like it has the ability to rotate the drum either by rolling the truck or manually cranking it. Dual axle steering - wonder if that's got proper steering geometry or not? And that is a super organized array of Technic Pin Connector Round 2/3 there.... I guess that's supposed to be a nice cement slab being poured?
Unfortunately, the box is sealed with thumb tear-holes rather than tape seals. And when you open it, it looks surprisingly empty. It's only about 2/3 full which is less than most sets I've gotten recently.
Dumped out, there's quite a bit here. There are bags divided into group 1, 2, and 3. There's a small bag of the joiners as bag 4, and there's an un-numbered bag of tires. And there's 2 more parts not in a bag....
The New Parts
The cement mixer barrel itself. It's 2 identical parts that connect with 4 pins. Once mated together, the only connection points on them are a pair of 1x3 pinhole connections at the closed end. They are printed with a C logo. I appreciate the detail of having the dimple from the molding process right in the middle of the C, so it actually looks like it belongs there. And oh yeah, they are HUGE! Here's a bunch of comparisons to show just how big these pieces are.
I think this year's 42108 Mobile Crane might struggle to pick up something this huge (not really; the barrel is very light weight, but it sure LOOKS heavy)
The dump truck from 42055 Bucket Wheel Excavator is puny next to it.
No, you won't be using this as cargo on a train layout.
It stands as tall as the Lunar Lander set (and I know the flag and astronaut figs are missing - my kids "borrowed" them and I need to get them back)
Finally, it dwarfs the cement mixer barrel from City sets. In fact, you can open the Technic barrel and put the City barrel inside. The city barrel has been used more as other things than it has as a cement mixer - it's been engine shrouds on helicopters, spaceships, etc. It has the advantage of having more connection points since the end is anti-studs allowing both studden and Technic connections to it. Huge Technic parts often don't get any other official usage - think of the huge buckets made for the Volvo Loader or the Liebherr set.
The instructions are split into 2 books and there's a small sticker sheet. And a Legoland promo - not sure how much those will be redeemed with the current events (although it doesn't expire until 2023), but it's in there. Or at least it's in the European box that I received for review, but the website that the brochure references covers all the Legoland resorts and Discovery Centers worldwide.
The Build, Bag 1
Bag 1 builds the chassis of the truck, more or less.
Up front there's a tiny inline-4 engine representation. There is also the dual-axle steering. Yes, the two axles steer at slightly different angles. To my eye though, it's barely noticeable. The steering mechanism is also redundant. There's both a black gear rack AND an orange 1x2 liftarm pushing each axle. I'm not sure why there's both. The gear rack is the normal and better method. Either one alone though should work.
The double axles in the rear are both connected to the driveshaft. The instructions are very clear to make sure you get the two differentials facing opposite ways so it works correctly. It even goes so far as to put a white round joiner in the back corner to give a reference as you build the otherwise very symmetrical structure
The Build, Bag 2
Bag 2 adds the supports for the barrel, the gearbox and driveshafts that connect the wheels to the barrel, and a few cosmetic parts. The driveshaft going to the barrel has one of the new linear clutches in it. Until now that part was only available in the massive Leibherr 9800 set. And oddly, they have you put the wheels on now. Most sets save that for last.
The Build, Bag 3
Bag 3 finishes off the cab, fenders, and water tank. All that's left is to add the barrel:
Oddly, as huge as the barrel parts are, it seems slightly undersized to me on the model. I suspect that's just my American view - this is clearly a European truck with its dual steering axles. Here in the US, I virtually never see cement mixers that rear-dump like this anymore. They've all been replaced by larger trucks that discharge in the front, allowing for a larger, longer barrel:
I totally get the rugged vibe that is intended on this truck. However, there's so many little details I don't like. First, I hate these grill stickers. They're not too bad here, since they're divided by the grey bar. But I've seen other sets (42098 Car Transporter) that use multiple of them stacked up, and it's ugly. They're impossible to get all aligned exactly the same, so they look bad. Then there's the dark blue sticker right above that on a black 1x3 liftarm. That part in dark blue has only been in 2 Bionicle sets 15 years ago - so they used a sticker instead. Edit: There ARE two dark blue 3L liftarms in the set, so why on earth not use one here? I also don't like how the dark blue curved panels with stickers don't match up with the curves of the white round parts below. And the orange lights on the roof are too small.
There is a reason the main photos on the box are from angles. The back of the cab might be the biggest offender on the set. There's a huge hole between the cab and the mixer. Why? It feels like just empty, wasted space. The smokestacks don't come all the way down - they just end halfway down the cab. And worst, what is up with that exposed yellow axle for the steering? At least use black, but better yet, move it forward into the back wall of the cab. You can also see an example of wasted parts there. There's a grey Technic Pin 1/2 in the grey liftarm that the steering axle goes through. It's there JUST to fill the hole and make sure people don't try to run the axle through the wrong spot. There's quite a few of those throughout the set. I'm not sure why Lego feels that's necessary - this is a 10+ rated set and I guess they want to help out the younger end of that range?
There's a lever on the right hand side that switches the barrel from wheel-driven to non-driven to crank-driven. Here's how it works with the crank. This also shows one thing that should have been improved. You've GOT to hold the truck with your other hand while cranking, or it bounces all over. It really needed some functional chocks or outriggers to stabilize it while discharging the "concrete."
The Turn Radius
Here you can see both the wheel-driven barrel function and the terrible turning radius. Trucks like this aren't known for being maneuverable like a sports car, but still, this is barely able to turn at all. A slight redesign of the steering axle system should have allowed sharper turns.
In the definite plus column is the discharge chute. This is a very clever design that gives it a great deal of flexibility to aim the concrete. The chute itself is an interesting design to get the V-shape. Given how fast the parts come out and how bouncy they are, it'd have been nicer to be a little deeper V though.
Build Experience: 7
Overall: 7. Overall, it's a nice addition to the Technic range of construction vehicles. It's unique and will attract a lot of builders for that reason alone. The build is not overly repetitive and provides an array of beams in two shades of blue. The build isn't perfect though. I'm looking forward to seeing those barrel pieces being used in a future Iron Builder competition. And for value, it's ok. $120 feels a little steep for me, especially for a Technic set where not only are there the usual hundreds of pins but also 100 joiners in the part count. I'd personally have waited to purchase this set until I got a sale or at least a nice freebie from Lego with my purchase.