Sunday, 15 September 2013

Review : Lego Technic 42001 Mini Off-Roader

Review coming up shortly, but there’s news of some new acquisitions to deal with before we get started on the Off-Roader.

First up : I’ve never said this before, and I’m fairly certain I’ll never say it again, but ‘Three cheers for Government bureaucracy!’ (1) 


Well there is a school of thought that our nation’s laws regarding tax, pay and what have you should be able to fit on a single page of A4.  That way, everybody could understand it, and it would make it a lot more difficult for people (and large multi-nationals) to find convenient loopholes which means they can avoid paying millions in tax.

But it’s not the case, and the rules covering this aspect of life are numerous and complex.  And because of this complexity, it recently came to light that the company I work for - the John Lewis Partnership - had in fact been paying it’s employees incorrectly when it came to holiday pay under certain circumstances, like bank holidays, periods when people were on evening and weekend callout and so on.

As soon as this issue was understood, the company took steps to ensure it didn’t happen again.  And that was all they were legally obliged to do.  If they’d wanted to show a gesture of good faith, they could have retrospectively paid people for the last 3 months, if it could be shown that they’d lost out as a result.

But they didn’t.

They went back seven years!

Like I say, they didn’t have to, and it’s costing the business the thick end of £50m, but not for the first time, I am grateful to work for a company that does the right thing - willingly - not just what they’re forced to do.

Because although I haven’t been on callout for some time, I was one of those affected, and was delighted to find an unexpected windfall in my salary last month.

Not enough to retire on, but certainly enough to take Mrs Boo out to dinner somewhere nice.

And to buy myself some Technic…

I mentioned recently that I was still mulling over the two big Technic sets that had been released in August.

I mull no longer!

I am now the proud owner of the 42008 Service Truck and the 42009 Mobile Crane Mk II.

The 42008 Service Truck...

...and the 42009 Mobile Crane Mk II

(Images courtesy of

And by anyone’s reckoning, that would have been a very good month indeed.  But it wasn’t over yet…

Last week was our Wedding Anniversary.  Eight years I have been married to my lovely wife (and we were together for another seven before I finally got around to popping the question).  Eight’s not a significant one on the list.  Twenty-five is Silver, forty is Ruby and fifty is Gold and so on.  I had to go and look up eight.  Depending on whether you follow the ‘traditional’ or ‘modern’ lists, it’s either Bronze or Salt.



Anyway.  According to Mrs Boo, Eight is also Lego, as I was presented with something I’ve been drooling over for quite a long time…

21005 Fallingwater.  I have been after this for ages.  Thank you, lovely wife of mine!

(Image also courtesy of

Have I mentioned how fabulous my wife is?

Look out for a Fallingwater review in the near future.  

And talking of reviews…

Review : Lego Technic 42001 Mini Off-Roader

The few sets that I’ve built so far have been excellent.  Clever engineering.  Amazing detail from a handful of plastic pieces.  Interesting builds.

This one?

Mmm… not so much…

Let’s be fair.  It retails for £7.99, it’s only 100 pieces and it has a box that you could fit in a coat pocket.  This is nothing more than a fun, fifteen minute build and it doesn’t pretend to be anything else.

So with that caveat in mind, let’s get on and have a look at it.

Here’s the box :

The (very small) box

(Image courtesy of

And here’s what we find when we open it up :

A couple of manuals...

...and a couple of bags.

And opening up the bags gives us the following:

It's really difficult to get these pieces lined up neatly.  Which is why they aren't.

At first glance, the manuals are odd.  Typically you get one manual for the ‘A’ model and another for the ‘B’ set.  This time we have two manuals, but No. 1 is considerably thinner than No.2.  
What’s that all about?

We shall find out shortly.

Manual 1, page 1, here we go…

A couple of minutes and we have the basis of a chassis, which is flopping about like a wet fish.

Not the most complex build ever

But moments later, and I’m introduced to yet another type of Lego suspension.  I’ve seen a basic axle type and double wishbone, both on the Quad bike, but now something different.  Elastic band suspension!

It's suspension.  With elastic bands!

It’s simple, but, as we shall see, very effective.  After fitting the tyres on the wheels, and the wheels to the chassis, all becomes clear as to why the two manuals are so different.  This basic chassis is the same for both the ‘A’ and ‘B’ model, so the rather skinny manual No.1 just gets you to the point where you’ve completed that.  Opening manual No.2 give you the option of carrying straight on with the ‘A’ model, or hopping forward 20 pages, and starting on the ‘B’ model.

The completed chassis.  Not much ground clearance for an Off-Roader.
Oh, hang on.  It's upside down.

Ever the traditionalist, I start with the ‘A’ model, the Mini Off-Roader.

As the following shows, there really isn’t too much to this particular set.  Five minutes or so, and we’re clipping the body to the chassis and the job is done.

The two halves, complete but separate

...and we're done.  The 'A' model is complete

It’s… ok.  I have to admit, the elastic band suspension is far better than it has any right to be.  Each wheel moves independently and it bounces in a most satisfactory manner.  I’m not sure how much punishment it would take before the bands broke, and once they’ve gone kaput I can see that it might be difficult to find some more of exactly the right size.
Get them too long and the truck will look like a dog that’s just come in from a long walk and has just flopped flat on the floor.  Too short and it’ll look like a ballerina up on her toes.

Still - go easy with it and it’s a fun thing to go careening round the living room with.

Not long after this, I took the body apart and tried the ‘B’ model.  It’s not that much different really.  The ‘A’ model has opening doors, and… well that’s about it.
It looks like this…

Close up of the 'B' model bodywork.  Don't worry about the chassis, it's exactly the same as further up the page

Overall?  Well you can’t complain about a set that costs less than eight quid.  It’s a bit of fun that takes minutes to build, and (assuming you aren’t precious about breaking sets up) a nice addition to the parts box.

I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it, but if you ended up with it as a present, or you have a spare tenner in your pocket and you’ve got a Technic shaped itch to scratch, this fits the bill nicely.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

(1)  I’m pretty sure nobody’s ever said - not just me.  
Well.  Maybe some Government bureaucrats...

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