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Lego.  Just a child's toy, right?

Wrong.  In 2019, the sales of Lego to adults - for themselves, not for gifts to children - was approximately £235m.  This market, known as AFOL's, or Adult Fans Of Lego, is huge, and an industry has grown up around it.  There are a number of magazines, and myriad websites devoted to the humble plastic brick.  As well as having my own long running Lego blog, I've written a number of reviews for these magazines and sites.  You can see a selection below...

Written for

Technic 42054 - CLAAS XERION 5000 TRAC VC - Review


Slipping though the net last year, we look back at an unsung hero of the 2016 Technic line up, the CLAAS XERION Tractor.


Price: £129.99 / $179.99 / 149.99€  Pieces: 1977  Available: Now


When the mighty (and we mean mighty) Bucket Wheel Excavator (BWE) was released last summer, it rather overshadowed the rest of the Technic sets that sat along side it.  Which is a shame, because this workhorse of a tractor might just be one of the best Technic sets released in the past five years.  So if you’ve got a Technic itch to scratch, and like me you’re looking at the 2017 sets and feeling a little underwhelmed, let me tell you about this gem from last year that you may have overlooked.


At £130 this set was too expensive for an impulse buy, but if people had more than £100 burning a hole in their pocket, they will almost certainly have gone for the BWE.  But if you were smart enough to pick this up, what did you get?  Well you definitely got a chance to improve your sorting skills, as the box contains 15 bags, eleven marked ‘1’ and four marked ‘2’.  In addition you get a medium motor, a battery box, four huge wheels and tyres and the obligatory manual and sticker sheet.


There’s often a rhythm to building a Technic set.  A complex section followed by some simple bodywork.  A fiddly gearbox and then some basic chassis.  Not so the Xerion.  It starts complicated and stays complicated.  While the instructions are clear, they require unwavering concentration and nimble fingers as you work through the 1977 pieces.  I can’t remember ever enjoying a Technic build quite so much - even the stickers weren’t too much trouble!  Things ease off a little as you get towards the end of the manual, with the white cab and lurid green bodywork, but as sets go, you certainly won’t feel short-changed by this one.


Sitting back and admiring your handiwork you cannot help but be astounded by the designer’s skill.  Not only is it an accurate representation of the real thing (apart from the approximately £250k price tag), but it’s packed with functionality.


Much of the unseen internal workings of the tractor, which is the first thing you build, relates to the remarkable steering system.  Four wheel steering, which as well as large tractors, is starting to appear on high-end cars, allows the vehicle to either lock, or alter the direction of the rear wheels.  While the front wheels turn as normal, to enable a tighter turning circle, the rear wheels can turn in the opposite direction.  In addition, the rear wheels can turn in the same direction as the fronts, in what is known as ‘crab steering’.

This mechanism is selected by a three way lever situated just behind (or in front of, as we’ll see in a minute) the cab.  The vehicle itself is steered by a ‘Hand of God’ gearwheel behind the cab.


And talking of the cab, in order to make life easier for the driver, it rotates, facing forward for driving, and rearward when using the liftarm.  This function is motorised, and the mechanism lifts the cab slightly as it turns in order to clear the bodywork.  You can see it in action here...


Rather less complicated is the counterbalance at the front consisting of a number of Technic plates.  These can be manually raised or lowered by way of a small gearwheel.


In real life, the tractor can be equipped with any number of pieces of agricultural equipment.  In set 42054 it comes with a substantial claw arm, used to lift the also-supplied tree trunk.  In order to stabilise the tractor when the arm is in use, the rear of the vehicle has a pair of outriggers which just lifts the rear wheels clear of the ground.  They’re operated manually and snap into position with a satisfying click.


The arm is a mixture of powered and and manually operated functions, rotating and raising by way of the switchgear at the rear, while the extension and the claw are done by hand.


This is a fantastic model - enjoyable to build, great to play with and equally good to look at.  If you’ve got any interest in Technic at all, make a space on your building site for this gem of a set.

Written for Blocks magazine

Technic 42034 Quad Bike


Technic may be best known for construction equipment but there are plenty of other vehicles in the range.  David Parry straps on a crash helmet and takes the new Quad Bike for a test drive.


Words & Pics: David Parry


Set: 42034 Technic Quad Bike

Price: £17.99/$19.99/€19.99

Minifigures: 0

Pieces: 148



  • Realistic looking model

  • Great introduction to Technic

  • Pull back motor adds play value

  • Can be combined with 42033 



  • May not be complex enough for Technic fans 



Build: Simple but effective.                                            11/20

Playability: Robust, and has that motor.                     15/20

Minifigures: None, but not unusual for Technic.      0/20

Price: Good value for money.                                        16/20

Collectibility: No unusual parts.                                   10/20


Total: 52/100



Few things divide the LEGO community the way Technic does.  Like a certain savoury spread, most people either love it or hate it, but as it’s been with us for over 30 years it’s safe to say it has plenty of fans.  The huge cranes, earth movers and monster trucks tend to grab the headlines, but there have been some great smaller sets too, such as this, the 2015 version of the Quad Bike.  


Much like every other LEGO theme, Technic sets have a ‘B’ model that can be built from the same parts.  However, back in 2013, LEGO introduced something a little different.  Two sets, both of which had a pull back motor, could be combined to build one larger model, and this Quad Bike is one of those – add it to the 42033 Record Breaker set and you can build a Race Truck via instructions downloaded from  Over the years there have been two previous Quad Bikes so how does the latest version stack up?


Unlike the larger sets in the range it doesn’t have any ‘mechanical’ elements such as working suspension, steering or moving engine parts.  What it does have is that pull back motor, which puts a tick firmly in the ‘play value’ box.  While it may not satisfy the experienced Technic builder who is looking for complex engineering challenges, for those who are coming from other LEGO themes and want a fun introduction to Technic, these sets are great place to start.


At 148 pieces, the build itself doesn’t take too long.  If you’ve built a Technic set before, then there are no new techniques to learn, and no out-of-the-ordinary pieces to get excited about.  A straightforward chassis with minimal bodywork sits on four chunky balloon tyres, and once complete, feels rock solid.  Certainly strong enough to survive a few crashes into the skirting board or a fall from the dining room table without requiring a complete rebuild.  A relatively small number of parts means the Quad Bike isn’t big on detail, but neat touches like the engine are perfect examples of how to do more with less.  It’s simply two wheel hubs on a Y-shaped axle pin, but at a glance you’d say it was a much more complex design. The most difficult aspect of the build, as with many sets, it trying to get the stickers on straight!  There are ten on the sheet which doesn’t have any cardboard backing supplied so you have to hope that it isn’t bent.  Unlike some sets which can manage perfectly well without them, applying the stickers really does enhance the Quad Bike, so it’s worth taking a bit of time over them.


For a relatively small set, credit has to go to the designer for making the Bike look so realistic.  Placing it next to the 9392 Quad Bike from a few years ago, the older model may score points by having working suspension, but in terms of looks, it doesn’t stand up to too much scrutiny.  There’s no saddle for a start!  The 2015 version however looks just like the sort of thing you’d see being ridden around a farmer’s field, or plugging through the mud at an off-road centre.  The colour scheme is a nice touch too.  Of late, Technic has stuck to a few basic looks – mainly yellow, orange and red – so the blue, yellow and black combination gives the Quad Bike a fresh, modern appearance.  Looks aside though, is it fun to play with?


Despite most of the larger Technic sets being packed with working features, many people look upon them as display models, sitting on a shelf to be admired from afar.  Often owned by Lord Business types (and I’ll admit to being one of them) who think they’re too expensive for small, curious fingers to investigate, they’re kept well out of reach.  Not so the Quad Bike!  This is most definitely for playing with.  While my knees might creak a bit these days I was happy to get down on the floor and put the Bike through its paces.


The pull back motor is the party piece of this set, and for a unit not much bigger than a matchbox, it certainly packed a punch.  Roll the Quad Bike back until you feel some resistance and then let it fly.  Quite often it would take off with enough speed to pull a small wheelie and then go careening across the floor.  Scientific tests, conducted under strict laboratory conditions, lead to the conclusion that the Bike goes ‘quite a long way’.  Certainly from one end of a living room to the other.  At this point it became clear that the decision not to have working steering was a sensible one.  Without a fixed front axle the Quad would be all over the place.  Meanwhile, on to the next challenge!  Time to jump something...


It didn’t take long to construct a ramp out of handy household items and the Bike handled  it surprisingly well.  Those big tyres meant that it bounced in a very satisfying manner as it landed.  It was about 50/50 as to whether it stayed upright or rolled over on landing, but despite any number of crashes the Bike stayed in one piece.


So what’s the verdict?  At £17.99, the Quad Bike is almost at an impulse purchase price.  It’s not the greatest technical challenge to construct, but that’s not really the point of this set.  It’s designed to give you a taste of Technic without baffling you at the same time.  And while the slightly unexciting selection of pieces could be seen as a downside, it also means that it makes for a great basic parts pack.  A realistic looking set, fun to play with and with the option of combining with 42033 means a that while the Quad Bike may not set the world on fire, it’s a solid, value for money purchase.

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