Once upon a time way back in the 1990s, in the far-away kingdom of Denmark, the LEGO Model Team theme was born — a theme so brilliant, none of the sets was ever called disappointing or failed. But one day the theme was violently discontinued with no hope that it would be brought back. For many years, both young and adult LEGO builders cherished their dreams about seeing those sets in toy stores again. And it looks like the much-needed flash of hope is finally here: LEGO Technic 42078 Mack Anthem seems to be an example of a nearly flawless toy and display model.
The set is the fifth biggest in the history of the LEGO Technic theme, counting 2,595 pieces. The Mack Anthem features no costly Power Functions or pneumatics elements, so its retail price of £139.99 / $179.99 / 149.99€ makes it the most reasonable choice for pure brick volume among LEGO Technic sets of the first half of 2018.
With nearly 2,600 pieces, the set comes in a huge and heavy box. Plastic bags are divided into 2 halves, and those containing parts for the Mack truck itself are hiding inside a separated white box (along with the building guide and the sticker sheet).
The white box feels packed as dense as possible. This is definitely good for the instruction book; no way it can be damaged during transportation or unpacking of the set.
Bags 1-4 have everything you need to build your Mack. However, there are only four tires lying loosely inside the white box — and this gave me a little heart attack. I had to double-check all the bags to find the other 6 tires packed inside bags 5-7. I have no idea what the reasoning is behind this weird packaging decision.
The instruction book is a single, heavy 420-page-long guide. And this is just awful; the book is simply too heavy to be actively used during building without damaged it. I’ve used it only once so far and I can already see its spine starting to get worn out. How hard would it have been to divide it into two parts — one for the truck and one for the trailer?
But, of course, the bigger the format the easier the building process. Pictures are large and as clear as they can be.
Despite being among the top-five biggest Technic sets of all time, the Mack Anthem features only one new piece — a very special Pearl Gold Dog, Bulldog — the unique Mack Truck hood ornament — which, itself, is a reason to buy the set. Unfortunately, there’s no second piece as an extra. However, a whole bunch of old pieces in new colours can be found in the set:
- Slope, Curved 2 x 1 No Studs with Stud Notch Left and with Stud Notch Right — fairly new pieces, which, no doubt, will be in big demand in light bluish grey;
- 10 of Dark Bluish Gray Slope, Curved 2 x 1 Inverted — once again, many builders will be glad to get a couple of dozens of these for their own projects;
- Dark Bluish Gray Tile 1 x 4 with Silver ‘MACK’ on Black Background Pattern — even though the set includes a sticker sheet some of the patterns are printed — like this small tile with the Mack company name.
Besides the examples above, the set includes a couple of beams in new colours and Technic panels in dark bluish grey — but these can be found in other Technic 2018 sets as well.
In rather stark contrast to the artisanal aesthetic we experienced with the lovingly packaged 42056 Porsche 911 GT3 RS two years ago, there really isn’t a feeling as you dig into the bricks that you’re embarking on one of the biggest and most beautiful Technic vehicles ever; the pieces look pretty ordinary and a little bit dull, and it seems like there can’t possibly be enough for such a huge truck!
And, of course, it’s hard to ignore bags numbered 7, which are simply full of white Technic panels. Feels like a pile of Pick-A-Brick loot!
Stickers are yet another reason for frustration. They are of excellent quality and design, but (*sigh*) there are both long and narrow 1×13 stickers and the tiniest 1×1 ones.
Can we start a petition to make LEGO include a pair of tweezers along with a separator in every set like this one?
After all the things that might upset you, we finally begin the rather enjoyable building process. The structure of the truck is so clear, logical and simple, it’s a pure pleasure to build one small part after another. Make sure to plan several evenings’ worth of building sessions over a period of a week or two to fully enjoy the set.
The assembly starts with the two rear axles. Very soon after the start of the build process you’ll find yourself building a very modest chassis, which in no way seems to belong to one of the largest Technic sets.
The front of the chassis containing the steering axles looks even simpler. However, things take a very sharp turn in just several steps of the building guide…
Unlike pretty much any other LEGO Technic vehicle, the Mack Anthem doesn’t have a regular V engine. First, the truck’s body is simply too small to house a rather bulky mechanism. Second, this truck’s engine is something we’ve rarely seen during the 40-year long history of the theme. The shaft of the engine is one of the oddest things I’ve built for an official set.
Very soon it is placed inside a pretty tight frame…
…and two parts of the front half of the chassis are finally connected. Right at this point you can see how simple yet cool and solid the engine block looks. It is massive, but the structure of the chassis is very smart and compact. Great job, design team!
Just several steps later the steering mechanism is already finished. What is particularly special about it is that it is connected to the actual steering wheel inside the cabin. So, each time you steer the wheels with a gear on the back of the truck’s body, the steering wheel inside the cabin rotates, too. This is a truly awesome feature that we haven’t seen in official sets for many years.
Finally, both halves of the chassis are connected to each other, the steering rod is attached to a gear in the very centre of the structure and it’s high time we started building both the interior and the exterior of the Mack. The only thing I didn’t like at this point is the fact that the building guide suggests you attach all 6 wheels already. Building the model as it rolls back and forth across the table isn’t a particularly pleasant building experience.
A tiny bed for the driver on long-haul trips is one of my favourite things about this set. It’s so cute and a unique, human touch for a Technic set, it’s almost impossible not to smile while attaching it right behind a couple of seats.
From this moment on the building process goes much faster than one might like it to. Huge Technic panels envelope the cabin, hiding all the mechanisms inside.
Just before the massive hood takes its place, you can notice how small the steering radius is. With the inner frame being just 5 studs wide, the steering mechanism turns out to be as efficient as possible. No doubt, the truck’s playability will be excellent.
The hood involves a lot of System pieces. This part of the Mack is a bizarre mixture of Technic beams and frames and System tiles and slopes. Together both types of pieces create a unique shape for the Mack’s body, including the mudguards and the headlights.
It would be a mistake not to mention the brilliant design of the headlights. Thanks to inverted slopes and a very smart mounting, the headlight fits just perfectly between the mudguard and the radiator grill.
The finished model
The closer you get to the finish of the building process the clearer it becomes that this Mack isn’t just your next Technic set. It’s much, much more than an ordinary tractor, a mobile crane, or an excavator. This Mack takes a lot from the old Model Team sets, but shows what modern-day pieces are capable of. The truck is massive and heavy due to a huge amount of System pieces used for the hood and interior of the cabin.
And this is what makes the set so special: It’s a splendid combination of everything one can expect from a Technic set. It’s big, it’s fairly complicated, yet easy to build and to play with. It has some very nice pieces in useful colors, and itself it is an excellent donor of pieces. Finally, it is a very, very skillfully designed set. I can recall dozens of Technic sets that are loved by many fans for everything except for their design — probably due to the limitations imposed by the Technic system. And if that’s the case, then a handful of System pieces was all we needed.
We’ll continue our review in Part II with the trailer and cargo container. Stay tuned!
The LEGO Group sent The Brothers Brick a copy of this set for review. Providing TBB with products for review guarantees neither coverage nor positive reviews.