No doubt, cars are among kids’ most favorite toys. And if you have a few toy cars the best thing you can do with them is to transport them using an even bigger car, or a car transporter. These trucks make for an excellent toy with a lot of playability, and LEGO has even released a DUPLO one, not speaking of many other sets released across various themes. This year, yet another car transporter comes as a LEGO Technic set. 42098 Car Transporter seems to be the longest LEGO vehicle ever released yet, reaching more than 3 feet/1 meter with the rear ramp lowered. The set consists of 2,493 pieces and will be available starting August 1 for US $179.99| CAN $229.99 | UK £139.99.
New pieces and pieces in new colors
Although the set is among the top 10 largest LEGO Technic sets revealed so far, you won’t find any particularly interesting pieces in any of its models. Probably, the most noticeable pieces are small wheel arches 3x9x2 that come in red and dark azure for the first time. Nevertheless, the set offers a stunning amount of beams and panels including those in dark azure; it can serve as an outstanding source of pieces for custom vehicle creations thanks to the said arches and 3 types of tires.
It almost feels like the design team were not allowed to introduce new pieces for this set and could only use those available for the sets of 2019.
Since the modern LEGO Technic models use a lot of huge panels, it’s no wonder that most of the exterior details are done with stickers. The car transporter comes with almost 40 stickers of various shapes and sizes.
The stickers themselves look great and contribute a lot to the models’ final looks, but here’s one thing I find particularly challenging: aligning stickers across multiple elements. The front of the truck perfectly illustrates the issue. The red and orange stripes on the cabin stretch across 5 separate stickers applied to 4 different pieces. It would be much easier to align the pattern if you apply the stickers once the cabin is complete, but the building guide suggests using stickers right amid the assembling process. You can see the result of my efforts in the picture below; I’m not quite happy with the left side of the truck.
One of the most pleasant things about the set is that it is practically 3 models in 1, and these are 3 completely different builds. The smallest one is a blue car. First of all, it’s important to mention that the car is of the same format and scale as the 42093 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 set, which was released earlier this year.
Although both cars use very similar chassis and many other building solutions, the steering systems are different. In the picture below you can notice a long yellow axle running under the rood. Unlike the orange Corvette, which uses a combination of gears behind the seats, the new blue car features a regular CV-joint to transmit rotation of the axels through the car’s body.
The old fake engines made of bulky cylinder pieces are in the past; now, set designers choose the more compact and simpler one made with a couple of beams and axels moving up and down. The blue car has a V8, which makes a soft rattling sound when you roll the car back and forth.
I like the blue car’s design a lot better than those of the orange Corvette. I wish it was released as a separate set, but let’s hope it will be available on the secondary market once the set is released.
The star of the set is, of course, the truck. A massive, robust and extremely playable model. I intentionally omit pictures of the models while assembling: firstly, the structure of the models is very straightforward and isn’t covered with a lot of panels and, secondly, all the mechanisms can be spotted from the outside. Let’s have a closer look at the finished model and test its playability.
The model was designed by Uwe Wabra, LEGO Technic senior designer, who is well-known for his designs of multiple flagship set released since 2008. The truck’s design reminds me of 8258 Crane Truck from 2009, but it’s so exciting to see how much the LEGO pieces have evolved since then. A lot of newer panels allow for the very neat exterior, however, you can recognize Uwe’s building style in the way the truck’s headlights or mirrors are executed.
No huge LEGO Technic model comes without functioning steering, but can you recall any other set featuring multiple external steering gears? The car transporter has two of them: one on the top of the cabin and the other one on its side. I must admit when assembling a set it took me a moment to figure out the reason for the second steering gear: you can’t use the top gear when there is a car in the top loading bay.
Rotating the other gear on the side of the truck, you can adjust the position of the rear top loading bay. The mechanism uses the regular gear rack in the back of the truck’s chassis. Moving back and forth, the rack lowers and raises the pillars supporting the bay.
It takes some time to lower the structure completely, but watching this massive part of the model smoothly folding down is extremely satisfying. Moreover, I cannot notice any loose connections; the structure is very robust and feels pretty durable.
Unfortunately, you can’t load a car just yet. You have to use the trailer, which we will attach a bit later.
Next, comes the most exciting play feature of the set. Experienced fans of LEGO Technic will know that every truck set model features a tilting cabin. Below the cabin sits the engine, so you can easily get access to it. But how do you tilt the cabin when there’s a loading platform above it? Let us show you what happens when you rotate a crank on the other side of the model.
A couple of Technic beams attached to the platform raise it every time the cabin is tilted. Of course, the best thing about his play feature is that you have absolutely no idea how it all works until you finished the model.
By using both functions, you can have the loading bays perfectly aligned.
One more excellent play solution is a couple of yellow stoppers made with L-shaped half-beams. The axles they are sitting on use a several rubber rubber connectors, so the stoppers can be lowered to release the cars parked in the bays.
All in all the truck can carry up to 3 vehicles at a time. It doesn’t matter with loading bay you are using, the cars will sit very securely in their slots.
The truck and the blue car together make a wonderful set with a lot of playability, but Uwe goes big and ads a trailer with two more loading bays.
It’s easy to spot that the trailer carries the same mechanism as installed on the truck and its structure looks a lot like rear part of the truck. Unlike those of the truck, the trailer’s mechanisms can be engaged by rotating gears on any side of the vehicle.
There are three play features of the trailer. First, the trailer has a couple of really long ramps that can be unfolded to load the cars.
This way the ramps unfold is oddly satisfying. Also, I can’t quite remember any other LEGO Technic set utilizing the same mechanism.
With the ramps unfolded the complete model measures more than 3 feet long. With some modifications, you can probably use the transporter to move the enormous 21309 NASA Apollo Saturn V around.
Next, you can lower the top loading platform. This is the same mechanism as installed on the truck, but because of the trailer being much lighter than the massive truck, you’ll notice it constantly rolling back and forth during the play.
The final mechanism of the trailer is a couple of smaller ramps in the front. These are crucial for the overall playability of the set as they literally connect the trailer and the truck; they let you load cars by rolling them over the rear ramps of the trailer through the trailer and on any of the truck’s platforms.
The trailer can carry another couple of cars, which will sit really nice in its loading bays.
The complete set looks fantastic. Even without any cargo, the transporter looks very massive due to the loading platforms, however, it is very easy to control and to play with.
Comparing the set to many other flagship models, the transporter feels a lot more playable than any other crane or off-roader. The problem with cranes is that it can only perform one action: to lift cargo. And once you’ve built one crane, all the other cranes feel just the same. But it’s nothing like with the car transporter. Its play features may seem limited, but the way you engage with the set is very, very different from any other kind of vehicle.
It’s the sheer excitement of rolling an auto on the platform that makes the set a lot different from any construction machine. And somehow unfolding the ramps, lowering and adjusting the platform never feels boring or tiring; I believe this due to the fact that when playing you literally transform the vehicle, and you can’t do this with a crane or an excavator.
What is more, the set inspires to build more own creations. The first thought that ran my mind when I saw the complete model was “I need more vehicles to load the transporter”. The blue car’s structure is very simple and anyone can build cars just like this one to play with. And with the wheel arches coming in the new colors, you can easily experiment with the models’ designs.
Conclusion and recommendations
The LEGO Technic flagship sets of 2019 are yet to be released, but it’s safe to say that 42098 Car Transporter is one of the most engaging and surprising products of the last several years. This set has so many advantages, it’s hard to find a reason not to get one in case you’re choosing one to get this autumn. It’s a brilliant collection of pieces for custom builds, it’s 3 models in one set, and it’s simply a great toy. I haven’t got a chance to build the B-model yet, but judging by the pictures, it might be one of the best alternative builds, too. So, if you are not set to get the new Control+ system, which is being introduced in a couple of more expensive sets releasing soon, the car transporter is your lucky choice.
The LEGO Group sent The Brothers Brick an early copy of this set for review. Providing TBB with products for review guarantees neither coverage nor positive reviews.