Last week, LEGO has officially announced that one of its upcoming Technic sets, the 42113 Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey is canceled due to its association with militaries. Since the set was slated to go on sale August 1, a number of the V-22 Osprey sets have already been distributed to retail stores in several countries. Some smaller retailers have even listed the set on their webpages, making them available for purchase, allowing a small number of them into the wild. The set consists of 1,673 pieces and contains two Powered Up electric components for motorization. The retail price of the set is $119.99 / 139.99€.
The box & packaging
The set is packed in a rather big and hefty box. Although the colors of the box art are muted, the model looks impressive and eye-catching. The back of the box reveals all motorized functions of the model, while on the side, you can find detailed information about the electric elements; the set includes the new simple hub without Bluetooth support.
All 1,673 pieces are divided into four groups. This first stage of assembling requires a lot more parts than any of the following steps.
Another unmarked bag carries six rotor blades. Fun fact: there is also a flex axle in the same bag, but since it’s black and thin, it’s hardly noticeable inside a sealed bag. When you finally have to use the flex axle, it is easy to get confused as there’s no hint that the flex axle is in the plastic bag together with the blades.
Both electric elements are packed in a dedicated box. There’s nothing special about it; the box is just like those we saw in 42099 4×4 X-treme Off-Roader and 42109 App-Controlled Top Gear Rally Car sets.
The instructions & stickers
It’s always a pleasure to see the building guide and the sticker sheet wrapped in plastic. This set is no exception.
The sticker sheet is massive. With over 40 stickers, the set’s design relies heavily on tiny visual elements created by graphic designers. It is also easy to notice that a lot of curved Technic panels are covered in stickers; fan builders longing for the panels in dark bluish grey would not approve this.
Despite being a licensed product, the set comes with absolutely no additional information about the real aircraft. Speaking about the clarity of the building guide, I must admit there are a couple of rather complicated steps that I wish were redesigned. For an inexperienced builder, the set might be a tough challenge.
We are used to criticizing LEGO Technic sets for being inaccurate in terms of scale and shaping. However, this V-22 Osprey model is a very accurate copy of the prototype depicted at the end of the instructions. The shape looks great, and the proportions are beautiful, not to mention a lot of moving parts inside and outside of the aircraft.
New elements and elements in new colors
Once the first official pictures of the set appeared online, many LEGO Technic fans added it to their wishlists in a heartbeat: the most recent major sets in dark bluish gray are 42078 Mack Anthem (2018) and 8297 Off-Roader (2008). V-22 Osprey is a remarkable source of dark gray elements.
The first large plastic bag brings a couple of handy elements. Technic panel with angle 5×11 (part number 18945 / element ID 6112843) comes in dark gray for the first time and has enormous potential for fan creations. Technic T-beam 3×3 in orange (60484/6305545) is a nice little surprise and a great addition to a vast family of orange pieces we have available today.
Rotor blades 3×19 (65422/6305550 ) which first appeared in 42115 Lamborghini Sián in lime green earlier this summer look very attractive in plain black. The panels with angle 5×11 (18945/6303439) in orange is yet another useful panel in a popular color, however, the best thing about the set is an abundance of curved panels in dark gray. These are panels 3×5 #1 and #2 (87080/6013548 & 87086/6303445), one curved panel 3×13 (18944/6303446), and curved panels 5x13x2 #1 (67142/6310171 & 68196/6310172) — all come in dark gray for the first time. All in all, the set contains over 40 panels in dark gray.
I don’t like to complain about the LEGO pieces’ condition, but one of the curved panels 5x13x2 came with a massive scratch on the top. You can easily spot it if you open the picture in full-size. Of course, the customer service is always there to replace any damaged parts. Still, I wonder how on Earth these relatively light plastic parts can get scratched on its way out from the factory.
Last year, the Powered Up platform introduced a brand new smart hub: a bulky smart device with a battery section, four ports, a couple of sensors, and Bluetooth connectivity. As of today, it is available in three LEGO Technic sets (42099, 42100, 42109), as well as a separate component for a whopping price of US $89.99 | CAN $119.99 | UK £74.99. The new platform takes LEGO models to a brand new level of playability and introduces new ways of learning coding through play; now you can program and control any build using a smartphone or a tablet. But, at the same time, this is the biggest drawback of the system: without a smart device, you won’t be able to turn on your set, let alone play with it. For instance, without a smart device the massive 42100 Liebherr R9800 is a rather useless assembly; none of its parts can be moved manually.
V-22 Osprey model fills the gap: here comes a simple hub with two ports and two physical switches. The new simple hub has no sensors onboard and no Bluetooth support, so you can’t control it using a smart device. From a functional standpoint, the smart hub is similar to a combination of the Power Function regular battery box and an IR receiver, while the new simple hub is practically just a battery box with two switches. Physically, both hubs are identical. However, the simple one has only two ports and a LED indicator instead of a button on top.
Instead of ports C and D, there are a couple of switches. You can insert a cross axle either from a side or on the top to control a motor, but you can’t push one long axle through both switches. The switches’ positions are perfect for further integration of the device: imagine using another motor, a linear actuator, or a pneumatic cylinder to turn a switch to activate another motor connected to this hub. I would love to see a set featuring both types of hubs for even more complicated functionality.
As mentioned above, the first stage is much more extensive than the following ones. By the end of the stage, you will get a nearly finished hull with completed landing gear, rear ramp, and cockpit. At this point, the build is ready to house gearbox, which is about to be assembled during the next stage.
The following steps are devoted to the mechanisms that control rotors and engines, hence a vast assortment of gears. I really liked the way the relatively new heavy-duty clutch gear (46834 + 46835) is fixed inside a medium-sized 7×11 Technic frame, which was also introduced a year before. The set gives a nice example of how to add overload protection in a model of a similar scale.
Although the model is 20″/53 cm long, there is not that much space inside the hull. The transmission components sit very tightly together; you can spot a small actuator placed next to the motor, which you don’t see in LEGO Technic sets that often. Building solutions and combinations of elements like these make official sets so valuable in terms of building experience.
Some steps later, the gearbox is complete and connected to the motor. It includes four gear shifters, which makes it similar to the one used in 42042 Crawler Crane. However, unlike the 42042’s gearbox, V-22’s is an incredibly compact structure. Note that there are hardly any connectors and extensions. This section is a pure mix of liftarms, gears, and shifters; it’s an outstanding design.
Another thing I love about this part is that the whole transmission block is a monolith build. Coupling it with the hull requires a handful of pins. This submodel is also held in place by a couple of vertical liftarms running through the center of the aircraft. Nevertheless, I wonder why there are absolutely no additional steps for testing the gearbox before completing the assembling. It is incredibly easy to make a mistake while building this set. Yet, you have no idea whether all sever gears will work as smoothly as intended when the build is done. I must note that when the model is finished, it takes just a minute to remove the panels covering the aircraft’s top to extract the transmission for inspection or modifications. However, with the motor and battery box installed, a quick test of the functions is essential for the smooth building experience.
As soon as the transmission block is attached to the hull, it’s time to use some curved panels. The shapes created with the panels are really nice and help to conceal almost every unwanted opening in the model.
The gearbox takes the most of the room inside the aircraft, but there is still some below the gears and towards the rear ramp. This provides additional playability as you can transport, for example, a bunch of pencils inside the aircraft.
The interior design of the engines brings no surprises. It is just a solid structure with lovely use of smaller panels for aerodynamic shape. Small turntables allow for the robust mounting and smooth tilting of the engines.
What I didn’t expect to see is functioning flaps on both wings. An ingenious linkage let the flaps move up and down in sync with the engines. Usually, designing flaps for a LEGO aircraft model is a trivial task. Still, it is nearly impossible to motorize them as they are thin and relatively small compared to the wings’ size. Kudos to the designers of the set who saw an opportunity and took it. There is one more flap on the tail of the aircraft, but it can only be engaged manually using an improvised switch on the top of the rear part.
The design of the rotors is primitive, yet robust. The blades are slightly tilted so that they create airflow when rotating. The new blade pieces are 19 studs long, which brings the diameter of the rotors to about 12″/30 cm.
The finished model
It isn’t until you put all the pieces together you realize how massive the model is. The span of the rotors is impressive, and the hull is longer than it what it looks like on the box. Finally, it’s not another car, crane, or excavator; the model looks fresh and unusual for an official set.
No matter how you display the V-22, it looks stunning from any angle. The top, the sides, and even the bottom are decorated with panels, so there no gears or axles exposed. I wonder why they used double cross connectors in light gray instead of dark gray. The piece can be found in dark gray in several other sets available today. A bunch of light gray connectors here and there ruins the color scheme a little bit.
The only part that I would criticize in terms of the design is the cockpit. It feels like it lacks a couple of panels, but I’m sure the designers did the best they could, considering that the interior features a couple of seats for pilots and room for the front landing gear.
On the contrary, I’m in love with the new 5×13 curved panels. The way they fit on top of the hull makes me think that it was designed with this model. Accompanied by a couple of tiny panels in orange, this whole section is a feast for the eye.
As mentioned above, the tail flap is the only manual play feature of the set. I don’t think the model needed to have a playable tail flap; I would prefer to get rid off of the liftarm sticking out in the middle of the rear section.
The engines look stunning in either position. You can spot a little bit of LEGO System elements in the back of the engines; small brackets in black add some fine details to the exterior of the parts.
Finally, it’s time to turn the motor on and see the motorized features in action. Four red switchers are conveniently located on both sides of the model, so controlling it during the play is not a problem. However, it takes some time to learn to hold the model correctly so that you won’t block landing gear when the wheels come down.
The rear ramp is quite a complicated mechanism driven by a small actuator. What makes it remarkable is that it consists of two halves of different sizes. They also move at different speeds.
The deployable landing gear is not a unique play feature. We already saw this in 42066 Air Race Jet, but the scale of V-22 is much smaller, which requires a much more compact engineering solution. The feature is motorized via another small actuator sitting right behind the cockpit. The whole thing works just beautifully.
Design flaws and reliability issues
If you are already in love with this model of V-22 Osprey, I do not advise reading beyond this point, as not everything is glorious about the set. To start with, let’s remember that one of the key features of the smart version of the hub is its ability to control the speed and the output power of the motor. As for the simple version of the hub, a motor connected to it will always run at the maximum speed. We should also keep in mind that the new Powered Up motors are quite powerful. Although the model includes several types of overload protection, there is no safety mechanism between the motor and the gearbox. And if there is a problem or jamming in any of the mechanisms, all the power coming from the motor can cause severe damage to the gearbox.
With a powerful motor and four motorized functions, of which three have end position, there are many scenarios for an excessive load on the gearbox. The spinning rotors are the only points with no end position, but those can be easily blocked during play. So, under certain circumstances, the gearbox can be exposed to a considerable load. The question is whether the gearbox is capable of withstanding maximum load possible.
Finding the answer requires extensive testing by multiple reviewers, which is quite hard considering the set isn’t available in retail. However, in these circumstances, it is much easier to find and contact people who have actually built and tested the set. Since the beginning of the week, I talked to three builders who obtained the set and asked them to test the gearbox under a moderate load. The results were disappointing, to say the list. One of the builders described the problem on Reddit. Independently, two more experienced Technic fans from my home LEGO user group confirmed the same issue: the combination of three small 8 tooth gears is the weakest point of the whole mechanism. Here is a short video with a description of the problem:
The video captures the gearbox after a series of tests. I blocked all mechanisms in different combinations to see how overload protection works and how it affects the weakest gears in the gearbox. To stay completely honest, I didn’t manage to kill any of the gears completely. However, the overall performance of the set has changed drastically over the length of tests. For instance, at the beginning of the tests, the whole thing worked just fine without unnecessary sounds or jamming. By the end of the tests, which is captured in the video, with the rotors blocked, you can hear 8-tooth gears rattling inside the gearbox. This is never a good sign, as these gears are the softest of all LEGO Technic gears and are known to wear off under excessive load. And if any of these small gears die, none of the functions will work well, which is simply unacceptable for a toy set with a price tag of $119.99/139.99€.
I end this review on a somewhat different note. I purposefully have not made any conclusions, since there’s no benefit as 42113 Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey is not officially available on retail shelves to purchase. I’ve also avoided all the commotion of why this set was canceled. What I did intend to convey are the facts of the review process to highlight the design and build experience and leave you to make your own conclusions. I do hope that this has given some insights into the actual design of the set, since for most fans it may otherwise remain a mystery. For although some boxed copies of the sets are in the wild, we predict many will remain sealed for the right or wrong reasons.