In 2019, as Land Rover was finally unveiling its brand new Defender, Lego also announced a set to go alongside the launch. And, of course, it's Lego Technic. The set features 2,573 pieces, is suitable for ages 11 and up (according to Lego) and costs around £160.
It's not a cheap set by any means, but likewise it's far from being the most expensive and given how intricate it is and the relatively lengthy build time, you may just decide it's worth it.
The build features four clear stages, each denoted by a big number printed on the individual bags of parts. It's worth noting, while we didn't time it to the second, it seems the stages are all relatively evenly split in terms of build time.
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We estimated between 2.5 - 3 hours of building for each section. Your speed might differ completely. But since we weren't speed building, and didn't take much in the way of breaks except to make a quick cup of tea, we think that's probably reasonable for most people.
The first section of the build is probably the one with the least number of steps and least number of manual pages dedicated to it, but it's by far the most fiddly section of the whole thing. It's essentially all the gears and cogs that make up the gearbox, plus the rear suspension. It was a little tricky to put together with full sized adult hands and fingers, and also require some concentration to ensure all the cogs were in the right positions, and moved.
It was the daunting part of the build, primarily because when doing it you realise that once you've built the rest of the car, it's not going to be easy to go back to this stage if something isn't working properly.
By the end of the second stage of the build, pretty much all the rest of the internals are done, including the front engine, suspension, steering and the chassis holding the front and rear together (including the gear work to keep all four wheels connected), and the front and rear seats.
OK. This is cool. And definitely the front. pic.twitter.com/ubM3xcGTwj— Cam Bunton (@CamBunton) March 22, 2020
While there is a little intricate gear/cog work happening, it's not to the scale of the rear gear box. There are elements to help the steering move smoothly from left to right which then connect to the steering wheel, as well as a mechanism that makes it look like those straight-6 pistons are pumping, plus a working winch.
Inside the car, the steering wheel, dash and gear/drive mode selectors have sticky labels on them and all control and element of all those cogs and gears that were built in earlier. Lego calls this a 'sophisticated transmission system' and it definitely is that. It's the part of the build that makes it complicated, but also the most rewarding when all the parts move together.
Now the fun begins! The third part also takes quite a big chunk of the manual, and is time consuming, but by the end of it you start to see the car's exterior take shape. It involves mostily building the frame that make the windows, and putting together all the body panelling that surrounds the cabin.
There is Technics style fun to be had here though. The back door not only opens and shuts but has a small rubber band based spring-loaded catch that keeps it shut and can be opened by what will eventually be the spare tyre mounted on the back of the door.
Both driver and passenger doors are also mounted, as well as the rear wheel arches and the roof, leaving the front of the car and the wheels to the last stage.
On to the last stage and the end is clearly in sight. The initial part of this section of the build is just building the front body of the car, including the bonnet that opens and shuts, the front grille, headlights and wheel arches.
Once the primary car body is build, the last part of the last build section is wheels and trimmings. These include things like the roof rack for holding the roof box and grip mats, plus the fold-down ladder on the side and the turning wheel for controlling the steering from the roof. And once all of that is done, the wheels go on at long last and the build is complete.
There are so many small details that make the final model so pleasing to look at and play with, the big kid inside you will never get bored of it. Admittedly, with it being quite an extensive and long build, it's not one we're looking to strip down and start again any time soon, but that doesn't mean it wasn't a lot of fun.
If you're a Lego fan who also has a thing for Land Rovers, it's perfect, but even if you're not a car nut, the build process was still very engaging and just about technical enough to keep you entertained for hours without it ever becoming so challenging you'd want to give up. We did make a few mistakes along the way, but none major enough that we had to rebuild anything significant.