I have to admit previously I had only ever built one LEGO Technic set in my lifetime and that was back in 1992 (Front End Loader 8828). I was giving the set as a Christmas present at the height of my pre dark ages LEGO obsession. Being polite I thanked my grandparents for the present, but I wasn’t a fan and clearly made this known over the following years as my LEGO collection continued to grew while Technic never made an appearance again.
Fast forward to now and that slight aversion to Technic still resides in me whether warranted or not. This changed when a work colleague of mine (Gwilym Conran) won the impressive looking LEGO Technic at a now rare Oil and Gas dinner event held by Atlas Professionals. Gwil knowing I’m a LEGO nut he kindly donated it to myself for review. Note – maybe the fact I’m his boss and we are also very good friends (Best Man at my wedding) played a part as well!
So after that over the top and long introduction that’s how I find myself now reviewing a Technic set.
LEGO Technic Ocean Explorer 42064 is part of a wave of Technic sets released in 2017 with a printed 3M beam to mark the 40th Anniversary of Technic. Rather than try to write about the Beginning LEGO has done a stirling job already – head over to the link for a quick history lesson (Chapter 1 – The Beginning).
The set includes 1,327 pieces and retails at AUD $169.99 / GBP £74.99 (prices are based on the LEGO online shop). On this occasion the European and Asian release has preceded that of North America. No news on price or release date yet for North America, but will keep you posted.
One thing that struck me on the box was the strong sense of realism with the movement of the ocean and the great looking Technic vessel. Working in the Oil and Gas industry the Ocean Explorer doesn’t look far off some of the vessels I worked on in my younger years in the North Sea.
The reverse of the box highlights the movement functions and an alternative build. If Oil and Gas doesn’t agree with your green leanings then you can build an offshore wind farm installation barge instead. Not personally built yet, but once the office desk display gets tried I will give the alternative build ago.
The box contains 8 bags (cover building stages 1-3), sticker sheet and instruction booklet.
The instruction booklet is sizable with opening pages covering what build stage links to the numbered bags and a visual guide showing how to use the scale images to match key parts. I have to admit after all these years I never knew that LEGO printed scale images to match parts – I’m a numpty sometimes!
First out of bag 1 comes the tidy little helicopter. Though the colour scheme lends itself to an offshore crew change chopper like the Sikorsky or Super Puma in reality being small, three blades and having floatation pontoons it lends itself more to the type used by Sea Shepherd. The movement of the blades is driven by a eight-tooth gear wheel.
Bag 1 is finished off with the other small build a semi-submersible. Utilising the same bubble cockpit, the model has moving arms and thruster propellers. All movement is controlled by 2 x 12-tooth geared control. It’s worth noting both builds have incorporated into the build 2 x connector pegs with knobs in the cockpit. I can only assume that younger builders can use these connections points to insert minifigures for more playability.
Bag(s) 2 covers the main hull of the vessel and the deck crane pedestal. To help create the iconic ship hull LEGO Technic has introduce some new parts to assist with the shape and bow curve The new parts are 5M axle with end stop and 1M beam with 2 cross axles. The antifoul paint (standard is red) is represented to show the hull below waterline along with a Bulbous bow found on larger ships to reduce drag. This is captured cleverly utilising a red deco cone. Additional details such as the draft lines, classification society, shipping zone load lines and vessel name are covered utilising stickers.
You’d be mistaken if you thought this was a stationary display piece. Though on face value a bit weird at first the Ocean Explorer has five wheels under it’s hull, so that it can be pushed around. For additional control two of the wheels have been incorporated into the dual rudder system so that the when the rudders are turned via the steering gear the vessel moves with the wheels. As a completed package this makes perfect sense.
Another nice touch is a little 1×1 printed round tile. Normally used to depict a coin in various LEGO sets, in this instance it is located in the Engine room compartment of the vessel to represent which hull in the series the vessel is (standard ship building practise). This would suggest the 5th vessel to leave the shipyard bearing this design – could this represent the 5th design before the LEGO designer and team settled on the final version for release? Just a guess anyone else have an idea?
The final bag(s) 3 covers the vessel superstructure, deck crane and helideck. The superstructure encases the crane slew and luff mechanism which is controlled via two 12-tooth gears on the Monkey Island. The larger 20-tooth gear wheel behind the vessel stack controls the rudder/wheels steering gear. Stickers help add detail such as portholes, ship emblem, vessel IMO number and the all important “Safety First” message. Other small details like the sat dome, survey antennas, life boats and fire fighting equipment really go the extra mile to help this vessel feel and look authentic.
Moving on from the superstructure the vessel has a helideck at the bow of the vessel. Scale wise the purest in me has a slight gripe with its height. Most vessels (I say most in case someone wishes to prove me wrong) have the helideck height either above the level of the bridge or lower such than when a chopper lands the Master’s line of sight is not obstructed. Final finishing touch completes the back deck crane.
As a first dip back into the LEGO Technic 25 years later I have to say I rather enjoyed building this set and wished I wasn’t so quick to kill off Technic in my early years. Stating the obvious to avid Technic builders the process is very different (gears, axles and connectors) to standard LEGO and I have the sore thumbs to show for it. Playability is extensive from hooking up and launching the semi-sub, steering the vessel and the awesome little helicopter that is already disappearing on a regular basis in the office!
On closing I would highly recommend this set especially if like me you work in the offshore industry as it makes a great office toy that no one will question my age over!
Final Rating: 9 out of 10