LEGO City certainly isn’t my go-to series and I rarely ever buy stuff from that theme, but occasionally there are little gems hidden in it. A lot of times it comes down to desirable animals or “rare” parts, but every now and then it’s also just that the models are done nicely and have an overall appeal. That just happened with one of this year’s new releases, the Recycling Truck (60386), so it’s time to have a look at it.
Pricing and Contents
The set officially retails for 35 Euro, which is more than slightly ridiculous, given that it only consists of 261 pieces. This once more illustrates that LEGO have completely lost their marbles and just don’t seem to care. The problem here isn’t even that I mind slightly above average prices when they’re justified, but apparently I think here they aren’t. Even the overview shot already tells you that the actual truck is relatively small and that aside from the garbage collection stand there isn’t much else in the box. The volume of stuff you get isn’t that great. So for the umpteenth time it’s up to the sellers to rectify this and give you a discount. Since I didn’t want to wait another two months for prices to drop I snatched up my package for 25 Euro and that’s okay, but overall this feels more like a 20 Euro offering. If you’re not in a hurry your patience can pay off. You may be able to get it cheap during e.g. a pre-Easter sale.
The minifigures aren’t much to write home about with two “generic worker figures” and an equally generic other person. The best part therefore is the little white kitten. I already have it in Dark Bluish Grey and Dark Orange and it’s always nice to add one more to the collection.
The Garbage Collector
The set comes with a small garbage collecting/ sorting station as you could find it in your neighborhood. It’s built one one of those 8 x 16 “road” plates that are also regularly used in 4+ sets. Here it comes in Bright Green. To me it feels a bit unnecessary, as a normal plate would have served the same purpose just as well without compromising stability. Inside the stand you’ll find three trash cans. Dark Bluish Grey is always useful and can be used widely and the Green version is the one that predominantly has been used in abundance in the last few years, but the one in Dark Azure is a new color.
You could further enhance your play fantasy with the Coral, Neon Yellow and Lime Green versions used in Friends sets and in fact a simple way to obtain all three of them would be to buy “that other garbage truck”, their version of the Recycling Truck (41712). As you can see there’s even a few bits and bobs to throw into the cans, but I honestly don’t get why LEGO don’t just throw in at least another fifty pieces of that kind. It’s another of those points where they are cheapening out. You may want to find a few more 1 x 1 elements and such to really give your kids a pile of pieces to play with.
The truck’s appeal is rooted in that it looks very “neutral” and universally usable. For reasons that nobody understands, LEGO often lock themselves in very American looking designs despite doing good business and having their headquarters here, but this time they managed to evade that trap and give us a vehicle that could drive around pretty much anywhere in the world. Of course the colors would vary. It also overall feels very contemporary and not like some old truck that hasn’t been around in decades.
Now nice as that all is, there’s one huge problem with this: The truck is too small. In a case of “Honey, I shrunk the Kids!” this is a good one third too small to accommodate actual minifigure scale. They cheated it on the package photo, but if you really put a minifigure near to the car it becomes very, very obvious. The funny thing is that the truck could still pass as a garbage collection vehicle even then, but you’d have to shorten the container/ deck to bring the proportions more in line with a small van or utility vehicle.
As the photos show, pretty much all the functions of a real garbage truck are there including lifting the dumpsters into the back chute, opening the intake frame as well as swiveling it up to empty out the container on the garbage dump or the waste incineration plant.
Tilting up the loading deck also reveals another problem, though a lesser one. Unfortunately LEGO decided to make this all too “kids-friendly”, which in their world apparently means omitting extra parts to secure things into place. The two yellow brackets are a prime example of this sort of poor design as it’s way too easy to loosen them by just holding the model on the two large grey “boxes” on the sides, which are just 2 x 8 bricks. Likewise, the hinges holding the container are not fastened with extra slopes or similar, so that part comes off easily just as well just by grabbing the model at the top and not the chassis. Both problems could easily have been avoided with a few extra parts and/ or a different construction.
At the same time, oddly enough, one has to give the designers credit for a very smart solution. The side panels mimicking the round shape of the stirring drum can easily be pushed out sideways by reaching into the compartment with your fingers via the rear hatch since they’re only fixated on two studs in the front on the yellow SNOT bricks. This will be very useful to avoid tears when your kids unwittingly stuffed their favorite toy in there and can’t get it out because it’s jammed (without disassembling the truck more, that is). as they say, it’s all about the little things.
Of course the cockpit can’t be opened as well, but only a single minifigure will fit in there and due to the scale issue it will look rather odd.
The set offers good play value, but is ultimately let down by the scale being too small and the lack of robustness in several areas. On its own and with careful handling that may not come into play too much and your kids won’t mind, but still… The sad thing really is that all of that could have been easily avoided with a bunch of additional elements to e.g. raise the height of the cabin and container as well to strengthen some connections and then maybe even the crazy price might have been justifiable.
As it is this is a somewhat mixed bag. It’s definitely leaning on the “good” side, but nowhere near perfect. Too much consideration needs to be given to things like how cautiously children have to handle the model. the “wrong” scale also sort of disqualifies it from being displayed in your LEGO city without it looking odd.