Fiery October – LEGO City Magazine, October 2020

The CoViD-19 pandemic is unfortunately reigniting everywhere and the world certainly needs some committed medical firefighters to combat that. Therefore it’s kind of fitting (along with the fact that there’s actual massive bush fires in some countries currently) that the current LEGO City magazine brings us one of those helpful dudes.

LEGO Magazine, City, October 2020, Cover

LEGO Magazine, City, October 2020, Extras The minifigure is the same you will find in the Forest Fire (60247) set, which incidentally I had bought earlier this year just for the unique owl it contains. The red slopes also came in handy for my lightsaber sharpening facility MOC, of course. Sometimes things work out in mysterious ways indeed. The little buggy is virtually just another variation on the same build found in the Jurassic World magazine where I already mentioned this. They only use different wheels and a few details deviate, but overall it’s nearly identical. Naturally there’s only so many ways to skin a cat when you have such a limited number of pieces. To my eyes the color scheme looks the wrong way round. I would have preferred red mudguards and only Bright Light Yellow accents.

LEGO Magazine, City, October 2020, Poster

The comic is pretty nice this time and overall there’s tons of puzzles and activities, which is always a good thing to keep your kids occupied. They sneaked in some animal rescue stuff as well, which makes it regrettable that none of the depicted pumas and panthers is actually in the foil pack. I know, those animals are expensive, but it would be ace to one day get them this way. One of the posters, the “No time for panic” shown above, is also pretty good.

Rigid Green and Black – 42077 B-Model MOC

When I wrote my review of the Technic Rally Car set (42077) I already mentioned that I almost like the B-model, the sand/ dune buggy, better than the main model and was thinking about how to fix some of its issues, so now here we are and I can present you with my solutions.

First let’s have look at some cosmetic changes, though. As I also mentioned in my article, I wasn’t particularly fond of the overall coloring. I have nothing against Red just as I have nothing against Dark Azur, but the disproportionately excessive use of both colors on the model is still a bit of an eyesore. That’s why I decided I would change it eventually early on. Of course the limiting factor is the availability of the parts in respective colors. An easy fix would have been to throw in some Orange parts, which go nicely together with the Dark Azur. I, however, was aiming for something a bit more exclusive and at some point settled on an overall Black model with some Bright Green trim elements.

LEGO Technic, Rally Car (42077), B-Model, MOC, Overview

As it turned out this was an almost genius stroke of luck, mainly because indeed the extra Black and Bright Green parts were easy to procure and so cheap, I’m almost ashamed to admit it. Apparently there are still a lot of the green parts floating about from the 24h Racer (42039), yet there seems to be little demand for them, so in turn prices are low. The black parts are not quite that cheap, but still very affordable. Either way, I’m not complaining as I’m always on a tight budget. Of course you can try out other combinations and the recent release of the Bugatti Chiron (42083) would possibly even allow you to build a real “classy” buggy in Dark Blue with contrasting wings and “leather” seats in Dark Tan from its parts.

The yellow wheel hubs can be sourced from the infamous 6×6 All Terrain Tow Truck (42070) or the old Volvo LF 350 (42030) and I also had just enough yellow angled liftarms in my stash to match the seats. Primarily I opted for Yellow because the shock absorbers already are in that color and are very visible on the car. On the other hand – when you add more color you have to get rid of it elsewhere or else your model looks like a flamboyant parrot. Therefore I threw out as many Red parts as possible. A few are still in there due to the fact that I didn’t rebuild the set from scratch, but rather replaced the components step by step on the original build and didn’t want to disassemble it further.

LEGO Technic, Rally Car (42077), B-Model, MOC, Side View

Replacing the “tubing” from the cage/ stabilizing frame is perhaps the biggest hiccup you will encounter during the build. Ever since LEGO decided to color code axles (Red and Black for even-numbered lengths, Yellow and Light Bluish Grey for odd ones) you are limited to those four colors and have to make do. In the upper section I could of course have gone with Black, but that would have eliminated every bit of contrast. So I opted for Light Bluish Grey instead. This has the unfortunate side-effect of the frame with the flashlights on it to be one unit shorter. thankfully, however, the lower section of the framework it is connected to is a bit of a cheat and only held together by flexible joints, so it can adapt and will only slightly change in angle.

An unresolved mystery is replacing the 16L Steering Link axles. Since they have ever only been included in a handful of sets in Light Bluish Grey they are rare as gold and prohibitively expensive even in used condition. Plugging together some suitable alternatives from shorter axles and connectors therefore is a lot less painful and when done in a thoughtful way it doesn’t looks that bad. The same goes for the windscreen frame.

LEGO Technic, Rally Car (42077), B-Model, MOC, Front

Getting to the juicier bits, naturally it’s not all about looks One of the things that really teed me off on the original LEGO model was the sloppy construction of the front hood as laid out near the end of my original article. Treading the fine line between wanting to improve the model, but also not wanting to spend an eternity redesigning the entire chassis I went with a simple solution that is so obvious, it makes you wonder why the LEGO designers didn’t use it. Perhaps it eluded them, perhaps they were under the gun and not allowed to use more parts, perhaps something else. Either way, looking at it, it is an almost ridiculously easy fix. The only caveat is that undeniably it changes the appearance drastically and the whole section now looks a bit like the Caterham Seven‘s (21307) front.

LEGO Technic, Rally Car (42077), B-Model, MOC, Aft Section Closed

The original aft section of the model uses the Technic mudguard/ wheel well panel as a shortcut for simplified construction, but due to my color choice and this part not existing in Black currently I needed to completely change this area. The benefits should be pretty clear. By eliminating this element completely from the equation, it frees you up creatively. You are no longer bound and limited to colors that have it, which is great. Additionally, the newly constructed hood closes seamlessly, making this much more believable as an engine compartment.

Personally I also think that a plain flat area is much more credible for a vehicle that drives around on beaches and similar locations. You could strap an inflatable boat, a rolled up tent, a bunch of sleeping bags, your surf board, fishing equipment or any number of other things to the flat platform.LEGO Technic, Rally Car (42077), B-Model, MOC, Aft Section Open

Most importantly, though, all of these changes make the whole affair a lot more rigid, both at the front and rear ends of the car. I’m not going to say that it’s stiff as a brick, but compared to the wobbly mess that the original construction is, I’d consider it a major improvement. Point in case: It may not be relevant for a display model, but if you ever plan on adding a motor and RC the greater stiffness will pay massive dividends.

Since all of this is hard to explain and also not easy to recognize by some simple photos, especially when everything is black, I have gone through the trouble of creating custom instructions. There are a few things you need to keep in mind, however:

  • I did not re-create the entire instructions and only the parts that actually require modifications are shown.
  • The build steps are more of a suggestion than a fixed order. They show you how things are supposed to work, but implementing the changes may require some fiddling.
  • Similar to the previous point, adding the modifications may require to disassemble the existing model, at least in part.
  • Color choices are based on my customized model. Feel free to use whatever you have at hand, especially in the internal areas that may not be visible from the outside.
  • Some extra parts (liftarms, panels, axles) not included in the original kit are required.

The instructions in PDF format can be downloaded by clicking on the image or the link below it:

LEGO Technic, Rally Car (42077), B-Model, MOC, Instructions Cover

LEGO Technic Rally Car (42077), B-Model (Buggy), Custom Enhancements

If you have specific questions feel free to ask them here and on the forums where I’m active and will spread the news. Enjoy your build!

Double the Fun? – 42077 – Rally Car

Before next week’s big showy announcement for the Bugatti Chiron (42083) will flood all LEGO-related media channels (yes, I’ve already seen leaked images and have formed an opinion based on them, but more when the time is right) it’s time to what seems like half a look back at the Rally Car (42077) that came out at the beginning of this year.

LEGO Technic, Rally Car (42077), Box

Before getting to the actual juicy bits, I need to explain a few things. First off, I’m by no means a car enthusiast. The only reason I even started out my LEGO career with Technic was an accidental gift from my mom to my brother which he didn’t like and gave to me that got me hooked. Likewise, I’m usually more interested in exploring the engineering and construction principles plus decking out the functions.

That being the case, I got it in my head to buy the 6×6 All Terrain Tow Truck (42070). Of course that turned out to be a total disappointment, even if I only paid slightly less than 160 Euros for it. At the time seemed like a steal, but as of the writing of this article is its normal price. Talk about the market regulating itself!

Slightly miffed I was considering my options and then info about the Rally Car came out, which of course also hat a large array of the then new Dark Azure parts and several ones that didn’t exist before. This presented an opportunity to perhaps maybe build other stuff in the future in a consistent color scheme, so I waited a bit for prices to drop and got the set.

LEGO Technic, Rally Car (42077), A-Model, Top View

One thing you need to be aware of right from the start is that this isn’t a very elaborate or fancy model. This is by no means as detailed as the Porsche (42056) and it pretty much comes down to whether you can lieve with the somewhat skeletal appearance and limited functions or you might just want to get it to cannibalize the parts for future custom builds. For the most parts it’s really just a lot of panels popped on to a simplistic chassis that looks largely empty.

LEGO Technic, Rally Car (42077), A-Model, Top View

As far as those parts go, the thing to note aside from the many no. 13/14 and no. 17/18 large panels in White and Dark Azure are some 5×7 liftarm frames in Black (previously only available in Light Bluish Grey) and the many red parts which surprisingly include 16L link axles with fixed pin holes, an element that is used very rarely.

Interestingly enough LEGO also feel generous and throw in a full set of shock absorbers that were so sorely missing from the Tow Truck. It’s really hard to comprehend how they arrive at such decisions and it’s a very bitter irony that a model that would mostly sit flat on the surface has them, while another off-road vehicle with much greater freedom of suspension needs to do without.

The rest of the parts is pretty much standard fare, but can in particular help to bolster your supply of white components, as you really get a lot of them in addition to the usual greys and blacks. Naturally you get a lot of red items and some other colors, too, and that’s a bit a point of contention for me.

LEGO Technic, Rally Car (42077), A-Model, Aft View

Despite the fact that even my designer tastebuds can’t argue with the overall color scheme, the red makes it look extremely aggressive and annoying after a while. The problem here is that one of course is supposed to apply a ton of stickers (the sheet is almost two-thirds A4 size) that would visually break up the uniformly colored surfaces and make them blend, but if you don’t use them (like I do) the concept doesn’t quite work.

Additionally, the interior also prominently features red parts like those 16L link axles for stiffening up the cage, which poses yet another stark contrast to the white and azure parts. It would have been easy enough for LEGO to just make those parts dark grey or black. What tops this off is the choice of regular blue for the seats, which really makes you go “WTF?”. This is just crazy! Throw into that their obsession with yellow axles (Why oh why, LEGO?) and it isn’t too difficult  to imagine that quite simply it could have looked better.

LEGO Technic, Rally Car (42077), A-Model, Aft View

As hinted earlier, this model doesn’t have many “guts”, but what little is there, looks actually pretty okay, the odd color choices notwithstanding. It’s equally light on actual functions which only extend to steering and opening various hoods and flaps. The aft section takes the crown on that one with the little flaps being connected to the large main one. This is reminiscent of some luxury sports cars that use a similar approach due to lack of space to provide access to their engine compartments.

On the other hand, the two fan imitations at the front are just a sad excuse. They aren’t even connected to the engine and wheels to at least rotate automatically and as they are the designers could have just left them out and covered up the floor with a large panel.LEGO Technic, Rally Car (42077), A-Model, Bottom View

The shot from below nicely illustrates this see-through effect across the whole model even further That said, it also is a reminder that there’s plenty of room e.g. for adding your own motor and RC functions. I haven’t tried yet myself, but it looks easy enough to fit a battery box and an L motor in there…

On to more positive things, let’s have a look at the B-model. Aside from the things I mentioned in the introduction, this is also what won me over to actually buy the set. it looks very straightforward and simple, yet very credible as a rendition of a sand buggy/ dune buggy. In fact I almost regret that this isn’t the primary model as with a bit more work to add details it could have sold just as well.

LEGO Technic, Rally Car (42077), B-Model, Top View

This point is reinforced by the fact that the buggy doesn’t use a single of the large no. 13/14 panels in Dark Azure, which if you are a bit cynical like me almost makes it feel that the only reason the rally car exist is to throw those in and thus pad out the price. The same could of course be said for the leftover white parts as well. I guess my point here is that the buggy itself could have been a wonderful product in the 50 Euros range and LEGO didn’t recognize and realize this opportunity.

LEGO Technic, Rally Car (42077), B-Model, Front View

To me this model looks really like fun and they only would have had to sell it in a different color. Even something weird like Light Lime Green or Light Sky Blue would probably have looked fantastic.They also would have had to fix some issues. The window frame constructed from whatever pieces were left over is simply an embarrassment and pretty unbecoming of the rest of the model.

LEGO Technic, Rally Car (42077), B-Model, Aft View

Otherwise the B-model has a lot in common with the A-model as should be evident in the images. Once your strip down the car body parts, changing the chassis is straightforward and pretty quickly done since things like the suspensions and seats don’t change while other parts can be handled as “chunks” where you only need to plug together panels or liftarms without needing to integrate them specifically.

LEGO Technic, Rally Car (42077), B-Model, Bottom View

The only seriously weak spot (again aside from color choices) is the way the front section has been affixed to the rest of the model. Yes, as shown in the faded image, it’s really just a 4×2 L-shaped liftarm on either side that holds the curved panel onto which in turn the other panels are attached. as a result, the curved panel can be moved and changes its angle. Arguably of course such buggys would be extremely lightweight and possibly have fiberglass bodys that would equally only be loosely hinged and held with a handful of screws, but I feel that this is something that needs to be rectified.

LEGO Technic, Rally Car (42077), B-Model, Body Suspension Detail LEGO Technic, Rally Car (42077), B-Model, Body Suspension Detail

Overall, though, this was one of the more enjoyable technic builds in recent memory. If you take it for what it is and don’t expect something miraculous, this can be fun and you can get a result pretty quickly, even more so if you build the buggy. This isn’t something you are going to collect, so it’s a case of “use it or lose it” – you must have an idea what you do with the car (or its parts for that matter) or else you’ll be frustrated about its shortcomings.