As you may have recognized already, I rarely do buy LEGO City sets for apparent reasons like the age demographic they target vs. complexity and overall usefulness of parts and similar. However, every now and then something comes along that tingles my taste buds or intrigues me and that’s how I ended up with this year’s Tractor (60284) edition.
Some form of tractor is basically always part of each year’s line-up, but this particular small/ mid-size red tractor type hasn’t been done in a while with the most recent references that would be at least somewhat similar and that I could dig up going back to 2009 and 2011, respectively.
Pricing and Contents
Let me get the first thing out of the way: Though I’m very critical of LEGO‘s overblown pricing, this can’t be applied here. As much as I may want to find something to complain or niggle about, I really can’t. True, I’m hedging my bets on the usual discounts, but even at full price this is good value. There are only 143 pieces, but many of them are quite large. The tires and bucket alone contribute notably to the initial cost and then there’s three clear pieces, some large arches and a few other goodies. If you will: It’s one of the few cases where one can see where the money went.
That said, of course there’s no harm in trying to get this set as cheaply as possible. I got mine for 15 Euro, which is already five Euro off the suggested retail price of 20 Euro. I would predict that during a promotion e.g. for the upcoming Easter holidays it may get closer to 12 Euro, but you shouldn’t expect more and it’s really not necessary to get too miserly about this.
Minifigures and Extras
The set comes with two minifigures which are actually quite nice. The young dad and his daughter (?) both wear dungarees in different colors, which is a common practical attire for farmers and gardeners. The prints are not super fancy, but provide enough detail to sell the story. There are some minor alignment issues with the prints and legs, something which is particularly obvious with the white torso of the girl peeking out under the blue, but overall it is within acceptable tolerances. The faces and hair styles are standard types you probably already have seen several times, but they work well here
The white rabbit is a bit of an oddity. I’m not complaining that it is included at all, given that it is still a somewhat rare little creature not found in many sets. It’s just that it feels a bit out of place, with my point here being that other than the girl’s play pet it doesn’t exactly make much sense. Assuming the farmer were into rabbit breeding there would have to be more to form at least a small huddle. If it was supposed to be a wild rabbit disturbed by the tractor or lured in by the carrots it would have to be a different color, obviously. The latter would of course have been something also useful on the domesticated variants. Imagine having a Reddish Brown, Tan, Dark Tan or Black rabbit or one with colored patches printed on! Maybe it’s time for LEGO to do such a set? In any case, I’m a bit foggy on the reasoning here.
In addition to the figures there’s a crate with some fruit and vegetables, those being a red apple, the already mentioned carrots and a pumpkin. Seasonally that puts the set into late fall, which is the only time all these are actually available at the same time. That’s another of those little weird inconsistencies once you start to think about it. The corrugated cardboard (?) boxes are based on a new piece, so without further ado let’s have a look at them.
In addition to the overall good value one thing that attracted me to this set were a few new LEGO pieces that only have seen the light of the in the first 2021 sets. It’s not so much that I felt I would miss something as I’m pretty sure we’ll see them used quite a bit in a widespread manner soon enough, but my curiosity got the better of me and I grabbed the opportunity to check them out and add them to my parts stock by buying this set.
To me the most useful addition is the ribbed modified brick. Yes, naturally it’s structured sides will come in handy on buildings and technical stuff to mimic all sorts of cooling rips, chiseled bricks and so on. However, one thing this element might become more popular for is, that it gives you a simple way to substitute two 2 x 2 plates that have to be layered. Depending on how often a model uses such stacks this can greatly help to avoid some tedious building and more importantly also minimize tension in the model, which with many plates on top of each other can be considerable.
The other item of interest is the brick with the pin hole. The conventional 1 x 2 version has of course existed for forever, but now with another row of studs on a vertically centered plate extension it should be easier to integrate this in builds where you don’t want to get things too bulky just because you would need to lock the brick into place. Finally there’s the new upright 2 x 6 bracket introduced last year. There were two of them in White in the Heartlake City Organic Café (41444) and having at least one in Black now might come in handy, too.
The large tires are another novelty from this year and are otherwise only found in the LEGO Technic Jeep Wrangler (42122). The interesting thing about them is of course that in an interesting departure from LEGO‘s “Keep it simple!” approach with the tire treads being symmetrical and usable in all positions and orientations, this one has directional treads and you need to pay attention when mounting them on their rims as well as on the axles. The narrower, smaller tires don’t fall into that category, but for me are also a “first”, since they have only been used in some older sets I never bought. The most recent appears to be a Nexo Knights one from 2017, actually.
The excavator bucket is an improved version of an older model with two notable areas of enhancements: a) there’s a slightly raised ridge in the middle to strengthen the material and prevent breakage from too much stress and b) the ratcheted hinge having brought up to the new standard introduced late last year that changes the snapping behavior and angles to be more reliable, especially when using it as a static connection element.
The main build is of course the tractor. For a City set it ends up a pretty sizable affair at around 20 cm length plus 5 cm more for the bucket in the front. It’s almost just a tad too big to match the scale of other items in the series.
The construction process is pretty simple and straightforward as essentially you are building a two studs wide central block with a bunch of protrusions left and right. That’s why they had to use some of the new pieces to allow it to be so narrow. The build also uses an eclectic selection of other elements to similar effect, though personally I feel that they could have made it a little less messy in terms of colors used. When you have the same 1 x 2 x 2 brick with studs on the side in two different colors it just feels unnecessary, even if the ones in Tan are covered up and thus invisible. I guess it’s one of those things where some LEGO manager is mandating this use to evenly deplete their stockpile of parts.
I have similar feelings about the mounting arm for the bucket, though I’m fully aware that some Technic parts like the axles only come in certain colors. It’s better to have uniform Light Bluish Grey than an even more messy mix of with Red and Black, I suppose. I don’t have an idea how this could have been improved, but the question of whether this could have been built differently undeniably still lingers in my mind. Might be worth a shot rummaging through my parts and seeing if I can find some exotic piece I haven’t thought of that would be perfect here.
The rear end has multiple provisions for attaching towable gear, either with a ball joint/ axle hinge, a pin or a clip and any number of combinations of those, but as we all know LEGO do not offer separate kits of plows, sowing rigs, harvesters or even simple trailers, so you have to come up with something yourself. It might have been nice that they at least included a small open trailer as an example for people who aren’t that much into custom building. that may also have taken care of my earlier point with the rabbits. Doesn’t a portable rabbit hutch sound fantastic?
From the side you can also see what is perhaps the one slightly more serious issue with the way the model is built – even though there is a sufficient gap between the glass pieces, there’s no realistic way to get a minifigure in there without removing the roof due to the large arches blocking access a bit too much. Not the end of the world, but a bit unfortunate since this all to often means you also inadvertently snap off other pieces. I really prefer proper “doors” where I just can slide in a minifig if I so desire.
The front looks a bit bland for my taste and could have done with some extra spot lights which many tractors have. I think I also would have preferred the front “weight” piece to not be a Technic axle holder. That could still be useful if you want to attach different equipment, but I think most people would prefer a winch for more play value.
At the end I still found some small things to bemoan, didn’t I? Still, I stand by what I said at the beginning: This is one of those rare LEGO sets that you can be perfectly happy with. The price is just right, it looks “real”, has some nice play value regardless and offers some potential for expanding it with custom equipment without too much of a fuss. There just could have been a bit more, which perhaps is the point: Even I wouldn’t have scoffed at a 25 Euro price point if there had been some extra rabbits, a few more crates and a small thing to attach to the tractor’s rear. Still, no matter what, you could do worse and this set is highly recommended if you even have a remote interest into the agricultural/ farming theme or are just looking for a robust playable vehicle for your little one.