Not just Garbage – LEGO City, Recycling Truck (60386)

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.

LEGO City, Recycling Truck (60386), Box

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.

LEGO City, Recycling Truck (60386), Overview

The Minifigures

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

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.

LEGO City, Recycling Truck (60386), Tilted Deck

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.

LEGO City, Recycling Truck (60386), Side Panel

LEGO City, Recycling Truck (60386), CockpitOf 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.

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Concluding Thoughts

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.

Veggie Wagon – LEGO City, Farmer’s Market Van (60345)

I don’t put up reviews of LEGO City sets that often, but that doesn’t mean I’m not buying any at all or don’t like them. Most of the time it’s just that I buy small, cheap stuff that is not worth turning into an article unless there is a specific reason like when I elaborated on the new Neon Yellow color. Apparently this must also be the case for the Farmer’s Market Van (60345) then, don’t you think? As a certain Juno Birch would say: Yes, that’s happening! ­čÖé So let’s look at what we have here.

LEGO City, Farmer's Market Van (60345), Box

Pricing and Contents

This package is part of this year’s farm-centric line-up that also includes the Chicken Henhouse (60344), Grocery Store (60347) and then Barn & Farm Animals (60346). Apparently it’s been ages since LEGO had such sets in their portfolio, so it was about time and these sets have generally been welcomed. However, there’s a an ugly dark cloud in this scenario: Except for the 10 Euro chicken pen (which I also got in the meantime, by the way), these sets are prohibitively expensive. The store has a MSRP of 60 Euro for only 404 pieces and at 50 Euro for 230 pieces the farm house doesn’t fare much better despite containing many desirable molded animals.

By comparison this makes the van the cheapest in the whole sub-series with 30 Euro for 310 elements. This pricing logic doesn’t make any sense on any level even if you figure in factors like large pieces or 4+ sets always being more expensive. It doesn’t make this little truck a steal, but by and large the most cost-efficient of the series. That’s even more true once you factor in the discounts. I got mine for still relatively expensive 24 Euro, but as of now you can find offerings for around 21 Euro.

LEGO City, Farmer's Market Van (60345), Overview

As you can see in the photo there are many smaller parts, so there’s ultimately not that much “volume of stuff”. That does not only extend to the field/ plot of land but also the car itself, which is quite hollow (not in a bad way, though). Point in case: While the models look good, you don’t have much in your hands in terms of pieces once you break them down again. The pile really isn’t that big. That’s why aside from my usual very cost-aware attitude I feel that 25 Euro is really more in line with what you get and any additional discounts sweeten the deal further.

The Minifigures

The set comes with three minifigures, which isn’t bad for such a small and affordable offering. The figures themselves don’t look anything special, but interestingly the girl with the blue hair has not only said hairpiece in Blue for the first time but also a new and unique torso print. Inevitably, the “farmer guy” called Horace also had to have a custom print with an imaginary logo on his dungarees. If you look hard enough you can see a slight color mismatch to the Lime Green leg piece. regrettably this seems to be more the norm than the exception with LEGO‘s prints these days. Also included in the set is the small rabbit, for the first time in Light Bluish Grey┬áwhen before it was only available in White. A nice expansion of the color if you ever plan on building your own little brick farm.

LEGO City, Farmer's Market Van (60345), Figures

The Field

One of the main attractions in this set is undeniably the field with the green stalks on it. There’s so much new to find here and that alone could make it worthwhile. The use of green minifigure candle elements is not new and has been seen in the Spring Lantern Festival (80107) where it was used to emulate bamboo stalks. However, this has been heavily expanded upon here. The most obvious addition is the new branch element that fits into this system and onto which then more stuff can be added. In this set this includes Red horns for peppers, Dark Purple bubbles/ ice cream scoops as berries (first seen as wine grapes in the Heartlake City Restaurant [41379]) and the new dual molded corn cob piece. The stalks are fixated in Bright Green round jumper plates that were only introduced in this color earlier this year (see Antonios Magical Door [43200] for instance). Finally, we also get a Medium Nougat barrel, yet another recent recolor.

The field is built from two structurally identical segments that can be connected with pin bricks, so in theory you could expand this if you buy multiple packages. In such a case one would likely also consolidate the plant stalks into sensible groups. Personally I would have preferred the set contained more of these pieces from the outset and one could build at least a second row or ideally a fully decked out square plot with up to sixteen plants. That would also have sensibly allowed to throw in a wheel barrow for harvesting and perhaps more rabbits and some chickens sneaking through the greenery and “pull out” carrots as indicated by the little slightly hidden mechanism that flips over to reveal the carrot in place of the former stalk. For me a massive expansion of the field would have been one of the few occasions where I then also would have accepted having to pay more simply for the fact that those plant elements can be used to such great advantage elsewhere. With that in mind I also hope that the branch element will soon enough come out in other colors so we can start building nice trees or branching water pipes.

LEGO City, Farmer's Market Van (60345), Field, CratesThere’s a small add-on by ways of some crates mounted on swivel hinges. This segment connects to the field in a similar fashion thanks to Technic bricks providing the necessary pin holes. Unfortunately LEGO are cheapening out again, as clearly there is plenty of room left to fill the boxes. This would have been yet another good opportunity to sneak in a few extra corn cobs, but they reserved that little trick for the expensive supermarket. A third apple, Lime Green bananas or a Tan/ Bright Light Yellow pumpkin might have been other ideas that would have made this more interesting.

The Van

The transport vehicle is pretty much a “Seen them once, seen them all.” thing. This for me includes the Surfer Van (31079) for instance, but I could just as well point to others I have either reviewed here on this blog or built, including of course from other series like Friends or Creator 3in1. that’s not meant to put blame on anyone, as after all there’s only so many ways to skin a cat, but I really yearn for some variety. Just doing the mudgard pieces in an unusual color like Yellowish Green would totally make my day, considering that the majority of them are still one of the greys, White or Black. LEGO are oddly conservative in this matter and reserve other colors mostly for police vehicles and fire trucks, give or take the occasional exception from the rule.

For what it represents the car is not bad, just a tad mundane and boring. As I mentioned earlier, the build is pretty spacious with a lot of room on the inside and this shows during the assembly. All the side walls stand openly nearly until the end when you add the top plates and wedges, which makes them fragile and has you believe something is wrong because there are larger gaps left until adding the force of the plates pulls everything together.

The build is not completely symmetrical and uses a few different techniques to accommodate a hinged sidewall on the right hand side of the van and a sliding window on the left side. To me this seems a bit of an odd choice as it’s more likely that this would have an flap swinging upward and doubling as a protective roof when selling goods at the weekly groceries market. Slide windows are more appropriate for food trucks, after all.

LEGO City, Farmer's Market Van (60345), Car, Interior, Right ViewThe interior is sparse, to put it mildly and slightly disappointing. There would have been plenty of opportunity to spruce it up like again adding a (small) create with corn cobs or other fruit, a small glass door fridge with soda cans in it and so on. It’s also unfortunate that you cannot easily remove the roof due to how everything is built and held in place by it. Mind you, it’s not that you cannot access the inside, it’s just not as easy and efficient. This also applies to the small deck behind the rear doors. You know what it is supposed to represent, it’s just not that terribly useful in light of the absence of something to put there.

The door itself is made from the 6 x 6 window frame introduced a while ago and the new 3 x 6 door elements that came out this year for easily creating double-winged doors. I’ve blathered on about the novelty and use cases for the elements of the field, but there’s a few more hidden gems in this set. More specifically the big carrot uses two significant elements: One is the 3 x 3 cone, which only once has been done in Orange so far in a Nexo Knights set and next to it there is its companion 3 x 3 dome. Those large chunky pieces are not what you would use everyday, but it’s nice to know they exist and are available just in case you may need them.


Concluding Thoughts

This set certainly doesn’t do anything revolutionary, but is what people call a solid effort on LEGO‘s part. Most importantly it reintroduces a theme that has long been underrepresented or even totally absent from the City series and this should help to familiarize and popularize the subject with younger audiences who hadn’t seen it before. For adults there’s of course the rich harvest (cheap pun alert!) of new and unique elements that could make it worthwhile. In conjunction with a straightforward assembly and the result looking nice this is a relaxing and fun experience. My only gripe really is that there could have been more agricultural stuff and by that I mean a lot more of the veggies and a larger field to “grow” them on.

Plant a Tree, Save the Planet? – LEGO Friends, Tree-Planting Vehicle (41707)

It’s been a minute since I last reviewed a LEGO Friends set and that has a lot to do with the rather atrocious “Magical Funfair” theme that just didn’t appeal to me both in terms of value for money and overall design aesthetic. The new early 2022 releases at least improve upon the latter, but not necessarily the former. It’s probably safe to say that unless it falls out of the sky for free, I won’t be reviewing a 150 Euro set like the Main Street Building (41704) and I’m not too certain about the Canal Houseboat (41702) and Friendship Tree House (41703), either, given that they have a lot of large compound parts like ship hulls and “tree” shells that I have no use for. Anyway, we’ll have top see how that goes, but for now let’s see what the Tree-Planting Vehicle (41707) does offer.

LEGO Friends, Tree-Planting Vehicle (41707), Box

Price and Contents

Sadly, LEGO have become very greedy lately and the pandemic with its supply chain issues and high demand because everyone is at home has been playing into their hands. This is also manifest in this set.

A 30 Euro price tag for 336 pieces may not look that unusual at first, but you can tell just by looking at the official promo images or my overview shot that many of these are just either small 1 x 1 pieces or insignificant standard elements that can be had for cheap on Bricklink. Except for a few more special parts it could be scraped together from other sources relatively easy for almost the same price. Our German LEGO price comparison site Brickmerge states a part-out value of around 45 Euro and that pretty much can only be blamed on some parts exclusive to this set like the Medium Azure slopes and a few items only found in other expensive sets like the 3 x 3 cylinders used here for the flower pots from Bowser’s Airship (71391).

With that said, of course the whole package thankfully can be had much cheaper at your favorite retailer. I got mine for 20 Euro, representing a 30 % discount, but lately it has dropped as far as 17 Euro for a 43 % price cut. As usual I would definitely recommend to get it as cheaply as possible, but I don’t feel bad about what I spent. While it may not offer a large number of pieces, it builds into two reasonably large models

LEGO Friends, Tree-Planting Vehicle (41707), Overview

The Glasshouse

The first build in the set is a glasshouse/ greenhouse in which the sprouts and saplings are grown until they can be planted in the wilderness. My problem here is that while it captures the feeling of such a building, the model is way, way, way too small to count as a professional operation. In fact this looks more like one of those greenhouses a hobbyist gardener would bash together from used doors and windows of dilapidated houses, something I remember well from my youth growing up in Eastern Germany where building supplies were always in short supply and people had to make do with what they could find.

The whole situation isn’t helped by how the plants are represented – a few vines and lots of large leaf-based builds just don’t give that sense of actual trees, but rather cabbage and flowers being pre-grown. That said, the greenhouse is nice in its own right, but for all intents and purposes this is more a conventional garden house than anything seriously to do with growing trees. On the bright side, this is the first time in a long while where the triple-split large window elements have become available in White again and the angled roof windows come with transparent glassing, not Trans Light Blue, so there’s that. If you need multiples of those, buying this set more than once certainly could be an option with the right discounts.

As they say “The lady comes apart” and the individual sub-assemblies can be placed separately for play such as they are. It doesn’t necessarily make that much sense, but is always a good option for the kids. That being said, the feeling that there should be more definitely lingers, in particular in terms of actual trees. There easily could have been another bit of soil with some tree stalks on it. This becomes even more apparent once you actually start to play with the two potted bushes/ trees to place them on the truck or elsewhere. This goes so far as the underlying plate assembly breaking up since the pots are also used as a structural element to hold the round plate and an extra 2 x 6 plate together. This is genuinely a major design flaw!

LEGO Friends, Tree-Planting Vehicle (41707), Glasshouse, Separated Parts

The Truck

We’re seeing trucks a plenty across all of LEGO‘s series and this therefore could easily be just another one of them. However, no matter how tired this trope may be, this little truck feels fresh enough to be interesting. I in particular like the compact, short design which makes it look cute. It’s a bit too large in scale to truly count as one of those small utility trucks such companies or public service providers maintaining parks and such often have. This is even more obvious since this is supposed to be an electrical car and the engineering metrics don’t make sense then. Still, not the worst LEGO truck I’ve seen.

Despite its other qualities, the color scheme of the truck slightly bugs me. I get it – with Olivia being the main protagonist they had to have her color scheme somewhere in this set, but clearly there is an over-abundance of Medium Azure in Heartlake City due to this color being used by multiple girls and I feel that they could have changed up the formula here in the interest of presenting something fresh. In keeping with the ecological subject I think this would have been a wonderful opportunity to give us a Yellowish Green vehicle. My reasoning here is that many electrical cars have very fashionable colors to distinguish themselves from conventional fuel cars, anyway, plus the color would help to communicate what it is all about. Alternatively Bright Green would also have been nice, as many such companies and agencies purposely use it.

LEGO Friends, Tree-Planting Vehicle (41707), Truck, Cockpit

One advantage of the oversized car is that both figures fit in it, further adding play value. The roof can easily be removed for full access. Now of course the short car has to have one disadvantage and that is that despite there being provision for two attachment points, not both flower pots can be loaded onto the cargo bed without getting in the way of each other or the small hydraulic crane interfering. The latter is also rather awkward to use and cannot be extended far enough for actual loading, so you may want to consider just leaving it off. Removing the crane would free up the one extra row of studs you’d need to move the jumper plate forward and then finally you could plug on both pots. This may have more play value for your child than clinging to the crane.

LEGO Friends, Tree-Planting Vehicle (41707), Truck, Cargo Bed


Concluding Thoughts

The elephant in the room is of course a simple question: What does this set actually have to do with tree-planting? It seems LEGO intentionally mislabeled this set to cater for the zeitgeist of presenting an eco-friendly image. Only too bad that things aren’t that simple even if the package actually resembled what it promises. We can plant trees all we want, but it won’t save the planet without other measures alongside! This really kind of riles me up…

My personal peeves aside this is certainly a pretty decent set if you take it for what it is – an interesting spin on (professional) gardening and green keeping that just can’t quite decide what it wants to be. A larger greenhouse would have improved this massively and if you have the cash, I would definitely recommend to at least try and buy a second set to bash something together that has a little more space. Otherwise it’s just fine and has enough play value for the intended demographic.

Similarly, the truck is good, but still could have been better with minor changes and a different color scheme might even have attracted people that don’t buy Friends sets otherwise. It really feels like a missed opportunity to bring something new to the Heartlake community. So for better or worse this set is “just fine”, when it could have been really great…

Porker Van – LEGO Monkie Kid, Pigsy’s Food Truck (80009)

LEGO‘s new Monkie Kid series has only been out for two weeks at this point and due to some favorable circumstances for once I was able to hop onto the bandwagon of just-in-time reviews, so here’s my take on Pigsy’s Food Truck (80009). Before we delve in, some more general thoughts on the series as a whole, though.

LEGO Monkie Kid, Pigsy's Food Truck (80009), Box

Monkie Kid who?

As should be now be widely known, Monkie Kid is a modern spin on the old Chinese Journey to the West tale that revolves around the adventures of a band of mythical creatures and heroes, including the Monkey King. That’s pretty much where my knowledge ends. I’ve never seen a movie, not one of the older animated series that apparently exist nor read any books or comics. feel free to call me totally culturally ignorant. ­čśë This is not made better by LEGO’s own animated series tie-in not having come out yet, so the models can only be rated on their own merits out of context.

That being the case, I have to say I don’t like most of them. Not only had I hoped for a more traditional approach to this series to begin with, potentially giving us some interesting historically inspired stuff, but my real problem is that most sets look like a wild mix of Nexo Knights and poorly done Ninjago. That is they use way too many large, compound parts where one might have preferred to build up things from many smaller pieces, lots of exposed Technic elements and an overall aesthetic, that’s not necessarily appealing to adults with lots of intense colors like Dark Purple and glowy oranges.

The other major turn off is simply the crazy pricing. No way to dance around it, but it really seems with this series LEGO are reshaping their own reality and reaching new heights. It’s not per se bad that sets cost a certain amount of money, but keep in mind that this series is not a collector’s edition, but is genuinely meant o be used for playing. Funny enough it will serve the latter purpose just fine, as most builds in their own way appear to be done well enough to live up to that, but the insane cost will be prohibitive and put it out of reach for many.

On the positive side the series introduces a ton of new parts or parts in previously unreleased colors and brings back some legacy pieces even that haven’t been available for a while. That alone will be motivation enough for some potential buyers. I would in particular go so far and say that the Monkey King Mech (80012) will be extremely popular in the MOC-building communities just for its many Metallic Gold parts and similarly the Dark Green Technic parts in the Monkey Kid’s Team Secret HQ (80013) as long as they’re not available elsewhere.

Finally there’s of course some interesting new minifigures. Even if I don’t actually pro-actively collect them, you have to give props to some of the new designs. They look fresh and truly like they add something new with new color combinations, new hair pieces and overall rather elaborate designs and prints.

What the Pigsy…?!

Based on the factors mentioned in the previous paragraph and some additional ones I opted for Pigsy’s Food Truck (80009) for a hands-on look at at least one set from the series. The reasoning behind this is pretty straightforward.

First, my brother and I have this weird running gag of anything to do with pigs and piglets and as a consequence anything to do with certain shades of pink. That’s why I had to have this for the pig on the roof of the van and Pigsy‘s minifigure alone. On that same note, I’m of course also somewhat into LEGO Friends and thus already have a reasonably large collection of pieces in these colors which I’m always looking to expand and complete in the hopes of one day pulling off some gorgeous custom builds with them.

The other reason to get this set are the many white parts, in particular the arches used on the wheel wells and the large modified tiles constituting the upward-swinging doors on the sides. There’s quite a few of them and if nothing else, they may come in handy as snow-covered roof elements for Christmas-y builds when it’s that time of the year again…

With that in mind, the economics added up and I wouldn’t have to worry about a total write-off even if the model itself disappointed. Knowing that these sets will very likely be exclusive to LEGO stores for a while, I ordered it right away from their online shop. Lo and behold, despite all kinds of horror stories of packages getting stuck in distribution centers due too overwhelming demand in the current crisis, everything worked out just fine and one week later DPD dropped the box undamaged on my doorstep.

LEGO Monkie Kid, Pigsy's Food Truck (80009), Overview

Unwrapping the Van

The set comes with a pretty sizable van, five minifigures and two motorbikes, which even despite my initial criticism makes for a good value. In fact I would argue that out of all the current Monkie Kid sets this is perhaps the one with the best price-to-value ratio overall. I’m not sure if 60 Euro is the best price it could have, but given how surprised I myself was at how large the food truck actually turned out, I feel that it’s still fair on some level. If it only cost 50 Euro it would of course be even better, yet I don’t feel I have paid too much, rare as this is these days.

LEGO Monkie Kid, Pigsy's Food Truck (80009), Minifigures

As written earlier, the figures are pretty nice. Monkie Kid himself (center) stands out the most with not only a unique torso print (apparently he’s employed at Pigsy‘s, if only as a disguise), but also the most elaborate legs I have seen myself to date. They are dual molded wit ha red upper section and black shoes and printed from three sides. Technically this is nothing new, but figures with such complex leg prints aren’t found in every set and i never had one before. My only criticism would be the slight lack of opacity on the white portions.

Pigsy uses a new unique head mold and looks just fine as a comical interpretation of a pig. The single customer is a bit run-off-the-mill and the Red shirt/ Sand Blue pants combo feels a bit overused. Simply too many figures in City and Creator sets use it. The evil guys, called Grunt and Snort in this set, are just clones in the truest sense of the meaning. they all look the same and are contained in every set, so similar to Star Wars you may indeed be able to build a clone army once you have bought enough of them.

LEGO Monkie Kid, Pigsy's Food Truck (80009), Motorbike, Left View  LEGO Monkie Kid, Pigsy's Food Truck (80009), Motorbike, Right View

The motorcycle/ bike is a completely new mold and is reminiscent of certain older types like wartime messenger bikes or the somewhat rustic-looking generations after that until the 1970s mostly. What makes them great, aside from having another alternate design, is the fact that LEGO had the good sense to do them in decent, realistic colors. They are a combo of Pearl Dark Grey , Pearl Grey and Black, making them unoffensive and integrate well into any scenario. even the spoked wheel hubs have that nice metallic sheen.

It’s an ordinary World (very ordinary)

Moving on to the truck itself, you’re kind of immediately taken out of the Monkie Kid world again as – with all respect – it looks very, very mundane and ordinary, give or take the few extras. That is both a good thing and a bad thing at the same time. It’s good because of course this would allow you to use the model in other scenarios easily with only minor modifications. It’s bad because somehow it just doesn’t seem to fit the slightly more crazy other sets from the series.

LEGO Monkie Kid, Pigsy's Food Truck (80009), Truck, Front Left View

Most notably the lack of any variation in the overall White color scheme makes it just look boring. Yes, you can insert the same platitudes about me just not using stickers, but I still feel that this could easily have been mitigated somewhat even without those. Had e.g. the large 6 x 12 tile been substituted with multiple smaller ones and some colored items been sprinkled in to imitate patched or rusty spots, it could have looked more interesting to begin with.

LEGO Monkie Kid, Pigsy's Food Truck (80009), Truck, Aft Left View

And make no mistake – even if you were to apply the large stickers it would not necessarily look better. Both Bright Pink and Dark Cyan are “cold”, not very vibrant colors that do little to enliven the model. The lack of contrast can be extended to the mudguards or the rounded sections of the roof as well. Would have making the roof Light Bluish Grey been boring, too? Admittedly yes, but it would at least have given some contrast and a nice demarcation line.

LEGO Monkie Kid, Pigsy's Food Truck (80009), Truck, Aft Right View

I feel that the the mudguards likewise could have been grey or in the Bright Light Orange/ Flame Orange Yellow as the middle strip on top of the roof. On the bright side, though, they are constructed from the new 3 x 3 rounded bricks first introduced in the latest Star Wars – Rise of the Skywalker Resistance X-Wing (75273) for the jet intakes. That opens up potential for using them in a million different ways on other builds as opposed of having more single-mold pieces with limited alternate uses floating about in your stock.

LEGO Monkie Kid, Pigsy's Food Truck (80009), Truck, Front View

The various appendages, i.e. the red horns, bull catcher and lights to me merely feel like a half-baked, uninspired attempt to make the vehicle look even a tiny bit menacing, but ultimately it does not. In terms of “branding” this seems weird, anyway. Wouldn’t those pieces by Dark Cyan or one of the pink colors, anyway? This also wreaks havoc with the red sausages/ hot dogs. They just don’t stand out enough. I also wish for once we’d get those Wieners in a different color. would it have been too much to ask for veggie spinach sausages in Dark Green?

LEGO Monkie Kid, Pigsy's Food Truck (80009), Truck, Sausage Grill

Don’t be so tense!

When inspecting the driver’s cabin/ cockpit, we have to talk about one fundamental problem with this model. There is a lot of overall tension/ friction and by that I really mean a lot.

The cause of this is easy to pin down – the model uses some very long plates and equally 1 stud wide long bricks on top of a chassis frame that derives its main stability from several 6 x 8 plates on top of a Technic brick frame wit ha few pins. To me it’s all too obvious why this can’t work out. The cumulative shear forces will eventually get so great, you struggle to plug on another row of bricks. This is particularly bad with the yellow decorative strip running down the middle of the roof. Here the issue is exacerbated by the strip being build from 1 x 6 bricks that just won’t fit right due to too much lateral friction. Adding the turntable for the pig figure was a battle. This is definitely not for kids and you may need to have a wood hammer handy.

LEGO Monkie Kid, Pigsy's Food Truck (80009), Truck, Cockpit

The roof of the driver’s cabin is not completely as bad, but still not really good. I guess the most fitting description would be that it’s a case of “It will jiggle itself into the right position”. You literally have to bend and twist the model ever so slightly at the step where you’re supposed to insert the roof and once the bricks have loosened themselves again and released some tension things will work. regardless, it’s just not ideal having to work this way.

BoringÔäó inside

LEGO Monkie Kid, Pigsy's Food Truck (80009), Truck Interior, Front Left

The boring-ness of the design continues with the interior. One can’t help but feel that you’ve seen this a million times in every Friends or City van of similar ilk already. There’s some boxes, the usual mustard/ ketchup/ salt & pepper dispensers and a workbench. The only real highlights are a fridge and an extra overhead storage cabinet in the roof which admittedly uses a cleaver on-the-side building technique, but even those feel like they merely fill too much space that otherwise would not be used.

LEGO Monkie Kid, Pigsy's Food Truck (80009), Truck Interior, Aft Left

Don’t get me wrong – those elements are just fine for what they represent and even the “sterile” grey colors make sense, it’s just not what this model would have needed. If I had anything to say about it, this would be some insane stuff where once you open up the upward-swinging side panels/ doors you’d see a completely different kind of shop, be that some Chinese pharmacy or mystery items outlet or a full weapons store/ armory. At least the latter thought seems to have crossed the designers’ minds for a minute, as there’s a hidden weapons compartment in the freezer.

LEGO Monkie Kid, Pigsy's Food Truck (80009), Truck Interior, Fridge Secret

The mechanism for the roof swing doors kind of works, but occasionally it does not. More to the point you need to be pretty careful when to push it up and when to swivel it around. This is again an issue with the panels being rather flimsily constructed from only a few larger tiles with some 2 x 3 plates bridging the gaps on the backside. In addition, the actual hinge mechanism doesn’t use any of the inverted curved slopes usually associated with creating a strong connection, further complicating matters.

LEGO Monkie Kid, Pigsy's Food Truck (80009), Truck Interior, Front Right

The matter isn’t helped by once again severe tension problems in the roof. There’s simply too many bulky bricks up there like the big slopes in the middle. Funny enough, though personally I consider it sloppy, it may actually help that those pieces along with some of the arches have their ends loosely hanging in the air. Were they fully counter-locked with extra plates underneath, the friction issues would probably multiply even more.

LEGO Monkie Kid, Pigsy's Food Truck (80009), Truck Interior, Aft Right

Pink Sculpture

As mentioned in the introduction, one of the contributing factors I wanted this set is all that pig stuff and the advertising figure on the roof is part of that scheme. It’s reasonably well put together, though again I wish it would have been a bit bigger and more elaborate. It would have been nice if e.g. the ears had been actually pointed by building them from symmetrical pointed curved slopes. Given how the model is designed in that area already, it seems it would have been easy enough.

LEGO Monkie Kid, Pigsy's Food Truck (80009), Pig, Left LEGO Monkie Kid, Pigsy's Food Truck (80009), Pig, Aft Right

LEGO Monkie Kid, Pigsy's Food Truck (80009), Pig, Face The stud shooter forming the snout is okay, but I’d preferred some more realistic shaping over functionality still. it might even have been funnier to build the pig as a container and have a separate gun inside or at least hide the gun behind a panel on a hinge. Farting out bullets from the opened butt has its own weird appeal, if you get my drift…

Final Thoughts

Overall the set is perfectly okay as a traditional/ conservative van. It’s quite large and there are enough play features and accessibility to keep kids busy. It’s also a pretty good source for some unique and useful parts if like me you disassemble your models again after a while and use the pieces elsewhere. On the other hand there’s a lot of amateurish, bad construction used, which makes the assembly a bit of a pain at times and would have me worried about long-term damage to some of the elements. All that creaking can only mean something is going to budge one day.

With regards to the Monkie Kid series this doesn’t do much to spike my interest. It squanders its potential by being way too conservative and it just doesn’t feel crazy enough. For all intents and purposes this could just as well be a Creator 3in1 model and you wouldn’t notice much of a difference. So ultimately how worth buying this is depends on some very specific details. It’s still good value for money, though, just perhaps not in the same way for everyone…

Unfinished Business – 42084 – Hook Loader

As I’ve hinted at in my other posts, I often buy small sets with the intention of bolstering my supply of parts. Depending on what parts are actually in the box this can be a million times more cost-efficient than scraping them together from other sources. The Hook Loader (42084) in the Technic line is a good example for this with its two dark grey curved panels and tires almost accounting for the entire cost of around 7 Euros, if you were to source them from a parts-selling site like Bricklink.

Lego Technic, Dump Truck (42084), Box

Regardless of my ambition to use the parts in other projects, of course I always build the kits at least once to see how they are supposed to function, whether the parts are all there and possibly in the process also learn and discover some interesting technique that might come in handy one day. As such, this little set with its 176 parts takes about 15 minutes to assemble for any well-versed Technic enthusiast, making it a super quick build.

Lego Technic, Hook Loader (42084), Left Side

For what it is supposed to represent the model looks the part. The proportions are okay-ish, even though it stands very high on its wheels. The chassis is pretty sturdy despite its simplicity, so this should work well enough and have playability even for clumsy toddlers that may lean on it a bit too much. On the other hand the actual loading tray/ dumpster is sitting very loosely on top, which could be a problem. I feel that this could have been constructed much better and only┬á would have required a few more and different parts, in particular for the hook mechanism and the guiding latch between the chassis’ beams.

Lego Technic, Hook Loader (42084), Right Side

Another thing that irks me is the “open” front region with the windscreen’s lower edge not even plugging into anything. In fact this could have been entirely avoided by making the cockpit 1 unit taller and 1 unit longer, so another angled connector and a liftarm would have fitted inbetween. This seems so obvious, it really makes you wonder why they didn’t pursue this further. It seems so simple and would have elevated the set to a somewhat more realistic rendition. The same goes for the wheel hubs, BTW. Black may be common in the real world but I feel that silver or light gray would have looked better.

Lego Technic, Hook Loader (42084), Front View

As far as functions go, naturally there is a steering mechanism plus the mechanical hook to load and unload the tray. The latter could have easily been omitted, as in light of the issues with the loose fit it would likely have been better to opt for a simple plug-on construction. This might also have allowed to throw in some different or extra elements to e.g. represent mudguards.

Lego Technic, Hook Loader (42084), Underside

Returning to my introduction, the part yield consists of quite a few connectors of different types and in different colors, a few gears, the two large curved panels already mentioned and a handful of liftarms. Nothing you would get excited about, but again, the set as a whole pretty much costs what those parts would also cost separately, so you can’t really complain about the price (in contrast to many other LEGO sets). As dark, deep grey tones are really my favorite color these days and I have a penchant for substituting IMO all too flamboyantly colored parts in my builds, I’m sure those panels alone will be worth it.

Lego Technic, Hook Loader (42084), Unloaded Tray

On its own the set doesn’t have too many merits unless you actually have a 3-year-old at home that would play with it. For everybody else it’s a pretty short diversion with limited longevity value unless you plan on combining it with parts from other sets or expanding/ improving the somewhat dysfunctional areas. I do get what LEGO are intending to do with this set, but it seems to me that those minimalistic models are really not what Technic is meant for and rather than being an interesting entr├ęe into this world, this would probably put of kids beyond a certain age.

Lego Technic, Hook Loader (42084), Unloaded Tray