The Volvo EW160E is an 1166 piece set that retails for £69.99 in the UK and $119.99 in the US. It is one of the three Technic sets that were released by Lego at the start of August, and we previously reviewed the Bucket Wheel Excavator (42055) if you want to go look at that.
This is a significantly smaller set, but it still took me about 5 1/2 hours to put together. The small size of the finished model and the reasonably low piece count will make you think this is an easy one, but the internals are more complicated than that. Unlike the BWE which was motorised, this set uses the Pneumatic V2 system that Lego also used on the Mercedes Benz Arocs truck. This allows the arm to move in two places, and the bucket to open and close, all by simply putting the switches in the correct places and using the pump to fill the system with air. All of the pipes come cut to the correct size, so there’s none of the measuring and cutting required from classic Pneumatic sets, you just need to make sure you follow the instructions carefully and thread them through the correct spots.
But just like the classic Pneumatic sets, the experience of using it isn’t as smooth as you would hope. It’s hard to tell if there’s still air left in the system, so you’ll often complete one move and then find that starting the next results in the residual air pushing the parts into positions you didn’t want. This makes any kind of fine control almost impossible.
On the plus side, it is actually a working machine. Unlike the BWE which fell short of actually providing the basic excavating experience, the Volvo can pick things up, rotate it’s cab, drive the wheels and drop it elsewhere. Kids will have great fun grabbing minifigs and depositing them in a pile, perhaps in the back of a Lego truck like the Arocs.
It is possible to motorise and light this model with the appropriate additional kit, but I didn’t have one to hand so wasn’t able to try that out. It does appear from the instructions though that this requires a significant disassembly, so if it’s something you’re planning on doing, it would seem that it’s a good idea to know that from the start and adapt accordingly.
Ultimately this is not the kind of set I would normally buy. Unlike the BWE which appealed to me because of it’s sheer size, and it’s ability therefore to cross over the divide to a wider Lego fanbase, this is really a Technic model for Technic fans. I don’t find the finished model particularly appealing to the eye, and feel that all of the work and time put into it doesn’t really pay off visually. But if you are a Technic fan, you can hardly argue with the price, at just 6p per piece you’re getting a lot of model for not a lot of change, and for that reason it’s hard to see why this wouldn’t be a must buy.
Full disclosure, this set was provided by Lego for review, but these opinions are my own.