Jul 31, 2023
LEGO Technic 42146 Liebherr Crawler Crane LR 13000 review
42146 Liebherr Crawler Crane LR 13000 towers high above the rest of the LEGO Technic theme in both stature and cost, but can it hold your attention long enough to justify its price tag? Cranes:
42146 Liebherr Crawler Crane LR 13000 towers high above the rest of the LEGO Technic theme in both stature and cost, but can it hold your attention long enough to justify its price tag?
Cranes: they’ve been a staple of LEGO Technic since the theme’s inception all the way back in 1977, and have often been the biggest and most functional sets Technic has to offer. So it was perhaps inevitable, in the LEGO Group’s ongoing quest to replicate all the biggest machines in plastic, that we would get to the Liebherr LR 13000, one of the largest conventional crawler cranes on the planet.
Marking the company’s second collaboration with Liebherr, the German manufacturer well known for its range of mining machinery and lifting equipment (and, err, refrigerators), the LR 13000 is appropriately also the largest – and priciest – Technic set ever released.
Theme: LEGO Technic Set name: 42146 Liebherr Crawler Crane LR 13000 Release: August 1, 2023
Price: £579.99 / $699.99 / €679.99 Pieces: 2,883 Minifigures: 0
LEGO: Order now
LEGO Technic 42146 Liebherr Crawler Crane LR 13000 launches August 1 at LEGO.com and in LEGO Stores, and will likely be available through third-party retailers too.
Before you even begin, you’re going to want to make sure you’ve got plenty of space to accommodate 42146 Liebherr Crawler Crane LR 13000‘s huge footprint. It comes together quite quickly thanks to generous use of large frame elements, and there’s surprisingly little complexity for a Technic flagship – you won’t find any complicated gearboxes or intricate linkages here. Don’t be fooled though, because this build demands your attention. One small mistake, and the interlocking frame structure means you’re going to have a hard time undoing it.
One element of the build that proves particularly baffling comes with connecting the motor wires to the hub in the carrier. Technic pins are used to guide the wires, and connecting the superstructure rotation motor to the hub is impossible without stretching the wire to the point of breakage. In the end, moving these guide pins fixes the problem, but in a premium set of this size it’s an odd problem to encounter.
The build is completed by erecting the towering boom and jib, along with a mysterious function that physically links the CONTROL+ hub, mounted on a rocker mechanism, to the main boom via the rear derrick boom. Hooking the boom and jib up with the included 12 meters of cable for the crane’s three winches proves quite frustrating and fiddly, and requires a specific knot be used – these have to hold the entire weight of the boom, after all. Fortunately, the CONTROL+ app includes videos demonstrating exactly how to do this, and the instructions are nice and clear.
If the build is underwhelming for a flagship, then the end result certainly fits the bill. Standing a meter tall (and capable of reaching up to 1.2 metres) and 1.1 metres in length, the completed model is immediately impressive, with a wow factor that only a giant yellow crane can have. In fact, it’s hard to grasp exactly how huge 42146 Liebherr Crawler Crane LR 13000 is without context – it towers over previous flagship 42100 Liebherr R 9800 Excavator, and even outreaches 42082 Rough Terrain Crane. The boom and jib are constructed using new lattice frame parts developed specifically for this set, and balanced through 24 new counterweight elements collectively weighing nearly 1kg.
Up close, however, a lack of aesthetic detail becomes apparent. The panels that enclose the superstructure motors, for example, are left open on one side, leaving it feeling unfinished. Unlike previous flagships, there are few intricate details to discover. Taking a look at photos of the real LR 13000, it’s also impossible to ignore the peculiar proportions of the LEGO replica. Technic isn’t a scale-modelling theme, and stability and safety clearly take precedence, but it’s noticeable here in a way it usually isn’t with other licensed sets.
Another bugbear of modern Technic sets (ably demonstrated by the upcoming 42159 Yamaha MT-10 SP) is that the most interesting gear mechanisms are often covered up in the final build. That’s not an issue with the Liebherr because, well, there really aren’t any.
Considering how ubiquitous cranes are in the Technic portfolio, it’s surprising to learn this is the first to be fully remote-controlled, and it’s every bit as fun to drive as you’d expect. Packed into the crawler carrier are three large motors and a Bluetooth CONTROL+ hub, with three more large motors and another hub in the superstructure, giving complete remote control through a smart device and the free CONTROL+ app. Playing with the crane is hugely satisfying, even with just the basic controls of driving the carrier, rotating the superstructure, and using the three winches to adjust the boom, jib, and lifting.
However, the full capability of the hubs is demonstrated to great effect through some unexpected and rather clever features. Making use of the tilt sensor that’s built into the CONTROL+ hub (which is where that mystery mechanism comes into play), the app can tell approximately how much weight is being lifted and will display a warning if you go over the limit. Because it’s dependent on the physical tilt of the hub, that limit will change depending on the angle the boom and jib are set at. It’s an extremely impressive bit of design, and we were able to put quite a bit of weight on it before getting anywhere close to danger.
Elsewhere in the app, you’ll also find a list of pre-set positions you can use to move the boom and jib if you don’t feel like making micro-adjustments, and a centre-of-gravity indicator that again makes use of the hub’s tilt sensor. It also includes a return-to-centre button. Fair warning: don’t tap ‘return to centre’ when the boom is in the lowest position unless you have at least three meters of space, or else you’ll quickly turn 42146 Liebherr Crawler Crane LR 13000 into a demolition crane.
At £579.99 / $699.99 / €679.99 for 2,883 parts, you have to squint quite hard to see where the true value is in 42146 Liebherr Crawler Crane LR 13000. It lands squarely at the top of the list of most expensive Technic sets by some margin, and in most territories it’s also one of the most expensive sets across any theme.
Part count isn’t everything, though; for that price, you do get two CONTROL+ hubs, six large motors, and the heaviest Technic set yet (the full box weighs 9.2kg). Still, it represents a significant investment that will be hard to swallow for many, even with a discount.
In spite of a repetitive, uninspiring build, 42146 Liebherr Crawler Crane LR 13000 is ultimately a hugely impressive model that’s great fun to play around with and – if you’ve got the space – an eye-catching display piece.
It’s a slight shame to see some inaccuracies and a lack of aesthetic detail, and if this were a less expensive set those flaws might be easier to overlook.
Nevertheless, 42146 Liebherr Crawler Crane LR 13000 will still hold a strong appeal for fans of big Technic machinery – it’s unfortunate, then, that the price tag will likely put off all but the most ardent of crane enthusiasts.
This set was provided for review by the LEGO Group.
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If you’re set on some giant yellow remote-controlled machinery, then 42131 App-Controlled Cat D11 Bulldozer is still available and probably the closest alternative. If you’re just looking for something to drive around, the upcoming 42160 Audi RS Q e-tron comes in at a much more wallet-friendly price (or you could buy both for the same cost as 42146 Liebherr Crawler Crane LR 13000).
If having to buy batteries is a deal-breaker, the pneumatically-powered 42157 John Deere 948L-II Skidder also fits the heavy machinery niche nicely.
Get comfortable: LEGO Technic 42146 Liebherr Crawler Crane LR 13000 will take between 10 and 12 hours to build, depending on your experience with Technic (at least 45 minutes of which is hooking up the winches).
LEGO Technic 42146 Liebherr Crawler Crane LR 13000 contains 2,883 parts, including two CONTROL+ hubs and six large motors.
The largest set in the theme in all dimensions, LEGO Technic 42146 Liebherr Crawler Crane LR 13000 stands a metre tall, 1.1 metres long and 28cm wide.
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