Technology

Latest Lego 4×4 is a slick but pricey RC car

One of the joys of ’90s childhoods was getting a big remote-control car and driving it around, crashing it into walls, and replacing the batteries every 20 minutes or so. The Lego Technic 4×4 X-treme Off-Roader takes that feeling and puts it on steroids (though the batteries last a bit longer now, which is nice).

In the box you’ll find 958 pieces, including a sticker sheet, approximately eleventy billion technic connectors, one large motor, two XL motors, and the new Control+ Bluetooth-controlled smart hub. Those last three items are why the RRP is a whopping $419.99, when you’d usually only expect to pay around 10c a piece on average for a Lego set. Target and Big W currently have it for well below $300.

The end result of the build is a great truck you can drive with your phone.

The end result of the build is a great truck you can drive with your phone.

The build itself is split between several bags numbered 1-3, dividing the build experience between the front axle, which has two motors to control both steering and drive, the back axle which has a motor for drive as well as the smart hub, and the decorative top shell.

Because the front half of the build is so compact, and fitting in so many pieces, I found it to be quite a challenge, and had to go back several times to fix mistakes which seemed tiny at first and then snowballed. Getting the suspension at just the right angle was my greatest undoing, but the process of building it taught me several new techniques and at least one new combination of swear words.

The second axle was equally compact, but because I’d had the experience of the first I actually found this part of the build really relaxing. It was different enough that it didn’t feel samey, but it is one of the few times I’ve felt really confident about my Technic building skills (I primarily build regular Lego).

Then we get to the third part, with all the larger pieces and sticker hell. Although one might expect printed parts in a set this expensive, either you or the child building the set is going to need to brace themselves to perfectly place nearly three dozen stickers, ranging from two bricks wide to a whole front piece. Screwing one up will ruin the look of the whole thing, so no pressure.

There are a lot of very tiny stickers.

There are a lot of very tiny stickers.

At the end you get a remote-control car which has that distinctly Technic look about it. It’s not trying to look like a real monster truck, it just wants to give the impression of one, while allowing you to admire all the details you put into the building, which is just neat.

Once you’ve installed the Control+ app on your recent smart phone/tablet (which is essential to make this thing work), you can sync the car and start driving around.

The controls are surprisingly good and accurate, whether you’re using the virtual joysticks or steering using the phone’s accelerometer. Once you’re bored of just driving around, you can start doing the challenges built into the app, which is a nice touch.

What’s frustrating is that the turning circle on this thing is massive, so you’re going to need a pretty large room. And because the clearance on the front is so low, you’re going to need that room clear of obstacles. That’s not going to be possible for everyone, especially since you can’t really use it outside. The wheels are already showing signs of wear from driving around on my nice, clean, wooden floors; something like concrete is going to straight up murder them.

But if you have space and a spare $300, this car would make a fantastic Christmas gift. The build was fun, and I’m enjoying driving it into my walls and pretending I won’t have to be the one to touch up the crash marks later.

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