Big Boys Toys

Recently I’ve decided to start spending Christmas & Birthday money on “the inner 8-year-old”, figuring otherwise it just ends up as petrol in the tank, or used to buy something you’d just buy anyway. Hence the Lego Supercar last birthday, and this year, one of the daddies of the Lego sets, the Mercedes Benz Unimog U400!



Weighing in at over 2000 pieces, 5 manuals, and a completed length of around 55cm, this is not a kit you fling together in an hour, so I’m glad I’d already done the Supercar kit last year, at least a slight introduction before jumping in to the full hog of the Unimog.


Small nags at this point? The bags are separated & numbered suggesting some order, if there was I never found it and it wasn’t long before every bag was open and the whole lot tipped in to the box, though I guess making sense out of the disorder is half the fun of Lego.


Several hours & one book down gets you as far as the central gearbox & rear diff assembly. The gearbox allows the single motor in this kit to either power the front which, the rear arm turntable, or the pneumatic pump to power the rear arm.


The complete build actually took around a week based on a few hours each night. I’m sure an eager youngster would have flung it together in a weekend though.

The detail in the kit is pretty impressive, whilst not 100% accurate, it has portal axles for raised ground clearance, working front, centre & rear diffs, suspension, steering, the pneumatics work, the cab tilts…

There are, however, two issues, with the “working” engine…


There’s the pedantic, it should be a straight six, not a four, but the major issue is it doesn’t actually work. On the Lego Supercar the engine is driven off the propshaft from the back. No issues. On the Unimog however, it’s driven off the central differential casing. However this only rotates when the front & rear axles aren’t in equilibrium. In other words, it only moves if a wheel, or pair of wheels isn’t turning. Lift an axle up & it works. All four wheels on the ground and the engine is stationary…

There are problems with the steering too, a lot is covered in this youtube post that’ll point out various inaccuracies in the steering for eg, but essentially, you can feel the steering struggling with the weight, put the snow plough on and there’s so much weight on the front end the steering pretty much gives up.

Of course non of that really matters, the important thing is, does the winch & claw arm work?


Oh? Did we mention there was drive & pneumatic points front & rear?

To which of course oh yes! Much better than expected in fact. The controls are fiddly but it’s capable of lifting items much heavier than I anticipated




and can it off-road like a Unimog?



Neatly demoing the suspension articulation. Of course we’d expect nothing less.


Of course as with any Lego kit there is scope for “more”, a search on the net soon finds those adding remote control, and various new power attachments. With the Supercar there are downloadable instructions to build a hotrod, with the Unimog, it’s to convert the arm & deck in to a snow plough. As this post sat in my drafts for a fortnight, and we got more snow, so I quickly built the snow plough…




At nigh on £140, it’s a hard kit to justify, but, you get a lot of Lego, and a lot of build time for your money, before of course you even take in to account the end result, it’s educational, it’s tough (it’s been accidentally drop tested), and of course you can then use the guts to rebuild it in to whatever your imagination will let you, or your 8 year olds, if you ever let them near it



or of course you can just keep on truckin’.

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