The #42109 LEGO Technic App-Controlled Top Gear Rally Car is the third LEGO Technic set that works with the new LEGO Technic Control+ app. I was really looking forward to this set, because it’s the smallest LEGO Technic vehicle that includes all the new electronic components. Now that I had the chance to finally build the car and test out the features, I thought to share my thoughts on it.
Please note that my views are from the perspective of a notice Technic builder. Although I have built Technic sets before, including the super awesome and very complex #42110 LEGO Technic Land Rover Defender, this is my first remote-controlled Technic vehicle experience, and the first time I used the LEGO Technic Control+ app. So, if you’re new to LEGO Technic, and/or the new app-controlled electronic components, you can follow along as I discover this new system for myself. And for advanced builders, I also included the review videos of two very experienced LEGO Technic review channels; Sariel and RacingBrick. They will give you a more in-debt review of the set.
As mentioned above, the #42109 LEGO Technic App-Controlled Top Gear Rally Car is only the third LEGO Technic set that uses the new electronic components controlled via Bluetooth. And with the price of $129.99, it is also the cheapest currently available set to get your hands on the electronic parts. The other two sets are the #42099 LEGO Technic 4×4 X-treme Off-Roader for $249.99, and the #42100 LEGO Technic Liebherr R 9800 Excavator for $449.99. You can check them out at the LEGO Technic section of the Online LEGO Shop.
The three electronic components are the #6214085 LEGO Powered Up L-Motor, the #6214088 LEGO Powered Up XL-Motor, and the #6142536 LEGO Powered Up Bluetooth Hub (which also serves as the battery box). It’s worth noting that while the Rally Car has one of each of the three components, the Off-Roader has one L-Motor, two XL-Motors, and one Hub. And the Liebherr has four L-Motors, three XL-Motors, and two Hubs. The Liebherr is definitely a beast! I don’t know how the electronic components are packaged in the two larger sets, but in the Rally Car, they came separately packaged in a nice black box with the number #6318336 LEGO Technic printed on it.
The #42109 LEGO Technic App-Controlled Top Gear Rally Car only consist of 463 pieces, and the three electronic components provide the biggest bulk. In fact, the Hub itself is an integral part of the chassis, while also housing the six AA batteries and the Bluetooth connector. The larger motor sits at the back to power the vehicle, while the smaller motor is located at the front and takes care of steering. Both of them are neatly connected to a couple of LEGO Technic frames. I love the efficiency of the whole setup!
Continuing with the efficiency and neatness, the cables running between the motors and the hub are routed via two red and two yellow LEGO Technic Wire Connectors. Because the electronic components are so large and the vehicle is not very big – about 10” (26cm) long, 3” (10cm) high and 5” (14cm) wide – there is no room for seats and steering in the cabin, but LEGO designers did manage to squeeze in a fake engine at the front with a lift-up hood. None of the components here do anything, but they do make the vehicle look nice.
Building the set took me about two hours, which is longer than an experienced LEGO Technic builder would need. However, I enjoyed the process. The 26 stickers alone took about half an hour to apply. (I use the soapy water method to attach stickers. It takes longer, but it assures that the stickers sit just right). In general, I do like to take my time with LEGO Technic sets because they are such interesting and educational building projects, and because mistakes are harder to fix than in regular LEGO sets.
The build itself has two interesting sections (besides installing and connecting the electric parts); the differential gear train at the back, and the steering at the front. Other than that, you’re just building the shell of the car and applying the stickers.
I know some people are critical of the small size and lack of features of the Rally Car, but I love how compact it is! And it’s also very solid, so running into things while navigating shouldn’t be a problem. As far as aesthetics, the back end looks especially good, and I also like the low and chunky profile. One thing that really surprised me is the weight of the vehicle due to the electronic components and six batteries. It weights almost two pounds!
I’m not sure though why this set needed to be associated with Top Gear. There is some minimal info about Stig in the instruction booklet, but there is no Stig minifig, and as far as I know, the Rally Car is not a specific vehicle from the Top Gear franchise. I don’t know how much licensing fee LEGO has to pay for this brand, and how much this increased the price of the set, but I think most LEGO fans would have been happy with a generic rally car with a cool Technic color-scheme and stickers for a lesser price.
Now, let’s talk about the app, and what it’s like to control the vehicle. You can download the app for free at the App Store or Google Play. To read about device compatibility with phones and tablets and other frequently asked questions, you can visit the official LEGO Control+ page. Once the app is installed, you just follow the prompts for any updates and for connecting with the Rally Car (basically, just push the green button on the LEGO Powered Up Hub when the app tells you to do so).
The app also walks you through a short tutorial, showing you how to control the speed and direction of the vehicle with the right hand, and turning with the left hand. You can switch between manual and automatic shifting on the same dashboard. I found manual shifting easier to use when you’re just learning how to control your car. Once you get the hang of it, you can take the driving challenges. The challenges are pretty fun, but you do need to have quite a bit of space with no obstructions to successfully complete them. Or, you can just come up with your own challenges driving around furniture and stuff.
One thing I didn’t realize until I watched the video-reviews is that there is a second control screen in the app that you can access by swiping left on the main control screen, which allows you to turn the Rally Car by just tilting your phone. Here, also, you have a choice to drive automatic or manual, which gives you even more options. So, essentially, you have four different ways to control your vehicle. In the video-reviews below, you can see how this works in more detail.
As a beginner who had no previous experience with remote-controlled Technic vehicles, I’m satisfied with the speed and performance of the Rally Car. I’m mostly running it indoors, and I can’t imagine wanting it go any faster. I would completely loose control and crash into everything! However, you will notice that both Sariel and RacingBrick are critical of the speed, and consider the vehicle too slow. Another thing to keep in mind is that the Rally Car is not meant to be an off-roader. It’s heavy, has low clearance, and relatively small wheels. It’s not going to handle hills and puddles outside very well. If that’s what you would like, the #42099 LEGO Technic 4×4 X-treme Off-Roader is a better option.
In summary, I’m happy with #42109 LEGO Technic App-Controlled Top Gear Rally Car, and I have been playing with it every day, completing the challenges and perfecting my driving skills. I love the look, and I’m satisfied with the performance. However, if you’re an advanced LEGO Technic user, or you have experience driving non-LEGO remote controlled vehicles, you might want to wait until the new electronic components are available individually and you can build your own vehicles.
If you are interested in any of the three new app-controlled vehicles – the #42109 LEGO Technic App-Controlled Top Gear Rally Car, the #42099 LEGO Technic 4×4 X-treme Off-Roader, and the #42100 LEGO Technic Liebherr R 9800 Excavator – visit the LEGO Technic section of the Online LEGO Shop.
What do you think? Do you have any of the new LEGO Technic app-controlled vehicles? Or are you planning to get any of them? How do you like them? Which one is your favorite? Feel free to share your thoughts and own reviews in the comment section below!
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