ReviewToys

The new Lego Technic pneumatic excavator

Ramon Schneider
Ramon Schneider
Zurich, on 12.07.2022
Translation: Patrik Stainbrook

Since 1984, Lego has released 28 models with pneumatic functions. A new air-powered Technic excavator will be released in August 2022. However, only its appearance and price are truly new.

Pneumatics has a long tradition at Lego Technic. Lego models that can be operated by air pressure have been around for almost 40 years. The concept is simple: a hand pump builds up the pressure, whereupon a valve regulates airflow and guides it via hoses to a cylinder that converts the air pressure into motion.

In the past, Lego mostly used these pneumatic features to operate excavator arms. This is also the case with their latest model, available starting August 2022: the handling excavator.

Handling excavator (42144, LEGO Technic)
–6%
89.30was 94.99
LEGO Handling excavator (42144, LEGO Technic)
8

The handling excavator feels at home in a scrap yard. With its claw, it sorts through all kinds of materials at the recycling yard, piling them into large mountains and loading them for further processing.

A rotating upper carriage and pneumatic arm

The excavator’s undercarriage is equipped with four wheels. Two of them can be moved left and right via a gear wheel, allowing you to steer the excavator. To ensure that the wheeled excavator has a secure footing, you can extend supports on each of the four sides, raising the excavator and allowing the wheels to float freely. The superstructure can be rotated 360 degrees, and the height of the driver’s cab can be adjusted by a gear wheel for a good overview.

Thanks to supports, the excavator remains solid and unmoving.
Thanks to supports, the excavator remains solid and unmoving.

The heart of this pneumatic system is located in the rear part of the superstructure. You use a hand pump to build up the air pressure needed to operate the excavator. Two valves raise and lower the articulated arm while the third valve opens and closes the claw. However, pressure quickly decreases, requiring you to constantly supply new air via the pump while playing. Initially, using this thing isn’t quite so simple. It took me a bit of practice to get the hang of it. However, once the general principle is grasped, the pneumatic functions are fun.

The arm and claw can be operated pneumatically via three valves.
The arm and claw can be operated pneumatically via three valves.

Twice as expensive as the predecessor

Lego Technic’s last pneumatic excavator was the Volvo EW160E, going on sale in 2016 and now no longer manufactured by Lego. It looked different, but had almost the same functions: four wheels, a lifting cabin, moveable arm and a shovel that could open and close. What Lego changed over the last six years, however, is the price. The old excavator had a licence from Volvo, 331 parts more and cost 98 francs at the time. For the new unlicensed handling excavator – that is, requiring no money going to Volvo – Lego has estimated an MSRP of 149 francs. If you calculate its MSRP by number of parts, the new excavator is more than twice as expensive as its predecessor.

The old pneumatic excavator from 2016: Lego Technic Volvo EW160E.
The old pneumatic excavator from 2016: Lego Technic Volvo EW160E.
Image: Lego

The lowdown

Leaving aside its predecessor, the excavator is a successful Technic set. Assembly was fun and entertaining, I busied myself with the model for three to four hours. Due to its pneumatic functions, the vehicle can also be played with and doesn’t just grace your shelf as a mere display object. However, compared to the older 2016 Volvo excavator, this material handler doesn’t offer any new features. The concept has been practically copied. Furthermore, the price is very high with an MSRP of 149 francs.

The articulated arm of the excavator with its claw open.
The articulated arm of the excavator with its claw open.

If you enjoy Lego Technic, like to play with your models and find pneumatics interesting, I can recommend the envelope excavator. However, I wouldn’t buy it at launch, but wait a while until the market has adjusted the prices down a bit.

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Riding my motorbike makes me feel free, fishing brings out my inner hunter, using my camera gets me creative. I make my money messing around with toys all day.


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