March brings us another new Technic set. We already looked at the All-Terrain Vehicle and now we look at the App-Controlled Transformation Vehicle (42140). Although I am a big fan of cars, I prefer cars that look like what you see on the street. For that reason, my immediate reaction to this set wasn’t great. However, as soon as I saw this set, I knew it would appeal to kids. The potential for play factor appeared to be high. Regardless, the build experience looked intriguing. And of course, I was looking forward to investigating the play factor.
NOTE: The LEGO® Group provided this set for review. However, the provision of products does not guarantee a favorable review. I will use my usual rating system (click here for more information) and provide my honest opinion.
APP-CONTROLLED TRANSFORMATION VEHICLE SUMMARY
- NAME: App-Controlled Transformation Vehicle
- SET #: 42140
- THEME: Technic
- COST: $179.99 CAD
- BRICK COUNT: 772
- MINIFIGURES: n/a
- RELEASE DATE: Match 1, 2022
- COST/BRICK: $0.23
APP-CONTROLLED TRANSFORMATION VEHICLE QUICK REVIEW
- VALUE: 76% (decent value but difficult to assess because of the hub and 2 motors)
- BUILD: 85% (less technical build)
- MINIFIGURES: n/a
- ENTERTAINMENT: 75% (responsive but a bit slow, finicky challenges)
- OVERALL SCORE: 79%
APP-CONTROLLED TRANSFORMATION VEHICLE REVIEW
The App-Controlled Transformation Vehicle costs $179.99 in Canada and comes with 772 pieces ($0.23/brick). This might sound steep at first glance. However, the awesome part is this set includes two large motors (value $49.99 each) and one Technic Hub (value $119.99). When you factor these into the equation, you can see there is a lot of value in this set. This was my third experience building a Technic set. Although this set is rated only a year younger than the All-Terrain Vehicle, I found this set considerably easier. The time to complete the build was just over 3 hours with a value of $0.95 per minute. This is obviously a bit misleading since the value of the set is driven by the three Powered Up components.
Without factoring in the value of the motors and hub, the value score for this set is 62%. However, I would argue that when you exclude the motors and hub, the set becomes 769 pieces and is directly comparable to the All-Terrain Vehicle with 764 pieces. Without the Powered Up components this set likely would have been around $99.99 as well. At that price, this set has a ton of value at $0.13/brick and $0.53/minute of build time. The overall value score would then be 90%. I have decided to take an average of those two values for a value score of 76%.
Overall, this build was fairly enjoyable for a non-Technic builder. The main chassis is quite bulky with fewer finicky parts than my last Technic experience. This model also uses colour coding to guide the builder through the instructions which I found was helpful. After building the frame you add the two Powered Up motors and hub. This is where the awesome colour-coded Technic clips were used. I really like the colour choices too!
Over the next series of steps, you begin to assemble the unique cabs of both sides of the model. One side feels like a nod to the retro colours of the 80s and 90s, mashing up blue and pink with the new bright neon yellow. At first, I wasn’t a fan of the combination, but it quickly grew on me. Check out the new neon yellow beams!
The other side is primarily orange and has a bit of chunky look compared to the streamlined design of the blue side. Perhaps the orange is a tribute to the Arctic sub-theme a few years ago.
I thought it was interesting that they mounted small tires to the roof of the cabs so that they can roll smoothly when flipped over. It will be interesting to see if the clearance is as tight as the tires suggest. Furthermore, this leads me to believe that this model is purely for use on flat surfaces, much to my disappointment. The flipping function is quite neat. The model utilizes shocks to help with this. There is also a small rubber band that seems to help control the fin of the blue model.
Putting it All Together
The bed of the orange truck looks unfinished but provides easy access to the hub. The blue side has a bit of a racing boat vibe to it.
Interestingly, you build the two cabs attached to each other at the same time, and then attach the whole unit to the chassis. My favourite part about both cabs is the different steering mechanisms. The blue side uses two paint roller elements!
The least enjoyable part of the build for me was applying all the stickers to the panels and beams. However, I quickly forgot about that when I started to snap together the treads. While some folks might find it tedious, I found it rather soothing and even felt like I was doing a bit of mindful building. Check out my previous article on LEGO® and mindfulness to find out more about that.
The entire time I was building this model, I was anticipating taking it for a spin… or a flip. I waited in anticipation for the LEGO® Technic CONTROL+ app to update with the new vehicle as you can’t use it at all without the app. It won’t even roll. So if you don’t have access to a smart phone then you may want to consider picking up a different set. The app finally updated on March 1st so I was able to take it for a spin.
Figuring out the CONTROL+ App
Connecting the vehicle to the app was straightforward. However, once you have linked the vehicle to the app there are very few instructions and it was unclear what the different icons meant. I found the app fairly responsive, however, my left thumb didn’t seem to register the same as my right thumb so I had to concentrate to get the vehicle to go straight. It would be much easier with a traditional handheld controller with joysticks. The flipping function works well on a wall but it didn’t work when I tried it on a chair leg or a human leg. You can also spin the vehicle using both thumbs or there is a quick spin function that works with a single tap. It took a while to notice it but it’s the u-turn looking arrows just above the thumb pads.
Power Cell Challenge (orange side)
The controller changes depending which vehicle is facing upright and each side has a different challenge associated with it. The orange side has a power cell challenge. You have to move the vehicle around the room to find the cells. As you get closer to a power cell, the concentric circles on the screen light up. The app does warn you that you need an open space and this turned out to be problematic. While we have a decent size living room, the app kept wanting me to go through furniture or walls to get closer to the power cells. I can see this being a bit frustrating for kids. Unfortunately I couldn’t trial it outside due to the weather, but perhaps it will work better in a much more open space.
Gate Challenge (blue side)
The blue side has a gate challenge. You have to spin the vehicle until it lines up with the gate on the screen and then drive through it. I found this very challenging as the gate would disappear before I had a chance to get through it. Unlike the power cell challenge, the gate challenge seemed to work better in a smaller space. However, I often thought I had it lined up successfully but I had a hard time registering the gate on the app. In the end, I only managed to drive through one gate.
Once your time is up you get a summary of your game and you get to select your avatar if you are in the top 5. This could be a fun way to try and beat your best score. As you can see below, the app keeps stats separately for both vehicles.
The app also has a couple of other stats pages that offer some neat insights. These are also separate for both vehicles. However, it was a bit finicky switching between the icons at first. The Driving icon features five different stats. I found the distance, total flips, and track rotations the most interesting. The Climbing icon was pretty neat though I am not sure how it determine the degrees or if the pitch record shows flip attempts or successes, as I only seemed to succeed in flipping on vertical surfaces perpendicular to the floor.
OVERALL SCORE: 79%
Although I haven’t built many Technic sets, I found the build experience to be a fairly easy. Thus, I also enjoyed the experience more than other Technic sets! While I like the nod to the Arctic theme of the orange side, I can’t help but think it looks unfinished. I much prefer the look of the blue racing boat side with its more contoured lines. I also really enjoyed bringing mindfulness into the build experience when it came to putting together the tread.
The play factor wasn’t as high as I was hoping. Overall, I was surprised with the operation of the App-Controlled Transformation Vehicle. It was responsive and the spin feature works well. I was hoping the climbing/flipping feature might work a bit better, though it flips easily on a flat vertical surface. The overall speed when driving straight isn’t great which was disappointing, but it was still fun driving around the house. While it was novel at first, it did get a bit boring, and frustrating, rather quickly. The games do help a bit as it gives you different challenges to work on, though they seem to work better in open spaces.
While the build itself was a good experience, the biggest downfall is the vehicle cannot be used without engaging the motor. Unfortunately, you have access to a smart phone and have to be able to download the LEGO® Technic CONTROL+ app to use this model for anything but a static display on a shelf. Are you looking forward to trying out the new App-Controlled Transformation Vehicle? If you’ve tried this set or any other CONTROL+ app-operated models, how was your experience? Let us know in the comments; we’d love to hear from you!
Play well folks,
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