What Are The Best Lego Technic Sets? – 2018 Edition
If your child is deep into legos but needs a more extreme challenge that includes programming and creating moving parts, you’ll need to challenge them with a lego technic set.
Lego technic sets are the most complex category of legos, and require an extensive amount of preparation, attention, and skilled execution. Picking out lego technic sets is likely more difficult than picking out any other kind of lego set, too.
Technic sets are not uniform in their complexity, and there is a massive range of difficulty. Which technic set is the best for someone who is starting to dive in? Which are plagued by issues, and which are easy to get up and running?
In this article, we’ll look at the world of lego technic sets so that you can purchase the right one for your aspiring roboticist.
Our #1 Choice – LEGO Technic Bucket Wheel Excavator 42055 Construction Toy
The LEGO Technic Bucket Wheel Excavator 42055 Construction Toy is a serious technic toy for those who love construction and mining.
- Biggest lego technic set ever made
- Ultra-complex and cool
- Multiple articulated points of motion
- May not be great for shoveling sand
- Sensitive servos
This technic toy contains one mega-excavator and one mine-style dump truck. This is the largest technic set ever made regarding size. Arguably, it is also the most complex ever made regarding complexity, too.
There are multiple points of motion and multiple inflection areas for twisting and rotating on this technic set. The excavator’s arm requires no fewer than three motors: one for pivoting, one for raising and lowering, and one for running the scoops.
Setting up this technic set will take a very long time for the most devoted lego fans. The reward will be well worth the time, however. The excavator is remotely drivable, and it can scoop and render anything that you desire to pick up.
The durability of this unit is a bit less than you might expect given its appearance. While it can shovel sand very effectively, you will need to be aware of the sand getting into the servos. If the sand enters the servos, you’ll need to fetch a can of compressed air to blow it out or risk damaging the motors.
For the elite lego enthusiast, this technic set is the apex.
Our #2 Choice – LEGO Technic Mercedes-Benz Arocs 3245 42043 Building Kit (2793 Piece)
The LEGO Technic Mercedes-Benz Arocs 3245 42043 Building Kit (2793 Piece) is a fully-fledged robotic arm disguised as a lego toy. Coincidentally, there’s also a vehicle attached to the arm.
- Amazing robotic arm
- Requires extensive software configuration
- Very large size
- Extremely challenging construction
This truck’s defining feature is its robotic arm. The arm is equipped with a scoop at the end, and is articulated at no fewer than seven points. Constructing this arm and making it work properly will be the crown jewel in your lego lover’s collection.
The vehicle itself aside from the arm is of high quality and is aesthetically pleasing, but don’t get confused about the purpose of this set. This set is entirely about the robotic arm.
The software and hardware in this set will make using the arm easier than it is to build, but your lego lover will need to use their best mind to make it into a reality.
The instructions that come with the kit are extensive. There are over 2700 pieces in this kit, and each piece locks into the others with precision. If there is a missed step, it may become a massive headache later down the line.
Make sure that your lego lover is ready for a multimodal challenge. This kit is not for the faint of heart, and it will require extensive software and hardware testing to get it to work perfectly.
The upshot is that your child will learn real robotics skills with this set. While it isn’t exactly a resume item, your child’s ability to follow instructions and troubleshoot problems will be improved with certainty.
Our #3 Choice – Lego Mindstorms EV3 31313 Robot Kit for Kids
The Lego Mindstorms EV3 31313 Robot Kit for Kids is a fairly laid back technic set which will require your child to do a moderate amount of construction. The emphasis of this kit is on software configuration and activation.
- Great first technic set
- Cool moving and talking robot
- Not too easy nor too complex
Unlike the other technic sets we have reviewed so far, this set is a bit more laid back. You might even consider this robot to be a good introduction to the lego technic field.
Children who are accustomed to assembling lego sets will find this set to be right up their alley regarding construction difficulty. It isn’t too hard, nor is it too simple. Getting the robot to respond to commands is a bit more difficult, but it remains manageable.
With 601 pieces and 16 inches of height, this robot will find its way into your home without much trouble.
Children seeking a more complex challenge will probably still be satisfied with this set. The only major drawback of this set is its price; even for a technic set, this set is priced very high. Nonetheless, its value as an entry piece into the technic field makes it worthwhile.
Our #4 Choice – LEGO Creator Robo Explorer 31062 Robot Toy
The LEGO Creator Robo Explorer 31062 Robot Toy is a simple and fun technic set that is closer to a traditional lego set regarding its size and complexity.
- Teaches robot motion concepts
- Easy to assemble
- Gets your child thinking like a technic creator
- No ability to move or react
This is the simplest technic set which we’ll review today. Even though it is very simple by design, this set has a lot of play value. Your child should probably build this toy before they dive into any of the more complex technic sets because it teaches a number of valuable lessons in a simple way.
First, this set has no motors. Most children expect their technic set to have motors, but this set is useful because it introduces concepts like degrees of motion, articulated joints, power sources, and the different vectors of mechanical force.
Without these concepts, your child’s dive into a genuine technic set with motors will be much more confusing. This robot has the degrees of motion in its limbs which are covered in technic sets, but your child will learn which direction the force will need to go to articulate the limb in a certain way.
When they are later assembling servos and connecting the motion points to the motor, these early lessons will make the process very intuitive. This set is too simple for children who are already involved in technics, but it is a good final step in the world of traditional legos before graduating to technic sets.
Our #5 Choice – LEGO Technic Getaway Racer 42046 Building Kit
The LEGO Technic Getaway Racer 42046 Building Kit is a great mid-level technic kit which will create an awesome semi-powered vehicle without having to bother with software.
- Moderate level complexity
- Teaches simple physics concepts
- No programming required
- Doesn’t teach about robotics or programming
This set uses a stored kinetic energy motor to move the drag racer. Your child will learn about concepts like stored energy and aerodynamics with this set. This set is not very difficult to assemble, and your child will learn to enjoy the technic legos without having to worry about coding any motors to activate.
This set is also great for children who aren’t crazy about robot arms and who would prefer a vehicle that they can get down and play with without having to worry about breaking it.
As far as technic sets go, this set is very durable. Unlike others, your child can get it dirt without a problem. The motor is wind-up, and easy to keep in action.
What To Look For In Lego Technic Sets
The key thing about lego technic sets is that the challenge needs to fit the builder. This is true with other lego sets too, but with technic sets the learning curve is so steep that even a tiny bit of overextension can cause a difficult and not enjoyable time.
Every technic set has a great group of instructions. But the purpose of the set is that makes it difficult or easy. Sets with robotic arms will be the hardest, and require a mixture of software operation and hardware assembly.
After that, a good rule of thumb is that the more points of articulation that a set has, the more complex and the more difficult it will be. A car with moving wheels is not very complicated. A mining rig or a full-sized robot is, on the other hand, very complicated.
Remember, your lego lover will need to figure out exactly how to activate one or more motors for each point of articulated motion. This requires software. But for that software to work, the motors have to be connected to their task correctly.
Following instructions carefully isn’t a bonus with technic sets, nor is it a skill to be learned on the fly. Following instructions very closely is mandatory for all but the most skilled lego lovers in the case of technic sets.
If you aren’t sure whether a certain set is too hard or whether it is perfect, you may want to opt for a less difficult set. It is better to pick sets which are a little bit too easy than a little bit too hard.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Skills Will My Child Learn From Lego Technic Sets?
Lego technic sets teach your child how to program robotic parts. It will also teach them how to engineer systems such that they can accomplish their real-world goals.
These are very abstract and high-level skills. Importantly, lego technic sets cannot teach your child these skills from scratch! Your child will need a fairly good foundation built elsewhere before they can polish that foundation and build upon it with a technic set.
Once again, being good at following instructions closely and extensively is a precondition for playing with technic sets rather than a skill that will be built. Distractible children will likely find technic sets to be frustrating, so building focus beforehand is necessary too.
What Are The Best Lego Technic Sets For Creative Play?
Technic sets are not the best for creative play until your child reaches a very high level of competency. They will also need to understand the relevant physical and electronic principles responsible for moving the various pieces before they can even consider constructing things of their design.
Once your child has the skill level to do creative play with technic sets, the exact set makes very little difference. The bricks they have ready will be less important than the servos and motion points that they have on hand from their other technic kits.
Furthermore, by the time a child is ready to use technic sets for creative play, they may be in their teenage years — a time when creative play starts to take a back seat to real-world skill building. Technic sets are great for this kind of skill building in the context of creative play, however.
You will need to supply your child with a goal and allow them to build a technic robot to reach that goal. There’s no specific set that can or can’t do that.
What Is The Best Way To Use Lego Technic Sets?
Your child will use their lego technic set with the best effect when they are left alone. If they encounter an issue, you may be able to help them by reading the instructions and taking a look at the software.
Overall, the single best way to use a lego technic set is independently and for long periods of time. These are not toy sets that you can pick up and then put down five minutes later and expect to make any appreciable progress or have much fun.
Let your child explore the technic world alone, and they will emerge with a skill set — and a cool robot — which will startle you.