Model number: 42139
Number of pieces: 764
Dimensions: 4 x 10.5 x 5 inches / 11 x 27 x 13 cm
Recommended age: 10+
While not technically what you'd call STEM toys, building Lego sets can help children learn many of the same skills they would pick up with STEM kits, teaching them to follow blueprints and instructions, and giving them an understanding of how objects go together. This is especially true of the more advanced Lego technic kits, like the Lego Technic All-Terrain Vehicle we're looking at today.
There’s a lot of bells and whistles to enjoy on the Lego Technic All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV), with its intricate cog mechanisms that offer up working steering, a nifty suspension system, a winch, and a tilting cargo bed. It’s those elements that ultimately draw us towards Lego Technic models: more complex than standard Lego, their mechanisms set them apart and draw in a slightly different target audience.
As such, just because you enjoy building Lego doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll enjoy putting together a Technic model. If you’ve built a Lego Creator Expert vehicle, you might be familiar with some Technic elements, as these often have working steering elements. But Technic-branded models take things to the next level, dropping design features for functionality. You get more bang for your buck in terms of build time, sure, but often you’re left with a model that is not going to look as pretty on your shelf.
That describes the Lego Technic All-Terrain Vehicle to a T. It’s a deeply involved build, testing even the most patient of Lego builders, taking a good four hours to complete – not bad for an $90 set. However, you’re probably not going to want to put the finished model on your mantelpiece. Which begs the question: is this really worth spending $90 on?
Check out our best Lego sets guide to see what other science-themed sets are out there for adult builders. And if you're looking for educational and fun toys for your kids, check out our guides to the best science kits for kids and the best microscopes for kids too.
Lego Technic All-Terrain Vehicle review: Build
- Some frustrating sections due to unclear instructions
- Overall a challenging and enjoyable build
In true Lego Technic style, you won’t be able to see your All-Terrain Vehicle begin to take shape until the last few stages of the build. Indeed, until at least the half-way point you have nothing but a mass of cogs and sticks. It’s an impressive mechanism (provided everything is in the right place) and it’ll make sense once the wheels and the chassis of the vehicle are in place, but there’s not much reward as you go.
Ensuring every piece is in the right place isn’t always so easy, because the instructions of the All-Terrain Vehicle don’t always do a great job of showing you where a piece should go. On models like this – with sections often being a jumble of small, similar-looking pieces and mostly gray and black – it would be handy to fade out everything on the page other than the pieces you’re placing. But that’s wishful thinking. Get ready to scour each page of your instruction booklet for a minute or two every time while you try to fathom where that next piece should connect.
The Lego Technic All-Terrain Vehicle’s pieces are split into three sets of numbered bags, with a fourth, unnumbered bag for the wheels. Unlike a typical Lego model, you’ll not feel much sense of accomplishment as you move from, say, bag one to bag two, as you won’t have built any discernible features. You’ll have to persevere before you see anything take shape, which can be frustrating.
There are clever mechanisms here, though, which do pay off right away. The springy suspension is great, the steering works well, and four rear wheels all turn in unison. There’s also a cargo bay at the back that lifts upwards as you push down a lever. Getting them right is seriously satisfying – however, diagnosing a problem if not everything moves as it should can be a pain. But then, that’s true of any Lego Technic mechanism. Ultimately, this is a very technically competent set, and it’s these functions that undoubtedly drive the price of the set upwards.
Lego Technic All-Terrain Vehicle review: Design
- Not the best looking set
- Too many stickers
Nobody likes stickers on their Lego models, and so you’ll be disappointed to hear that the Lego Technic All-Terrain Vehicle has plenty of them. Orange and black stickers provide a detailed decal of the model, although, in our opinion. they don’t add a great deal to it. We applied them for the sake of this review, but leaving them off will likely offer up a cleaner aesthetic.
The color scheme of black, orange, and white is pleasant enough, but there’s not enough body work on show for it to really stand out. Thanks to the high suspension, a lot of the inner workings of the ATV are on show – and as impressive as the mechanics may be, they’re not all that sightly to look at. It’s just not a set we’d want to show off.
For that reason, it’s a bizarre choice that Lego has decided to add a few ancillary accessories to it. There are four logs, presumably to show off in the vehicle’s cargo bay, alongside a slightly oversized chainsaw (emblazoned with a sticker that reads “CHAINSAW,” just in case you couldn’t tell what it was). They’re not the worst additions we’ve seen in a set, but still feel mostly superfluous; a way to bump up the set’s piece count and price tag, essentially.
Should you buy the Lego Technic All-Terrain Vehicle?
The All-Terrain Vehicle isn’t a bad Lego Technic set, but it’s also not one of the best. It’s in an awkward price range, neither really cheap nor really expensive. But it also means there are numerous Technic sets at a lower price point that we think offer much better value. That said, the functionality in the model does set it apart from some others, and as such it offers a slightly more challenging build than cheaper sets.
So, if you value a challenge during the building process, you’ll likely enjoy putting together the Lego Technic All-Terrain Vehicle. But, if you want a set that you can also enjoy as a pleasant-looking display piece when you’re done, there are better sets to choose from. We can’t fully recommend this as a worthwhile Lego Technic set, so unless you’ve already exhausted most of what’s out there, you’re best off choosing something else.
Other Lego Technic sets to consider
In our opinion, there are some better Lego Technic sets available at a lower price point than the All-Terrain Vehicle. The $50 McLaren Senna GTR (opens in new tab) is a wonderful vehicle; it’s surprisingly large in scale and actually has more pieces than the ATV for $30 less. There’s also the Jeep Wrangler (opens in new tab), offering similar functionality like a winch and working steering, again for just $50.
If money’s no object and you want a truly impressive Technic challenge, there’s the $450 Cat D-11 Bulldozer (opens in new tab), complete with motorized functions that you can control via an app. Or, for something a little more showy, there’s the Ferrari Daytona SP3 (opens in new tab) retailing for $400.