Many LEGO space fans like to participate in “Febrovery” each year – a challenge to build space rovers. Well, it appears the LEGO Technic team is going to wrap up Febrovery with their very own epic rover. Not just that, but we have a whole line of Technic space sets coming down the pipeline! Join us as we take a look at the first and largest of the bunch, the 1599-piece LEGO Technic 42180 Mars Crew Exploration Rover, which will be available starting March 1st and retail for US $149.99 | CAN $199.99 | UK £129.99.

The LEGO Group sent The Brothers Brick an early copy of this set for review. Providing TBB with products for review guarantees neither coverage nor positive reviews.

Unboxing the parts, instructions, and sticker sheet

The medium-sized box features the new “SPACE” banner along the side, with the classic logo. On the back, the inset images show a myriad of play features.

Inside the box are 13 numbered bags, a few large Technic frames, and 6 gorgeous light bluish grey tires.

The instruction book cover features the rover in its expanded configuration with accessories prominently displayed.

There are a fair number of stickers in the set. Those who hate stickers might be put off by this, but it didn’t feel overly obnoxious in this case. Admittedly, that could be because I just reviewed the new Mercedes-AMG W14 Formula One racecar, which is LOADED with stickers.

The build

We kick off the build with a hefty frame that features bulky wheel hubs with pivot connections to allow for a great degree of movement.

As you can see in the GIF below, there is a fair bit of flexibility in the assemblies, which are linked with ball joints. The whole setup gives the feel of suspension without actually have spring-aided suspension.

Next we build the lift mechanism that sits on the back of the rover. The mechanism is a bit of a scissor and is geared down from standard gears to knob gears.

The knob gears make for a slow and strong movement. As you can see, the below GIF is sped up by roughly double.

With that added to the tail end of our chassis, we now have the skeletal base for the rover.

From there, we add some large Technic panels and frames to create the bed of the rover, as well as the foundation for the living area.

Next up is the front fender and forward axle, which is set up very similar to the rear ones. However, the difference lies in that this one actually has steering.

Once again, knob gears are used for strength. The mechanism has a nice, solid feel to it as you turn the hubs and move the assembly up and down.

Along the way, we add in some interesting yellow bits that can somewhat be described as keys. Without knowing where the set is going, it seems a little odd, but slowly it starts to come together and make sense.

There are multiple pages in the instruction manual dedicated to showing how to transform the vehicle or use its many play features, and they certainly are helpful!

Halfway through the build we’re instructed to take out the “keys” and test the sliding mechanism that transforms the vehicle. It helps to give you an idea of where things are headed.

Next we build the cab. It consists of a large cage structure that hinges open to reveal a pair of seats, computer displays and other electronics. On top is a gear to use as a steering knob.

In the cab we place several of our stickers, however, the trans blue elements (they’re actually typically book covers) used for the computer displays are a cool printed element. This is new this year, showing up in the City space sets. Obviously, these sets are designed to have some crossover.

We turn to the living area next, which includes a cooler filled with 1×2 tiles featuring stickers depicting liquified food bags. Peas, sausage, and apples – delicious!

Not only does the living area include a cooler with food, it also has a table with seating, a treadmill, a shower, and a toilet. A satin purple 1×1 round brick with an inkwell on top makes for a fancy water bottle. Sadly, there’s no bed, but there’s really nowhere to put one.

It’s a lot of System for a Technic set, but it all fits in quite nicely. The sections go in like little modular chunks and are attached to the platform by a few half pin studs. If you wanted to modify this section and put other things here, it would be very easy to do so.

After we finish the internals, we shift our focus to the external decoration on the cab. This includes a cool metallic gold radar dish and interesting cylinders on the sides. Obviously, the standout feature are the large cylinders (made with wheels) and spheres on the roof. The white spheres are comprised of a new dome element, which is seen in the new Technic orrery as the Earth. We also add a few removable lantern elements for good measure.

All the doors of the cab open for easy access. Interestingly, on the instructions and box, there is a QR code supposedly leading to something in relation to connecting these similar sets together via the reddish orange Technic frame around the door, similar to the connection between City and Friends sets. You can see the frame in the GIF below. But at the time of this review, the QR code didn’t lead to anything useful or related.

Next up, we build an array of red, white, and blue tanks, along with some containers filled with 1×1 round tiles that seemingly represent waste and recycle. We also build a frame for them to sit in on the bed of the rover. When in the compact configuration, the larger containers are removed and the frame is collapsed at the center hinge.

Another accessory is a carrier for the upcoming mini rover. It has space for the rover to fit inside and a collection of tools to insert into the rover’s arms. On top, there is a bar so that the whole thing can be picked up and loaded onto the truck bed of the big rover.

Like the large rover, this little guy has some great flexibility in the wheels. It also has a metallic gold radar dish. The arms feel incomplete without the tools in them, and it seems that the set should have included some simple claws that could be swapped out for the other tools. *The rock element is only being used to show the flexibility of axles and is not included in the set.

Sitting safely in the carrier, the little rover is a snug as a bug in a rug!

The fun continues with yet another accessory: a fuel cell. It seems to be about what you’d expect and isn’t particularly special. However, the way a string element is coiled around an axle between a pair of Technic disks is interesting. Also interestingly, all the other accessories have ways to connect them to the rover, but while this has a bar for the crane, it doesn’t have anything on the underside to secure it on the rover’s bed.

To wrap everything up and finish the build process, we add on the crane. It utilizes a small Y actuator to adjust the angle, and really, it’s adjustable in all sorts of ways. The range of movement is pretty good overall. It’s also relatively strong, able to pick up any of the accessories included with the set. The only thing that’s bothersome about it is that when you fold it back up, the string and hook flop around and can get tangled if you’re not careful.

The completed model

With the wheels, new tires, and awesome hub caps (AKA motorcycle disk brakes) on, we’re ready to rock and roll. The whole thing looks really slick, and it’s cool to roll over obstacles without issue. *Again, the rocks are not included in the set.

There are actually so many variations in how to display the model, it was hard to make sure all the important angles were captured. Ultimately, the compact configuration looks really cool, but with the rover in the expanded configuration, you can carry all of the accessories that come with the set.

Conclusions and recommendations

Personally, I’m a sucker for LEGO sets with loads of play features, especially Technic sets. Bring the Space theme into the mix and it’s lights out for me! So naturally, I’m going to have a bit of a bias in terms of excitement for this model. That said, I think anyone would find joy in it. It’s a Swiss army knife of rovers, packed with plenty of play features and entertaining build techniques. The price isn’t awful for what you’re getting out of it either. Therefore, I’d recommend it highly to anyone who is interested.

Love Space? Love Technic? Well we’ve got a treat for you! Stay tuned for more reviews of the most recent Technic wave, including several LEGO Space themed sets!

LEGO Technic 42180 Mars Crew Exploration Rover will be available March 1st and retail for US $149.99 | CAN $199.99 | UK £129.99.

The LEGO Group sent The Brothers Brick an early copy of this set for review. Providing TBB with products for review guarantees neither coverage nor positive reviews.

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