Can you remember the first time you saw an auto transporter in real life, probably as a child from the back seat of your parents’ car on a long trip across the countryside? Do you remember asking what the heck that thing was, why those cars were up there like that, where they’re going, and could people ride in their cars while they’re being moved like that? If the answer to any of these questions is “yes”, then you are going to love this set. It’s big, it’s fun to build, its playability earns our highest rating, and the brick value is outstanding. Well, with an intro like that, we’d better get right into the build!
Auto Transporter ships its 350 pieces in 3 bags, and LEGO provides 3 instruction booklets to guide you through the assembly. The first booklet generates two identical cars; the remaining booklets allow you to build the truck and transport trailer. There is some repetition in the build process, but it never reaches the point of tedium, and if you’re building alongside a child, the repetition provides an opportunity for some fun collaboration.
Building the cars is fun. As we’ve seen with a lot of kits lately, the ordering of the construction process gives you a toy to play with in the first few minutes. The design is one you can easily recreate from spare pieces in your bin, so you’ll be able to fill all four places on your transporter. There are some cool pieces in the cars that you’ll enjoy having in your collection. You get four of the front/back pieces (two of 6045891 and two of 6066119). Officially, LEGO calls these pieces “Brick 1x4x1 2/3 W. V. Knobs”, but since I can’t even pronounce that, I invite you to make up your own name for them. You can see a red one in the photo below.
I really enjoyed building the transporter. The Technics mechanism for loading cars onto the top level is really clever, as you can see in the photos below. On the left, the deck is lowered so your minifigure can load a car, then raise it again so a second car can load on the bottom deck, as you can see in the picture on the right. Using the ladders (element #6055013) as the wheel tracks is genius.
My only critique of the set, and it’s a minor one, is the minifigures provided (pictured below). If the designers had called me to solicit my opinion, I would have urged them to omit the business man in favor of an additional transport worker. To be fair, I do like imagining that the business man’s briefcase is stuffed with cash that he is using to buy a car right off the truck, but it would have been even better to have two workers.
And here’s a look at the fully assembled kit. The articulated trailer attaches to the tractor with a ball-and-socket connection that your kids will have no trouble working. To give you an idea of the play possibilities, I added a couple of vehicles that were sitting here on my desk.
Now, on to the ratings!
** Playability: 5 bricks out of 5. This set delivers playability all out of proportion to its piece count and price. It’s fun to build, to start with, and the elements are a blast to play with. The cars are sturdy and hold up to as much zooming as you can stand, while the transporter’s simple but effective loading mechanism will delight your play testers for hours. Best of all, the transporter integrates readily with other sets you’ve got, which pushes the playability rating to the top score.
** Minifigures: 3 out of 5 bricks. The minifigures in this set are nothing special. Their legs are solid colored, their heads are generic and easily acquired, and, with the exception of the business man’s briefcase, their accessories elicit no real excitement (the driver’s clipboard is a 2×2 tile with a decal). On the other hand, there isn’t anything particularly objectionable about them, either, so we’re giving the set an average score of 3 bricks in the minifig category.
** Brick Value: 5 out of 5 bricks. This set sold in our market for $39.99 which yields a price per brick of $0.11. This is excellent value, both for the City theme (average price per brick of $0.17) and the average price per brick for all sets released in 2014 ($0.13). If that weren’t enough for a positive rating, then take a look at your “specials” — I’ve mentioned the front/back pieces and the ladders — and you will see why we give this set the highest rating for the brick value category.
** Overall: 13 out of 15 bricks. Auto Transporter is one of the more enjoyable mid-size sets I’ve built. Its retail price is accessible and places the set firmly in the Great Gift To Give category. When you add it to a collection that already contains lots of vehicles, you enjoy playability out of proportion to the set’s cost and size. This one is a real winner.