Volvo Construction Equipment (CE) and LEGO Technic have teamed to create a little but lifelike Volvo L350F wheel loader that, while it may be too small to work on a real site, is big enough to fuel a wee one’s imagination.
The remote-controlled loader is no rinky tinker toy. It boasts more than 1,600 separate pieces that make it steer, drive, lift, and load like an actual Volvo machine, save for its diminutive size. What’s more, young engineers driving the loader can, by moving around a few parts, morph the machine into a Volvo A25F articulated hauler.
The little loader is the result of an eight-month project between LEGO Technic and Volvo CE. Mats Bredborg, global director of brand management at Volvo CE said LEGO’s reputation as a world-class toymaker moved the construction equipment firm to approach them for a potential plaything partnership.
“We wanted to cooperate with a premium toy manufacturer, just as we are a premium player in the construction equipment sector,” Bredborg says. “Together we create a perfect match, both culturally and in what we try to achieve in our products.”
LEGO Technic, a 37-year-old division of the famed LEGO Group, specializes in advanced models that represent a step up in complexity in the building-block kits most fans know and love. The bricks are boosted with gears, axles, pins, beams, and other functioning parts to bring the models to life in a way that comes as close to reality as possible.
The LEGO Technic team takes to heart its mission to make the models as realistic as possible. For the wheel loader, designers spent a great deal of time poring over every inch of the actual Volvo machines, visiting a construction site to see them in action and getting into the operator’s cab to have a try.
“The Volvo team readily offered helpful suggestions and gave us greater insight into how the real machines are built and operated,” says Jeppe Juul Jensen, LEGO Technic design manager.
Public works professionals just might be tricked into thinking that they’ve been turned into giants, and are holding the real thing in their gargantuan hands. The Volvo L350F model, which will launch in stores in August 2014, performs eerily close to the real thing. Filters can be removed, the radiator can swing out, the pistons move during operation, and the engine is painted green, like on the actual loader. The model can lift more than 2.2 pounds, an impressive feat for a micro-machine.
“We are extremely happy with the outcome, both from a functional and design point of view,” Bredborg says. “LEGO Technic has captured the profile, expression, and power of the machines in an incredible way, and included lots of cool features like a heavy lift boom and high dump height.”
The wheel loader is geared toward construction enthusiasts from 11 to 16 years old. However, odds are the model’s complexity will attract grown-up customers as well.
Jenni Spinner is a Chicago-based freelancer and former associate editor of Public Works.