Review: LEGO Technic – 42053 Volvo EW160E

By ·August 5, 2016 1:07 pm

Three new LEGO Technic sets were released at the beginning of August which saw the introduction of three mega machines from the worlds of mining, farming and construction. The set we are reviewing today is the Volvo EW160E wheeled excavator from the construction industry and while it is the smallest and cheapest of the new LEGO Technic releases you’ll soon see it is in no way a diminutive model nor is it a trivial build.

Full disclosure: All of the views and opinions in this review are that of my own but I was provided with this LEGO set for free for the purpose of this review.

The LEGO Technic (42053) Volvo EW160E set contains 1166 bricks at a cost of ~6p per brick. It has an RRP of £69.99 and measures 24cm in length, 14cm in width and 16.5cm in height. All of these measurements exclude the excavator’s boom arm. Now before we dive into the review proper you can read the official blurb from LEGO for this set below:

Get to know the high-tech innovation of the Volvo EW160E with the authentic LEGO® Technic replica of the real-life wheeled excavator. Developed in partnership with Volvo Construction Equipment, the model boasts key features from one of the most advanced multi-tool carriers in the construction industry. Elements include: an advanced pneumatic system for operation of the extendable boom and working bucket, a detailed, height- adjustable cab with seat, armrests, sun visor and adjustable mirrors, rotating superstructure, rear- controlled front steering, working front blade and extendable outriggers. Upgrade with the 8293 LEGO Power Functions motor set (not supplied) for a fully motorized boom and working lights. This 2-in-1 model can then be rebuilt to create a Volvo L30G compact material handler.

Now that the introductions are out of the way, let’s jump straight into the review and look at the LEGO Technic 42053 Volvo EW160E’s features.

The most striking feature of this kit is it’s pneumatic powered excavator arm, through the use of three levers behind the drivers cab you can raise and extend the boom and open and close it’s bucket. This is all achieved through a series of air tubes, valves, pneumatic pistons and of course the air pump. The air pump itself is a little push pump next to the cab that you use to pressurize the pneumatic system.

In this frontal view of the LEGO Technic (42053) Volvo EW160E set you can see the two yellow pistons that actuate the boom along alongside all of pneumatic tubing.

In this frontal view of the LEGO Technic (42053) Volvo EW160E set you can see the two yellow pistons that actuate the boom along alongside all of pneumatic tubing.

In the body of the vehicle you’ll find a littering of air tubes connecting all of the pneumatic equipment together. At first it may seem that running a network of pipes will be a frustrating experience but in reality it was extremely enjoyable. You end up building the pneumatics in stages and at each stage you would add a pneumatic piston to the excavator and it’s corresponding plumbing, at the completion of each stage you can test out the newly added pneumatics and see how it affects the overall actuation of the boom.

My one and only fault with the pneumatic system is that it’s hard to actuate the moving parts at granular level, for instance it’s really hard to release just a little bit of the air pressure as more than often it all just rushes out and the boom would quickly come to it’s rest position. This would undoubtedly make play tedious as it’s difficult to get the boom and bucket in the correct place to pick things up.

The Volvo EW160E also features a functioning forward axle, moving wheels, a retractable dozer at the front and support stilts at the rear for when the vehicle is in excavator mode. It also features a rotating platform in which the driver’s cab, excavator boom and controls all live on, the platform offers near 360 degree movement. While the rotating platform adds heaps of reality it also causes the upper half of the model to have a lot of flex, this is especially noticeable when using the pneumatic controls at the rear as you’ll often find yourself applying downwards pressure as you use them.

The last working feature of the LEGO Technic (42053) Volvo EW160E model is that the cab that can be raised in height. You easily raise the cab up and down using the screw-wheel located behind the cab linkages and with a handful of twists you can raise it up the working height of the boom. In the real world application of the vehicle this would allow the operator to have a better view of his or hers surroundings and of their workspace, crucial for safety in a busy construction environment.

The LEGO Technic (42053) Volvo EW160E set with it's cab fully raised. Note the operator's seat detailed with head and arm rests.

The LEGO Technic (42053) Volvo EW160E set with it’s cab fully raised. Note the operator’s seat detailed with head and arm rests.

This set does come with a fair sized sheet of stickers although not all of them are to be used in constructing the Volvo EW160E, about 1/4 of them are reserved for the alternative build where you can make the Volvo L30G compact material handler. The stickers on a whole are good quality and are mostly used for branding, there are plenty of Volvo logo stickers in use. A few of the stickers, specifically the yellow/silver striping behind the cab in the image above are far too easy to misalign, which would easily take away from your finished model. However, the little warning sign stickers add depth and a sense of realism to the model and I very much like that.

Before we wrap this review up, one point that should be touched upon is the level of skill required for a fair sized Technic set like this. This isn’t a set for younger children or for those without patience and the time to build it. In a traditional LEGO set, each bag of LEGO in the box directly correlates to one of the major steps in the manual, as such you are given all of the right parts at the right time. With a Technic kit like this you are just given several bags of mixed parts without any correlation to which step they’re for, in laymen’s this means you need every piece out at all times to build through the model. You have to search for the bricks you need each time.

To further the point about skill level, a good percentage of the parts in this set are just simple cylindrical connectors for connecting two or more bricks together. No joke, there was a single bag full of just black connectors and another bag mainly filled with just blue connectors in this set alone. These cylindrical connectors are often difficult and temperamental when connecting bricks together with them, a lot of the time the pieces require some force and wiggling to get them to come together. Definitely not a task well suited to young children as it would prove extremely frustrating.

While there is a mountain of fun to be had building a LEGO Technic set, it’s also prudent to remember that Technic does stand for technical and as such requires a certain level of skill, patience and concentration to enjoy fully.



The LEGO Technic (42053) Volvo EW160E model certainly doesn’t disappoint at all, in both construction and functionality this kit really shines. The build offers a wonderful challenge that rewards you at each stage as you see your hard work slowly come together. At a wholesale level the build never becomes repetitive, barring the insertion of connectors of which there were masses. The lack of repetition is certainly down to the fact that the source vehicle is fairly asymmetrical in it’s design, which makes for a beautifully varied build. Nothing was too complicated, it just required attention and time with the build lasting me around 4-5 hours over a few nights. However most of that time was packing away and unpacking the bricks each time due to the risk of the cat or my toddler stealing parts. Organising the LEGO pieces ahead of time would certainly speed up the build process.

In the end this kit resulted in the completion of a really great collector’s model that is visually accurate to the source vehicle. It comes packed with functional parts and the pneumatic excavator boom and bucket really makes this set what it is, a high quality replica scale vehicle. This is the perfect set for an adult or teenager looking for a hearty build to add to their collection. While the set offers lots of playability I wouldn’t advise this model for children, it can be tedious in construction, and feels somewhat fragile due to the upper half having a lot of flex when operating the pneumatic controls.

On a whole this is a modestly priced set, with very little flaws, that I’d happily recommend to someone looking for their next build.

The LEGO Technic 42053 Volvo EW160E vehicle set is now available from all major retailers.

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Written by Michael James Ilett


Michael James is the nerd that recites! He founded this site with the intention of building a one stop entertainment site for all of the nerdy things he loves in life.

Michael can often be found building LEGO, playing Civilization V and World of Warcraft, watching Sci-Fi and continuing to wait for “The Winds of Winter” to be released.

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