Judging from my blog stats, people generally only seem interested in reviews of large LEGO sets. On the one hand, I can certainly understand that because the large sets are much more of a financial investment (and the risk/reward is higher given the high cost of the set). However, I would also wager that more small LEGO sets get sold every year as compared to large sets...so why not try and hold the small sets to the same standards as the large ones (keeping the lower cost in mind)?
Today, we go to one of the very smallest sets that you can buy - LEGO 31014: Power Digger. The set contains a mere 64 pieces but it does include instructions for three different models which is impressive given the small piece count.
As I mentioned already, the set is one of the 3 in 1 LEGO Creator sets - and amazingly, LEGO managed to make three distinct vehicles using only the 64 pieces included in the set (and in two of the the three cases, substantially fewer than the 64 pieces)!
Based on my ranking, let's start with the least impressive of the three builds: The Bulldozer.
The Bulldozer isn't a bad build, but it looks too much like some type of farm equipment rather than an actual construction vehicle that you'd see on working on highways. I also think of bulldozers as having treads rather than tires which obviously wasn't going to be possible with a set of this size.
While the bulldozer may have been a disappointment (and notice all the unused pieces), the next two builds are much better. Continuing with the worst-to-best ranking, the Dump Truck places right in the middle of the three builds.
Unlike the bulldozer, the dump truck actually looks pretty close to its real-life counterpart. You can even actually use the truck to dump out stuff held in the back (though admitted the back of the truck won't actually hold more than a stud or two worth of LEGO bricks)! I also think the dump truck is a bit squatty looking - though with the rather poor selection of leftover pieces I'm not sure that the LEGO designers could have done much better.
That leads us to our final build, and yes, I saved the best for last! The Power Digger.
Since the set is called Power Digger, it's really no surprise that this is the star of the set. The truck definitely looks the part - the main part of the truck even spins around 360 degrees and the digger arm is articulated in three different spots. The only downside to this build is that the scoop of the digger doesn't actually hold anything - it's a flat plate. Even so, for a build this small that can be overlooked.
I give the LEGO designers a lot of credit for packing three completely different builds into a set with under 70 pieces. Each of the three trucks is instantly recognizable and I'd say that two of the builds are actually really nice. In fact, I could see picking up a second set #31014 so that I could have both the power digger and the dump truck working together!
So how does the set fare overall? Well, let's take a look:
The Bottom Line (out of 10):
Play Value: 5
Kid Value: 7
Adult Value: 3
While I did like two of the three builds quite a bit, the set suffers from a lack of play ability for young collectors and a lack of interesting or new pieces for adult collectors. For the young collectors, this set would have benefited from about four 1x1 round brown pieces to serve as dirt for the trucks to push around, dig up, and haul away. I don't think four round studs would have added much (if anything) to the cost but it definitely would have made for a lot more play value. As it stands now, you either get a digger with nothing to dig or a dump truck with nothing to haul.
For adults, I think the set mostly suffers for its size. It's much too small to fit into any LEGO CITY style layout and yet it's much too big to work for any microbuilds. I will say that I had fun building all three models but with such a small piece count it's hard for that to affect the bottom line much (since any one model takes less than two minutes or so to put together)! In the end, I gave the set a rather low score of 5 but I'm still impressed by the pure variety of the three builds given the limited number of pieces. There's certainly no harm in buying this set as an impulse purchase...and it definitely makes a fine addition to any LEGO gift you might give someone (which is how I ended up with this set thanks to my brother)!
Pull out a few extra "dirt" pieces from your own collection to use with your trucks while you play and you've got yourself a winner of a mini set!
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