Sunday, 16 February 2014

9398 B-Model Review

Recently I acquired last year's flagship model, the 9398 Rock Crawler, as it was on sale for a ridiculous £99.99 due to the release of the Limited Edition Rock Crawler, 41999.
As soon as I received this set, I immediately went ahead and built the A-Model. It's a good model, however I feel the pick-up style body does not suit the chassis.
Soon after, I broke down the model and built the rather splendid alternate model by Jovel. Which performs rather well, is quick, and can do some rather serious off-roading and I thoroughly recommend this model for anyone with the 9398. The build itself is challenging but enjoyable too.
Next, I built the alternate model by Jono McKinlay. the build was once again enjoyable, with the high quality instructions provided. However the gear train isn't the most reliable, so is only suited for flat ground, but it is rather quick and the front suspension is something special.
But enough of me rambling on, this is a review on the B-Model of this set, and this model is the last one I built.
I don't normally build the B-models of sets, but the body seems to fit the chassis better, and I liked the look of the almost Dakar style body. So I decided to give it a go, and I must say I prefer the result over the A-Model, as the improved looks make up for the slight downgrade in the performance. Anyway, onwards with the detailed review...

9398 B-Model

The Instructions

Oh dear. That pretty much sum up these instructions, I am really not very impressed with them at all, as there are two main issues...
First off, is the fact that they start presuming that you've already built the main model, which I hadn't, so I had to dig out my 9398 A-Model instructions and build the chassis from there.
Now I can see why TLG did this, as the chassis are the same, why do you need to publish it again? Well that's where the mistake is. The chassis' are VIRTUALLY identical. There are some differences, as with the A-Model you build some of the body with the pieces from "Bag 1" and therefore some bits in the latter stage of the chassis instructions you need for the B-Model, and in some you don't. I have, however, thought up a solution to the problem. Lego should have done instructions just for the identical versions of the chassis' before you start building the body. It would be clearer how you build the B-Model too, as it would just tell you to build the chassis, then commence with the building of the body itself. It would've also helped with the competition too, it said "build a body on the chassis" stating no where exactly what the "chassis" was they wanted you to use.
Secondly, I've never taken for granted the blue background of Lego instructions until now. The white background made the instructions less clear to read, on the screen of my tablet at least, and if anything making them look far less professional the result of which made the overall build less enjoyable. I clearly see why TLG did this, so you would not waste ink when printing them off, however I feel they should have at least done a "normal" version of them, with the blue background, for people viewing on a screen, or for any other person who may want it.
That is the main criticism I have with this model, although there are a few others, which I shall reach in due course.

9398 B-Model

The Build

I'm going to split the build into two sections, the chassis and the body.
The building of the chassis I found dull and repetitive, probably mainly down to the two axles being exactly the same, and therefore being built in exactly the same way. And I didn't find it dull as I've already built the same chassis for the A-Model only a few weeks ago, because I found the building of the chassis rather boring then too.
However, the build may be dull, but it isn't hard at all to go wrong. They are very clear, easy to follow by the target audience of 11-16 year olds, although apparently not idiot proof, the amount of people on that've installed the differentials the wrong way round is frankly alarming, as there's a bush on a friction pin which you install beforehand to prevent this.
The body, however, is much more fun, due to the interesting way in which it is built. Due to this there's nothing to go on about, so that's it for the body build and the build overall :-).

9398 B-Model

The Final Model

I will, at last, add some pictures for this. To show it off a bit ;-). I will also split this into three sections, Looks, how its built, and Performance.


This, in my opinion at least, is what makes this model better than the A-Model. It looks rugged, as if it's supposed to go crawling, and the high chassis suits this body better too. The colour scheme works well too. Well the colour scheme of the body works well, the same can't be said for the chassis however... As well as this there are a few details you don't get in the A-Model. Proper seats, for example, as well as (fixed) windscreen wipers! The only thing missing, in my opinion, is opening doors. But hey, you can't have everything ;-)

9398 B-Model

How it's Built

Both the chassis and the body are built very sturdily, the drivetrain in the axles is braced well, and the model can take a few tumbles with ease. However, the IR receiver is protruding out of the rear of the bodywork, so be careful not to roll it or you could damage this. Another design flaw, for decent crawling potential, is the use of differentials. Now, I know this set is designed for 11-16 year olds, and people would complain if parts broke, but differentials really aren't up to the job of crawling.


The performance of this model is ok, but not as good as proper Lego Trial Trucks or Rock Crawlers, which is, of course, expected. The main reasons that the performance is just ok, are the aforementioned use of differentials, the ridiculously high Center of Gravity, and a slight lack of torque, due to the use of not geared down that far L-Motors, but I guess that it would be horribly slow if geared down any further, reducing the playability somewhat. The reduced torque means the crawler struggles on grass, or up steps etc. However on rough paths with tree roots and ditches etc, it performs ok, and this is the sort of terrain you want it to travel on anyway;-) The center of gravity means it can struggle to traverse some slopes, reducing the playability over the A-Model slightly, even though the weight distribution (more weight over the front) is better for crawling. The center of gravity is the main reason why the B-Models performance is worse than the A-Model's.


Yes, I realise this review has been quite negative, however, I do really like this set, it looks great, performs ok and its part selection is really nice, with the PF and suspension pieces, so I will personally, like with all my sets, be breaking this set down into my collection. For my first ever review I give this 8/10 :-)