For Christmas we decided to get our son a Lego kit (we actually bought him several) with the main kit being a Lego Technic Mobile Crane (8053). According to the box it is ideal for aged 11 to 16 years age group, lets just say it is not for the faint hearted. As the son is a few month under the recommended age range and the fact I had to rebuild a Star Wars model he had last years I was all prepared to have a hand in the build. What I was not expecting was the 6hr build time (done over three sessions) it took with me doing most of the building. There are three instruction manual with a combined page count of 200 pages!! I don’t know what the part count is but it won’t be far short of a 1000 pieces.
In my day it was Meccano which sorted out the young budding engineers, but now a days Lego has taken over that job. Don’t confuse these Lego kits with the little build a house type kits you can get, this kit is fully functional, 8 wheel steering controlled from a single steering knob, 4 counter balance arms that all wind out in one go and then have individual screw down legs. The jib of the crane has a little gear box which allows you to select raising and lower of the jib, extending the jib raising and lowering hook all from a single control knob and remember you have to build all that from bags of plastic components. While you can probably buy a model crane that does more and looks more realistic, with these Lego Technic kits your son (or daughter) will see how it works.
I can honestly say these kits are great and as long as you or your son has a logical head on there shoulders, you take your time and follow exactly what the instruction book say then you won’t have any problems. Below are a few pictures of the build of the above mentioned crane, unfortunately when it came to building the crane part of the build I forgot to take any pictures until I had built it.
Finally to add value to the kit you buy, there is an option to dismantle the crane to a pile of individual plastic parts and rebuild the crane as a dockside crane (you have to download the instruction manual), think I might pass on that!