REVIEW – 42168 John Deere 9700 Forage Harvester

John Deere is present in LEGO form since last year’s 42136 John Deere 9620R 4WD Tractor
This year we got the awesome pneumatic 42157 948L-II Skidder.
For 2024 LEGO decided to bring something more affordable again – 42168 John Deere 9700 Forage Harvester

£37.99/$39.99/€42.99 for 559 pieces.

There are few recolours and one new awesome piece among them.

Let’s get this over with at the beginning – this is NOT a model that have many things in common with real harvester, except the colours (and even those are missing at few places).
It’s really cool small harvester, but very bad John Deere 9700 miniature.

Why? Read below 😉

Box is very compact and shows the harvester on the cornfield. I’m not fully convinced that’s a cornfield under the machine, for me, raised in the countryside, cut cornfield looks a bit different than box shows 😉

But that’s a minor detail. The real tragedy happens when you turn the box to see the back.
No B model. At all. 2023 was the last year we had official B models in Technic line.

Side shows wheel in 1:1 scale. Yes. A truck wheel instead of agri one. More on that shortly (can you feel the “I do not like this set” vibe in the air?)

Inside we find four numbered bags, and one not numbered, with wheels inside. Sticker sheet, instructions. I still got plastic bags and not paper ones.

Instructions booklet is compact and shows the usual – steps, parts list, comparison to the real machine.

There’s only one new piece, a C shaped liftarm/connector

We start the building process with rear part of the frame, with steered axle. The body is made mostly with curved parts (and pins).

The new C liftarms (part number 3167) are used here. Frame could be easilly done without them, but hey – new parts are always a nice thing.
Instructions suggests testing the steering mechanism trough the build.

There are few stickers used, and it seems that LEGO is having another problem with colour consistency, because all stickers have different shade of green. Problem occurs with orange dial in cab too.

As usual I have used knife for aplying stickers;

At some point we connect uper part of the hull to the frame;

The spout and other smaller curves are made with System slopes.

Bag 2 is smallest numbered bag in the set.

First we build both rear mudguards with system pieces only. Windscreen pieces used here would fit better a tuned drift car than a farm equipment. But I’ll write more later about it.

After adding them, we are going for front part of the frame, with some linkage taking shape.

Last steps add few pieces for reinforcing the upper frame part

That 1×2 plate with two yellow tiles is held in place by single pin only. And it moves even being placed on half pin with friction.

Bag number 3 consists parts for making rotary harvesting unit.

This set comes with six Gear 28 Tooth Double Bevel 46372 in Yellow.

LEGO has strict colour coding for gears. Even with some quite colorfull ones, like Green and Dark Azure.

But almost always these colours did not changed no matter how visible they were.
Here’s something new – gears available only in Light Bluish Grey now are recoloured to match the manufacturers livery.
Hence the title – recoloured gears are very common in knockoff models.


The build starts with small gearing, that will drive the harvesting unit drums. Finished header is a stand alone model – all gears are driven by two small wheels at the bottom, instructions show to test everything before connecting it to the chassis.

As you can see, the clearance between 12 tooth gear and surface is barely present.

There’s a building trick, utilizing slack between parts connected with pins without friction. Liftarms connecting header to the frame have some range of movement, allowing the wheels to have contact with surface in front of front axle.

All six drums spin in the same direction. I know that’s a model for nine years old +, but they should keep the rotation of real ones (three clockwise and three counter clockwise)

Here instructions shows again to test the gears.

At last steps we connect the header to the frame. Too early.

The cab. That’s a very odd part of the build.
You add mostly parts that can be easilly added before bag #3

It would be more convenient without whole enormous header in front, which could be added after making the cab.

But before cabin interior, made with system parts only (there’s even minfig seat) is made, we need to add The Lever.

Very simple mechanism, just sliding along the liftarms holding header. Simple. But personally I’d love to have a worm gear here.

As you can see, other colours on stickers does not match the shade of the parts. What’s wrong with you, LEGO?

Cab curves were achieved with System slopes.

Time for overal impressions.

And before you reply to my concerns with “it’s just a toy” – it’s a licensed toy, and they can render faithfully real machines;

It is a cute, generic farming machine, with nice colours and functions. But it comes with JD label, and for me it means that we can expect more than “name sells”.

So if at this stage you like this model, stop reading here.

If you are interested about my very picky opinion, read on 😉

Buckle up, we are going dooooown!

First, the front wheels – even picture in instructions clearly shows that harvester stands on agri tires, with tire tread typical for farming equipment. Instead of using same tires as 42136 use, we got truck tires. That looks very odd on a harvester.

There are however JD machines that use tires with less agressive profiles, like self propelled hay windrowers. But in this particular machine tractor tires would add a lot to overal look.

But this model still loses a chance to look properly thanks to completely messed up proportions. And those rear wheel arches made from green  62360 windscreens would fit better a drift car than farming equipment. They are too wide compared to real ones.

There’s no single part of this model where something looks like it should. It even does not have the enormous black grilles on side, which in this scale could be made with few black stickers.

Yes, that’s a small model. Yes, designer is limited by price and/or other limitations.
But you can’t convince me that it could not look at least similiar in this small scale.

What about the functions? They work properly…ish.

Here’s Sariel’s video showing them:

Header works only in lowered position, while in air cutting drums do not work. It’s driven by two small wheels underneath:

All cutting heads rotate in same direction, when in the reality they rotate towards center. It could be achieved with changing the gears driving them, but who cares – they spin, move along peasant.

The turning radius is good, whole model can make a circle in limited space. Most fun to use function here.

Elevation of the header is made with simple lever, that slides along liftarms connected to the front. Whole mechanism is hidden under the cab, and operated by small t12 gear on the side.
I’d love to have worm gear here, but it works properly as is.

The spout can be adjusted manually and it’s much shorter than it should, 42136 trailer can’t drive in parallel to it:

Here’s comparion with 42136, which unfortunately is not in the same scale as 42168;

42136 trailer can work with 42168 hitch:

So, if you want to have cool small model that looks more or less like harvester (or need few cool green parts) this set is for you.

But if you want to have something that resembles John Deere 9700, well, it will need a lot of mods to change its look.

About the author

A 30 year old LEGO fan, who sometimes build something.