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Liebherr 160 HC-L Tower Crane

Maker:  NZG
Model No:  647
Scale:  1:87
Review Date:  March 2009

NZG Index
Tower Crane Index

Cranes Etc Model Rating
Packaging   (max 10)8
Detail   (max 30)21
Features   (max 20)14
Quality   (max 25)20
Price   (max 15)12
Overall   (max 100)75%


The Liebherr 160 HC-L shown with its jib at just about the steepest angle it will go.
Typical Liebherr box styling.
The bottom tray.
The model is faithful to the original.
Top of the jib has good detail.
The ladder to the top of the A-frame has a safety cage.  A walkway in the jib is also modelled.
The climbing mechanism is very well modelled within the lift shaft.
The machinery deck is very detailed for 1:87 scale.
The 160 HC-L has a luffing jib which makes it particularly suitable in cities where there may be issues with oversailing adjacent properties, or because there are neighbouring tall buildings.  It is also possible to place a number of these cranes close together to get the maximum number of hooks working on a building. 

The crane can lift a maximum of 16t, or 2t when the 55m jib is reaching its furthest.  To see photos of the real crane click here.

These cranes are often used on high rise buildings, and one method for climbing the crane as the building rises is to place it within the building and use special fixings to enable the crane to raise itself.  This model shows this method.


The model comes in a box bearing the usual Liebherr house style.  A high quality picture sleeve encloses two expanded polystyrene trays.  The top one contains the parts for a building, and the second contains the crane.  There were no defects or missing parts on the review model.

A good instruction sheet is supplied which is in German, English, French, Spanish and Italian.  Building the model is fairly straightforward, and an hour and a half should see it done.  The instructions recommend gluing some of the pinned crane parts together (super glue is supplied) and collectors will have to decide whether they want to do this.  The model can stand without gluing, but the pin joints are not tight.


The supplied building is an unusual inclusion with a scale model, but is needed to demonstrate the climbing system.  The floor plates are plastic, but surprisingly the columns are metal, which is true to one of NZG's core philosophies - use metal where possible.  Once built, it is very sturdy, particularly when the lift shaft is inserted which neatly illustrates the way real buildings work with cores providing stiffness.

The lower mast sections of the crane are special sections designed for climbing and they include a working hydraulic cylinder, and two attachment collars which fit to the lift shaft.  The rest of the tower is made up of short sections, but they have been glued in the factory to make longer pieces.  They include plastic ladders and platforms which add to the detail in this scale.

The crane machinery deck is very pleasing for the effort made to provide detail.  Handrails and equipment cabinets are modelled and the two winch motors are nicely detailed.  The crane cab has an operator's seat and joysticks.  Also surprising in this scale is that there is a ladder up to the top of the A-frame and it is complete with a safety cage although understandably the elements that make it up are overly thick in scale size.

The counterweight is a single concrete coloured piece but it is very nicely cast with the Liebherr name appearing within the casting.  Another piece of good casting work is the jib which is fully triangulated and has a replica walkway contained within it.  The end of the jib has some access platforms.

The luffing gear is already reeved on the model and the jib pendants are very good, being exactly the same length so nothing is sagging.  Also fitted are a pair of straps to hold the jib during erection before the luffing gear is fixed.  A strangely shaped metal hook block is provided which replicates the design of the real crane.


The cylinder in the climbing mast section can be extended and retracted although the model is provided having just climbed so it is not possible to simulate the crane being raised.  The base of the mast contains tiny cams which operate and support the crane on the lower guide collar.

The crane rotates, and using supplied tools, both the jib luffing and the hook winch can be operated .  Both are stiff enough to hold any reasonable load.


This is a very nice 1:87 tower crane model which is surprisingly well detailed for the scale.  The quality of the castings, paintwork and graphics are all very good. 


The Liebherr 160 HC-L is good value considering what is included in the package.


This is one of the best 1:87 tower cranes reviewed as at the review date.  The inclusion of the building nicely illustrates the principle of how the real crane's internal climbing system works and it adds nice bulk to the overall model.  A downside of the design is the recommendation to glue the pin joints, although as long as the crane is in balance this is not essential, which is a relief to anyone who might ultimately want to return the model to the box.  Overall this offering from NZG is a highly recommended tower crane model.


The model first appeared at the Nuremberg Toy Fair in February 2007.

The top tray.
Instruction leaflet.
Counterweights have the Liebherr name in the casting.
The unusual hook design (not a cashew nut).
The building.  Perhaps a Bauhaus or Le Corbusier?
Detailed cab interior visible through the tinted glass.