Friday, July 10, 2009

TBs TechReview 07 - 8259, Mini Bulldozer

Set reference: 8259
Set name: Mini Bulldozer
Release Date: 2009. Jan

Number of parts: 165 + few spare parts

Weight: 161 g (0.35 lb)
Approximate model dimensions:
Height: 6.4 cm (2.52 ")
Width: 7.9 cm (3.11 ")
Length: 11.6 cm (4.57 ")

Approximate box dimensions:
Height: 4.5 cm (1.77 ")
Width: 19 cm (7.48 ")
Length: 14 cm (5.51 ")

Stickers: No
Building instructions: 3 booklets (24 pages each), with 34 major building steps for the main model
B-model: Mini Excavator (instructions are in the third booklet)

Recommended for ages: 7-14
Building difficulty level: Low
Estimated building time: 10 - 20 minutes

Price range: $9.99 (US) / 9.99€ - 12.95€ (EU)
Price per part: 6.1 USD cents / 6.1 – 7.8 euro cents

Inventory (BrickLink): Link
Inventory (Peeron): Link
Other user reviews (Brickset): Link

It's time for another review! I have long been wanting to do a small review of the 8259 here at TBs , but, like what happened to Fernando about the 8297 review, I never had the time for it... until now at last.

Package and contents

LEGO has a tradition of creating boxes much larger than the volume of parts they contain, and this set is no exception. The front shows, among obvious stuff like the brand, model number, recommended age and large photo of the model, a smaller picture of the main functionality (raising and lowering the blade) and a stylised "2 models in 1" image. Although from the very beginning of the TECHNIC line every non-Universal set contains instructions for two models, this slogan is very recent. Probably a move to show potential buyers new to TECHNIC that they can build more than what's in the front of the box.

The top of the box shows, like usual for recent sets, a part in 1:1 scale to give an idea of the full model's size. In the case of the 'Dozer, it's the Beam 7 x 0.5 used on one of the sides of the machine.

The back of the box shows the 8259's B-model, a Mini Excavator, as well as its functions and the seal that, like usual for the small LEGO boxes, must be torn to allow access to the interior.

The parts
Unlike most of its contemporaries (8256, 8261, 8262 and 8264), this set doesn't contain any new parts for 2009, the newest part included being the Beam 2 with Hole and Axlehole. This, combined with its simplicity and a touch of cuteness, has led many people to get creative and build their own Mini 'Dozers and modifications. The parts selection is quite varied and (perhaps save for the tread links) generic enough to be useful in any user creation.

There aren't many large parts, since this is a small set and, belonging to the TECHNIC line, has a natural tendency for large quantities of small parts. Nonetheless, with the set we get a Plate 2 x 10, a Axle 10 and two Tiles 4 x 4 with Studs on Edge.
Still, the selection is quite varied, with many sizes of liftarms, connectors and axles, plus the "old" tread links (this is the smallest TECHNIC set so far to have them), four gears and a worm screw.

Opening the unnumbered bags (which, for such a small set, aren't really necessary), we get this pile of parts. The links that form the treads aren't shown, or else they'd overwhelm the photo.

Even though this set is built in the now usual "Studless" style, a considerable portion of it is made in the traditional studded way. There are a few plates and panels, which are used to build the bulldozer blade.

The instructions
The instructions for the main model span two instruction booklets and 34 major steps. This is in accordance to what we've seen recently, many steps being present just to add a single piece in each. Probably it is to cater for a younger audience, which would probably find TECHNIC construction too complex and confusing, but it's still annoying.

Building experience
The building process begins with the bottom and rear, then progressing to the front, the top, the treads and finally the blade.
Considering the small size of this set, the build time is expectedly short. However, there are no boring sections with monotonous steps being repeated. The fact that each construction step of the instructions is so simplified, it invites parents to build it with their children.

After finishing the two instruction booklets, the end result is a small bulldozer, with comparatively large blade and wide tracks.This gives it some kind of "caricature" look, which I suspect tickles our subconscious into finding this machine adorable. And it certainly is! There are also a few parts left over, but they're all spares: none goes into the B-model.

Functionality and playability
As can be expected from the set's size, it has much less functionality than its bigger brethren. However, for the size, the functionality is standard.
The main function is the raising/lowering of the blade. This is accomplished by means of a Worm Screw (in green in the picture) connected to an 8T gear (in red), which raises and lowers the two liftarms (in orange). These liftarms are connected to the "hydraulic pistons", which move completely instead of expanding or contracting. This mechanism is identical to the one employed on the "bigger brother", the 8275 Motorized Bulldozer.

There's also the treads, which isn't a mechanism per se, but deserves some notes. First and foremost, it's the first time such a small set has the right to employ tread links. These are the older, smaller variety, and even so they look huge at this scale. It would be funny trying to build this set using Chain Treads 38! The treads are free to move independently.

The third booklet in the box contains the instructions to build the B-model: a Mini Excavator.

Like the main model, they are divided in many small steps, and build the model from the inside out. First, the undercarriage is built, then the superstructure, the digger arm which is then attached to the superstructure, and the final step unites the superstructure with the undercarriage. The build is also quick and not repetitive, although in one step the exact way two parts of the superstructure are joined requires a little more attention.
Many of the set's larger parts remain unused, but, thanks to the more "spread out" design of the Excavator when compared to the 'Dozer's compactness, the difference in size isn't that noticeable. In fact, if you consider the 'Dozer reproduces one of those giant machines seen on mining and other heavy jobs, the two models appear to be on the same scale.

If you think the main model may look "cartoony", you won't have any doubts about the B-model! At this scale, the tracks should have 2/3 their width and driven by 8T gears instead of 16T to look more realistic. But, since this is a B-model, not to mention a very small set, I find this "caricaturisation" perfectly acceptable, even likable.

I have only one complain about this model: the knob in the rear in the above picture,used to move the boom (more on that later), is too long to be aesthetically pleasing. Using a Bush (which is available from the leftovers from the main model) instead of the Axle Joiner Inline Smooth would make it look much nicer.

Functionality and playability

The B-model actually has more functionality than the primary one, which is a rare thing in TECHNIC. Not only that, but it also has more functionality than some bigger sets!
First and foremost, the superstructure rotates by hand, around a Pin with Friction and Slots. Nothing too fancy, but nice nonetheless. Unfortunately, the treads in the undercarriage are connected to each other, which means they can't roll independently.

Then the boom raises and lowers, via a mechanism similar to the main model. A Worm Screw (in green in the picture) connects to an 8T gear (in red), which raises and lowers the liftarm (in orange). This pushes the long arm (in light blue), which sets the boom in motion.

The dipper can be moved by changing the geometry of a four bar linkage. The boom and the dipper (in yellow in the picture) are two of the bars, and the two small liftarms (in orange and light blue) are the other two. By pushing and pulling the Bush (in green), the dipper moves.

Finally, the bucket can be manually rotated around the blue Technic Pin Long with Friction.

Final thoughts
This is a really lovable set. Both the main and B-model are very nice and well-designed, both in looks and in function. The only two small quibbles are related to the B-model: the too long knob in the rear and the lack of independent treads, but the former is easily fixable and the latter isn't that much of a issue when playing. Even the price isn't an excuse not to buy it!

Even though I'm personally a little tired of so many construction machine sets in the TECHNIC line, this is one I fully recommend, to learn some principles of mechanics, to play with it, to create stuff with its parts, even for using as desk ornament!

The ratings
for set value for money
for innovation
for set design
for functionality and playability
for quality (no issues with the copy received, like missing parts, parts color variation, defects, etc...)

Overall rate: Great

P. S. "Arrgh, I'm surrounded by tiny ninja versions of me!"

Meanwhile, Cagri brought to my attention the review he made of the 8259. You can find it here, and I definitely recommend reading it!


Eric Albrecht said...

Great review of a great set! Your cutaway views of the mechanism are really useful. Thanks for taking the time to do this.

Lego Adam said...

Although a little late, thanks for the nice review :) I loved the digital images, it makes it very clear to see what's going on. Here are some more images from my review of the set:

By the way I don't see any Technic images on Flickr, so if you're interested here's a LEGO Technic group:

Parax said...

Good Review thanks for taking the time! I really Like this set I still have the original I built when I reverse engineered this way back...

Conchas said...

Very nice review Alexandre!
Thanks for taking the time to do it.

And it worths specially when we get to learn something. For me it happened this time, with the 'four bar linkages'. :)

AVCampos said...

Thanks for the comments! The set's small size is what allowed me to reproduce it in LDraw and make the cutaway views of the mechanisms: if it were bigger, I think I wouldn't have the guts to do it. ;)

@Lego Adam: great review, too! I've added a link to it in the article.

@Conchas: haven't you heard of four bar linkages? I learned their name a long while ago, at Eric's Technicopedia! :)

Conchas said...

If I would be able to read everything... ;)

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