Friday, July 31, 2009

8265 (Wheel Loader) under review, by Blakbird

Eric (Blakbird), made another great review. This time for the new 8265 (Wheel Loader).
You may read it at Eurobricks.



Here some pics taken by Eric, that show very well how technique, this TECHNIC set is.



Personally I wouldn't say it is the best set of the year, because I also like the 8258 too much, but wouldn't say which is better from both as well.

Fully agree on Blakbird's comment, that this model could clearly have been the flagship for this year, or if the pattern repeats the flagship for the current two years cycle I'd say.
Thus can only imagine the TECHNIC designers should have also something very good, again for the 2H2010.

Thanks Eric!


Meanwhile lets take a look into a video from Solenus116, featuring a fully motorized 8265, to see how elegant the combined and simultaneous movements can be.




Admirable!

Monday, July 27, 2009

TBs TechTips 24 - Tired to hurt your fingers?

Have you ever felt you can't go on, because or fingers are not helping anymore
It happened to me while disassembling old TECHNIC sets, kept assembled for years, which used that old friction pins (without center slots) where the grip was much stronger.

While exchanging some messages about parts redesign ideas, with a Dutch AFOL, it came to my attention a tool that may help with it.




I'm sure one of the TBs followers, will get surprised to find it here...

It is a tool designed by Martijn Bosgraaf (Dryw Filtiarn) who also runs a blog dedicated to his LEGO work.

I've tried to check if it would be useful, with some difficult assemblies where different length axles may end with just 1L segment protruding. These almost always turn to be very difficult to take apart just with the fingers and then it comes extremely difficult to grab. A cloth and the teeth can be of great help...
But found the above tool had not enough grip to pull out a 4L axle. The new light gray 3L and 5L axles have slightly less friction than the black ones, so they should come out easier.


Bellow a typical situation, taking the new 8263 B-model (Arctic Tracker) instructions as an example, where two axles (3L) in the right end of the frame, may cause some trouble.



This become more and more a problem as the axle length increases. Fortunately the longer axles are also less likely to be found in such problematic utilization. I'd say this can be a likely situation for 2, 3, 4 and probably 5L axles.


However it is a very handy tool, to assist you with a large amount of pins to extract.


Alternatively I would find it nice, if TLG part designers would consider to modify at least the shorter axles (up to 5L) to make them 'notched', as they did it the 2L axle already some years ago.




Thanks 'Bar Man', for rendering the proposed axles.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Week TechVideo, 2009 #30 - 8258 under review

Despite not exactly according to the editorial line aimed for this section (TBs TechVideo), but attending to a suggestion made today into the comments and to the fair play always put in the posts written here at TBs , lets enjoy the new 8258 (Crane Truck) beauty in action.



It is part of a detailed review dedicated to the same set, published at Setechnic. Although you need some ability to read French, rely on some automatic translation tools, or just enjoy the pictures with the impressive details of this set.



Edit 1:
Another 8258 review was added at EuroBricks awhile ago by Starstreak. This one in English!
You may read it here.

Last Update: 2009.Aug.15 13:48 GMT



Edit 2:
As found at Lugnet yet another 8258 review, by Jean-Marc. Read it here.
Who also made some nice adaptations to this model, as you may find here.

Last Update: 2009.Aug.16 00:45 GMT

TBs TechPoll 13 - 2009, 2nd Quarter - Favorite week TechVideos

Another quarter as come, another poll for the videos weekly featured here at TBs in the last three months.

During the next two weeks, vote your favorite video(s), among those highlighted under the 2nd quarter (2009, Q2) 'Week Techvideo' tag.


Bellow is the list with the videos posted within this period:


This quarter there was a reasonable number of weeks not posting this section videos, which in the end, just gives a better chance for the remaining.
As usual, you can vote for more than one video!


Note: Goal of these video polls is not to select the best MOC, but rather a well done video featuring one TECHNIC construction, a nice video reportage from part of a community event, or something cool and innovative.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Because, the size matters!

Sometimes there are so simple things, that it took you sometime to realize it worths to post, or to make others to think the same.

Just in case you do not have a trained eye and have too much difficulty to figure out, about the length of each TECHNIC axle, beam or brick, then you have now a new tool as an option...



Available at LEGOLAND Parks, or order it from S@H (here).

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Power Functions IR Speed Remote Control - Recall

Many of you, should have noticed that the new PF IR Speed Remote Control, released last April, was meanwhile made unavailable for purchasing from S@H. Either as an isolated element (8879) or as part of the Emerald Night (10194) Train Kits (K10194, K8882).
This was due to an identified potential hazard, and the new units where the problem got fixed, should be made available again, later this August.


The Product is now being Recalled for substitution, in case it fails.

Below the explanation released by TLG at their Product Recalls page, from Customer Service.


"Power Functions IR Speed Remote Control recalled LEGO Systems is working with the US Consumer Product Safety Commission to voluntarily recall the 8879 Power Functions IR Speed Remote Control which poses a thermal burn hazard to users if the batteries inside overheat. The remote control units were sold separately (item 8879) or sold in the Emerald Night Train kit (item K10194) and Power Functions kit (item K8882). 997 units of the remote control units were sold between April 8, 2009 and May 6, 2009. LEGO Systems has received 4 reports of the remote control heating up after batteries were inserted. No injuries have occurred. These remotes were only sold directly to consumers through http://shop.lego.com or the LEGO Shop at Home catalog and were not sold at any retail outlets. All consumers who have purchased this item are being asked to immediately stop using the remote control unit and to check to see if their unit is part of the recall. Purchasers will be contacted directly by LEGO Systems with information on how to determine if their IR remote control unit is part of the recall and how to receive a replacement remote, or they can access this information here."

If your remote control unit is one of those affected, it becomes hot to the touch in the first 5 to 10 minutes of initial operation. If you did not experience this situation when you first loaded batteries into the remote control unit, your unit is not part of this recall. If your remote control did or does overheat, then please contact LEGO Systems for a replacement remote control.


Now lets see if my exemplar is one of those overheating, or if I can continue to play with it.



Thanks Edward (Pe-ads) for pointing out the explantion, I was lacking already for some time.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Week TechVideo, 2009 #29 - GBC still rolling

I've heard about some fans fearing that GBC movement may slow down, as some are leaving this area and number of modules displayed in events may decrease. One reason may be the high level of babysitting these modules require to keep them working in the events and the wear they induce on some parts that are heavily stressed in the modules moving parts.

So and because I'm an unconditional fan of GBC displays, I've decided to include here today, two videos from Alban, featuring the last and large GBC display at last Fana'briques event (27-28 June 2009).




GBC is clearly a big public attraction and inspirational to kids and adults. But it only works as a collaborative effort.
Likely just a local US phenomenon and not yet an European concern. Anyway just my two cents, to keep the interest alive.

Next round at BrickFair near Washington DC, end of August.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Let the dice roll

Martijn Boogarts (robotica) and Eric, made a die out of new TECHNIC parts. Mainly using the new 5x7 frame.



It is just a good example, how sturdy and stiff structures, the new frames could allow to achieve.
As for the die, no slip and you can roll/throw it like a real one.



Let's play!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

AFOL Survey - 2009 July



From time to time, LEGO is requesting AFOL Communities to answer an online questionnaire.
These are questionnaires handled by an external company (Satmetrix) for TLG.

This way TLG can keep track on Communities improvement over different questionnaires and learn more about them. So the Community development work can become more effective.

If you feel somehow engaged with TBs , as an online Community, than you can fill your answer using the URL below (since now, the URLs have a tracking code appended, that allow to identify the source Community).
Otherwise you should find a similar URL, advertised at another forum/blog by the Ambassador representing your Community.

Your AFOL Survey


It is very important for TLG to get as many answers as possible.
The questionnaire is short, and won't take you more than two minutes.

Don't leave it for tomorrow!
Thank you very much.

Monday, July 13, 2009

8258 Commercial

LEGO 8258 (Crane Truck) commercial, was already found on YouTube!

It looks it will be at LEGO website, only in August... and there is meanwhile a Monica playing with us*. ...Yes, we found it!!
I like her style! She has plenty of sense of humor and seems to enjoy some interaction with the fans.




Enjoy!


*) This link will become outdated as soon as an entry newer than 13th July, gets added into the LEGO TECHNIC 'Design Studio' blog.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Week TechVideo, 2009 #28 - 3S Cable Cars, at Ballabio LEGO Fest

Stefano Prosseda (SteP) and Paollo Sutto, made something huge and fantastic to present at 'ItLUG LEGO® Fest of Ballabio 2009', this weekend (10-12.Jul).
It is a complete and functional model, from an auto coupling Cable Car station of '3S' type (the last technical breakthrough in the Cable Car world).

On the videos below you can see a lot of details, and how the cars are passed across the different sections, like the real Cable Cars.


Some more videos about this model, at Ropeways.eu Channel on YouTube [1, 2]

  • 7 meter span
  • Maximum, 4 cars running in aparallel
  • 11,5cm/s car travel speed
  • 8 motors
  • 3 sensors
  • Controlled with one RCX 1.0
  • Programmed with NQC (4 multitasking applications, running in parallel)

You may read the original annoucement by the author, at LUGNET.

Made in collaboration and with the support of www.funivie.org.



Thanks Mike, for sharing this.

Friday, July 10, 2009

TBs TechReview 07 - 8259, Mini Bulldozer


Set reference: 8259
Set name: Mini Bulldozer
Theme: TECHNIC
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.




B-model
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!"



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

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