Monday, January 17, 2011

TBs TechTalk 04 - Designing set 8043, Motorized Excavator (Part II)

[Part I], [Part III]

The second part of the interview with Anders Gasendal (AG) and Ricco Krog (RK), about the design of the 8043 Motorized Excavator, has been waiting for you! ...or is it the other way around...
And so it continues...

TBs: Apart from the models mentioned in the introduction of this interview (8291 and 8043), are there any other released Technic models you have designed before, or which had a significant participation from you? Which ones?

AG: I also designed the 8263 Snow Groomer, and of course a very cool model for the 2011 assortment, but I can’t reveal that now.

Any other set from the 2010 assortment? ...This if we can expect you to still have some spare time on top of 8043 development...

I also did the Alternative model for the 8049 Tractor with Log loader, I had a lot of fun designing that model and it is always nice to get a break from the development of the big models.

TBs: Is the 8043 B-model also your creation, or was it designed by another Technic Designer?

AG: The alternative model was designed by me as well. We don’t always do both the main model and the alternative model for a set, but often we do it for the bigger models. The designer of the main models is the one that knows the element volume the best and often has a good idea of what kind of model the elements can be used for.

TBs: Which is your favourite TECHNIC element from the current assortment? Why?

AG: My favorite current element is the new little 3x3 frame 87408 for making angle gears. I think it’s great because it makes a strong angle gear, and it’s very simple to use even for our youngest target group.

TBs: Now that Ricco is not listening to us… if you could suggest a new part to be produced today, can you describe what you would suggest?

AG: I would be reluctant to answer this, as I don’t want to give you any false hopes for a specific element.

TBs: Which is your favourite LEGO TECHNIC set, ever? Why?
Is there any old TECHNIC set that you like so much, it makes you wish you had designed it?

AG: The Motorized Excavator 8043 of course has a special place in my heart. Among the older sets my favourite set is the old 8868 Airtech Claw Rig. Compared to what we can build today it’s of course not the most complex or realistic model. But I remembered that I really liked that set when it came out, it was a truck and it had a cool new compressor and a ‘huge’ crane you could play with for hours.

TBs: If you had the option to choose an old TECHNIC set to return as a Legend, considering all the required parts were still in production, which one would be your choice?

AG: That would be the 8868 Airtech Claw Rig as this I one of my favorite sets.

TBs: How long does it take you guys to design a new set? Do you have a fixed allocation to a project or does it decrease over the year as you hand models over to the next season?
Do you have one year span development cycles or shorter, i.e. do you initiate the development of 1H and 2H sets simultaneously or do you develop them in shorter spans, for each date in your releases calendar?
Specifically looking at the Excavator example, from the assignment until the ready-for-production milestone, how long did it take to develop?

RK: It normally takes about 6-9 months to develop the flagship model, on top of this comes the development of the building instruction and packaging. That means that in order to deliver new models every year, we need to start up both 1H and 2H simultaneously.

TBs: When this model was considered, was it decided from the beginning to be the flagship (the largest and main model in the year’s assortment), or is this something that may change along the process?
For instance, do you predefine the model boundaries, like the price and part count targets? When do you set the constraints, like the maximum number and type of motors to use, for instance?

RK: After testing a number of different models, where the 8043 motorized excavator came out as a test winner, we of course decided that that model should be the 2010 flagship.

The model boundaries are predefined after the building of the first concept model is build, at that time we know if the model is possible or not. There is no maximum or limits on the number or types of elements, what sets the boundaries are both model costs, but also complexity in accordance with age markings, and a certain level of functionalities depending on the model size.

TBs: If you had no such compromises to face, how would the model differ from the retail version?

AG: Functional wise the model has it all, but it would have been nice to add more details, like lights, handles, mirrors, etc.

TBs: With six main remote functions, there could have been several ways to implement them on this model and a different number of motors to be used.
Could you please describe other technical solutions that were considered regarding how to structure the Power Functions motors vs. functionalities? For example, did you consider using XL motors, or putting two motors in the drive train below the turntable?

AG: We did consider a lot of different solutions to make the functions of this model remote controlled. To start from the end, we wanted to keep all the motors in the superstructure to make it possible to spin around and around without destroying any wires through the turntable.

We also considered XL motors, and also a solution where each function had its own motor.
In the end, the current solution offers a good mix of design, size, maneuverability and function.
We also hope that this way of building 6 functions with only 4 motors inspires some of you to build fantastic models on your own.

To be continued...


Anonymous said...

Hmm, "and of course a very cool model for the 2011 assortment, but I can’t reveal that now."

What could it be?I think it will be 8081 extreme cruiser because Gaasedal didn´t make trucks.

Al said...

These were really great questions, and the guys were so gracious in answering what they could. Thankyou and long live TBs!

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