A new consumer catalogue for 2012 has appeared on Brickshelf, the version for the German market. Among the other novelties, it shows the upcoming 1H2012 Technic roster, which you already know about and, probably, can already buy. But it also gives us some more views of the missing set, the 9397 Logging Truck, which hopefully let us know a few more details about it.
We can now see where the battery box goes: like on the 8868 “ancestor”, it is located where a sleeper cabin would be.
One of the main points of discussion is if the new set, like the 8868, has differentials on both rear axles. Since I always suck at spotting little details in Technic photos this might well be a gross mistake, but I think the grey longitudinal area between the rear axles might be related to transmitting power to the rearmost axle. Therefore, if the rearmost axle is powered, why not the middle one too?
Unfortunately, one thing we can now dismiss for sure is pendular suspension on the rear axles. It’s a pity that a machine meant to go to difficult spots to collect timber doesn’t have a more versatile suspension, but only after properly analysing the model we can know if that would be easy to implement or not.
Two other pieces of news are in the textual description. The first one confirms us that this set is due to be released in March, at least on Germany. The second one can be found in the very last sentence of the description: the first clues about the B-model! Here’s the description in the original German:
Der gigantische Holztransporter wartet nur darauf, schwerste Baumstämme aufzuladen! Benutze die Power Functions mit dem Steuerhebel an der Seite des Holztransporters, um den Greifarm zu heben, zu senken und zu drehen. Fahre die Stabilisatoren aus, öffne dann den Greifarm, um selbst gröβere Baumstämme aufzuladen. Dieses riesige Modell besitzt zudem eine voll funktionstüchtige Lenkung, Türen und eine Motorhaube zum Öffnen sowie einen detailreichen Motorraum mit arbeitenden Kolben! Kann in ein Containerfahrzeug mit Schneeschaufel umgebaut werden.
And here’s the automated translation:
The giant timber truck waiting to charge hardest tree trunks! Use the Power Functions with the control lever on the side of the timber transporter to lift the gripper arm to reduce, and rotate them. Drive out the stabilizers, then open the gripper arm to recharge itself Larger tree trunks. This huge model also has a fully functional steering, opening doors and a bonnet and a highly detailed engine compartment with working pistons! Can be converted into a container with snow shovel vehicle.
“Container with snow shovel vehicle”? When I read that, the first thing that popped in my mind was the B-model of the 8263 Snow Groomer (probably because of “container” and “snow”), but, more probably, it will be something more like the B-model of the 8110 Mercedes-Benz Unimog U 400: a truck with a snow blade in the front. Most likely, the Power functions elements control the elevation and direction of the snow blade.
But hope rests on the fact that “vehicle” is a quite broad term: wouldn’t it be fun (and different from usual Technic models of lately) if the model ended up being more like an “exploration vehicle”, with wheel arrangement and steering like the 8660 Arctic Rescue Unit?