Thursday, March 31, 2011

TBs TechPoll 24 (Results) - Should the Flex System return?

Another TBs poll has finnished, this time about your willingness to see the old LEGO Technic Flex System or something similar, to return into new official models.

In two weeks, there was a quite significant participation with well above six hundred votes from our readers, who definitely gave their opinion.
Below, the poll results, for future reference.




The results are quite clear, however we should notice this turned into a bit controversial topic. If you read through the comments left to the original poll post, you will find there are some good arguments for not pushing on the Flex System. Maybe this the reason the system seems to have been abandoned from official models, and MOCers either.

They are fragile and permanently deformable, not meant for young children, a more robust material would be welcome, just to give a few examples.
Some also mention that the system was never used to its full capabilities by the designers, into official sets.

Given the poll results, I'd say that with the adequate improvements and right applications, the Flex System is still full of potential. However not as straightforward as it may have seemed at first.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Week TechVideo, 2011 #12 - Sky-Fly

This week something by Miron Kovats (miron89, or cselloman), from MALUG (The Hungarian LUG). He built a small plane  (Sky-Fly) whose wings are retractable using a smart and compact mechanism driven from a LEGO Technic Linear Actuator.
You will see it all, from the video below.


It was an entry for the LEGO Technic Challenge in March, dedicated to the utilization of "Linear Actuators" in models. Unfortunately it didn't made through this time.






It looks like a movie poster!
You may find a lot more pictures from this miron89's model, at his Brickshelf gallery, here.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The LEGO Community Team wants to know from you - April 2011




Please take a moment to fill out the latest survey from LEGO community team.

http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/LEGO_AFOL_Q12011


In the last survey, we found the following results:

  • Most comments about why an AFOL would give a positive score involved high quality, more than just a toy, and good experience with the brand. Those giving a negative score commented low interest, high prices, preferred products being discontinued.
     
  • More than half of respondents didn’t attend any events in 2010. Of those who did attend, most attended one or two.
     
  • Fans have relatively low awareness of LEGO related programs with the Ambassador program being the exception.  Of those who are aware of each program, only 2 in 5 think that the Affiliate and LCP programs are effective.
     
  • Respondents feel that the LEGO Group is most proactive about sending information on product releases and then product updates, but they don’t feel the company is proactive at all about sending information on sponsorships, changes within the company, or fan-related things like initiatives or events.
     
  • Respondents are most interested in reading about new sets and new themes and then quality control. Less than a third are interested in learning about changes within the company.
     
  • Respondents say they are prompted to collect sets because of the theme or unique minifigures or elements. Less than 10% of fans say they’re prompted to collect sets because of a unique box or a box of a different size. However, when asked if the LEGO Group were to create sets with different box sizes and identical contents would they purchase an additional set, nearly half responded that they would.


Thanks,
The LEGO Community Team

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Finally the 8081, Extreme Cruiser

One image from the latest 2H11 Technic set still to reveal, has finally surfaced online (8081, Extreme Cruiser).

The image now available still contains copyright watermarks... As it would go against TLG will, it won't be published here until new images do appear. Sorry!
However a few searches in the right places, should be enough for the most eager to get there...


Resting with a text description of this model... we would say it is a mid-size black Off-Roader or SUV class vehicle, probably in the 600-700 parts range.
It doesn't include any PF off the box, just manual functions instead. Among these we can see: Steering front axle via HoG, Rear suspension (unknown if also used for the front axis but likely yes, in some way); Opening hood at front and rear door.
From the aesthetics point of view, it looks really awesome and realistic. The overall black color with red bands under the doors and on the hood also look quite nicely.
It looks to exhibit a considerable clearance to ground, what makes me think whether it uses some of the new parts already mentioned to be included with 8110, Unimog U400 [1].

From its appearance in this still low quality image and as others have already said, I do also believe this is a 15L wide vehicle (double 7L length panels plus 1L spacing, in the front of the hood).
The wheels and tires are respectively 43.2mm D. x 26mm and 68.7x34R, as used in 8262, Quad Bike and the front or the rear axis of some other models like: 8048, 8049 and 8069. This also gives a good reference and an idea about this model's scale.

Some are also expecting that part "Axle and Pin Connector Toggle Joint Smooth" to become released in black again, which turned to be actually quite rare and expensive.
Functional motor under the hood, still unknown but expectable.
Inclusion of the new "Steering CV Joint Axle" also unknown, but likely along with a diff on the rear axle.

On the box right side we can see one yellow band with the inscription "Limited Edition", similar to another 2011 set. It shouldn't mean nothing else than a restricted availability to fewer sales channels and stores, what probably explains why the image from this set was so successfully kept in secret this long, until it get out.

54,20€ is the know price so far, for the Extreme Cruiser, as listed by the store who leaked this image.



Thanks for the hint, Ondra.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Week TechVideo, 2011 #11 - LEGO Technic Grader

Recently the French forum SeTechnic, raised a challenge for whom builds the best LEGO Technic Grader, under 600 parts. Niveluse in French, as you may have seen a bunch of them popping at Brickshelf).

There was a total of 23 participants and some great models under contest. And finally the winner was chosen thru one online poll, which ended the last 11th of March.

I'd like to make here a tribute to the excellent model from Benny, who won the challenge with 25% of the total votes.




You may find a lot more pictures from Benny's model, at his Brickshelf gallery, here.


Nevertheless let me take the chance and feature the videos from the models which ranked in the next three positions of the contest.


From left to right: jpsindustrie, TechyMind and tony_st170.


Definitely a great inspiration for an official LEGO Technic model, which was almost unexplored by TLG. Just remember the B-model from set 8828.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

2H2011 prices and descriptions

Some more details about the upcoming 2H2011 Technic sets have surfaced at a German online toy store, namely their descriptions and prices. These help us have a better guess about their potentialities.

First, the 8071 Lift Truck. Currently there is no picture at its page, but we already know well what it looks like. It costs 33.33€, which I believe is a quite good price.



This is what the automated translation of the description tells us:

With the truck and its platform is the limit! Manage it in position, drive from the boom and use the freely moving and rotating arm to position the platform correct. This truck can also open the doors. Can also be converted into a tele-loader.

With the service truck and its platform is the limit!

  • Moving and rotating arm with platform
  • Telescopic boom and opening doors
  • Moving Steering

The description confirms what was guessed from the available pictures: functionally it's equivalent to the 8289 Fire Truck, but with new construction techniques and opining doors. What is new is the B-model: I suspect the "tele-loader" is a telehandler, perhaps with a size between the 8283 Telehandler and the 8295 Telescopic Handler.

Next is the 8109 Flatbed Truck. It costs 79.99€, maybe a bit high for a set of its size with a single motor and battery box.
This is the automated translation:

If a vehicle has to be transported, the trailer is the right choice! Put him in the right position, use the Power Functions to raise the motorized loading area or lower and using the winch to charge a vehicle. Or go from the towing eye to tow another vehicle. Can be transformed into an airport catering truck.

With the tough trailer you can really carry it all!

  • Power Functions raise and lower the truck and the tow eye
  • Realistic steering and winch

This confirms us that it indeed has two motorised functions: tilting the bed (and, from the pictures, most probably sliding it as well), and raising and lowering what I interpret as a wheel lift, similar to the one at the rear of the 8285 Tow Truck. Also, it has a manually-operated winch.

I wonder what a Technic airport catering truck would look like and do… unless the translation isn't 100% correct and the B-model is instead an airport fire truck like the 8454 Rescue Truck (but the wheels and tyres are too small to look good in such a vehicle, in my opinion).

Last but definitely not least, the 2011 flagship, the 8110 Unimog U400. According to its page, the 'Mog will cost 155.54 €, which, comparing with the 8053 Mobile Crane also there for sale, should cost (excluding early-adopter inflation) almost 195€. Even excluding the increase due to licensing by Mercedes-Benz, there is no doubt that this will be a real wallet-bursting behemoth!

Applying an automated translation to the description text, we get the following:

This versatile Mercedes-Benz Unimog U400 you are up for any challenge! He is not only the largest Technic model - but also the first that combines pneumatic power functions and in a model. It is equipped with a pneumatically powered, fully steerable, almost 360 degree rotating crane with gripper arm and a front winch - all driven by power functions. The unique design also features a fully functional control system, a highly detailed engine with moving pistons, a new gear box for high ground clearance and four-wheel-drive and suspension for extreme off-road ability. Crane and winch can be converted into a giant snow plow.

With the combination of power and pneumatic functions you master the Unimog U400 every challenge!

  • Pneumatically powered, fully portable crane with gripper arm - driven by power functions.
  • Control of realism with 4-wheel drive and suspension for extreme off-road conditions
  • Detailed engine with moving pistons
  • New transmission block for additional ground clearance

Besides the tasty details we already could guess from the few photos available (one showing the bottom of the model would have been much appreciated), there are some news.

First, the confirmation that the model has four wheel drive and suspension, and a piston engine. Fans were already practically sure those would be present, since the opposite would be unthinkable on such a huge model, but it's always good to have the confirmation.

Second and most important, there's the mention of a new "gear box"/"transmission block" for higher ground clearance. Now, what could this mean? To me, one of three possibilities:
  • New parts that allow for easy construction of portal axles, something Unimogs are known for;
  • The CV joints that premiered on the 8070 Super Car;
  • Some other new part(s) to connect the wheels to the engine (differential, transmission, ...?)

Judging from the image, I'd say that, unfortunately, all the kibble between the front wheels makes portal axles unlikely. Yet, all speculations are valid until the real thing starts falling into the hands of avid fans!

However, there still are no signs of the elusive 8081 Extreme Cruiser...


Source: Eurobricks

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Week TechVideo, 2011 #10 - 8052 Container Trailer

Han Crielaard developed a cute trailer for LEGO Technic set 8052, Container Truck.

"In real life, a container truck carries mostly a 2nd container on a drawbar trailer. I believed that it should be possible to design a container trailer for the original set, which should be able to load and unload by the truck's lift mechanism.
Because I did not want to change the original truck (just added a tow-bar), the trailer is constructed in such a way that the container can move towards the truck (or vice versa) by a 'push-pull' mechanism. In reality this is not the case, but unavoidable by an unmodified original truck."



As usual, Han put a lot of effort preparing very professional looking building instructions.

There is also a complete part list for the 8052 Container Trailer. It can be found in the Excel part list inventory. As well, a Bricklink XML file is available for a 'Wanted list mass upload' inventory on BrickLink.

Of course you will find it all, at the Technic LEGO® site of Han.
Unfortunately didn't found a link for the trailer page that also displays the left side navigation bar. However you may jump in, directly from here.




For the case you have not yet seen Han's huge Truck 8x4 with Detachable Lowloader, that he designed in 2010, you may find it also here. Or the respective YT video here.



I'd say DUPLO® scale...

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Technic.LEGO.com Blog - Designing the 8070 Supercar

Uwe Wabra writes about the design process of the 8070, Supercar.
And so we also got to know who has designed the latest LEGO Technic supercar.

"... In the LEGO Technic 8070 Supercar, we have tried to use inspiration from all these different areas. We ended up building a model type that is a muscle car with a V8 engine in the front, distinctive wing doors and a hidden spoiler. We worked hard to make the curves right and designing the angles of the supercar to be as authentic as possible.


Building the 8070 LEGO Technic Supercar has been real enjoyment right from the beginning - finding inspiration, identifying the type of car, developing the functions and finalizing the design. It’s been a truly inspiring and challenging building experience and I hope you will enjoy building it as much as I did."

Read te ful post at, technic.LEGO.com blog.


In the meantime we have also added the official LEGO Technic blog RSS feed, to the latest entries from other great LEGO blogs, at the column in the right.
Hope you will find it easier to follow the new content at technic.LEGO.com, this way.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

TBs TechPoll 24 - Should the Flex System return?

In 1991, LEGO Technic introduced the Flex System [1]. With two generations it was used in several Technic sets, between 1991 and 2003.

The Flex System was a brilliant LEGO Technic realization, based on real concepts, but which was rarely used to its fullest potential. It was only ever included in 17 LEGO Technic sets, probably due to the fragility of its cables if not handled with care.


Probably the most important sets using this system were the:

  • 8856, Whirlwind Rescue which was on the sets introducing the Flex System in 1991.
  • 8479, Barcode Multi-set from 1997 - IMHO the pinnacle of the LEGO Technic studded sets.

This system was used in a few main applications:
  • A flexible push-pull cable system (Bowden cable) in a standard link configuration, to transmit force around curves, corners or even straight links.
    One pair of these combined with some other specific parts, allowed to build a cyclic motion for the main rotor in the large helicopter (8856).
  • A diagonal brace system for trusses and booms, like in 8074 and 8856.

The Flex System main components:
  • The central cables - A flexible plastic cable with a small neck on either end used for clamping. The cable was produced in a variety of lengths over the years, from 4L all the way to 33L.
  • The sleeves - A flexible and hollow cylindrical tube which is not brittle like the inner cable. It serves as a sheath for the cable, guiding it through the structure and preventing buckling under compression loading. The same type of tubbing became later also used as an extension and connector for pneumatic tubing.
  • The connectors which were available in a few configurations and had one slot with a tab to grab the necked portion of the cable in each end. The cable snaps into place when inserted from the side.
    The configurations available included a pin connection (part 2900) and one ball joint connection (part 2901). Both were later replaced with different versions which were easier to install and less prone to damage the cables (respectively parts 6643 and 6644).
    The 2nd generation connectors included also a double-end with central pin connection (part 6642).

Below, two great examples on how the Flex System was used in the sets above mentioned and what it allowed to achieve, without complex and space consuming designs with shafts and gears.

The image on the right was taken from Blakbird's Technicopedia. Parts of the text on this post were also partially inspired on the same source.


On the left one illustration from 8479 building instructions, showing how the two Bowden cables control the front claw movement and another two Flex cables to enforce arm stiffness on each side.
The CAD representation on the right, shows the control of the Cyclic mechanism from a stick in front of the pilot's seat.  There is one flex cable and sleeve for each axis. Fore and aft motion of the stick pushes and pulls the cable using a ball joint. The flex cable runs up to a link which lifts the swashplate using a suspension control arm. Lateral motion of the stick rotates an axle which runs aft.  At the end of the axle is a ball joint which connects to another flex cable.  This flex cable attaches to a ball joint on the side of the swashplate.


The cables are made of a different type of plastic than regular LEGO parts. While flexible up to a point, can easily end up with brittle fracture if bent too far. This is especially a problem when removing the ends. Later, different connectors were introduced which made it easier to attach and remove them.

The old connector style with cable "snap-and-slide" system on the left, and the newer "crimp" system in a double-end connector on the right.




Given a bit of an explanation about the old Flex System, let us ask your opinion.

Would you like to see the Flex System returning into future and even more realistic Technic sets?


Choose one option from the poll on the right colunm, running for the next two weeks.
If you have specific concerns regarding the Flex System parts fragility, you may express them leaving your comments to this post.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Week TechVideo, 2011 #09 - Small Buggy

Today Guillaume (GuiliuG or lego7777777), a builder from Belgium, presented his Small Buggy at EB.



It steers via the steering wheel, features a rear working engine and full suspension.
Very nice and simple for the overall size. Well done!

See more at GuiliuG Brickshelf folder.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

New member onboard - Nathanaël Kuipers


Fellow TBs readers... today I'm proud to announce a significant step forward, with the addition of a new contributor to this blog.
His name is Nathanaël Kuipers aka Industrial Designer, AFOL and former LEGO Designer.

Needless to say, he also designed some great LEGO Technic official sets while working for TLG.
Of course the TBs editors are all excited about this event, and wish Nathanaël great inspiration moments, to bless us with very nice readings.
Just hope you share the same enthusiasm we do!

Meanwhile, in the unlikely event of you not knowing who Nathanaël is, you may want to read some of our previous posts, dedicated to his work.


Welcome, NK!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

2011 Supercar, available to order at shop.LEGO.com

The new LEGO Technic Supercar (8070) is now available for ordering at shop.LEGO.com.
Prices range from 109,99€ (AT, DE) to 129,95€ (FI, IE) in Euro countries, and $119,99 in US.




8070 - Supercar



Also do not forget! - The Technic and MINDSTORMS  LEGOshop.com ads on the right column, are the most convenient way to get directly into the product pages of your preference, and support this blog.



Don't wait to get yours!

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