Tuesday, January 24, 2012

London Toy Fair 2012 - First News

Huw from Brickset had the privilege to visit the LEGO stand at London Toy Fair 2012, today. He brings to us the first news about 2H2012 LEGO Technic sets, after some weeks of rumors and speculations.

In his own words,

"Only two previously unseen sets were on show, although the catalogue shows a third. 9393 Tractor was not on display but 9396 helicopter and 9398 4x4 crawler were. The helicopter is huge (60cm long), red and yellow, and features new blades whose pitch can be adjusted. It's not motorised but it can be, there's space in the body for the battery box. The 4x4 crawler is a IR-remote-control vehicle which had half-black and half-white bodywork which looked a bit odd, and odder still I suspect if you don't apply the stickers.

However, more importantly it comes with new motors and a new servo motor. The two axles were driven by separate motors which were squarer than those we've seen before, although it was difficult to see their geometry exactly. The servo motor would have been used for the steering and it, too, was a different shape to current PF motors. I don't get too excited about wheeled Technic models, there are too many of them, but I'll definitely be buying the Helicopter which looked to be the best Technic one ever!"

9393 - Tractor
The green spot... between the Jet Plan and the Qaud Bike, in the picture bellow.
Still no further details possible to be seen from that image below, except that front tires are smaller than the rear ones...

9396 - Helicopter
Not much to comment about this one. It was already clear this should be a big set and it is, if we look at it side-by-side with the other 2012 LEGO Technic sets, also from the picture below.
So it is now also confirmed this set won't have motorization and the "Batteries not Included" logo in the box, must be something very preliminar. Likely it should include instructions for motorization via 8293 Motor Set, as it is reported to have plenty of space to old a PF battery box inside the cargo compartment.

9398 - 4x4 Crawler
I'm not surprised about the comments on the color scheme used, despite I still think they might be appropriate for the type of vehicle represented by this model. There is a better definition image (still watermarked...) on the dealers catalog where we clearly see a red chassis (what a coincidence if we recall the new Crowkillers Vampire GT...), and the body which seems to change from black in the front towards white in the backside. This includes some white parts in the back, including the rear mudguards, which are orange at the front. I like the overall effect but agree this might look really odd if one decides to not apply the stickers...
But Huw made my day, when he confirmed new PF motors to drive the model and a new servo motor for steering.
The fact they are squarer looks also very promising - Hope to get some extra pin holes at the corners...

At another Toy Fair report, this one at FBTB, it is also mentioned "... with full RC controls and 2 motors allowed independent & power 4 wheel steering". I guess it might be two motors for independent axle power and one extra motor (the servo) for 4WS.
Another mysterious statement on FBTB, says "There’ll be a competition to customise these apparently.". Can it mean a new competition at technic.LEGO.com for the fans to customize this model? Like proposals for own replacement of the controversial decoration options made by TLG Designers for this model, for instance!?

Can't wait to put my hands on these new motors!

Huw also took some bird view photos from the LEGO stand, including the Technic area here, and despite it is not possible to see any kind of details, we might probably have here the first photo from the new sets in real ABS...
See the Crawler in the left corner and the helicopter in the center which looks really huge!

Hope to see a lot more from the next Toy Fairs in the Calendar...


carzzzz9999 said...

Yes there is a 9393, the Green Technic set beside the jet plane is a tractor.

Dave said...

Could the new Power Functions motors be the long-awaited PF LARGE motors? Maybe the servo motors are re-branded ones that you can get at your local RC hobby shop.

santi said...

I have to admit, I'm quite curious to see these new motors! Exciting!

Allanp said...


I hope they are good, like for controlling steering proportionally with return to cerntre, for changing gears in gearboxes and for controlling pneumatic valves. I am also very glad to see new motors for drive. My hopes for this motor is that it has no internal gearing. Well done TLG, very excited now!

Fernando Correia said...


Without internal gearing an L-motor would be probably too fast and with too less torque. Although it could some gearing at a most convenient set-point.

I do also hope that servo to support proportional control.
Question is whether the PF remote will be redesigned to support it as well.
I'm afraid we will get a big deception here...

Allanp said...

Yes, you would have to gear it down yourself, like the motors in the 8485 dinosaur set, which is what technic is supposed to make you do. To have any gearing down done for you is just boring, well it is to me anyway. The RC buggy motor is a little more powerful than the XL motor, you just have to gear it down yourself which I think is how it should be in a technic set.

Fernando Correia said...


The RC buggy motor at 1300 rpm do also have internal gearing down.

There was an older motor (2838) running at 4100rpm which may have much less internal gearing down or no gearing at all (can't remember).

But for the purpose we need, I admit the motors must have always some internal gearing, otherwise they would run too fast with too less torque.
Doing ALL the gearing externally would be no practical (space wise) and likely would stress the Technic gears ABS too much at the risk of wearing them too fast... :P At least those running faster and close to the motor.

Allanp said...

That's correct, the 2838 had no internal gearing. Worked great 8^D

Parax said...

The Helicopter looks great, but it's hard to make out any detail on the crawler pic though it sounds exciting :)

The Heli reminds me of a CH149 Cormorant (even the colours).. which is based on the AW101/EH101 which I did my work experience on when I was 16 :)
I don't think the Danes have the Cormorant but they do have the AW101/EH101 variants.
anyway it looks great! Cant wait!

From another BA Member who made it to the show: "Also, for the Technic builders out there, I got a good look (and play) with the 4x4. It has two new servo motors, which are like stubby M-motors, and a new drive motor, which looks as big as an XL motor but is very slow and allows a drive axle all the way through." Interesting!

Fernando Correia said...

Interesting indeed!

AVCampos said...

The Helicopter was already on my Brickset wanted list, and now I'm even more certain that it will only get out of it when I lay my hands on it!

As for the Crawler, frankly I find it ugly... at least from the preliminary pics we have access to, it looks too much of a mishmash of colours. Also, its front axle appears to be too bulky and detached from the body; it reminds me of the 8630 Gold Hunt jeep. To me, so far that set will be worth only for the new elements.

@Parax: Are you sure it's one motor for driving and two for steering? Huw reports the opposite... Either way, confirmation that we will get two new kinds of motors is yummy news indeed. By the way, and in offtopic, please send my regards to you and the BA folks who visited us at BRInCKa 2011 in Tomar last year, and feel free to come in to the PLUG forum for a chat! I tried to register at the BA site, but it's for BA members only...

Alessandro Bartoli said...

We can see a new design tendecny in the Lego Technic line: bi-colored models! In one case (9396) it seems that it looks much better than in another (9398).

=> TLG should release 9398 set with a new type of tires, more effective in "crawling" !! At the moment because of poor crawling performance of existing Lego tires, some MOC builder are using non_lego tires for crawling.

Helmy said...

There are two photo's taken from pictures of the boxes of the Crawler and the Heli:


Fernando Correia said...


These are old news :)
Despite not shown here because of the water marks.

They photos from the preliminary boxes as shown in Dealers Catalog.

Allanp said...

@ AVcampos

Interesting point about the motors. It would make more sence, at least to me, that the really slow motor would be the servo motor. For this motor to be the main drive motor, it would mean there is no centre differencial. And for it to have a drive shaft all the way though, it would have to have a relatively tiny motor inside it, with lots of gearing. That sounds more like a servo motor to me.

Fernando Correia said...

Yes it makes sense the slow motor, to be the servo one, despite RC Hobby servos can be also fast.

If we get a slow servo, with the proper gearing or eventually even without it, we won't need it to be proportionally controlled (doesn't mean it can't be) then we can use 8885 PF Remote without needing a redesign.
Usage at applications with faster needs, like steering on RC buggies (e.g.) may be compromised though. But for these we continue to have also other existing solutions with the M-motor that won't fit so well the needs of a slow crawler.

Alessandro Bartoli said...

Is it possible that the 9396 Helicopter has a ligter yellow than the standard "yellow"? Something like a "lemon yellow"?

Looking at it next to the 9397 it seems to be a slightly lighter colou!

Huw Millington said...

I can't be sure about the function of the different motors but there were three: two positioned by the front and rear axles and one in the middle of the chassis, which I guess could drive all 4 wheels.

Warren E wrote in the Brickish forum: "Also, for the Technic builders out there, I got a good look (and play) with the 4x4. It has two new servo motors, which are like stubby M-motors, and a new drive motor, which looks as big as an XL motor but is very slow and allows a drive axle all the way through."

which sounds more like it.

The competition is to design an alternative body to fit the chassis, which as you rightly say is predominently red.

Fernando Correia said...

Guess this will be a mystery for us, until someone can look at the model more carefully.

For o model of this kind, we need all the motors to controllable simultaneously. With a single remote a two sticks (not viable to make channel changes while driving), it need to have two motors tied to the same stick.

Relevant data now is:
- 2 motors like stubby M-motors
- 1 motor as big as a XL, slow and allowing an axle wall the way through
- Servos proportional control is still unknown but unlikely due to the remote

If we have two motors tied, I'd say it must be the firs two as they're equal.

Now it is a matter of deciding what makes more sense...

- Two (fast?) servos tied together (virtually equal front and rear steering)
Proportional control desired but unlikely to exist.
- One big and slow motor to drive the whole car (lots of torque presumably)
- Center diff unlikely

- One big and slow servo to steer the 4 wheels simultaneously (proportional control not needed)
- Two stubby medium like motors (maybe the L-motor!?) tied together and driving each axle independently.
These should be commanded by the same stick and probably mounted in opposite directions, which raises a polarity problem. Unless they're mounted in the same direction or one have an extra gear...
- Central diff doesn't seem to make sense also in this scenario.

Honestly I'm not sure, but the first scenario seems more likely.
The TrTr specialists may give their opinion!... :/

Damn it!! Why it is always the same every year and we have so many difficulties to realize on the whole functionality since the beginning??...

The alternative body competition sounds exciting! :D

BTW, what do you think the B-model could be?

Wiseman_2 said...

I'm looking forward to the helicopter quite a bit more now, even though there's barely any new info, for some odd reason.

As for the flagship, I'm optimistic that it will be a lot of fun to play around with and good for those new motors, but I worry that it will be the simplest flagship of the last few years, and highly priced to boot :/ If that is the case, I'll be waiting for a sale before I pick it up.

DanielM said...

That helicopter looks awesome! I've been wanting another large helicopter ever since I missed out on the Whirlwind Rescue, and I'll definitely be buying it.

As far as the 4x4 crawler goes, IMHO, having a large motor for drive and two servo motors for steering makes more sense. Also, I don't think a center differential is needed with 4ws, but I could be wrong.

Which battery box do you all think the 4x4 crawler will have? Any chance for a new rechargeable battery box?

I'd like to see these new motors for sale on an individual bases from LEGO S@H.

Fernando Correia said...

Rechargeable battery box won't get in for sure!
It would make the set price too high...

Fernando Correia said...


You should have taken a tele with you, for the aerial photos... ;D

Parax said...

@DanielM Yes you are technically correct the maths states that if the front and rear steering are identical pitch then no centre diff is needed, however it's not likely to work in full scale real world, where differences is suspension movement and ground angle changes would create undesirable stresses. but in Lego Scale the stresses could be absorbed by flex and slop.

I'm assuming the motors will be available individually as both the PF XL and M motors have been sold by S@H, and if not S@H then as Parts from Lego Direct.

What I'd Like to see is a 15 position Servo controlled by the -7,0,+7 PF channels, But even just an on/off 90 degree servo would be very useful. We just have to wait and see...

Mark Bellis said...

@Fernando: I think 2 medium-fast motors with plenty of torque (not often TLG drive the wheels with a motor even if 8293 can be added to a set) and a single limited-travel servo motor (either slow or like a solenoid with instant proportional travel).

The re-body competition is needed IMHO - mixed black, orange and white might be in the genre for such buggies but doesn't look good, especially if the stickers were not applied.

@Parax: I see from the video from Nuremburg Toyfair that the steering changes between the front and rear wheelsets when the suspension is twisted on a pyramid obstacle. This means a differential between the rack and pinion positions from the angle, so the middle motor is the servo for steering and the two similar ones are drive motors (the L-motor).

I would hope very much that TLG will supply the L-motor and servo motor as separate items, but I don't expect this to happen before January 2013. I will petition those I know. We can all petition Jan Beyer for this!

I hope very much for a proportional servo motor, whose position along its limited travel depends on the PWM signal applied. I don't know whether this has been designed in or not. I look forward to trying it with a train handset or NXT. The demonstrator at Nuremburg in the video was using a bang-bang controller so the steering went end to end.

With the helicopter, I wonder how much lift is possible if the L-motors of the Crawler are put in it. Looks like the helicopter is the first LEGO set since 8856 to have tilted blades. Of course 8856 had whole-rotor tilt (not prototypical for the actuation). There was 852 years ago, which IIRC had collective pitch on individual blades. We will have to see if this one has the full functionality of my Apache (collective and cyclic pitch in both directions): http://www.brickshelf.com/cgi-bin/gallery.cgi?f=147936


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