Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Dunechaser

I could not resist to make use this channel to showcase a model that I've submitted yesterday to the 2012 LEGO Technic Competition, and explain all the details, exclusive items, etc. Hope this is of your interest!

You can read and if you like my proposal, please leave your support to help it reach the next phase of the competition.

The Model

As the competition rules dictate, I've created a new shell to go on top of the 9398 4x4 Crawler chassis. It comes with some extra functions and also a rich set of proposals for new and exclusive LEGO Technic elements.
The model is inspired on the cars running at the Dakar Rally, but does not represent none of them in particular to avoid infringement of any third party property rights. Hence it intends to represent a generic competition Off-Road vehicle that crosses the dunes of a desert nearby...

No, it is not orange!...

But hopefully I've managed to take some fundamental aspects in consideration, that are objectives of this competition:
  • Overall coolness
  • Inspired design details
  • Design that people will purchase
  • An appealing color scheme
  • Cool electrical and manual functions
  • Buildable using current existing LEGO Technic elements, albeit some in exclusive colors or decorations

The Dunechaser includes some extra functions deployed on its top cover, relative to the original 4x4 Crawler. Some are common active functions powered by existing PF elements, other are just simple features to be handled manually or some decorative details. Although decorative stickers were not developed at this point (future work if getting into the next phase of the competition).
  • PF double headlights, Bi-Xenon style
  • PF motorized winch hidden below the hood and accessible behind the front grill (which opens manually)
  • A couple of spare tires in the back, that can be lowered or raised manually on their support structures
  • Adjustable tilt for the top rear aileron
  • Large driver's seat with adjustable seatback and headrest (cables go in place of the co-pilot's seat...)
  • Adjustable rear view mirrors with silver chrome tiles
  • Large roof and hood air intakes, simulating high performance filters to get rid of all dust in the air of the desert

The functional doors and tilt body for easy replacement of batteries, are kept as in the original Crawler.

    As we know the overall coolness of the model that will outcome of this competition, is one of its major intents. The Technic Team has emphasized they are seeking ideas for special and exclusive elements.
    In order to address this objective, probably the most interesting aspect of the Dunchaser besides its color schema, shape and functions, is the menu of several proposed exclusive elements to be considered by the Technic Team. If they will ever look twice at this...

    And here are the proposals of some exclusive elements for you to pick those you like...
    Hope to delight you with these, and gather your support.
    • Trans-clear fairing panels (#3, #4) to be used in the headlights (see in the picture above)
    • Some of the fairing panels never before released in Blue color (#13, #14, #17, #18, Plate 11x5 and Curved 3x11)
    • Some of the fairing panels never before released in Dark Bluish Gray color (#5, #6, #13, #14, #17, #18, Plate 11x5 and Curved 3x11). At some of the images here, we see the correspondent already existing LBG panels in use.
    • Painted tires to simulate the dirty with sand and dust. Mud splashes is also an alternative option to be considered (will add a photo later on).
    • Black Chrome rims for the wheels, with Blue half bush detail at the center - the predominant color of the model.
    • The rear view mirrors, use Chrome Silver tiles, to increase realism and elements exclusiveness (they were never released in a LEGO set before)

    In some days I should be releasing also one video to showcase the model features and some surprise photos. Stay tuned!

    The Build Experience

    Now, some highlights about the conception of this model.

    After removing the Crawler cover, only a few parts for the front mudguards and side skirts had to be removed. Then some fairing panels were added to the central bottom sides, to care about the aesthetics.
    Realize on the custom painted tires to give an exclusive look to the model and place it in the proper environment. It would be really exclusive and of great use in some MOCs. Black Chrome rims have been used here too.
    Yes, I've replaced the original Crawler tires with those from the 8110 Unimog, because I think they better fit this type of vehicle. Hope that such simple and easy modification won't turn into a disqualification...

    One additional PF IR receiver was included, as we are going two add two extra electrical functions (headlights and front winch).
    If you noticed I'm using the PF Speed Remote instead of the Bang-Bang Remote. This one is the most convenient to precisely control the steering function (via the PF Servo) and also to turn on the lights and keep them lighted.

    Obviously it continues with the body work. Here the predominant elements are the huge air intakes on the hood and roof, the rear top aileron which can be tilt at the preference of each one, the front grill that opens manually to give access to the winch hook and last but not the least, the rear compartment where two tires can be stored to serve the needs on the way...
    Oops... there are still some decorative rear lights with blinker. Cute, aren't they!?

    One can easily see here, the movement of the doors and how the front grill opens.
    And Yes! The panels which are not yet available in Blue color, were recolored with Photoshop.

    Because LDD does not yet allow to flex 19L soft axles, I've used an alternate part with the same lenght (57539) on top of the front wheels, which LDD allows to flex. On the physical model that I built, I've used the correct 19L soft axle.
    On the doors frame, I had a similar problem. LDD doesn't allow to flex a 16L softaxle and these also do not exist in blue. Then to avoid recoloring also these in the photos, I've again used some 19L blue soft axles in the doors of the physical model (the extra length is hidden behind the doors' front panel) and again the 57539 axle at LDD (extra length also hidden behind the doors - it was quite a challenge to make it work in LDD...).

    Sorry Paul (Crowkillers), for not having used here the Black 19L axles, whose the return into production you wish so much!
    Although here it is one version specially dedicated to you! We never know where this could lead us...

    Now some detail pictures about the motorized winch and front grill opening door, to access the hook.

    Notice the white panel is here replacing the proposed trans-clear panels for the headlights, as these does not exist yet.
    Even though we can imagine from the images below what the effect would be, if we had the trans-clear panels (see the dimmed light spots behind the panel - first photo).

    Below without the white panel in front of the LEDs, we can also observe the simulated Bi-Xenon light bulbs (from the white bluish tone), and have a better vision of the effect achieved if the trans-clear panels would be produced by TLG.
    The blinker does not lit.

    Now let's take a look at one of the main features in this Rally Car - the spare tires compartment.
    The photos show a series of movements that pretends to represent how the tires could be lowered from their storage position, for easy removal an replacement by the pilots or who's gonna play wit with this model.

    There is an independent 4-bar linkage mechanism for each tire, that holds the tires in place and allow to lower them nearly to the floor level. The 4-bar linkage mechanism provides a manual locking feature that keeps the tires stored in upper place while not needed.

    Now the same set of images (almost), but from a different perspective.

    Once lowered each tire can be easily detached from the support and reinserted again,

    The LDD Experience

    This was my first relevant build experience with LDD.
    I became an LDD fan, for the easiness of its interface to build and automatically place the elements at place you want them to be. Although I found the hardest way, that I won't be able to do certain things that I could do with real bricks - some of them really valid building techniques. I managed to overcome most of these, but some at the expense of quite hard time consuming and hard work...
    I found that LDD has some problems or limitations with the Hinge Tool. Above certain levels of complexity it doesn't work (likely when having too many parts connected to each other, to resolve the movement equations and constraints). Also found the Hinge Align Tool, barely works, at least with such a large and complex model.

    But, difficulties apart, I've finished my model with a few limitations. Probably some due to my small experience with LDD real projects.
    • Didn't find the PF Speed Remote in the library, thus I had to use the conventional one.
    • Was not able to completely close the doors, because the locking bricks will overlap or stress a bit.
      In fact a different solution, but similar to that used in the original 9398 4x4 Crawler.
    • I didn't find out how two wind a piece of rope around the winch reel, to attach the hook to the end (I simply cannot leave it hanging). Thus I ended no placing neither the rope, nor the hook.
      There might be one way, I just  didn't find how.
    • The windshield slightly differs between the brick built and LDD made versions. There is a length which is not exactly a multiple of one LEGO Unit and because of this, the two versions have 1L difference.
      Was not able to reproduce exactly the same as in the original into LDD.

    Although, LDD is still a great tool and really hope to see some of its limitations addressed in further versions.
    I've also used LDD to POV-Ray Converter, which was of major utility to produce the nice photo-realistic renders you can see at some of the images above.


    The whole set of pictures at my flickr account.

    Please support! And feel free to leave your comments (either at the respective competition page or here).
    There is not much time left and this racer has just arrived to the departure line!...


    Allanp said...

    Love the blue panels and the fact that you get 6 unimog tyres. The clear fairing pieces are also very creative. I'm not sure about the painted tyres tho, they look good here but it would mean you couldn't use the six from this model, plus the four from the unimog, to make a ten wheel truck for example. But the proportions look great, you've even got almost full sized seats in there plus head room. Very nice!

    TechnicBRICKs said...

    Thanks Allan! :)

    Guess there will be plenty of other opportunities to get extra Unimog tires. Thus a 20.000 could perfectly give us something really exclusive and very rare. :/

    Kenneth Westelinck said...

    I love it and I would definitely buy it :)

    TechnicBRICKs said...

    As for the proportions, probably it should be a bit longer. But that's definitely not possible with this chassis...
    So we must work with the restrictions we have. :)

    MikeTwo said...

    Beautiful model, nice colors but.... I'm not gonna vote (yet). The reason why I is because I myself am still in the race (miketwo9398).

    If you look at the pictures in the competition you see a lot of pictures that have nothing to do with the competition. Would you, because you're started a toppic now, show some models of the participants on this site.
    I think there are several participants who regularly visit this site.
    Should it be that your model gets more point than mine, then I will vote for yours ;)

    jaaptechnic said...

    well i am totally agreed with MikeTwo,
    i am the designer off the LandRover Defender 90 which is currently Nr 2 in amount of votes that it have.

    maybe you can point out the 5 best and show them here.

    (i have vote yours!)

    TechnicBRICKs said...

    That's fair! :)

    While the time available has been really scarce, I've been also waiting for my entry and to get closer to the end, to capture in one single post most the submissions still having a chance in due time.

    I'll try to go true the several hundreds of submissions and gather the most catchy ones and which in my view are compliant with the competition rules and objectives. Which is not necessarily those with more votes. :)

    I won't put too much faith on my entry, because unfortunately I've posted it quite late. Later you'll understand why. ;)
    And still wanted to make another entry with my own Quad Byke...
    Very unlikely at this point, considering all the work done and time spent to prepare my first entry. :P

    First I still want to make a similar post to present this at EBs and the forum of my LUG.
    And some extra shoots to reveal additional details at different media.

    But I make the promise to publish a decent list with great models here.

    I've doubts about the Defender though. Think it will collide with the 'No licenses' restriction rule of this competition!?

    jaaptechnic said...

    well, they could make a Unimog why not a Defender?!

    maybe there is something on my site which you can use for your weektechvideo ;)

    TechnicBRICKs said...


    Because the Unimog project was prepared with the due antecedence and license negotiated with Mercedes-Benz in time.
    For the timelines of this competition, this is simply not possible, even if it was in the scope.

    Remind the statement below, taken from the competition rules online.
    "Copies of or design infringements relating to any existing third party property or any other intellectual property right(s) will not be eligible for the competition".

    As for the Week TechVideo, surely I'll take a look on this.
    Not for this week as I do have already something in the pipe, but probably the week after or sometime soon. ;)


    JTZshokunin said...

    You got my vote!

    This Is definitely the best on there so far, I just don't understand why 50+ percent of the models are woefully off-topic.

    The trans-clear panels are absolutely brilliant! They'd look beautiful in some supercars...

    Unknown said...

    Nice model. I've voted for it too :) The only question - is what about weight balance? Current 9398 crawler likes to roll, and this have greater height and these wheels in the back, which brings weight center to the top of the model.

    Btw, it would be nice if Lego would somehow leave only this challenge related photos in their page (or make some filter for that), because there are too much models, which are not this challenge related. Also somehow filtered by quality...

    TechnicBRICKs said...

    The competition website is indeed cluttered with invalid entries. :P

    Although I guess the Technic team does not moderate these, because they believe these could inspire others to build new and different models. ;)


    As for the balance I got your point.
    Don't think the slightly larger tires make a significant difference, but the overall model height could do it.
    However realize the original model is a Crawler, more prone to be played at sloppy terrain, but the Dunechaser is not a Crawler at all. Although there are really sloppy dunes in the desert - Not at our homes... :)
    But the real racers like these also roll quite easily in the desert, during the competitions. :P :D

    Blakbird said...

    I love this model! All of the proposed new parts and colors would be welcome. This model would be well above the price point of the current 9398. I imagine it might cost 50% more. Strictly speaking, the extra I/R receiver is not necessary since the lights and winch could be controlled manually.

    My only comment is that this model makes it more important than ever that the chassis not be red. It would look 100x better with black or gray.

    hrontos said...

    You got my vote.

    I like how many details and functions you packed into that model. I would never expect that TLG would pack that many features in one set. That would be really exclusive.

    And the presentation combining real and digital model is very nice.

    TechnicBRICKs said...

    Thanks Eric!

    These words coming from you, really mean something to me! :)

    You're absolutely right about the extra IR Receiver! I regret not having thought about that, but certainly it would help to make this idea feasible and more affordable. It would also remove the preference for the IR Speed Remote control, as the standard one would be perfect for the task and we could control the lights and winch with a PF Switch.
    Also it would make it a lot easier for the cables routing inside the cabin, which in turn will free the space for the co-pilot seat. :)
    Nevertheless as far as I understood, I don't think the price point will be a real show stopper for this Technic competion winner. It will be a very limited edition and it is not driven by the money it will generate or not. It is much more like a fun for the fans thing! :D

    I agree that a Black or DBG chassis would look great, but I can also say that looking at the physical model here with me, the red chassis doesn't look that bad. IMHO it also makes a very nice and pleasant contrast - at least I like it too. :)

    TechnicBRICKs said...

    Thanks hrontos!

    Really great to hear you like it! :)
    I think TLG could pack several things within this model. As I wrote above it will be a very limited edition and it is not driven by the money it will generate for TLG or not. It is much more like a fun for the fans thing, I guess!

    Indeed I had to make some BrickLink orders to get a few parts in the right colors, before presenting the model. Otherwise I would have to recolor not only the panels but something more... This also prevented me from submitting it earlier.
    I'm still waiting on something, but it will remain for an after Christmas revelation. :D

    BTW, I should have also recolored the rear mudguards with blue, like in the LDD model. Maybe I'll still do it. :)

    Let me say you have also some really great models submitted to this competition. Certainly some will get into the next phase!

    Even before the competition starts, I had planned to build my own Quad Bike. And still I am... but really doubt I could manage to do it at this short distance. :/

    Good luck to you as well!

    TechnicBRICKs said...

    I just added a few final notes to the original post, regarding my LDD experience with this model.

    Guess I still have a long learning journey, with LDD... :)

    Nathan Thom said...

    Very nice. If you want to share your LDD model I'd love to add this to Rebrickable? Might get you a few more votes :)

    TechnicBRICKs said...


    You got mail! ;)

    Kenneth Westelinck said...

    Sorry to see you're not amongst the 10 finalists. Really loved this model, the finalists not so much :(

    TechnicBRICKs said...

    Thanks! :)

    Guess the change for the Unimog tires, was a Deadly Sin here... :D

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