Sunday, July 29, 2012

Week TechVideo, 2012 #30 - CSII featured at GWR

Think I didn't feature a post with the original videos [1, 2] from the CubeStormer II at the time (except an entry to the TBs Video Wall), but found this video some weeks ago in the Guinness World Records.

I liked to see it and thought it was worth sharing.


Notice the nice slow motion images. In good truth it is the best way to see it...

Thursday, July 26, 2012

TBs is now at technicbricks.com

Since today, TBs is finally accessible through its own domain.
So you may now access this from the URLs: www.technicbricks.com and technicbricks.com

The blog hosting is however still kept at Blogger.
As it is the policy from Blogger, TBs will remain accessible through the native blogspot URL that made it known, so there won't be disruption of service for our readers and previous links to TBs posts.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

TBs TechReview 17 – 9393, Tractor

Set reference: 9393                                                                                                                                                               
Set name: Tractor
Theme: LEGO Technic
Release date: 2012.Aug

Number of parts: 353 (plus few additional spare parts)

LEGO Designer: Mic (Michael T. Jeppesen)

Model under review: Main model
Weight: 320g
Approximate set dimensions: Fully unfolded tool blades
Length - 30,2cm (11,9")
Width - 17,0cm (6,7")
Height - 14,1cm (5,6")
Approximate box dimensions:
Length - 28,0cm (11,0")
Width - 26,0cm (10,2")
Height - 6,2cm (2,4")

Stickers:No
Building instructions: 2 booklets included
Main model (68 pages with 49 major building steps): 1/2
B-model (76 pages with 59 major building steps): 2/2
B-model: Buggy

Recommended for ages: 9 - 16
Building difficulty level: Easy
Estimated building time: 45m - 1,5h

Price range: 30€
Price per part: 8,5 euro cents

Inventory (Bricklink): Link
Inventory (Peeron): Link (when available)
Other user reviews (Brickset): Link (when available)



The smallest LEGO Technic set released in the 2H2012 is a tractor. Although in different scales it is a recurrent subject from the LEGO Technic theme, where tractors have been featured with or without accessories at more or less regular intervals. Guess they constitute a core element in the preferences of the Technic target audience.
The last Technic tractor we have seen was released in 2010 together with a log loader (8049), which had very similar forms to this one.
Lime as been the color chosen for LEGO Technic agricultural machines most often since 2006, so without surprise it was the case also with this model. Although we can find these in a much more variety of colors in real life.
We hadn't seen lime parts in a Technic set, also since 2010.

Similar to the tractor in 8284 set from 2006, this one features a detachable tool with spinning blades to mow the fields (LEGO description of the set refers to 'plow' which seems to be a mistake or an easy association). Although with less detail and realism, because of the smaller scale chosen for the present model.
Just as matter of curiosity, 8284 set was released in Europe as "Tractor / Dune Buggy" and the box front image shows the Tractor model. In North America this set was marketed as "Dune Buggy / Tractor" and the box front image shows the Dune Buggy model. An interesting strategy from TLG to promote the same set in two distinct markets, the way they think it would sell better in both. This come without significant extra effort/costs as the Technic sets already use to have different boxes for the European and North American markets. Although this strategy seems to have been not repeated so far.
And yet again, we have a Tractor / Buggy combination - Is the formula to be repeated with the current set? Don't think so, but we'll see...


1. The package and contents

As usual for the LEGO boxes this size, this set comes in a "punched to open" style box. All you need is to press the two punched areas (see the picture on the right side) and gently open the box side.
I would prefer the tape sticker style seals to avoid damaging the box and that's why always open this type of boxes with a knife, to separate the glued parts with the least damage possible.

In the front we see the main model, the respective functions and the "2 in 1" sign indicating there is also a second model that's possible to build with this set (a nice looking buggy).



As it often happens with the small models, this reference comes with printed building instruction booklets for the main and B-model - One for each.
Although no stickers were produced to decorate these models. It shouldn't be easy to find a common decoration that fits both a tractor and a buggy anyways. The motor is not behind the same panels in both models, so that not even a grill pattern would make sense for these.



When taking the box contents out, we remain with five polybags and four tires separated.


Bags are not numbered but that's also not necessary for a set this size.


2. The new parts

There are no new parts included with this set, period!


3. The parts assortment

Not much to say about this either, but for a small set there is also not much to expect.

Still we get some useful or less common parts - Some gears, a couple of knob wheels, one gear rack for steering, one universal joint, a couple of toggle joints and some lime parts/panels if you ever intend to do a Lime MOC.
You can see the full assortment, listed here.


4. Building experience

Ready to go! (again with one of my new and useful IKEA cutlery trays...)



This is going to be simple and fast...
In a few steps we have the base structure with a simple steering mechanism and respective HOG in place. Notice the two shafts connected through orthogonal knob wheels.



Some steps ahead we have already added the driver's seat with the steering wheel in front, the rear axle and the foldable PTO (Power Take-off) mechanism that will support and drive the rear attachment.



And we're just at one step from adding the first panels. Then it will come the cabin, the ceiling, etc..
Soon the tractor will be ready...



The mechanical mower comes next and here you have a couple of pictures. The attachment alone and then attached to the rear of the tractor.



And we're done!
These are the spare parts that we rest with, for the case we lose something.



Maybe we can mow these too...


5. Functionality and playability

This is a small model with a few manual functions, which we can summarize as:
  • Drive (push/pull the model)
  • Steer via HOG
  • Fold/unfold rear attachment (mechanical mower in the present case)
  • Fold/unfold the mower blades
  • Spinning mowers through PTO as you drive
  • And adjust the mirrors...
Not bad for a 350 part model!
Literally more than this year 9398 flagship, if we can look them with this perspective.


The image below shows the tractor with the tools unfolded and "ready to rip through the fields", as per the official LEGO description of this product.



At the end of the building instructions we can find a set of illustrations which explain how to fold the mower blades.



Thus when get tired of mowing around, we can fold them upwards and rest...



There is also a knob in the rear side which we can use to raise the folded mower from ground. The next photos show the tractor in the process of raising the mower attachment.



So after a full day of work, it's time to drive back home, with the mower at parking position.

Notice the Technic fig in the pictures above is from an old LEGO Technic set and thus not included with 9393 Tractor set.


In the video below you can see a demonstration with most of these functions.



Yes, I forgot to show how to adjust the cabin mirrors...


6. The B-model

As previously mention, the B-model proposed by the LEGO designers for this set is a buggy, as seen in the images below. However this model is not covered extensively in this review.


Without having built it yet, I'm tempted to say I like it most, besides the more limited set of functions it offers.
  • Drive (push/pull the model)
  • Steer via HOG
  • Working fake engine with pistons
  • ...and no adjustable mirrors

The model looks brilliant from the aesthetics point of view, and the color scheme also fits very nicely.
The pistons engine made with regular parts is an original and very clever idea. Somehow it reminds the camshaft operating the valves in the old 8858-2 Engines set, from Expert Builder Set series.


7. Final thoughts

This is not among my favorites, but I am not a farming guy, neither I'm in the target range (9-16). By the way I feel the upper limit in the recommended ages range, a bit exaggerated. Don't think it interests the same 16 youngster that chooses the 9398 4x4 Crawler or the 9396 Helicopter to play.
It looks like the sets target differentiation is being made for the starting ages but not at the upper limit, which seems not correct at my eyes.

Now a few remarks on practical aspects...

One of the rear wheels spins freely, while the other drives the rear attachment mechanism, through a PTO shaft. However and since this is a push/pull model, you won't even notice the difference.

An axle 4 was used to limit how far the rear attachment tool can fold upwards via the respective knob. Personally I'd have preferred to use an Axle 3 and let it go up a bit further. Besides it will hit the rear lights, which get plugged anyways.

Original 'Axle 4' used, preventing the attachment to fold completely

Proposed improvement with 'Axle 3' and totally folded attachment


The same knob that folds/unfolds the rear attachment could have been placed a bit more inwards or closer to the rear axle, although it wouldn't come easy. The way it is, you can easily raise the front wheels while turning the rear knob and make the tractor to tip backwards. This happens because the is totally outside the area defined by the tractor wheels footprint.
It reminds me the scene where Tow Mater and Lightning McQueen play the tractors tipping, at Disney Cars movie...


To finalize I leave you with some additional photos.



8. The Ratings

It is not easy to rate such a set which is somehow basic by design and targeting the entry level, while looking at it behind a die-hard fan glasses...

The results are also a bit biased because of the 'parts innovation', where this model didn't get any new part and thus got a nil in this aspect... However, I didn't feel it would be right to skip this evaluation criteria when compared to other models. For some reason this aspect was selected to rate the sets.

The set innovation could be higher if we also consider the B-model. But since it is not in the main scope of this review, a better rating for this category was also hindered.

In terms of functionality and playability, one should say this set delivers what's expected regarding its size, part count and target group.

   as value for the money
   for parts innovation
   for set innovation
   for set design
   for functionality and playability

Overall rate: Good  


In general this is a good set for boys willing to discover LEGO Technic sets, but already able to deal with some building complexity.
Feel free to comment if you somehow disagree or feel otherwise.


Leg Godt!

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