Thursday, January 31, 2013

Impressions on the 2H13 sets

Have been about to finish this post for a few days... almost the same time since I had the chance to take a detailed look to the 2013 Dealers Catalog. However I had a trip in between and there was no mood to finish this before...
As expected the catalog included all the 2H13 LEGO Technic sets already. No pictures taken from watermarked images, sorry!

However I thought you would like to know about my first impressions on these sets.
Yeah, I know... some photos from the 42009, Mobile Crane MK II have meanwhile appeared online since the opening of the Toy Fair running in Nuremberg.

But here we go...

42001, Mini Off-Roader

  • 7-14 years
  • Orange/Black body
  • Same tire/wheels as in 8066 Off-Roader.
  • Apparent it has some sort of fully independent suspension.

42005, Monster Truck
  • 9-16 years
  • Red body
  • Its appearance looks a bit like the 9398 4x4 Crawler, although at a much smaller scale.
  • It has HoG steering, 4WS and live axle suspension at both front and rear axles.
  • Tire/wheels combination in use, seem to be the same as used in 8295 Telescopic Handler, for you to have an idea on the scale.

42008, Service Truck
  • 10-16 years
  • Green body with Red details and apparent black chassis (or at least parts of it), including at least several 1x5x11 green Technic panels.
  • It includes one PF Battery Box and one PF M-Motor, which are used for the motorized rear outriggers and lift via Linear Actuator.
  • This set also includes pneumatic elements and functions (the tube is seen along the crane). They are used at least to tilt the tow fork, although I can't see whether this is powered with a manual or a motorized pump. At least there is no manual pump I can see visible.
  • This is an European stile truck ,with two steerable axis at the front and other two fixed in the back.
  • Again the tire/wheel combination seems to be the same as used in the 8109 Flatbed Truck.
  • This might make us think they are about the same-scale, however the Flatbed Truck was a 15 wide and the new Service Truck is 13 wide.

42009, Mobile Crane MK II
  • 11-16 years
  • It is huge and rumored to have more than 2600 parts which makes it the biggest LEGO Technic set ever released.
  • With both letters capitalized in the model's name I guess they stand for 'Markus Kossmann II' rather then 'Make II'.
  • The model is essentially Yellow and DBG, and we welcome the return of the yellow 1x5x11 panel.
    There is also one in LBG which seems to be a kind of working trapdoor covering something.
  • It includes one PF Battery Box and one PF L-motor to motorize 4-functions selectable from one gearbox, from a side panel on the crane turret.
  • Obviously the Battery box goes as the telescopic boom counter weight in the turret back side.
  • The gearbox defines an H pattern and as expected the functions seems to be,
  • Telescopic boom - lift / lower 
  • Telescopic boom - extend / retract
  • Hook - lower / raise
  • Stabilizing outriggers - extend / retract 
  • If it is so, the turret rotation remains manual, as before.
  • The huge telescopic boom is a three-section one, it is raised with a pair of Linear Actuators and I just hope it performs better than those on the 8043 Motorized Excavator.
  • As expected for this kind of model, there are 4 outriggers (motorized ones this time) which seem very detailed in their function. There is a small linear actuator in each one, and they seem to lower / raise at the same time they extend outwards or retract inwards, which looks very interesting and promising. But for sure this model will not stand on its own weight...
    From the outriggers image and mechanism, it seems we will get some sort of new and long waited extensible shaft that will transmit rotational movement to the mLAs, while the outrigger extends outwards (unless I'm just seeing or imagining things...). :expectation:
  • There is also a fake engine behind the drivers cabin, between two side panels which seems to be a V8.
  • You will notice the hook chosen for this model is not the metallic version anymore. However it uses quite a lot of LEGO elements which should make it heavy enough to keep the rope perfectly stretched all the time.
  • The tire/wheel combination is the same last used used with the 8258 Crane Truck, with the 62.4x20mm tire, which gives you the scale of the model. However we must realize that unlike its 8421 Mobile Crane predecessor, the new model has 5 axles. From these, 4 seems to be steerable and steer at different angles (two in the front and two in the rear).
  • And probably one the little details that most caught my attention, is the curve panels used to cover the boom, being of the same new type as used in the LMS EV3 Education extension pack (those in black). If no other use or improvement the seem at least to provide extra connection points and thus improved usage flexibility.
  • Already into the details, the doors on the driver's cabin really open and close, which is a nice detail the Designer didn't miss.
  • Guess it was missed the opportunity to make a manually raiseable cabin on the turret, like in many real machines like this nowadays. It would have been an opportunity to increase playability even further, at a very little cost.

I like the overall looking of this beast very much. Just hope it works as well as it looks.
It looks it gonna be a great model, but certainly also expensive!...

Now I was to leave you with some images from the previous incarnations of these two large models, 8285 Tow Truck and 8421 Mobile Crane.

But yeah, the Nuremberg Toy Fair pictures are already there!


Sunday, January 27, 2013

Week TechVideo, 2013 #04 - The Hoberman Sphere

A Hoberman Sphere is a structure invented by Chuck Hoberman that resembles a geodesic dome, but is capable of folding down to a fraction of its normal size by the scissor-like action of its joints. Colorful plastic versions have become popular as a child's toy.
Typically it consists of six great circles corresponding to the edges of an icosidodecahedron. The Hoberman Sphere can be unfolded by allowing certain members to spread apart.

Jason Alleman [1, 2] built a motorized spinner stand for his LEGO Hoberman Sphere.
By speeding up and slowing down the rotation of the Hoberman Sphere, it expands and collapses on its own.

Here you can find the link for the original photos at Jason's flickr photostream, and you can also find the building instructions for the sphere, through this page at Rebrickable.


Please avoid sending requests to post specific models on this TBs section.

We understand some of you would enjoy to see your creations featured here, but please understand  that because only one video gets highlighted per week, it is impossible to accommodate all the great MOCs continuously build by the Technic builders out there. They simply won't fit all and that's also not the purpose of this blog (see the header statement).

Many of your MOCs are scanned anyway and listed for later publication when they do not fit immediately. However some remain in the backlog queue just for too long and eventually loose the relevance or the publication opportunity window. As a rule of thumb, we also avoid publishing MOCs that have been featured by their authors or other fans at some other great web places dedicated to the Technic community out there. It doesn't mean that occasionally some won't get published here anyway.

Thanks for your understanding!

Friday, January 25, 2013

TBs TechReview 20 - 42010/42011, Technic Racers

When the first rumours of the 1H2013 LEGO Technic line-up started there was quite some speculation about the apparently large number of “small” sets in the list. Besides the more traditional sets, 2 racers were included. In this review we’ll have a closer look at these two sets, the 42010 and 42011, which are linked by more than the fact that they belong to the same sub-theme in Technic.

42010 – Off-road Racer

Number of parts: 160

Despite the fact that the number of pieces should have told me something, I was rather surprised to find just three bags with pieces, two of which seemed to be half empty.

Even so, as the building process progressed the model soon started to look more impressive than the amount of pieces seemed to indicate.

Alongside the pieces there were the instruction booklet, a sticker sheet and a second booklet I will get back to later in this review.

A curious detail in the instruction manual of both sets is the new and revised way of indicating that it is a good idea to sort your elements before you start to build (although especially with the smaller sets I enjoy the challenge of spotting the right piece in the heap):

The construction of the set is quite straight forward. The only salient points are the use of the new axle and pin connector piece 10197 which is included 6 times in the inventory of this set and comes in quite handy. Apart from the pull-back motor, the only other “moving element” in this set is the opening roof.

It isn’t much of a function. At the end of the building process the following pieces are left over:

Intriguing, right? A worm gear and an 8-tooth gear included in the box, but no function to use them for.

The buggy is quite sturdy. The pull-back motor is powerful enough to give it a good push and the largish wheels help it to reach a respectable speed. The blue bracing at the bottom of the model doesn’t appear to be strictly necessary, but since it is still higher off the ground than the lowest part of the pull-back motor it isn’t in the way either. The front wheels stick out further than the nose of the vehicle so they serve as a bumper when it runs into an obstacle like a wall. A nice detail in view of the speed it can build up.

A total of 8 stickers are provided on a sheet, but I didn’t really feel like applying them. The car does look a little plain without them, but I prefer it this way.

The model is however very light (as a small LEGO model obviously would be) and this means that on very smooth surfaces (tiles, glass, linoleum) the wheels tend to lose grip easily (first time use will work perfectly on almost any surface, but as soon as the wheels gather a little dust their grip is reduced considerably on very smooth surfaces). This results is initial slipping and much of the speed being lost. In addition one wheel will frequently get a grip before the other one does, sending the buggy off at an angle. On rougher surfaces (carpet, concrete, asphalt, …) grip is excellent.

In the additional booklet there are some images with play ideas for this set, including the building of ramps and obstacles to jump over with the buggy. The tires and the design of this set lend themselves very well to this purpose.

Contrary to the traditional Technic sets, both this set and its companion come with a single set of building instructions; that is, there is no secondary model for either of the sets. However, as is displayed prominently on the back of the box, there are building instructions available online for a model that can be made combining the parts of both sets.

First however, lest have a closer look at the 42011

42011 – Race Car

Number of parts: 158

The height and width of the box for this set are identical to its companion, but it is significantly less thick. The boxes are approximately 5 and 6 cm thick each.

Again the contents of the box is appear rather limited at first glance; even more so than the previous set:

There are a few more stickers than on the other set – 12 in this case – and they come numbered, but again, I prefer the model without them and I feel this set gains less with the stickers than the buggy does. The set does not include any new pieces other than the mini panels (4 are included, the same number as in the buggy) and they really help to define the shape of the car.

While in the buggy the pull-back motor is built in at an angle to help create the characteristic downward slope (back to front) of the model, in this case the motor is used straight and the chassis is flat and very low to the ground. The model is quite realistic for the number of pieces it includes and the differ sizes of the front and rear wheels only makes the model better.

The car is quite sleek and will almost fit inside the box:

Like the buggy, the car includes a steering wheel at a realistic angle and a driver seat. It does not have any other function than the pull-back motor.

Again the extra pieces include a surprise:

Another worm wheel and 8-t gear. The plot thickens…

Side by side:

While the two models use virtually the same number of pieces, the Race Car is much more compact and so appears smaller. The Off-road racer is indeed very slightly longer and obviously quite a bit higher:

The additional booklet appears to suggest the possibility of racer the cars against each other, but this makes little sense. Despite it’s better aerodynamics the race car must lose as they both use the same pull-back motor and the Off-road Car’s tires and much larger.

The second suggestion in the booklet doesn’t really apply to the Race Car either. The car is so low to the ground (and the chassis even tilts slightly to the front) that a ramp must be very thin or the Race Car will get stuck on it. The same goes for the inclination of the ramp which must be very small or it will not be able to take it. That doesn’t mean the Race car isn’t fun, but it isn’t anywhere near as versatile as the Off-road Racer.

The alternate model

On the backside of both boxes, a simple illustration indicates that by combining the two sets a larger model can be built following the instructions  provided here on the LEGO Technic website.

Although neither of the sets include any real Technic functions (other than a pull-back motor), but do include a worm gear and an 8-t gear each, it would make sense to expect some technic functions in the larger model.

This larger model is a dragster of sorts. The front wheels are actually rather too wide and the rear wheels too small, but the model is nevertheless not at all bad. As suspected, the worm gears and 8t gears are used in two mechanisms that are controlled from the back. One opens and closes the cockpit:

and the other regulates the angle of the spoiler; the second one has rather too much travel (it can double over forwards)

and neither mechanism is realistic in that they would never be used like this in real life, but they are mechanism nonetheless, which is appreciated in a Technic set.

I didn’t apply the stickers and the model looks relatively nice. The 4 small panels from the Race Car are used for the spoiler and with the stickers applied this leaves a curious pattern. The other panels fit in nicely however. While this additional model is larger than either of the original sets, it only uses part of the available elements and a considerable amount of pieces are left unused. Not counting the second pull-back motor, the wheels and hubs and second steering wheel, over 80 pieces are left over – a quarter of the total amount of pieces.

Even so there are a few nice details in the build, like the light next to the steering wheel or the pedals in the floor of the cockpit:

Here’s another pic to give you a bit of an idea of the scale of the model, putting it in front of the Of-road Racer box (aligned with the right side):

While these sets are certainly no must-haves for an AFOL on a tight budget, they do come with a nice selection of pieces (read panels). If you are doubting which of the two to get I’d definitely recommend the Off-road Racer. Both the model and the parts are more interesting than the Race Car, although the Race Car is probably aesthetically more interesting.

If you do decide to buy both sets, here is my challenge:build a combined model that uses 90% of the pieces, and if possible, both pull-back motors!

The LEGO Technic 2012 Competition winner

The LEGO Technic Competition 2012 has finished and the public has chosen its preferred model among the 10 proposals taken by the LEGO Technic designers team, to the final for the public vote.

The lucky winner was the Boss, designed by rm88 from Russia!

And so it finished also the poll ran here at TBs which tried to evaluate how the views from a more focused Technic fans community and a broader audience could differ.

I do not want to take too much conclusions out of this but here the results, naturally with a much lower number of votes (a total near 350), were a bit different.

Lets say that as it seems that for the TBs readers, the Highway Enforcer by crazy_1993, should have won.
Nevertheless it achieved a very honorable 2nd place, from all those who did vote at the official competition website.

Now  let's wait for the summer, to see what will really get out of this and how it will differ from the original winner proposal.

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