Friday, June 25, 2010

Technicopedia: 1995

The awesomest site on the internet is Technicopedia. So far it contained models only between 1977-1994, but now it got a whole new year 1995:

Some of the finest:
There is also a new section named Technic Fundamentals that contains excellent animations about gears, differentials, adjustable rotors and similar stuff.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Review: 854 Go-kart

When I read RÁJEN's blog post (in Hungarian) about his 854 Technic gokart I became nostalgic. Just like him it was my first ever Technic set and unlike I him I still have the majority of the parts. So I have decided to put it together.

I. Data sheet

Neve: Go-kart
Number: 854, also known as 948 (they are the same set)
Theme: originally Expert Builder, later Technic
Year: 1978
Number of pieces: 206
Price: about 20 USD originally, now about the same on Bricklink
B-Models: Tire balancer, Trike

II. History

When the Expert Builder series was started in 1977 it introduced four new sets that were joined by two others in 1978. The top of the range was the 853 Big Car and the smaller set (by number of bricks) was this gokart - this was the entry set of Technic. I got mine approximately in 1985 from my parents, they have bought it in Turkey as getting Legos in the Eastern Block was somewhat difficult.

I think I did not put it together in the last 15 years or so. When I built it I tried to use the oldest parts available (especially with blue bricks the shade difference is obvious). I did not use the Technic connectors though as almost all of them broke or cracked during playing with them, and the same happened with the universal joint. To my surprise I managed to buy brand new connectors during one of my Legoland tours, now I have used those.

III. Instructions

I was not a particularly caring kid when dealing with Legos. It is a smaller miracle that I still have the original instructions. When I found it I was a bit surprised to see that it has a crane on its cover that I have not seen since as a set. The actual building instructions for the gokart start around the middle, the rest has generic tips and some unrelated building guides. My theory is that the Lego company emphasized that from Technic sets one can build anything.

IV. What is in the box?

Classic Technic parts from the same era as the 853, but here blue is the dominant color. There are two Technic bricks of length 16, some of size 8, 4 and 2. There are many plates, amongst them 6 rotating plates for the steering. There are also some black parts (seat, engine) as well as some yellow and white ones. There is three 24-tooth gear and two 8-tooth. The axles are kept in position by classic bushes and connectors, it also has a universal joint. There is a sticker and two flexible tubes that are in surprisingly good condition considering they are 25 years old. Oh, and there is the steering wheel.

V. Functions

As this is an entry-level set the list of functions is not very long. Steering works as one could expect and in the back we find a single-cylinder piston engine that is connected to the left rear wheel. The designers probably thought that connecting it to both wheels would cause too much tension for the gears - I also agree that this seems more durable than the joint on the 853.

VI. Design

The design is not overemphasized, functions are more important. Despite this it looks pretty gokart-like. It has a number plate (that looks quite ok even without the sticker) and two tubes connected to the engine. It also has a seat that can be tilted a bit.

One minor nit is that real gokarts tend to have the engine on the side rather than in the back, just like on the later 8842 gokart.

VII. Score

As a final score it gets 9/10, probably heavily influenced by personal memories. I think this was a really good starter set in its era and contains largely generic parts that can be used to build almost anything. When comparing it to the 2010 entry model Telehandler the gokart is quite a bit larger. It also contains almost twice as many parts (its price tag is also steeper). To summarize, a good starter set with universally usable parts.

See also:

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Review: 8045 Mini Telehandler

A Lego maniac like me cannot go on without getting random Lego sets from time to time, even if he buys enough stuff for himself :) I got this set as an anniversary surprise from my spouse, I was very happy.
I. Data sheet

Name: Mini Telehandler
Number: 8045
Theme: Technic
Year: 2010
Number of pieces: 117
Price: EUR 9.99 (Germany), USD 10.99

B-Model: Motorcycle

II. What is in the box?

This is a truly modern Technic set. We can hardly find any real bricks - only the lights and the pallet has some of those. The rest is made of beams, joints, axles and other similar pieces. Fortunately there are not many special pieces, it seems to be a good starter set for free building. The wheels are not typical Technic wheels, they rotate on axles so they cannot be used as driven wheels.

III. Functions

It is a small set having few pieces, so it concentrates on one main function: by rotating the knob at the back we can lower or rise the forks. It includes a pallet too, so there is no need to buy other sets to start playing. Raising the fork is easy but lowering it is not quite smooth. Because of the tension in the mechanism it starts to make small jumps, the pallet falls down quite easily.

The B-Model does not have any functions at all: we can build a motorcycle. At least it has a spare wheel that we can use to exchange the wheel on the sidecar.

IV. Design

Even though it has relatively few parts, it is obvious that the designer spent more time on the looks than on the functions. The loader has lights at the front and the back, even on the top. On the two sides of the chassis we find two boxes that have an aesthetic role only. On the right there is the engine compartment and on the left we find the driver's cabin. It is not large enough to hold a minifig but even so it is quite detailed - you can clearly see the seat.

V. Score

This is a perfect starter set for 7 year old boys. Assembling it is pretty quick, I could do it in less than an hour even though my daughters "helped" me. The function is simple but is entertaining. The parts are generic enough to build other things, although I have not tried that.

As a final score it gets 8/10. It has many nice aspects but it gets a small penalty because using this many parts it could have a bit more functionality. For example the 8259 Mini Bulldozer has not just an adjustable dozer-blade but also realistic treads.

See also:

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Breaking news

I finally got it! I have the 8860, the last missing Big Car. So far only online but soon in real life too. It is 66CHF (47 EUR, 57 USD) even though it has a box too.