In which I struggle with the ideas of combining two sets into a completely seperate model, attempt to answer the riddle “What do you get if you combine a truck with a LEGO Robot?”, and find a sticker sheet that I really really like……
A couple of weeks ago, I brought you the first part of my look at the 2018 LEGO City Arctic Scout Truck. As a medium sized city set, I thought it was pretty nifty: a bit of landscape, a dog and polar bear, a few different figures and cool (Ahem!) truck, with drive wheels and caterpillar tracks. How could it be improved on?
Now, some days I worry about the kind of LEGO builder I have become. The idea of taking a recently built set, and combining it with another set, featuring a similar colour palette caused me a little consternation. Both sets would now be potentially irreversibly combined. Or uncombined. I found myself lacking the necessary motivation to carefully seperate both sets at the end of the exercise. Perhaps this is a clear signal to continue the sorting exercise which I began last year, before getting a little… distracted. Again.
The LEGO Boost Creative toolbox app provides access to the models from the City and Ninjago range (where it combines with the 70652 Stormbringer dragon) to the right of the creative canvas. Selecting the Arctic truck, we see several zones: the first takes us through the construction of the vehicle: initially a tracked base (which we take for a drive), we add the forklift tines, and practice moving them up and down a little. The final step of the first block sees us complete the vehicle by placing the cab on it. As you can see from the picture, we build a forklift, with an elevated, sheltered cabin. It has large caterpillar treads, as well as large wheels on the back. Perfect for Arctic conditions. It is built around the Boost Move Hub, with the hub motors driving the tracks. The servo motor is used to drive the fork raising mechanism, and the sensor is positioned at the front of the hub, behind the fork lift.
Construction is reasonably straight forward, but takes over an hour if you take the time to carry out any of the programming / text exercises along the way.
Once the vehicle is constructed we move onto some supplementary builds. Initially they make sense: a rack to store the snow bike on and a computer bench for the laboratory: both are designed to be moved around by the fork lift.
Then there are some less obvious builds: a dog carrier; an orca and giant cartoon squid, as well as a weather vane. These do not all have obvious activities associated with them, but are used to demonstrate some of the sound effects provided to go with the model: howling wind, braking ice frozen on the mechanism.
Finally we build a small, tracked snow mobile, complete with a brick built Arctic Explorer, taking advantage of the Boost printed face element.
The one thing that becomes a little challenging (perhaps a little too challenging) is fitting the forks under the benches: if you are not perfectly square, you are likely to shunt things out of the way, rather than lift them up. Whether widening the models by a stud, or narrowing the fork is the best solution, I will let you investigate for yourself.
One thing becomes pretty obvious, pretty quickly: the colour palette for Boost is very similar to that of the Arctic sets: Medium Azur, Bright Orange and white. Boost has a greater emphasis on the white and azur in the parts palette than the Arctic sets, but they mix well together.
There is one thing that I found made construction a little tricky while I was combining the two sets: it was not always apparent which set certain elements came from, and given I had not fully dismantled the Arctic Scout truck prior to starting the exercise, locating the elements (even with a well sorted Boost set) was a bit challenging. Whether it would be possible in the future to place an icon next to elements to indicate the set that parts are coming from, it might be helpful for those who like to keep their sets seperate from others. For myself, it is a reminder that I need to finish the task I seem to carry out in part each year… to sort my LEGO by element, so that ALL parts are easy to access. I’m sure I will have some things to say about this over the next few months.
Stick Around… Things Might Get Interesting!
One of the most appealing aspects of continuing on from last week’s review of the city set was to apply the ‘essential’ stickers to the set: Arctic Explorer logos to the side of the cabin, black lines to indicate an opening panel over a grey tile, a computer screen tracking progress of core sample analysis and possibly the greatest LEGO Computer keyboard that I have ever seen. These labels were printed on a transparent polymer label – no grey or orange ink – just the prints, ready to go onto an element of any colour. Personally, I love these labels, especially the computer details. I am (somewhat disturbingly) thinking that a sheet of plastic stickers like this, with some exploration team logos, perhaps the torso prints, and especially the computer, could be a great promotional giveaway: allowing you to double the size of your Arctic explorer vehicle fleet with your existing elements. While arguments can be made in favour of printed elements, these stickers appear to be up to the task of keeping the label in the bricks over a period of time. They have been appearing more and more often over the last year or two, and I am starting to appreciate a few of them.
But what of the Boost Experience?
No sooner did I get these models built, and there was a new Boost App update available to download (Version 1.7). This update adds some games for the ‘base’ robot programs. It does not, however, add any new sets or models added to the mix. We have spoken of Boost previously on the Rambling Brick. If it is new to you, you may with to start here
When we have constructed the ‘Tread Base’ we are invited to take the Boost for a drive. Similar to Vernie, we have a selection of move commands to choose from: forward, back, turn a specific angle, and back. Driving forward, we have the sound of a diesel engine play through the control device. In reverse, we add a warning beep: just the prompt to encourage any overly focussed scientists to get out of the way (or get run down).
The next step adds the forklift attachement: We have a simple up and down block, but the lift runs quickly, often risking the loss of the load. Eventually, we will get access too a refined lift control.
The final phase of construction adds the sensor. Initially, it is just used to respond to distance. Then we get access to programming blocks running with a specific colour response . The block on the right allows to vehicle to run, until it is in danger of crashing into something, when it will then stop.
But I want to just play with it NOW!
As well as these programming blocks, we have a joystick control option, to allow driving/steering and with an up/down button to control the tines.
The Joystick: the left control steers, the centre controls the speed of the motor. The button on the right toggles a raise/lower of the forklift.
Give Me a Lift…
Ultimately, there are three blocks to control the fork lift: The two pale blue blocks lift and lower the forklift, quite quickly: if the load is not squarely and clearly over the fork, it is likely to fall off. The green brick on the right allows you to control the speed of the forklift (left) and its final height (as a percentage of maximum). This allows much more exact control, both for speed and height.
A few other new icons:
You can get this information for the new icons, by touching the block in the app, until a circle appears around the icon, and the box will pop up…
A Sample Program.
Wondering what to do with my fork lift, I decided to get it to drive forward, until it found the computer bench, move the bench, put it down, and then park. The program looked something like this:
The initial subroutine starts it running forward (for 10 distance units). However, there is a sensor interrupt, so that when the sensor gets close to an obsta=cle, the truck stops, and lifts it up. The truck backs up, turns and deposits the bench on the ground. Then the Truck reverses away and parks.
Here is a video of the program in action: It’s not much, but it gives me a feel on how to use some of the features of the program.
I really like the final build, created with the combination of the Boost Creative Toolkit and the Arctic Scout Truck. The themes share similar colour palettes, and mixing them together seems to work well, from a design perspective. The vehicle is quite functional, and the app offers several different ways to interact with it. The sound effects added to the movement command blocks add a degree of realism to the model, and gave me a good chuckle the first time I made the truck drive backwards. The programming challenges encountered while building the model break up the build, but do delay completion significantly. I quite like some of the ‘equipment builds’: especially the new (stickered up) computer. The orca and squid were a little peculiar however.
I have mentioned the stickers several times! The new polymer material is quite adhesive, and works well regardless of the background colour. I look forward to putting it through its paces for durability.
If you have boost, and are looking to do some additional building with it, I highly recommend pursuing the ‘mix it up’ builds offered by the City and ( I Presume) Ninjago sets. There is, of course, no compulsion to keep your vehicle looking like the final model shown in the instructions: you can design your own fork lift ‘skin’ if you wish.
I stick by my score of four out of five arbitrary praise units, for providing opportunity to expand my knowledge base of Boost programming, as well as the quality of the builds included in the instructions.
What do you think of the combination? Are you interested in learning more about how to look at Boost, and incorporating it in your own models (or combining it with other sets)? Does this combination make the Arctic Scout truck more appealing? Why not share your thoughts below.
Until next time,
PS The Arctic Scout Truck was provided by the LEGO AFOL Engagement Team for review purposes. I bought the BOOST Creative Toolbox last year, with my own money, and have been looking for something new to do with it for a couple of months. All opinions are my own.
PPS I would like to apologise for the recent slowing down of posting. I have a number of projects currently running in parallel and hope to have a couple ready soon. In the meantime, other facets of life are also keeping my family and I occupied. I hope to return to a roughly normal schedule before too long. However, if you don’t want to miss a post, why not sign up for email notifications? I won’t use your email address for any other purpose, and you will be notified as soon as a new post comes out. thanks for reading!