The toy fair season is now starting to wind up for now: We have had Nuremberg. We have had New York. Now we have had Melbourne…
In which I recall making models move in simpler times, invest in a LEGO Boost Creative Toolbox set, and set about meeting Vernie the robot. This article is as much for the beginner, trying to understand where to look for information, and finding out what my personal experience was like with the first couple of models. In the future I will build some more, and look at the programs involved along the way.
One of the amazing things about LEGO® bricks is that they can be used to construct the most amazing models. One of the things that lifts LEGO models to the the next level is movement. For as long as I can remember, I have been fascinated with the idea of making my LEGO models move. I just haven’t been particularly good at it!
My first experience with making LEGO move autonomously was using the blue 4.5V motor in the mid 70’s: part of set 100 or 112: to be honest, I am not really sure. I was probably about five years old at the time. But being able to make my LEGO crawl across the living room table was pretty amazing.
As life progressed, I graduated to the 181 train set: a black motor brick, with a dedicated battery box in the tender, running behind the engine. There was an additional switch below the battery box, which allowed a raised railway signal to stop the train. Somewhere along the road we found some coloured gears, and simple motorised machines became an option. Then came the Technical sets, with their single drive shaft motor, and optional gearing boxes. I have already written about these early Technic experiences this year.
However, before I could around to exploring monorails, 12V or 9V trains, I entered my dark ages. I emerged just as the Power Functions elements were being introduced, along with NXT. I probably found the Power Functions a little easier to use than NXT, or subsequently EV3, primarily because the construction techniques for Technic – with the square profile beams – perplexed me. To be honest, they still do. Turning a single wheel by myself is something I can deal with. Having a motor do it for me is extremely appealing.
So, when I heard about LEGO Boost, I became quite excited. LEGO Boost is a brick based (rather than Technic) robotics system with 3 independent motor channels, as well as a light and distance sensor brick, and an inbuilt tilt sensor, designed to be programmed by a 7 year old with some form of tablet device. Perhaps this would be something I could use in the not too distant future to motorise my models, or introduce a level of interactivity into them. Continue reading
At last it has happened: I have pulled apart my Microlight Helicopter 42057 , torn down the Telehandler 42061, and dismantled the BMW Motorrad Concept Hoverbike, the B-model of 42063 . I then sorted their component parts, in to compartmentalised boxes.
With Extreme Prejudice. Lots of compartmentalised containers: connectors in one; beams in another; gears and axels and panels. And random, hard to define, parts all in one flat box. I could have probably worked with several more compartments, or indeed boxes, but the process seems to have worked.
So. Many. Elements. Between these sets, we end up with around 1060 pieces, give or take. Of these, approximately 570 are used in this model. This is the first time I found myself with so many technic pieces in one place. This was not helped by incorporating the other technic elements which had made their way into the house over the last few years. I was amazed at how few of these pieces were ‘gears’: I’m sure the the gears what I remembered being the big thing that distinguished those early technical sets from LEGOLand and universal building kits.
This is the first time that I have built from instructions for a set I don’t own, with parts so immaculately sorted. It was a strange feeling. Knowing that all the parts were there, having built the original models, and pulling them apart directly into the sorting box was anathema to my normal building style.
I never understood the joy of Technic Motorcycles. And yet here I am, staring at the box of one. I would never have bought this set were I not aiming to put together the Reimagined Technic Car Chassis 8860 . But people seem to be interested in it. Every time I attend my local LUG, somebody else is putting it together. And they seem to be enjoying it. And they aren’t all the people I expect to see putting Technic sets together! So what is the appeal?
But surely it’s just two wheels, a fuel tank, engine, handlebars, and a bit of trim? How much variation can you get out of it? The first Technical Motorcycle was set 857 Motorbike with Sidecar, released in 1979. This vehicle featured the same wheels ultimately used in 8860 (albeit only 3 of them). The single cylinder piston engine attached to the rear wheel via a chain drive; the ride was a little rough due to lack of suspension, and the front forks were 6 studs wide, and built from a multitude of bricks and plates. The seat was wide and comfortable and the fuel tank extremely chunky. A side car made a third wheel necessary!
How on earth could any of that be different? I mean that first set had a massive 409 pieces, with lots of red, black, grey and blue. However, here we have a very different vehicle: with only 197 pieces more than the first one! It has a recommended retail price of $AUD89.99 (just under 15¢/piece). It has been around during recent 20% sales in Australia shops.
And so I set about putting it together.
I made a decision a few weeks ago to collect the sets required to allow me to put together the 40th Anniversary Technic Model: the reimagined 8860. As I have mentioned recently, LEGO® Technical sets (as they were called back in the day) were my introduction to building mechanisms, and they changed the way I thought about building with LEGO Bricks until I entered my Dark Ages.
I managed to obtain this set, as well as the BMW Motorrad Adventure Motor Cycle, for $10 at a major department store in Melbourne, thanks to the accrual of Credit Card Loyalty points. Important purchasing tip: do you accrue loyalty points? Frequent Flyer points? I also use the QANTAS frequent flyer store as a way to purchase LEGO. It took me a while to recognise that I have never been able to properly take advantage of Frequent Flyer schemes to receive actual flights, so I am chipping away at my supply of points to obtain LEGO.They also have some recently retired sets – I managed to pick up the Constructable General Grievous figure. Continue reading