Finally Sorted: 40th Anniversary 8860 Redux: The Classic Technic Car Chassis Renewed and Reviewed

Sorted

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.

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Not all of these elements are from the sets purchased this year: they have arrived from a variety of sources. But they are now sorted!

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.

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K2SO Rides to Adventure on May the Fourth: BMW R 1200 Adventure (42063)

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!857-1.jpg

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.

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Missing out and optimism: Not quite the 40252 Mini VW Beetle

Over Christmas I built the Creator Expert VW Beetle, and found it to be a most enjoyable thing to take to the beach. So,40252_alt2
I was quite excited when it was announced that there would be a small version of the model available earlier in the year (40252).  Decked out in Dark Azure, just like 10252 (I sense a numbering pattern), I knew I was going to want to get it.  I also knew it was going to prompt me to place a shop.lego.com order when it became available.

And so April came.  Free gift with purchase over $60 was announced.  I was excited. And then the triple VIP points were added.  This period of the year coincides with school holidays in many states of Australia, and many of our major retailers have LEGO® Sets reduced by 20%.  Some stores were excluding Collectable Minifigures,  Some excluded The LEGO® Batman™ Movie Sets, and one excluded The LEGO® Batman™ Movie Collectable Minifigures.

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Technic Telehandler 42061: Leveraging For Maximum Purchase.

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.

IMG_1066.jpgI 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

Retro Reconstruction – 852 Helicopter 1978

LEGO Alive!

So, last week I wrote about my memories of my introduction to LEGO Technic, which was way back in 1978. Over the recent Easter weekend, I had the chance to visit my childhood LEGO collection.  I found some Technical set instructions in the mix: 8860-Car Chassis, and 856Bulldozer.  But not for my original helicopter.  Then I found the sheet you see here: preserved after 40 years.  Not the instructions for the Helicopter, but for the B-Model airplane. I turned them over, and on the flip side were blueprints for the helicopter, at a 1:1 scale.IMG_5385

Now, we ended up owning a fairly broad collection of LEGO for the 70’s-80’s: lots of regular bricks, ancient wheels and parts from 3 significant technical sets (as well as some supplementary sets).  I thought to myself: there is a high probability of locating enough parts to put the helicopter together. Perhaps not colour perfect, but structurally so.

And so I set to work…

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Ode to the Pick-A-Brick Wall: $44.98


The Pick-A-Brick Wall: A Poem

I walked on in, the lights shone brightfinal (4)
The buckets hung on walls of white.
Inside were parts of every type
But was the trip really worth the hype?
I picked up a cup, and scanned the wall.
What should I take, I want it all.
Over one hundred different parts
Just where does one begin to start?

The choice is hard, my brain went wild.
So hard to calm the inner child.
I looked for tiles: that was my dream,
First I found the white ice cream.
Regular bricks: red, pink and blue
I left them be, but what about you?
Left wing, Right Wing in Light Stone Grey.final (13)
Some jets complete it: what more to say?

Turntable bases caught my eye
I stacked them up, two hundred high.
How to use them? To decorate
a wall to make my next MOC great.
The garden, too, could stand to gain
Some bamboo and flowers if its all the same.
Clips and bars: grey and yellow
And those small flames, well hello!

So many parts in green of sand:final (15)
plates, clips, curved slopes all come to hand.
And telescopes, what about those?
I could use them to make an amusing nose
I stack my cups with bricks so bright:
Yellow and pink, a sherbet fright.
And then trans clear – slopes and bricks
When stacking up became quite thick.

IMG_5295But careful as you scoop parts up,
for if they fail to reach your cup,
Before too long they reach the floor,
and to step on them is sore.
Someone said, I don’t know who,
“It’s best to wear a safety shoe”
Its good advice, from someone kindfinal (9)
to give an adult piece of mind.

Another plan then sprang to mind,
with another project close behind.
As I filled the cup with different bits,
I knew my wallet would feel the hit
of expenses incurred with each cup,
as I moved along to fill them up.
One Large, One Small – enough today
But in the future: who can say?

The range was good, selection fun,
but I wonder if I jumped the gun?
A better plan to go and shop
for parts but to know just when to stop.
I’ll come again in three months time,
when the pieces change – that will be fine.
An autumn day, sky full of sun
made this LEGO store a bit of fun!

The retail store located at the new LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Melbourne opened its doors this week, ahead of the of the Official Ribbon Cutting Next Week.  

If you have seen a LEGO Store before, you probably know what to expect.  

If not: there are LEGO sets at retail prices (10% off for annual pass holders), small exclusive sets,  lots of gear and books that you will not normally see conveniently located all in one location.final (14)

And a Pick-A-Brick Wall.  I have seen Pick a Brick walls before.  I have even selected bricks from them previously. Even though this one is operated by Merlin, PAB at the LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Melbourne is charged by the cupful ($14.99 small; $29.99 Large), rather than weight (Hooray!) But it’s a little different when you have a little time, in your own city and go to visit it for the first time….it didn’t quite drive me to song.  

You do not need a ticket to the Discovery Centre to enter the store.

Except on dedicated AFOL nights, adults must be accompanied by a child.  This is an international policy in LEGOLAND Discovery Centres. It is a play centre, after all…

Play Well!

Technic: Embarking on a Nostalgia Road Trip down Memory Lane

 

Christmas 1978: Monday Morning, 5 am.

I’d like to tell you story.  Like all good stories, it is possibly a little long winded, and feels a little irrelevant until you get to the point. This may or may not be a good story.  I’d be curious to know your opinion. But bear with me. It was Christmas Day, 1978. A Monday.  I was 9 years old. We were staying in Ballarat ( regional Victoria) with my Aunt for Christmas.  As I mentioned, I was nine.:Christmas was exciting,  even more so at five in the morning when you wake up with an exciting new form of seasonal insomnia. Monday morning at five o’clock is not a time that comes naturally to me these days, but on Christmas day as a child, it represented a definite sleep in!

Our personal family record occurred in 1977, when my brother and I got up at 3:40am on Christmas day, ten minutes after our parents had gone to bed. He proudly went in to excitedly inform our visiting relatives that he had been given a bicycle, and it was all red! Oddly enough, our relatives did not share his enthusiasm at this time.  The story however is presented on a semi annual basis to this day. But I digress.

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The labelling on my box was a little less French!
But back to 1978. I had asked for a LEGO Technical set.  I don’t recall being particularly fussed about which one. When I woke up early, I selected a box, and gave it a rattle. It wasn’t an especially big box, but it was all I was allowed to open before a civilised waking hour.  This set was number 872: Two Gear Blocks. I had no idea what this set was intended to do. And I had to wait until a civilised hour before Dad would explain that it was to slow down the rate of rotation of a motor.  This upset me a little, as the only motors I had belonged to a train set that I had received a year or two earlier. I cannot recall if it was the above Christmas, or another occasion.

870-1So, I was encouraged me to open another package. ( I suspect other members of the family had opened some presents by this stage.)
This one was a similarly sized box, that did not seem to rattle as much as the previous one.  This set had only twenty-two pieces, and was #870 – the 4.5V Technical Motor.
After assembling that battery box and connecting the wire, I was a little taken aback: this motor seemed to be spinning at a rate that rivalled even a dentist’s drill.  The role of the gear blocks became apparent. Finally, I got to the Big Box. It rattled in a most mysterious way.  Tearing off the wrapping paper revealed the  852 Helicopter set.  The box had a flip top lid, revealing all of the parts sorted into their own compartments.  The set contained a mere three hundred and sixty four pieces. As for the instructions: this was the first set where I remember using an instruction book rather than a single sheet. 852-1The 16 page manual included both the Helicopter and alternative Airplane build, as well as inspiration for installing the motor. The helicopter featured a massive 20 instruction steps. This was the greatest LEGO Challenge I had ever faced. [Editors note: The link back there will take you to a scan of the manual at Peeron.com.  This is a great resource for sourcing the instructions for LEGO® sets released prior to 2000- after which the majority of instructions appear on the customer support section of LEGO.com]
One of the best things about going away for a Family Christmas meant there was plenty of time for discussion, menu planning, basting, food preparation, cups of tea, cooking, pudding completion, meat roasting, and gravy making by parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents and extended family.  By the time Christmas Lunch was ready, it was close to four o’clock in the afternoon.  But I didn’t mind.  I had completed the Helicopter.  I enjoyed spinning the rotors with side mounted steering wheel. And the blades had variable pitch, with the aid a a lever in the cockpit.  I don’t think I even noticed that Lunch was running a bit late.

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Who needs Christmas Dinner, when you can build a brand new LEGO® Technical Helicopter and demonstrate the maximum rotor pitch. Thank’s Dad for taking this picture,  thanks to my daughter for unearthing it while visiting her Grandparents!
By the end of the Christmas holiday, I had built the ‘B’ Model – a monoplane, with a propellor that spun as you pushed it along the ground, rebuilt and motorised the A model, and finally put together an unstoppable, motorised shunting vehicle that attempted to clear Granny’s finest china from the dining room table. After this I was invited to do some reading… Certainly I was hooked with building using my Technical Sets, which were undoubtably very ‘system brick’ oriented in its style.

Why am I telling you this?

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The instruction book from 8860: Image Source – Brickset.com
While I was delighted to receive the helicopter, the most coveted set that year was in fact the Technical Flagship Set: The 863 Car Chassis.  With over 600 pieces,  rack and pinion steering and a front mounted engine, this was the pinnacle of LEGO sets in this era.  I never received that set and I am thankful for this.  It was at least another 18 months before I received my next Technical set.  That set was 8860: Another Car Chassis, with a rear mounted flat four engine, all the previous bells and whistles, a variable slip differential, a two speed gearbox and rear wheel suspension.  This set was, by all accounts a great improvement over the previous version. I performed the standard 10 year old builder’s modification of increasing the gearbox to accommodate a third gear, and developing an understanding as to why the designers had decided not to include it in the first place!

This set remained in the LEGO Catalogue up until 1987.  An epic eight year run!. The next Technic Car Chassis did not appear until 1998’s 900 piece epic:  8865: Test Car.  Over the years, these sets have evolved: losing the brick and plate construction that was par for the course at this time, to a beam and panel construction style.  I am still coming to terms with the new vocabulary for working with these pieces. In 2016 we saw the release of the Technic Porsche 911 with 2704 pieces and a price tag to match.

40th Anniversary 8860 with the Modern Parts Palette

With 2017 representing the 40th year of LEGO Technic, a celebration of the 8860 is underway.  Using components from 42057 (Ultralight Helicopter); 42061 (Telehandler) and 42063 (BMW R 12 GS Adventure), you can revisit 8860, using contemporary Technic construction techniques. The construction style is quite different to that of the 1980’s – and the final model looks as if it will be a little smaller than the original 8860, but I took the first step back towards visiting Technic sets this week.

42057 Ultralight Helicopter

The Ultralight Helicopter is a small, inexpensive Technic kit, with 200 pieces – around two thirds of the original helicopter I received all those years ago.  It took around an hour to build. As an ultralight, the top rotors spin and drive the thrusting rotor, and the 2 cylinders in the engine move up and down as they do so.  The pitch of the blades do not change, but there is a lever that allows you to turn the rudder.


For me, this is a good introduction to the current crop of Technic Elements, which have certainly evolved since I last gave them a serious look (35 years ago) and includes a 40th anniversary Technic beam: it was reasonably simple and leaves me looking forward to investigating the Telehandler and BMW R 1200 Adventure Motor Cycle.  I just need to find a good way to get them cheaply.  In reality, I consider $AUD 170 a little expensive for the sake of nostalgia.  I found the Ultralight Helicopter for $AUD22 (RRP $AUD29.99).  In the current season of Easter/ School Holiday Toy Sales, I suspect I can get a better deal.  I also think completing the project may take a little time. In the mean time…



Play well