Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. Glad you could come. Settle yourselves in for an exhaustive analysis of the new Technic 9393 Tractor model, and how it compares to its most illustrious forebear. Or scroll down for a peek at Chris Melby’s rather fine catamaran, whatever appeals…
First, a look at the beast in question:
…pretty little thing, ain’t it? I’m not one to buy every Technic set I see, but this really appealed to me; and for only 25 quid, I just couldn’t say no.
Building it was pretty straightforward, and pretty much foolproof, but it struck me how it’s size and functionality are very similar to 1977’s 851 set:
…whadaya mean you don’t see it? Sure, their styling is very different, but they do all the same things. Oh alright, it’s just an excuse to compare old and new style Technic, so let’s get started…
Box: Much as I love the old, sturdy boxes with their little compartments in the plastic tray, flip-up lid and extensive idea pictures on the box itself, this must have been an expensive and labour-intensive endeavor. The new one is just a box, but it might be why this is so much cheaper than the 851 was (relatively speaking) back in the day. Still, an easy win for old.
Instructions: Many people bemoan the extreme simplicity of new instructions, with their 1 or 2 pieces per build step and consequently fat instruction books – I don’t mind it, and while the old blueprint-style of 851’s instructions are more satisfying for an experienced builder to use – I dare you to try and build it using just the actual blueprint! – it’s easy to see how a novice could make a lot of mistakes with so few build steps to guide him. There’s a happy medium to be found somewhere between these two opposites, but Lego have yet to find it. Incidentally, Yay! for the supplied book for 9393’s second model – having to go online is such a faff when all you want to do is build. A draw.
Building: The diversity of Technic elements, even in a smallish set like 9393, comes as a pleasant surprise after the small selection of bricks and plates, with a handful of technic elements that constitute an 851. They are both a pleasure to build – the new one will fill an hour, the oldie maybe half that, and they offer different experiences in this regard. 851 feels like a slightly elaborated Creator set; 9393 is a proper dose of Technic goodness. New takes the win here.
P.S. Look at the picture above and spot what is now deemed an ‘illegal connection’ on 851 and win a prize*
It’s neck and neck as we go into comparing the models…. the suspense is killing me …?!
Steering: When it comes to Technic, the adage is: the older the set, the better the steering system. This is generally true, but it’s not quite like that here. Unlike a lot of recent sets, 9393 does have some discernible steering lock, although not as much as 851; and they both work smoothly. The oldie’s system is operated by the steering wheel – a gear for some reason – and 9393 has the now-obligatory Hand-Of-God control with no connection to the steering wheel itself. Much as I dislike that last aspect, I guess I’ll just have to make my peace with it… Old wins.
Styling: 851 is clearly a Massey-Ferguson and has a timeless classic appeal. This is all very well, but it was an ‘old’ tractor even in 1977 and you have to wonder if that dented its appeal to 10 year olds who like modern stuff. 9393 is a, well, a green one; but it does at least look contemporary. The green panels are more nicely designed than is sometimes the case and suit it perfectly. It is a surprise, though, that an ostensibly green set has only ten green pieces. Still, it looks the biz. New wins, by a whisker.
Three Point Hitch: Know your farming lingo, people… The means of attaching the implement and raising and lowering it is treated differently, as you’d expect. 851 has a smooth over-centre action via the control lever next to the seat; 9393 sports a worm gear controlled from the back of the vehicle. There’s advantages to both approaches – 851 is more authentic here, and 9393 is more adjustable, albeit with a somewhat jerky movement. Old takes it.
Implement: In both cases, power is taken from one rear wheel and they both come supplied with a harrow. 851’s takes careful setting up to work properly but, that done, it spins round at a furious rate, although only on a smooth surface which does slightly defeat the object. Power is automatically disconnected when it’s raised, simply by gears coming out of mesh. 9393’s harrow folds away neatly to achieve the same thing and, when down, spins more slowly than it’s rivals’, but fast enough to make the er, blades (?) clatter around in a most satisfying manner. New takes this one.
It’s still all square between these two – it’s like I planned it! – but there’s one more thing to consider.
As usual with old Technic sets, 851 has two B-models with instructions and a plethora of further ideas shown on the box. There’s various alternative implements for the tractor, or a rather rudimentary combine harvester, or does Sir fancy a bandsaw, or perhaps a pressing tool. No? How about a rather stylish road roller? Or a lathe? The possibilities are endless.
You wouldn’t expect a new set with just one alternate model to compete with this. However, in 9393’s case, it just might…
It’s just the sort of thing one pictures when the words ‘Technic Buggy’ float into my brain. A sharp looking, robust little vehicle that makes a superb toy. This one has a sting in the tail: an exceptionally neat 4 cylinder engine made using axles that jump up and down when actuated by the ‘crankshaft’ that’s actually more of a camshaft but who am I to argue… MOC builders have been doing this for years to give their smaller cars working engines – I think Tyler Reid did it first, but feel free to correct me if I’m wrong. Anyhow, it works well here, spins nice and fast and makes the buggy clatter along very happily.
I can’t believe it. On the strength of it’s superb second model, New Technic takes the overall win**. Bravo!
**Only if you don’t put in those three-quarter pins that’ll limit the steering lock and replace the pole reverser handles at the front with 2L axles to avoid the consequent rubbing…