After a less than positive review of LEGO’s 8437 set last week we take TLCB time machine forward a year to 1998, when sadly things were not getting any better for Technic fans.
1998 brought a slew of new pieces and colours, many of which appeared on this set; the Technic 8432 Red Hot Machine. 8432 was a sleek looking two seat coupe, with rear wheel drive and a V6 engine up front – the perfect petrolhead’s car. It featured new wheels and tyres, two types of flex tubing, new turquoise pieces, and – in an effort to bring LEGO to a digital generation – a CD ROM game, something The LEGO Group developed for a number of different products during the late ’90s.
First the car: Back in 1998 it did look quite cool, suiting the period rather well, and taking inspiration from many of the concept cars gracing motorshows at the time. As is usual for a medium-sized Technic set 8432 featured several real-world functions, including steering (by both Hand-of-God and via the steering wheel), a working V6 engine, and rear suspension.
That suspension was a little strange though. It included three shock absorbers; one for each wheel (although the suspension wasn’t independent), and a third which could be used to change the ride height between two settings, because… um, to be honest we still haven’t figured that out.
8432’s steering was strong, but with a poor lock and stiff action*, and the aforementioned suspension didn’t work particularly well either. It seems as if LEGO threw these functions into the model because a Technic check-list needed to be ticked, when really all that mattered to LEGO was the way the model looked.
So… the CD ROM game: We tried to find a screen shot of this but to no avail, so you’ll have to do your best to imagine it: A bird’s eye view of a desert racetrack, populated by a little Red Hot Machine and another – very strange looking – vehicle in front of it. You are the hero driver of 8432 and for reasons unknown there are some baddies in vehicles built exclusively from the parts of 8432 (hence their strangeness) that require ramming off the road.
Using the arrow buttons you drive your Red Hot Machine (or its B-Model buggy counterpart if you so choose) around the track, chasing down the baddie up ahead and watching out for rocks and oil spills. A few good shunts from behind and your opponent’s vehicle is wrecked, and you can move on to the next challenge.
It was quite fun, and although a birds-eye view may sound rubbish these days, back then even Grand Theft Auto used the same set-up. However the 8432 CD ROM was no substitute for a proper computer game, being much too short and – despite some nice cut scenes – very repetitive.
So a pretty average game, and a pretty average model too. We can’t help but think that if LEGO had focussed on one or the other the result could have been so much better, and however dated the game would look now, the Red Hot Machine itself has faired no better – such is the danger of following short-lived trends too closely. Those new parts mentioned earlier were never seen again, which probably tells us everything we need to know about 8432 and its 1998 Technic companions.
The malaise affecting the Technic range in the late ’90s was to continue for a few years, however in 1999 there was finally a sign that things were going to get better…
*But your Mom liked it.