We often feature enormous, hugely complex models here at The Lego Car Blog. Whilst these are amazing accomplishments, they can feel a little unachievable for many Lego builders, particularly those with a parts to talent imbalance. But it’s definitely better to be that way round, as talent can almost always make up for a deficit in pieces.
These two tremendous micro-scale tractors by Flickr’s František Hajdekr are proof that you don’t need a million bricks and an unlimited budget to build something of blogworthy excellence. Each is constructed from just a handful of common parts, yet capture their subject matter perfectly with beautiful presentation too.
There’s more to see of František’s excellent-yet-simple creations at his photostream via the link above, and to get a few tips on how you can present your models as professionally as these two take a look at our photography tips here.
Large, potentially dangerous, and full of air. No, not the 2020 U.S Presidential Candidates, but this excellent Technic backhoe loader from Shimon Bogomolov. Unlike the aforementioned angry old men, Shimon’s impressive creation uses the air within it for constructive purposes, with a working pneumatic front bucket and rear excavating arm. Air pressure can be generated manually or via a motorised compressor, plus there are working pneumatic stabiliser legs, steering, all-wheel-drive, and a 4-cylinder piston engine too. A complete gallery of images is available to view at Shimon’s ‘Pneumatic Backhoe’ album on Flickr, plus you can join the discussion at the Eurobricks forum by clicking here.
We’re not just about hot rods, monster trucks and supercars here at The Lego Car Blog. This superbly built ‘backhoe’ (or ‘digger’ as it is known in our home nation) is the work of previous bloggee The Eleventh Bricks who has constructed his creation in a vaguely Speed Champions scale and in a rather lovely light blue hue. Excellent detailing is in evidence throughout and you can see more on Flickr at the link.
This slice of yellow brilliance was discovered by one our Elves on Flickr today, and – whilst we know it’s early in the year – for a model of this size this is going to take some beating!
Damian Z aka Thietmaier of Flickr is the builder behind this utterly brilliant Caterpillar 432E backhoe, which not only looks about a billion times bigger than it really is, it kinda functions too.
A huge variety of ingenious building techniques have been deployed to enable the Caterpillar’s buckets to be as positionable as those fitted to the real thing, and you can see all of the images at Damian’s Caterpillar 432E album by clicking here whilst we congratulate ourselves on making it the entire way through a post about hoeing without mentioning your Mom.
Every so often a creation comes along that shifts what we thought possible from LEGO bricks. This is one such creation. Created over the course of a year by Technic-building legend Sariel this is a fully working replica of JCB’s 5CX Wastemaster backhoe, powered by pneumatics, eleven Power Functions motors, and two third-party SBricks.
Underneath the brilliant Technic exterior are nine motors that drive all four wheels, the three-mode steering (two-wheel, all-wheel and crab), backhoe arm rotation and traverse, and powering a combination of pneumatic cylinders and linear actuators to control both the front and rear arms and their respective buckets. A further two motors power the pneumatic ‘remote control’, compressing the air which travels down twelve separate hoses to the model itself.
A motorised remotely rotating driver’s seat and a suite of LED lights from third-party lighting specialists Brickstuff complete the electronics, making this 2.4kg, 75 stud-long masterpiece one of the most technically advanced Technic creations to date. There is much more to see of Sariel’s amazing remote control JCB at the Eurobricks forum, on Flickr, and at Sariel’s excellent website, you can watch it in action via the video below, and if you’d like to build your own model with many of the features of this one we highly recommend LEGO’s own 42054 Claas Xerion 5000 set, which share its wheels and amazing three-mode steering with Sariel’s fantastic creation.
Digging cats. It normally means they’re doing something horrible in your garden. Not today though, because this CAT 434E backhoe is something rather wonderful.
Built by Zbiczasty of Brickshelf it’s near a perfect functioning replica of Caterpillar’s real 4×4 backhoe, complete with no less than fourteen working functions.
The all-wheel-drive is remotely controlled, including remotely operable pneumatic differential locks, pendular front suspension, and three steering modes (front, all, and crab), exactly as per LEGO’s own brilliant 42054 Claas Xerion 5000 tractor set.
Of course there’s a working front loader – also powered by remotely controlled pneumatics – with both bucket and boom movement, and a fiendishly complicated pneumatic backhoe with five different movements from elevation to slewing.
Finally there are pneumatic stabiliser legs mounted at the rear and a suite of LED lights. It’s a remarkable machine and one of the most realistically engineered Lego creations that we’ve ever come across.
There’s a whole lot more to see of Zbiczasty’s Caterpillar 434E backhoe at the Brickshelf gallery via the link above, but the only way to really appreciate how well this model works is to watch it in action – check out the video below to see just how good it is.
This magnificent pneumatic Technic backhoe comes from TLCB favourite Máté Lipkovics aka Lipko, and it’s one of the best pieces of Lego engineering you’ll see this year.
A Power Functions motor operates duel pneumatic pumps, allowing Lipko’s model to run two sets of pneumatic functions simultaneously. These include the backhoe; which can rotate, elevate and tip the bucker, the front loader; which both elevates and tips, and the rear-mounted stabilisers.
If that wasn’t enough there are mechanical functions too, including all-wheel-steering, both by Hand-of-God and the steering wheel, pendular suspension, an opening hood and a rotating driver’s seat.
There’s lots more to see on three of the major Lego-sharing platforms, click the links for all the details on MOCpages, Brickshelf, and Eurobricks.
Come with us on a journey as we review the cheapest set that The Lego Car Blog has ever examined. We thought that we’d have a change from the big Technic sets that usually feature here. At £3.49 (30% off) from amazon will our purchase prove to be value for money? How will it rate for fun and playability? Will the Elves eat most of the 64 pieces before we can use them? Read on…
Packaged in LEGO’s usual bright and attractive box, 31041 scores over a large Technic set by only requiring a strong thumb to open its cardboard tab. None of that cutting or ripping sticky tabs here. Collectors will obviously want to cut the packaging open with a sharp knife in order to preserve its collectability, in a manner similar to this video. A recurring theme of our reviews is the need for parts to come in numbered bags in order to reduce confusion & sorting and to help make building more pleasurable. Sadly the bag of parts is not numbered, possible as there is only one. On the up side, a quick flick through the 32 page instruction book reveals that it contains instructions for all three models. As we’ve mentioned in other reviews, it would be great it if LEGO did this for their big, expensive Technic sets too. At the moment, builders having to traipse off to Lego.com and download PDF files.
Moving on to the build, the headline model is rapidly built in 14 pages. The construction is the conventional, studs up type. There’s nice use of commonplace bricks, such as 1×1 round bricks and headlight bricks with 1×1 round plates to give the detailing. There’s also the neat use of a 1×2 tile, at the centre of the model, which will make it easier for children to take apart and re-build (which is what LEGO is supposed to be for!). The backhoe is a conventional bit of building too but the front bucket and its arms, are a good example of economical use of parts to good effect.
Builders young and old can learn quite a bit from this tiny model. As with short stories when compared with novels, micro-scale builds force modellers to consider each and every brick carefully. With model completed, you’re left with a spare 1×1 trans-orange round plate, a dark grey clip arm and three 1×1 light grey round plates to shovel around.
In terms of functionality, this is a strong build, which rolls well across a floor or table. Sadly it suffers from the usual problem in LEGO vehicles of having poor Ackerman steering geometry. This is probably due to it having no steering but let’s skate over that one. Both buckets are firmly attached to the body of the tractor and have good ranges of movement. It’s a bit tricky to keep the grey plates on the front bucket, though this can be improved by swapping the corner pieces from the backhoe with on of the 1×2 edge pieces. Overall the model is fun and nice proportioned. It would be great if it had different diameter tyres, fore & aft, like a JCB but that would reduce the flexibility for making other models.
The other two vehicles are strong and fun to build and play with too. The dumper is a particularly nice little model. The way that the rear skip hinges is neatly and interestingly done.
This set is a great little parts pack, with most of the pieces in standard LEGO colours such as black, yellow and grey. There are four, yellow 1×2 curved bricks amongst other useful stuff. It’s also a brilliant, cheap bit of fun for the younger builder in your household: a great addition to that order for the 42055 that you’re buying for yourself (yes, we know, those big yellow rings are essential for your next MOC and it’s the only way to get hold of them). At this price, you could buy three 31041s and build one of each vehicle to use together in a diorama (obviously you wouldn’t be playing with them). Go on, make that investment!
PC or Mac? Ford or GM? Edward or Jacob? These are the questions that have dominated our age. However since 2008 a new and even more important choice has arisen, one that has conflicted the minds of academics and that has caused lifelong friends to stop talking. So… Linear Actuators or Pneumatics?
Thirdwigg, returning to TLCB for his second Reader Review (and risking ostracisation by half of the online Lego Community), is brave enough to make his case…
Bias alert: in the Linear Actuator vs. Pneumatics debate I am conclusively in the former group. Feel free to send your “dear idiot letters” to thirdwigg.com, I can handle it. After the release of the Large Linear Actuators (LA) from 8295 and 8294, it was clear to me they were an improvement over pneumatics. They had a simple design, better integration with Power Functions and manual controls, actual mid-range control, and no clunky hoses to connect and manage in your model. But I still felt like something was missing after the LAs. Something shorter, smaller. When we first got teasers images of 8069 I was excited. Did it have what I was looking for?
Like most sets, this one comes in a box. You have to open it. It has parts in it. 609. And it costs $60. The tyres, buckets and stickers are loose in the box, along with two loose instruction manuals for the A model. B model instructions are online. All you need to know about new parts in 8069 is that it is the first set that included Mini Linear Actuators (mLA). You get four of them. You also get two yellow panels (they are kind of rare, it turns out), the buckets, lots of gears, yellow parts, and the mLAs. They are great. Great.
The build starts with the chassis and the front steering, then quickly onto building a worm gear submodel. “What’s this” you think? It’s for the bucket tilt. We’ll come back to this. Two mLAs are used to provide the bucket lift. Then off to the rear, where you start building a complex structure of gears for the rear bucket. The design is good, and teaches many gear structures including worm and bevel gearing. It also offers a great lesson on how to build good cross supporting structures in Technic when the rear supports are added.
You then build the cabin, which has some nice details. Next all the rear backhoe controls placed on the top and the backhoe is added with a neat little design for the two stages of movement utilizing two of the mLAs. Finally the fenders are added, the front bucket is placed, you add the wheels, and you are done.
The finished 8069 model has a lot of functions; steering, bucket lift, bucket tilt, backhoe slew, backhoe arm, backhoe bucket, and rear stabilizers. For a set of this size it’s an impressive list. How well do they work? Better than pneumatics (zing!). The steering is light, and the turning radius is stunning (Hurrah! Ed.), especially if you take out the ¾ pins in the steering. You might bump the hood a bit on full lock, but it’s worth it. The bucket lift is excellent – it’s strong, and the controls are easy to use. The range of motion is good; though a little more height would be welcome. Continue reading →
On the right, from 1989, Lego Technic’s first JCB; the 8862 Backhoe. A startlingly yellow confection and the perfect showcase for the then-new second generation pneumatic parts. On the left, 2003’s 8455, slightly less yellow, and an even better showcase for said parts – it has more than twice as many of them…
Both of these JCBs sat near the top of the range, and although the Technic range may seem incomplete without one, there has only been these two and the more recent 2011 8069. This latter model was a lot cheaper and not as accomplished as it’s predecessors. It’s a good enough substitute for less cash, although the little 42004 is as well, for a lot less cash.
Where were we ? Ah yes, 8862 and 8455. First, the builds. The early one is naturally more basic, with it’s studded Technic beams, although the bigger build steps of these older models keeps you on your toes. It was a rare pleasure to build with brand new, unopened 25 year old Technic in this case – no second hand teeth marks and dog hair to contend with, until I have to pull out those infuriating early tight fitting black pins that is… maybe I’ll get the dog to do it… Anyway, after decimating the value of this 8862, I enjoyed a couple of hours of good old fashioned building.
I then cracked open the 8455 (unopened as well!) and gave that my full attention; needed because this little machine’s many pneumatic components, especially the tubing, are VERY compactly packaged. In order to squeeze it’s 10 pistons, 7 switches, 2 pumps and several yards of tubing into a model that’s smaller than 8862, as well as being more functional; you must concentrate at every stage of the instructions on where exactly to route the various pipes and so on. The cleverness of this machine’s packaging is such that not only will it work faultlessly as long as you do this, but all of it’s pipes are very neatly routed on the finished model as well; something that can’t be said of the old stager. With that, it’s a very technical build, not to be rushed.
Both of these models came with pneumatic tubing in long lengths that you cut to size yourself. In both cases, it’s important to cut to the lengths specified; even small deviations may cause packaging and clearance problems, especially in 8455. As is often the case, follow the instructions faithfully and you’ll be alright. Round one is a draw.
To look at, these two are very different, and show the value of 14 years of progress. 8862 is a good effort but it’s oddly proportioned: too tall and under-wheeled. And very, very yellow! Even both buckets are yellow. The black contrast provided by the seat, stabilisers and grille are not enough to offset the overbearing yellowness. Perhaps if I was prepared to get it muddy, it’ll look better…. 8455, on the other hand, looks like this:
Better proportioned, right-size wheels…. and oddly, probably not yellow enough! There’s no pleasing some people… It does unquestionably look better, though. New technic wins at a canter.
As you’d hope for JCB models, both of these are fully functional. We’ll start at the front. 8862 has a system of angled levers and worm gears, manually controlled by wheels on the side, to raise/lower and tilt the front bucket. This system is not perfect. It won’t raise the bucket any higher than the level of the vehicle’s roof, although it does try to maintain the bucket’s angle as the arm is raised and lowered. It almost succeeds… 8455 has pairs of pneumatic rams to operate these functions: there’s a wide range of movement, it’s a strong system and the bucket maintains it’s angle regardless of elevation. The switches on the sides of the seat (if there was a seat) are a neat touch. This seamless operation hands new the win here.
8455 might not have a seat, but there is an engine; geared to turn quite quickly from the rear wheels; and this demonstrates yet more of that clever packaging that so characterizes this model. The steering system – via knob wheels and drag links – works around the engine, taking very little space and it works smoothly, if without quite the precision of 8862’s conventional rack and pinion. 8862 has no engine, despite it’s greater size. Another round goes to new.
The operation of their rear arms is naturally very similar: three single pneumatic rams to lift, reach and tilt the bucket each. 8862 has a manual control to rotate the arm, while 8455, in a display of wilful eccentricity, does this via another pneumatic piston. This is charming, although a lot harder to regulate… and good luck remembering which of 8455’s bank of unlabelled switches does what, as they lack the older model’s more logical arrangement. They are both very playable here, but I think the better ergonomics of 8862 hand old technic a much needed win in this round. Continue reading →
8 Power Functions motors, 9 linear actuators, 1967 parts, 2,6 kg – Jurgen Krooshoop has improved his fully functional backhoe and has created (fee-based) instructions for this monster MOC. Like to see it in action? Here you go: Continue reading →