With a wealth of mechanical functionality mpj’s B-Model is every bit as technical as the model from which it’s derived, and includes working stabilisers, boom elevatation, extension and fork tilt, all-wheel-steering, and a rotating superstructure. It’s a brilliant build, showcasing both why LEGO is such an incredible toy and the reason why we started this contest; to use what you have to make something new. And awesome.
A metaphor for mankind during the current Coronavirus pandemic? Maybe, but in this case we’re referring to this excellent JCB Fastrac and Kuhn sowing machine attachment, as built by previous bloggee Kreso007. Superbly detailed and presented there’s more to see of both the tractor and sowing machine at Kreso’s album on Flickr via the link above. And perhaps related to today’s title, be kind to one another, look out for those isolating on their own, and don’t steal the hand sanitiser from the hospital. Yes, people really are doing that. You’ll reap what you sow…
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.
We like big yellow tractors here at The Lego Car Blog, seeing as we’re basically overgrown children, and that’s exactly what we have for you today!
The slab of yellow magnificence pictured here is a JCB Fastrac 4220, as built by previous bloggee Technic BOOM. Like the real machine BOOM’s Technic Fastrac features all-wheel-drive and all-wheel steering, operable remotely via LEGO’s Power Functions system. There are eight motors in total, powering the aforementioned drive and steering, a high/low gearbox, and the two raising/lowering hitches mounted front and rear, the latter of which includes a power-take-off too.
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 →
Mini-figure machines don’t appear here that often, but if done well Town-scale creations can be a match for creations several times their size. Our Elves found two great examples of top quality mini-figure models on Flickr today. The yellow machine is keko007‘s JCB telehandler, whilst the elaborate red contraption is Mathijs Bongers Komatsu forester. See more of each via on Flickr the links above.
One of The Lego Car Blog’s very favourite builders has taken the brave – and often envied – step into the world of professional Lego model making. Certified LEGO Professionals Bright Bricks can now count the ridiculously talented Nick Barrett amongst their building staff. Nick joined the Bright Bricks team bringing a wealth of vehicular knowledge, which they’ve put to excellent use in their latest commissioned project, ‘Bricks in Motion’.
Bricks in Motion is taking place at the Milestones Museum in Hampshire, UK until the end of April 2015, featuring many creations by Nick, as well as few other builders including regular bloggee Ralph Savelsberg.
Nick’s creations include working vehicles commonly seen in the UK, such as this Mercedes ambulance (above), and JCB (below)…
…as well as themed creations from around the world, like these brilliant Lego taxis.
There are also a few nods to some of the most important vehicles of history, including famous ships and trains, such as the widely recognised pioneer of steam travel, Stephenson’s Rocket.
There’s lots more to see at Nick’s MOCpages account and you can see what’s on at the Bricks in Motion exhibition – including their children’s building activities and Mindstorms robotic workshops – via the link in the text above.
If you think that becoming a professional Lego model maker might be for you, then you can read our interviews with some of those who have gone pro by clicking this link to our Interviews page.
TLCB Team were quietly working* away in the office today, when the sound of much commotion floated up the stairs from the Elves’ cage room. Sigh. A despondent traipse downstairs revealed the cause, and Mr Airhorn was brought out of his slumber to restore order.
The Elves have a history with remote controlled construction machinery, and this excellent JCB 320T compact track loader by Brickshelf’s pipasseyoyo did nothing to re-write it.
The JCB’s two Power Functions L motors had been used to smush a multitude of Elves into the carpet, whilst its ingenious self-leveling bucket contained a few more and quite a lot of sloshing vomit. Watch this video and you’ll see why – this loader is deceptively quick.
Anyway, we have the controls now, and the Elves have been thrown outside to continue the search. You can see more of the JCB on Brickshelf at the link above.
*By ‘working’ we mean browsing car websites, eating cupcakes, and Googling images of NFL cheerlea… never mind.
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 →
Welcome to the Lego Car Blog review of set 42023 – Construction Crew, one of the latest additions to the Technic range. We’ve got our finger on the pulse here at TLCB towers…
So, there I was in the Lego store, staring at the Technic range and torn between buying this and the Skip Lorry. I’ve seen women choose shoes faster. We’ll see if I made the right choice soon enough…
First impressions are good. The three vehicles do look cute on the box, and they all seem to do stuff. The box is quite elegantly designed as well. There is, however, precious little sign of any B-models shown on it; just one tiny picture of a laptop with a road grader model that looks like the alternate for the front end loader. Said laptop won’t help either, for as I write this, the instructions aren’t up on Lego’s website yet.
There are three instruction books and 3 pairs of numbered bags of pieces – one for each model – and a small sticker sheet that managed to survive the onslaught of not being protected by cardboard. Taking each of the three models individually, I’ll start with the blue one.
It’s a rather fetching looking tipper lorry, 9 studs wide and it features working steering and a tipping box, the latter raised and lowered by a small linear actuator. It’s not a difficult build, by any means, but it’s an enjoyable thing to put together. You build the front end first, then the box and the chassis rails that hold it all together come last. The resulting model does look nice, especially as attention has been paid to the colour of the fixings and blue ones have been used on the cab where possible.
So, it’s pretty, but is it clever ? In a word, no. The steering is rather vague and imprecise with a very limited lock, and the tipper bed has a few too many holes in the bottom – a shame as it did seem from the pictures that they might have designed this properly for once. It does work OK, though, and the hinged flap at the rear opens as it goes up. It’ll open before it goes up as well, unfortunately; there’s no means to lock it shut. So, an aesthetic success but not a technical one. Next!
A little red excavator, which wears stickers on the side that somewhat redundantly say ‘Excavator’, just in case we weren’t sure… this features another little linear actuator to lift the arm and it’s extended manually via a set of simple crossed levers. This aspect works well, and it’s got a control to rotate the body on the base. This is completely pointless as the thing will swivel around of it’s own free will anyway. If it was geared down it might have worked.
It’s got a pair of caterpillar tracks, using the older, small black chain link type – 40 per side so get clicking! – and I always like seeing these, although they appear to be made of a softer plastic than used to be the case. These need gears at each end to act as sprockets, and this model doesn’t have that – the chains simply slide over the ‘sprocket’ provided by pairs of bevel gears that don’t mesh with them, meaning the tracks have some free side-to-side movement, and will slip over the sprockets. They won’t slip right off, though. So, a partial success and, like the truck, it does look good.
The best of the three is undoubtedly the yellow front end loader. This looks very purposeful with it’s big yellow wheels, with new squarer tyres that’ll suit most of your truck mocs very well – and it features articulated steering and a lifting, tilting bucket at the front. The joint in the middle is very sturdy, it steers nice and smoothly and the bucket’s lifting mechanism is fine, although the bucket itself tips back as it goes up. The tilting action is a bit sloppy, however, and could not be more basic. That aside, this is a good model.
The three models are also provided with a small pile of round 2×2 bricks to dig up/load/carry. All great fun, although they had to be this big lest they fall through the holes in the truck’s floor…
If all this sounds a bit.. lukewarm, blame the reason I chose this set:
I already had 42004, the little JCB, and it’s a complete delight: the thought of three more like that in one set was extremely tempting. That wouldn’t be too much to ask either, as the 42004 costs £18 to 42023’s £50, and it has less than a third of the pieces. IT’S GOT AN INSTRUCTION BOOK FOR THE B MODEL AS WELL. If I shout maybe someone at Lego will hear me…
Whereas each of 42023’s models have 2 or 3 functions/moving parts, 42004 has 6 on it’s own, in a model that’s the same size. These functions are not perfect, but they’re at least as good as any similar systems on 42023. All this and cuteness; can’t ask for more.
So, to sum up, I should probably have bought the Skip Lorry… 42023 is a nice enough set, and it would make a very good starter kit for someone new to Technic, but there’s not really enough here for the seasoned builder at this price. 6/10. 42004 on the other hand, is an outstanding little model that looks even better value now. 9/10.
This is the Lego Car Blog. We make these mistakes so you don’t have to!
Ralph Savelesberg aka Mad Physisist is back, and his latest work earned a lucky Elf two meals!* Found on Flickr, Ralph’s MAN TGX truck, complete with rear-steer trailer, is hauling an ace looking JCB backhoe. To see the full gallery click here.
*Said Elf tried to argue that the trailer counted too, but it was robustly repelled with a stapler.
This engineering marvel is the work of pipasseyoyo on Brickshelf. Featuring ten separate functions, this Technic Caterpillar backhoe can do everything its real-life counterpart can, thanks to eight Power Functions motors and two gearboxes. See it in action below!
This rather splendid machine is the work of Technic genius Sariel. Powered by LEGO’s PF motors, linear actuators and lots of other Technic goodness, it functions just like the real thing. It’s also disconcertingly quick for a 2KG tractor – we’d quite like it for shooing the Elves away when they get too rowdy. Anyhow, to wonder in this model’s magnificence check out the accompanying YouTube video:
GuiliuG on Brickshelf is responsible for this astonishingly technical JCB Fastrac. It features pneumatic lifts, working power take-offs, suspension, 12 speed gearbox, AWD (with 2wd switch)… basically more than all the models we’ve featured so far put together! Check out his video here, and the real thing being ‘tested’ by TopGear here, where it does something very cool with a Boeing 747…