The LEGO Technic line was first released as “Expert Builder” sets in 1977, and LEGO has been producing Technic ever since, including Bionicle and MINDSTORMS. The custom Technic models featured here on The Brothers Brick include some pretty crazy and amazing mechanisms that’ll blow your mind, from self-sorting LEGO to automated Rubik’s Cube solvers.
Since mid-October I have had a pretty crazy time at work, very much at the expense of my blogging and pretty much everything else. I have built a few things, but I told my fellow contributors that I would only write something if it knocked my socks off. Well, consider me barefoot. The culprit is Swiss builder Beat Felber and his AR-1200M Mobile Crane. Tadano is a Japanese manufacturer of cranes and the model carries a Japanese livery, of the Showa Co., Ltd. of Kobe. This already makes it a bit more interesting than your average Liebherr. Furthermore, as you would expect from a builder who goes by the name Engineering with ABS, his model is full of working features.
It uses Power functions for the drive, for steering on all five axles and to extend the stabilisers on both sides, with pneumatics used to raise and lower the struts. The crane boom can be raised, slewed and extended using Power Functions and, of course, the winches are remote-controlled. It also has working lights. The boom reaches a height of 2.15 m (more than 7 ft.) and can be extended even further by adding a separate jib. This is not the tallest crane we’ve ever blogged, but size is not everything. It is gorgeous.
We’ve come to expect great things from Jason Allemann, a talented builder who combines strong LEGO engineering skills with a great artistic flair. Back in 2013, we featured his post-apocalyptic Strandbeest and last month jaws all over the world hit the floor with his working combination safe. Jason’s latest build takes its inspiration from Greek mythology, with the cursed Sisyphus rolling that awful rock up the hill throughout eternity.
In addition to the main model, the base itself includes brick-built bas relief sculptures.
You can see the model’s moving features, along with comments from the builder himself, in this video Jason made:
Jason Allemann has used nothing but LEGO to build a fully functional combination safe. Not only does the safe lock with a three-number combination, Jason has designed the safe so that the safe itself cannot be removed from its outer case and opened without either knowing the combination or physically breaking LEGO pieces!
A picture doesn’t really prove it, so here’s Jason’s amazing video.
If you want to build you own LEGO safe, you can download instructions from Jason’s website.
Great Ball Contraptions (GBCs) are a staple of most LEGO conventions, the idea is simple create: a mechanical device to move balls from point A to point B, with a certain set standard. Then sit back and watch a) balls go flying b) kids be mesmerized for hours. It’s a challenging feet of engineering to create a mechanism that can withstand hours of continuous operation, typically the most prized honour for a GBC builder is the ‘Most Reliable’ award (or some variant). Unlike a lot of LEGO builds we see on The Brothers Bricks, aesthetics is not primary goal.
But sometimes, someone steps forward and combines all the above, and makes it beautiful, just cause. For example, Benjamin Corey (Bricktech) built this gorgeous GBC at BFVA this year:
You can watch it in action here:
You can also check out the whole GBC video from our friends at Beyond the Brick.
We don’t often post Technic builds here, so this is something of a treat. And also awesome. Because I love me some classic cars, and this big red beast is just lovely. Martinj Nab has added plenyy of details into this beauty, including opening doors and folding seats. I mean, just LOOK at the fins on this.
Most truck builders I know either aim for looks, with relatively little functionality, or they go for the full Technic treatment, with lots of working functions, but often at the expense of the looks or details. With his Mack Granite heavy-duty truck, Ingmar Spijkhoven (2LegoOrNot2Lego) has combined the best of both worlds.
It has Power Functions remote control for the drive and steering, working lights and working suspension, and can be fitted with a flatbed trailer than can be raised and lowered via remote control. It also looks brilliant, with a beautifully sculpted hood, a detailed interior and a carefully modelled representation of the engine.
Following fellow Dutch truck builder Dennis Glaasker the presentation of the all the goodies is top notch too, with a clever photo-edit that shows some of the inner workings and details. It wouldn’t look out of place in the manufacturer’s brochure.
For over a century the name Rolls Royce has been synonymous with extreme automotive luxury. And through its many iterations, the Phantom has been an integral part of that legacy. Martijn Nab clearly did his homework in creating this LEGO version of the 1934 Phantom II Coupe, which is impressively constructed using almost nothing but technic connections (versus the usual bricks and studs):
As well as being picture perfect on the outside, this model is also full of hidden details such as the straight-6 engine, hinged engine hood, and backward-opening “coach doors” – a quirk that lives on in this convertible’s modern descendant, the Drophead. Oh, and it’s fully remote controlled! Check out this charming video:
Those who went to Brickworld in Chicago and Tampa last year probably remember this crazy cuboid contraption by Tyler (Legohaulic). Built using an abundance of Technic elements and flex tubing, this creation features conveyor belts that lift ball bearings and lets them drop through one of 4 spiraling and twisting tracks. Check out the masterfully produced video to see it in action.
Most of the scientists I know love LEGO and, as shown by LEGO’s own research institute set, scientist can actually be a suitable subject for a nice set. Steen Dupont, Benjamin Price and Vladimir Blagoderov are not paleontologists, astronomers or chemists (nor are they female), but they are scientists, who work for the Natural History Museum in London, and who actually use LEGO in their research. In their latest paper, titled The customizable LEGO® Pinned Insect Manipulator, they present an unusual and innovative solution to the problem of how to study insect specimens without damaging the delicate wings and other appendages.
Among their advantages are that they are modular, cheap and easy to construct. The article contains one of the funniest sentences that I’ve ever read in a research paper: “The authors welcome correspondence on ideas for the next generation of IMps, and although the current models are easy to assemble the authors are happy to assist if no children can be sourced locally.”
Via Science. Thanks to Tim Gould for bringing it to our attention.
Friends of mine in the US used to own a Japanese minivan and it was reliable, comfortable and great for road trips, but about as exciting as wet noodles. When I think of Japanese cars in general, the first ones that spring to mind are tiny little boxes on wheels that seem more suitable for a shopping trolley and the second ones are competent but boring sedans. However, this impression isn’t fair at all, as shown by the Datsun Z240 by LegoMarat.
Z-cars are exciting. The 240Z had the looks of a classic long-bonneted sports car, but without the dodgy electrics that plagued similar endeavours from England. The roof on the model looks a bit too flat to me and the wheel arches are a bit awkward, but the model has presence. This is helped by its dark blue colour and the nicely curved flanks.
It doesn’t just look good; it too has some very clever engineering inside. It drives, powered by two Power Functions motors and using a servo motor for the steering. These are controlled via a nifty third-party Bluetooth controller, called an SBrick, which is specifically designed to interface with Lego Power Functions. It allows the user to operate them via an app on their smart-phone or via the internet. Its development was funded via a kickstarter campaign that Nannan reported on in July last year. You could be forgiven for thinking that this too must be Japanese, but it was actually designed in Hungary.