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Lego Technic / Expert Builder

Posted by Big Boo on January 2nd, 2009

lego expert builder red tractorLego was always one of my favourite toys, but by the time you reach a double digit age the normal Lego Town or Space Lego sets begin to become a little too simplistic to hold your attention – despite the fact that when you reach adulthood you’ll be more than happy to go back to these sets! In an attempt to increase sales in this older age group the Lego company came up with the idea of making some more challenging kits that would hold an older child’s interest.

Initially launched in 1977 the Expert Builder sets consisted of accurate scale models of vehicles such as tractors and bulldozers.  These kits contained both many more pieces and also introduced a number of new building pieces, including larger wheels, cogs, axles, clip in pegs and the long building pieces that had rows of holes in the sides for the pegs and axles to slot through.

I remember the pictured red tractor very well, as it was the first such set we had in my household, bought by my Dad for himself to play with!  This seemed particularly funny to me at the time, as it was the first time I had seen an adult by a toy for themselves.  I was allowed to play with the finished model, but (at least at first) I was not allowed to help in the building of the set.  Of course, I would have only been around five at the time so I don’t blame my Dad at all – I would only have lost the pieces somehow!

By 1984 the sets were renamed under the now familiar name of Lego Technic, and were becoming increasingly sophisticated.  I remember have a crane set (one of those ones on the back of a lorry rather than the more permanent tower structure ones).  The crane part could be extended in length and the hook on a string could be wound up and down.  The crane also rotated on its base, which had four wheels and four support beams which came out of the side to hold the crane steady when in use.

One of the mainstays of the Lego Technic range has been the car chassis set.  Over the years it has been reinvented several times but there is usually some set of this ilk available.  This was another set that my Dad bought for himself, and it was huge.  It was the most expensive set available at the time, must have been around half a metre in length and had working steering and gears.  When pushed along the pistons in the engine moved up and down as well.  Even the seats were able to recline, such was the attention to detail.

The current Lego Technic sets have undergone a bit of a change in the pieces they consist of.  Whereas the old sets contained studded pieces with holes in the sides which made them easy to use with regular Lego pieces, the new sets which first became available at the turn of the century feature smooth, rounded pieces for the axles and pegs to slot into.  Often these pieces also have bends in them.  Personally, I think I prefer the old approach as it somehow seems easier to work with.

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