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Lego Maniacs' Guide: Reviews: Technic : Front-End : Power Loader

[Purchase Lego at Amazon.com] 8459 - Front-End/Power Loader

Rating: 4 Stars
Pros: Good working action; nice, sturdy, meaty construction
Cons: Too many decals (as usual)
Contents: 592 pieces
Price: $82.00 (Australia)
Reviewed: 29-Oct-1997
Reviewed by: Matthew Chappell

8459 I originally set out to buy Lego Technic set number 8460, the Mobile Crane. I had saved up for about three months for this model blissfully unaware that dark forces were out to thwart me. "No, sorry, mate. They stopped making that model last month."
Heart-broken, I began to trudge out of the store. Then, something suddenly caught my eye. It was a model I had not seen before, set number 8459, the new pneumatic Front-End Loader! Determined not to go home empty-handed, I immediately purchased the set and took it home. I must say, after initial misconceptions about how simple it was (first impressions can often be very wrong), it is one of the best Lego sets I have ever purchased.

The new Technic Front-End Loader (released in the US and Canada in August, then Australia in October) is quite a large and complex model with fairly realistic detailing. The twin exhaust pipes at the rear of the model, the ladders on either side of the cabin and the rear bumpers were all nice touches.
As with most pneumatic models, the main feature is the device which is manipulated by pneumatic cylinders. On the Front End Loader, it is the scoop that is the star attraction. While two pneumatic cylinders raise and lower the arms of the scoop, a single cylinder mounted near the apex of the arms tips and retrieves the scoop itself. These three cylinders in turn are operated by the pump attached near the rear of the vehicle, assisted by the addition of an air tank. The addition of this air tank to all new pneumatic models was a breakthrough. All actions of the arm and scoop have been made both smooth and swift (both functions being able to be performed a couple of times before having to refuel). It was really amazing to see how rapidly all the functions were performed, and the air-pressure packs quite a punch. However, after about two repetitions of both functions the air tank quickly ran out of juice but this is only a minor criticism as the pump works efficiently without the aid of the air tank.
Other features on the model include steering via the "flashing light" on top of the roof (a nifty little innovation brought about in 1988), the V-6 engine, and the air-filled tires which act as simple shock absorbers when filling the air tank.
New features, apart from the air tank, are the pretty blue colored pneumatic hoses. It's good to see more color being added to the models.
The alternate model is a mobile crane truck. On first appearance, it looks kind of dorky and the alternate models are never as good as the main showpiece, but the smooth action of the cylinders coupled with the new air tank makes this model pretty fun to play with. The inclusion of the engine is nice but I would have liked to have seen the addition of the second cylinder contribute toward a more complex crane jib. It's nothing to write home about but for the sake of curiosity it's well worth the build.

65 readers have rated this set as 4.275 out of 5 stars.
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