"Nuh, sorry mate, we don't carry those any more."
"Because Lego aren't makin' 'em anymore, that's why!"
My happy day, full of expectation and promise, had suddenly turned sour just like the face of a person who had been stuck inside a yogurt factory for too long. One of the most famous Lego Technic models, 8460 - Pnuematic Crane Truck, was out of production and only since September. I had the stupidity to wait until my birthday in October to pick one of these splendid models up. I thought by now that it never pays to wait to pick up a model. Some people never learn!
Anyhow, a month later there was an ad on television blaring out the fact that the Toyworld store in Hervey Bay was having a 25% discount sale on all items, including Lego. Since Hervey Bay is the next town down from beautiful Bundaberg, which is where my crazy cat and I live, I thought that it wouldn't hurt to inquire. And lo and behold, they had the last remaining Pnuematic Crane Truck in the whole state, if not the whole world! I couldn't believe it!
Quick as a flash I sent down a cheque and had it sent up, and at a 25% discount chucked in with the bargain! Yeeeeehaawwww!!!
The Pneumatic Crane Truck is exactly what it claims it is. It is a large mobile crane operated by both air cylinders and cogs alike. The model is quite heavy and fairly sturdy but I wouldn't go dropping the thing simply to test its strength and durability!
When I first looked at the model, back in early 1995, I was quite taken aback by the complexity yet beauty of the thing. Not only did it look complicated but it looked really cool, graceful yet commandingly striking. Such a combination of beauty and brains is still a rare commodity in Lego Technic these days.
Two and a half years later when the model was finally constructed (it took me one and a half days to build and get working properly), and subsequently displayed, the model radiated a majesty of presence I have never experienced before, not even with the 1988 Auto Chassis. The truck is very large and the crane is so long! But more on that later.
The Crane Truck sports six different functions including four wheel steering (via two flashing lights - it doesn't matter which one you twist), a rotating jib (that's the bit that the actual crane sits on) that can rotate 360 degrees, a crane arm that can be raised or lowered, a telescopic extension positioned in the crane arm (which can then expand to twice its original length), an operations heavy metallic hook with catch function, and four working stabilizers (for those heavy duty jobs nobody else wants to do). All functions, apart from the raising and lowering of the crane arm, work via intricate networks of cogs. These cogs took a lot of mucking-about-with to achieve perfect, smoothly-flowing functions but it was well worth the extra time and trouble to get these things right.
As for the main attraction: the pnuematic function allowing the crane arm to be raised and lowered, well, it's a simple job made a little more complex. Nevertheless, it works very well. Two pnuematic cyliders (which diametrically oppose one another) are placed at the base of the crane proper and near the termination of the crane arm, respectively. As air fills the cylinders each pushes out in opposite directions and raises the arm to the height required for effective operation. When the cylinders retract, "an equal and opposite reaction" (to quote a certain scientist) takes place with the arm coming to rest.
As for the alternative model on the back of the box, well I guess it's a clumsier version of the same thing - a mobile crane of sorts except that the crane is nowhere near as multi-functional. The alternate version has a tray where you can store all your parts, or junk or whatever. It, like the main model, has a rotating jib, and stabilizers; however, I would only suggest you build this model if you happen to get bored with the main model, which will probably never happen.
Now, as some of you are very well aware, about eight years ago Lego brought out the second of their Mobile Cranes, set number 8854. Reviews on this set have been not as favorable as they might have been, nevertheless it was a very good set and all functions worked very well. The third in their series of Mobile Cranes is the best yet but all functions (and the way they are set up) are exactly the same. The only major differences are that the new crane is longer, yellow in colour, the cylinders are positioned differently and the thing sports a cool crane cab. Look out for a review on 8854 in the near future.
I would recommend this set (if you can get it at a toy store in the backwoods) to anybody, especially Technic fans. If you can't get it, don't feel bad. The same goes for every set. Just remember that all proper Lego collectors ALWAYS have a set everybody else can be jealous of because others don't have one and I know that ALL of you out there have at least one!