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Lego Maniacs' Guide: Reviews: Technic : Mobile Crane

[Purchase Lego at Amazon.com] 8854 - Mobile Crane

Rating: 4 Stars
Pros: Great styling for it's time, cool color coordination, lots of features to keep you entertained and great value for money (at the time). No stickers!
Cons: Dorky alternative model...but who cares about that anyway?
Contents: 508 pieces
Price: Discontinued
Reviewed: 12-Feb-1998
Reviewed by: Matthew Chappell

8854 It was a balmy November of the year of 1989. The world was almost recovering from those apocalyptic phenonema that constituted the Cabbage Patch Kids and the Transformers. Perfectly sane and rational people from the four corners of the globe had gone mad through the sheer volume of unspeakable horror that spread so quickly throughout every toy store and every child's bedroom.
Lego was also on the brink of losing many facets of its innocence, a new decade threatening to bring about dramatic change in the Lego line-up. Blissfully unaware of the evil schemes and dreams the Lego designers of the 1990s, I saved and saved, eventually purchasing my very first Technic vehicle--the 8854 Pneumatic Mobile Crane. A medium/large sized vehicle with (for its time) elegant styling, striking colour scheme and a numerous array of features unheard of in previous Technic models. As I grew older and entered the new decade, I realized that Technic vehicles in general, with time and unlike their Legoland counterparts, did not fall prey to an increasing trend of skimping and simplification, they became more complex, stylish and thus, better. The 1989 Pneumatic Mobile Crane was among the first to herald in the new age of superior Technic models.

The Technic Pneumatic Mobile Crane is one of the nicest Technic models brought out in the eighties, which carried over to the nineties. For all the features included, this was one of the best value-for-money models introduced. Now I know that the model looks small on the initial impression but don't let that fool you. Once the crane arm is extended to its full length, you realize with resounding happiness that it is indeed quite a large model! The arm, in full extension, reaches a massive 16 inches!
Technic models that exhibit the capacity to simultaneously balance two forms are rare and very special. The Mobile Crane showcases five features (in addition to the pneumatic raising and lowering of the crane arm). These features include: stabilizers that can be raised or lowered, a jib (the section that the crane arm sits on) that can be rotated, a working solid metal hook, an extension in the crane arm that can be outstretched and withdrawn, and, of course, two wheel steering via an opaque yellow siren on the cab roof. All these functions are manipulated by the usual intricate system of cogs. The main feature, the large crane arm itself, is attached to pneumatic cylinders which are fixed to either side of the jib and make the thing go up...and down. Isn't that clever? The cylinders in turn are controlled via a pneumatic pump and a simple network of hoses. I also must mention the cool chunky tires all larger Technic models used to sport throughout the eighties. This model was no exception. (Ahh, those were the days.)
The alternative model, in contrast with the main model, is not even worth mentioning. It is one of the most poorly designed dump trucks I have ever seen. I have trouble seeing even Al Bundy driving around in a heap like that! But if you really are curious to try out the limited features on the thing then go right ahead and build it. I guarantee that you will be bored within the hour.
I would recommend this model to anyone, especially Technic collectors. Your best bet would be an auction. It's a wonderful lesson for all in the history of Lego design!

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