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REVIEW: 812 Gears, Axels & Bricks


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#1 Sinner

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Posted 28 December 2008 - 10:12 AM

Set: 812 Gears, Axels & Bricks
Year: 1974

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This is a set that I have long tried to find for a good price, and recently I bought a near-perfect copy on eBay for around $20 AUD! (Currently around $15 USD.)

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As a kid I had a copy of Ideas Book 222, and the last few pages featured models using parts from this set. (You can find the whole Idea Book on Peeron.) These gears were one of LEGOs first attempts of adding advanced function to models and I at last know first hand that they are actually quite good. In many ways the parts in this set are superior to the latter gears. Anyway, on to the review!

Part 1 : Parts

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It's interesting to look at this photo; it's not very well taken by todays standards. It is however great to see the real part rather than a drawing.

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This box is great for presentation, but horrid in use; the axels keep sliding under the foam. I'll be moving this to another container soon.

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The complete set. In mine I had a few extras, but I'm not sure if they come with it so I didn't show them.

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These are the small gears. The set came with six. Aside from gears, they have another purpose...

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...the hub of the old large wheels. (Not included in this set, or this purchase. Oddly I bought those with another eBay lot that had no gears...) The idea seems weird to me...

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...but once you get them in they look good. You wouldn't have much hub slippage with these!

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The rest of the gears. This is all you get from the set... and all I have. The yellow gear has some usable studs on top, but the ones on the blue are only good for 2x2 pieces without the central tube. The holes are the same size as standard axels, but are not good for pins as they are about 20% too short. Thus half pins don't lock, and full pins wobble.

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One of the special features that these gears have is a thin piece of metal that locks the gear onto the axel. It was hard for me to show this in a photo, but after many attempts here it is!

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Each axel has a small notch at the end that aligns with this...

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...making brushes at the end of gears less necessary.

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There were no beams at this stage, all LEGO offered was this Multipurpose Holy Block.

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This set also featured the first LEGO universal joint...

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...as well as the first tracks.

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Oddly, this set also has metal motor->gear pieces. I would have thought it would make more sense to include these in the motor sets... but I'm not complaining!


Part 2 : Applications

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First off, I made a ride, similar to what's shown in Ideas Book 222 on page 78 and 79.

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This model uses most of the parts, including the universal joints.

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I have a 12V transformer (cost me $10 AUD on eBay!) so I plugged it in and wound it up to full power!

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Wheee! I connected the motor via the metal pieces as the plans ask. It was a lot stiffer than I expected but it worked well. Even so, sliding the plastic brushes down the metal shaft made me cringe, and not in a good way. (If that sentence excites anyone then I suggest you get out more...)

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Next, I made a helicopter, similar to what's shown in Ideas Book 222 on page 78 and 79.

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This model also uses the wheels. (The rubber bands are official but not included.)

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This model was highly fragile during assembly. Once together it holds OK, but pressing it together was a dangerous experience...

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The gear train highlights the flexibility of the pieces. Like the newer bevelled gears, these can be used at a 90 degree angle. However, due to their longer teeth, these don't slip and you don't need to be so precise in the positions. How far you can push this I don't know; I'm not prepared to do destructive testing to determine the gear strength! Due to the re-enforced hubs I would expect the teeth to break first.

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The tail connection relies on the inverse stud shape of the brushing; this technique seems to have fallen out of favour at LEGO...

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The universal joints are used here, but only as joiners. Note the rear axel is elevated to prevent it running away!

I made a video of this model and you can find it here.

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Last up, I made a simple track demonstration.

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To avoid cringing I used plastic axels not the metal pieces. Assembling this was a lot harder than I expected. Due to the long teeth you need to position the tracks more accurately than you need to with later types. Thus it took me a while to find what size I needed to make what. For this reason the design is just a strong block.

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The tracks have two studs and thus are too wide to sit flush. The track is has good grip and much quieter than I expected. I made a video of this one as well, and you can find it here.

Overall thoughts

Well, my normal ranking system makes little sense with this set, so I'll give it a miss. But I will say that this is a great set, and I'll be sure to try to find more parts like this. It's a shame that the gears are so colourful as it does limit their use somewhat, and their relative rarity will make me reluctant to use them in any way that could damage them.

I give this set 10/10!





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#2 Flatfoot Thompsen

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Posted 28 December 2008 - 12:53 PM

Cool review Sinner. I think one of my old teachers had that.
Yee-haw

#3 Dennimator

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Posted 28 December 2008 - 01:06 PM

Nice review!
Are those gears rare? I didnĀ“t know that, I have about 10-15 of them lying around in my "Useless Parts"(Bionicle) bin. :look:

(A little off-topic; why do you keep changing your avatar?)

Edited by Dennimator, 28 December 2008 - 01:07 PM.


#4 Sinner

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Posted 28 December 2008 - 02:31 PM

View PostDennimator, on Dec 28 2008, 11:06 PM, said:

Are those gears rare?
Somewhat, but they are not worth too much; it's more the complete set that's getting expensive. I think that if they were wanted by more people they would be expensive, but since they are not they are relatively cheap.

View PostDennimator, on Dec 28 2008, 11:06 PM, said:

(A little off-topic; why do you keep changing your avatar?)
I wrote a program that changes it for me regularly. Variety is the spice of life.  :wink:





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#5 Buttons

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Posted 28 December 2008 - 04:05 PM

According to my ultimate collectors book there was set 803: Gears, bricks and Heavy Tires which was released between 1872 and 1873 and had 163 parts So am afraid yours is not the first but one of the first :sceptic:

I am sure if you ask Blakbird you will get an answer  :classic:

In terms of reveiw I cannot fault you on your excellent job. :thumbup:

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#6 Sinner

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Posted 28 December 2008 - 04:18 PM

View PostButtons, on Dec 29 2008, 02:05 AM, said:

According to my ultimate collectors book there was set 803: Gears, bricks and Heavy Tires which was released between 1872 and 1873 and had 163 parts So am afraid yours is not the first but one of the first :sceptic:
Actually I already knew that as Peeron tells me a set with these gears came out in 1970.  :tongue: My question "One of the first Technic sets?" is more asking should it be considered a Technic / Expert Builder set or not.





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#7 Buttons

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Posted 28 December 2008 - 04:37 PM

View PostSinner, on Dec 28 2008, 04:18 PM, said:

Actually I already knew that as Peeron tells me a set with these gears came out in 1970.  :tongue: My question "One of the first Technic sets?" is more asking should it be considered a Technic / Expert Builder set or not.
Good point, I myself wouldn't really know how to separate expert builder from technic :classic:
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#8 CP5670

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Posted 28 December 2008 - 07:55 PM

Very interesting review. This seems to have been a revolutionary set for its time. The 2x4 bricks with holes on all sides are a nice idea and would still be useful today if they were more common. It's also impressive that they already had things like universal joints and tracks at that point.

I have a few of the axles and red bushes from a random parts lot on ebay, but not any of the gears. The axles have a strange, translucent white color.

Interestingly, there was an even earlier system of gears in the 60s, different from these. They had studs on them instead of holes and I believe attaching them to turntables was the only way to hold them in place.

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The tail connection relies on the inverse stud shape of the brushing; this technique seems to have fallen out of favour at LEGO...

Probably because we hardly get any studs at all in Technic sets these days. :tongue:

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My question "One of the first Technic sets?" is more asking should it be considered a Technic / Expert Builder set or not.

I think Expert Builder officially started in 1977 (1978 in the US) and included the modern gears and axles. They changed the name to Technic only a few years later.

Edited by CP5670, 28 December 2008 - 07:57 PM.


#9 AgentRick57

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Posted 29 December 2008 - 04:21 AM

These gears are personally more interesting then the gear that we have today, although more vibrant. I first saw a good use of these in a classic video known as Drugs Are Like That.

#10 Mark Bellis

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Posted 29 December 2008 - 02:04 PM

View PostAgentRick57, on Dec 29 2008, 04:21 AM, said:

These gears are personally more interesting then the gear that we have today, although more vibrant. I first saw a good use of these in a classic video known as Drugs Are Like That.

I used the large yellow gear in a video too.

I wish there were larger technic gears nowadays, as well as larger thin wheels of other types (such as a 40mm pulley with the same profile as the 24mm pulley and an extra ring of holes)

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#11 Sinner

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Posted 01 January 2009 - 04:05 PM

View PostCP5670, on Dec 29 2008, 05:55 AM, said:

Interestingly, there was an even earlier system of gears in the 60s, different from these. They had studs on them instead of holes and I believe attaching them to turntables was the only way to hold them in place.
Do you mean these?

322.jpeg

If not what ones?





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#12 CP5670

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Posted 01 January 2009 - 06:08 PM

View PostSinner, on Jan 1 2009, 11:05 AM, said:

Do you mean these?

Attachment 322.jpeg

If not what ones?

Yes, that looks like the one.

#13 Hinckley

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Posted 02 January 2009 - 08:43 AM

What an awesome and unexpected review! I really enjoyed this and it just goes to show how innovative LEGO has always been as a company. I'm surprised at how functional it is. It makes me miss those idea books because it was such a great opportunity to expand the possibilities of sets that were available. Now that LEGO doesn't even put alternative models on the boxes, the return of the idea book would be amazing!

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#14 Svelte

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Posted 04 January 2009 - 09:41 AM

I love how you echo the box art in your first pic, right down to the gears, even if you're mirror reversed in the shot  :tongue:

It's really interesting to see such an in-depth review of this kind of set, from the era before everything changed and Lego became the giant commercial beast that it did. The principles of 'play well' are alive here. It's so nice to see creativity and ingenuity at work. A lot of AFOLs are more interested in pure aesthetics (the model building aspect) rather than the activity or play angle of their creations and it's rare to see such a thorough explanation of set. It really reminds me that you don't need much Lego to get a lot of use out of it! Which is refreshing as well, since these days even Lego pushes the idea that more parts means necessarily better sets and it's very easy to get sucked into that mentality.

Actually, that first occurred to me from your Transport Ferry review, because although that set has a huge piece count, I found the pieces themselves are kind of blah. I've recently been buying up a few older sets from the 2004 and 2005 Harry Potter line and the perceptible shift in terms of part selection and colour distribution (not to mention printing) is massive even in a few short years. Sure I know those lines didn't do well but I have come to appreciate how well put together the sets themselves were (whereas at the time I remember thinking they were overpriced and I wouldn't pay full-price for them!).

Incidentally, I am doing a New Year purge and came across a small box of vintage Technic parts, I think dating back to the early 80s (not as early as this). It was from Vinnies and included a mix of stuff, some classic bricks and those shop dummy style pre-minifigs - I am keeping all the System stuff but you are welcome to the Technic parts if you want them, you may appreciate the bits and bobs more than I do!

Actually looking at peeron some of it may even be older than the 80s as it includes a few of these parts in blue which peeron lists as only appearing up to 76 (they're older than me! NOOO!):

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They are 'new' Technic not 'old' Technic like the set reviewed here. If you are interested let me know and you can have them otherwise I would probably have tossed them anyway. It's not a huge selection and probably not that exciting but it's free Lego, right? :wink:

#15 Sinner

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Posted 04 January 2009 - 03:39 PM

View PostHinckley, on Jan 2 2009, 06:43 PM, said:

Now that LEGO doesn't even put alternative models on the boxes, the return of the idea book would be amazing!
I wish! The ideas books were always great...

View Postsvelte_corps, on Jan 4 2009, 07:41 PM, said:

I love how you echo the box art in your first pic, right down to the gears, even if you're mirror reversed in the shot  :tongue:
My wife took the pictures and that was the best. I realised after that I wasn't quite right; head to the wrong side, and my left hand was too low. But I'd already bothered her enough so I decided to make do. Thanks for noticing! :tongue:

View Postsvelte_corps, on Jan 4 2009, 07:41 PM, said:

A lot of AFOLs are more interested in pure aesthetics (the model building aspect) rather than the activity or play angle of their creations and it's rare to see such a thorough explanation of set.
I try to go for a mixture. If my MOCs aren't strong enough to play with then I re-build!

View Postsvelte_corps, on Jan 4 2009, 07:41 PM, said:

Which is refreshing as well, since these days even Lego pushes the idea that more parts means necessarily better sets and it's very easy to get sucked into that mentality.
Often yes, but it seems that this years sets have less parts; the Power Miners are a good example. TLG do seem to be shying away from too many sets with 1000+ parts.

View Postsvelte_corps, on Jan 4 2009, 07:41 PM, said:

I've recently been buying up a few older sets from the 2004 and 2005 Harry Potter line and the perceptible shift in terms of part selection and colour distribution (not to mention printing) is massive even in a few short years.
I know the feeling. I've been buying Mission to Mars sets and marvelling at the design aspects, prints and part selection.  :cry_sad:

View Postsvelte_corps, on Jan 4 2009, 07:41 PM, said:

If you are interested let me know and you can have them otherwise I would probably have tossed them anyway. It's not a huge selection and probably not that exciting but it's free Lego, right? :wink:
Indeed I would! I'll send you a PM!  :sweet:





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#16 JINZONINGEN73

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Posted 12 January 2009 - 03:28 AM

I really love those OLD tank treads. Much better looking as mocing tools than the newer ones.
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#17 prateek

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Posted 16 February 2009 - 10:46 PM

my cousin has this set, its relly out of place in my collection but it fits in with his since his is ove 30 years old lol :thumbup:  i got hands on with this and i love the quality of the plastic



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