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REVIEW: 8263 Snow Groomer


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#1 Blakbird

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Posted 09 July 2009 - 07:16 AM

To my delight, a box was sitting on my front porch yesterday when I got home from work. Within the box was the new Technic snow groomer, set #8263. To my chagrin, however, I didn't have time to build it until tonight. As I know everyone has been waiting patiently to see the new sets, I thought I'd offer this review!

Vital Statistics
  • Set 8263
  • 590 Pieces
  • 17.1 ounces, 484 grams
  • Build time was about 2 hours (including taking all the pictures)
The Box
The box is surprisingly large. Pictures of the front and back can be seen below. This is not one of the boxes in which you need to cut the rear corners to get it open. Rather, it is one of the boxes which is made to be punched out on one edge. I opened mine with a letter opener instead to avoid tearing anything.

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The Instructions
The instructions come in two large booklets: one for the main model and one for the alternate model. The book for the main model is 75 pages with 53 top level steps. The instructions are quite clear, as usual, and I found only one minor error. This error involved a part which was not actually part of the step.

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Inside the Box
There are 5 bags inside the box. One of the 4 smaller bags contains all the treads. The largest bag contains all the panels and also has 2 smaller bags within it containing the pins and other small parts.

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New and/or Noteworthy Parts
Those interested in the new parts will be very interested in this set as it contains a very good selection of them, as well as quite a few other parts which are not seen very often.

The most obvious new parts are these H-Beams. In keeping with the new tradition of using odd numbered lengths and widths for studless beams, this part is 5x11. There are axle holes in all 3 directions: 8 total on the face, 14 total on the sides, and 6 total on the ends. This vast array of connections make the part very versatile and usable in many situations. I consider this part POOP (Parts Of Other Pieces) in that the same shape was possible before from smaller parts. However, if this part were built up from others it would tend to parallelogram due to looseness in the corners. This large framed beam is very stiff in bending so I can imagine it becoming the foundation of many new large models. This model is no exception as this is the first part in the instructions. There are 4 of these parts in the set (TLG #64178), all in light bley.

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There are also a number of new panels. There are 3 of the larger panels in black (TLG #62531). They are 11x3x2 with axle holes in all three directions. The front face is flat and smooth while the rear face is grooved. This difference makes them usable for totally different aesthetic effects depending on which way they are turned.

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There are also some smaller panels. Like the older panels, these are numbered to easily distinguish left from right. In this case, the numbers are 3 and 4. The dimensions of these is 7x3x2 and, like the others, they have holes in all three directions. The set comes with 6 of them in black and 6 of them in red (TLG #64391 & 64683).

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Although not brand new, this image shows a couple of other parts of note. There are 3 steering links which have not been seen in a while, especially the long one. There are also 3 of the (almost) new 9L axles.

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There are two of the new 3x3 T Beams for the first time in light bley. There are also a pair of brand new 3x2 parts which I will call Axle Joiner, Perpendicular. They look like the old 1x2 axle joiner, perpendicular except with an extra stud appended on either side. I can imagine these being quite useful.

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Finally, there are 12 tread sprockets and 66 black tread links. While the black treads have appeared in Mars Mission sets before, this is the first time in Technic. It is also worth noting that, although difficult to tell in the picture, the sprockets are not light bley. They are actually pearl gray.

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Here are the parts left over after building the primary model.

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The Build
It took me about 2 hours to build this, including taking all the pictures and munching on my dinner at the same time. The set is somewhat modular in nature like we have come to expect from recent sets. The model is almost entirely studless with a couple of pleasant exceptions which I'll detail below. Like all studless sets, the model is built from the inside out. There are some clever uses of the new parts and connections which make the model very sturdy and rigid. There are a couple of building techniques in the mechanism which have very rarely been used in official sets and are a very welcome surprise.

This first image shows a clever use of a yoke part to make a cantilevered gearbox. Note also the use of a T-Beam.

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This next image shows the first core module. The previous gearbox is on the inside, driven by the black double bevel gear on the top. This turns the worm gear which, in turn, rotates the liftarm on the back via the pinion gear. The ball joint you see here will be used to lift the snow smoother on the back.

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I like this next bit very much. A Bionicle ball joint is used as an input lever, almost like the control stick in an airplane. Movement of the stick forward and back pivots a crank arm which pushes or pulls the long steering arm visible on the bottom. This then lifts a linkage on the front which will be used to raise and lower the plow. Side to side motion of the stick rotates a central axle. This axle acts on a set of knob wheel gears which turn a lateral axle on the front. This axle will later be used with another steering arm to pivot the plow left and right. Although side to side motion of the stick also moves the lower steering link side to side, the presence of ball joints allows this to happen without interrupting the motion in the other axis. This results in two independent controls using one gimbaled input. I love this arrangement and it is very reminiscent of the excellent controls on the 8855 airplane.

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This shows the completed core combining the first and second modules and adding some reinforcement.

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Here is the undercarriage assembly. There is no suspension, just a planar set of bogies. The left and right sides are independent in rotation.

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Now here's a pleasant surprise. The grille at the front of the cab is actually quite nicely detailed with cheese slopes and other Creator like parts. In fact, this area reminds me a lot of 6743, for instance. Construction involves some simple (but lovely) SNOT.

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Here we can see the cab which makes heavy use of the new panels as well as a few more cheese slopes on the spotlights on the mirrors and on the light bar. There are a pair of flexible axles representing the side windows which are a nice touch.

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Here is the completed chassis without the implements attached.

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The Verdict
I love this model! Having seen all of the Technic sets, it is sometimes hard to impress me. But this set makes excellent use of new and rare parts, has a good price for its size, uses clever and innovative building techniques, has great mechanical functions, and even looks good! On top of all of that, it's not another construction vehicle. A snow groomer is a perfect subject for a Technic model, yet one which has never been used before.

  • Price: 8/10
  • Functions: 9/10 (for the size of the model)
  • Appearance: 8/10
  • Parts: 9/10 (lots of good stuff here)
  • Total: 9/10 I'd consider this set a "must-have" for any serious Technic fan.
I haven't built the alternate model yet, but it looks excellent as well. I may buy a second copy just for that.

Here are some images of the completed model.


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Scale
In case you are trying to get a feel for how big this is, I've included a couple of comparison pictures. The first shows the 8272 Snowmobile. The second shows this model along with Hans Crielaard's superb Prinoth Leitwolf snow groomer.

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Wrap Up
While building this model, I listened to "Back in Black" by AC/DC and "Pyromania" by Def Leppard. They seemed to work nicely. I considered "Bitor the Snow Dog" by Rush as being topical, but it seemed a bit too obscure.

I also tried out a new photography technique for many of these photos. The white backdrop is simply a white melamine book case. I placed the models inside. There is no direct lighting. Rather, all photos are taken with a single flash. But the flash is not mounted on the camera which is why you don't see reflections. You also don't see sharp shadows. This is because the flash was used for indirect lighting. My Nikon D70 can control the flash remotely (wireless) so you can put the flash wherever you like. I also pointed the light up at the next shelf up. This way the light bounces from the bright surface and illuminates the subject evenly like good overhead lighting. I thought it worked pretty well. You can see the setup in this picture. The picture itself has lousy lighting because I couldn't use the flash to take a picture of the flash! :laugh:

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Edited by Blakbird, 06 June 2012 - 03:00 PM.

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#2 Jetro

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Posted 09 July 2009 - 07:37 AM

Thanks for a very complete review. I'm looking forward to seeing the 'B' model.
Unfotunately I won't be able to get my hands on one til september...

#3 Front

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Posted 09 July 2009 - 08:16 AM

What a nice review of a nice set.
I think I will get this set as soon as it hit the shelves of the employee store.

The new H-beams are nice, they already found use in the 2009 Bionicle vehicles too.

#4 Sinner

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Posted 09 July 2009 - 08:31 AM

Oh wow!  :wub: This set is even better than I thought, and thankfully it's a decent deal too! I love all the new Technic parts. Most of them are designed to do more with less, and that's great for a more usefull part count. (Especially in keeping the pin count down.)

Thanks for the great review!  :sweet:





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#5 Izzy

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Posted 09 July 2009 - 11:38 AM

This is a really great review! It is set out beautifully.

I've been keeping an eye on some of the newer Technic sets for a certain someones birthday and this has just shot way up the list.

Thanks for the Review. Brilliant!

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#6 Conchas

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Posted 09 July 2009 - 11:46 AM

Thanks for the very nice review Eric!!
I liked it a lot.

So well done, that I don't see the need to do one later by myself about this set on TBs.
Instead I'll redirect people to read it here (to post later today). :wink:
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#7 Tropy

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Posted 09 July 2009 - 12:36 PM

[quote name='Blakbird' date='Jul 9 2009, 12:46 PM' post='536770']
To my delight, a box was sitting on my front porch yesterday when I got home from work.  Within the box was the new Technic snow groomer, set #8263.  To my chagrin, however, I didn't have time to build it until tonight.  As I know everyone has been waiting patiently to see the new sets, I thought I'd offer this review!


This is really a useful a a great review, I was going to buy one set of this stuff, but now i'll buy two sets, just for the new pieces!
tks,
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#8 BeKindRewind

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Posted 09 July 2009 - 01:25 PM

I'm not usually a technic fan, but thought I'd check out the Snow Groomer and see what all the hubbub was all about.  Have to say it looks pretty cool.  Love the multidirectional, multifunctional joy-stick.  A lot of effort must have gone into that design.  However, does it look like the cabin is leaning a bit too forward?  When I googled images of a snow groomer (wish I knew how to post a comparison pic) I can see where they got the idea to do so but it seems a bit extreme.

#9 Blakbird

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Posted 09 July 2009 - 04:38 PM

 BeKindRewind, on Jul 9 2009, 06:25 AM, said:

However, does it look like the cabin is leaning a bit too forward?  When I googled images of a snow groomer (wish I knew how to post a comparison pic) I can see where they got the idea to do so but it seems a bit extreme.

Yes, the cab is intentionally leaning forward.  The height is 7 studs in the back where it is pinned, and the front connection is a 1x6x1/2 beam.  I guess offsetting it any less than 1 stud would have been too complicated.
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#10 CP5670

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Posted 09 July 2009 - 05:03 PM

I was on the fence with this set earlier, but you have certainly convinced me to buy it. :classic: It has a lot more functionality than I thought and it's an unusual concept too. I love the 4-way control stick mechanism, which as you say hasn't been seen since 8855 and a few of the helicopters.

The H pieces seem rather pointless and specialized to me. That kind of shape can be created easily with studded bricks. The T beams and 9 axles on the other hand would be very useful, and the new panels are also pretty nice.

#11 prateek

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Posted 09 July 2009 - 05:13 PM

As usual a great review :thumbup: I probably won't get this but it is a great set

#12 mrpolyonymous

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Posted 09 July 2009 - 05:27 PM

Great review, thanks! I was pretty "meh" on this set, but after your review I may buy it after all.

#13 dunamis

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Posted 10 July 2009 - 12:22 AM

Great review!  I was going to skip this set in favor of the other two, but it looks like I'll have to pick this one up as well.  I was hoping to review at least one of them if I get the time.

P.S. Good choice in music!
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#14 Biotoakid

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Posted 10 July 2009 - 02:12 AM

The inner wheels are Bionicle Life Counters recolored.
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#15 Asuka

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Posted 10 July 2009 - 12:01 PM

Thanks for this fine review, Blakbird.  :thumbup:
A very interesting set indeed in a marvelous design and with some really good functionality. The alternative model looks great and gripping too!

 Biotoakid, on Jul 10 2009, 02:12 AM, said:

The inner wheels are Bionicle Life Counters recolored.
Ah... a very smart part design, well done TLC.  :classic:

#16 Front

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Posted 10 July 2009 - 02:02 PM

 Biotoakid, on Jul 10 2009, 04:12 AM, said:

The inner wheels are Bionicle Life Counters recolored.

I think it's safer to say that the sprockets were developed for the new technic tracks, and later used in Bionicle.

#17 Loganwan

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Posted 10 July 2009 - 05:28 PM

When I first started to see all of the great pieces, I thought it would be a great set to get for a pile of wonderful pieces.  Now that I see your final pictures, that set is too good looking to break down.  I think I have to go get one of these.  Thanks for the great review.
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#18 Ondra

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Posted 10 July 2009 - 08:48 PM

Is there any posibilities in instructions to use PF set?

#19 Blakbird

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Posted 10 July 2009 - 09:33 PM

 Ondra, on Jul 10 2009, 01:48 PM, said:

Is there any posibilities in instructions to use PF set?

No.  Neither the main model not the B Model have motorization options.  There is really nothing to motorize.
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#20 Biotoakid

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Posted 11 July 2009 - 03:54 AM

 Asuka, on Jul 10 2009, 07:01 AM, said:

Thanks for this fine review, Blakbird.  :thumbup:
A very interesting set indeed in a marvelous design and with some really good functionality. The alternative model looks great and gripping too!


Ah... a very smart part design, well done TLC.  :classic:
I might buy it just for those pieces.
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#21 merman

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Posted 11 July 2009 - 12:40 PM

 Biotoakid, on Jul 11 2009, 04:54 AM, said:

I might buy it just for those pieces.

Thanks so much for the elaborate review. At first I didn't like the set but I ordered it anyway yesterday! I now love it. The handle-part is truly amazing and unique...

Could you scan the part list?

#22 Biotoakid

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Posted 11 July 2009 - 03:44 PM

 merman, on Jul 11 2009, 07:40 AM, said:

Thanks so much for the elaborate review. At first I didn't like the set but I ordered it anyway yesterday! I now love it. The handle-part is truly amazing and unique...

Could you scan the part list?

It's not my review.
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#23 5150 Lego

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Posted 11 July 2009 - 08:10 PM

This set is actually better than i thought. Not sureif i preffer the main or alternate model. Might have to pick up two at some point. I really like the cab design of the Snow groomer. Especaily the mirror design. To bad there no way to motorise it (well, at least from Lego).
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#24 Widdi

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Posted 11 July 2009 - 09:07 PM

Great review. I'll have to get this set as a skier dude. Price looks ok for almost 600 pcs. at about 50€

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#25 paul_delahaye

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Posted 14 July 2009 - 08:08 AM

This was the 1 set I was a little unsure about but it was the 1st I have purchased yesterday at legoland windsor.
I actually really like it and I think I am going to buy a second so I can permanently built the alternative model as I think it is as well designed as the main model which is unusual in my opinion, normally they look a little odd.

I love the multi function control knob for the blade of the snow plough.  It works like the old big yellow technic plane control lever, very well designed

and I get some black tracks

Paul



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