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[REVIEW] 9396 The Big Helicopter

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#1 freakwave


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Posted 10 July 2012 - 01:03 PM

It was about time! Here it is the first(?), at least at Eurobricks, english review of the newest and greatest and largest LEGO Technic Helicopter.

I got mine at the brand store in Munich. To start, a few basic facts on the set.

Set Reference: 9396 Bricklink, Brickset, no entry at Peeron
Parts: 1056
Price: 89,99 EUR
Weight: 860g (finished model)

I had to look up the number of parts from Technicbricks as we Europeans do not get this information regularly printed on the boxes and I did not want to start counting the pieces…

Packaging and Box Art:

Form the various blogs and forums a lot of promotional and box pictures have been posted but for the sake of completeness, here’s the box art.

On the front there is a prominent mark “Ready for Power Functions”. It is interesting how this worked out, what LEGO wants us motorize out of the box respectively by combining the two boxes 9396 and 8293 Power Functions Motor Set. We gonna see this waaay down.

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9396_02_BoxFront by 1wave, on Flickr

The backside shows the B-Model at the bottom and as Conchas pointed out the instructions for the B-Model are already available from LEGO directly as PDF.
The top half of the box shows us how really easy it is to Power Function the model

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9396_03_BoxBack by 1wave, on Flickr

The Content:

Here we go! The opened box is note really friendly for storage as folding it together is not really easy. Anyway let's focus on the inside!
We do get 9, surprise, unnumbered bags! So this set is really for the professionals who do not need any numbers on their bags to keep track of pieces and progress! :wink:
The box does not contain any loose parts... but hey wait where are the rotor blades?!?

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9396_04_Bags by 1wave, on Flickr

Here they come. Tucked away in a cardboard sandwich the big rotor blades come in the same bag as the instructions. It is a neat solution to keep such a big and to some extent flexible part safe and secure in this box and prevent it from being damaged and bent. :thumbup: Thanks Lego!

The instructions, three books of them, for your building pleasure. As usual LEGO is shelling out a few extra cents (or saving a few cents) only to have to cover of book number one made of glossier paper.

The sticker sheet is quite large, nearly all stickers are numbered to make them easier to identify. On a side note: I had (have) a high humidity (68%) in my LEGO room due to a plumping issue and interestingly the sticker-sheet began to roll-up considerable over time of construction...

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9396_05_InstructionsContent by 1wave, on Flickr

I will stop here for now to save the post. I will continue later in the same post! What is up

The Parts and Colors

The model's primary colors are yellow and red so this is what makes up most of the parts, there are only a few black and dark bluish grey liftarms worth to mention. Much of the space is taken up by a multitude of red and yellow panels, none of them are really new, but I think the variety is definitely one of the widest I have seen.
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9396_06_TechnicPanels by 1wave, on Flickr

The set has been packed with a number of functions that can be controlled with the driving rings near the main rotor, a lot of gears are necessary to do that and arrange them neatly on the top of the Helicopter. Notably a large bevel gear is included and will hold the tail-rotor, a new small turntable, driving rings and a driving ring extension as well.

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9396_08_TechnicGears by 1wave, on Flickr

Other interesting Technic Parts include the new 4L Axle in Tan, I will point out the locations where it will be used. We also get four of the not so new anymore triangles, but this time in Dark Bluish Grey. Let’s see if the new form-factor is required. Also there are two of the new connector piece, which Zblj calls... aehm well I do not quote him...

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9396_07_TechnicParts by 1wave, on Flickr

Finally there are a few studded parts which exclusively make up the dashboard in the cockpit:

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9396_09_StuddedParts by 1wave, on Flickr

And finally… the new rotor blades. Both main and tail-rotor blades are brand new parts. The cross-section of the blades is shaped like an aircraft wing, i.e. it can be felt that their top bulges our a bit. The main rotor blades are 31L long and about 3L wide. The rubber tips are very flexible in order not to hurt the younger sibling or [insert relative of your choice]

What’s bugs me a bit: The blades have quite a prominent “birth” mark from, what I guess, the molding process. One side has a sizable (around 3 studs diameter) single blob with an indention in the middle. The other side has three smaller blobs, some difference in the surface pattern where the big blob is on the other side. There are also some minor ones on the rubber tip. Interestingly enough the main “indents” from apparently the molding process on either the hard plastic and the rubber are not on the same side! :sceptic:

So you can’t place them getting a pristine surface. So one has to chose to live with the lesser visual impairment (let’s see how they have to be mounted)

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9396_10_Rotors by 1wave, on Flickr

Completing the parts section of the review is the obligatory picture from the instructions. Please follow the link to a readable size!

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9396_11_PartList1 by 1wave, on Flickr

The Build and Building Experience

The instructions are nice and clear. However this comes with a price and quite often only one part is added. Nearly every step contains a call-outs, sub-model assembly is limited

Book number one build starts with the bottom of the nose. It gradually adds the basics for the various functions, the nose landing gear, the main landing gear, the sliding doors, the not straight forward visible mechanics for the ramp and of course the mechanism for the rotor tilting.

As a second function the landing gear is prepared. A 15L Technic beam connects the front and the main gear. This is done with the assembly on the top left side.

Thirdly, and not obvious at the moment the movement of the ramp will be controlled with the L-beams at the bottom left hand side

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9396_12_Build01 by 1wave, on Flickr

Next up are the sliding doors. The mechanism is pretty simply but effective and keeps the doors properly aligned when closed and opened. What is a bit annoying is that they open and close pretty easily (i.e. when swooshing the final product around)

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9396_12_DoorFunction by 1wave, on Flickr

The dashboard is completely constructed of the only studded elements included in the set. The gauges are all stickers added to the 2 x 4 Tiles.

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9396_14_Build03 by 1wave, on Flickr

The cabin is finished of with the roof housing the 20T bevel gear to make the functions accessible manually. Here we also see the use of the new 4L axle. I do not see an apparent advantage of the use here. On the solid part of the axle a clutch gear is put. Also the two Mini-LAs are now in place. Despite their symmetrical placement they do not serve the same purpose. One of them moves the landing gear, the other one the ramp on the back

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9396_15_Build04 by 1wave, on Flickr

Finishing book number one is the winch that extends to the right side of the helicopter.

Book number two starts off with the first pages devoted to the, at least for me, most anticipated function, the main rotor control assembly. It's a pretty nice and packed construction, although a bit bulky. The drive of the rotor is done rather cleverly by using the turntable top to transfer the power. The axle in the middle of the turntable is also rotating, but not as a drive. Its main purpose is moving vertically and hereby setting the angle of the blades. I wonder what continuous operation of the rotor would do to the 2L Liftarm in the helicopter base that is being used to push up the axle. I guess it will have some wear sooner or later!

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9396_16_Build by 1wave, on Flickr

Next we come to the first part of the gears that are use to spread the drive for all the functions in the chassis. This small base also houses a very practical and protective function: The L-beam with the 16T Gear can rotate on the axis of the clutch gear. Why is that? This is the gear that will drive the rotor. The rotor has quite a mass and with mass comes the moment of inertia. Due to this pivot the rotor can only be rotated properly in one direction, otherwise the gear just moves up. Now if the proper rotation is suddenly stopped, e.g. due to the PF motor switching of, the gears would be blocked and make some nasty noises.
But due to the hinged gear the rotor can slowly come to a halt while the hinged gear is just moving out of the way

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9396_17_Build by 1wave, on Flickr

Next is the sub assembly that is the preparation for Power Functioning the helicopter. On this axle the reduction from the proposed PF-M is added along with a the white clutch gear and an 8T gear. The black Technic Pins serve no purpose except being there to wait for an M-motor.

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9396_18_Build by 1wave, on Flickr

Book number two finishes of with putting the main landing gears and the ramp in place and starting with the tail assembly. It is worth to mention that the four Technic Pins with Bushes are solely there as a preparation to fix the PF-Battery Box.

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9396_19_Build by 1wave, on Flickr

Book three continues and completes the tail section of the aircraft. Here the new Technic triangles are used to keep the gearing together which is used to divert the rotation to the top of the tail. A few non-functional details are added like the engines.

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9396_20_Build by 1wave, on Flickr

And finally we have the finished product:

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9396_21_Build by 1wave, on Flickr

The Stickers:

In my opinion the stickers give the model an additional touch by adding the diagonal line between the yellow front/top and the red back/bottom. This line has been solved quite well beyond the stickers by adding certain parts, e.g. the diagonal strut at the cover of the landing gears is made out of yellow and red connectors.
One thing I do not like about the stickers is the fact that all stickers on the panels are only placed half way over the panels’ birthmarks. Which in my opinion makes them prone to come off. Anybody has a long term experience here? What I mean is shown in the picture below:
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9396_22_Sticker by 1wave, on Flickr


There are a lot of them! And this is what I really enjoy with this set:

Many of them can be controlled through the 20t bevel gear above he left door and the driving ring selector above both doors:

Selector on the left:

- Retractable Landing Gear
- Rotating Main and Tail Rotor

Selector on the right:
- Foldable Ramp for Rear-Access
- Winch with a Hook

Additionally there are other functions that are all manual:
- Adjustable Main Rotor Pitch
- Opening and Closing Sliding Doors

Power Function It!
Here is where I am a bit ambivalent. LEGO makes it very easy to add Power Functions to it, very, very easy. In fact according to the instructions this is done within "seconds". But LEGO does not recommend respectively adds the PF-Directional switch. The switch would really be helpful as most PF-able functions (Ramp, Landing Gear, Winch) would require a left and right run of the motor. Well that can be achieved also by switching the battery compartment, however the switch is right at the bottom (but pointing outwards)

The main rotor can easily be rotated by the M-motor, although a bit slow. Stopping the M-motor will activate the "safety" feature mentioned above so that no gears are crunched.

PF has big big opportunities in this model, the remaining space is HUGE and will house a few motors along with IR-Receivers etc. Looking forward to a lot of tweaks!

Opinon and Rating:

4 / 5 (There is a good selection of standard Technic Parts, New parts are very specific)
4 / 5 (some nice solutions implemented to control functions and form)
5 / 5 (Lots of functions, Out of the box configuration fits very well into a playroom)
3 / 5 (due do the limits/hassle of directions change)
PF-Customization Possibilities:
5 / 5

That concludes my review of this wonderful set! I hope you enjoy reading through and browsing the pictures! Let me knwo if you do have questions on the set, I try to answer them!

Edited by freakwave, 11 July 2012 - 06:47 AM.

#2 Wiseman_2


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Posted 10 July 2012 - 10:52 PM

Excellent review, I'm really looking forward to this one. The photos were great too, made it quite clear on what to expect from this model  :thumbup:

Any chance of a video? I'd quite like to see exactly how that "safety feature" for the rotor works.

#3 timslegos


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Posted 10 July 2012 - 10:56 PM

Awesome review, very well done.

The set does look more interesting than I first thought.


#4 Blakbird


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Posted 10 July 2012 - 11:07 PM

Great review! Very detailed.

Your close-up pictures are very sharp. What kind of camera did you use?

Do you have any photos that show where the battery box goes if you add PF? I'd like to know how serious the lack of a pole reverser is.

Finally, do you have any of the older helicopters that you could put in a picture for scale? I'd like to know how big this is relative to other sets.

#5 jadedomg


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Posted 10 July 2012 - 11:24 PM

Great pictures, nice detailed shots on the new blades. Even with the birthmark they are fairly impressive and can't wait to get this set when it comes out.

#6 davidmull


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Posted 10 July 2012 - 11:31 PM

The sticker have way over the birthmark is normal in nearly every model iv put stickers on,it's not really an issue,nice review but I won't be buying it as I'm a flagship man :)

#7 freakwave


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Posted 10 July 2012 - 11:41 PM

View PostBlakbird, on 10 July 2012 - 11:07 PM, said:

Great review! Very detailed.

Your close-up pictures are very sharp. What kind of camera did you use?

Do you have any photos that show where the battery box goes if you add PF? I'd like to know how serious the lack of a pole reverser is.

Finally, do you have any of the older helicopters that you could put in a picture for scale? I'd like to know how big this is relative to other sets.

Thanks! I use a Canon G11. As I did it in my basement I have an 400W halogen-light pointed to the ceiling to get a mostly proper light scene. The camera's white balance is on "Bulb", manual focus and ISO80 and a tripod.

As a reference I have the 8844, which is only partially assembled. It's a good idea to put them next to each other!

The PF Battery box goes in from the bottom, it is held in place by the four Technic Pins with Stop Bush. The switch points downwards, so you can reach it on the belly. What I find inconvenient is if you play with it and want to lower the hook or the ramp and then back up, you need to find your way under the Heli towards the battery box. Putting the Pole Reverser on top makes life/play easier in my opinion. I will upload a picture of the installed battery tomorrow.
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9396_19_Build by 1wave, on Flickr

I will add some videos towards the end of the week, editing them is more painful...

#8 dr_spock


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Posted 11 July 2012 - 12:00 AM

Thanks for the detailed review.  After reading, I'm very tempted to get this set.

#9 Saberwing40k


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Posted 11 July 2012 - 01:11 AM

It's a great set, but does it bother anyone that the controls for the rotor and landing gear are on the same gear ring? That would mean that if you want to retract the landing gear, you would crash. :thumbdown: But other than that, it's a good set, and I will be hopefully getting one, and maybe making it fly. :tongue:
Posted ImagePosted Image
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#10 Rocketbilly


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Posted 11 July 2012 - 02:03 AM

Great review!
I'm not much of a Technic builder myself but can certainly appreciate the complexity and engineering that goes into these models and this is certianly one of the most impressive I've seen yet. The whole assembly looks incredibly complex and very fiddly but also looks fun to build and display.

I'm looking to picking up my first Technic set (well, first after coming out of my dark ages) soon...and whilst this set wont be it I can certainly see myself picking this one up if I get into the theme with a little more enthusiasm...all thanks to your very professional review.

Regarding the sticker issue: I have similar doubts about the stickers used in some of my Space Police sets (specifically sets 5983 and 5981) these sets use very similar Technic panels and the stickers also cover the "birthmark" of the piece. I find this very worrying and also slightly frustrating too.

However I am pleased to report that the stickers are still firmly attached ater two years of me having these sets displayed so with any luck yours will stay the same. Who's to say what will happen in the future, though? which is why I've taken the precaution to obtain replacement sticker sheets for my much beloved Space Police sets...just to make sure I've got backups incase anything bad happens.

Edited by Rocketbilly, 11 July 2012 - 02:08 AM.

#11 gmshades


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Posted 11 July 2012 - 05:40 AM

View PostSaberwing40k, on 11 July 2012 - 01:11 AM, said:

It's a great set, but does it bother anyone that the controls for the rotor and landing gear are on the same gear ring? That would mean that if you want to retract the landing gear, you would crash. :thumbdown: But other than that, it's a good set, and I will be hopefully getting one, and maybe making it fly. :tongue:

It seems to me that you could reverse the role of the actuators between the landing gear and ramp easily if you wanted to.

Great reveiw of the set. It's defenately on my list with 9398.

#12 Thirdwigg


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Posted 11 July 2012 - 03:16 PM

Very well done on the review.  Like you I am looking forward to the modifications others will do to this set.  I think there are plenty of good opportunities.

#13 nicoga3000


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Posted 11 July 2012 - 04:08 PM

Great review and very informative.  I'll be grabbing this one after I get my 4x4 for sure.   :thumbup:

#14 jonwil


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Posted 11 July 2012 - 04:13 PM

Great review although I will never understand why TLG makes so many helicopters (across all themes)

#15 Zblj


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Posted 11 July 2012 - 04:16 PM

Great review witch excellent crispy photos! Can you show a vid of the motorized set?

#16 freakwave


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Posted 11 July 2012 - 10:32 PM

Thanks for your positive feedback on the review! I am also happy to hear that the stickers across the birthmark are fine

I am also preparing the video some have asked for

I've got some bonus material for Blakbird!
Take a look at the difference between the manuals! :wink:

Posted Image
9396_24_Comparison by 1wave, on Flickr

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9396_23_Comparison by 1wave, on Flickr

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9396_22_Build by 1wave, on Flickr

#17 davidmull


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Posted 11 July 2012 - 11:18 PM

Don't look that big, ur comparison is a midget helicopter and it still doesn't look that big.
Is it much bigger than last years helicopter?

#18 Dunecan


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Posted 12 July 2012 - 12:00 AM

What amazing pictures! I had that little blue helicopter when I was a child. It seemed really complicated at the time, with a chain-driven retractible undercarriage and canopy that I dreaded building because it was so hard to get the connectors to line up. It looks tiny and very basic next to this years' monster. Thanks for posting these!

#19 Alasdair Ryan

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Posted 12 July 2012 - 07:29 AM

Very nice set.Thanks for the review, is was great.:sweet:

Edited by Alasdair Ryan, 12 July 2012 - 07:30 AM.

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Updated 10/03/15
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#20 Cwetqo


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Posted 12 July 2012 - 07:49 AM

This helicopter look very nice and I look forward to assmebling it.  With its large fuselage and four functions driven from one motor it reminds me of great 8480 Space shuttle. Only thing I dont like are colors. I think that blue/white combinatioj would like much better and would be also great for broadening our "rare" color technic part collection.

#21 freakwave


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Posted 12 July 2012 - 07:51 AM

View Postdavidmull, on 11 July 2012 - 11:18 PM, said:

Don't look that big, ur comparison is a midget helicopter and it still doesn't look that big.
Is it much bigger than last years helicopter?

Ooohh..., don't call my little wonder from 30 (!!!) years ago a midget :sweet: Believe me, it is no small guy!
Looking at the seats, 8844 and 9396 are the same scale. Both seats are 3L and 4L high

Compared to last years helicopter, all I can say (not having the 8068 Set) that the radius of the main rotor is:
22L for the 8068 and
35L for the 9396, going on it is
28L for the midget (8844) and finally
30L for the very first LEGO Technic Helicopter, the 852

What I find amazing is the difference in the instructions. Given the number of steps on one page and the small absolute number of only 19 steps to complete the 8844 and 144 steps for the 9396, it looks like paper was weighed in gold in those times.

View PostZblj, on 11 July 2012 - 04:16 PM, said:

Great review witch excellent crispy photos! Can you show a vid of the motorized set?
In the meantime my YT upload has finished as well, so enjoy (my very first edited video...)

[url=" ]

#22 Holodoc


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Posted 12 July 2012 - 08:26 AM

Thank you very much for the wonderful and very detailed review, Frekwave! Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image

This set has been on my buying list since the first pics were released.
I actually wanted to stop buying Technic sets, because of my disability to create something different from it, but I'm a emergency physician, so this is THE set for me to call my own. :wub_drool:

Do you have a photo without the stickers applied?

And do you see a way to add the rechargable battery box instead of the bulkier curved one whilst adding PF to the model?

Posted Image
Even more interested in LEGO bricks & parts? Read Tim Johnson's (aka Caperberry) blog: Posted Image

#23 kieran


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Posted 12 July 2012 - 12:30 PM

That RC motor really give it some stick, well done very nice video.

#24 JunkstyleGio


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Posted 12 July 2012 - 12:36 PM

Awesome reviewand video!

I'm very impressed by this model.

With a bit of luck I'm getting this set next monday/tuesday.
Can't wait to get my hands on it and start building...
"Some say he eats ABS for Breakfast. Some say he dreams in Building Instructions. All we know is, he's called JunkstyleGio...."
Check out my LDD Brickshelf or my regular Brickshelf for anything technic.

#25 Technic Gearhead

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Posted 12 July 2012 - 01:18 PM

Excellent review - thanks for posting that!  I'm really excited about this helicopter.  I love the color scheme but wish it wasn't sticker dependent with that diagonal design although it looks nice with them applied.  I love the Technic sets this size as much as the flagship sets, and probably more so this year.   :thumbup:

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