Christmas Comes Early – Unimog Style

This latest news comes courtesy of my “enabling wife” (her words not mine). An overly-large parcel arriving in the mail, and uneasy looks from her eyes when pressed as to the contents, I guess I should have known something was up…but no, I was caught completely off-guard by this; and what a pleasant surprise it was too.

Do you have anything smaller?

This has got to be, by far, the largest Technic kit that LEGO has ever produced. I don’t pretend to possess detailed information on every single kit ever made, and I’m not normally one to go for the biggest and baddest kits either, but this one is simply massive and comes in at over 2,000 pieces!

Not only is it big, it’s also licensed by one of the world’s most respected automobile manufacturers…Mercedes Benz.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give to you…the Mercedes Benz U400 Unimog….

Devil in the details

Of course being the type of blog that this…blog…is, I couldn’t go without detailing some of the cool features that this kit promises to offer. As I type this, the massive box sits beside me, beckoning me, and luring me in. Deep within the box are the makings of some pretty cool systems just waiting to be built; things like pneumatics, raised hubs, electrics, tilting cabs, steering, cranes, winches, 4×4, and much more.

As I alluded to above, this kit comes with pneumatics. This will be the first time I’ve ever built with such systems and I cannot wait to get started. The pneumatics will power a fully articulated crane system which will sit on the rear of the vehicle, and there also seems to be an electric motor which can “charge” the pneumatics with the aid of a piston air-pump. What is missing is LEGO’s air tank system which is on my list of things to add to this vehicle as part of my grand (re)engineering plans (more on that below).

The vehicle also comes with a 4×4 system which features Mercedes Benz’ patented (I think?) ‘raised hubs’ design, referred to here as the “gear block”. This is basically a vertical gear-set which sits just inboard of each wheel and serves to greatly increase overall vehicle ground clearance while still providing drive. I’d known about this system in real life since forever (I remember looking at the real thing on the Unimogs at car shows in the past). Very neat.

A little more about the 4×4 system though: it appears that LEGO has again done what they seem to be doing a lot with their Technic kits…the drivetrain is not powered in any way shape or form by a motor or otherwise. There is, what appears to be, a fully-fledged full-time 4×4 system under there, with no less than three differentials, but not a driving motor in sight. This is definitely where I think I will come in…

There are just too many little awesome little features in this kit for me to mention here, and it’s getting harder to continue typing this with the box so close to me, so I will have to wrap this post up (pun not intended) shortly, but not before giving you a taste of what you can expect from me once I finish this vehicle in its “stock” form…

(Re)engineered madness

As awesome as this vehicle will be once built, I can see (already) that there will be heaps of room for improvement (and also to see how many additional systems and features I can cram onto this platform). I haven’t even started building this kit yet and already here’s my list of ‘to-dos’ or even, my ‘wish-list’ for this vehicle – some of the things may not be possible but that doesn’t mean I won’t try ;)

  • Add additional motor to drive…the drivetrain (believe it or not, this vehicle does not move under its own steam out-of-the-box). A fully-fledged 4×4 system is just waiting to be driven with this kit. I may also look at incorporating high/low range gearing controlled pneumatically if at all possible…
  • Customised pneumatics system (add an air tank for increased pneumatic capacity and add a manual pneumatic charging system option in addition to motorised compressor)
  • Possible remote control system utilising LEGO’s IR remote systems
  • Tilting flat bed using pneumatics
  • Steering using pneumatic assist (“power steering”)

Many of these things might have been nigh on impossible if this kit was any smaller (and who knows, may still be impossible), but the sheer size of the vehicle makes it an excellent platform to start trialling out these extra systems and it will really make it easy(ier) to let the imagination run wild and see just what can be achieved.

I guess it’s a good idea to mention that now this kit has arrived, my doomed Technic half-track project has stalled even further! Before I close, I will leave you with a pile of pics of what this kit looks like at this moment (see if you can “Where’s Wally” the little LEGO man in the pics below…just to give you a sense of the scale of this kit…).

The next few weeks are bound to be quite interesting…

Merry Christmas all! (hehe)