History of Cranes

Sometimes we get so busy looking ahead and trying new things that we forget to appreciate all the fantastic models that paved the way to where we are now. Milan takes us on a trip down memory lane in this three part series.

Milan, is there a red thread in the development of Technic models over the years?

The one thing all recent models share compared to the first LEGO Technic models is the solid building and play experience. In the early years, models consisted of a combination of Technic elements, like gear wheels, beams, etc., and system bricks. Authenticity was already a success criteria then. Models were iconic and you could always tell that this was a helicopter, or a crane, or a truck, but they would easily break apart when you played with them. I remember, because I used to do that when I was a boy.

The quality of the functions was also dependent on the element assortment at any given time. The first completely studless models were introduced in 2000, with the Technic Star Wars Battle, Destroyer and Pit Droids. The three-dimensional locking system used in those, and future Technic models, makes our designs more stable.

That said, I think we can still be very proud of all the models and their functionalities, and keep striving for the level of authenticity that has been behind every detail from day one. Every model was someone’s favorite toy at one point, and that’s something worth remembering.

Let’s start with a look at some of the milestones in cranes.

The 70s


855 – Mobile Crane
Year: 1978 (re-released in 1979, product number 955).
Claim to fame: This was the first crane built with Technic elements, combined with system bricks. This is when we knew we were on to something big with Technic. This model became so popular, it was re-released in 1979.
Functions: This was way before Power Functions, of course, so the rotating superstructure and extendable boom are operated manually.


The 80’s:

Model: 8854 - Power Crane
Year: 1989
Claim to fame: Believe it or not, this was the only Technic crane we released in the 80’s!
Functions: Manual steering, pneumatic raising, outriggers, and a lowering and extending hook. The B-model was a dump truck.


The 90’s:

Model: 8460 - Pneumatic Crane Truck
Year: 1995
Claim to fame: The first pneumatic crane truck we produced became so popular, we re-released it not just one, but two more times in 2002 and 2003. The only things we changed on the re-released sets were a few elements that weren’t available when we launched the original model.
Functions: Extendible boom, hand-operated gears, turning crane table, pneumatic raising and lowering of crane arm, front and rear steering.


The 00’s

In addition to the Pneumatic Crane Truck that was re-released in 2002 and 2003, the 00’s were a productive crane decade. But if we have to pick a favorite, it has to be this one:
Model: 8421 - Mobile Crane
Year: 2005
Claim to fame: Awesomely huge crane! In 2005, this was the biggest crane we had built so far. We’ve found

Functions: Motorized telescopic boom that extends to twice its original length, real pneumatic cylinders to raise and lower the boom, six-wheel steering, four retractable outriggers, and a Power Functions motor.

Best of the 10’s

Announcing a Best of the 10’s may be a little premature, since we’re technically just barely halfway through this decade, but how awesome was the Mobile Crane MK II? We can always come back and revisit this category in 2020!
Model: 42009 - Mobile Crane MK II
Year: 2013
Functions: 8-wheel steering, rotating superstructure, Power Functions motor to extend the outriggers, lower the feet and extend or raise the crane arm, hook with working winch, detailed V8 motor with moving pistons.


Next time we will take a look at Technic helicopters and planes. Until then, visit our friends at TechnicBricks.com, BrickLink.com and Technicopedia.com for more fun fan stuff about Technic, or visit the Message Boards and tell us about your favorite cranes!