Under the hood: Pullback motors

Technic Designers Lars and Lars discuss the development of pullbacks over the years.

LEGO® Technic designers Lars Krogh and Lars Thygesen with earlier versions of the Technic pullback motor

Image 1: first, second and third generations of pullbacks
LEGO® Technic designers Lars Krogh and Lars Thygesen with earlier versions of the Technic pullback motor


Lars and Lars, why are pullback cars – in general – always so popular?

Lars K: When you play with pullback cars, how often have you thought, "I don’t need to win, I’m just going to sit here and watch the car drive on its own"? I’m betting NEVER. Once you’re at the starting line, winding up your engines, even the best friends can become serious competitors! You feel your heart racing, and you play to win. If you lose, you want to race over and over until you win. And when you’re done, you just go back to being best friends again. It’s win-win.

How did pullback motors become part of Technic?

Lars T: LEGO has used pullback motors in both DUPLO and LEGO System models over the years. In 2001, we released the LEGO Technic 5223 Wind-Up Motor. It wasn’t the same as the pullback system, but it gave us a chance to test how we could add more play value to our Technic vehicles. The gearing system was designed to fit smaller models with smaller wheels.

But then Technic branched out into the LEGO Racers theme. After the legendary Drome Racers were built with the early version of the pullback motor in 2002, it really took off over the next couple of years. The small Racers were a huge success from day one. From 2005 to 2008 the pullback motor evolved with the Power Racers. This version was powerful, you could attach it in different ways, and it was used for both racecar and motorbikes. It was still a little difficult to wind up, but the effect was great. The Racers theme was eventually discontinued. When we decided to revive the pullback cars in the 2013 assortment, we gave the system a makeover.

One of the popular LEGO® Racers Drome Racers sets, the 4586 Stunt Race Track from 2002

And what are the upgraded features of the new pullbacks?

Lars K: With the version we have today, the gearing system works with a wider range of models and wheel sizes. It’s a lot easier to wind up – it takes a lot less pressure. And if you want to use it in your own models, you can place at a horizontal, vertical, or even a 45% angle in your car, and it will have the same power. Just look at the new models this year, and you can see the possibilities.

Overall, if you’re new to Technic, I think it’s the perfect way to get started.

If you want to find more pullbacks or read more about LEGO Racers, go to http://brickset.com/sets/tag-Pullback-Motor