Track hunting

New chunky Lego tracks

After my post the other day about that nifty Lego excavator, I've been hunting for more of those chunky new tread links, as well as the smaller old-style ones that you can drive with normal Technic gears. I posted part of this in a comment on the excavator post, but I've spent enough time messing around with this now that I reckoned it deserved its own post.

If you want lots of just one kind of Lego piece, the place to go is online Lego marketplace BrickLink. I got no results when I searched BrickLink for "technic link tread new", but when I searched for the new treads' part number, 57518, I got tons of hits.

The low price for the new chunky tread pieces on Bricklink is down around 15 US cents plus delivery, which is much cheaper than you'll get them for in any set. You can get the special wheels to drive the tracks very cheaply, too.

The best-value whole set for people who're hunting the new tread links is clearly set 7645, the "MT-61 Crystal Reaper" from the "Mars Mission" line. It's got a list price of $US50, but gives you seventy of the new Link Treads (in black instead of the Technic grey), and six large drive wheels, which can only otherwise be found in the monstrous 8275 Bulldozer (which is $US150, but has motors and 84 grey tread links).

The 8294 Excavator lists for ten US dollars more than the Crystal Reaper, but gives you only sixty tread links and four small drive wheels.

Seventy new tread links on BrickLink will only cost you ten or eleven dollars plus delivery, though. The small drive wheels come in at about 22 cents each, so you can pretty much get enough links and wheels to design an entire FedEx sorting facility for the price of the 8275 Bulldozer. The large drive wheels are rather more expensive.

The Crystal Reaper does have some other Technic pieces, though. Pins, gears, liftarms and even old-style studded beams, plus oddities like the three-axle bush. It's got a lot of space-y pieces as well, but it's surprisingly close to being a Mislabeled Technic Parts Pack. If you can get it for 20% off or something, and don't need nothing but tracks, do not hesitate.

Next, I started hunting through sets and BrickLink for the smaller old-style Technic Link Treads. Lego used to sell parts packs that contained nothing but these links, but the last of those came out in 1999, and is no longer available.

(And then there was the Chain Link Pack, which was even more awesome.)

Anyway, here are the small-tread options in the current set lineup.

The 7664 TIE Crawler lists for $US50 and has 164 links; that's 30.5 cents per link.

The giant 10144 Sandcrawler has 273 links, but costs $US140. That's 51 cents per link, but you of course get a ton of other parts too.

The 7787 Bat-Tank has 158 links - wrapped around it, so it looks like a Mark I Tank - but it's $US50, so you'll pay slightly more per link than you would for the identically-priced TIE Crawler. The Bat-Tank's other parts are a bit more Technic-y, though, and you do get a minifig Batman!

If you can find an 8288 Crawler Crane (it's a 2006 product), you'll get a lousy 86 old-type links for $US50, but the rest of its parts are almost all Technic. They include two Boat Weights, for people who want to add weight to part of a model but don't want - or are forbidden by the rules of the Lego Sumo competition - to just build a bunch of coins into it or something. You also get three of the uncommon flexible double axle joiner, one of the giant gear-toothed turntables like the one in the middle of the 8294 Excavator, and two kinds of string with "end studs". So this set is definitely worth looking for.

And then there's the 7626 Indiana Jones Jungle Cutter, which only costs $US40 but has a not-too-bad 86 tread links in it, plus a decent complement of other Technic pieces, well-armed minifigs, and little animals. A good one to snap up if it's on special.

BrickLink is still the easy value winner, though. As I write this, new and used old-type link treads are on BrickLink for around nine cents each, often from sellers with hundreds or thousands of them on sale. This seller in particular has several thousand, for 8.88 cents each, plus what ought to be pretty cheap shipping.

Oh, and if you want the standard 40-tooth big gears to drive your tracks, they start from less than fifty cents. (BrickLink's default "Best Price" search order seems to sort by colour, then by price; change it to "Lowest Price" to see the genuinely cheapest items first. Weirdly, the URL of the page only sometimes changes when you do a Lowest Price search; it didn't in this case, so all I can link to is the Best Price version, which starts with a bunch of gears in the probably-not-quite-what-you-want "Bionicle Red".)

So there you go. You'll be building your Crawler Transporter, six-metre crane or JCB JS220 in no time!

5 Responses to “Track hunting”

  1. Daniel Rutter Says:

    Lego actually do have a "Pick A Brick" section on their shopping site, which lets you buy bags of just one kind of brick. The lineup is relatively small, though, and doesn't currently include track pieces.

    There's also the Lego Factory, which lets you use software to design a model and then have the parts sent to you. I don't know whether track parts are available there, but I'm pretty sure the price-per-piece of your "model" that's just a pile of ten thousand track pieces wouldn't be very exciting.

  2. phisrow Says:

    Since lego bricks are manufactured on a high volume injection molding process, and most parts would be difficult or impossible to duplicate in the right material with the right quality by any of the trendy new "rapid fab" methods, Lego obviously can't offer individual purpose of just any part from their catalog.
    I wonder how large an order would have to be to motivate them to fab a specific part specially, and how much one would pay for that(or if they wouldn't do it at all, in an attempt to drive sales of the other parts in kits that contain a particular scarce and desireable piece)?

    If a group of lego enthusiasts, or one fanatic, wanted 10,000 of a part, would they run it? 100,000?

  3. rndmnmbr Says:

    I'm still waiting for the company that'll just let me have a one-gallon scoop of random Technic parts from a mixed-Technic-part bin. Seriously, let me have a gallon-sized scoop for $50 USD, and I'll blow every cent I can lay my grubby paws on in your store.

  4. Itsacon Says:

    Just one question: How do you explain these expenses to your SO? I'm still having a hard time doing that...

    Hey honey, I just spend another 100 bucks on "kids' toys"!

  5. ChrisGoodall Says:

    I bought one yesterday. I was putting it together last night (after putting both kids to bed) when my wife came home. I told her that Dan said I had to buy it. Apparently, that was enough.

    Also, it's even better that I was expecting.

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