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1998 - Competition


1998 was a transitional year for Technic.  With 21 sets, it set a new record for the greatest number of sets in any year.  However, these sets were less focused.  In addition to the traditionally delineated 3 Tech Play sets and 3 Tech Build sets, another 15 sets were part of whole new series which attempted to expand Technic into new markets.  While the desire to expand beyond teenage males and traditional vehicles was understandable, the expansion and corresponding lack of focus became an increasing problem in subsequent years as Technic gradually lost its way until a business crisis forced a new strategy.

The first and most prominent new category of models was called Competition.  Unlike traditional Technic, these models were not based on any real life equipment but instead focused on competitive play.  Most sets came with two models which could be pitted against each other in mock battles, and typically also included Technic figures.  5 competition sets were released this year.

An additional 9 sets were part of a new Micro category.  These are tiny models (<50 parts) with little to no functionality aimed at younger builders.  While they are certainly simpler to build, they also lack any of the functional intricacy which appeals to most Technic builders.

Not represented on this site are two more evolutions of the Technic theme started this year worth mention.  Cybermaster was a short lived programmable system using Technic parts.  Likewise, Mindstorms began this year as a full-fledged programmable robotics system.

The Competition line made heavy use of the new colors purple and turquoise .  Two of the Tech Build models were primarily blue, a previously rare color, and all 3 used turquoise seats.  All 3 Tech Build models also used the new deep dish silver years which were never used in another model again.

The last way in which this year was transitional was in the further evolution from studded to studless building.  Many new studless parts were introduced which moved the building system further in that direction.


2544 Motorcycle

2854 Bungee Chopper
3054 Motorcycle

8202 Bungee Chopper

8203 Rover Discovery

8204 Sky Flyer 1

8208 Custom Cruiser
8209 Future F1

8213 Spy Runner

8217 The Wasp

8218 Trike Tourer

8219 Racer

8226 Mud Masher

8233/8239 Cyber Slam Spider

8245 Robots Revenge

8248 Forklift

8257 Cyber Strikers

8266/3038 Spyder Slayer

8417 Mag Wheel Master

8428/8432 Concept Car

8462 Tow Truck



Ribbed Hose
Building on the idea on using flexible pneumatic tubing as a decorative element, flexible ribbed hose was introduced.  It serves the same purpose but is more prominent with a larger diameter.  In early sets, the hose had to be cut to length by the builder.

Beams and Liftarms
The studless system was expanded significantly.  A 6L and 7L thin beam were added to compliment the existing 5L.  The 6L remains the only even length studless part.  There was also a 3x3 L shaped corner liftarm.

A strangle thick liftarm with a joggle was released.  It was used in two sets this year and then never seen again.

  • A 2L brick was introduced with an axle hole instead of a pin hole which allowed axles to be structurally locked.
  • Since the angle connectors had been introduced a year earlier, the toothed bushing and toggle joint were no longer needed and were therefore replaced with smooth versions this year.
  • Finally a "knob wheel" was introduced (shown in yellow).  This serves the function of a 4 tooth gear but has the advantage of being usable as both a spur gear and a bevel gear.  Additionally, it is very easy to engage and disengage which is useful in mechanisms which need to decouple.  It pays for this increased versatility with decreased efficiency and extra friction.
Competition and Suspension
The Competition Cannon is a spring loaded canister with a rubber tipped projectile.  I can only imagine the arguments between the part developers and the lawyers as they tried to develop a firing weapon that was not too dangerous.  They made it quite difficult to disassemble so that children (like me) who wanted to take it apart and put in a stronger spring would be thwarted.

A new type of suspension part was introduced which included a steerable control arm and a support bracket.  With only two parts, this was quite easy to assemble for younger builders.  The flat tab on the top of the gray part slides into a slot on the black part, then locks in place once rotated.  Although very simple, these parts were used on some very large models including this year's flagship.

Wheels and Tires
A new type of very unusual futuristic wheels and tires were introduced this year and then never used again.  All of the Tech Build models this year used them.  The wheels have 3 spokes and are painted a metallic silver.  The tires are NOT pneumatic.  They are very low profile solid rubber strips which are quite difficult to assemble and take apart.  It is presumably this last fact that lead to their short tenure in the Technic line.  The advantage of the solid rubber is that these tires can support very heavy loads without deforming and therefore have low rolling resistance.



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