1996 - The Fiber Optic System
Coastal Cop Buggy
|| 8408 Desert
Pneumatic Log Loader
Optic Multi Set
The fiber optic element was truly innovative, but sadly only appeared in 1996 in two sets and never again in Technic (and only in 2 other types of sets). This electric element is powered by a 9V wire and has 8 holes into which clear fiber optic cables fit. The far end of each cable fits in a pin hole. Each hole of the electric element has a red light (LED?) which illuminates only when the central axle is in a certain position, and only one at a time. To get the lights to move, the central axle must be turned by and external crank or motor, and then the fiber optic cables visibly light in sequence.
While the 8880 had a unique transmission shifting lever, a more standardized solution was needed for other models. These gates (shown in gray) could be used in pairs along with the changeover catch above driving rings to allow shifting in an H-pattern. However, this system was somewhat limited to be used with only 4 gears. Besides the H-pattern on top, the gates also feature a transverse axle hole to support the catch. These parts were relatively rare and are no longer used.
Transmission Changeover Catch
The changeover catch (shown in red) was designed to be used with the transmission gates and driving ring to shift gears in a transmission. Unlike the gate, it remains in use to this day, sometimes for purposes other than shifting a transmission. The axle hole in top and on the side can be useful, and the tiny hole in the tip will fit a flex cable.
1x2 Technic Bricks with 2 Holes
Like the 1x1 Technic brick introduced last year, the 1x2 with 2 holes is fundamentally different than the others because the holes are centered under the studs. This part was critical for the spacing of the gears in 8480.
As Technic moved away from studded bricks and towards full thickness and half thickness liftarms, a pin which bridged the two was needed. The 3/4 pin is one stud long on one side but only half a stud long on the other and does not have friction. This part came only in dark gray until the next millennium.
6x4 Bent Liftarm
While a few half thickness studless liftarms had been introduced in previous years, this was the first full thickness liftarm. With 6 studs in one direction and 4 studs in the other, you might expect that this angled liftarm would be some obvious angle like 45 degrees or 30 degrees, but it is actually 53.13 degrees. Why? Because both ends need to fit on a standard grid of studs. With this angle, the axle hole at the end lines up perfectly with a square grid, but the other holes in between do not. This angle would be used for most bend liftarms in the future. The particular part was critical to the payload bay doors on 8480.