Closes May 31st:

Competition: make a LEGO font

1 January 2017

Ballshaft!

The new Modular, 10255 Assembly Square, is available today and a LEGO® piece that it contains has been analysed by Gary Davis (Bricks for Brains).

It's not a euphemism, an insult or a new action hero. Ballshaft is the name I'm using for a relatively new element officially known as 3.2 Shaft W/5.9 Ball and, on BrickLink, Bar1L with Towbar (Design ID 22484). The ballshaft was introduced early in 2016 in the Nexo Knights range. It was first produced in Transparent Fluorescent Reddish Orange [TLG]/Trans-Neon Orange [BL] (Element ID 6131711) in four sets, and in Transparent Bright Green (Element ID 6139234) in one set. Now the Transparent Bright Green version is available in a second set, 10255 Assembly Square.

It is also available in Dark Stone Grey [TLG]/Dark Bluish Gray [BL] (Element ID 6158469)—a much more useful colour for MOC builders like me. So I was delighted when New Elementary sent me a small batch of dark grey ballshafts to play with. With shafts inserted, the exposed balls can be used represent various things, such as elements of a hairbrush.



Currently the dark grey ballshaft appears in only two sets: Ninjago set 70596 Samurai X Cave Chaos, in which there are two; and Carl Greatrix's wonderful Ideas set 21307 Caterham Seven 620R, in which there is only one. However, grey ballshafts are beginning to appear on BrickLink in reasonable quantities now. (Where do these sellers get them from?) Again, the dark grey version also now appears in 10255 Assembly Square.

A load of balls

The 5.9mm diameter ball has been part of the LEGO System for many years, originally used as a towball on vehicles. For example, Plate, Modified 1x4 with Towball (Design ID 3184) dates back to 1970.

But thanks mainly to the launch of Mixels and the Chima Legend Beasts in 2014, a new batch of elements with the 5.9mm balls was introduced, together with associated socket elements. Importantly, unlike the sockets used for towbars, these sockets afford a tight push-fit, enabling the Mixels to be posed.

The ball end of the ballshaft offers build combinations with both the older (above left) and more recent 'Mixels' socket elements (above right).

It also fits snugly between double clips on elements such the modified 1x2 plate (Design ID 60470), although the clutch is far less secure.

The ballshaft offers similar build opportunities as the Bar 1L with Clip Mechanical Claw (Design ID 48729) but with the additional flexibility afforded by the ball joint.

Simply by clipping the bar into various elements, the ball end creates some interesting shape combinations.


Some ballshaft build ideas

Just for fun, I've had a play with a few simple build ideas using the ballshaft.

By tightly packing socket elements together, the shafts can be set to multiple directions that can, for example, allow more organic looking shrubbery.



For "Spacers", this element offers numerous new options for landing legs, gantries, weapons, etc.



The contrasting sizes of the 5.9mm ball and 10.2mm Technic ball joints commonly used in Bionicle sets (such as Design ID 32474) made me think of a Van De Graaff generator.



Or scoring markers in board games like the 1970s classic, Mastermind.



Or spokes on 'jacks'.

Conclusion

The ballshaft is a lovely addition to the ever-expanding catalogue of LEGO elements, and particularly to the existing Mixels ball joints elements. I know I've only scratched the surface of potential build ideas—but you wouldn't want me to spoil all your fun! Of course, we eagerly await its production in other colours.




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12 comments:

  1. And, as I have mentioned before, the ballshaft also appears to be extremely similar to the old Fabuland drumstick from the 1980's...

    http://www.bricklink.com/v2/catalog/catalogitem.page?id=3080#T=P&C=3

    I only have a single one left, and I have to check out if it has a standard towball as they appeared already in 1970. In that case, the only major difference seems to be the yellow color and the slightly longer length.

    /Håkan

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    1. It doesn't look round enough to work, but a proper, longer bar+ball would be very useful. This said, even just a "bar 2L" is something we're all waiting for.

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    2. Yeah, judging from pictures, it looks a bit oblong on the ball part... I guess I need to look up my old specimen and see how it works in practice...

      /Håkan

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    3. Please do! Be interested to hear.

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    4. The drumstick was way too small, alas... There's no grip at all...

      /Håkan

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    5. Thanks for checking Håkan

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    6. I found this part in a second hand bulk, and although it's slightly strange, I guess it could be used in interesting ways.

      http://www.bricklink.com/v2/catalog/catalogitem.page?P=2908&name=Technic%20Helicopter%20Rotor%20Holder&category=%5BTechnic%5D#T=P&C=9

      /Håkan

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    7. Ooh I like that! Could be very useful.

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  2. I've bought plenty of the grey ones when it came out on B&P, to me it's the most important part of 2016. I've used it in pretty much all of my recent MOCs. Wouldn't have been able to attach the feet or front legs of this one, using the axle version:
    https://flic.kr/p/QnnP8R

    A "3L" longer version of it would even be welcome. This said, I'd rather get a ball *cup* + bar (or axle), on the female side the system lacks that style of connection.

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    Replies
    1. I would also have listed 15460, a quite useful hub for small mechs, which Lego uses just as that, in new Nexo sets. And also the veeeeery old 3614 hand part, which Lego should definitely bring back in updated colors. I haven't used it yet because I don't like old grey in my MOCs.

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    2. Nice idea with the jacks btw. I've just finished a small super-deformed tank (where the gun is attached by this part!), and I needed some things to put around it.

      Also a coincidence that I have an order with 2 4L bars in DBG, those are quite expensive and I didn't have any yet

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    3. Funnily enough, 15460 is to be mentioned soon... I just bought Battle Suit Clay...

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