A history of Technic panels, part 2

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View image at flickr

Part one of this article, published a couple of weeks ago, covered the 'wing' shaped panels that were first introduced in 1999 and which heralded a step-change in Technic model design.

I'll now take a look at the curved and flat panels that, perhaps surprisingly, first made an appearance in Bionicle battle vehicles.


62531 11x3 Curved Panel (2008-)

This panel debuted in the Bionicle Battle Vehicles released in 2008 which were among the largest Bionicle sets to be produced. 8943 Axalara T9 uses a dozen of them to good effect, as cowling around the engine.

Whether they were initially designed for Bionicle or Technic I do not know, but they became widespread in Technic sets the year after, along with the new 3rd-generation of wing panels, which would have been designed at the same time because they have the same profile curve so can be connected to the ends of this one to create an elongated wing shape.

Despite the introduction of a very similar part in 2013 (see below) it remains in use today and has been produced in 11 colours. Lime green and dark green are the rarest, the latter appearing only in 8941 Rockoh T3 in 2008.

View image at flickr


64782 11x5 Flat Panel (2009-)

I would go so far as to say that this panel was a game-changer in that, finally, Technic sets could have the gaps in their bodywork filled in completely, should the designer desire.

An early example of what was possible with them can be seen in 8063 Tractor with Trailer. Before these panels were introduced, the trailer would have to have been a skeletal frame that would not have looked anywhere near as effective.

They've been produced in 12 colours and have appeared in 65 sets. Dark blue is the rarest, found only in the limited edition 41999 4x4 Crawler Exclusive Edition . Occasionally they find their way into System sets, such as 10227 B-Wing Starfighter.

View image at flickr


11954 11x3 Curved Panel, version 2 (2013-)

This part is so similar to the one above that it's surprising that it was produced at all. It first appeared in 42009 Mobile Crane MK II in 2013, and is used at the bottom of the boom. Presumably the earlier version did not provide enough holes and fixing points so this more versatile one was created. Both parts continue to exist side-by-side, with the earlier one used when aesthetics are important, on car bodywork, for example.

It's been produced in 9 colours and has appeared in 23 sets. Yellow ones have not been seen since their first use in 42009 Mobile Crane MK II.

View image at flickr


15458 11x3 Flat Panel (2014-)

This panel appeared 5 years after the larger 5x11 flat panel and it's currently the smallest one. It was first used in 42025 Cargo Plane, for the ailerons.

It's been produced in 10 colours and appeared in 38 sets.

View image at flickr


18945 11x5 Flat Panel, Tapered (2015-)

Another model of an aircraft was probably the catalyst for the introduction of this panel in 2015, when it appeared in 42040 Fire Plane, where it's used in the main and tail wings.

It hasn't been used extensively, though: it's only been produced in five colours and used in 11 sets.

View image at flickr


24119 7x3 Curved Panel (2016-)

The newest panel, a shorter version of the first curved one, was produced for 42056 Porsche 911 GT3 RS. It's been made in 8 colours and appears in 15 sets. This year it was produced in white for the first time, for another 911: 42096 Porsche 911 RSR.

View image at flickr


There is now a versatile palette of panels that enable set designers to fully clad their models and produce realistic looking reproductions of real-life vehicles.

Whether that's a good thing or not depends on your point of view. If you prefer the open, skeletal look, which arguably reached its peak in 1994 with 8880 Super Car, then you're not likely to be a fan, but personally I much prefer the aesthetic of today's models.

What panels will we see in the future? No idea, but I'd like a smaller flat panel, perhaps 7x5 or 7x3. What about you?

25 comments on this article

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By in United Kingdom,

Why are these articles so interesting?? I can imagine an 'outsider' being utterly baffled, but I can't get enough of it!

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By in United Kingdom,

Yet another parts article that I think "I never seen that part before" only to realise I've actually got some in sets I haven't built yet. In this case it's the tapered panel and I actually have 3 of the 11 sets it's in! I really need to make more time to build stuff

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By in United States,

I just can’t get enough of these histories! I was expecting to not be interested but I’m utterly captivated! Great job and thank you for a fantastic article.

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By in United Kingdom,

Thanks to Huw for generating a new weird obsession for me to have through these articles...

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By in United States,

I've never even seen some of these before.
Keep up the good work, Huw!

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By in United States,

I’m surprised that Technic survived with only wing plates before 2008.

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By in United Kingdom,

Do a history of Clikets parts Huw.
Come on. You know you want to!

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By in Australia,

Nice one Huw. As others have said, this series of parts history articles are strangely addictive and utterly fascinating.

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By in United States,

This is great! I have never been a big technic person but these articles are super interesting and what I look forward to the most on Brickset now!

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By in United States,

Hey, Huw, remember we need an article on organization next!!

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By in Germany,

As so many, I'm greatly enjoying these articles. However, not collecting Technic at all, this is the first where I have not a single of these parts

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By in United Kingdom,

Other than the first panel shown, which I had from the aforementioned Rockoh, all of these are completely new to me... genuinely had no idea these parts existed! Agree completely with others, these parts history articles are fascinating ^^

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By in United Kingdom,

Very interesting articles, how about one on wheels/tyres (probably run to a couple of parts long as there's plenty of variations).

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By in Canada,

If you continue like this (btw please do, these articles are great!) you might have enough material for a book (might have to do a bit of editing but nothing huge). You did, technic pins and panels (seems like I'm forgetting one - edit: axles). You now have to tackle connectors, bricks and plates(old style), beams and half beams(new style), levers, gears, speciality parts, electicals-and-motors and Mindstorms/Dacta and you'll have a really nice Lego Technic compendium. You do one or two per month as a hobby and when finished you have your book! Keep them coming, loving them thoroughly!

P.S. There is a Star Wars visual dictionary, why not a Lego Expert Builder/Technic visual dictionary, with all sets and B-models pictured(functions off and functions on) with a history of all the parts type (years of introduction of each part, colours available, years available, etc)? I would buy that - and I'm sure I'm not alone. (Blackbird might be interested in such a project!?)

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By in Puerto Rico,

Thanks gor these man.

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By in United States,

8943 Axalara T9 has been on my wishlist for a long time... but it's usually so expensive secondhand. Didn't realize the panels originated with it, I could've sworn I'd seen them before!

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By in United Kingdom,

Haven't some panels been missed, or will there be a part 3 ?
28923 panel curved 3x13x2 or 18944 panel curved 3x13x2

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By in United Kingdom,

I consider them to be 'mudguards', a different family of parts, which are out of scope.

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By in United States,

Where does the lime 11x3 curved panel type 2 come from? It's not listed among the nine colors on Bricklink, but there are certainly some for sale.

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By in United States,

42040 was my first Technic set... It's great!

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By in United States,

So, the same for 24116, 24118, 35396, 42531, 61070, and 61071?

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By in United Kingdom,

@14sswain, I think I got mine in a play brick box purchased at a fan event.

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By in United States,

I have 2 red curved panels (#11954) in red, because I have the First Responder set. Embarrassed to say I don't think I have any other panel pieces since I only have a few smaller Technic sets. But I think it's time for me to change that!
#technic

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By in United States,

@Huw, great informative article as always!

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By in United Kingdom,

Thanks Huw - love these articles! This was fascinating.

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