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8971-1: Aerial Defence Unit
Published 3 months ago
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The build is ~97-98% exact; the most notable changes are the helicopter's canopy and tail turbines (required to move around and replace 2-3 parts). All other parts had ready-made substitutes, plus I used visually similar minifig parts and decals to replace some of the missing decorations.

=MISSING PARTS=
1. https://rebrickable.com/parts/62694/windscreen-8-x-6-x-4-with-locking-dual-2-fingers/
2. https://rebrickable.com/parts/43936/animal-body-part-snake-serpent-body-basilisk/
3. https://rebrickable.com/parts/32012/technic-reel-3-x-2/
4. https://rebrickable.com/parts/3139/tyre-14-x-4-smooth-small-single/
5. https://rebrickable.com/parts/30332/propeller-3-blade-9-diameter/
6. https://www.bricklink.com/v2/catalog/catalogitem.page?P=8971stk01& (Sticker Sheet)

=MISSING MINIFIGS=
1. https://rebrickable.com/parts/85961pr0001/minifig-neckwear-armour-breastplate-with-back-stud-and-agents-logo-print/
2. https://rebrickable.com/parts/30608/minifig-hair-flat-top/
3. https://rebrickable.com/parts/3626bpr0551/minifig-head-agent-chase-dual-sided-sunglasses-headset/
4. https://rebrickable.com/parts/3626bpr0542/minifig-head-agent-swift-trace-red-lips-headset-scared-smiling-print/
5. https://rebrickable.com/parts/63208pr0489/torso-silver-front-panel-print-light-bluish-gray-left-arm-and-black-hand-metallic-silver-mech-arm/
6. https://rebrickable.com/parts/62697/minifig-helmet-with-jagged-jaw/
7. https://rebrickable.com/parts/3626bpr0603/minifig-head-magma-commander-robot-large-black-teeth-print-blocked-open-stud/

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This set no. 8971 'Aerial Defence Unit' came out in Spring/Summer 2009 as part of the "Agents 2.0" theme. LEGO slightly restyled "Agents," with new characters and even some exclusive parts presented for the second year and the third wave of models.

The 'Aerial Defence Unit,' with 730 parts and seven minifigures, was the flagship build—and the striking twin rotors helicopter is in the spotlight. I meticulously grouped all elements, so I highly encourage viewing this model in the "Editor" mode to pick apart this excellent mechanism in its full glory.

- =HELICOPTER= - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Out of dozens of outstanding LEGO helicopters created over the years, the Aerial Defence Unit truly stands out as one of the most spectacular and memorable builds, perhaps both in LEGO System and TECHNIC realms! In addition to a complex, fully-functional twin rotors mechanism, the ADU helicopter also has stunning looks. Note that it uses only standard LEGO parts, too (with just two exceptions). What a stark contrast to virtually every mid-sized or large mid-2000s LEGO helicopter! (All of them rely on custom "fuselage" or "cockpit" molds).

The Aerial Defence Unit represents a pretty rare helicopter configuration with "intermeshing rotors," also sometimes referred to as a "synchropter." Two rotors turn in opposite directions, mounted with a slight angle to each other, in a transversely symmetrical manner so that the blades intermesh without colliding.

Invented in the late 1930s by German aviation engineer Anton Flettner (1885–1961), this ingenious design still occasionally appears in modern helicopters. It's not very common, though, requiring an uber-complex transmission to sync two rotors perfectly.

Each massive triple-blade rotor is "suspended," in a way, on two Technic 4x2 angle beams, with two perpendicular gear wheels. A standard Technic "propeller shaft" (Part #61903) further connects the rotor to a central axle, one on each end. This whole assembly then comes into motion with an ingenious "thumb drive:" literally, moved back and forth with a thumb, in a "swipe" motion. A sliding 2x16 plate on top of the helicopter's tail rebounds off a simple rubber band, rotating the central axle's gear via a gear rack. Then, with two propeller shafts, it moves both rotors. Brilliant!

One drawback (or an oversight, perhaps) in the Aerial Defence Unit's design is a tail rotor. The whole point of the "intermeshing rotors" configuration eliminates the need for one; hence, it's completely redundant and doesn't "look right," from the realism perspective.

The helicopter's central bay has enough space for troops and cargo (a tiny Jetski stored in the rear, plus accessories and weapons on a tools holder in the center). Massive double doors open on each side, with additional crew seats located on the bottom hinge (a Technic 7M beam). At the central bay's front, located on each side, are two zip-lines—to land or pick up Agents from the hovering helicopter.

At the helicopter's front, a double cockpit sits two pilots. The original canopy, an 8x6x4 windscreen (Part #62694), is an exclusive mold that only ever appeared in three "Agents" sets. Unfortunately, this part is unavailable on Mecabricks.

- =SATELLITE BROADCASTER= - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Villains only got a small ground base in the 'Aerial Defense Unit,' very neat and well-crafted, with two independent "wings" on hinge bricks and a rotating gate. There's also a tiny gear mechanism, rotating the satellite dish with a 2x2 "knob." The actual dish, a 10x10 Inverted Dish (Part #50990), is an extremely rare Lego part, pretty much exclusive to "Star Wars" sets.

- =VILLAINS= - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Magma Commander, a brand-new Dr. Inferno's henchman, represents the villains. It's the most peculiar "Agents 2.0" character, a cyborg with a mechanical arm and a unique, transparent head. He also receives a new torso print. Magma Commander has the same helmet as Break Jaw from the 2008 "Agents" line-up.

The author of this incredible build was Raphael Pretesacque (see this incomplete Brickset list for more of his portfolio: https://brickset.com/sets/designer-Raphael-Pretesacque). Curiously, Pretesacque dabbled in every generation of "Agents," starting from the "Alpha Team" (2001-'05) predecessors, then both "Agents" and "Agents 2.0," and finally, the "Ultra Agents" (2014-'15). I collected some of Raphael's epic builds available on Mecabricks below.

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=LEGO.com DESCRIPTION=

Save the City with the ultimate Agents air vehicle!

Red alert for Agents Chase, Charge and Swift! Dr. Inferno's hot-headed henchman Magma Commander is unleashing his magma-drones on the City. Your Mission: to destroy his satellite broadcaster and neutralize the drones! To do it, you'll need the newest Agents aerial defense vehicle – the enormous, gadget-packed twin-propeller Agent Chopper!

□ Includes seven minifigures: Agents Chase, Charge and Swift, Magma Commander & 3 Magma Drones
□ Twin-propeller activates by pulling trigger on handle
□ Zip lines take Agents into action
□ Open the side doors to play inside Agents' command center with computers and added gadgets
□ Aerial Defense helicopter measures over 17 inches (43.2cm) long
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=SEE ALSO=

=AGENTS=
8635: Mobile Command Center (2008)
https://www.mecabricks.com/en/models/bJ2bNm3k2yB

8636: Deep Sea Quest ('08)
https://www.mecabricks.com/en/models/1w2rmNZpa8W

8632: Swamp Raid ('08)
https://www.mecabricks.com/en/models/1k2qgZY7vE0

=MORE SETS BY Raphael Pretesacque=
6243: Pirates: Brickbeard's Bounty (2009)
https://www.mecabricks.com/en/models/kOjLKdgN2x6

7905-1: City/Construction: Building Crane (2006)
https://www.mecabricks.com/en/models/79a8GqQqv8w
@Stephan3321

7903-1: City: Rescue Helicopter (2006)
https://www.mecabricks.com/en/models/1XjdPGo1j8b
@Stephan3321

7245-1: City/Police: Prisoner Transport (2005)
https://www.mecabricks.com/en/models/WPkaJB3NaxM
@rustem

7992-1: City/Harbor: Container Stacker (2007)
https://www.mecabricks.com/en/models/qxov7oP5v0D
@ryczkowski_adam

7997-1: City: Train Station (2007)
https://www.mecabricks.com/en/models/3X8jO16OaYJ
@Batka

7744-1: City: Police Headquarters (2008)
https://www.mecabricks.com/en/models/9P2kQLEdvon
@Sebsan21
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