New answers tagged technic
Coming to this late, as I am in the same kind of boat. Options might be different in 2014 due to newer options for models. I'm trying to find a nice few sets that can cover me for building almost anything else. Using rebrickable, adding models to a set and then looking at other Technic models (both official and MOC) will give you an idea of what sort of ...
If you don't need the arm to be extendable then you might get some ideas from the various Technic sets that feature cranes or claws, like the 8868, 8479, 8436, 8110 or 9397. These offer multiple alternatives, as in pneumatical or purely gear-driven solutions, can be scaled up with appropriate supports and mounted on your own arm designs.
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