Review by EVA_Unit_4A
-- WARNING --
According to the manufacturer, this product is not recommended for children under the age of 7 years as it contains many small parts which a child could potentially choke on.
All around the world, earthquakes are becoming increasingly frequent, threatening the cities and towns above! A geologist, nicknamed Brains, determines that these earthquakes may not be natural occurrences, and wants to investigate further. So Brains works with a mechanical engineer, Rex, and a veteran miner, Duke, to create a team of brave & intelligent explorers to drive special tunneling and gathering machines deep into the Earth’s crust to investigate the strange rumblings. But, as they dig, the Power Miners (led by Doc) come across several types of squat rock monsters which eat exotic crystals to make them more powerful! Though not very smart, they are numerous and seem to be the cause of the earthquakes. So now, it is up to the Power Miners to learn more about the rock monsters… and find a way to stop them before it’s too late!
Brains drives Machine #2, also known as the Mine Mech- a humanoid anthropomorphic vehicle that is smaller than most of the team’s machines. It features a large titanium claw on the left arm and a diamond-tipped circular saw blade on the right arm. It is meant for close-up and more detailed work- waddling to the front of a tunnel to clear away boulders, or pick up the newly-discovered, rare power crystals. Because it is smaller, the Mine Mech can also act as a messenger when radios get cut-off in the bends & twists of a tunnel, often accompanied by the motorcycle-like Machine #1- Stone Chopper and jackhammer Machine #3- Granite Grinder. With the discovery of the rock monsters, the Mine Mech got a small boost in defense beyond its safety roll-cage: adding a convenient pickaxe, and offering a spare pack of dynamite to distract or confuse the easily-distracted and -confused creatures. But Brains would still like to capture a rock monster to study it and learn about them…
The Mine Mech (back) is a small, squat, durable-looking robot. The open cockpit is protected by a newly-introduced black roll cage with a non-functional transparent-orange strobe light on top. Though there are no instrument panels, there is a pair of levers to either side of the seat. A decal has been applied in front of the cockpit, identifying this set as Power Miner Machine #2, but a sprayed-mud effect has been added to it to make it look like it’s been down in the dirt. A pickaxe and a bundle of dynamite are attached to either side of the cockpit, and can be removed and placed in any minifig’s hand. While the shoulder joints are identical, the left arm and right arm have drastically different appearances- one spotting an orange two-clawed hand, and the other a rotating orange saw blade. The legs are identical, and are both small and spread far apart, but they are sturdy, adding two more dirtied decals across the top of the feet.
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Clearly inspired by the retired 2006-08 Exo-Force line, the Mine Mech takes great advantage of its six ball-and-socket joints- one in each shoulder, hip, and ankle. About the only thing lacking are knee, elbow, and waist joints, but this set isn’t missing them. The roll cage and claw can easily open and close, and the saw blade freely spins by turning a black gear behind the right ‘elbow’. Just… don’t expect the Mine Mech to do any hand-stands or stand on only one foot.
In a surprise twist- something that was not mentioned in any promotions or the instructions- the white stripes along the top of the feet can glow in the dark!
LEGO Set #8957 comes with the first version of the Brain minifig (back). He is dressed in blue overalls with pockets and a built-in harness, with a white long-sleeve shirt and white gloves. (His helmet is capable of accepting a fold-down visor, but this set does not come with one.) His head is double-sided, which the helmet hides- one normal face with sensor eyepiece over his glasses, and a nervous grimace on the other side.
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The common gimmick in the Power Miners line is the rock monsters. There are five smaller generic swarms-
- Firox (orange) - sneaky, devious, and fast
- Boulderax (green) - strong, slow, and dumb
- Glaciator (blue) - bossy, brutal, and greedy
- Sulfurix (yellow) - similar to Firox, but able to burn straight through rock
- Meltrox (red) – tough, angry, and aggressive
-with three larger unique ones appearing in separate sets [that have been released so far]. They all have larger bodies and arms.
LEGO Set #8957 comes with a single Boulderax (back) rock monster minifig, which is transparent-green, with gray painted spots. His arms can swivel at the shoulders, and his hands can accept any minifig accessory. His head can be hinged upwards, and one power crystal can be placed inside!
You can also watch animated videos of the Power Miners going up against the rock monsters with their vehicles!
Wow- LEGO’s third attempt at a fictitious underground/mining theme… just that now they have dedicated characters rather than generic minifigs. And a collecting gimmick in the form of multi-colored monsters. And it takes place on Earth rather than on an alien planet on the other side of a wormhole in another galaxy. I digress…
What I like about smaller LEGO sets is that you usually get more bang for your buck than the larger ones. Yeah- the larger ones may have more features and be bigger and more detailed, but often they are proportionately weakened, complex, and sometimes delicate. Smaller sets may be, well, smaller, but the few features they have often involve the entire set rather than just one little segment, and they can be more durable. Like with this one- it is small, but solid and performs well. The new roll cage part is appreciated, as was the orange light on top. (I immediately thought of the power loader from the sci-fi/horror sequel film, “Aliens”...) The arms don’t need to be elaborately poseable, just enough to get the point across. The poseability in the arms and legs, though, is welcome and doesn’t involve thin limbs that most of the smaller Exo-Force sets did. (You can tell from my tone I really miss that line…) ‘Bout the only thing I wish they could have done differently was find a way to make the tips of the claws come together- they slide to the side of each other, never meeting for a solid grip. If it had been three claws instead of two, on the other hand, it would have been too big and bulky for the rest of the set to allow for. Also, it needed some elbows because thy way the joint is set-up is awkward to pose with. And, posing legs that are spaced so far apart from each other is tricky, but it’s still cleaver how easily they made them. (I liked the mud splashed against the various decals, nice touch. I actually found out about the glowing decals after my initial writing of this review had been finished; it was very unexpected!) So far as I can tell, the Mine Mech will be the only robotic set in the 2009 beginning line, but it embodies the line’s theme as a whole enough to convince me than I need to get more of these. Highly recommended!
Special thanks to The Lego Group's public relations department for providing the Power Miners logo!
|Posted 23 September, 2009 - 02:00 by EVA_Unit_4A|