Review: LEGO Power Miners 8960 Thunder Driller

While this is now considered an older Power Mines set (it came out in early 2009), it is my favorite Power Miners set to date. I’ve built the 2 mechs, the 8958 Granite Grinder, and even the Claw Digger; but the Thunder Driller is my absolute favorite. It looks like something straight out of a James Cameron movie.

Note: You might be able to find this on clearance at some stores as they clear out old inventory to make room for newer LEGO stock, but this is an early 2009 set and you will most likely only find it online. Some retailers started clearing this out in mid 2010. Brickset shows it being discontinued in July of 2010.

LEGO Power Miners 8960 Thunder Driller

It comes with some cool minifig accessories, 3 minifigs, and just looks great. I really like it. The Thunder Driller itself looks pretty realistic, too. There’s barely any exposed LEGO studs on the completed model, and it exudes a sense of brute power. The forward rock boring drill turns nicely when the front wheels roll, the engine compartment cover behind it can be removed to reveal a storage space (the cover also has a nice set of lights and a lifting chain), the driver’s area behind that is covered by a hinged ladder, and has enough room to hold one Power Miner and a LEGO box of dynamite. The other Power Miner can be put in there, too; but it might be a little cramped. Not only do you get all this stuff, there’s also a walkie-talkie, orange crystal, pick axe, and Firox rock monster figure.

By the Numbers:
Set: LEGO Power Miners 8960 Thunder Driller
Year of Release: 2010
Type: Power Miners Vehicle
# of Pieces: 235
# of Minifigs and what kind: 3 Minifig, 2 Power Miners, One Rock Monster (Firox)
Stickers? Yes, 8
Price: $49.95 US MSRP – Amazon.com (US) and Amazon.co.uk (UK), Possibly at Toys R Us. (Prices may vary through third-parties based on retailer and availability)
Ages: 7-14
Time to Complete: @ 40 minutes, depending on how much time you spend on the stickers.

Full PowerMiners 8960 Gallery at flick
(Click the images on this page for larger versions at flickr)

Box Art

LEGO Power Miners 8960 Thunder Driller

LEGO Power Miners 8960 Thunder Driller

The Parts:

LEGO Power Miners 8960 Thunder Driller

Set Instructions: US.Service.LEGO.com

Assemblies

Motor/Drilling Mechanism
LEGO Power Miners 8960 Thunder Driller

Cockpit
LEGO Power Miners 8960 Thunder Driller

Minifigs
LEGO Power Miners 8960 Thunder Driller

Completed

LEGO Power Miners 8960 Thunder Driller

LEGO Power Miners 8960 Thunder Driller

Thoughts – design:
The wheels roll nicely; no snags. The gear system works everything without incident, and the 2 minifigs included in the set seem to really like being assigned to it. I can imagine seeing this hulk barreling down a bored out tunnel near the center of the Earth collecting crystals and staying out of the Crystal King’s clutches.

Thoughts – parts, stickers/decals.
The decals look excellent, and give it a rugged, used look and feel. There are more building possibilities with this set other than just the Thunder Driller. This set can be combined with the 8958 Granite Grinder to create the Aero Shredder (a pic of it is on the back of the box).

Thoughts – Minifigures
The minifigs are pretty cool even if they are the standard Power Miner minifigures. I particularly like the goggles attached to their blue helmets, and the fact that each figure has a dual expression head. Firox is also pretty cool. He’s the same as all the other rock monster figures, but he’s pretty neat nonetheless. His mouth flips open so he can engulf the included chunk of clear orange crystal.

Thoughts – swooshability, playability
This model is simple, has a lot of play value (even for the adult collector/builder/AFOL), and the builder really doesn’t have to worry about things such as it being able to be made into other vehicles.

Conclusion:
There really no cons to this set.

If somebody told me years ago that LEGO wanted to do a series of rock mining figures/sets (i.e. Rock Raiders, Power Miners), I would have laughed and dismissed it as a dull concept. This is great incarnation of that rock mining concept, and I really have to say that I think this is my favorite of all the lines out there right now. This one’s perfect.

So, in conclusion, I know that Power Miners fans of all ages will love this set. Even if you don’t care much for this series, you might actually enjoy this particular set. I honestly cannot find anything wrong with it, or anything that might need a little improvement. It reminds me of the simpler sets that occupied many an afternoon when I was a kid. This one actually brought back my sense of wonder.

Note: Cavern background in header: Wikimedia Commons


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