This review is for the Power Miners 8188-1 Fire Blaster that comes with 67 pieces (6 are extra). It’s nearly an impulse set, but is $4 higher than the true impulse sets such as the 8956 Stone Chopper (Brickset link) which only has 31 pieces and $2 more than the 8957 Mine Mech which has the exact same number of parts. It’s an in-house line and part of the Power Miners series, and was supposed to be released in 2010, but I purchased it on November 20th, 2009 at a Toys R Us (SKU: 673419129985) for $9.99. I’m going to complain about the price, but I do understand that the pricing may change and that right now we are at the mercy of only one retailer here in the US.
Basically, it’s a neat little buggy-style model with two minifigs, including Combustix, a lava monster minifig that has a hinged jaw and a large belly that can easily swallow the head of a human miner (check the minifig photos below) as well as a crystal or a handy stick of dynamite, or any other small accessory or piece. The buggy has a water (or liquid) reservoir along with a hose leading from the reservoir that contributes to the “Fire Blaster” theme (you didn’t think it shot out fire did you?). This represents an apparent transition from rock-oriented monsters of 2009 to lava-oriented monsters in 2010, and the next release should be the 8189 Magma Mech, which maybe currently available at some Toys R Us stores, depending on your location. See this EuroBricks thread for more discussion on the 2010 Power Miners as well as Brickset’s listing for the 2010 Power Miners.
By the Numbers:
Set: Power Miners 8188-1 Fire Blaster
Year of Release: 2010 (Technically 2009)
Type: Vehicle in the Power Miners series
# of Pieces: 67
# of Extra pieces: 6
# of Minifigs and what kind: 2 – a human miner, and
Stickers? Yes, 4. Not really necessary
Price: $9.99 at Official LEGO Shop, also at Amazon.com (price may vary)
Time to Complete: Less than half an hour. An experienced builder with everything laid out could probably do it in 15 minutes from opening the box.
Remember: click on the photos for larger images at flickr (Full Power Miners 8188 gallery at flickr)
Some photos of the sub-assemblies and assembly:
Thoughts – Pricing, Design, and Build:
I would feel a lot better if it was $2 cheaper. Keep in mind the price may go down though – right now we only have pre-orders from Amazon and Toys R Us pricing. I thought the design was clever for the most part given the low number of parts and still fitting in well with the Power Miners motif, at least for the 2010 changes. The only two things I really didn’t like involved the cage that protects the driver as well as the flick fire dynamite bundle. The dynamite bundle/missile has a tendency to flip over and snag the wheels. I thought the cage and driver’s compartment should have been more in keeping with the designs of the 8707 Boulder Blaster, 8957 Mine Mech (which is cheaper than the 8188), the 8958 Granite Grinder which is the same price but has 20+ more parts. The hinged access is clever, but it’s just kind of an odd design. You can easily change/mod it on your own with probably less than half a dozen parts you have laying around.
Thoughts – Parts and/or stickers:
If you are going to use this for MOCs, hold off on the stickers. They go on pieces that you would be able to use elsewhere, and because of how specific they can be, they could severely limit the use of those pieces, especially the water level stickers that go on the “water tank”. As far as MOCs, this has a lot of potential, especially if you like the green bricks and the Power Miners line, but I wouldn’t buy this outright as a set for generic future MOC models at the current price. If you are planning on expanding into the Lava-oriented Power Miners either through the sets or MOCS, it’s probably worth it depending on your budget.
Thoughts – Minifigs:
The minifigs are great if you like the Power Miners monster series. The human miner in his heat-resistant suit could be very useful elsewhere, given the helmet and visor. Given the parts count and the price, it would have been nice to have had another minifig, but the cost of Combustix is probably a lot higher than human minifigs, so it’s understandable.
Thoughts – Swoosh factor, playbility and integration with other sets:
It integrates extremely well with the other Power Miners sets, even the rock-based versus lava-based sets, and well it’s a buggy and it’s hard to say much else beyond that.
I think it’s really only for the die-hard Power Miners fans. If you aren’t a big fan, I can’t really recommend it. My biggest problem with it is that the 8958 Granite Grinder has 20+ more parts at the same price. If you are not familiar with the 8958, check the Brickset comments and images. IF the price comes down more to the level of the 8957 Mine Mech which has the same number of pieces and which you can pick up at Amazon for $7.99, then I would say get it. Otherwise save your money for the 8189 Magma Mech which has nearly three times as many pieces and which Amazon.com is showing a $19.99 price or pick up the 8956 Stone Chopper or the 8957 or pick up both, which gives you the option of combining them into the Cave Cutter.