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Review: #8960 Thunder Driller

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8 posts in this topic


This is my fourth review that was certified by the academy. This time I will review the amazing Thunder Driller from the Power Miners line. :classic:

The backbone of any Power Miner's operation, the Thunder Driller is usually used to drill new tunnels before any other Power Miners mining machine arrives. Its diamond coated titanium cast counter-rotating drill can drill through any rock it encounters. The loud noise produced when the drill is in operation is often said to be as loud as thunder, hence its name.

Set Name: Thunder Driller

Set Number: 8960

Year Released: 2009

Number of parts: 235

Theme: Power Miners

Price: Ringgit Malaysia (RM) 180.00 = USD 53.40 in Malaysia, Usual price in the United States is USD 30.




My photobucket


The front of the box shows the Thunder Driller in action. A Power Miners appears to be running away after taking the crystal from a rock monster.


The back of the box shows the key feature of the drill as well as an alternate build. From the back of the box the drill will spin 2 ways when the Thunder Driller is pushed forward. The alternate build shows that I need 8958 Granite Grinder to build the alternate model.


The top of the box showing the minifigures included in this set. In this set we get the sneaky and curious Firox rock monster! As proof that Lego shows its products larger than it is, the rock monster is smaller than what is illustrated on the left.



The front of the manual is the same as the box.


A random instruction page showing the connection of technic rod to the drill piece. Finger to hold the drill piece not included in this set.


Parts list at the back of the manual



The minifigures have printed torsos both front and rear, printed legs and helmets with aviator goggles. The Power Miners Doc is on left with the star on his torso while Duke is the one with the Power Miners icon. Both minifigures have another printed face at the rear. Lastly, the rock monster with its transparent orange body and printed sinister angry eyes.




Power Miners introduced some new parts such as the large 8x8 wheels and 8x8 cones with spurs, the drill bit and many other lime green parts. There are no printed pieces as most use stickers. The lime green panel fairing, wedge, slope brick 8x8 and the black 2x2 plate are covered by stickers, which is a shame really since this set could be the best selling Power Miners set produced by Lego. Note the new red hot dynamite piece! ;)



Below are the leftover parts left. Lots of 1x1 plates and technic pins.



The key feature of this set is the Thunder Driller which consists of a planetary gear system. A planetary gear consists of a sun gear at the center, planet gear in the middle and a ring gear on the outside. The arrangement is that when the sun gear spins, it will turn the planet gears. There are 2 planet gears on the planet carrier (the grey 5 hole technic beam). The planet carrier remains still and hence the gears will turn the ring gear (the large 8x8 technic wheel with internal gears).



The finish set with all the minifigures. The Thunder Driller is large and imposing with its large drill.


If you are a rock monster, the sight of a large monster with a HUGE rotating nose will make you run! Imagine the large headlights shining/looking at you! Between the 2 front wheels you can see the gearing to transfer the wheel movement into the engine compartment.


Looking front the side, there are 2 exhaust pipes coming out from the engine compartment as well as the panels to protect the front wheels. The vehicle seem to have the "torpedo" look on it.


The cockpit for the Thunder Driller have a 2x2 monitor, 2 control sticks and a flame coming out like a furnace on a steam locomotive. The cockpit is quite open with only a ladder-like cover above their heads; not exactly the kind of protection you expect in case of a cave-in. But such as design allows for easy access to the minifigures and the Power Miners to look out for pesky rock monsters.


A side cut-out view of the cockpit when Doc and Duke is at the controls. If you noticed the flame coming out from the engine, the position of the flame is aiming right at the sensitive area of our Power Miners! Careful not to go to close or you might get cooked!


On top of the engine compartment are 2 large headlights and engine details. The long 6x1 dark grey detail between the head lights is a sticker. A chain is provided to lift the engine cover I think. To me there is sufficient details on the engine cover, although I feel that everything should be printed instead of using stickers.


A top down view of the Thunder Driller. When we remove the engine cover....


... we can see the inside of the Thunder Driller's engine compartment where another set of gears is used to transfer the motion from the wheels to the drill. The interior is surprisingly empty with no engine or machine or any sort. TLG could have added some details like an engine block such as the one found in the Claw Digger. With such a large empty space, one could use it to store crystals or make it into a crew compartment. When the driller is not in play, all the accessories and the rock monster can be placed inside the engine compartment.



The Power Miners got off to an amazing start with some of the best vehicles ever designed by Lego. Among them is the Thunder Driller with its signature counter rotating drill which made it one of the best introductory sets to the Power Miners theme. A must have for anyone wanting to start collecting Power Miners!

Design: 10/10 Very rarely a toy mimics its real life counterparts and look so good

Playability: 9/10 No matter where it goes, this set will drill. The engine compartment can have some parts though

Minifigures: 9/10 Two miners to drive and guide the machine plus a rock monster to cause trouble

Parts: 9/10 The new drill piece, large wheels, the lime green parts and the new red hot dynamite piece allows for lots of mining MOCs.

Price: 8/10 The price to parts ratio is a bit higher than a normal City or Creator set, but not excessive.

Overall: 9/10 Another gem from Lego. Just getting it for the planetary drill is worth it! This machine may not be the most offensive of all the Power Miners vehicle, lacking any claws, net launchers or dynamite launchers, but works wonderfully as a proper mining vehicle. This set loses some points due to the need for stickers where it could have been printed instead.


Doc: Duke, I thought you said it ran out of fuel! how come it is still running?

Duke: Oh, I had a little deal with the rock monster of ours.

Doc: : :oh3: ..... What kind of deal? I don't suppose he brought us some oil?


Duke: Nah, have a look into the engine compartment. ;)

Doc: :wacko::oh:

Duke: He is willing to "power" our machine provided he gets to keep some of the crystal we find. :laugh: Now I know why we have this huge hollow engine compartment!


Thank you for reading! ;D

Edited by WhiteFang

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Great review, although I'm not really a power miners fan, this set is pretty cool. That drill mechanism is pretty innovative and the two fig's look like winners.

You make it look fun with your bonus pics, great job!

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Nice rewiev with amazing clear pictures! I don't know why I didn't bought this set yet... many cool pieces, and I need Firox to have all Rock Monsters...

Oh and one thing:

Driller is called Duke and Minifig with star (Propably he is commander) is called Doc.

Yes There is mistake on Lego site... There is even a topic about this:

Edited by Lordofdragonss

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Power Miners is my favourite current line, and this is easily one of the best sets of the lot. There's a huge lot going on, it's a lovely, chunky, swooshable (in subterranean tunnel terms) build, and the price point is great for the contents.

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Thanks for a great review 'paanjang16'.

I love this machine and I feel that it's the best out of the entire theme.

It so reminds me of the big bore drill from The Thunderbirds !

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Nice review with some really vivid pictures. How I would have loved this set when I was a kid. Now, I really like the operation of the moving drill as you roll it along.

Thanks for sharing.

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I...LOVE this machine. I was slightly bothered that the end wasnt pointy...but a small nosecone and harpoon fixed that easily. still miss the old style drill though.

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Excellent Review

I bought this set way back in January (Its feels like last year, though :wacko: ) It is an awesome set. I got it, as it being my first PM set, I wanted more! I accidentally discovered that I'm getting another PM set for Christmas, the Claw Grabber! :cry_happy:

Whats not to love about this set, a giant drill, two awesome miners, a cute-but-deadly-monster, and awesome vehicle!?

Has anyone every tried mimicking the commercials and open Firox's mouth wide and attach him to the drill. Its fun to push the Thunder Driller around and have the monster spin rapidly on the drill!

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