As I have already posted in this review of set 8957, I was very surprised that the PM sets have been released for retail since this week, here in the Netherlands.
This is review of the second set I bought (for €29,95), the 8960 Thunder Drill.
The Thunder Drill is the second largest set in the theme.
When opened the box contains three large bags, 4 loose wheel parts, a sticker sheet and the instructions. Two of the large bags are numbered 1 and 2, and each contain a smaller bag. The third bag contains more wheel parts, and the bagged orange rock monster called Firox.
This theme numbers its vehicles like it they are the Thunderbirds: the sticker sheet denotes this vehicle number 5. The instructions have a parts call out on every page, but this is very juniorized: no more than 4 parts are ever called for per stage. This picture shows some of the new parts in my collection. A couple of these parts are big, but very interesting. This part comes in black (for the wheels) and orange (as part of the drill). Especially interesting is this part. As you can see, it has gear teeth on the inside of the rim, allowing for some interesting ways to power these wheels. And a second feature of these wheels is that a pair of these wheels can link into each other. This feature isn't used in this set, but it is shown in the combined model on the back of the box. Lastly we have the drill head. Like the wheels, this piece also has gear teeth on the inside of the rim.
Apart from Firox, this set also contains two more figures. I am especially fond of this figure. His soot stained face would probably go very well with a lot of steampunk creations. Like the figure in set 8957, he two has a symbol on his torso denoting his function, in this case a very appropriate drill head. And like the other figures in this theme, he too comes with a shocked expression. The second figure seems to be a higher ranked worker, or perhaps a star of some kind! His second expression is also very cool.
All four faces are fun and have character. All in all, I like these two figures a lot more than the analyst included in set 8957.
Building the set is an easy challenge. You are supposed to start with bag no 1, but I just threw all the pieces together without any problem.This photo and this one show two fases of the build. Yes, there is a flame coming from some sort of a hole in the cabin; it looks quite dangerous for the operators! Eventually you add the wheels. The front pair of wheels are on a single axle which, using gears, powers another singe verticle axle. This is so as to power the drill head.
Next we start building the drill head. This really is the cleverst part of this set: using this construction in the drill head, the drill head is actually planetary geared. This means that as the front (light bley) part of the drill turns clockwise, the other (dark bley) part turnes counterclockwise!
When all is good and done, these parts are left. Yes, this does include an extra pair of goggles, even though the instructions only mention one pair! This is the finished vehicle. It's certainly a powerfull looking vehicle with nice greebling and a chain on top and with a pair of huge headlights to light the way. The cabin does have just enough standing room for both figures, although they should be careful not to get burned or to accidently light the dynamite in the crate.
The play value of this set is good. You are able to open the roof and check the drilling mechanism. And of course the drill itself turns when the Thunder Driller is pushed along. Although it looks good, I'd say the drill parts do turn too slowely. It's a 1:1 gear ratio: one rotation of the drill head per rotation of the front wheels. This really should have been geared up, so they would turn a whole lot faster than the wheels. Still, this shouldn't be too hard to realize with some extra parts, and it's an excellent and realistic feature in a great looking set.
All in all, a nice set, made extra good by a nice (though slightly improvable) feature of a working planetary geared drill, and by two very sweet and useful minifigs.
Of final interest is that the instructions contain a link to www.lego.com/powerminers/buildinginstructions for the instructions to the alternate combined models. This set combines with 8958 to make the "Aero Shredder". At the moment of writing this review, this page isn't active, though.
Price to parts: 7/10
Availability: 1/10 (for now, except in the Netherlands?)
Color rating: 2/10
Overall rating: 8/10
EDIT: All links have been changed to the regular Brickshelf links, instead of the deeplinks, due to the ENORMOUS size of these deeplinks. Sorry for any inconvenience!
Edited by WhiteFang, 23 May 2009 - 06:53 PM.