Picked this baby up a week or so ago, and decided to try writing a photo review of it. Hope this goes over well!
8189 Magma Mech
Minifigures: Power Miners Engineer w/ body armor; Rock Monster Firax
Age Range: 7-14
Price: US $20.00 (although I got it for $25 from a local retailer)
Released: First half 2010
Theme: Power Miners
The box is around 2.5 inches thick, 10.25 inches tall, and 11 inches wide. In centimeters, around 6 cm. thick, 26 cm. tall, and 28 cm. wide.
Front of box
Back of box
Bottom of box
Top of box
Since I love comparing box art, let's compare this set's box art with that of the Crystal King. While the lime frame is roughly the same, there are small orange embers and gray bumps added for the 2010 sets. The logo's text has changed from yellow-orange to a yellowish off-white. The text border remains black but fades to red near the bottom of each word. The "Power Miners" drill icon is also similar, but rather than tunneling through brownish-yellow earth it's now drilling through glowing-yellow lava rocks which fade to black furthest from the drill. Also added to 2010 sets is a little picture of the Rock Monster-Minifig Face Off for that set in the lower right-hand corner.
The back of the box, like the front, has glowing embers smeared across the painted lime-and-black stripes, as well as a gray visual texture like you see on construction equipment steps. The action-feature demonstration pics are still set in front of what appears to be riveted metal plates, but those plates now glow yellow-orange with char marks every so often. The top of the box does the same with the Actual Size Rock Monster image.
On the bottom of the box, the vehicle number of the set (in this case, 14) is still depicted, although it, too, glows yellow-orange from the heat. Beginning to sense a pattern?
Inside the Box
Opening the box, you're greeted with three unnumbered bags of various sizes. Inside the largest is the individually-bagged Lava Monster. Also inside are a silver BIONICLE tubing piece, the sticker sheet, and the instruction booklet.
Pieces, bagged and unbagged
The large stickers for the legs read "H20" (with the "0" inexplicably resembling a degree sign) and "14" (the vehicle number). The smaller leg stickers show a triangle with a drop of water (or coolant) and the inscription "LOK 4". Any idea what that means? The other three stickers are two with "Caution" stripes (notably silver and black rather than glow-in-the-dark and black like those last year) and one with a "Water" icon for the water tank. This last one is upside-down on all the box art.
Random instruction booklet page
There are 23 parts that are new or interesting for 2010, in 14 different designs. Of these, five are brand-new molds: the 2x4 tiles in light bluish gray, the 1x3 tiles in lime, the 4x4 turntable brick in blue, the dark bley 4-module axle with a stopper and the silver visor piece. The visor is different than the Ice Planet 2002 visors not only in that it lacks an antenna, but also in that it's got a tiny little microphone communicator towards the right side of the minifig's face. There's one other piece, the 2x2 tile with one stud, which is only new to US buyers (like myself).
The parts in new colors include the sloped "nose piece" in lime, wheel wells in lime, the trans. dark blue dome, the blue drill, the silver treads, the silver helmet, the silver body armor, and (perhaps one of the biggest surprises) a 3-module Technic axle with stud in... dark tan (Sand yellow for those who use the official LEGO names). I personally don't care, and neither will most System MOCists (I imagine), but many BIONICLE fans would probably be outraged at this color change (they never really did get over the red axles and blue pins).
New and interesting parts
New and interesting parts I missed in my first pic
Our engineer friend is certainly looking hot in his new heat-resistant armor! Adding to the effect is a silver body armor piece from the Agents theme (but new in this color, and new as an unprinted piece). I have to say I like the Miners with the extra armor piece more than without-- the styles echo the overalls which last year's miners typically wore, a lot better than the futuristic torso printing. The only regret is that the drill logo is not visible on the torsos of today's miners-- printing it might have made the look more complete, even though an unprinted armor piece is more to MOCists' interest.
Front, with extra armor
Back, with extra armor
Front, without extra armor
Back, without extra armor
Firax is a neat Lava Monster. Something I observed about the Lava Monsters is that unlike the Rock Monsters, the black "rocky" portions of their bodies are cracked in places. The eyes are also obviously different-- Firax is my first Lava Monster with orange eyes, since Combustix had red eyes. Lava Monsters also have transparent heads with a teeeeeeny-tiny bit of black printing on the sides to make sure the rock motif doesn't disappear completely.
The set's build is pretty straightforward, but still exciting. It begins with the main body, which unlike the Exo Force bodies uses very, very few SNOT techniques. Rather, the build is largely vertical, with details like the rollcage, silver treads, and "water cannons" added just to top it off. However, it adopts a very attractive and unique shape with the addition of these details.
Body- 3/4 view
The feet are built in 2x, meaning that until they're attached and stickers are added they're completely identical. The jets in the back limit poseability slightly, but add to the set's attractiveness. Regrettably there are no details to fill out the sides of the lower legs. Once the legs are attached, stickers are added and the build continues with the arms.
...with lower legs
...with upper legs
Body and legs- Front
Body and legs- Back
The drill arm, which comes first, is rather simple, but still attractive. One problem which my brother always observes is that the drill arm is almost completely blue. It could have benefited from being lime with just a blue drill (which does look attractive and suitable to the set, despite its vibrant color). There's a tiny water jet emerging from the tip of the drill-- one almost wishes that there had been a larger spurt, perhaps using the new, larger flame pieces from Space Police III.
Drill arm attached
Next comes the claw arm, which is attached to the main model before building the actual claw.
Claw arm without claw
Claw arm attached
With the claw attached, the only part remaining is the water tank on the back. Despite using system parts it is an almost entirely Technic build. It fits neatly, though, and completes the body section fantastically. When I first obtained a 2010 set (the Fire Blaster), I was quizzical about the use of a trans. dark blue dome rather than a trans. light blue one to match the water stream. However, I find that the trans. dark blue creates the illusion that this is more than an empty glass case-- it's a densely-filled glass case. And really, that's how a water tank ought to look. The silver BIONICLE hose piece is attached as the last step of the model.
Finished model front
Finished model back
Extra pieces- pins, plates, and cheese
First part of play is obviously sticking the minifig in the cab. Nowhere is the builder directed to do so in the instructions, and it's a bit difficult getting them to clutch the handlebars without breaking those off. But there's not really a good way to improve that-- just a consequence of having to get a minifig into such a fleshed-out cockpit. The rollcage fits nicely and is an attractive and creative build.
Minifig inside the cockpit
The claw is clever and attractive, and it holds a monster by the legs quite well as shown on the back of the box, but given its angle with the ground it is next to impossible to grab a Rock or Lava Monster with it without the aid of a Hand of God placing the monster between its tips. Certainly the angle makes the action more attractive, but limits its actual functionality.
Grabbing a monster
The drill function is quite bland. Certainly, it's nice that the water stream on the front spins along with the rest of the drill, which makes an otherwise rather static piece seem a lot more frooshy. But the drill, like the claw, requires Hand of God intervention-- it'd have been much better if there had been an axle or gear in the back that one could spin to operate the drill less directly.
Poseability is OK-- not the best, since the click-hinges somewhat limit your options, but still OK for a mech in a theme that doesn't emphasize mechs or robots. The lack of knee poseability hasn't bothered me, since it's in a mine-- it's not going to be doing much running or jumping, IMO. A person can easily mod it to replace the angle connectors with click hinges, anyway.
Overall, I have to admit I don't really play with my sets that often nowadays. I display them, and sometimes take them down to test the action features or marvel at their design. And the design of this set is, thankfully, one to be marveled at.
The action features don't work very well, and don't live up to their action-feature-laden forebearers of 2009. But it's still a fun set to goof around with every once in a while, and makes for great role-playing if you don't mind Hand of God intervention.
A better design could have made the playability better, obviously. But the overall vehicle looks good, the minifigs look good, and the stickers really add to the set.
For its price, this is a great source of parts in various colors. No curvy slopes in its design, but it makes up for that with several useful slopes and tiles. Of course, I'm a terrible judge of value, but a creative person could make this worth their $20.00 easily.
The set's nothing phenomenal, and I encourage you to spend your money on last year's Power Miners sets if given the choice between those and this. But for US buyers like me who don't yet have Lavatraz or the Claw Catcher at their local toy stores, this is probably the first 2010 Power Miners set to grab. And it'll go great even with your 2009 Power Miners collection.
Here's a link to my Brickshelf folder of this set... Hope this review was good in spite of mediocre pics and relative inexperience! I'll try to do more reviews in the future, and hopefully get better at them.
Edited by WhiteFang, 16 February 2010 - 04:30 PM.
Indexed and poll added