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Farseer Petriel

Review: 7316 Excavation Searcher

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Hello again Eurobricks!


It's time to continue reviewing rare Life on Mars series with Martian Excavation Searcher - a huge mech with two claws!

49217820192_74ed590ca4_b.jpgExcavation Searcher Full Set by Farseer Eldar, on Flickr


Excavation Searcher is the second largest set in the series. Only the main set, Aero Tube Hangar, was larger. On the one hand, the Searcher may look rank-and-file due to typical colors (tan and brown). On the other hand, this mech is interestingly designed, and Aero Tube Hangar looks empty without a meteorite processing station, and that's why I view this set worthy to acquire. I got it on my Birthday, just like Alien Discovery, but it was my present to myself. In fact I've been waiting to buy it for a long time from my childhood, when I was reading LEGO catalogues and dreaming of Life on Mars sets.


So, let's begin.



The box is rather large and bears typical Martian background and a photo of the set. When the set has been stored in some warehouse for 18 years, it became pretty battered, but not destroyed:

49217103743_9847aaa30e_b.jpgExcavation Searcher Box by Farseer Eldar, on Flickr

The set name and brick count are written again on the box. That means I got the American version again.


The back side depicts how the parts of the Searcher can be separated and combined:

49217823592_96ffc666c9_b.jpgExcavation Searcher Box Back by Farseer Eldar, on Flickr

This modular structure is one of Life on Mars features and can be seen in many LoM sets.


The sides of the box - photos of Martians, warnings and importers in the New World:

49217823307_0d2d35b7b6_b.jpgExcavation Searcher Box Sides by Farseer Eldar, on Flickr


There's a little surprise within the box - it has a cardboard pallet for parts:

49217598291_5d6375a88b_b.jpgExcavation Searcher Box Cardboard Pan by Farseer Eldar, on Flickr

It makes the box useful for storage, and now I put there elements from Life on Mars sets, such as small vehicles and aero tubes, while bigger parts such as mechs and the pump lie in the large Aero Tube Hangar box. Alas, such boxes don't exist now.


Instruction and Booklets

The set has three booklets: an instruction, a mini-catalogue and a postcard:

49217822942_1086f0a98e_b.jpgExcavation Searcher Booklets by Farseer Eldar, on Flickr


The instruction is standard: here are the beginning and the end of the build:

49217822837_2b0b4262cb_b.jpgExcavation Searcher Instruction First and Last Pages by Farseer Eldar, on Flickr


On the following pages the transformation of the Searcher into a smaller mech is shown:

49217114438_4fc04c8bb2_b.jpgExcavation Searcher Instruction Transformation by Farseer Eldar, on Flickr

I'll return to this function later.


The back cover of the instruction depicts all boxed LoM sets as usual:

49217597751_84b7c5c5f4_b.jpgExcavation Searcher Instruction Back Cover by Farseer Eldar, on Flickr


The postcard surprised me. It's made of cardboard, and it could be sent to Enfield, Connecticut to get a free LEGO catalogue:

49217597661_4029df37bc_b.jpgExcavation Searcher Club Postcard by Farseer Eldar, on Flickr


The back side has the same information written in French and a profile. Unfortunately, this service was available only for USA and Canada residents:

49217597541_d6b808a2e5_b.jpgExcavation Searcher Club Postcard Back by Farseer Eldar, on Flickr


I didn't get the free catalogue because I live in neither of these countries, and it has been 18 years since this postcard was published. However, I got another booklet with the Searcher, and it was a very pleasant surprise:

49217114038_31b0d90327_b.jpgExcavation Searcher Mini-Catalogue by Farseer Eldar, on Flickr

In theory, this mini-catalogue from early 2000s deserves its own review, because it's a paradise for nostalgic LEGO fans. And yes, I'll show all its pages here!


The first pages - contents (so many old school logos!) and a LEGOLAND ad:

49217113858_7a2272579b_b.jpgExcavation Searcher Mini-Catalogue First Pages by Farseer Eldar, on Flickr


Studios - the Steven Spielberg Moviemaker Set with a real and hopelessly outdated camera, and smaller sets:

49217113658_9a95f50751_b.jpgExcavation Searcher Mini-Catalogue Studios by Farseer Eldar, on Flickr


Life on Mars - the Aero Tube Hangar with detailed work scheme and other sets:

49217821767_c62c26202b_b.jpgExcavation Searcher Mini-Catalogue Life on Mars by Farseer Eldar, on Flickr


Xalax racers (these aliens are so funny!) and Alpha Team (agents, neon, evil Ogel, cool spy stuff):

49217113308_b94ab0ea7d_b.jpgExcavation Searcher Mini-Catalogue Xalax and Alpha Team by Farseer Eldar, on Flickr


Old Star Wars sets - somewhat clumsy, but cute, and Palpatine's shuttle is gorgeous! Then there are the first Star Wars UCS models and the 1999 Railway Express train (I have it):

49217821382_6683396da4_b.jpgExcavation Searcher Mini-Catalogue Star Wars and Trains by Farseer Eldar, on Flickr


LEGO Football/Soccer (it's my favorite series too), Arctic and legendary Adventurers - particularly Dino Island:

49217596251_445f1efbca_b.jpgExcavation Searcher Mini-Catalogue Football, Arctic and Adventurers by Farseer Eldar, on Flickr


Knights' Kingdom (the first one with King Leo and Cedric the Bull) and the very first BIONICLE sets - Toa Mata:

49217821037_984567a430_b.jpgExcavation Searcher Mini-Catalogue Knights' Kingdom and BIONICLE by Farseer Eldar, on Flickr


Technic (Battle Cars and Slammers), video games and a Canadian LEGO Club ad:

49217820797_d6dce54f04_b.jpgExcavation Searcher Mini-Catalogue Technic, Software and Last Page by Farseer Eldar, on Flickr


The back cover has a US LEGO Club ad:

49217112328_c0740880d8_b.jpgExcavation Searcher Mini-Catalogue Back Cover by Farseer Eldar, on Flickr

Here the review of the papers is finished, and I'm ready to move to the next part - the Martians.



The set has three Martian minifigures with typical turquoise skin:

49217820382_e3cfac94fb_b.jpgExcavation Searcher Minifigures English by Farseer Eldar, on Flickr

Canopus and Pollux are unique to this set, and Vega appeared in Aero Tube Hangar (7317) and two promotional sets (7320 and 1195). All Red Planet dwellers are named after stars and constellations like the Blacks from Harry Potter, and these three Martians are no exception.

Pollux wears a light grey suit and a gas mask. Judging by the dirt on his forehead, he is a worker. And apparently he shaves his head. It's weird, that there is no Martian named Castor, since Castor and Pollux are twin brothers in mythology and neighboring stars in Gemini constellation.

Canopus wears a tan suit and some hi-tech mask. He has a gunsight instead of his right eye. Maybe it's a magnifying lens or an implant. In LEGO Racers 2 video game Canopus was a scientist. The tan and light grey suits look standard, but unique faces compensate this.

Vega wears an orange suit. He is a scientist who specializes in excavation. He likes BLT sandwiches (did he discover them after humans arrived?) and dislikes surprises. Vega's head is dull since it lacks any features besides eyes. Considering that this Martian was included in 7317 too, this set should have contained some other Martian - Castor, for example.


The Set

The assembly contains three parts: the Excavation Searcher, the flyer and the bay:

49217598926_7cbc1c73e8_b.jpgExcavation Searcher by Farseer Eldar, on Flickr


Let's start with the most important part - the mech.

Excavation Searcher

As the name implies, this vehicle is used for search and gathering of meteorites that provide the Martians with energy-rich biodium ore. The mech is large and moves on four legs. The front claw and the tail make it look like a scorpion, though the antennae make it resemble some insect like an ant:

49217820072_2c87a7db58_b.jpgExcavation Searcher Mech by Farseer Eldar, on Flickr

The color scheme looks very standard compared with other Life on Mars sets which have many rare colors. Tan and brown were widespread in LEGO sets - for example, in Star Wars, so there's nothing particular in these colors. Fortunately, they are diluted a bit by small touches of orange.


As with all LoM mechs, the legs of the Searcher don't bend in knees. However, due to the presence of four legs the walker can be posed in many ways without the risk of falling:

49217111643_81f11e5aa0_b.jpgExcavation Searcher Mech by Farseer Eldar, on Flickr


49217819862_c6725e29b1_b.jpgExcavation Searcher Mech Walking by Farseer Eldar, on Flickr

The only remaining restriction is the 2000s-era hinges that can be placed only in certain positions and bend harder with time. And this set has many of them.


This mech can even do the splits!

49217819792_26be1897aa_b.jpgExcavation Searcher Does the Splits by Farseer Eldar, on Flickr


Rear view:

49217586706_02d92b3d95_b.jpgExcavation Searcher Back by Farseer Eldar, on Flickr


In front, there is a cockpit for a pilot. Above the typical LoM darkened windscreen, the antennae with red signals and the circular badge with unique claw symbol are located. The operating arms are attached to the left and right of the cockpit:

49217819732_3a217e2826_b.jpgExcavation Searcher Front Cockpit and Arms by Farseer Eldar, on Flickr

Technic panels and curvy sloped parts give the cockpit a nice shape.


The windscreen can be removed to see the pilot:

49217111343_fb43711532_b.jpgExcavation Searcher Cockpit Inside by Farseer Eldar, on Flickr

As in all mechs, the Martian is holding the handles. The orange slope makes the model look complete - without it the claw and the orange dish would look worse.


The pilotless cockpit:

49217111258_0356a62062_b.jpgExcavation Searcher Cockpit Without Pilot by Farseer Eldar, on Flickr

The brown handles have no control panel on them, though there is some device on the left side of the pilot. And it looks like a Martian smartphone!


The arms of the Searcher can be moved with hinges. The left arm ends with the claw which is designed to hold meteorites (they are included here and aren't in 7314):

49217111178_c2c1ba782d_b.jpgExcavation Searcher Claw Arm by Farseer Eldar, on Flickr

Above the claw there is a similar sign than above the cockpit. The claw itself contains two parts which are pulled together by a rubber band. This claw works harder than the one of Recon Mech RP, probably because of time.


The right arm wields some device with an orange radar dish:

49217819427_6cfcac9fb4_b.jpgExcavation Searcher Laser Arm by Farseer Eldar, on Flickr

I think it's a laser for stone cutting to obtain biodium.


Behind the cockpit the mech's body with four legs, meteorite container and tail is located:

49217819372_18891bbf39_b.jpgExcavation Searcher Middle and Back by Farseer Eldar, on Flickr

The grey top pin spoils the impression a bit, but it's required to attach the cockpit above. It should also be noted that leg prints slightly differ in color for some reason.


The meteorite container occupies the entire middle part of the mech. A small flyer can be seen under it:

49217819302_aa76165c5d_b.jpgExcavation Searcher Meteorite Container by Farseer Eldar, on Flickr

The container can carry up to 2 meteorites.


Frames prevent the meteorites from accidental falling. Grey bridges between the hinges are made of flexible rubber, so the joints can be moved separately:

49217593881_29a8d89541_b.jpgExcavation Searcher Meteorite Container Flexible Parts by Farseer Eldar, on Flickr


The container without meteorites - the studs allow to attach the precious cargo:

49217110753_af80d2e956_b.jpgExcavation Searcher Meteorite Container Empty by Farseer Eldar, on Flickr


The tail claw can move down and take a meteorite from the ground:

49217110663_d50e30e539_b.jpgExcavation Searcher Grabs a Meteorite by Farseer Eldar, on Flickr


The Searcher holds the meteorite:

49217110513_1dd3fcce87_b.jpgExcavation Searcher Tail Claw by Farseer Eldar, on Flickr

Unfortunately, the tail contains the same hinges as arms and legs do, and this design restrains its movements.


The claw can put the meteorite in the container:

49217110398_5f07ed1f26_b.jpgExcavation Searcher Puts a Meteorite by Farseer Eldar, on Flickr

Unfortunately, there is no way for the front claw to do the same work.


The crane operator controls the tail:

49217593411_dff84aac66_b.jpgExcavation Searcher Tail Claw Pilot by Farseer Eldar, on Flickr


His workplace looks very simple and has no seats - only the control panel on the rotating circle:

49217818617_c68bbe8906_b.jpgExcavation Searcher Tail Control Panel by Farseer Eldar, on Flickr




The Searcher is equipped with a small scout flyer. This little plane is attached to the holes under the meteorite container using Technic axles:

49217593251_40b2cf2c02_b.jpgExcavation Searcher Flyer Storage by Farseer Eldar, on Flickr


These axles with light grey dishes are some kind of engines or anti-gravity devices which allow the flyer to hover above Mars surface:

49217593181_a25a8eac3d_b.jpgExcavation Searcher Flyer by Farseer Eldar, on Flickr

The pilot controls the vehicle, firmly holding the computer panel. The flyer's nose is the same part as Searcher's legs.


The pilot can stand on his flyer too, though this will likely worsen the aerodynamic properties:

49217818342_5d3830ebab_b.jpgExcavation Searcher Flyer with Standing Pilot by Farseer Eldar, on Flickr

The console is attached to the flyer with a tan Trade Federation battle droid arm - the same part as Martian arms.


Plane's bottom. Perhaps, these black circles are anti-gravity devices too:

49217818187_6c2c6c3b91_b.jpgExcavation Searcher Flyer Bottom by Farseer Eldar, on Flickr


The flyer without its pilot - the control screen can be seen:

49217817897_2a0fc18014_b.jpgExcavation Searcher Flyer Without Pilot by Farseer Eldar, on Flickr


This small aircraft can be placed under Searcher's hull even with the pilot (though mech's steps and Martian "air" currents will shake him hard):

49217592561_95b689267e_b.jpgExcavation Searcher Flyer Stored With Pilot by Farseer Eldar, on Flickr


Vega uses the flyer to locate meteorites, and Pollux with Canopus will gather them in the Excavation Searcher:

49217592431_482da3d8a3_b.jpgSearch for Meteorites by Farseer Eldar, on Flickr


Hangar Bay/Meteorite Processing Station

The set contains a structure - a bay where the collected meteorites can be unloaded and processed:

49217109058_e9461c7842_b.jpgExcavation Searcher Hangar Bay by Farseer Eldar, on Flickr

Its roof is decorated with the same claw as the Excavation Searcher.


It looks very similar to two other mech bays included in Aero Tube Hangar - sloped roofs, sand purple arches, docking axles and supports with red lights:

49217108753_76f8c33e71_b.jpgMartian Hangar Bays by Farseer Eldar, on Flickr

But there are differences too: Searcher's bay is shorter, and roof lights are placed a bit differently. It also has a rear section for meteorites.


The Excavation Searcher can be docked to its bay with axles. To do this, all leg hinges should be placed at right angles:

49217591716_fb68fd7402_b.jpgExcavation Searcher Connected by Farseer Eldar, on Flickr


The axles of the bay are connected to the holes in Searcher's hull:

49217816802_c7ae3329c5_b.jpgExcavation Searcher Bay Connection by Farseer Eldar, on Flickr


The tail claw can be turned, and the roof can be raised to unload the meteorites:

49217591461_8ca71aacbc_b.jpgExcavation Searcher Meteorite Arrives by Farseer Eldar, on Flickr


A meteorite can slide to a container (it's a block part):

49217108138_dc37ce26d3_b.jpgExcavation Searcher Meteorite Station by Farseer Eldar, on Flickr

Here Vega can scan it to find biodium and even extract the ore using hi-tech equipment.


And here are the uncovered meteorites! Biodium, the spaceborn valuable energy source for Martians, can be seen inside them:

49217108038_dc7d795a19_b.jpgExcavation Searcher Meteorites by Farseer Eldar, on Flickr

The biodium crystals have different colors: red and blue. They both are fused to orange rock. Biodium meteorites were included only in 3 sets: in this one, in Aero Tube Hangar (one with blue crystal) and in Solar Explorer starship (one with green crystal). Unfortunately, this high-energy ore is represented only by transparent tubes, but there were no translucent crystals in 2001 (though there was CHROME!!!).


The processing station has a computer panel:

49217816192_7cd228076f_b.jpgExcavation Searcher Meteorite Station Computer by Farseer Eldar, on Flickr


The slide for meteorites holds on hinges that don't take fixed positions (the rube is removed for illustrative purposes):

49217590846_d03c90a714_b.jpgExcavation Searcher Meteorite Slide by Farseer Eldar, on Flickr


The straightened slide:

49217816077_d46039785e_b.jpgExcavation Searcher Meteorite Slide Straight by Farseer Eldar, on Flickr

Here turquoise grills can be seen - they are unique for this set in LoM, but were also used in Rock Raiders and Technic series.


An aero tube connector from 7317 can be attached to the bay:

49217107593_15255509b9_b.jpgExcavation Searcher Bay With Hangar Ports by Farseer Eldar, on Flickr


It's done! The Aero Tube Hangar is now complete! All three exits now lead to mech bays!

49217811677_02ded0a563_b.jpgAero Tube Hangar With Excavation Searcher Bay by Farseer Eldar, on Flickr

The only one shortcoming is that the connector between two tubes now floats in air, but the tubes can be turned such a way that it will stand on the ground.



Now let's see the modular structure of this set. It can be disassembled into 7 parts (Lord Voldemort approves!):

49217815717_9257daf513_b.jpgExcavation Searcher Disassembled by Farseer Eldar, on Flickr


It's proposed to make a small mech from the cockpit and front legs, and another one - from the tail with the container:

49217107073_30dbe70df1_b.jpgExcavation Searcher Two Parts by Farseer Eldar, on Flickr

I even like the cockpit-based mech - it looks funny. However, the separated tail is weird and can easily fall.


I would like to put the cockpit above the front legs - now we can get a centaur without annoyingly bulging pins:

49217814882_62940395a4_b.jpgExcavation Searcher Centaur by Farseer Eldar, on Flickr

In this configuration, the cockpit becomes mobile and can rotate up to 90 degrees. I like this variation even more than the defalut one.


By combining the elements of this set and Recon Mech RP, you can try to assemble a very looooooong "mech train":

49217106948_0b28073893_b.jpgExcavation Searcher and Recon Mech RP by Farseer Eldar, on Flickr

However, the 7314 instruction proposes to connect the rear part with a long light-grey bricks, so this model becomes a fully-fledged alternate build. I didn't disassemble the set just to do that.


By removing Searcher's cockpit and connecting the rear part with an extra Technic bridge, such construction can be achieved:

49217106793_f31ebc3bed_b.jpgExcavation Searcher and Recon Mech RP Fusion 2 by Farseer Eldar, on Flickr

Unfortunately, the Recon Mech's cockpit leans down under its weight.


The extra parts: 5 spare rubber bands, a black Technic bridge to connect parts from different sets and a red light (there were also Martian and droid arms, but I removed them before filming this review):

49217814757_685ccc3cd2_b.jpgExcavation Searcher Extra Parts by Farseer Eldar, on Flickr




+ Original design

+ Size

+ High mobility

+ Contains a part of Aero Tube Hangar

+ Interesting and unusual parts

+ Modular structure

+ No stickers

+ Usable box


- Typical color scheme

- Connecting hinges

- Legs don't bend in knees

- Leg and flyer nose prints have slightly different colors

- A bulging top pin in the standard configuration - it can be easily eliminated by building a "centaur"

- Hard to find


Bonus (with Aero Tube Hangar)

Once upon a time, in the Aero Tube Hangar...

49217814672_1a8a3fe7eb_b.jpgExcavation Searcher at Aero Tube Hangar by Farseer Eldar, on Flickr


- The intelligence reports two meteorites in Tharsis mountains. Pollux, Canopus, Vega, go there in the Excavation Searcher and bring biodium ore.

- Right away, General Riegel! Pneumo pump, destination point - Excavation Searcher bay!

49217105868_8172180e20_b.jpgPollux Ready by Farseer Eldar, on Flickr


The pneumatic pump started working, and Pollux's hypersled disappeared in a translucent tube of the Hangar. After that, Canopus prepared to his turn.

- Pneumo pump, destination point - Excavation Searcher bay!

49217814207_c5d044bc05_b.jpgCanopus Ready by Farseer Eldar, on Flickr


After Canopus, Vega laid down in his hypersled. The powerful pump placed all three Martians into the tube, and the mechanism connected it to the required aero track:

49217105578_0c78b38128_b.jpgVega Ready, Pump Is Working by Farseer Eldar, on Flickr


The air flow changed its direction, and all crew members rushed in their hypersleds to the destination point:

49217588511_bee74d7a7e_b.jpgThree Martians in the Tube by Farseer Eldar, on Flickr


The tube passed through the entire Martian base, and a human astronaut looked cautiously at Hangar's work, driving his Rover.

49217588286_5b9cbd4423_b.jpgThree Martians in the Tube by Farseer Eldar, on Flickr


Finally. the Martians arrived at the bay and cheerfully walked to their faithful mech:

49217104768_cb272a7b78_b.jpgExcavation Searcher Crew Arrives by Farseer Eldar, on Flickr


Pollux climbed into the cockpit, started the engine, and the mech undocked from the bay. Canopus took his place near the crane, and Vega laid down in the empty meteorite container as he couldn't find a place to sit:

49217104618_a73762c09e_b.jpgExcavation Searcher Departs by Farseer Eldar, on Flickr


After several Martian hours, the walker returned to the base, loaded with meteorites. Vega flew his aircraft that helped him find these rocks with precious ore.

49217587241_5b32c04d3b_b.jpgExcavation Searcher Returns With Meteorites by Farseer Eldar, on Flickr


Using Searcher's tail claw, Canopus moved the meteorites to the bay, and they slided to the processing station, where Vega prepared the biodium extraction tools:

49217102858_d4f5ca5bd6_b.jpgExcavation Searcher Returns With Meteorites by Farseer Eldar, on Flickr


Thank you for reading and watching! If you like the review, leave a comment.


Edited by Farseer Petriel

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