I've always been a fan of second hand shopping. It's the treasure hunt I enjoy - every now and then you can dig up a hidden gem. Sometimes it's LEGO. Isn't it fitting, then, that on my latest trip I managed to uncover a set from a theme that's all about digging for hidden gems?
This is my first Rock Raiders set. A quick glance tells me that the theme was produced between 1999 and 2000 - just when I had my dark age and drifted away from LEGO. When judging an older I set I feel like you have to take its context into account. Can't compare the sets of yesterday to the things we're getting today, right?
Thing is, even when you do that, this is not a good set.
The design is the biggest flaw, I fear. The Chrome Crusher is suitably bulky, but aside from the lightup gun (fun part by the way!) there's little to do here. Use the minifig and have it hop in and out, I guess? Put the boulder in the bed, perhaps? Oh right, the gun covers it, so you can't. There's not even a rock monster, so no interaction there either.
No, for a set from 1999, it falls short. Compare it to one of my all time favourite sets - The Battrax from twelve (yes, twelve!) years earlier - and the hastily put together nature of The Chrome Crusher becomes even more evident. Both are land vehicles, but where this set lacks in construction, playability and general coolness the Battrax has it in spades. A shame.
This is not necessarily surprising. In the late nineties the general quality of LEGO sets diminished quite a bit, reflected by the average yearly set scores. Still, I got to admit, I had romanticised TLG and their lineup a bit. It took this set for me to understand just how bad at it they were.
So, if you ever get the chance to pick this set up, only do so at a bargain. The parts are pretty bad, the set worse, and the only redeeming factor is that it was a pretty important product in a relatively short lived (and unimportant) theme.