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Lego Maniacs' Guide: Reviews: Adventurers : Desert : Sphinx Secret Surprise

[Purchase Online at Amazon.com] 5978 - Sphinx Secret Surprise

Rating: 3 Stars
Pros: Inclusion of a lot of cool new elements.
Cons: The model alone isn't very full for a fifty dollar set.
Contents: 342 pieces including 7 mini-figs.
Price: $49.99
Reviewed: 08-Jan-1998
Reviewed by: Joseph Gonzalez

5978 The day has been a great success. After months of toiling at the digging site, the scholars have finally found the object of their efforts with the excavation of the tomb of Khul Tef. Outside, workers and fellow professors are jubilant with the discovery, but something still nags at Dr. Andreasen as she continues her studies inside the tomb.
The odd markings on the skeletal remains are not similar to those found on male rulers of the period and there are those odd hieroglyphs that keep pointing to the possibility of two individuals interred at the site. At last the truth comes to light with final translation of the glyph that the professor has been working on. The body they found is not that of Khul Tef, but of the heir princess, his daughter.
A sudden vision of the wrath of the jealous father comes to the doctor's mind but that revelation does little good as she suddenly feels powerful leathery hands wrap about her neck and her cry for help is silenced to a garbling choke!

Picking up this set was a situation where I just didn't have the money for the larger 5988 set (that I really wanted) so I had to settle for the next size down. I was saddened only slightly because I didn't get what I wanted but once I got the set home and started marveling at all the new stuff, I find it isn't a disappointment at all! (Although I'll still be saving up for that larger set.)

The Sphinx Secret Surprise comes with a band of five explorers (three explorers in pith helmets and safari garb, one bad guy all dressed in black and the guide/hero guy), their jeep and camp setup, and the sphinx site with two undead denizens. Starting off with the camp and jeep, the adventurers are provided with LOTS of supplies: they have a cloth tent (no interior standing poles like the wild west tepees, the tent stays up with starch power), a jeep (much like that found in 5918), and oodles of supplies including another dark brown 2x3 crate with lids, a backpack to hold smaller items, cooking pans, a shovel and pick, two magnifying glasses, a bell jar, a sextant, a movie camera and three pistols.

The sphinx site is established on the same ramp-and-pit plate used in the 6416 Poolside Paradise and, like that set, the model utilizes only the forward pit (a deeper pit located toward the back of the plate measures 8x10 and is almost three bricks deep). The unused pit could be used to store the mummy's coffin but you can't place covering plates over the pit (thus concealing it) unless you remove the sarcophagus lid first. The sphinx itself takes up an area of about 10x20x11. Inside the sphinx is a throne for the mummy to sit on. At the front of the sphinx is a removable door with a teasingly large jewel mounted at the base of the door. Moving a switch located at the side of the sphinx structure allows one to slide the throne forward, knocking the front door down (and probably on top of whoever was trying to steal the jewel).
The site is further accented with two obelisks (one hides a secret compartment), a palm tree, a large black jackal statue and a concealed pit just in front of the sphinx. The instructions suggest using the pit for a hiding place for the poisonous snake and scorpion. The last item that rounds out the site (but doesn't really have a place to be stored) is the all black sarcophagus and lid.
Other new/unique items not already mentioned are two Egyptian headdresses (one for the mummy and one for the skeleton) in yellow and in white, one red snake, a black scorpion, and the new big red ruby element with a handle at the bottom to allow figs to grab it (but which also makes it look like a big ice cream cone). The set also includes a lot of building bricks and beams in dark grey.
Preprinted items include the yellow headdress, three 2x4 standing beams (three others are not preprinted), the 1x4 windshield (has wiper blades and a crack preprinted), four treasure map tiles, a 1x4 hieroglyph tile, and a 1x2 tile that's preprinted to look like a photograph (this sticks into the back of the movie camera for some odd reason).

One interesting aspect of the set is the way the designers constructed the sphinx's face so that the nose would come out centered. Also, when I finished, there were quite a few 1x1 round plates and I'm thinking I either screwed up a couple of steps or the extras are left over to decorate the tomb (you could stick a couple of these in the sphinx's normally empty eye sockets).
I give the set as a whole three stars (though the model by itself isn't particularly satisfying), and definitely encourage fans to pick one up if they see it at a discount.

62 readers have rated this set as 4.31 out of 5 stars.
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