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Review: 6175 Crystal Explorer Sub


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#1 ZO6

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Posted 12 April 2010 - 03:52 PM

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The Aquanauts are in search of precious deep sea crystals.  Using their Crystal Explorer Sub, will they find what they seek?  Or will they have a date with a menacing octopus?  Join as we go deep sea exploring where no man has gone before with this fantastic submarine!

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Info

Set # - 6175
Name - Crystal Explorer Sub
Theme/Subtheme - Aquazone/Aquanauts
Year - 1995
Piece Count - 160
Minifigures - 2
Price - MRSP $33 US

Links

Brickset, Peeron, Bricklink, Brickshelf


Instructions

The front of the instruction manual features a lovely scene set in the deep sea.  The yellow sub stands out nicely from the calming blue of the water:
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At the rear of the manual we find the last step of the instructions.  There are no piece call-outs in the booklet, so one must pay close attention for newly added parts every step.  Colour differentiation however is perfect:
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Pieces

The set includes 160 pieces.  They are mostly yellow, however there is also some black, some trans-orange details, and trans-blue windshields and hatches of various sizes.  All the pieces provided are nice and useful:
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Here is a close up of some of the more exciting pieces.  The trans-blue pieces are wonderful, and many of them feature hinges so that they can actually be opened when attached!  Handy!  The set does not have any stickers, instead we are treated to some lovely printed pieces.  We are also provided with a handful of nifty accessories such as a compasse, flippers, crystals, and weapons:
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Included in this model, but no longer found in modern sets are two yellow 2x4x2 bricks with holes on either side.  These pieces were used in 19 sets between 1992 and 1999 and were of course useful for performing the SNOT technique.  In this case, some black pontoon pieces will later be attached to them along the side of the sub:
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The set also included a large number of these little arm pieces with finger hinges.  Unfortunately, this is evidence as to why TLC moved away from finger hinges in recent years - a lot of stress was put on them and they were prone to breaking after long time use:
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Minifigures

Two brave minifgures are provided to man the sub.  They feature wonderful printing on both their heads and torsos.  There is nothing to be seen at the rear as back printing was not yet used.  Despite these being the first aquatic themed minifigures produced, their design still holds up nicely today:
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Here are our diver friends with their gear on.  The Aquanauts had both trans-blue and black headgear.  The back of their equipment featured clips that weapons or other accessories could be attached to:
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Also included is a black octopus.  It is quite compatible with other LEGO parts:
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The Build

Construction begins on the large black 6x16 plate.  This provides a strong base for the sub:
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When the cockpit is added, it is also enhanced with a computer and steering wheels to control the various functions of the sub:
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A pair of long hexagonal pontoons are attached to the bottom of the sub.  This allows the vehicle to be pushed smoothly over different surfaces when playing with it:
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Two arms are assembled using the little finger hinge pieces.  One is host to a pincher hand, the other to a magnet:
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The sub is really taking shape at this point.  Most recently a trio of propellers have been attached at the rear of the vessel:
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Here is an example of one of the sub-models put together during the course of the build.  This is to be the front cockpit:
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With the sub watertight, it is now complete.  Some other trans-orange antennas, as well as the compass top things off:
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From the back of the sub we have a better view of the housings for the propellers.  The overall shape of the sub is not very sleek, instead it is actually quite bulbous - however this suits it fine as an aquatic vehicle:
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I really like all the window pieces used to create the cockpit.  Not only do they look really neat, but they would also provide excellent visibility for the crew.  Here are a handful of close-ups from various angles for us to appreciate all the trans-blue goodness and provide a better understanding of the shape of the sub:
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Play Features

The hatch at the back of the sub can be opened.  This allows plenty of space for the crystal container to be stored:
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The two panels mid-ship can be opened revealing another large storage area.  This is perfect for placing additional crystals or gear:
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Just above the panels is a little control station.  This is there presumably so that the divers can manually open the various hatches while working outside of the sub.  There are also clips on both sides of the sub for harpoons and flippers to be attached to:
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The front of the sub can be opened up for access to the cockpit.  The construction of these front windshields allows them to be folded very far back which gives lots of clearance and allows easy placement of the figures.  The two provided minifigures can fit in no problem as there is plenty of room:
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The two arms are flexible and can be posed in many different positions.  They can also be used for picking up objects such as the crystals, or latching onto the magnetic containers:
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Complete Set

Here are all the contents of the set ready for action.  The corral is a welcome addition to complete the underwater scene:
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Final Thoughts

Pricing and value:  At $33 US for 160 pieces, this indeed has a relatively poor parts to price ratio.  Overall value does not seem as bad though when you consider the fantastic parts, and of course the final product which is in fact a respectable sized sub.

Design/Build:  This set has a lot stronger submarine vibes compared to many other Aquazone vehicles which could easily pass as space ships.  Construction is straight forward and non-repetitive.  Plenty of hinged parts and cockpits are a treat in comparison to many recent sets which feature static windshields.  

Pieces:  The parts here are particularly useful provided you want to build other aquatic vehicles or else space ships.  The many large trans-blue windshields are beautiful.  The printed pieces are fantastic and exclusive to only a few sets.  The two minifigures are standard Aquanauts, however they are still nicely detailed and hold up well even compared to newer generations of deep see explorers.  

Playability:  It's a blast to recreate underwater adventures.  Will the Aquanauts find the crystals or will the octopus get them first?  The sub is built strong and lends itself well to swooshing around.  There are plenty of hatches and compartments to open and play with.  The arms are great for collecting those crystals, and the propellers are fun to blow on to get spinning.  Overall there is a lot of play potential here.

Verdict: 6175 Crystal Explorer Sub is one of those definitive aquatic sets.  It has a classic sub design and appealing colour scheme.  It looks great on display either by itself or with other sets in the theme and it's also a great deal of fun to play with.


As always, comments and questions are more than welcome.  Cheers!



Who do you think gave birth to the Atlantis Squid Warrior!?  That's right - ME!

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Edited by WhiteFang, 12 April 2010 - 04:01 PM.
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#2 snefroe

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Posted 12 April 2010 - 04:51 PM

thanks for that great review and a fantastic trip back in time. :classic:

it seems to me that most of these underwater themes in the 90s have disappeared from living memory. I guess many fans go from the golden age of the 80s-early 90s to star wars in 2000, and somehow the stuff in between is forgoten...

this sub is a pretty nice set for that timeframe, even though it lacks sophistication of today's sets.

the set reminds me of the futuron set, really... trans blue parts, computers, replace yellow by white, the rotors by boosters and voilĂ : almost classic space...

#3 Big Cam

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Posted 12 April 2010 - 05:45 PM

Great review!  I love how even in deep underwater exploration, a steering wheal is used.  LOL.

Anyway, your images are top notch and I think your lead picture is better than the instructions pic.

I'm getting used to these great reviews. They are always a bright spot on eb.

#4 Bonaparte

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Posted 12 April 2010 - 09:40 PM

Perfect review all the way  :thumbup:

When I was younger this set would definitely be appealing to me. It's not a brilliant design, but very playable.

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#5 CP5670

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Posted 12 April 2010 - 11:18 PM

This is another of my favorite Aquazone sets, and is also quite roomy for its size. I made a few adjustments to mine, moving the compass and computers into the interior.

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it seems to me that most of these underwater themes in the 90s have disappeared from living memory. I guess many fans go from the golden age of the 80s-early 90s to star wars in 2000, and somehow the stuff in between is forgoten...

Yes, the Aquazone stuff doesn't seem to get the attention it deserves, even though the sets are very similar to space models. I think the first wave (Aquanauts/Aquasharks) was as good as any of the space themes.

#6 samuraiturtle

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Posted 13 April 2010 - 01:28 AM

View PostZO6, on Apr 12 2010, 11:52 AM, said:

The set also included a large number of these little arm pieces with finger hinges.  Unfortunately, this is evidence as to why TLC moved away from finger hinges in recent years - a lot of stress was put on them and they were prone to breaking after long time use:
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That is annoying that all my sets with those pieces break apart.  And I also have a similar issue with the "bush" that came with the set, one (or more) of "limbs" broke off.  But hey, other than that I thought the sub was cool and came with unique accessories.

#7 internalvoid

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Posted 13 April 2010 - 01:13 PM

This review brings back so many memories of my birthday in 1995. Recently found most of the parts for this in the garage, but the minifigs are nowhere to be seen.
And as samuraiturtle stated, those pieces are horrible after a few years, they just crumble and snap off with the slightest pressure.

Thanks for your review.  :thumbup:

#8 Mr. Elijah Timms

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Posted 13 April 2010 - 02:56 PM

Easily my favorite Aquanauts set... the design is strong and functional, and the aesthetics aren't sacrificed for playability.  You can argue that the Sharks sets were cooler, but that's just because they were so very pirate-like.  This set is definitely the highlight of the 'good guys' and definitely worth picking up if you have the chance.

EVERYTHING IS OVERPRICED I MEAN AWESOME!!!


#9 ZO6

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Posted 13 April 2010 - 07:20 PM

Thanks for the comments and feedback everyone.  I appreciate it a lot.

View Postsnefroe, on Apr 12 2010, 12:51 PM, said:

it seems to me that most of these underwater themes in the 90s have disappeared from living memory. I guess many fans go from the golden age of the 80s-early 90s to star wars in 2000, and somehow the stuff in between is forgoten...

View PostCP5670, on Apr 12 2010, 07:18 PM, said:

Yes, the Aquazone stuff doesn't seem to get the attention it deserves, even though the sets are very similar to space models. I think the first wave (Aquanauts/Aquasharks) was as good as any of the space themes.

I've always been greatly surprised by the lack of Aquazone content and discussion here on EB.  Many of my favorite sets come from these themes, and it's disappointing to see so few reviews.  I plan on covering many more sets in hopes of getting these subthemes some more attention.  


View Postsamuraiturtle, on Apr 12 2010, 09:28 PM, said:

That is annoying that all my sets with those pieces break apart.  And I also have a similar issue with the "bush" that came with the set, one (or more) of "limbs" broke off.  But hey, other than that I thought the sub was cool and came with unique accessories.

View Postinternalvoid, on Apr 13 2010, 09:13 AM, said:

And as samuraiturtle stated, those pieces are horrible after a few years, they just crumble and snap off with the slightest pressure.

When I first got these sets I was pretty hard on them - thankfully since they were new the parts were less prone to breaking.  For the past decade I've been very careful with my LEGO and was fortunate not to significantly worsen the condition of any of the pieces.  Unfortunately when I was taking this set apart for washing before the review, the break on that one finger hinge arm piece occurred.  I've read about many of these defects (thanks greatly to CP5670 for documenting LEGO quality issues) but I've been lucky to have very few broken or defective parts after all these years.

Edited by ZO6, 13 April 2010 - 11:31 PM.


#10 Skulls_Eye_Schooner_Sailor

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Posted 22 April 2010 - 11:19 AM

Awesome, finally some reviews of these excellent Aquazone sets.  I agree with you about being disappointed by the lack of discussion and reviews on these.  I loved them as much as any of the old space sets.  By the way, were those big view ports at the front created first for the Aquanauts?  I've always wondered.

I used to have this one but it is in pieces now, and I am not sure I still have all the pieces.  I should have at least three of those trans-blue canopies (from this and Saucer Centurion) but I can find only one!  

I also can't say as I have ever experienced breakage with the arm joints, either...  I wasn't aware that was an issue, and I can assure you they were heavily played with.

Hey, that Aquanaut has a Spyrius head, you can't fool me!  I always did like those two heads, though.  Great for customizing.  :classic:

Whoa Aquanaut is a word but Aquazone isn't?  Interesting. :tongue:

Edited by Skulls_Eye_Schooner_Sailor, 22 April 2010 - 11:34 AM.


#11 jonwil

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Posted 22 April 2010 - 01:03 PM

This set is great and I finally obtained the last part I need to build it (one of the yellow 1 x 1 tiles with the buttons) so now I can build every Aquanauts and Aquasharks set.

Of note is that the Trans-Dark Blue Windscreen 5 x 8 x 3 is unique to the Crystal Explorer Sub (and only appeared in 2 other sets, one in Trans-Light Blue and one in Clear)

Also, the Yellow Cockpit 11 x 4 x 2 2/3 Inverted Slope is exclusive to this set

#12 Marishka

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Posted 13 June 2016 - 11:11 PM

Oh,it so wonderful to find this review - this was first Lego set I ever had! And still one of the coolest on my opinoin. Some parts were lost, other I gifted to younger child, but I still remember that wonderful shiny chromed harpoons and crystals and bright-orange pieces, oh sweet memories :) And those two guys were main heroes in almost all of my Lego games, mostly they were time travellers to castle world :)

#13 Lothos

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Posted 28 June 2016 - 06:54 AM

I had this set as a young boy, and I loved it, I went on so many adventures with it heh. Great review, kicked up the nostalgia factor for sure.
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