The Aquasharks are at it again! On their home turf known as Shark's Crystal Cave, these brave deep sea divers gear up for the ultimate search for those precious crystals. Join in as we discover everything there is to know about this incredible flagship set!
Set # - 6190
Set Name - Shark's Crystal Cave
Theme/Subtheme - Aquazone/Aquasharks
Year - 1996
Piece Count - 251
Minifigures - 2
Price - MSRP $50 US
Brickset, Peeron, Bricklink, Brickshelf
The front of the instruction manual depicts a scene with the large shark sub and the mini sea jet setting off for another adventure. This is set against a nice deep sea backdrop:
The back of the manual features a handful of alternate models. I remember back when I got this set building many of these models as I found them oddly appealing. The top left corner of the manual has been cut off as it used to contain something that would be sent in as part of the application process for a subscription to the LEGO magazine:
Here is a random page from the instruction manual. The instructions lack piece-call outs, so one must pay close attention to spot newly added parts during each step. On the plus side, colour differentiation is perfect:
The set contains 251 interesting and useful parts. The colours used are mainly blue, black, and trans-orange, however this makes for a very eye-catching colour scheme without seeming tacky:
These are some of the more interesting pieces. Many of these are quite rare or else exclusive to only this set. For example: the blue BURP is the only of it's kind, as are the trans-orange canopy extender, 6x4x2 canopy, octagonal canopy, 1x4x3 window, and black tail wedge. There are no stickers in this set, instead we get some lovely printed pieces found only in the Aquasharks subtheme - of these the hinged panel is exclusive to this set:
The baseplate is a wonderful deep sea version of the classic crater plate found in many old space sets (note: the new one has studs in the craters where as the old one was lacking these). Though a lot of printed parts are made up of closely-spaced dots, the dots on this baseplate are quite large and vary in spacing which creates an odd look. For those wondering, the LEGO logo is is present on all of the studs, but it can be difficult to see. The underwater water pattern is also only available in this set:
We are provided with two Aquashark figures to man the sub. These guys have great printing on their torsos including the Aquashark logo at the center. The prints on their heads are found in only limited quantities as well. The bearded one is only in five sets, all of which are within the Aquazone theme. The one with the long bangs is only in a dozen sets. The figure on the left also has a trans-neon green hook for a hand. Neither of the minifigures have any printing on their backs:
With their equipment on, these two are ready for underwater adventure. At the rear are the oxygen tanks and some clips for accessories to be attached to. Overall these figures are not as flashy as modern day equivalents, but they look fantastic anyways and suit the theme perfectly:
Shark! The inclusion of this fellow is quite appropriate to the theme. The shark has a deadly set of jaws that can open and close:
We start off by building a little sea jet. This doesn't seem to have any controls, so I guess the propeller is perpetually spinning and the figure must control it by shifting his/her weight around?
Next up we put together a pair of containers for storing crystals in. On top of each box is a magnet so that it can picked up by a magnetic arm on the sub:
Construction on the large sub can now begin. We start by building a base - at the moment it is flimsy but it will be very sturdy soon:
A number of fins are added, the front pair have clips that accessories can be attached to. Near the rear of the sub are another pair of clips, again for attaching accessories to. The first propeller is also added:
Two arms are assembled using small finger hinge pieces. One is host to a pincher hand, the other a magnet. These can be used to grab crystals or pick up the magnetic container boxes:
With the arms completed, they can be attached at the front of the sub:
A pair of hatches are added at the rear of the sub. Below them is a storage area:
Panels with windows are added at the center of the sub. This creates a room for the Aquasharks to hang out in:
The front cockpit is now added. It is equipped with a printed computer piece:
Behind the cockpit we now start to build up a storage area for the small sea jet. The sides of this storage area are built out of the wonderful octagonal
trans-orange cockpit and the hinged panels of the same shape that they snap into. These are then decked out with propellers:
Here is the sub with both of these attached now:
The fantastic printed panel creates a hatch over the room below. We can also see steering wheels attached at various places that would be used for opening these hatches:
With the menacing looking front cockpit added, the sub is really starting to take shape now:
The area for the mini sea jet is now complete, and so the vehicle slides into place:
An extended cockpit keeps the little vessel for the seamen safe :
At the rear of the sub the final propeller is added. This is topped off with a compass - the device works surprisingly well:
The final addition to the sub is the unique fin on the top. This is placed on a hinge so that when the cockpit that it rests on is opened, it can be tilted forward as to not interfere:
The sub is now complete. It's a dangerous looking beast for sure. The double stacked cockpits at the front, and double propellers at the rear complement one another nicely. The overall shape of the sub is great, and it sports a large amount of interior room as well:
Here are some extra angles to help give an idea of how this thing looks. Some sections of it are a bit bulbous, but the sub never seems too fat. I'd hate to be the Aquanaut that had to come face to face with this:
The last part of the build consists of building the small base. The BURP and columns will provide support for the platform on which the sub will rest, as well as the small walkway up to the cockpit. The two black fence pieces are there to help with the proper placement of the blue BURP:
We rotate the base, add a latter, and place a shark in what will soon be a cage:
The base is now complete. The modified tiles with handles on top of the large platform will hold the sub in place. A cage gate and corral are the last parts added:
The front cockpit can open and features plenty of space for a minifigure to fit in:
At around mid-ship is a room for the second figure to lounge in. The area is quite roomy but unfortunately lacks any sort of interior details:
The hatches along the rear of the sub can be opened revealing a storage area for the crystal containers. Two of these boxes could fit in here no problem:
The extended cockpit along the top of the sub can be opened to gain access to the mini sea jet. The arm with the pincher hand could then be used to remove the vehicle for use:
The gate on the cage can be raised or lowered to either trap the shark or set it free:
Here we have all the contents of the set together. Everything looks great together, though the base section is underwhelming compared to the sub:
From this angle you can really appreciate the length of the sub:
Looking up at the sub makes it seem very ominous. The Aquashark is puny in comparison:
Pricing and Value: At $50 US for 251 pieces, this set seems to offer a terrible price to parts ratio. However, this set should definitely not be judged by some magical golden ratio. The set includes many fantastic pieces that are well worth the price of admission, and the final product is very satisfying. When considering the set that way, overall value is quite good.
Design/Build: Construction starts off kind of shaky but the end result is very solid. The build is satisfying as you create the various sections of the sub. With no repetition, the model is assembled quickly and you'll always have a smile of your face. The designers did a good job of creating a sub that resembles a giant shark. The base, though built on a lovely baseplate still leaves much to be desired. A lot more could have been done - with this being the flagship set for the Aquasharks, they really deserve something better. Of special mention - I really think the colour scheme for the entire set is superb.
Pieces: If you're looking for rare or exclusive pieces, you've come to the right place. This set features a large quantity of fantastic pieces - all of which have great potential. There are also no stickers in the set, instead there are a handful of printed parts. Though I think more minifigures could have been included, the two that are provided are nicely detailed and look right at home with the theme.
Playability: This set contains everything you need for endless adventures. The sub is large but still fully swooshable - the many propellers to spin only encourage this. There are many hatches and moving parts on the sub. A mini sub can also be launched from within the mother ship for extra missions. The base, though small, is still a good companion for the big sub. Crystals can be hidden around this base to be found, and the shark can be captured and put in the cage (or released from the cage and set upon enemies of the Aquasharks).
Verdict: This set has always been one of my favorite Aquazone sets. When I received it as a gift from a friend back in 1996, I was immensely pleased. The Aquasharks subtheme consisted of relatively few sets - I don't have a problem with any of them, I just wanted more. The same could be said for Shark's Crystal Cave - I love everything that is provided, I just wish there was more of it (primarily a larger base). That really speaks to the appeal of the set, it looks great and it's a ton of fun to play with. A point was recently made about these Aquazone sets being forgotten and often overlooked. This is a shame as I believe this set is easily one of the high points in all the history of aquatic themes. 6190 Shark's Crystal Cave gets the ZO6 seal of approval and my highest recommendation
As always, comments and questions are more than welcome. Cheers!
Edited by WhiteFang, 16 April 2010 - 07:56 PM.