Built for maneuverability and versatility, the Crystal Crawler is the latest addition to the aquanauts line of deep sea submarines. Its variable pitch propellers allows it to perform maneuvers a normal fixed propeller submarine could not. In addition to normal submarine operations, the Crystal Crawler is able to "walk" on the seabed using its four propeller arms. Two large ballast wheels mounted at the front and back of the vessel ensures stability of the craft. The wheels can also be use to "steam-roll" across the seabed.
Since a high degree of control is required to control such a vessel, only a select few Aquanauts are qualified to pilot this venerable machine. The high cost of manufacturing the variable pitch propeller arms and extra strong carbon fibre propeller blades makes this vessel a rare sight in the depths of the ocean floor.
Set name: Crystal Crawler
Set number: 6145
Number of pieces: 96
Year of released: 1996
Price: RM 43.50 = USD 13.75 in 1996; About USD 31.00 for a MISB set now.
The front of the box shows the Crystal Crawler in operation on the seabed. At the top right corner is the logo showing that this set is from the Aquanauts line. If you look closely, the Aquanaut pilot is holding 2 knives in the cockpit!
The rear of the box shows the 4 alternate models that can be build using parts from this set. The box still has the price tag of the store it was purchased. Apparently this set costs Ringgit Malaysia (RM) 43.50 back in 1996. Metrojaya is the name of a department store in Malaysia.
The front page of the instruction booklet is similar to the front box-art. The instruction is used for a similar set with the number 1728 which comes with a blue plastic baseplate.
A random page showing the installation of the spring brick.
This set comes with 1 Aquanaut minifigure. The torso is printed with an Aquanaut logo and uniform. Our Aquanaut here looks cool wearing shades, even when underwater!
The combo picture below shows the Aquanaut with his visor up and down and the rear of his equipment. There are 2 places to hold the knives on his diving equipment.
There are only 2 printed pieces in this set; a 1x2 control panel tile and a 2x2 circular tile with the Aquanaut logo.
The build has 15 steps. We start of with the structure of the submarine followed by the propeller and lastly the flexible arms.
The completed Crystal Crawler
Our Crystal Crawler is now ready to explore the seabed! The design of the Crystal Crawler is very swoosh-able and will not fall apart when flying underwater during play. For some unknown reason TLG decided to add in a small bush as an extra in this set but without any crystal to play with!
There are 2 harpoon holders at the front for use against annoying Aquasharks. Also in front is the large ballast wheel which also acts as a wheel to roll across the seabed. On the clear blue window of is a printed 2x2 circular plate with the Aquanauts logo.
Inside the cockpit is room for 1 Aquanaut to sit with his re-breather gear. A small 1x2 printed computer plate on his right is used to control the Crystal Crawler.
Rear of Crystal Crawler has hooks to place the minifigure's flippers as well as the rear ballast wheel.
The key feature of the Crystal Crawler is the shock absorber brick which locks the propeller arms at different positions. The position of the propeller arms are dependent on which surface the shock absorber is pushing against the octagonal brick.
As you can see in the picture below, the arms can be positioned in many ways depending on the type of operation the Crystal Crawler is involved; All four arms up to roll across the seabed, horizontal for maximum speed or arms down to walk across the seabed.
The picture below shows all the arms in an upright position to allow it to steam-roll across the seabed. The 2 large wheels are large enough that the Crystal Crawler does not tip over to either side.
Since harvesting crystals is part and parcel of Aquanaut operations, the Crystal Crawler is equipped with 2 flexible arms with grab jaws. However it will mostly likely crush anything in front of it due to the position and short length of the arms. The Crystal Crawler does not have any problem grabbing stuff on its side though. Also notice that the Crystal Crawler is standing on all four of its propeller arms.
The arms are still relevant today; even with the threat of Sharkmen, Squidman, Octoman, an expert Aquanaut is able to overpower a heavily armed foe and use their weapons against them!
The section below describes and show the 4 alternate models shown on the back of the box. All the parts come from the Crystal Crawler and the model is build as accurate as possible to the picture shown on the rear of the box. To recap, here is the picture of the rear of the box showing the alternate models.
Alternate model 1
The first alternate model is a submarine with 3 propellers at the rear and 2 flexible arms to harvest crystals. The octagonal clear window piece acts as a windshield for the sub. This model looks sleek and build for speed! Two harpoon launchers at the front provide protection from crystal thieves.
The center propeller is located slightly ahead of the other 2 to avoid the propellers from going against each other. The front window can be opened to allow access to the cockpit.
Alternate model 2
The second alternate model uses the 2 large space wheels to roll across the seabed. It has a flexible arm at the rear like a scorpion which unfortunately isn't long enough to pick up objects in front.
At the rear are 2 propellers for propulsion.
Alternate model 3
The third alternate model has 4 propellers whereby 2 are for yaw movement. It looks less aerodynamic than the first 3 with pontoons at the front and the rear. This model looks as though it is build for maneuverability rather than speed underwater.
Viewing from the top, the pontoons are spread out for better stability.
Alternate model 4
The final alternate model is an interesting model; it is an underwater walking mech! It uses the shock absorber bricks on its legs which allows it to hop around the seabed! It has 2 arms with grabber claws to harvest crystals.
Comparison with current Atlantis set
The closest comparison we can make is by comparing it with the 8057 Atlantis Wreck Raider set. It is a good comparison to use since the Wreck Raider has 2 minifigures to offset the low piece count and the price has taken into account 14 years of inflation. The comparison between the 2 sets are:-
Minifigures : Crystal Crawler=1; Wreck Raider=2
Pieces: Crystal Crawler= 96; Wreck Raider= 64
Printed pieces: Crystal Crawler= 2; Wreck Raider= 0 (have sticker sheet)
Price: Crystal Crawler= RM 43.50 (in 1996); Wreck Raider= RM 59.90 (in 2010)
Box Size: Both have similar box size
As per the picture below, it is very subjective on which set is better. On one hand, the Crystal Crawler have an innovative play feature where the propellers can be adjusted. On the other hand the Atlantis set comes with 2 awesome minifigures in addition to the small underwater bike. In my opinion I can see that the trend has changed from concentrating on the vehicle to making better minifigures.
Aquanaut: That's some bulky diving gear you got there Ace!
Ace: Might be bulky, but it sure packs alot of air to breath for long periods underwater!
Aquanaut: Can you lift your visor? Can't really hear you.
Ace: ..... gosh I hate it when older sets are better than newer sets.
Unlike our captain Ace, the aquanaut is armed to the teeth with knives. After the experience dealing with the Aquasharks, the new sharkmen is no match for our aquanaut!
Design: 9/10 It has an ingenious design whereby it uses a shock absorber brick to hold the propellers in various positions.
Playability:8/10 There are many scenarios one could do with this set due to its ingenious design. It is capable of rolling across the seabed, to walking carefully on the ocean floor to take the last crystal or just traveling underwater. The only problem I see is the lack of crystals to harvest as no crystal piece was included in this set.
Minifigure: 8/10 The minifigure is top notch with opening visor, detailed re-breather gear and printed Aquanaut torso.
Parts: 9/10 This set comes with an abundance of yellow pieces such as the hard plastic medium wheel, the octagonal corner brick and many more plates. It also comes with 2 flexible arms with grabber claws. But the real bounty is the 2 nos of shock absorber brick which can be used for suspension in vehicles!
Price: 8/10 The asking price is worth it although the set is more expensive than a similar set from other themes such as Town since it has a more detailed minifigure and specialized parts.
Overall: 8/10 A great set to supplement your Aquanauts collection. TLG went out to create a submarine with a non-conventional design and the Crystal Crawler is the end result.
Edited by Peppermint_M, 13 July 2010 - 07:37 AM.