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Review: Shark's Crystal Cave

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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:


The Build

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? :tongue:


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 :thumbup: :


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:


Play Features:

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:


Complete Set

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:


Final Thoughts

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 :grin:

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

Edited by WhiteFang

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Very nice review Z06. This is a theme that I completely missed, but it does have some really interesting aspects, especially contained in this set. That printed classic space baseplate is most unique. I like the colors and the pattern. The sub includes some neat pieces like the trans orange/red hexagon windows - I could see these being used for a larger Nautilus-style sub. The other printed parts that you've pictured are really nice . Love that shark tail fin. :wub: The sub also has some neat storage compartments and seating for the deep sea divers (important for playability). Just noticed the working compass - how cool is that?

As a fan of underwater themes, especially the older Divers and Nautica themes, I would say that while the design is more playful and colorful, the unique pieces add a lot of interest to this set.

Thanks for sharing a great review that captures my interest. I'm going to have to look at a few other Aquazone sets.

EDIT: Oh, and nice job on that introductory image. Front-paged! :thumbup:

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Thanks Brickster!

With the Atlantis theme being available everywhere now, I thought it would be nice to revisit some of the sets that started all the underwater LEGO adventures. These first Aquazone themes were very well executed, and hopefully a bit more attention can be stirred up for them.

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I remeber when i was this set, or so i think at it was this set. i have some pieces still but i have losted maby over 80 prosent of pieces

Thanks for adding this

Captain Becker

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This is still my favorite set of the entire Aquazone theme. I like how the entire sub is shaped to resemble a shark, and it comes with a shark just to prove it. :tongue: As you said, it has several interior compartments and contains numerous cool parts that are unique to this set. The front area is large enough to fit a third minifig (under the canopy extender) with a few minor modifications. I made that change to mine.

The set's name is kind of misleading though, as the sub is obviously the main attraction and the "cave" isn't much of one at all. The set was apparently called the Sea Wolf in the UK instead.

On the plus side, colour differentiation is perfect:

Yes, the colors were easy to distinguish back then, although there were a lot fewer Lego colors used in the first place. They switched to the current color scheme for instructions some time around 2002, seemingly to include all the new colors they were introducing.

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Awesome review ZO6! I was always a fan of underwater themes, but this theme was before my big Lego Golden Age. I recall seeing this or a similar set at my older cousins' house, and I really liked the color scheme. The sub looks a little bulky to me, but with so many "realistic" hatches and controls, I think it's well worth the space.

Thanks again for the great review! :thumbup:

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Great review.

This set looks to me as though it falls just short of greatness. With a more built up base and a few more minifigs it would have been perfect.

Having said that, the printed baseplate would make for a wonderful "ice planet" sci fi setting.

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Wonderful set, and great review. When I read one of the classic set reviews, I really wish I could go back to my childhood, buy the sets, and take extra care of them. Ah, life . . . :tongue:

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It's... beautiful!

I have always loved underwater themes, and I love those tubey pieces. And the minifigs. And the baseplate. Great set, wish I have it.

And a great job reviewing it!


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Among the sets I regret not obtaining is this one. I've gone as far as reviewing the instructions to recreate it in my vision...

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Thanks a lot for the review.

I had the choice between getting this and the other sub:


I liked the sleek design of the other sub better, so I never got to see what this set consisted of. (hence the thanks) :)

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Thanks for reviewing this set! I remember begging my parents for this one back in 1996, but I was still too young then for a set of this caliber. 251 pieces does not sound like much now, but you're entirely correct in giving this set high marks for value. Unlike today, '90s TLG seldom inflated the parts count of sets with Technic bushings, 1x1 round plates, or Technic treads; reading "251 pieces" on the box meant you were buying rare, specialized parts that were well worth the price tag. The baseplate is especially wild, and I could imagine using it in any number of undersea or space dioramas. :cry_happy:

That said, the actual design of the base is a bit weak, since only a small portion of the baseplate is used for the main structure. One more BURP and some seaweed could have fixed that.

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Thanks for that wonderful review of a great set I always dreamed of having but never acquired. I had many of the Aquazone sets. Sadly, they are all in pieces now and I don't think I still have all the pieces to them anymore. :cry_sad:

I hope more of these sets are reviewed. I was quite sad to see that most of them don't have reviews at all.

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Auugh..thank you so much for posting this review! Brings back great memories of my youth. This was one of the first big sets I got.

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