Sunday, April 26, 2015

Under the deep blue sea: pre-release analysis of the upcoming Deep Sea Explorers subtheme

Judging by the fact that my Summer 2015 Set Analysis post is now The Brick Bucket's third-most popular post all-time, readers seem to like when I analyze upcoming sets to look at interesting minifigures, pieces, and techniques and just offer some interesting commentary on the sets. Now that we're getting the official images of some of this year's summer sets, I want to look at the ones that I'm most excited about: the new City subtheme, Deep Sea Explorers. 

There are 5 sets in the wave and while I don't have any confirmed piece counts or prices, I can certainly speculate based on past releases. I want to focus in particular on new pieces, interesting techniques, and how I think the sets will ultimately fare both on store shelves and in LEGO fan reviews once they are released. I definitely want to pick up a few of these Deep Sea Explorers sets to review right here on The Brick Bucket. 

So without further ado, let's start looking into the sets themselves. 

60090 Deep Sea Scuba Scooter
Price estimate: $6.99 

City is the only theme that truly continues to have "army builder" type sets priced under $10. Back a few years ago sets like this were everywhere and it was easy to build up an "army" of generic minifigures and vehicles from a specific theme. That doesn't occur so much anymore as LEGO prices rise; sets that would once have been $5 impulse buys are now $7 or $8, a big increase when the sets have so few pieces. Recent City sets of this type, like this one, have been rather underwhelming. But the Deep Sea Scuba Scooter might be more along the lines of a classic "army builder" set, and I applaud LEGO for that. 

There's a bit of everything in this set: a small sea-scooter for a vehicle; a generic diver minifigure; and an octopus and some seaweed as additional props. The octopus's inclusion is kind of interesting in a set this small, since it's still a pretty rare piece. Another nice part is the 2x4 curved slope (part #93606) in yellow, a color which is only in three other sets - one of which is a promo polybag while the other two are $50 or more. If you want some of this useful piece in a common color this will become the set to buy. 

I can't get a good look at the diver minifigs from this theme but they use a red-and-black color scheme and seem mostly the same as divers from past underwater themes. 

This seems like a really nice small set. I can't find anything to complain about in it. 

60091 Deep Sea Starter Set
Price estimate: $9.99

A couple years ago LEGO started producing $10 starter sets for new releases of City subthemes. These typically contain 3-4 minifigures, a small vehicle, and some props and accessories. These sets tend to have the best value among City sets and are a good way to build your collection. 

In the Deep Sea Starter Set we get three diver minifigs, a shark, an ROV, and a small treasure crate. In all it looks to be around 80-90 pieces, with about a third of those in the minifigs. It's interesting to note that one diver has an orange suit and a different helmet; my guess is that he is the "deep sea diver" while the other two work in more shallow water. (This is backed up by the figs' positioning on the box art.)

Hey... we finally get a reprinted shark! Until now the print hadn't been updated since the piece was introduced, but we saw a reprinted alligator this past winter so it was only a matter of time. This design looks so much better - compare it to the original and see for yourself. 

This is another really solid set. None of the design flaws that characterize many modern City sets, and a good way to get some new parts and minifigs. 

60092 Deep Sea Submarine
Estimated price: $39.99

Now the sets are "leveling up" a bit. This one reminds me of the fantastic Aqua Raiders theme from back in 2008, both with the yellow/black color scheme and the overall design. I'd like to see this set priced at $30, but judging from the size it's more likely that it'll be $40, which is kind of sad. 

In addition to the main submersible model, there are two divers and a sub pilot for minifigs; plus a shark; crab; and rock outcropping with seaweed, treasure, and what seems to be a whale skeleton. 

The sub itself is dominated by two big, flexible arms. One has a big ol' grabber claw on the end, and the other holds some more delicate instruments. Possibly the claw will enable one to lift up the whale skeleton and access the treasure as the set's main play feature, although this is just speculation. 

As the mid-range set of this wave, this is a respectable option, but bound to be priced higher than most buyers would probably like. There doesn't seem to be anything outstanding about the set that will entice people, so if the price isn't low enough it may not sell well. 

60093 Deep Sea Helicopter
Estimated price: $49.99

The City theme as a whole has been kind to helicopters recently, with at least four copter-centric sets in the last year. The purpose of this one is to haul a small submersible vehicle; the box shows the sub being lifted out of the water, but it could presumably also be submerged by the copter's winch. Some hinge plates under the first rotor indicate that the wall can open so you can access the interior, and there seem to be three minifigs as well as a shark and crate of treasure included in the set. 

This set is very well-designed; the kicker will be the price. The most similar set to this in recent years is 4439 Heavy-Lift Helicopter from the Forest Police subtheme, which had 393 pieces and sold for $49.99. That set had a slightly more complex copter, but its vehicle was a simple ATV that was much fewer pieces than this submersible, so I assumed the Deep Sea set would have more parts. However, Brickset reveals that the Deep Sea set actually has 388 pieces, 5 less than the 2012 set. I think $50 is the safest bet for this copter's price tag. 

60095 Deep Sea Exploration Vessel
Estimated price: $99.99

Well folks, here it is: the biggest and baddest of the Deep Sea Explorers sets. There's a lot to take in here, including - most noticeably - a new boat mold. This one has a raised front and an open back to allow a submersible or dive cage to dock there. 

I was surprised to find that this set contains seven minifigs - most City sets these days have no more than five or six. A full crew is necessary here to man the four vehicles as well as explore the wreck and watch sharks from the dive cage. In fact this set just contains a lot of everything: minifigs, animals, and vehicles. Count 'em: the main vessel itself; a small submersible; a scuba jet; an ROV, and - visible on the vessel's front deck - an inflatable raft. Such a large amount of vehicles will no doubt make this a great playset and enhance its buying appeal. A cool feature would be the capacity for the vessel to actually store every vehicle within it, but I don't think there's enough room for that. The open back should provide some docking space though. 

There are a lot of animals as well: a dark red octopus and a dark grey shark are more common, but there's also a white shark (exclusive to this and 60013 Coast Guard Helicopter) and a saw shark (exclusive to this and 70413 Brick Bounty). In light of all the sharks the set provides a shark-cage with which to protect a diver. 

The final part of this build is an old shipwreck that the divers are exploring. There's seaweed all over the wreck but it seems to contain some valuable treasure. It looks like the middle section can be detached to reveal the treasure beneath. 

I was having trouble estimating the price of this set. The recent set 60014 Coast Guard Patrol is similar but smaller (449 pieces for $80) and has a CPP of 15.59 cents. According to Brickset, the Deep Sea set contains 717 pieces, so to have about the same CPP it would need to cost $110. I hope it won't have that high of a CPP, so $100 seems like the best option. But I'm interested to see how far off I'll be (if at all) once pricing info becomes available. 

This concludes The Brick Bucket's pre-release analysis of the new Deep Sea Explorers subtheme. If this post gets a good reception I'll consider doing this for some other Summer 2015 releases as well. These sets should be finding their way into stores soon, and I look forward to getting a few to expand my collection and review here on the blog. Let me know your thoughts, and stay tuned! 

UPDATE (5/9/15): More official images of these sets have been posted by Allen Tran on Flickr in this album

Sources for this post: 

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