February is DC Super Heroes month here on Jay’s Brick Blog and I’ve selected Black Manta Deep Sea Strike as the next LEGO set to review. Black Manta Deep Sea Strike is one of the two medium-sized sets from 2015’s awesome LEGO Justice League subtheme. Although the subtheme is named after the powerful alliance of top shelf DC Super Heroes, the sets are chiefly set up to reenact iconic rivalries between the stars of the DC Comics and their corresponding super villains.
Name: Black Manta Deep Sea Strike
Set Number: 76027
Price: AU$79.99 (Buy from LEGO.com [AUS] [USA])
Exclusive to: N/A
Theme: DC Super Heroes Justice League
Year of Release: 2015
Instructions: LEGO 76027 Black Manta Deep Sea Strike
After helping out his yellow-phobic pal Green Lantern battle his archnemesis Sinestro on the alien world of Korrugar, Batman returns to Earth to lend a hand to his fish-talking friend, Aquaman.
The premise of Black Manta Deep Sea Strike is pretty simple – Robin does his best impression of damsel-in-distress, getting caught by longtime Aquaman villain Black Manta and it’s up to Bats to lead a heroic underwater rescue in his Bat Sub. Aquaman tags along to provide directions underwater as the Bat Sub’s GPS gets unreliable when you’re 20,000 leagues under the sea.
I have to be honest, I’m not the biggest Aquaman fan, although I did love him in the Flashpoint crossover arc when he went to war against Wonder Woman and Themyscira. To me, Aquaman has always been that guy who can speak to fish and rules the ocean – other than having a lot of cool underwater technology at his disposal and being ruler of the oceans, he’s never really appealed to me as a Super Hero in a traditional sense.
We get a respectable bunch of good guy minifigures in Black Manta Deep Sea Attack – Robin Scuba, Aquaman and
ScuBatman lynchpin of the LEGO DC Super Heroes, Batman himself. If you’re new to LEGO or the DC Super Heroes theme, this set is an excellent way to catch up on some of the major characters from the DC Comics universe, especially if you missed the previous round of sets.
It’s probably done on purpose, but to collect the entire Justice League lineup, you’ll have to purchase every single set in this subtheme – it’s a calculated move on LEGO’s part, distributing all the core members of the Justice League across all 5 sets. Some people might disagree with this approach but I think it’s a great way to allow newer fans a legitimate chance at collecting all the core Justice League characters without having to overpay on Bricklink or the secondary market.
Scuba Robin is the damsel of distress in this set. It’s a running joke that Bruce Wayne’s sidekick is utterly helpless when it comes to fighting crime, always requiring help from Batman to save him from sticky situations – that’s the exact tone I’m going to adopt for this review.
Scuba Robin as his name suggests is Robin is a SCUBA suit. He somehow manages to get captured and gets himself imprisoned in an undersea ruin. Don’t ask me what Robin was doing to get himself captured – he probably spent too much time admiring pretty little tropical fish and got lost.
As a scuba diver, Robin does make a pretty convincing case out of his underwater fashion sense. Robin’s iconic red and black colours feature prominently but not in a heavy handed sense, leaving a lot of room to showcase his technologically advanced SCUBA suit.
His snorkel-helmet makes him look very immature, but his fantastic face printing has a really cool and futuristic vibe to it, thanks to his bright yellow goggles and oxygen mask. I also really like his torso design, which perfectly blends Robin’s logo with some metallic embellishments.
There’s a lot going for Robin – one of the things that I found really perplexing is the need for a snorkel helmet, as his masked face does a convincing job of making it look like he has enough equipment to stay underwater. He also has a bright yellow oxygen tank strapped to his back, which scores points for being very retro but I would’ve preferred the more modern single tank that some of the newer Divers come with.
Flip Robin’s underwater masked face around and you’re treated to an alternate face which has Robin’s traditional eye-mask as well as a shocked expression. To add to Scuba Robin’s versatility, the set also contains a black hairpiece, in case you ever find the need of switching Robin’s look like an Action Man doll.
Placing silly Robin stereotypes aside, I quite like Scuba Robin. Much like Green Lantern vs Sinestro’s Space Batman, I’m starting to really dig these alternate Super Hero costumes – it adds a lot of variety to these established Super Hero characters.
Up next is Arthur Curry, better known as Aquaman, the king of Atlantis. If he looks somewhat familiar, you’re 100% right – Aquaman in this set is a carbon copy of the minifigure found in 2013’s Arctic Batman vs. Mr Freeze : Aquaman on Ice set, which is a little disappointing since I’d have expected LEGO to slightly upgrade his look, or at least give us a small enhancement to his face or hair.
Speaking of his hair, I’m not a fan of Aquaman’s hairstyle – it’s a little too beach blonde surfer dude and doesn’t really match Aquaman’s appearance in the comics where his hair is cropped a little shorter and has no fringe. Although it’s essentially the same figure, that doesn’t have to be a bad thing as his torso has a decent amount of printed detail, and his orange upper body goes very well with his green gloves and legs.
Like most licensed characters, Aquaman has back printing as well as an dual-sided head, which has an angry teeth-baring expression. The details on his back are pretty standard, you get your muscle definition, belt printing as well as his suit’s scaly texture.
My disappointment that Aquaman was completely unchanged far outweighs all the positives of the minifigure. It feels like LEGO were extremely lazy with this whole minifigure recycling business. I’m probably less than impressed because I now have two identical Aquamen and I have no idea what to make of this unneeded minifigure redundancy.
Comparing Batman’s distinguished history of donning multiple costumes to Aquaman really puts LEGO’s laziness into perspective. Like Robin, we get a Scuba-masked variant of Batman, although he has a relatively regular Batsuit. There’s so much to like about Batman’s New-52 suit, but the highlight has got to be his new cape material. Batman’s new cape is made out of a new kind of fabric, one that’s heavier and feels less ‘papery’ than the usual cape material. It drapes oh so nicely around Batman’s chiseled physique.
Speaking of his physique, Batman’s new grey torso is an absolute beauty as well. I love how the deep grey shade contrasts against his black cape, pale yellow belt and body armour definition. LEGO have also incorporated the new chest logo design, which has three fine lines that extend from each wingtip.
Batman’s new chinless cowl is starting to grow on me, although I still can’t get over the fact that a new cowl did not automatically translate to a headband-less Batman. On the flip side, Batman has his regular curt face and that cursed headband. His scuba mask-less face has some odd colouring – it looks a little bluish and dull, quite possibly because the head’s base is black, so the printing clarity got messed up.
Batman’s new suit is slick, contemporary and has a wonderfully complex level of detail, making this quite possibly one of my favourite Batsuits yet.
The true star of this set is Black Manta, one of Aquaman’s most iconic archenemies. Also included is Black Manta’s (not really) sidekick, a Robo-shark!
Black Manta is the bug-eyed underwater supervillain who derives his powers from his suit, which allows him to survive underwater as well as grant him superhuman strength. Oh, and he can also shoot laser out of his helmet’s eyes. HOW COOL IS THAT!?
Despite not being the most familiar person on Aquaman, I’m still very well acquainted with Black Manta, which speaks volumes about how iconic he is as a supervillain. His unique headpiece is obviously his main point of difference – the printing on his red eyes is exceptionally sharp and detailed and the overall accessory just feels oh-so-premium.
I do wish that the printing on his suit is a little clearer, the details are great if you take enough time to stare at it mostly gets lost within the blackness. It’s a little overwhelming and I think that his torso doesn’t have the same vibrant effect as his headgear. This entire theme is based on the comic books and cartoons, and I’ve come to expect a brighter and comic-booky colour palette with all the minifigures in this theme.
Here’s a look at Black Manta’s back printing as well as his headgear. Again, the colours on his back are a little too dull for my tastes. Black Manta’s headgear design fascinates me as I expected it to be a whole rigid chunk. The fact that you have to bend the flexible ribbed hose to attach the headpiece to the neckpiece is great as it allows the entire accessory to have a much more believable and realistic look and feel.
It’s not pictured but Black Manta comes with a grey spear. Nothing too fancy, and I didn’t want his weapon to obstruct his body, so he’s not empty handed in case you were wondering.
Not sure if this is Black Manta’s pet or sidekick, but Robo Shark over here is a curious little beast. He has a black shark body which I’m pretty sure is brand new as I’ve never seen sharks come in black ever. He has greyish head and upper jaw, which allows him to look like a half-machine, half-shark hybrid which is accentuated by a sticker on his snout. As if being half-machine wasn’t terrifying enough, he also has to missiles or laser blasters attached to him, which is pretty damn cool.
Curiously, the white studs attached to the blasters glow in the dark. I think the Robo Shark looks great, although I’m probably more excited of the thought of getting a fully black shark – hopefully in the upcoming City Divers subtheme that’s due in the second half of the year. The only thing that bothers me about Robo Jaws here is the sticker on his head is quite jarring – something LEGO could’ve avoided if they had used the clear decal material.
Bag 1 and 2 has you building yet another one of Bruce Wayne’s expensive Bat-themed vehicles – this time a Bat-Submarine. I think it looks a little silly. It’s a little too long and looks more like a speedboat than it does a submarine, mostly because of the ridiculous lone “wing” that sticks out the back.
The two prongs that extend out the front and back are also curious design additions, since I imagine that it wouldn’t be very hydrodynamic as submarines should be.
There are a few decent positives – I like the torpedo pods that flank the cockpit, but am not very impressed by the use of flick fire missiles. C’mon LEGO, it’s 2015 – phase them out already. I also quite like the grey grills near the bottom of the sub, as it breaks up all the black and yellow.
Other than that, there’s not a lot to like about the sub. I really hate the valve wheel that is awkwardly positioned in the middle of nowhere. It makes no sense at all. Why is it there? It’s not like it’s a regular submarine where you can twist it to open up a hatch, since the actual cockpit flips open. And don’t even get me started on the steering wheel. Batman might be the best detective in the world, but he sure needs some engineering and common sense knocked into him when it comes to vehicle design.
Phew, felt good getting that off my chest.
The next few bags are a huge improvement over the tepid Batsub. Black Manta’s vehicle really only has one downside – its name sucks. Seriously, it’s called the Sea Saucer. For such a cool and imposing Manta Ray-shaped vehicle, Sea Saucer is such a weaksauce name.
Now that we’ve gotten the negatives out of the way, we can focus on Black Manta’s excellent ride. It has a very UFO-esque shape to it, and does a great job of capturing a stingray’s shape. The colours are a dynamic blend of grey, red and orange against black which gives it a suitably evil vibe. The ribbed hoses that extend to the Sea Saucer’s tail also do a great job of emulating Black Manta’s helmet.
The angular cockpit is a great choice by LEGO – it’s orange and reminds me of windshields of Ice Planet 2002. There’s a stickered curved slope right at the front which has Black Manta’s motif and it’s flanked by the new stud shooters. Instead of just firing studs, it shoots missiles which is quite a clever way of reusing one of the more functional shooters in recent times. The projectiles are fired off with a very satisfying amount of force and also has glow in the dark studs.
A small squarish sticker is affixed to each “tip”. It adds a nice bit of graphic detail to an otherwise plain build, and for the first time ever, I actually wouldn’t have mind a bigger sticker.
The Sea Saucer’s raised “tail” also has a small round sticker on tile. The tail is pretty small and insignificant, being there purely as a place to connect the hoses, but it still looks pretty cool and gives the entire build a varied shape.
Here’s the back of the Sea Saucer, which is one of my favourite angles as you get to really appreciate the wonderful curves and contours of the underwater vessel. It’s so well designed that you could easily make a few minor modifications to turn it into a spacecraft.
Black Manta has much more sense than Batman – he has an actual computer console in his vehicle, with advanced seabed mapping technology and tons of buttons. The blue technic pins feel a little out of place and a little too exposed, but it’s not like you’re going to be staring into the cockpit much anyway.
Here’s Black Manta occupying his cockpit – he has to stand or else he won’t be able to get a good look outside, but I guess that’s what his navigational software is for. I really like the Sea Saucer as it’s easily the best part of the set and is a formidable addition to the armada of “bad guy” vehicles.
To close things off, we get a small section of underwater ruins, where Scuba Robin is held captive. While it’s easy to just write this off as filler to bump up the piece count, at the very least we get a useful collection of parts such as the Roman pillars, some foliage and tan plates which are always handy to have on hand.
It is nice to have non-vehicle models in sets. I find that with too many LEGO sets these days, vehicles often occupy too much of the set and as an adult collector, I would really appreciate a return to buildings, landscapes and scenes. This tiny bit of an undersea temple at the very least delivers some of that.
Robin is chained and hung upside down as he awaits rescue. Aquaman’s trident is also stolen and hidden here by Black Manta, so as always, it’s up to Batman to save the day. How original!
There’s a minor play feature here which is supposed to involved the dreaded super jumpers. If you had read my Green Lantern vs Sinestro review you would know to avoid using the super jumper at all costs, as it has a very high chance of damaging your minifig’s legs. Even I wouldn’t inflict that kind of torture upon Robin.
By knocking over the pedestal that Aquaman’s trident is attached to, you free Robin from his chains. Pretty simple, but it works quite well to give the set some playability that isn’t constrained to flick fires or stud blasters.
What I liked:
- Black Manta is a great villain to have
- The Sea Saucer’s remarkable design
- Alternative Scuba Robin and the new Batman Suit
What I didn’t like:
- Aquaman’s recycled minifigure is disappointing
- Nearly everything about the Bat Sub
- This set is shockingly expensive
Final thoughts: This is probably the worst kind of LEGO Super Heroes set. What LEGO have done here is basically put a pretty popular villain into a sloppy expensive set with the aim of making you pay more than you should so that you can add him to your collection. In a sense, it’s incredibly predatory and aimed at collectors who cannot stand missing out on the DC characters that they love.
The minifigures are just okay with the exception of Black Manta. You’re probably better off just going on Bricklink for Black Manta, because everything else in this set is non-essential. Other than the Sea Saucer, I will be disassembling and scavenging the Batsub and ruins for parts as soon as possible.
As a set, it’s actually not too bad, the Sea Saucer is really cool, the Bat Sub is passable but Black Manta Deep Sea Strike rears its ugly head when you realise that it will set you back AU$80. That’s a LOT of money for not a whole lot of value here and I cannot in good conscience recommend this set.
To put things into perspective, this set only costs $40 in the US, which I think is a fair price. Even if you take the weak Aussie dollar into account, the markup on this particular set is unjustifiable since you’re receiving so little value.
Only get this if you’re a hardcore DC Super Heroes fan and you cannot bear the thought of missing out on Black Manta.
This is an overpriced set that should really only cost $60 at the very most. There’s so little value in this and the fact that ardent DC Super Heroes fans will end up with two identical Aquamen is a huge slap in our collective faces. You’re not missing out on a whole lot if you just ignore this set or wait till it goes on clearance. Don’t let the box size fool you, it’s just not worth it.
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