One of the themes that I was most excited about in the second half of 2015 was the City Deep Sea Explorers subtheme. Following on from last year’s awesome Arctic subtheme, Deep Sea Explorers can be considered the spiritual successor to 1997’s Divers, which saw LEGO plunge into the world of marine biology and underwater exploration.
In a bit of an unconventional move, I began my foray into 2015’s Deep Sea Explorers sets with the largest set from the theme – the Deep Sea Exploration Vessel!
Name: Deep Sea Exploration Vessel
Set Number: 60095
Price: AU$149.99 – Buy from LEGO.com [AUS] [USA]
Exclusive to: N/A
Theme: City – Deep Sea Exploration
Year of Release: 2015
Instructions: 60095 Deep Sea Exploration Vessel 1 2 3 4
When I was a boy, my dream job was to be a marine biologist. I was completely fascinated by life under the sea and spent countless hours devouring documentaries and books on the subject. 1997’s Divers theme was a dream come true for me, combining my love for LEGO and marine biology into what was a very memorable theme for me.
The Deep Sea Exploration Vessel is the flagship of the theme, boasting a massive ship, undersea shipwreck, plenty of Diver minfigs and of course a great selection of LEGO marine life. This is also the first LEGO boat or ship that I’ve built, so it was a pretty great experience for me.
Here’s a look at the sticker sheet – I like that you get mixed stickers, the opaque paper stickers and the transparent decal-type that I prefer. The two large stickers may appear intimidating but they’re actually fairly easy to apply. I feel that most of these aren’t essential (even the large ones) to the build so stickerphobes should rest easy.
Deep Sea Exploration Vessel comes with a generous amount of minifigures consisting of the ship’s crew and plenty of divers to go around. You get 7 minifigures in all, 2 crew members, 4 Scuba Divers and 1 Deep Sea Diver. I quite like sets with plenty of minifigures as they go a long way in making a set feel substantial, if you know what I mean.
Here are the four Scuba Divers who all sport generic goggles, Scuba tanks and the same torso and leg designs. The uniform look certainly makes sense and they actually look quite nice lined up all together. Kudos for LEGO championing gender equality as we get a 50-50 mix of male and female Scuba divers in this set.
P.S: Did you know that Scuba is an acronym for self-contained underwater breathing apparatus?
Each Scuba Diver minifig has a different head – from friendly and smiley female to grizzled veteran with scars and a 5 o’clock shadow. Curiously, only 2 of the divers have red flippers which I found a bit odd – it would’ve been so much better if they each had a pair of flippers.
Each minifig has a black wetsuit with an attractive red trim and plenty of great details such as different gauges to monitor water pressure, utility belt and other instruments that I’m not to familiar with as I have zero experience Scuba diving.
Each Scuba diver naturally has an oxygen tank – I removed one of them to give you a better look at the back printing. Nothing too extraordinary but the back printing is adequately detailed. I especially like the orange tubes that extend from the front.
Here’s the ship’s captain, the Deep Sea Diver and what I’m guessing is the first mate or expedition assistant. The Ship Captain is as stereotypical as they come, with a blue hat, authoritative facial hair and jacket with a neat little anchor pin on his left breast.
The crew member’s favourite colour seems to be red as he sports a red jacket, dark red jumper inside and also a dark red hat. These hats are usually reserved for LEGO City robbers and usually come in black – I don’t believe I’ve ever seen one in this shade before and I’m fairly certain its a new variant.
Update: Thanks to reader Sandrokan who pointed out that the First Mate is probably based on French ocean explorer, Jacques Cousteau!)
The Deep Sea Diver is the most interesting minifigure of the bunch, sporting cooler helmet that’s fused to the oxygen tanks and is a cool throwback to 2010’s Atlantis Theme which was also set underwater albeit in a fantasy world where humanoid marine creatures abound.
He has a welding torch which was last seen with Series 11’s Welder, presumably to help break open any steel structures within the shipwreck.
The Deep Sea Diver looks to be the oldest of the bunch, which kind of makes sense since you’d expect him to have the most experience in the team.
All 3 minifigures also have back printing – the first mate or crew member has the Deep Sea Explorers logo printed on the back of his torso. The logo is pretty kick-ass as it’s an anchor being gripped or strangled by what seems to be an Architeuthis. That’s a Giant Squid for you non-marine biology-inclined folk.
I don’t really like the Deep Sea Diver’s choice of an orange suit – combined with the helmet, which has been used most recently by Astronauts in City Space themed sets, it makes him look like he’s fitted out for outer space than under the sea.
It wouldn’t be an underwater LEGO theme without the marine life and this set delivers in spades. We get 5 aquatic organisms which includes 4 sharks and one snazzy looking red octopus.
I don’t quite like the new LEGO shark design. While the shark is a lot better designed with built-in gills and a nicer looking tail, I really dislike the printed eyes.
In the photo above, you can see the comparison with the classic LEGO shark which has hollow eyes. The new shark just looks a little too cartoony and non-threatening to me.
The Octopus is hands down my favourite marine critter in this set. The dark red colour-scheme works tremendously well for an octopus. The Dark Red Octopus used to be relatively rare, having only appeared in a 2009 Pirate Set but is now easily available through this set and the super affordable 60090 Scuba Scooter.
To explore the shipwreck, the Deep Sea Exploration Vessel is equipped with an armada of high-tech undersea equipment. From left to right, we have:
- a Scuba Scooter which the divers can grab hold of as they zip about underwater
- a remote sub which has a robotic arm and built-in video camera and lights
- a Submarine with two robotic arms
The yellow and black colour scheme works really well with the undersea equipment, giving them a very visually striking look. All of them sport great designs, with just the right number of parts to keep them looking simple yet believable enough.
Here’s the Diver riding the Scuba Scooter, which has clips on both sides to hold a mallet and a crowbar. Useful tools when it comes to plundering shipwrecks for gold bars.
This is a closer look at the remote rub. There’s an area for Divers to grip on the Sub if you choose to. Sure beats having to swim and tire themselves out.
I really like the Submarine’s domed cockpit and compact design. The robotic arms are really cool as well – they’re articulated enough that you can move and pose them about.
Here’s a look at the Shipwreck portion of the build, which I think is the most interesting part of this set. The Shipwreck itself consists of a hull and bridge which is fused to a rock formation.
Seems like the ship sank when it struck the rocks before coming down to rest in a very convenient upright position.
The Shipwreck has plenty of cool undersea features like all the seaweed and sea fronds that litter the seabed and rock formation. The shipwreck itself is skeletal-looking and I really like how the hull appears to be buried in the seabed.
So what’s there to explore? Don’t be fooled by the science-y Exploration Vessel or their cover story of being interested in researching the native marine life, the Divers are drawn to this shipwreck by the promise of gold bars.
Hidden within the shipwreck are two large wooden chests filled to the brim with gold bars. There are also gold bars scattered outside the ship as well. It’s very Piratey when you think about it and slightly odd, since the shipwreck has a very modern looking bridge.
Do modern ships still transport chests full of gold bars across the ocean? Maybe this was a modern pirate (probably from Somalia or Indonesia) ship that was smuggling gold bullion across international waters.
One of the set’s play features is the sunken ship’s apparent structural instability. The divers are up for a challenge as the shipwreck’s structure is unstable and could collapse at any moment!
By pulling a cunningly hidden switch, you’re able to send the sunken ship’s structure crashing down, sealing off the treasure or harming any divers in the vicinity. The play feature is very well designed, works flawlessly and fits in very well with the set’s entire theme.
The shipwreck looks much better when populated by Divers and aquatic life. The shipwreck scene is fairly large and comfortably fits all the sea critters, divers and their equipment.
The entire scene really come to life with colour and bustling activity – there are so many ways to create and arrange the sharks and divers that this is by far my favourite thing about this set. The play and display possibilities are almost endless!
Lastly, we arrive at the highlight of the set – the Deep Sea Exploration Vessel itself. This is my first City boat, so the building experience was mostly new to me.
Pictured above is the Vessel’s hull which was huge! Hot Dog Man included for scale. The entirety of the ship is built upon this massive piece of moulded plastic – it’s all sealed and watertight so it can apparently float. I should test this claim soon…
I had expected a lot more building to go into the ship, but as the hull takes up the lion’s share of the size, there were only a handful of bits to build with the most of it coming from the bridge.
That said, I was very impressed by the completed ship. Firstly, the colours go incredibly well together with bright orange and yellow elements cutting through all the greys and blues. The ship’s size was also another a big plus – everything is well balanced and proportioned without looking too garish.
The ship also comes with a bright orange lifeboat and you can also notice a buoy on the deck with a Scuba flag, the internationally recognized notification that a diver is in the vicinity. I really love when LEGO include real-life details like this into sets!
Here’s a look at the vessel from the side. You’ll notice that some of the stickers are quite jarring, like they weren’t applied properly. This is one of those rare cases where transparent decal stickers don’t quite work, as the ship’s hull has a matte texture to it which make the stickers very noticeable.
I really like the ship’s unique “two-prong” shape, which is very typical of research ships that launch submersibles for ocean expeditions.
The back view allows you a better look at the winch, which you can use to lower a shark-proof cage into the depths. You can place a diver in here with a camera to safely observe the sharks in their natural habitat.
Here’ a look at the ship’s bridge – a fairly normal looking brick-built structure. There is no way to properly place minifigures in the bridge as you can’t pop the roof open like you can with most other City vehicles. You just kinda have to nudge minifigs in there.
That’s mostly a minor complaint since for the most part, the designers have really captured the look and feel of vessel’s bridge remarkably well.
You can detach the entire bridge to reveal a cool inclusion – under-deck cabins for the crew! There are only 2 beds, a couple of cosy lamps and a newspaper in case the ship’s inhabitants get bored.
One of the set’s biggest challenges is that it’s pretty difficult to display the whole thing in a coherent manner. This was the best that I could achieve – I used a transparent acrylic stand to perch the boat up with the shipwreck scene below.
The entire set put together is HUGE and if display space is a constraint for you, be warned! This set (especially because of the ship) takes up a LOT of space.
This setup unfortunately couldn’t fit into my lightbox so I had to photograph it on my desk, but I’m quite happy with the end result!
What I liked:
- A superb lineup of minifigures and marine life
- The ship is satisfyingly huge
- Shipwreck scene is a lot of fun to play with
- Encouraging exploration and marine biology is a great move from LEGO
What I didn’t like:
- Set is a little hard to display properly
Final thoughts: Like the City Arctic sets, when LEGO first announced an entire theme devoted to undersea exploration, I knew I was in for a treat. I had an incredible experience building the Deep Sea Exploration Vessel and the end result was as satisfying as I had expected it to be.
My favourite thing about 60095 Deep Sea Exploration Vessel is that it just feels like a complete set. You get plenty of minifigures, marine organisms, an awesome looking ship, plenty of undersea equipment and even a shipwreck to play around with.
It’s quite rare these days to build a set and come away feeling like nothing else could be added to improve it. I tried thinking of stuff that LEGO might’ve missed out on but nothing came to mind! Maybe a giant shark, but that’s asking for quite a bit.
The only thing going against this set is the unfortunate release timing. Going head to head against the new Star Wars sets, Scooby Doo and Ninjago is a tough challenge and it’s quite likely that most people will deprioritize it for the shinier, sexier licensed sets.
In spite of that (and the constant onslaught that LEGO is laying on our wallets), I cannot help but recommend picking this set up, especially if you’re big into Science-themed sets. The value contained in this set is astounding and even at full price, I feel that you get a lot of bang for your buck.
Large ships always look great on display and the shipwreck scene promises plenty of fun when you populate it with marine life and divers.
Deep Sea Exploration Vessel is one of my standout sets this year, so don’t miss out on it if you can.