As I’ve written a number of times I’m not the biggest fan of mech/ robot style sets due to the large joints and hinges always somehow floating about uselessly (mostly). Naturally I still can’t escape buying one of these models every now and then and the Underwater Robot (31090) from the Creator 3in1 series is one of those rare exceptions.
The reason I got this set in the first place is of course that I’m sort of on a roll with the subject ever since the Deep Sea Creatures (31088). It’s not that I wanted to be complete or build a diorama, I was just in the mood. This set boasting a few parts that I didn’t have yet in my repository plus the large transparent bubble canopy made the decision easier, too. With the underwater-themed new Friends sets coming out now there sure is going to be a use for substituting the tinted counterparts with the clear version e.g. on the Dolphins Rescue Mission (41378) once I get it.
Price considerations with this set should be closer to your heart even than for other sets, given the nature of its content. Literally half the volume and weight is made up of the hinge/ joint parts, not leaving much room for other parts that perhaps might be more useful later. The suggested retail price of about 20 Euro therefore doesn’t seem like a good value proposition. Getting the set at 15 Euro or below would be more acceptable. Lucky for us street prices are already reflecting this, so it’s mostly good.
Aside from the main build of the mech itself there are some very minor extra items by ways of a see weed with some gold lumps and a little stingray. The latter follows the color scheme from the Deep Sea Creatures and would therefore match. The limitation would be that actually only the shark and perhaps the whale then would fit in terms of scale. For the squid and angler fish it would be more like a tiny baby.
One of the reasons I’m so reluctant to buy these robotic sets is the fact that LEGO usually don’t bother to include the joints and hinges in custom colors equal to the rest of the set. If at least that was a thing, there would be more incentive to bolster one’s parts arsenal with differently colored variations. In this set this becomes even more apparent as the robot is actually pretty tiny and on top of it not much of an effort is made to shim over the exposed grey areas with more yellow bricks.
I’m not opposed to the Dark Bluish Grey and Yellow scheme per se, but I think it would have looked better if there was more of the yellow. My reasoning here is that there would be a pressure-resistant, watertight shell all the way around leaving no internal parts exposed. It would be even more so if this was a manned mech and not a remotely operated/ autonomous unit as depicted. This lapse of consistent functional logic applies to the alternate models as well, with their open cockpits and exposed parts perhaps not making the most sense 300 ft under the sea.
The mechanics of this model are as simple as it gets, with the structure more or less consisting of immediate, direct connections of the joint elements plugged into one another and held together by a minimum of plates and tiles. the only area that involves some actual building is the main trunk. It’s not super-advanced, but at least uses a bit of perpendicular/ sideway construction. Once more the “air hose” system perhaps doesn’t do much logically, but adds a nice visual touch. They could likely have expanded on this by including some more tubes/ hoses (the soft pneumatic ones) to simulate electrical wires and pressure lines for the actuators.
The model is fully poseable, but naturally there is a big caveat here: With the joints connected so directly there is not full freedom of movement for each of them and in addition there is not enough leverage due to each segment being short. this makes it somewhat difficult to actually get the limbs where you want them. As an adult you can get there, but smaller kids will struggle. This limits the play value unnecessarily. the secondary models are more forgiving in this regard, as they do not require so many joints to be adjusted.
As a quick snack I enjoyed this set in an odd way, but ultimately its value for “serious” users is somewhat limited. There’s not enough “real” parts to keep you busy with the assembly for long and as display items the different models don’t hold up to scrutiny. More or less this is really a play set, though even in that case there are limitations. At the end of the day i tend to think that you would need two or three of those sets to really turn this into something by refining and expanding upon the ideas in the set – making the models larger or detailing them up.
It might also have helped had the set included parts to build a sled to drag behind the mech on the sea floor or a crate/ cage to hoist up samples and machinery to the (imaginary) research ship. there’s some ideas how this could be spun, but you definitely would need to invest a bit of extra time and money to get the best experience…