In which I look at 76109 Quantum Realm Explorers and realise that not only does it have some great minifigures, but it also gives a masterclass in greebles! And there isn’t long to enter our Ant-Man Contest.
When the original Ant-Man film was released a few years ago, I missed seeing it at the cinema, and I missed getting hold of the single LEGO® Set related to the movie. And as such, I missed out getting hold of an Ant-Man Minifigure. A favourite figure amongst toy photographers, there are so many images of this figure exploring the world. A month or so ago I went to see Ant-Man and the Wasp. It was an enjoyable film, full of humour, action and special effects. I have finally got around to building the set, Quantum Realm Explorers. You might have seen posts over the last few weeks, providing an opportunity to win this set in a building competition: I will come back to that later.
Quantum Realm Explorers was released in June 2018, and has 200 pieces, including 3 minifigures. It costs $39.99AUD; or $19.99USD, 24.99€ or £19.99. 10c/part in the US, 10p/part in the UK, 12.5 eurocents/part in Germany and 20¢/part in Australia…
Many people may be looking at this set as an opportunity to pickup the minifigures, and each of the figures included in this set are terrific. We have: Ant-Man, Wasp and Ghost.
They are all pretty close to their movie counterparts. They all have detailed torso printing, front and back, to match their characters, as well as double sided faces. Ant-Man is the only one with leg printing, however. Both his torso and legs, however, are new prints. As far as head wear is concerned: ghost has a dark bluish grey hood element, which has been well used (in other colours) in the past for elves, Jedi, red riding hood and similar medieval travellers – it has appeared in this colour a few times in the past.
Ant-Man has the same helmet seen in the original Ant-Man: it features a dual moulded silver metallic-transparent red mold which allows you to see his eyes.
As you can see here, there are some subtle differences between his original look (on the left), and the one we see today…
Wasp has a light bluish grey helmet, with a print representing her goggles and rebreather. is is a reissue of the helmet that Iron Man wore in 76077-Detroit Steel Strikes. Unlike Ant-Man’s face, you can see no actual details of the figure’s head while the helmet is on. Two different approaches to a similar design problem. Wasp also features transparent blue wings, similar to that seen with a couple of collectable minifigures. Ant Man carries a shrink/grow ray gun and Ghost comes with some launch able power blasts.
The other Accessories in the set are a trans red canister, and a large pearl gold trophy cup, the significance of which is apparent once you see the film.
The Quantum Vehicle is essentially a one man craft with a bubble canopy. The build is not too complex: The first bag develops the basic platform, using the ‘helicopter skid’ element as a core for the actual landing skids. We get the base of the cabin, as well as see some elements (especially binoculars) used to break up the lines of the build.
The Remaining bag give us the engines of the craft, as well as the bubble copy over the pilot’s seat. Unlike the vehicle in the movie, there is only room for one minifigure in the LEGO Version. The side engines are attached via a ball joint, allowing more detailed positioning. There are a few stickers to place, and they all act to enhance the level of detail shown on the model.
The Quantum Craft is covered with some fantastic greebles. The concept of greebling is commonplace in the LEGO Spaceship community. Details added to an object to make the surface seem more interesting, from a design point of view, examples would include the surface of the Millennium Falcon, and the Imperial Star Destroyer in Star Wars (Episode IV as it would become eventually known). These models were initially made out of plywood and styrofoam. Various model kits were used to provide elements to add to the surface, to improve the visual interest.
We can compare the Quantum vehicle with the One Man Spaceship 918 from 1978-79, one of the original LEGOLAND Space sets: as you can see, the older set is very plain. there are simple thrusters, some printed bricks, helping us to se the designation of the craft, but otherwise the surfaces are flat (but not necessarily smooth).
In this set, we see hollow studs, a recoloured roof tile frame, barrels, mufflers and binoculars,roller skates and bucket handles used to provide additional detail: nontraditional uses for this variety of elements. They work together to give the impression of an intricate piece of machinery, with lots of surface detail. I feel this is possibly one of the best examples of greebling in all of the 2018 sets, with the exception of the UCS Y-Wing released earlier this year.
How much difference does the greebling make?
I built a greeble free version of the Quantum Vessel using the digital building program Mecabricks. I have not done a lot of digital building previously, however I find this platform to be reasonably simple and easy to use for my purpose. Unlike LEGO Digital Designer or Stud.io, it runs within a web browser. The program also has a built in rendering engine which converts your design to something a little more photorealistic.
I replaced all of the textured bricks, as well as small elements such as roller skates, barrels, mufflers and binoculars, with plain bricks and slopes. The result was something like this:
It is dull, lifeless and the build appears to suffer from a lot of repetitive element usage. Comparing this with the completed set (even without stickers) you can see how much detail that the greebling adds to the surface of the craft.
In summary: this model provides some great examples of greebling techniques on the external service of the vessel.
This is achieved by with a number of techniques including:
- Use of textured elements – eg knurled round bricks, and barrels, as well as placing a stud in the side on the main engine. The side engine use four different types of 1×2 bricks along the length. The muffler is an extremely useful element here, with a variety of textures and widths.
- Smaller elements such as the binoculars, roller skates and bucket handle are used to add extra levels of detail, without a clear additional functionality. Metallic colours added to the effectiveness in this context.
- Finally, the use of the sloped frame element provides a great cover for exposed mechanisms.
In summary, while many people might purchase this set specifically for the minifigures, there are some fantastic examples of greebling techniques used, which could be readily applied to your own builds.
The figures are appropriately detailed, and I think that both Ant-Man and Wasp are easily imagined as real people shrunk to the size of minifiugres. The use of simple but effective techniques to add detail to the Quantum Vessel see me happy to award four point five out of five Arbitrary Praise Units.
Finally: the Rambling Brick AntMan Competition has a little under a week left to run. Build a MOC that might make a minifigure appear either tiny or gigantic. Details can be found here, and entries close on August 31.
What do you think of this set? As I mentioned, the minifigures and the greebling are both highlights of this set for me. Why not leave your comments below. And until next Time:
Special Thanks to the AFOL Engagement Team of the LEGO Group for providing this set for review, as well as prizes for the competition. Opinions about the set are my own.