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6495-1: Time Tunnelator
Published 2 years ago
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The inventory is 99% accurate, with only three parts missing.

Two were easy to replace, but wing surfaces, which I substituted with windsurfing sails, aren't flexible, and both bent in the same direction. Such asymmetric look won't be acceptable for any other Lego theme, I suppose, but it fits well enough with "Time Cruisers" overall wonky aesthetics.

They are grouped together as "*Wings" and can also be simply removed. The rest of the wing's geometry is exact and correct on both sides.

1. https://rebrickable.com/parts/71342/musical-instrument-bugle/
2. https://rebrickable.com/parts/2983/electric-9v-micromotor-pulley-with-axle-hole/
3. https://rebrickable.com/parts/x66px4/sail-wing-6-x-12-triangle-with-spider-web-print/

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This set no. 6495 'Time Tunnelator,' marketed as 'Baron Blomberg' in the UK catalog, came out in 1997, and it was the smallest among three models in the "Time Twisters" line-up (80 bricks and one minifig).

On the North American market, 'Time Tunnelator' had a different set number, 6499—the identical model but in an exclusive package. The box features a bright yellow "FREE Time Machine" promo caption on the front, and it's tightly wrapped with a bonus time machine toy. The instructions leaflet, printed for both sets, features a combined "6495/6499" number on the front.

This freebie toy, which looks rather cheaply and trashy on the photos available online (see below), still adds quite a lot to the set's collectible value these days. On average, the North American "6499" package on BrickLink is at least $20-25 more expensive than a regular "6495" European edition.



"BARON BLOMBERG and his bat plane. Always at the ready to scare budding time travellers away. From 7 years." -- Set no. 6495 description

"The LEGO Time Cruiser range will give you the chance to travel through time...anytime anywhere. With careful navigation you and your vehicle can visit places from the past, present and the future. But beware of the Time Twisters. These are mean guys always on the lookout for trouble. Their vessels are manned by ghosts and skeletons who report to Baron Blomberg. A tough assignment for time travellers. Dare you enter the Time Travellers Zone?" -- theme's caption

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The "Time Cruisers" theme, which only lasted from 1996 till '97 (with seven sets released between both factions), was one of the most unorthodox Lego collections ever. It leaves no AFOL of the relevant age indifferent even today, decades later, one of those "love it or hate it, no third option" themes.

The collection portrayed Lego time travel with eclectic and quirky "meta" builds, unlike any other official theme ever presented. Time Cruisers' cartoonish, "over-the-top," and occasionally just plain ridiculous time machines have bricks and incompatible elements amassed from every Lego theme imaginable, from medieval "Castles" and "Pirates" to hi-tech "Space," and even Technic.

"Time Cruisers" also has one of the lengthiest and most elaborate backstories, which began a few years before the theme's debut. In 1994, Klick Magazine, one of the leading European Lego publications (French, if I'm not mistaken), launched a graphic novel titled "Time Buster." The comics portrayed Dr. Cyber, a mad scientist who accidentally discovered time travel in the distant future, with his apprentice Max Timebuster traveling across Lego themes. Their Lego time machine's design was inspired by a fan-built MOC, apparently, mailed to Klick's editorial team by one of the readers.

The Lego Company eventually noticed an ongoing graphic novel's success and introduced the official theme, loosely based on its characters and concepts. Another Lego-affiliated publication in Germany, World Club Magazine, relaunched the comics (adjusted and updated to match the "Time Cruisers" line-up and official characters) to support the launch.

Besides the official Lego sets and multiple comics issues, there were tons of really odd regional "Time Cruisers" merch, some Lego products that I didn't even know ever existed! Say, three audio dramas in German, released on cassettes in 1996, or an eponymous board game (which came with five Lego minifigs and lots of accessories). Smh.

"Time Twisters" was the theme's antagonist faction, with three sets released in 1997. Time bandits appear to have their own version of time-traveling technology, varying significantly from Dr. Cyber's method. Time Twisters still used a similar Spinner Wheel (in the inverted black-and-blue print). But they discarded a barrage of clownish headwear from different "time zones," though, which Time Cruisers, the good guys, relied on to stir their time machines through a time-space continuum. Instead, Time Twisters had ghosts and skeletons magically carrying their vessels with evil wizardry.

Their visual style was appropriately sinister and gothic, with most Time Twisters machines finished in black, blue, and brown (with transparent dark blue canopies). Lego designers borrowed quite a few decoration elements (including even one of the torsos) from "Fright Knights," the Castle's subtheme debuted that same year in 1997.

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Like virtually every "Time Cruisers" vehicle, the Time Tunnelator also featured a hybrid powertrain, flying and rolling on the ground simultaneously. The flexible wings are interlocked with a front wheels' axle via a tricky mechanism, so wings flap every time wheels are rotated. There are even two barrels installed securing the chaotically wobbling ends of wings' poles protruding to the back. Epic design!

With a ball connection used on both ends, wings have a relatively free range of motion; I'd be so curious to experience this model in real life, rolling on the table, just to see this machinery in action! I can only imagine how noisy (and annoying for parents) the toy must've been with so many moving parts constantly clanking and dinging.

Spooky decorations include tiny bats, as well as a rear batwing for steering, bursts of flames, and the epic "spiderweb" print on the wings (sadly missing on Mecabricks).

The 'Time Tunnelator' only came with one minifigure—the subtheme's main hero, Baron Blomberg (a.k.a. Tony Twister in the USA). Blomberg sports a badass leather jacket and "Time Twisters" uniform: yellow epaulets and black police-style cap.

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6497-1: Twisted Time Train
The largest "Time Twisters" set

6494-1: Magic Mountain Time Lab
Time Cruisers' headquarters

6492-1: Hypno Cruiser

6491-1: Rocket Racer
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