Things are Pretty Cool in LEGO® City

IMG_2816In recent years, the LEGO® City sets released in June have featured an adventuring/exploration theme. The folks from the City have been Exploring the Deep Sea (2015); Volcanos (2016) and the Jungle (2017).  After a stand-alone Arctic theme in 2000, and a successful excursion from the City in 2014, we return, once again, to the polar regions.

I have found myself picking up a couple of sets in this theme, but would like to focus on one particular set: 60194 – the Polar Exploration Truck. As the other minifigures and vehicles might creep into photographs today, I’ll disclose the presence of the 60190 Arctic Ice Glider(RRP $AUD9.99) and 60191 Arctic Exploration Team (RRP $AUD15.99) floating around in the build space as I took some pictures.

There are a few things that I find myself immediately warming to with this year’s Arctic sets:

  • I like the colour scheme: Sure, it’s a little different from the 2014 Arctic colours, but I am a big fan of the combination of Dark Blue and Orange especially with little bits of Dark Azur(e) trim. In part this might be because of my recent overdose on year two of Nexo Knights, particularly Knighton Castle, which I came to love as a general build as well as a terrific parts pack.
  • The characters: there is a good variety of minifigures, and plenty of opportunity to mix and match, to increase the variety.  The torso prints on these characters are amazingly detailed and give a great example of how the figure design has advanced since the turn of the century.
  • The vehicles are quite fantastical. LEGO City is all about the vehicles, and this year’s Arctic line is no exception.  In the sets on my bench, I have a snowmobile with trailer, a ‘snow glider’ – a sled propelled by a giant fan, similar to the boats used in the Everglades, a motorcycle, with a skid and chain in place of the wheels, and the Arctic Scout Truck, with four wheels and caterpillar tracks. As well as a ‘proper’ Mobile Lab (60195) there are some more fanciful vehicles: an ‘Arctic Ice Crawler’ 60192 – a four legged mech crane and a quadricopter in Arctic Air Transport  60193.
  • Animals: Not content to run with only the standard husky, this year our explorers have to contend with a polar bear.  Their scientific exploration also sees them digging up ice encased animals from before recorded history: a sabre toothed tiger and wooly mammoth.

Today, I would like to look at the Arctic Scout Truck 60192.

This set has 322 elements, three minifigures and two animals. As part of the build, we have the Arctic Scout Truck as well as an ice bike for transportation; we also have two pieces of the ice encased landscape: a cave for our polar bear to emerge from, and an area for exploration, as our scientists sample ice cores to investigate climate change, and discover deep frozen insects from long ago.

The Minifigures

We have three minifigures in this set: a bearded male, an unbearded male and a female. We also have three different types of headgear: a Dark Azur helmet, with goggles; a dark azure beanie and a red Ushanka hat. All of these are new in this theme.  The motocross helmet also appears in dark blue in this years People pack Outoor Adventures (60202); the beanie has been around for years but this is it’s first appearance in this colour, and the Ushanka cap appears in red here, as well as dark azur in 60195 Arctic Mobile Exploration base.

IMG_2855IMG_2856IMG_2857We have great front and back torso prints, although two of them are doubled up from the other sets that I picked up.  The legs are not printed, as has been common practice for most of LEGO city this year.

The Animals

We have two animals: the white and grey husky has been around since 2014, and features in thirteen sets. There is one stud on its back, and the feet attach to a plate with a 3×1 footprint. On this occasion, the stud on its back is put to good use, carrying a small pack.

The polar bear is currently exclusive to this set.  It appears very similar to the mould for the black bear which appeared in the mountain police sets earlier in the year, and the brown bear from the forest police in 2012. On’all fours’ the left and right are 3 studs apart, and four studs from back feet to front left foot. The right front foot is on an angle, and has no clutch. There are two points of articulation: at the rear hips and also the neck. When the hips are raised, the front right paw is horizontal, six studs forward and 2 bricks up from the rear feet. The mouth of the bear holds a 1.82 mm bar.

The Build

There are two instruction manuals and four bags. The first manual focussed on the landscape components and the snow-cycle. The snow cycle is a relatively simple construction: add a front skid, a motor cycle body and a collection of chain links!

There are two landscape elements: a cave for the polar bear, and a small hill with a few ice cores designed to be easily removed. A transparent light blue 1x1round brick with an insect printed in completes the effect.

The next book focusses on the Scout Truck itself. With four rear wheels, and caterpillar tracks at the front it looks set to deal with any terrain.

Close to the perfect number of stickers, although some of these would make great printed elements – especially 1 and 5

The front grill of the truck is a nifty piece of SNOT work, and attaches firmly to the front of the truck.

The cabin builds up to house a large computer screen, with room for two minifigures. The rear half of the truck carries the snow bike, as well as the ice corer and the mysterious bazooka carried by the red capped scientist.

I do find myself suspending disbelief for a few moments as I consider how our figures might get into the truck itself, but in reality, the roof comes off!

There are a few stickers available to apply, including the Arctic Explorers Logo on the side of the truck body; the computer screen and giant keyboard- to go on a 1×4 tile; the set number to go on the side of the truck, and finally some hatch details.  I have not applied them here, but some of those certainly have great reuse value in your own models. I shall apply them going into the next post.

I find this theme to be interesting to build: I like the larger model especially, it has so much functionality, and has an exciting look.

With a number of figures, and accompanying animals makes it very easy to set up some great play scenarios too: exploration, animal attack, core samples, perilous journey and routine day in the office.

A Place to Play

If you have been following our posts lately, you might recall we recently posted a run of classic print advertisements.

In the spirit of Classic City, I made some icy terrain for our explorers out of white paper, cardboard boxes and some blue card. I screwed the paper up, and then flattened it out, to provide some texture, and wrapped it around some LEGO Boxes. I hope they were empty.

Using a light blue felt tip, I added some texture, as well as glacier cliffs in the background. It’s no work of art, but it looks more like a frozen landscape than my softbox.

So, here are a few shots of my winter wonderland…

There I was, enjoying my little play zone and I found myself wondering about any videos that LEGO may have included amongst their materials as stories to give play a gentle nudge. Oddly not, I didn’t come across any. I did, however come across the whimsically titled ‘child’s imagination simulator.’ In this video, parents are taken into a room, and as their children start to play, they are played the sounds their child might be imagining, and have other senses stimulated: wind, polystyrene snow, dogs barking, helicopter engines and so forth.

Personally, I find this interesting, and a great reminder of the context in which these sets are made. The majority of City sets are designed to give kids something that they can relate to in their play. These exploration based sets are likely to provide exposure to something they don’t see in daily life, but might have some interest in. Certainly they can act as a stimulus to learn more about our world, and different environments, or alternatively as a way to extend an interest through related play.

As I mentioned earlier, I picked up a couple of smaller sets in this theme. The consistent color scheme and minifig designs make it easy to want to extend models you have.

I really appreciate the consistency in colour schemes across this theme, as a way to build up elements for related models. The colors used here have featured strongly in some city Subthemes in recent years- orange and white in Coast guard, and dark blue which has been highlighted in some recent police sets and the ocean exploration subtheme of a 2015. The other set which features orange, white and azure in abundance is The Boost Creative Toolbox, and perhaps it is no coincidence that there is a secondary build for this set that incorporates the LEGO Boost set. But more about that next time.

Overall, I have enjoyed the first part of my trip to the Arctic. I love the minifigure selection, as well as the animals. Even the sticker sheet is well thought out, and creates some desirable elements. The truck and bike are an interesting combination, and we get a good collection of parts for further vehicle development. I give the Arctic Scout Truck four out of five arbitrary praise units. I am intrigued to see how this set gets incorporated with Boost, and will be presenting those results in the near future. Until next time,

Play Well.

I would like to thank the AFOL Engagement team at the LEGO Group for providing a copy 60194 for review purposes.  All opinions, however, are my own.

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