A few weeks ago, we got our first preview of the new ‘Action theme’ in the second half of 2021: Wildlife Rescue. The images were exciting because they revealed several new animal moulds: Lion and Cub; Elephant and calf; new monkeys, as well as the reappearance of other favourites: a recoloured crocodile (with a new, partially hatched egg); and a new print for the snake mould which debuted in 2018.
We also saw some recolours of the new 8x16x2/3 ‘road plates’ – seen earlier this year, printed up as a zebra crossing. How smoothly would these large, very rectangular elements integrate with an African wilderness?
I was fortunate to pick up 60301 Wildlife Rescue Off-Roader and 60302 Wildlife Rescue Operation a few days before the official release date of June 1 (Most of the world. The Americas will have to wait until August).
Rather than review these sets specificially, I would like to look at the animals in-depth and some of the specific landscaping details included. We might look at the minifigures, some of the printed elements included, and some other nifty details along the way.
The Adult elephant is included in the two most expensive sets: 60302 Wildlife Rescue Operation; and 60307 Wildlife Rescue Camp. It represents several new moulds, the body and head, and uses a recolouring of the trunk used for the Mammoth in 60195 Arctic Mobile Exploration Base and 80100 Demon Bull King. Two small tusks and a Technic connector pin complete the effect.
The head articulates with the body using an integrated Technic ‘click’ rotation joint. This joint allows the elephant’s head to nod and rotate, increasing the range of expression available.
There is potential for some interesting connections to the elephant’s head via the pin connection, as well as the 1.82mm sockets used for the tusks. A lip just below the trunk connector is just the right size to prevent a Technic brick from rotating. With the Technic joint at right angles, we have a direct offset of 1 module vertically and 3.5 modules horizontally, introducing several exciting possibilities. While the click joint has 7 ‘vertical’ positions, only 4 are accessible when the head is attached to the body. With the head in a neutral position, it can rotate from 90º left to 90º right before the legs obstruct the ears. When the neck is fully flexed, rotation through 360º is possible.
The footprint of the body of the elephant is 4 studs wide x 10.5 studs long. There is a slight protrusion of the middle toe into this space, which improves the look of the elephant immensely, although it prevents the feet from fitting perfectly into a 2×2 footprint. The body is 7 1/3 bricks high and has the equivalent of two 4×2 45º slopes at the top. With the addition of an extra plate, this fits 2 inverse slopes for adding a sedan chair or battle turret quite nicely.
With the head in place, the elephant fits in a 14 module space. The ears extend approximately 1.5 studs past the edges of the elephant’s body. The topmost point of the ears is between one and two plates taller than the elephant’s body. Here is a demonstration of its range of movement:
It is significantly smaller than the elephants seen in the Adventurer’s Orient Expeditions sets of 2003, but is the first time that we have seen a system scale elephant in any grey tone since that time. Those elephants had a body that was 4 studs wide, but the legs could rotate back and forwards. They were slightly wider than the body: the old elephant had a footprint of 7×10 modules, with the head, tusks and trunk protruding up to 7 studs in front of the feet. The body is 8 1/3 bricks tall, one brick taller than the new mould. The eye on the new elephant is printed and only uses one segment for the trunk. (Thanks to Wade Davey for the Old Elephant images)
The Elephant Calf has been hotly anticipated, and it does not disappoint! Exclusive to 60302 Wildlife Operation, it is a single element and has a feeling of dynamic movement thanks to its front left foot being slightly raised, with a bent knee, but still able to engage with the stud underneath. The trunk turns downward and inwards, forming a bar connection. Just suitable for holding onto a plant shoot.
The footprint is 2×3 modules, and the main body is 2 2/3 bricks high. The head extends another 2 modules forward, while the ears protrude half a stud wider and one plate above the body.
I don’t have any of the baby elephants from last year’s Friends sets in my collection, but this certainly has some more realistic qualities, including the colour. But is it as cute? I’m not so sure..
Since the LEGO City – Jungle subtheme of 2017, we have seen several big cats released: a jaguar, mountain lion and lioness (Black, sand yellow/dark tan, and brick yellow/tan). Finally, we are treated to a new head mould, giving us a male lion. This lion appears in 60301 Wildlife Rescue Off-Roader in tan, with a dual moulded reddish-brown mane. A white lion with a tan mane is exclusive to 60307 Wildlife Rescue Camp. The lion features printed eye and nose detail. The lioness reappears in 60307, a reissue of the version seen in last year’s 60207 Safari Off-Roader.
These cats feature an articulated rear leg assembly and the neck, allowing a variety of poses. They require foot clearance of 2×7 modules, while the tale extends 2 modules back, and the head extends around 2 modules in front of the feet. The body is 3 bricks high, while, in a neutral position, the head is between 4 and 5 bricks above the baseline. The lion has 2×1 studs on its back.
The lion cub is a new mould for 2021 and comes in two colours: tan and white. The white is exclusive to 60307, while the tan version is present in 60301 and 60307.
It has a 2×1 footprint but extends a little shy on one stud forward and about half a stud back. The body is 1 1/3 bricks high, with the head extending one plate higher. The ears extend slightly beyond the width of the body. A single stud on the cub’s back functions as a reminder that this is LEGO, and is a half module offset from the feet.
We have a new monkey mould for 2021. It is significantly smaller than the rapscallion monkey that we saw with the Pirates theme from 1989. The new monkeys are present in each of the Wildlife rescue sets EXCEPT for 60301.
Unfortunately, there is no articulation at all. It does fit within a footprint of a 1x5x2 space. There are no studs, but it binds on 1×1 stud, and contact with an adjacent stud prevents rotation to the right. One arm has a ‘hand’, bearing a resemblance to a droid arm, acting as a clip, able to hold anything with a bar connection. The tip of the tail is also able the thread through a standard clip/3.18mm hole. The monkeys appear in variable quantities in all of the sets EXCEPT 60301.
The crocodile has been a stalwart in LEGO sets since the Pirates theme and received a new mould treatment in 2015, with the Pirates sets that year appearing in Earth Green/Dark Green. The eyes received some inking in 2017’s City Jungle sets, and it appeared in tan in 2019’s Hidden Side 70419 Shrimp Boat Wreck.
New in this version is a total recolour in Dark Green(TLG) / Green (Bricklink). The crocodile in this set is colour matched with the original version from the initial Pirates run. It is exclusive to 60302 Wildlife Rescue operation at this time.
This crocodile is defending their eggs, and one is starting to hatch. The egg features is a new print, only seen in 60302. The sight of a single yellow eye peeking out of the egg is intimidating and terrifying. It is a welcome addition to the series. Hopefully, we might see a baby crocodile in a future release.
The snake mould was updated in 2018 – and seen in olive green and sand green in Harry Potter sets. The new version is also olive green but features dark printed patches on its back. This snake appears only in 60301.
Other animals appearing in the theme include an earth blue/ dark blue scorpion and an eagle. The Eagle seems to be a new print on the bird seen in 2018’s Outdoors Adventures people pack, while the scorpion has appeared in this colour several times since 2017.
A quick summary of the animal appearances in this range:
|Lion||1x tan/reddish brown|
|1x white/tan mane|
|Lion Cub||Tan||1x tan,1 x white|
The Wildlife Rescue subtheme takes place in a region resembling a lush version of the African Savannah:
- Predominantly bright yellowish-green grass
- Dark tan areas
- Dark azure waterways,
- Rocky outcrops, and
- Trees of varying sizes
I was surprised to see the new 8×16 ‘road plates’ appearance in 60302 Wildlife Rescue Operation. Such rigid shapes feel devoid of any organic structure, and I was curious to see how the designers might integrate them with the landscape.
But let us start with 60301 Wildlife Rescue Off-Road Adventures: While the Off road Vehicles make a a significant part of the build, we have two areas of landscape: one is a small grassy outcrop, with a tree and campfire, while the other is a couple of simple rocky outcrops that have a fallen branch joining them across a river.
The most straightforward area of the landscape consists of the 8×8 rounded plate with a small tree and campfire. The tree trunk consists of a dark brown curved ‘bush’ element which tapers from a peg connection to a 3.18mm rod. While this element looks like something out of Bionicle or Hero factory, it has been primarily used in conjunction with a 5×6 foliage element to produce a simple tree.
The central landscape consists of two 8x8x2/3 plates, in bright yellowish-green and one in dark azure. The azure represents a river, in conjunction with an 8×4 semicircle plate. The height difference is covered up slightly by a rock element. On the two green plates, the outer gaps are filled with light grey plates, representing lighter rock at the base of 2 caves. The caves are constructed simply using 3 small ugly rock pieces, joined by an arch and plates. These caves are joined above by a reddish-brown 2×12 plate resting on tiles. You can easily push it off with a simple lever 2×4 45º sloped bricks are used as rocks. The rounded 1×2 plate with holes in the studs – certainly one of the most versatile elements to come into play in the last few years, are used to represent some grass around the base of some wizened trees – The trunks of these trees are formed using elephant trunk elements in dark brown. Tthis technique has been seen multiple times since 2015.
The join between the green and azure plates demonstrates the level of sophistication that we expect from a set aimed at the 4+ audience. The connection is very blocky and would possibly be approached differently in sets aimed at an older age group, using leaves or rocks to disguise the pixelated structure. That said, considering the target audience, I won’t criticise the use of this technique here. Let’s look at what has been done in the larger set, aimed at an older age group (6+).
When we examine the pieces present in 60302 Wildlife Rescue Operation elements, we see many semicircular plates in bright yellowish-green. There are also plates of various shapes and sizes in dark tan and reddish-brown. We also have many grey slopes used as rocks, as well as some actual rock elements. The remaining 3 bags are dedicated to building the vehicles, so I have left them out at this point.
With 3 large plates used to create the landscape, it is useful to make their connection points feel more organic and give the ground and river edge a less ‘blocky’ feel.
The 8×16 plates are joined to each other, and other plates using elements connecting to the small cutout areas. The easiest way to make these areas feel smoother is to join them using non-rectangular elements, such as the 2×4 wedge plates or the circular plate – used for the crocodile’s nest. Another technique is to cover these joins with foliage, and this is also done near the ‘nest’ One last approach we see is the use of different sizes of tiles, as a break from the frequent use of joining plates. We also have an area of ‘grass’ with some wedge plates giving the feeling of varying dirt or dry grass areas.
The use of different types of foliage around the interfaces between these slabs of differing colour also keeps the landscape looking more realistic – it is quite uncommon to see a single type of plant in an area in the wild.
This set also provides a large rocky outcrop with a tree nearby. A bright red Technic lever will tip the tree over to separate the baby elephant from its parent. But will the crocodile get them first? Or will the Wildlife Rescue Team interfere once more in the great circle of life?
Looking back to the 4+ set, 60301, I have found that leaf elements tend to be commonly provided as spares, and I have got more than enough around my house to add to the layout and make the river bank feel a little less ‘iffy.’ what do you think?
There are a few printed elements in these sets: 4+ sets are great for having no stickers. We have some printed pieces for the vehicles with the Animal rescue logo included in 60301, while these are provided in sticker form in 60302.
However, 60302 is not all stickers: the tailplane for the helicopter is printed, and there are several printed control panels. The 2×3 plate with clips, printed with a solar cell, originally included in the LEGO Ideas 21321 International Space Station is also included in this set. There is also a relatively new (to me) control panel (6329582) which appears to be a reimagining of an older version(4288083) which was in use from 2005 to 2018.
The Vehicles, Buildings and Minifigures
LEGO City Sets are often about the Vehicles, and we have plenty here in these sets. We are also treated to a liberal number of minifigures in these sets.
60301 Wildlife Rescue Off-Roader comes with a 4×4, lots of accessories and a small jet ski. The 4×4 is constructed around a 4+ chassis and becomes a 6-8 stud-wide vehicle very simply. The 4×4 comes with a tow chain on a reel to enable easy moving of fallen logs, blocking the river. There are also a couple of boxes in the rear, useful for transporting all sorts of accessories: bones, eggs, hairbrushes, and feeding bottles!
60302 Wildlife Rescue Operation has a tracked vehicle with a chain in a box on the back.
Finally, we have a large helicopter – with room in the cargo hold for crates of veterinary supplies and bananas. So many bananas…
As I mentioned earlier, the Wildlife Rescue theme’s colour reminds me of the old Dino 2010/Dino Attack theme from 2005, but with a little more bright red. Of course, compared with 7477, the helicopter in the 60302 Wildlife Rescue Operation is not exceptionally large.
We have a small laboratory for the vet to work in. Perhaps he can explain why all these animals suddenly need rescuing. The lab contains an egg incubator, a microscope and you can find a few water samples in the fridge. All of the gadgets are solar-powered.
I’ll look at all these figures together.
We have 3 minifigures: 2 men and Jessica Sharpe – a character from LEGO City Adventures. We last saw her exploring the deep seas in 2020. I appreciate the detail in her torso printing, including the coloured scarf around her neck, which covers the neckline of her tank top. The piece continues around the back, and she also has a sling bag printed he back. The detail of her scarf and bag are consistent with her appearance in 60264: Ocean Exploration Submarine.
Of our 7 characters, including Jessica, we have 3 women, 3 men, and one figure I can’t discern the gender of (the 4×4 driver). There are 4 different Animal Rescue team torso prints, across the range. The designs are distinctive but feel relatively staid compared with the ‘Action scientist’ look of the 2017 Jungle theme. Along with Jessica Sharpe, there is another character from LEGO City Adventures character in the theme: 60307 Wildlife Rescue Campsite features the character ‘Fleet’
There is also an amazing range of accessories for our minifigures in these sets. These are some of the treats we have in 60301:
I enjoy these sets but was slightly surprised by the pricing structure of the theme – which does vary a little from country to country. There are relatively few sets at the lower end of the spectrum in this theme:
All but the most basic of sets are beyond the realm of what might be thought to be a reasonable amount to spend on a present for a friend (nephews, nieces and grandchildren might be an exception), and appear to be reserved for a ‘special occaision’
|30570 – Wild life Rescue Hovercraft (Poly Bag)||?||?|
|60300 – Wildlife Rescue ATV||15.99||9.99|
|60301 – Wildlife Rescue Off-Roader||69.99||44.99|
|60302 – Wildlife Rescue Operation||159.99||89.99|
|60307 -Wildlife Rescue Campsite||159.99||99.99|
This is a similar trend seen in last years Deep Sea Explorers sets were priced at AUD15.99 (1 fig)- 49.99 (4 figs)- 119.99(5figs) -180.99( 8 figs).
This trend is consistent with last years Deep-Sea Explorers sets, which were priced at AUD15.99 (1 fig)- 49.99 (4 figs)- 119.99(5figs) -180.99( 8 figs).
I feel we lack a set in the middle of the price range: $AUD30-50/$USD25-30. This problem was also evident in the launch of the Monkie Kid theme when there were no inexpensive sets available. I don’t feel that these sets are unreasonably priced, just that something is missing in the middle of the range. Could the prices have been reduced a little by not using the ‘landscape construction plates?’ possibly, but I do not think it would have made such a difference to the overall final cost of the set.
We have surveyed the new animal moulds in LEGO City’s Wildlife Rescue Subtheme and considered the landscaping techniques used to disguise abrupt terrain changes between rectangular plates.
The Minifigure selection is good, but I still feel kind of weird about the idea of LEGO City minifigures having names…! We have only glanced briefly at the vehicles, but we have an exciting variety included in these two sets.
I am glad that I have the elephants and the lions. I am personally happy enough with the elephant not having articulated legs, but I am sure many would prefer the older version. The crocodile and monkeys are also pretty neat, but the lack of moving limbs in the monkeys feels a bit strange after 30 years of tradition.
I enjoyed both of these sets. On their own, they represent good play value but put them together, and I have found myself spending more time playing with the animals and not enough time proofreading my first draft. I do believe the subtheme suffers from a lack of a content in the $AUD30-50 range.
Set 60301 Wildlife rescue Off-Roader brings a nice mix of minifigures and landscape. It brings us the lion and cub and a snake. The landscaping is simple but effective, although not as much attention to the detail is given, compared with the set aimed at a slightly older demographic.
The more challenging decision to make is between which of the higher-end sets you may choose to purchase. The Campsite (60307) has a larger range of minifigures, a family of lions and an adult elephant. The selection of vehicles feels a bit odd, with several small transports and a more sizable truck. In the US and Europe, this set is $USD10/€10 more expensive than the other, and that additional value is there.
I don’t know if the 60302 Wildlife Rescue Operation is overpriced or the Campsite underpriced. Ultimately, it comes down to the selection of animals you are hunting down. Fans of Kimba the White Lion might well want to look at 60307. I can hear the theme music now.
But I am happy that I picked up the right sets for me. The baby elephant and crocodile clinched it for me. Still, there is so much more to love: the landscaping, the tracked vehicle was more fun and stable to zoom across the dining table than I had anticipated and there is an exciting level of detail in the lab. I was impressed at how well the 8x16x2/3 smooth plates could be integrated into the landscape, and not feel too out of place.
The decision is hard, but if you find either larger sets speak to you, run with that one! But in the end, most AFOLs are going to be interested in the animals. And that will drive your purchasing decision.
The LEGO City Wildlife Rescue Sets go on sale on June 1 (Most of the World) and 1st August (in the Americas).
60301 Wildlife Rescue Off-roader has 157 parts, and will cost $AUD69.99/USD49.99/€44.99/£39.99.
60302 Wildlife Rescue Operation has 525 pieces and will cost $AUD159.99/ USD 89.99/€89.99/£85.99
I purchased these sets with my own money but was fortunate to find them available a few days before the official street date. All opinions are my own, and ultimately, I am happy with this purchase.
I’d love to know what you think of these sets: why not share your thoughts in the comments below, and share with your friends and family if you think they might enjoy it.
Don’t forget to follow the @Ramblingbrick on Instagram for additional images and projects, and look out for a new episode of the Extra Pieces podcast this Friday.
Until Next time,