Last year, the LEGO City adventurers left the man-made metropolis to explore the wonders of volcanos. Now in 2017, they’re heading to a new landscape as the brand teams up with National Geographic Kids to bring one of the most exciting places in the world to life, the jungle.
Set Number: 60160
Minifigures: Female explorer, Male explorer, Scientist, Mechanic
With no less than seven new sets dedicated to the sub-theme, the LEGO City Jungle is filled with exciting new set designs, from the simple buggy set up to a fully-fledged jungle camp which includes a stunning air Drop Helicopter. Sitting in the middle of this wide range is the Mobile lab, priced at £40 it’s certainly not a random pocket-money purchase, but with four new minifigures, a chunky vehicle, a kayak, a stunning scenery build and some interesting wildlife included, you’re definitely going to be happy with what you get for your money.
Much like the volcano sets of 2016, the male-centric designs of yesteryear make way for something a bit more modern, with both genders fairly represented. While the male and female adventurer minifigures do feature across most of the jungle sets, the female version of the jungle scientist appears to be unique to this set, a minor element of exclusivity that may increase the value for collectors.
Starting with the most generic of the minifigure cast, the mechanic doesn’t have too much to offer in terms of design. As with all of the characters here, the legs are plain blue and so it’s the printing on the torso which stands them apart from each other. Featuring a white, grease-stained vest (emphasized with the yellow-skin coloured arms) and brown braces, the rather rudimentary design fits the character’s position perfectly. The back of the torso continues the brace printing with the ‘Y’ shaped connection and a wrench hanging out of his back pocket completes the design.
A couple of mechanics show up in this theme, and while the majority of the figures are identical, one piece is unique, the head. Featuring just the one face (not the norm, these days), the generic facial features are accentuated thanks to a light brown goatee beard and grease stains similar to that found on his less than clean vest. Rather than a hairpiece, this mechanic gets a fairly common baseball cap in light brown.
He isn’t the most exciting character that you’ll find in the jungle theme, but if you have a fairly extensive LEGO collection, he certainly transfers well to other scenarios.
Easily my favourite character in the set is the female scientist. Coming complete with camera and awesome compass piece she surely has the basics covered for jungle exploration. The torso printing is far more extensive than our mechanic friend, featuring a white jacket over what looks like an orange pull-string hoodie. There’s a subtle hint of the hood on the back of the figure along with a few contour lines, but other than that, the front is where the majority of the detail is printed.
In addition to a collar outline, the design features two pockets at the standard female minifig waistline, with a radio partially sticking out of them. Unlike her male counterpart in the other jungle sets, this scientist prefers to have hers tucked into her neckline rather than on her face and as a result, the face is a little more generic than one would hope. The head does, however, feature two faces, one looking a little smug, very basic features, the other with a bit more detail as the clearly terrified scientist is sweating. There also appears to be a minor injury. Finishing the look, the hair is surprisingly unisex, having been used on more male characters in the past.
I’ve said it in other set reviews, I’m a fan of LEGO’s modern minifigure designs and their continued determination to put female characters in every area of life, to better mirror the real world. This figure is a great example of that, it shouldn’t be something needing emphasis in this day and age, but it’s great to see nevertheless.
The two adventurers have very similar looks, predominantly brown outfits which feature prints for climbing gear, holsters, harnesses, the kind of stuff you’d expect from a trained explorer out in the jungle. The two minifigures, though, are very different from one another on design. The female adventurer’s printing is somewhat more spartan than her male counterpart, featuring a large green water bottle which takes up the majority of the back, the front strap cutting across the chest and abdomen. She also has a radio across both sides, the mouthpiece on the front, with a wire on the back leading down to the handpiece in what looks like her back pocket. Aside from the orange harness which is subtly printed around the underarms on both sides, the only other notable detail is the phone in her front pocket.
Disappointingly, the headpiece is incredibly generic, it’s like the designer picked the first female face he/she found in a box and said, “yeah, that will do”, there’s nothing unique about it and given the effort that went into the body’s design, this is a real let down. Similarly, the hair is a fairly common piece used for female minifigures, with a bulk-standard ponytail. It’s hard to begrudge as it does suit the figure wonderfully, but it just seems like any actual design for this lead character was restricted solely to the torso piece. She also comes with a should bag, the same piece used on Indiana Jones figures of the past, and a rather cool-looking large knife/small sword, very handy for cutting through vines by the looks of it.
In terms of failings, the male adventurer suffers the same as the female, great work on the body, but lacking elsewhere. The head couldn’t be any more generic if they pulled it off of Emmet himself, yes he’s got a nice big grin on his face, but nothing really exciting that shows this is a unique character. Similarly, he’s given the same baseball cap as the mechanic (interesting how neither of the male characters got hair?!?), a bit of a downer considering they had a good opportunity to set this character apart with a nice do.
If you keep the character as the set intends him to be then you’re not going to see much of the awesome printing that the minfiigure sports because it is hidden behind a life-vest piece. This is because this guy is the kayak guy, he does his adventures on the water. It’s a bit of a shame as he is given the best printed detail of all the characters in the set, a mishmash of survival gear, some bungee cord and large pouches, I find myself wondering why it wouldn’t have served a better purpose to give this cool printing to the non-lifevest wearing female colleague.
Though not technically a minifigure, the croc certainly deserves a mention here as one of the characters of the story the set is trying to tell. Made up of three separate pieces, the main body, the clipped-on head and the tail, this croc can snap his mouth open as well as rotate his tail from side to side thanks to a small technics connector under the body. A great addition to anyone’s collection, the croc actually shows up in more than one of the jungle sets.
The kayak is essentially a purpose-built piece, one that has shown up in other LEGO City sets in the past. That’s not to say that it doesn’t look fantastic and work brilliantly as an additional accessory, but it’s not going to add much to your overall build time. The addition of the camera is, however, a nice touch. The paddle is another basic addition, two flipper-shaped pieces added to a standard black rod.
This little guy shows up in a couple of the LEGO City Jungle sets and provides a fantastic little quick-build to add a bit of extra character to an already packed set. Built on a 4×4 base plate, the lower half of the plant is a symmetrical layout of green and brown with some small leaf pieces added for good measure. The head of the plant is made from two identical large mouthpieces, clearly designed specifically for the role, which connect using a circular pin connector at the back. A small elastic band has been added to the design to sit in grooves over the back of the head and provide a spring-back feature to shut the mouth if not fully opened. There’s also a nice spot inside the mouth for a spider figure.
Probably the best part of this little model is how the head and body are connected by a ball connection, meaning that there is plenty of poseable options available to you – a win for both play and display.
The waterfall scenery build is superb, to say the least. A brilliantly crafted hodgepodge of greens, browns, and greys make this little ancient temple scene look spectacular, featuring a crumbled foliage-covered staircase by the side of a magnificent waterfall. For such a small build, it is remarkably detailed, from the simple stepping stones across the base of the waterfall to the tree and vines at the top of the cliff.
I’d love to have seen the waterfall itself created using bricks, but the use of sturdy vinyl serves a purpose. Turning the model around reveals a large sliding platform for the aforementioned croc to sit. The mechanics of this has incredible simplistic, essentially it is a large plate which slides into place with a couple of exposed studs for the animals to be attached, as you can see from the image above, there isn’t much room left once the croc has been added.
For me, the only part of this design I’m not overly fond of is the red pieces. Yes, they point out where and what to use for the sliding feature, but they seem out of place against the colour scheme used by the rest of the build and without the croc attached they are quite noticeable through the translucent vinyl.
Of course, when the crocodile is connected, the sliding function adds a play feature that is incredibly fun as your adventurer tries to cross the river only to be stopped by this guy popping his head out through the slit in the middle of the waterfall.
I adore this scenery build, it has a lot of potential for playtime, build fun and utilisation with other themes, such as Indiana Jones or Pirates of the Caribean – we’ve already used for such over at LEGO Wisdom. It’s not a massive portion of the overall build time for the set, but seeing it coming together was definitely exciting.
On to what should be the main attraction, the titular “Mobile Lab” and it’s clear from the off that at least some of this vehicle’s design has taken inspiration from the volano sets of last year. Much smaller than the vehicle-based lab of that sub-theme, though still fairly chunky, in terms of actual size, this isn’t far off the LEGO Jurassic World vet truck from the Raptor set.
It’s a significant build, taking a good hour or two, split into three separate building bags. Once you’ve got the basic chassis put together, the construction does get much more interesting. My favourite thing about the completed vehicle has to be the colour, the orange really stands out (not ideal for the jungle, one would have thought). There is quite a few stickers to place on the exterior of the model, adding the tiger logo of the sub-theme, they do look great, but it’s a shame that given the extent of this new theme that they couldn’t release with printed pieces instead.
Aside from a number of fairly familiar design decisions, one really sticks out as unique for me (well, I’ve not see it before, at least), and that is the front of the cab. The large bumper, a familiar sight on these type of vehicles, is accompanied by two crowbar pieces which clip at the top of the windscreen and imitate structural strengthening. The result is surprisingly effective in showing what looks like additional bars coming from the bumper up the side of the glass.
The lab area, itself, is built as a separate entity, essentially constructing a room which is then attached to the vehicle afterward. Sadly, this doesn’t mean that it can be detached with ease afterward as the full build ensures a sturdy connection. It’s probably the one downfall of the design, a number of similar vehicles have had that ability, nevertheless, the lab is still stunning.
Inside you will find a large flat-screen which sits horizontally, much like an interactive table, showing a survey map of the jungle. A smaller screen with similar detail sits vertically on a clipped piece, far more traditional for a LEGO computer screen. Over on the other side, you’ll find testing equipment with large green containers either side of what looks like an analysis machine, possibly to test soil sample or the main treasures this team is out to find.
I’m a big fan of how the model allows access to the inside of the lab, with the side of the vehicle doubling as a large hinged door which swings open fully. In addition to this, the roof of the compartment is also on hinges so that it can be opened as well. It is, of course, not the first time this type of design has been used, but it certainly makes placing minfiigures inside so much easier and therefore is a welcomed feature here. As you should also be able to see from the shot above, there is a clip to attach the kayak, great for storage when not in use.
Moving to the front compartment and once the large roof is removed, there is easily room for at least two minifigures to sit inside, with a similar two-seater interior to what you’d find on the large LEGO City fire engines. There isn’t that much more to see here, but the striking blue colouring works extremely well.
The Set Overall
Overall, this set has made a LEGO City Jungle fan out of me, it’s a stunning set for its price range and packed to the brim with fun new designs and builds. Despite a couple of the minifigures not being groundbreakingly exciting, there are some great unique body pieces which can easily be used in other parts of your LEGO collection.
The mobile lab is a fantastic creation, big and bulky with some great external detail to compliment a nice, but a little spartan, interior lab area. The main highlight for me, though, is the waterfall scenery build, it’s flawless, fun to build and with a little imagination can be used in a number of different ways for either play or collectors display purposes.
The Venus flytrap and kayak are nothing but a bonus at this point.
- The waterfall is exceptional in terms of size vs. detail and quality.
- The set as a whole is exceptional value for money, with a wide range of play features and fun additions.
- The mobile lab vehicle is big, bulky, and looks brilliant.
- It would have been great to see a brick built waterfall, but the vinyl does serve a play purpose
- The mobile lab isn’t detachable from the vehicle