As you may well know by now as a follower of this little blog, I do have a soft spot for the life aquatic, i.e. all kinds of sea creatures. That’s why the new summer LEGO Friends sets themed around various subjects of rescuing and exploring marine life push all the right buttons with me. Eventually I plan to get all of them, but for the time being I started out with the Turtles Rescue Mission (41376).
The set technically isn’t officially released yet in Germany as I’m writing this, but of course you can already find it in a few shops. Against my usual cautiousness and price-consciousness I jumped the gun on this one when I was doing the shopping rounds in the next big city and took the set home at full price. I was just too keen having a hands-on look at the new baby turtles and some of the new parts. I would expect the price to drop to about 15 Euro once it is more widely available from its original 20 Euro, though, and that seems fair enough for a set that ultimately is a bit lightweight.
The set comes as three distinct separate builds (or four, if you count the Zobo robot as well) consisting of an amphibious vehicle to move around and recover the actual turtles, a turtle nest and of course the rescue station/ base itself, which more or less is just a simple beach hut.
The tired theme of Zobo and its ever same builds gets at least a little more interesting insofar its goggles/ binoculars are a new mold. It’s a bit crisper and has now a fully formed stud on top as well a hole going through the entire piece to allow inserting bar-based parts. The bottom is also changed to have an actual anti-stud shape instead of just a simple recess. As a result, the piece comes in at full two plates/ two-third brick height which along with the other modifications should and will make it much easier to integrate it into other models, including the previously impossible sandwiching between other pieces.
The vehicle is a nice little build and conveys that “lift body” feel just right by being flat as a flounder, yet having a relatively wide body and thus large surface area to provide buoyancy. The model suffers a bit from its excessive use of color and in particular the Coral seat and Dark Cyan bits feel a bit unnecessary. Sticking with the Light Bluish Grey/ Dark Blue / Yellow color scheme used on the actual hull would have been more than enough, even more so since the neon trans studs on their White support frame and the red megaphone introduce yet more colors.
The little turtle nest is just a quick one-minute affair and more or less merely serves to showcase the new baby turtle and cracked egg mold. The latter is of course just a White recolor of the golden crown piece introduced in some of the The LEGO Movie 2 sets. Additionally you get three of the old Bionicle spine parts and since they are extremely useful for all sorts of dangly weeds and other greenery stuff you can never have enough of them, so it’s nice to get quite a few of them here. The small turtle is naturally adorable and also comes as triplets in this set, giving you a good number of them to start out with and play.
The rescue station building is unfortunately a bit of a head-scratcher. It looks the part and within the play world of the set is acceptable, but to say it is flimsy would be doing favors. It’s really extremely fragile to the point where in the real world the tiniest beach tornado would shred it to pieces. Too many connections are just attached to a single stud and it’s way too easy to break them off. Even the walls are merely held together by a single strip of plates to cap them off, which is at best questionable. If it wasn’t for the new 6 x 7 window frame (in this case used sans a glass piece merely as a support structure) the walls would likely tilt over all the time or fracture into the 2 x 1 bricks they are (mostly) made of.
The decorative turtle used for signage is strikingly similar to the one in the Creator polybag set 30476 and even uses some of the same parts. I’m almost inclined to think that it would have been a nice touch/ gag to just include all the pieces so the user could decide which type of turtle to build and/ or leave off the sign and get a decently sized separate turtle build.
The interior doesn’t have much to offer that would be reminiscent of an actual animal rescue like an examination table, a shower sink to wash off dirt and at least some sort of storage box, heat lamp or incubator to keep the turtle babies and eggs warm and safe if only temporarily. Overall it just feels empty and one isn’t quite sure what to actually even do while playing.
The biggest disappointment is undoubtedly the ground/ floor. It’s assembled from separate plates of different sizes and shapes and while this usually works okay, here it doesn’t. There are just not enough robust connections to hold everything together with the blue “water” part being particularly bad. It’s merely hanging on a single 2 x 1 plate and what little indirect connection power the stairs built from tiles can provide.
I get what they were aiming for, it just doesn’t work out. It would have been much better to build it on a single 8 x 16 plate or something like that and simulate the water with transparent blue tiles. As an alternative, another layer (or two) of plates underneath would have improved the situation massively and also could have allowed a bit of shaping to get a gentle slope and slight elevation.
The small sand castle feels a bit of a waste since under normal conditions it isn’t even visible. I don’t mind getting a few 1 x 1 pyramid pieces and a ball, it’s just that it feels kinda useless.
All things considered, this set is neither here nor there, as they say. As a play set it more or less fails due to its odd absence of actual playable features except for the vehicle, whereas as a display item the incomplete nature of the building might aggravate you once you’ve gotten tired of just looking at the flamboyant colors. It would really take some effort to improve it, which could even go as far as buying one or two more sets to enlarge the hut and fill it up with bits and bobs. For that you should perhaps wait for prices to drop considerably. Until then only the most ardent turtle lovers should consider buying this set…