One of my more specific obsessions with LEGO is that I try to get my hands on as many of the molded animals as I possibly can. Unfortunately the company has the bad habit of putting many of the coolest creatures, be that mammoths, dinosaurs, sharks, polar bears or whatever in rather expensive sets. It’s of course just a sales tactic, but it’s not particularly nice of them, even more so since it means that those animals remain costly even on the secondary market such as Bricklink. So I have to make do with what I can afford and lucky enough, there’s some interesting sets this year with the LEGO Friends Jungle Rescue series and also some new molds for LEGO Jurassic World.
First let’s have a look at the Friends Baby Elephant Jungle Rescue (41421). This is the first set I was actually able to procure because due to the Corona virus crisis product availability for these new releases still isn’t that great, especially when you need to keep an eye on the price. At a regular price of 20 Euro it’s not entirely out of reach, but the typical discounts make this effectively a 15 Euro set, which is even better. For that it’s pretty good, actually. I can tell you that beforehand.
The main attraction is of course the little blue baby elephant. Some people have complained about it not being grey, but hey, it’s Friends we’re talking about! The Bright Light Blue isn’t that bad, especially when you consider that the mother and sister elephant in the Jungle Rescue Base (41424) are Medium Blue and Lavender, respectively. There’s really no reason to get wound up over this. For me it’s also a bit of a funny coincidence in that it reminds me of some elephants in video games I used to play in the 1990s that similarly used such colors, not “realistic” greys.
In the play fantasy of the set the little unlucky elephant is supposed to be caught in a mud puddle somewhere in the jungle under a tree. This is displayed in the main scenery piece. Rather untypical for Friends sets it’s actually executed reasonably well and very usable. It’s also looking nice enough.
The mud is represented by some Dark Tan bricks of different types forming a tray in which a panel is sliding upon some tiles. You’re meant to put the elephant on this contraption and then literally pull it out. The one weak spot here is that the panel itself isn’t locked into place by rails or similar and thus falls out of its position easily. This gets a bit annoying over time and would have been easily avoidable with some extra elements.
On that same not, a few bricks more would have helped to avoid this feeling of things only being half finished. The many exposed studs on the mud and the tree give the impression that they had to stop to not stretch the brick allotment budget at the cost of things being not fixated as firmly as they possibly might have been. E.g. the Lime Green bamboo stalk element is easy to break of accidentally. It seems to obvious me that they could have clamped it into place with another curved slope on top.
As I said, the tree is small, but fleshed out enough to convey that idea. Still, I feel that that one extra branch could have been added on top with an arch element. that might also have allowed to add a web for the spider or include a second one. Another idea might have been to include a parrot, a small bird or a nest to cover the top.
While the front is structured reasonably, the back side is rather plain. The Dark Orange studs are alternate positions for the spider, by the way, but sure enough could have been used for something else.
The rescue vehicle is your standard run-off-the-mill Friends car with the necessary modifications and variations to fit this particular set. It literally has been done a million times and at this point is nothing special. For me it would have made more sense if they had created a somewhat larger pick-up truck with a sufficiently large platform and an actual hoist.
Moving on, the other set is Dr. Wu’s Laboratory – Baby Dinosaurs Breakout (75939). It’s in the same price range as the Friends set, so no extra comments on that. The same rules apply.
In addition to the two bay dinosaurs the set comes with two minifigures – Dr. Wu and Owen Grady – plus a sizable chunk of lab equipment. The latter often feels like thrown on after the fact, that is it gives the impression of having been constructed around the dinosaurs to bulk up the content of the box, not organically create an environment for the little tykes. It seems they wanted to do the baby dinos, but didn’t quite know what to do with them once the decision was made to create the new molds.
You heard that right, both of the creatures are completely new creations just for this set. I’m pretty sure, though, that we’ll get them in different colors in other sets down from here on.
The baby Triceratops would of course mix well with its “parent” in Triceratops Rampage (75937).The Ankylosaurus isn’t an orphan child, either and finds its mom or dad in House of Gyrospheres (75941). This is insofar remarkable as the big version is also a completely new mold debuting in this particular set.
As a small side build there’s a lab table, which to me is actually a bit macabre. With its inverted slopes on the underside and the white “ceramic” tiles on top it more looks like a section table in a pathology lab. On the bright side, they included the transparent orange brick with the mosquito amber print, which is a new item and highly desirable as a decoration piece, not just for this dinosaur stuff.
As I wrote already, the lab itself looks kinda *meh*. In my case it looks even more bland because I never use the stickers, yet the set relies heavily on them to represent large computer/ video screens. That’s perhaps my biggest peeve here – they could at least have included one of the screens as an actual print to spice things up. More generally speaking, that’s also the one thing I feel is missing – just one more small extra. I could for instance also have gone for eggs in Light Bluish Grey with brown speckles. that would have been pretty awesome!
Things don’t look much better from the back side, further seemingly reinforcing my point of this being mostly an afterthought.
Overall both sets are what they are – meant to sell the animals with everything around them being just a “free” extra. The Friends one surprisingly manages to fare much, much better in terms of actual usefulness and play value. The Jurassic World set on the other set would be rather disposable if it wasn’t the only way to get the new dino babies. It’s very forgettable, but hey, at least some new Dark Blue parts for my collection….! The consolation here is that the animals are executed superbly, so I don’t mind the rest being mediocre.