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There's a lot going on at the Arctic Base Camp!
As the LEGO City stretches the credibility of its name by moving into the Arctic Circle, we take a close look at the flagship set of the new range, the Arctic Base Camp. There's a polar bear, huskies, and a snowmobile, but is it cool or just a wee bit chilly?
LEGO City Arctic Base Camp Review
Once we'd got over our initial incredulity at the LEGO City extending into the Arctic Circle we realised there would be so much scope for cool LEGO models in the snow and ice-bound tundra that we became quite excited at the prospect.
The Arctic Base Camp is the flagship model in the first tranche in this new extension of the LEGO City range, featuring a diorama set around a research laboratory, with various vehicles and other models to boot.
Weighting in at 733 pieces and with an RRP of £69.99 this is a mid-to-high range LEGO set, and with the wintry theme is expected to be a popular choice come Christmas - it's the sort of price point that makes it a main gift rather than a stocking filler, but only the pickiest kid would complain at receiving this set as the centre-piece of their swag from Santa.
The box is satisfyingly big, with the traditional rendering of the entire set scene on the front, and the now familiar Hey! breakdown of the set's models on the back. It yields 8 bags of bricks, pretty much one per each of the six main models, plus minifigures and sundries. There's also a 16x16 base, and a pre-assembled conveyor belt.
With a target age range of 6-12 years this is not a challenging build but it is a whole lot of fun. As mentioned above, rather than offering a single, monolithic central construction, the LEGO City Arctic Base Camp consists of a number of separate models, with the research lab at its heart. The Lab is the largest of the models, followed by the awesome SnowCat.
Let's take a look at each of the models in turn.
The Snowmobile is a cool, stylish vehicle, ideal for traversing the tundra. We like that the handlebars meet the driver's hands without it being awkward - if you're at all familiar with earlier versions of LEGO snowmobiles you'll know this is not a given! The driver dude is snug in his parka with a fur-lined hood, a feature of all the researchers, together with their carabiners and compasses.
Not the biggest model in the set but a really nice warm-up. :-)
Next up is the dog-sled. One of the simplest models in the set, but look at those huskies! A new dog mould and some subtle paint effects make these puppies really shine. They attach to the sled with slightly industrial harnesses, but it's a great fun piece, with a ball-joint for steering and another parka-clad arctic minifigure.
Next we get airborne with the helicopter. It's a small but fun model, the highlight being the winch at the back, which can be connected to the included net, presumably for capturing the polar bear - strictly for conservation purposes of course, no animals were harmed in playing with this set! If you're a bit more imaginative the polar bear can win the day by downing the helicopter, sending the pilot, in his fancy-dan flying jacket and helmet, scurrying for the safety of the lab. That's what we did anyway.
The SnowCat is probably my favourite part of this set. It's a more complex vehicle build than the chopper, snowmobile or dog-sled, and has those awesome tracks, lights and of course the massive articulated drill. The tracks are linked and make a great sound when the cat trundles along across the snow and ice. The drill has its own control deck, with a seat for a minifigure to operate the rig.
Finally, the research lab with living quarters is the central piece of the set. It's all about the science, the beards, and the geeks, and of course that conveyor belt.
It's a fun build, especially the detail in the lab and the living quarters, and rounds off the set nicely, somewhere for all those cool arctic explorer and researcher dudes to chill out when they're off duty.
Research Laboratory and living quarters
This is a great LEGO set and will be loved by just about any kid who enjoys LEGO, play figures and construction toys. The scope for play is immense - although it lacks a single, large stand-out model, the variety makes it a great main gift.
It integrates well with the other sets in the LEGO City Arctic range, and offers great value for money.
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