LEGO City theme has and is a staple of my family LEGO purchases. If you tread on a piece of LEGO in our house it’s likely it’s from a Police Station, Deli shop or on old grandma’s minifig herself! But it would be a dull life if you were chasing crooks all day long, so LEGO has been releasing City subthemes each year taking the dull city life out into the big wide world from the arctic, deep sea, volcanoes and now the jungle!
This years wave of exploration takes us to the darkest depths of the jungle and my first review of the new subtheme. Rather than dip my toe in with a small set, I went all in and grabbed the second biggest set with big cats in mind!
LEGO City Jungle Exploration Site 60161 includes 813 pieces, 7 x minifigures and retails at AUD $159.99 / USD $119.99 / GBP £84.99. Note – prices are based on the LEGO online shop, this copy was bought at Target $119.99 (25% off sale in Australia).
The set comes in the standard box we’ve come to expect from the City theme with action packed graphics aimed at the young target market (not us old crusty AFOLs!). It’s clear that this set certainly packs a punch with its variety of vehicles, minifigures and flora/fauna.
The box is surprisingly packed with 8 x numbered bags, 1 x unnumbered bag, 4 instruction booklets and a sticker sheet. This equates to little wasted space inside the box (a complaint of mine in the past with excessive wasted packaging and void spaces).
Considering its size and number of vehicles the stickers have been kept to one small sheet and mostly cover the new explorer team emblem. It’s worth noting that the explorer emblem is also printed on two of the flame yellowish orange tiles.
Right now time to get stuck into bag 1 and first up is our cool white coated scientist with camera and a brand new printed map (first appearance for the design). The torso is a nice little design and is new to the jungle subtheme appearing in this set and one other in the series.
One thing I really like about this minifigure is the alternative reversible head. The expression is gold and really captures a comical “S**t I’m being chased” look!
With all the vehicles on offer of course the next minifigure is essential – Grease monkey/mechanic. He has been designed especially for the jungle and is a common minifigure across three of the sets.
Sometimes LEGO really captures the essence of something perfectly. In this instance it’s a little camping stove “Rob Roy” just made of 4 elements including the oversized drumstick.
Now we move onto the flora and its not just the fauna that can bite! The jungle subtheme just keeps giving new elements and this time round it’s a “feed me Seymour” plant!
Beware when this bugger opens its mouth it reveals a pretty scary spider (I’m a phobe), just handling the thing was giving me the hebbie jebbies!
A little buggy/amphibious vehicle rounds up bag 1. Simple solid build with space for cargo in the back and polished off with the expedition team emblem on the front bonnet.
Bag 1 down and to be trueful I would have been happy to buy this as one of the starter sets.
After all the talk and over the top controversy of LEGO being male dominated and the uproar over minidolls it seems that LEGO has really pushed further to mix the male/female roles to reflect our ever changing workplace and gender balance. Our next minifigure – female helicopter pilot is all clad in a brown jumpsuit and helmet with detailed printing extending onto the legs.
Along with the pilot bag two covers one of the staples in all the explorer subthemes the good old trustee Helicopter. The Helicopter sports a new colour tail wing and looks awesome with the red floatation pontoons. The cargo hoist winch gives a nice additional play feature.
Bag 3 (last time I reference a bag – as I forgot the order chatting to my fellow AFOL colleagues) covers what has to be some of my most favorite and detailed torso printing I’ve seen from LEGO to date. This guy means business kitted out rock climbing gear, walkie talkie and utility pouches. Mousey coloured mustache and hair tops off this “man of the world” explorer!
Next up we have our 5th explorer in the set sporting a big smile – clearly hasn’t spotted the spiders, crocodiles or leopards yet!
Both minifigures come with accessories from a life jacket (kayaking), satchel and a cool new compass (1×2 printed clear trans tile) only found in this set and one other from the new jungle subtheme.
Who doesn’t love a motorbike? If you’re a collector of LEGO motorbikes this variant comes in a new colour flame yellowish orange.
Now I’m really getting excited! When these sets were announced by LEGO everyone got excited by the big cat lineup and the new kayak. Compared to previous attempts at a kayak design this is the best attempt so far and along with the new paddle really captures the essence of the real thing.
The last vehicle (excluding the crashed plane) acts as the nerve centre of the expedition. Straight up it’s interesting to note that there is some colour variation in the flame yellowish orange. This is really apparent with the 1×1 w/holder, horizontal brick.
The truck does all the hard yards, carrying the Kayak on the roof, map for planning operations (sticker but still a nice feature) and a trusty old crane for lifting equipment and supplies.
Initially I thought the long wheelbase looked a little off, but upon reflection I think it gives this vehicle a unique profile and helps with the aspect ration when she is fully loaded up. The subtheme colour and emblem (sticker) ties the vehicle in with the rest of the expedition.
Dirt bike prepped and ready to go!
It is worth noting there was also a little campfire, but it was such a standard affair I didn’t bother adding an individual picture and detailed description.
With the expedition vehicles built and reviewed it’s time to move on to some jungle exploring! But first our final 2 explorer minifigures round up the extremely generous 7 x minifigure offering. Quoting Crocodile Dundee “That’s not a knife – THAT’s a knife!”
Our final minifigure and third female of the set. Lovely torso printing as seen throughout and standard walkie talkie for checking in on the team.
Like the scientist she also comes with an alternative printed face printed. The worried/scared expression is golden and is perfectly framed with little sweat tears.
While not new I do love this new redesigned alligator (first appearing in 2015 Swamp Cop subtheme). Less blockier than its predecessor and greater facial detail.
Finally with the expedition in place now we need our jungle ruins and time to get out the 2016 variant old faithful BURPs – MURPs (refer to Glossary for term).
The rock outcrop is topped off with a tan/dark tan Incan/Mayan (sorry I know completely different cultures just hard to pick one!) temple. The build is relatively simple, but incorporates a few play features such as trap door for potential jewel thieves and a booby trapped vine (using a string with knots in its first outing in green) that releases a bolder upon the temple roof.
After all the building and talking (writing) here is the true star of the show – Leopard. The Leopard is one of the three big cats that make a grand appearance in the LEGO City jungle subtheme and one of the main reasons this release has had so many fans talking about the sets. I don’t have the tiger in hand yet, but after comparing with the Panther I do believe the Leopard is the best of the bunch due to its detailed printing (iconic Leopard spots).
The Leopard adopts the same articulation as the polar bear and updated horse with the main body and front legs pivoting on the rear legs. The head also pivots up and down. The design is simple but effective and really blends well in the LEGO minifigure world and scale.
The second part of the scene is attached to the temple ruin with a river running between the two. Like the first build the rock outcrop is helped along using BURP pieces and is decorated with another one of those freaky spiders (along with web) and a token jungle tree.
However our explorers aren’t the first to explore these ruins with a cool little crashed plane perched on the second rock outcrop. The plane has been designed to look like an aged and weathered wreck and the overall appearance does do this justice. The nose cone pivots and is defaulted to pointing down and broken, but can be lifted to reveal an entry point to the crate of treasure.
Below the spider and web is a simple mechanism that pushes a hidden Leopard upon unsuspecting explorer (hence the alternative scared facial expressions on some of the minifigures). If I was to make one comment I would have loved to have seen more undergrowth and vines to really create that deep jungle overgrown ruin look. I think I’ve been spoilt too much with the AFOL MOC creations!
I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed building this set (maybe it was the PLUG build night, company and beers that clouded my judgement). From the very start it feels like a very generous set with lots of animals, minifigures, vehicles and scenery (with play features). The torso printing on the minifigures is also sensational and some of the best I’ve seen to date. I also loved the sense of adventure that the set instills in the builder.
as mentioned before I also have a massive soft spot for LEGO animals and 3 new big cats is a big draw card for me with secret (or not so secret) aspirations to build a zoo!.
On closing I would highly recommend this set and I know kids will love it! Keep an eye out for my LEGO City Jungle Halftrack Mission 60159 review (black Panther) coming soon.
As always would love to know what everyone thinks of this set any other fans?
Final Rating: 10 out of 10