Price: £39.99 / $59.99/ €49.99 Pieces: 415 Available: Now
The coast guard sub-theme comes around every four or five years to help shift gears a bit in the LEGO City line. This years sees perhaps the best overall offering for coast guard sets, and 60166 Heavy-duty Rescue Helicopter is a shining example of why that is.
The LEGO Group has offered many, many helicopters over the years, over a host of themes. Last year’s 60125 Volcano Heavy-Lift Helicopter is a great example of a helicopter done right. Other entries, such as those featuring the single piece nose and or tail tend to be at the other end of the spectrum. There’s a little bias in that statement, as I am a big fan of brick built solutions as opposed to single purpose parts. Objectively speaking though, the builds with more meat to them are always more satisfying. As far as City sets go, 60166 is an absolute treat of a build.
One of the things that helps this set shine is that the extraneous builds are kept to a bare minimum. I’ll be honest, I’m not sure what’s going on with the light beacon build. What is that black structure jutting out from it? Old dock? Burned out boat? I have no idea, and that makes it feel thoroughly unnecessary. LEGO designers are getting plenty of mileage out of their new-for-2017 kayak mould. It’s a great piece to be sure, as it has a lot of connection points on it. Its inclusion here is welcome, after all the helicopter needs someone to rescue… from a shark, of course.
In terms of pure aesthetics, 60166 is easily the sleekest and most accurate fully brick-built helicopter that the LEGO design team has sculpted to date. Even with the dual sliding doors flanking the body, it still feels smooth and realistic. The overall construction is very solid, and best of all, some of its features are well hidden. Many rescue craft in the past have featured fixed and exposed winches or arms. 60166 Heavy-duty Rescue Helicopter features an internal winching mechanism, the only part of which that sticks out is the knob for users to turn to lower the hook. Despite the knob being bright red, and not at all integrated into the rest of the design, the functionality and flexibility of the mechanism is great. The port door can be slid open, and a support arm for the rescue hook swings out from inside the body. Access to the cockpit is gained by removing the windshield, but what’s nice is that the seam isn’t immediately apparent, so no compromises in style had to be made to facilitate the design.
The interior of the craft is also quite roomy, enough so to house a six stud wide jet ski while still leaving room for an extra crew member and access to the rescue hook. The cowled engines are also a nice touch, and the designers did a nice job of integrating them into the fuselage of the helicopter. By this point we are all pretty used to the six bladed rotor design present here, but smooth action of the design makes for a satisfying play feature.
It is worth noting that unlike with the volcano, jungle, and arctic themes of the past few years, there are no printed parts in this set. On the plus side, the stickers that are present are minimal, and informational as opposed to representing important details, as they do on many of the Speed Champions sets.
At the end of the day, 60166 is an easy recommendation for those looking to expand their collection of City sets. The US price tag of $59.99 is a little high, but compared to other City sets, you are getting quite a bit for your money. The finished product, as well as the process of getting there are both top notch, and really, it’s hard to put a price tag on such well designed swooshability.