LEGO CITY Missions is the latest of the LEGO Group’s attempts to bridge the gap between physical models and a digital experience, coming off the back of the relatively-recent retirement of VIDIYO a short time after it launched. However, Missions has been in development for years and the overall quality of this experience makes it clear that this is by no means intended to be a short-lived concept.
— Set details —
Price: £24.99 / $39.99 / €29.99 Pieces: 246 Minifigures: 3
— Build —
LEGO CITY Missions is a wildly different experience from the likes of traditional instruction-based models, or even hybrid themes like Hidden Side or VIDIYO – a point made no more apparent than in the build, as the individually-labelled bags are designed purposefully to represent the activities in each mission, or occasionally intended to be split across multiple missions.
The core creation in the box, which you’ll construct early on, is a mid-sized pickup truck with plenty of room for storage on the back and a single minifigure driver. Alone it’s not an overly impressive build and it’s left intentionally bare, ready to mix and match the rest of the elements into whatever attachments you desire. A good mix of relevant pieces is included for this customisation, and we found the fun in thinking up many ways to solve the problems presented to us in the missions.
A selection of the creations might seem specific to the story of this set at first glance, but the construction site, traffic light and table are just as applicable to a wider display as they are in 60353 Wild Animal Rescue Missions. The inclusion of a printed construction sign is very much appreciated too.
Ultimately, the build isn’t the star of 60353 Wild Animal Rescue Missions and exists mostly to supplement the digital experience that you’ll find on the app. However, the featured animals might help further the appeal of this model to those who are using 60353 Wild Animal Rescue Missions as a parts pack rather than for the intended story-based adventure.
— Experience —
In a departure from previous CITY sets, the experience of 60353 Wild Animal Rescue Missions is just as important as (if not more important than) the included bricks and core build. The building instructions app is home to the various missions for each of the three models currently available and can be accessed for free, with no need to prove that you own the corresponding set.
The app starts by asking you to grab the corresponding numbered bag of bricks from the box, which will contain everything you need for that Mission, as well as previous pieces if you want to use them. Using the first bag as an example, you can see the contents of the pack in a cloakroom on the app, immersing you into the world of LEGO CITY and offering an avenue to imagine characters dressing up for the missions ahead. An interactive ideas function also serves to help you along in the building process.
Future missions expand on this concept by bringing in more bricks and different objectives based around rescuing animals. The overall process is nothing game-changing, but it shows how much thought has gone into LEGO CITY Missions during development and how the team have worked hard to make it as accessible as possible to the younger target audience.
Of course, you won’t be able to get fully involved with the experience unless you have the set in hand, but we’d recommend checking out at least one mission for yourself to see the level of quality and amount of work that has gone into this concept. Voice acting, animation and an engaging story all make for something that the LEGO Group hadn’t quite managed to master before – merging digital and physical play into one cohesive experience. Missions nails the concept in a way that kids, the intended target audience, will love.
— Characters —
There are enough elements included in 60353 Wild Animal Rescue Missions to make three minifigures, two of which you are encouraged to customise to your heart’s desire. These minifigures can be personalised however you wish, but the story suggests that one additional character should remain the same throughout.
That minifigure might not seem too desirable at first glance, but removing the hair piece reveals a hearing aid – a welcome addition to the minifigure line-up that has previously only appeared in 60271 Main Square. Considering the cost of 60353 Wild Animal Rescue Missions, that diversity will more than likely help with the appeal of this set to older enthusiasts.
The minifigures aren’t particularly remarkable, but that’s exactly the point – to be a blank slate to create personalised characters and adventures. However, it’s hard to say no to three more minifigures and getting this many in a set of this size and price feels reasonable, even if they aren’t the main attraction.
The five included animals represent a solid selection of creatures to add to your collection, and though most of them are quite small, it’s understandable given just how many you get in a model of this size.
— Price —
60353 Wild Animal Rescue Missions features 246 pieces for £24.99 / $39.99 / €29.99 so in most regions, the price-per-part ratio is already off to a good start. However, it’s unfair to judge the value of this Missions model on that alone, as the digital experience is equally important. Fortunately, the level of quality is just as high.
We didn’t expect to spend over an hour playing with a £24.99 / $39.99 / €29.99 model, but that’s exactly what happened as we trekked through all eight included missions in only one of the three sets available at the time of writing. It’s safe to say that 60353 Wild Animal Rescue Missions is good value for money, especially for younger builders who will likely spend even longer building between and during the missions.
— Pictures —
— Summary —
LEGO Missions is a fundamentally new experience for the LEGO Group that breaks a core tradition of models by removing physical instructions, and not just offering them digitally but as part of a narratively-led experience. That difference sets Missions apart from the likes of VIDIYO and even LEGO Super Mario as something that effortlessly combines the digital and physical worlds to inspire creativity, taking you back to the creative roots of LEGO bricks.
On its own, the set isn’t the most impressive for the price – but it’s not fair to discount the digital aspect of these models as they are such an intrinsic part of them. Despite that, the various bricks and animals will help 60353 Wild Animal Rescue Missions appeal to more than just their younger target audience, but we’d recommend not skipping out on the digital element in the building instructions app.
This set was provided for review by the LEGO Group.