Review: 60124 Volcano Exploration Base

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Volcano Explorers is this year's 'action/adventure' City subtheme that takes the townsfolk out of their conurbations and into the unknown. The range consists of five regular retail sets, one store exclusive and one polybag (so far). 60124 Volcano Exploration Base is the largest regular retail set, weighing in at 824 pieces and costing $119.99 / £79.99 / 99.99€.

It's packed with playability and comes with an impressive cast of minifigures but is not without its faults.

Minifigures

There's certainly no shortage of minifigures: 6 in total. Three are kitted out with breathing apparatus and look ready to venture onto the summit. The heat protection afforded by the one on the right's attire will allow him toi venture further into the crater. His torso, legs and helmet are silver metallic (LEGO) / flat silver (BrickLink) and he looks excellent. Despite the protective gear he's dripping with sweat!

That particular figure appears in this set and the store exclusive 60125 Volcano Heavy-Lift Helicopter only.

60124 Volcano Exploration Base

Three base camp workers are also provided: a female scientist complete with hard hat/ponytail headgear, a drone pilot and the guy in the middle who drives the truck when not cracking open rocks.

The designs on the rear of the figures can be seen in our review of 60121 Volcano Exploration Truck.

60124 Volcano Exploration Base

Accessories

The first thing that's built is this drone, complete with camera, for undertaking aerial surveys of the volcano. It's not a bad effort, I suppose, although such gadgets would normally have four rotor blades and they'd be horizontal. The three mounted on this one can't be positioned horizontally because they foul each other when rotated.

60124 Volcano Exploration Base

Vehicles

A small tipper truck provides a means to transport the rocks that are spewed out of the volcano into the boulder rack.

Four rocks are provided in the set and they themselves are quite interesting. LEGO has made similar rocks in the past which have consisted of a top and a bottom piece. This one, however, is made from two identical pieces, which join vertically. Both sides have a stud inside to enable a blue crystal to be attached. It is these that the explorers are investigating/harvesting/whatever, apparently.

60124 Volcano Exploration Base

The tracked vehicle is my favourite part of the set. It's equipped with a hammer arm, spring loaded by way of an elastic band, that can be used to crack open the rocks.

The tip is a Harpoon spike piece that's new this year. It's just about wide enough to press down into the hole in the top of the rock to split it open.

The cab is protected by a new piece, 6138603: Lattice 3X6 Module W/Knobs, design ID 23444.

60124 Volcano Exploration Base

Finally, we come to the largest, but weakest, vehicle in the set: the 'exploration base'.

60124 Volcano Exploration Base

The tractor unit is, however, fairly impressive and suitably big and bulky. It's equipped with hoist at the back which can be used for moving rocks about.

60124 Volcano Exploration Base

The trailer is rather disappointing, though, particularly when compared to other mobile bases such as the Police and Agents ones. It's too small and there's not much inside.

60124 Volcano Exploration Base

It can be unhitched from the trailer and held level by way of a small stand.

60124 Volcano Exploration Base

Both sides hinge upwards to provide access to the inside. As you can see there's not much in it: a seismograph at one end and a platform for examining the crystals at the other.

60124 Volcano Exploration Base

Volcano

This is the only regular retail set in the range to come with a proper volcano. It's actually very substantial, 22 studs square by about 13 bricks tall. It's symmetrical and uses two different designs of BURP (bug ugly rock piece). Trans orange pieces are used to represent lava flows down the sides.

I'm not keen on the use of light grey parts on the sides and base: they stick out like a sore thumb.

60124 Volcano Exploration Base

It's a hollow structure and inside is a Technic mechanism to eject rocks from the crater. Pressing down on the lever raises a 'trap door' plate. If you press hard enough a rock positioned on top of it will be thrown across the room. Only one rock can be placed in the crater at a time.

60124 Volcano Exploration Base

The volcano is constructed using eight of a new style of BURP, Mountain Brick 8X8X6, design ID 23996. It also appeared in two Police sets earlier in the year.

60124 Volcano Exploration Base

It's been designed to match up exactly with the old style BURP piece so while using such elements is usually frowned upon by the AFOL community I'm sure it will have its uses in MOCs for quickly providing height in landscapes. I like that it has regular studs rather than hollow ones, which means its use in MOCs won't be as obvious.

60124 Volcano Exploration Base

The completed model

As you can see there's a lot in it, and the picture doesn't include the volcano!

60124 Volcano Exploration Base

Verdict

As I said at the start, this set is packed with playability and provides everything needed to explore the volcano, transport the rocks, crack them open and investigate the crystal inside. The cast of minifigs covers a whole range of professionals: truck drivers, scientists, drone pilots and intrepid volcano explorers.. It's a dream set for kids, and at a pretty good price too. I suspect it'll be appearing in many 'top 10 toys' lists leading up to Christmas.

However, for AFOLs, it may not be so appealing. The tracked vehicle is great, the minifigs are interesting and overall it has an attractive colour scheme but aspects of it are a bit lacking.

The first thing that disappointed me when I first saw the set at the London toy fair was that the 'exploration base' was not a base at all but merely a large vehicle. It's easy to see why LEGO would make the base mobile, as it provides more playability and I guess trucks are more appealing to kids than buildings, but I would have preferred something along the lines of that in the original Arctic sets (6575 Polar Base).

Having accepted that it was a vehicle and not a building, I was disappointed by the size of it, perhaps because we've been spoiled by other mobile bases in the past.

I also feel the volcano is too regular and square. It is, however, big, so accounts for a fair chunk of the pieces in the set. Perhaps because of this savings have had to be made elsewhere, such as the trailer, in order to meet the required price point. I would have preferred something more organic looking, on a larger base area, with lava flows extending beyond the sides of the volcano. Still, I guess that would be easy enough to build oneself.


TL;DR: There's a lot in it. It's a great set for kids that's packed with playability features but it might not be so appealing to AFOLs due to a disappointing mobile base and volcano.

It's available now from shop.LEGO.com: USA | UK | Canada | Germany | France

Thanks to Norton & Co. for providing the set to review. The opinions in it are my own.

19 comments on this article

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By in Australia,

I'm still slightly concerned that, Lego city has enough serious problems (and that's before you get to the crime rate), and now there's an active volcano within the city limits? Yikes.

I didn't realise it was an AFOL thing to do, to frown on those BURP pieces. I love those big ugly things. I like using them for Lego landscapes and mountain caves and things.

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By in United Kingdom,

Some of the vehicles in this range look quite good but ultimately it just seems like a rehash of the recent Arctic theme (which I think was better).

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By in Sweden,

Indeed. My impression of this subtheme is that they basically took the Arctic theme and replaced the orange bricks with green ones. Not so innovative.

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By in United Kingdom,

Yes I would not disagree with you there but I guess vehicles designed to explore hostile environments of one sort or another would probably look much the same in real life.

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By in Finland,

@Huw:
Thanks for the great review!
However, your complaint about the trailer being too small, and your way of comparing it to those mobile base sets, feels a bit strange in my opinion. You should note that many of those mobile bases are meant for urban setting (that is, for sleek roads!), while this one is meant to move through some VERY rough and challenging terrain. You can't really expect a full-length truck trailer be towed through such off-road environment. A "volcano exploration" trailer being rather small and therefore appropriately nimble is pretty realistic actually, I would think.

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By in United States,

I'd think a bunch of slopes and cheese bricks would make that volcano a lot nicer...

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By in United Kingdom,

Good point, well made. If the designers were aiming for realism a 2-axle RV-style vehicle would probably be more practical rather than a huge heavy tractor unit and trailer that's not much bigger.

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By in Finland,

I didn't say designers were aiming for perfect realism, just saying that's more realistic than a much bigger trailer would have been. :)
Furthermore, I'd think a serious off-road tractor like that can get to places into which an even off-road RV can't go (also all the expensive research instruments inside such RV might not like such a too rough ride). Therefore this 2-part whole may offer more versatility for the science team than a 1-vehicle RV-like solution might do. So maybe it is somewhat realistic in that sense too. Just maybe... :P

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By in United Kingdom,

@Huw,

You don't really want to be building a base such as 6575 close to an active volcano now do you? A mobile base is required should you need to escape a pyroclastic flow etc. Unless, of course, 'Undertakers' is the next City theme.

Seriously though, those trailer wheels look undersized for the job. They should have used the same ones as on the truck, but then undersized wheels is pretty much a constant in LEGO City sets.

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By in United Kingdom,

:-)

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By in Australia,

The drone is a nice modern touch but other than that, it's just a rehashed Arctic set. Pass. Might pick up the green helicopter Volcano set though.

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By in Germany,

I didn't pick up the Artic sets because I didn't know how I would incorporate them into a city scape. I like the fact that these sets have the BURPs and as others have posted do not see the problem with using them in Mocs (I would want to cover all of the hallow studs). I think that I could incorporate these better into a city even if they are not "volcano".

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By in United States,

I wish this set had less vehicle, and more volcano.

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By in United States,

Price per piece still seems a little high...might have to pick up that hazmat guy.

For anybody wondering why BURPs are frowned upon: there are a lot of (albeit parts intensive) techniques to create much more realistic rockwork with slopes, bows, round plates, etc., then is possible with BURPs.

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By in United States,

I honestly think the arctic base camp from a couple of years ago is a better set, however that silver hazmat style suit is really cool looking

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By in United States,

When do the rest of these release in the U.S.? We only have a few so far.

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By in New Zealand,

Yeah...seems like a miss for me.

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By in United Kingdom,

Trying to compare this set to 60036 Arctic Base Camp is a little unfair... think of it more as 60035 Arctic Outpost plus a big BURP volcano plus a tracked vehicle.

I do think the designers are still missing a trick, though. In the same way the cargo modules on the deck of the Ice Breaker weren't compatible with the module on the Arctic Helicrane... more effort should have gone into making the lab module on the back of this trailer interchangeable with the modules on this themes Heavy-Lift Helicopter. I think that would have increased the playability, and encouraged purchasing both of the top end sets from both themes.

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By in United States,

am I the only one who actually LIKES the trailer?

And on a side note you have very short finger nails.

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