The subtheme for Friends this year is around marine rescue, and several of the sets take their inspiration from episodes of Season 2 of LEGO Friends: Girls on a Mission. This set in particular is featured in Episode 22: Stakeout. Plus, for the first time, we have an antagonist in the Friends world. Let's see what the Friends have been up to this year, starting with 41378 Dolphins Rescue Mission.
The front of the box shows the set with two minidolls taking different vehicles to get to a shipwreck in order to save some dolphins and perhaps get to some treasure! For all the sets in this subtheme the minidolls are featured in the lower right of the front box in lifejacket icons. Other insets show that the mast can be raised in order to free the dolphins, and that there's a water reactive cloth included with the set. The back of the box shows additional features of the set with other aspects of play. Inside the box there are three numbered bags, two instruction booklets, and a small sticker sheet.
The two minidolls in this set are Stephanie and Kacey. We're familiar with Stephanie as one of the Friends. She appears here in an aqua wetsuit with magenta accents on the torso and sleeves. She wears a badge that shows a seahorse (with a tail that is in the shape of a heart, of course). The aqua colour between the torso and legs isn't quite identical, which is somewhat distracting.
Stephanie's torso and legs are unique to this set. The other minidoll is Kacey, who is distinctive for being the first minidoll introduced as being an antagonist for the Friends. In Season 2 she works against the girls, and in the set description she's described as a "bad-girl". Kacey wears a sleeveless navy blue wetsuit with bright green accents. All of Kacey - head, torso and legs - are new to this set. Her hair is in a bob and befitting a "bad-girl", she has a distinctive smirk.
Both minidolls come with a helmet with snorkel mask. Stephanie's helmet with her blond ponytail is new to this set.
The cute Friends animals in this set are two dolphins - including a baby dolphin in aqua, which is new to this set. Awwwww.
The completed build
A small area of underwater flora is built that has includes a box that contains a bottle and a mysterious piece of fabric. This is the water reactive fabric in the set. I won't spoil the surprise as to what the textile shows when wet, but let's just say that "X"s are involved. There's also a treasure chest filled with gems waiting for someone to discover in the deep.
The other small build in the set is an underwater scooter, according to the set description. Based on the box cover art, a minidoll holds onto the handlebars and floats on top of the scooter to get to the shipwreck. With that whirring blade in the rear, it seems a little dangerous to me, but undoubtedly the Friends are more talented at that than I would be!
The main rescue vehicle is the submarine. It has space for one rider, though the submarine featured in the Friends episode Stakeout allows at least two minidolls to ride. (The episode also features Mia instead of Stephanie, and they save seal pups instead of dolphins, but I digress).
Instead of the normal way of keeping a Friend in a vehicle, this sub has a footplate that flips up to keep Stephanie's feet in place. The cockpit also has hinged mechanism for the front of the craft, allowing for an easy way to place a minidoll in the cockpit.
The rear compartment of the submarine is for animal care. Doors on either side flip down, showing just enough room for one of the patients and some tools.
The sub is relatively compact and I like the coral pieces added for accents. A periscope is on top though it doesn't connect to anything in the sub. There's a rear fin that seem woefully undersized for the size of the submarine. There are two tools attached to mechanical arms at the front that allows Stephanie to conduct rescue missions.
Two large turbines power the craft that can be rotated as necessary.
The rest of the build is the shipwreck, complete with coral, sea life and a broken hull. In this shot you can see a space that's just big enough for the treasure chest to fit in the bow..
Details abound from every angle on the ship - the rear view features some greenery, as well as a life preserver piece attached to the mast for the submarine to hook onto to raise the mast.
The stern of the craft is in bad shape, with only the ribs of the ship left and covered in coral. I found this part of the build to be the most fragile and can easily come apart (especially during the short walk from my build space to the photography space).
When you turn the corner, look who's waiting to be rescued!
This subtheme is perfect for Friends. It will appeal to girls - well more than girls, because who doesn't like baby animals? I really like that it shows the Friends doing something action oriented, and taking matters into their own hands to deal with an issue. I'm looking forward to building the rest of the sets in this theme to see what the Friends will do with this. Piloting a submarine is pretty awesome and a great start.
As for the build experience, I have to admit I thought this was pretty typical - until I got to the last part of the build, the shipwreck. That part is a fun and enjoyable build, and I think the final version looks fantastic. I really like how the Friends designers are using the coral sea life to great effect in these sets, and for a small build the shipwreck looks quite good. The age range for this set is 6+, and I would recommend this set even for some of the older girls as the build will not be boring for them. I would recommend this set for the shipwreck alone!
Value wise, this set (363 pieces, $39.99, 39.99€, £34.99) offers fair value, with lots of play opportunities. It's also the only set to feature Kacey the bad girl, so if you're looking to include this antagonist to your collection, this is your chance. But most of all, the baby dolphin is adorable, and you can rescue baby animals. And who doesn't like to rescue baby animals?
Many thanks to the LEGO Group for providing a copy of this set for review. All opinions expressed are mine.