Review: 41381 Rescue Mission Boat

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The marine rescue theme has been impressive so far after checking out the smaller sets. The largest of this Friends wave is 41381 Rescue Mission Boat. The Friends theme has had a couple of larger boats before, with 41015 Dolphin Cruiser in 2013 and 41317 Sunshine Catamaran in 2017. Both of those were great sets, so my expectations were accordingly high for this set. Read on to see how it measures up to the previous large Friends boats...

Although [email protected] indicates that this set comes with Instructions PLUS, that option did not load into my LEGO Life application. That's unfortunate as I would really like to try out Instructions PLUS with a larger set. Inside the box there are six numbered bags, two unnumbered bags containing the larger boat parts, an instruction book and booklet, and a moderately sized sticker sheet.

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Minidolls

There are three minidolls with this set - and they're all from the core Friends group. It's always a bit disappointing that Friends sets don’t have as many minidolls as Creator or City sets have minifigs. Minidolls must be expensive! However, three is typical for a Friends set of this size, but it is unusual that all three are Friends and that there are no guests included. The Friends must not need help for this rescue mission!

The three Friends are Olivia, Andrea, and Mia. Olivia is wearing the same wetsuit as we saw in 41376 Turtles Rescue Mission, and fortunately the mismatch of colour between torso and legs seems to be limited to her and Stephanie, as Andrea and Mia don't seem to have the same issue. Andrea is wearing a teal wetsuit with yellow rash guard shirt with a side zip. Mia has the same very bright red hair that we saw earlier this year (and I still don’t think I like it), and has a 3/4 length wetsuit in lime green with a blue short sleeve rash guard. All the Friends have the rescue badge with the stylized sea horse with the heart shaped tail.

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Since having cute animals is a prerequisite for a Friends set, it's a bit of a surprise that there's only one included in this larger set. But it's worth it: we have a narwhal! It's in an appropriately Friends colour, being pink, but it's adorable nonetheless. As Olivia is in this set, we also have Zobo. I'm quite pleased to see that Zobo is included in the rescue mission: he (?) has a helmet as well as a propeller for moving around in the water. I'm guessing that Olivia has been hard at work with waterproofing Zobo, or else his underwater adventures will be short-lived.

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The completed model

A speedboat is provided to help the Friends get to those harder to reach places, or to make landfall to small islands. It's equipped with the basics for rescuing, with medical equipment and supplies, and space for one minidoll.

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There's an underwater coral scene that has plenty of sealife. I really like how the Friends wave from the second half of the year has made such good use of the sealife pack in the coral colour. The new teal seaweed/coral piece is one of my favourite new pieces this year. Underneath some of that sealife a treasure chest can be found that has gemstones inside. But the Friends would need to find where the chest is first!

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In order to find the map to find the treasure, the Friends need to venture to this island, which is shaped like a heart (of course it is). There's lots to be found on this island. There's a palm tree, some sealife is on the beach, and a crate that's been cracked open. Inside the crate there's a bottle and a map! Dousing the map in water will reveal where the Friends can find the treasure. Finally, there's some wreckage from a ship, with a convenient hook on the top where a crane (that may be on the Rescue Mission boat) can lift up the wreck. Which would be a good thing, considering how the narwhal has managed to find itself stuck under the wreckage. I'm not entirely sure how a narwhal could manage to beach itself underneath a shipwreck, but that's how it's depicted on the box and instructions, so we'll go with it.

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A stretcher is also included, because once you rescue the narwhal, how do you get it on the boat to tend to it? It's not entirely clear how you get the narwhal onto the stretcher - perhaps Zobo helps out here - then the Friends can use the crane to get them on the boat. Olivia demonstrates that here.

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Speaking of the crane, here's a closer look. It's replete with pieces of the new coral colour. The curved glass windshield seems out of place considering there's no other walls for the cab, but maybe it's supposed to be a splashguard.

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The stretcher is lowered onto the back of the board, where the narwhal can receive its treatment in a splash pool. There's even a ball close by just in case the narwhal would like to play.

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Next to the splash pool there's a space for the speedboat to be launched.

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Across from the splash pool, there are life vests on the ready for the Friends as well as some medical supplies.

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There's space for everything on this boat, including a special spot for Zobo - elevated presumably so that he can drip dry.

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The rest of this level of the boat is the cabin, which includes three rooms. The first room is largest and includes a work area and lab for the Friends. Miscellaneous tools are found in the cabin and the drawers underneath. It's obscured in this picture, but there's a laptop showing the Friends work on the sofa. Finally, since it isn't a Friends set without food of some kind, there's some cherries in a bowl and three glasses for the Friends.

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On the other side of the lab, we see more work in progress - a small aquarium and a microscope with some sample jars close by. Nearby, there's some necessary tools for this work - a helmet with snorkel drying on a rack while some freshly rinsed fins and an underwater camera are in the sink.

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The rest of the area on this level is a small bedroom for the Friends and a bathroom. It's easy to see which bed is for which Friend from the pattern of the bedspreads (provided by stickers) as well as the colours. The bathroom is quite compact but includes all the essentials, including a roll of bath tissue.

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The front of the boat provides another area for the Friends to get together. There's a lookout and a couple of deck chairs, so the Friends can see what adventure lies ahead. Of course, there are drinks provided. But if all the Friends are there……who's steering the boat?

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The top level of the boat is devoted to a control room to be used for boat navigation. There's space for one Friend to be in control of the boat while the others are seated right behind. Thanks to a combination of stickers and printed pieces, the control area looks suitably complex. It looks like the Friends have their equipment tuned to find the narwhal - good thing, if it's stuck underneath a shipwreck on the island.

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Other features on the top of the boat include a satellite, antennae and alarm horns. Lights are located on each corner. I really like the liberal use of blue windows and the coral pieces as an accent.

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Putting both levels together, the boat is quite impressive and with the teal and coral accents, very striking.

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Overall

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I enjoy so many features of this marine rescue wave, and I think the selection of the boat for the largest set was spot on. While there have been other large boats in the Friends theme, this set takes Friends boating to another level. The Dolphin Cruiser and Sunshine Catamaran were dedicated to recreation and relaxing, while Rescue Mission Boat shows the Friends working to make the world a better place. Animal rescue has often been featured in Friends sets, and this aquatic interpretation has been great.

There is so much opportunity for play with this set. The inclusion of the treasure chest and island adds another play dimension to the overarching animal rescue purpose. There are lots of playable features including the crane and the speedboat. The main boat itself is impressive but not impossibly big for little hands.

For those who eschew Friends sets because of "all the pink" I'll note that there's not much pink seen here, with the exception of the narwhal and a few small pieces, such as the lights. It seems like coral has been substituted where pink would normally be used in a Friends set. Considering the large favourable reaction to the introduction of coral pieces, I'm guessing there may be a few more fans of this set, and perhaps a little more open mindedness about the Friends theme.

There are quite a few pieces in new colours in this set, an inventory can be found here. Right now, these sets are the main sources for the new coral colour.

I'd recommend any of the marine rescue theme sets for those who are fans of the Friends theme, and even for people who aren't.

Many thanks to the LEGO Group for providing a copy of this set for review. All opinions expressed are mine.

31 comments on this article

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By in Latvia,

This is one of the few Friends sets that I really like! Sadly, my current wishlist is mostly Star Wars and some sets from other themes

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By in Germany,

My eyes hurt.

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By in United Kingdom,

It makes such good use of the internal space that I don’t even really mind the huge specialised boat pieces; reminds me of destiny’s bounty in the sense that there’s so much going on in the space. Absolutely brilliant set, and great review as usual! (I’m perhaps biased by the fact it was half price in the UK for a little while though.) Totally agree that coral is a great compromise to be vibrant and attractive without having to be pink. To be honest the narwhal could really have done with being a different colour...

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By in United Kingdom,

Personally speaking, this looks to me like one of the most attractive Friends sets I've seen. This theme isn't usually my cup of tea, so to speak (I'm usually more drawn to the Lego themes that feel more wild and out-of-the-ordinary, rather than the ones that focus on more everyday subject matter), but that doesn't stop me from appreciating them regardless.

The whole design of this boat just strikes me as really impressive, honestly; if I was going to buy a Friends set, I would easily pick this one. Thanks for the thorough review!

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By in United Kingdom,

0/10, Narwhals' 'horns' are actually tusks and should be protruding from the mouth. Lego has betrayed us all.

Also 'bath tissue'? Never heard it called that before :p

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By in Italy,

I really like this. Sometimes I hope that the City sets would be as cool as the Friends ones...

For me it's a 10/10. Since the "pink is a girly colour" argument has never bothered me, and the "rescuing hurt animals" plot is important IRL, I see this as an absolute win!

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By in Denmark,

https://www.thefreedictionary.com

Bath tissue: Thin, absorbent paper, usually in rolls, used to clean oneself after defecation or urination. Also called toilet tissue.

A normal term for that wonderful invention.

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By in United States,

This one looks great, no for me but it has a lot of details.

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By in France,

Such an incredible and clever use of available space in this boat! Thumbs up for the designers, who succeeded in compiling so many fun and interesting details, equipments,tools and activities in this set. I mean all is there for hours of adventures. One of the best modern Lego boat rendition IMHO. Then one can disagree with the colour scheme and choices, but I find them bright and joyful, shiny, positive and all. Thank you for your review, very good as usual Megan.

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By in United States,

love it, think i'll have to get the whole theme!

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By in United States,

This is quite a nice boat, which begs the question: Why do City boats never have legitimate interiors, and only have prefab hulls?

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By in United Kingdom,

I've never heard it called bath tissue before. Must be a US thing...

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By in United Kingdom,

Do they poo in the bath??

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By in United States,

I haven't looked at City boats lately, but I'm betting it's so they can float in actual water.

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By in Australia,

"I'm not entirely sure how a narwhal could manage to beach itself underneath a shipwreck, but that's how it's depicted on the box and instructions, so we'll go with it."

At least it's not trapped underwater like that poor dolphin, and can still breath (since I'm fairly sure that narwhals, too, are air-breathing mammals and not fish). Although one thing I did just read, narwhals are only found in Arctic waters, so this one is a fair way off course, unless Heartlake City is located in one of the tropical parts of Alaska... I do like the narwhal, for being so interestingly original and unexpected, so I'm tempted to pick one up on Bricklink just to add him to my Lego City's sea-life.

After all, narwhals are the jedi of the sea. They stop Cthulhu from eating ye.

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By in Japan,

If was not for the color scheme... I would buy all of those Friends Sets..
Sadly I just can't figure out how to mix it with my mostly Castle/Pirate relates collection...

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By in United States,

I own very few Friends sets and don't have intentions to buy more, perhaps other than this set. I appreciate the differences of Friends sets, but they generally don't appeal to my purchasing/collecting interests, especially with so many other amazing, large, and expensive sets from more appealing themes entering the marketplace. All that written, this set is really impressive. I am on the opposite end of the spectrum from @BionicleJedi. I choose sets that are more realistic than fantastic, and yet I agree that it is one of the most attractive Friends sets I have seen. The fact that it brings together the appreciation from two divergent sides of a wide range should be seen as a true testament to the success of this design.

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By in United States,

As much as I can't stand Friends, they've done a lot of sets incredibly well. This is probably the best modern boat LEGO has ever done. But seriously LEGO--sink the pink. Light blue and purple works, and isn't all that "girly".

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By in United States,

@Huw Hmm, I've never heard of bath tissue before.

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By in Singapore,

Megan, I feel like the predominantly male userbase here would not make much of a distinction between pink and coral ;) I for one am ALL about the coral in a set and have a decent collection of pink bricks with a large portion directly from the PAB wall.

@Samie: I don't see how a different color scheme would make any difference to Friends fitting with Castle/Pirates, even if you're asking for Friends sets to be all grey or white/yellow...

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By in Germany,

Love this set and will get it for the kids eventually.

But what on earth is "Instructions PLUS"?
Never heard of this and when I search for it on Brickset I also get no results in any category.
Are these instructions you can download for B-/C-models of a set?

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By in United States,

I think I must add this to my collection of Lego ships, although up to now I've refused to buy any purely motor-driven ones. It's so handsome and so well-suited to its purpose that it overcomes all my prejudices! Thank you for a fine review, MeganL!

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By in Russian Federation,

@AustinPowers
Presumably, the Instruction PLUS feature is enables such things as for digital enhancing the instructions - zoom, rotate and so on.

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By in United States,

Great review! Love this wave's more varied designs for Zobo. The wetsuits for the Friends are also pretty delightful… a nice way of ensuring that these sets send a coherent, mission-focused vibe.

In previous years, both 41015-1 Dolphin Cruiser and 41317-1 Sunshine Catamaran made it onto my wish list (despite otherwise not being much of a LEGO Friends collector) on the basis of their remarkably impressive designs. Weirdly, even if it was never a major focus of my collecting as a kid, at some point I developed a weakness for particularly unique or impressive LEGO boats.

This one has slightly less wow factor than those since the main hull structure stands out less from the Dolphin Cruiser. But it is still able to stand apart considerably by virtue of being a work ship rather than a pleasure cruiser, and having much more emphasis on research, salvage, and rescue tasks as a result.

The cushy beds and sofas of the previous boats are replaced with smaller and more space-efficient cots, but the patterned and color-coded sheets still help those feel like a cut above the plainness of typical beds in City sets. The latrine also satisifies all the most essential needs, but tellingly lacks a mirror. No need to spend a lot of time doing your hair or applying makeup when the mission might call on you to jump in the water at a moment's notice!

And impressively, the combination kitchen and lab space manages to improve on the detail that the previous two sets had for their kitchenettes, although the lack of a stove or oven for fresh-cooked meals still conveys a sense that the girls are "roughing it" rather than enjoying a relaxing vacation at sea.

The scenery elements really complete the rescue play scenario, while also adhering to the sense of natural beauty intrinsic to the landscapes in themes like Friends and Elves. I can't help but smile any time I see heart shapes tastefully incorporated into the Friends theme, as in the case of this island or even the sea floor in the Dolphin Rescue Mission set.

I'd definitely love to see more sets in the future featuring brick-built islands and coasts like this, as opposed to the printed baseplates that typically served that purpose in the late 80s and early 90s. With more and more plate and slope pieces with round edges the possibilities just keep expanding!

Admittedly, the palm tree is a little underwhelming, as many smaller palm trees like this tend to be. In the future I think it'd be amazing to see a palm tree trunk constructed more like the one in this New Elementary post: http://www.newelementary.com/2019/08/2019-parts-fest-1-jarekwallys-space.html

The cost and building level of that palm tree's leafy frond (a popular AFOL technique) would probably be a little high for most sets, but could be reduced by replacing the big leafy frond with a slightly simpler one using 1x or 2x https://brickset.com/parts/design-75937 and 8x https://brickset.com/parts/design-26163.

Overall, this set definitely meets expectations for the Friends theme, and has me excited for other science or exploration oriented subthemes in the future! REALLY want to see a Space Camp subtheme at some point!!!

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By in United States,

@SeekerBear: In general the tendency in LEGO City is more of a focus on high-action and vehicle play, and less of a focus on low-action and interior role play. Floating boat hulls seem to align a bit better with that since they allow kids to push them around in the tub or pool, create rough waves by splashing the water, and so on.

On some levels, you can probably compare it to how boys often play with cars and trucks. They're excited to drive them around, send them down ramps to build up speed, or maneuver bumpy terrain and obstacles. I'm not a huge fan of the floating hulls myself, but I can definitely get a sense of how to some kids, a LEGO police boat that doesn't float might feel almost as underwhelming as a LEGO police car that doesn't roll!

Honestly, I expect the girls LEGO is targeting with the Friends theme would ALSO love if the boats could really float! But in their case, their taste for extremely detailed and playable interiors is apparently strong enough that it outweighs the appeal of a set with a floating hull but a smaller, less detailed interior.

@cody6268: I'm not sure how the Friends theme would benefit from cutting down on pink. Maybe that would make it seem less "girly" to you, but that's a ridiculous aim for a theme whose core audience is girls.

I mean, how often do you see responses to City or Technic reviews saying that LEGO needs to add more pink and purple because they're "too boyish"? If a moderate amount of pink/purple amounts to the theme in question being excessively gendered, then surely an overwhelming absence of it does as well!

@Samie: In the very least, it should help keep the aftermarket price for some of those white hull segments low. Though consequently, it might drive up demand for the white upper hull segment from Dolphin Cruiser, and drive up the price in turn….

@AustinPowers: Instructions Plus is a feature of the LEGO Life app that offers more interactive building instructions than a standard PDF or paper manual, including the ability to rotate or zoom in on the model in each building step to see different parts of the step in more detail. It also allows you to turn on or off a "ghost" image of the finished model/sub-model to see where the parts you've assembled so far will fit in the context of the overall build.

You can see a video showing these features off here: https://www.lego.com/en-us/life/instructions-plus It's mostly there for users who better understand or enjoy that type of interface — you can also view ordinary PDF instructions in the app if you prefer that.

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By in Indonesia,

@AustinPowers - @GHED is right. In the LEGO life app Instructions PLUS allow you to zoom in on each piece when it’s being added, as well a zoom and rotate the build at any point. It’s a really cool feature though I’m imagine it’s a bit work intensive. I’d love to see it with a larger set as I’ve only seen it with smaller ones.

@ several others - I never knew bath tissue wasn’t a thing outside of the U.S.!

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By in Canada,

The loose sticker placement on that dingy is driving me mad.

The set looks fantastic - I love the different colors.

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By in United States,

i'm loving the color scheme. mostly the coral red color.

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By in Germany,

If this was a creator set, I would buy it. But the colours are simply utterly garish.

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By in United States,

I don't like many Friends sets, but this one looks great! I love the bright (but not too pink) colors, and the extensive details on the boat interior. Most earlier Friends sets had a very chaotic looking design to me, but this year's wave seems to have tightened things up - much more coherent and appealing. Also that Narwahl is adorable...

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