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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Next to the splash pool there's a space for the speedboat to be launched.
Across from the splash pool, there are life vests on the ready for the Friends as well as some medical supplies.
There's space for everything on this boat, including a special spot for Zobo - elevated presumably so that he can drip dry.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
Putting both levels together, the boat is quite impressive and with the teal and coral accents, very striking.
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.