WILD ANIMAL RESCUE MISSIONS (60353) REVIEW

Wild Animal Rescue Missions (60353), part of the new City sub-theme called “Missions”, is now available. This review will cover both the set and the free app that is required to play. This set is part of the first wave of this new sub-theme that includes two other sets. These include Mars Spacecraft Exploration Missions (60354) and Water Police Detective Missions (60355). Keep you eye out for reviews of these sets over the next week. Of the three new sets, I was definitely drawn to the Wild Animal Rescue Missions set the most. I love the colours and who can resist all those animals!

Wild Animal Rescue Missions open box with loose parts

NOTE: The LEGO® Group provided this set for review. However, the provision of products does not guarantee a favorable review. I will use the usual True North Bricks rating system (click here for more information) and provide my honest opinion.

WILD ANIMAL RESCUE MISSIONS SUMMARY

  • NAME: Wild Animal Rescue Missions
  • SET #: 60353
  • THEME: City (Missions sub-theme)
  • COST: $49.99 CAD
  • BRICK COUNT: 246
  • MINIFIGURES: 3 (plus lots of animals!)
  • RELEASE DATE: June 1, 2022
  • COST/BRICK: $0.20
  • BRICK-TO-FIG RATIO: 62

WILD ANIMAL RESCUE MISSIONS QUICK REVIEW

  • VALUE: 86%
  • BUILD: 93%
  • MINIFIGURES: 90%
  • ENTERTAINMENT: 95%
  • OVERALL SCORE: 91%
Wild Animal Rescue Missions set bags

WILD ANIMAL RESCUE MISSIONS REVIEW

VALUE: 86%

The price of the Wild Animal Rescue Mission is $49.99 in Canada. This is the same price for all three new Missions sets. With only 246 pieces, this is an expensive cost per brick ($0.20/brick). This translates to a score of 58.5% when compared to all sets reviewed by true North Bricks. However, the cost of City sets tends to be on the pricier side. If you compare the cost per brick to only City sets reviewed by True North Bricks, then the score is 72%.

A typical 250 piece takes under an hour to build. But that is straight building time. This set is very different. In addition to building, you are also interacting with the app. This means listening to the story, and then sometimes following instructions and other times building freestyle. Taking this into consideration, I spent 2 hours and 13 minutes building this set and interacting with the app. Although difficult to compare to a standard build experience, this converts to a cost-per-minute of $0.38. This translates to a cost per minute value of over 100% on the current scale used by True North Bricks.

minifigs and parts in a pile

Overall, Wild Animal Rescue Mission has a lot of play value, even though it only has 246 pieces for a fairly high price point. You can certainly spend a lot of time building and re-building as you engage with the story line and complete the missions! Overall, the value of this set comes in at 86% which is considered good value.

BUILD: 93%

Much of this set is about being creative and building from your imagination. However, there are some instructions provided to help you build various models. The largest model in this set is the rescue truck. It begins with step-by-step instructions. The instructions are definitely tailored to younger builders. The steps are really drawn out which may frustrate older builders. There are 5 steps just to provide instructions on what to do with the 6×8 plate and 2×6 plate, and another 9 steps just for the wheels. Although the box says 6+, there is no end range identified. Thus, it would have been nice to see an option for more advanced builders to appeal to a broader audience. This could have been an express build with fewer steps, or a box build style with a few photos from various angles rather than instructions.

The truck itself is a standard City-style truck. I am not very familiar with the City theme, but for some reason they did not include doors. I also thought it was an odd choice to use a 2×3 slope brick rather than a LEGO® seat. However, I do really like the four bright green fender elements though! It’s also nice to get a printed element that says “Rescue” with a paw print logo for the hood of the truck. Additional missions have you add elements to the truck to help with a particular task. And there are a lot of different elements to choose from. In the third mission, you can add pieces to the truck that will help you detect, hear, and look for the missing animals.

Mini Builds

There are also a couple of basic mini builds scattered throughout the remaining missions. These include a traffic light, part of a construction site, and an outdoor table. I really like the look of the traffic light with the 1×1 tooth plate at the top. I wish the construction site used a bigger plate so the hare could actually stand with its head through the bricks like in the on-screen image. However, you could always reorient the wall in the other direction to allow more exposed studs. The outdoor table includes a 2x2x2 support stand in dark azur. We first saw this piece in this colour in January 2022 in the Monkie Kid Chang’e Moon Cake Factory (80032) set. It is also in another City Missions set, Water Police Detective Missions (60355) (watch for my review on this set later this week).

mini build construction site

Free Building

The highlight of the build experience is the free building experience. This is quite different from standard LEGO® sets where instructions are provided for everything in the box. I like that there are three ideas icons at each build stage to help with suggestions. Interestingly, images even include other objects such as constructions paper. You are given a nice variety of pieces to help inspire you including some more unique elements like a stretcher, digger bucket, and tree costume! Interestingly, the orange roof piece feels very light and cheap, and it doesn’t have much clutch power.

Wild Animal Rescue Missions big parts

Animals!

A set about wild animal rescue missions wouldn’t be complete without animals. And you get a LOT of animals in this set. There is also a nice variety of animals including a panther cub, hare, owl, adult crocodile, baby crocodile, and a cute coral frog. All the animals except for the adult crocodile and the frog are unique to this set. I think in most cases it is the colour or print that makes them unique. There is also a rabbit teddy bear that is unique to this set.

Wild Animal Rescue Missions animals

While the builds aren’t overly exciting, I think kids will love the build experience. And that is what stands out for this set. It provides a great balance of instructions, suggestions, and creativity. As an adult builder, I prefer to either build solely with instructions or completely with my imagination. I admittedly had a hard time trying to build within the story line using the pieces provided. I can’t fault LEGO® for my personal challenges, so I still give the build experience 93% as I think they did a fantastic job with this new hybrid style set that will definitely appeal to kids.

MINIFIGURES: 90%

One of the main on-screen characters, Westbrook W. Sleet, takes you to the gear and outfit room where you are invited to choose anything you’d like. You are then prompted to open bag one. When you hit the advance arrow button, a new screen comes up with instructions to “Get creative & build your way!”. Clicking the advance button again takes you back to the gear room where you are instructed to “Build your gear”.  This page has no instructions but there are 3 idea icons you can click to get some inspiration if you are stuck.

Sleet and the Ideas icon

Mix and Match

You can mix and match the pieces to create the characters you want. Interestingly, there is a dark orange short hair element and a dark brown ponytail element, but only one ball cap. It would have been nice to have a ball cap with long hair included as well. There is also a bright green dirt bike style helmet though I’m not sure what that is for as I don’t recall seeing a dirt bike or mountain bike on the box art. This bag also comes with various accessories for the minifigures. These include a shovel, walkie-talkie, brush, baby bottle, binoculars, two syringes, a camera (and elements to build a long lens), and a crate. Incidentally, successfully building your minifigures completes the first mission.

two minifigures and accessories

The third minifigure is found in bag 2 which you open during the second mission. However, you aren’t prompted to build the minifigure until mission three. After meeting Maya, an animal ranger from a nearby rescue station, you are asked to help get her gear together. Interestingly, there are step-by-step instructions for putting Maya together. While Maya’s outfit is average, she has the awesome new head with hearing aid/cochlear implant and fantastic hair!

All 3 minifigures with head gear and showing the hearing aid/cochlear implant

Outfits

This set comes with three torsos. One torso is a two-toned blue vest over a light tan top. Another is a blue long sleeve zip-up jacket, open over a tan top. And the last torso is a blue long sleeve button up shirt over a dark red shirt. This torso also has a rope print around the left should. Interestingly, this set doesn’t come with any rope. All three torsos have the word “Rescue” on the back and include the paw logo that is also on the hood of the truck. There are also three sets of legs. The dark blue and light tan pants have no printing. The dark tan pants have pockets printed on them.

The minifigures are decent but it would be nice to get an additional hat with long hair. I also think they should have included Mr. Fendrich, the fourth character introduced in the story. That said, I think they did a great job with the Maya minifigure. The only downside is her awesome hair covers the hearing aid/cochlear implant printed on the side of her head. When considering only the three minifigures, this set earns a score of 80% when compared to City sets. Interestingly, this is the average for City sets. However, if you factor in the animals, which is common practice for City sets, then the score improves further to 90%.

ENTERTAINMENT: 95%      

Setting up the Story

I had no idea what to expect from the new Missions sets. I have not had much experience with LEGO® apps though I did try the Hidden Side app with my niece and nephew, and I attempted to try the LEGO® Vidiyo app once. Neither were very engaging. The Missions sets work through the existing LEGO® Instructions app which is already a big win as there is no additional platform to keep up to date. Unfortunately, you do need access to a device to download the app to fully experience this set. Consequently, this will exclude some LEGO® fans from being able to enjoy this set.

Once you select the Missions set of your choice (there are currently three), then the fun begins. After selecting Wild Animal Rescue Missions, you see an overview of the Animal Rescue Station and their surrounding property. Once in front of the Animal Rescue Station you meet Jessica Sharpe, nature lover and adventurer. She introduces herself and her friend Tendi, a panther cub. She also provides some background for the story line before introducing Westbrook W. Sleet. Sleet is a nature documentarian and Wild Wilderness TV host. The purpose of Sleet’s visit is to film a nature documentary of all the wild animals being saved and returned safely back into the wild. At this point, I find the story line fairly interesting, and I particularly like Sleet. His character brings the LEGO® humour we first saw in The LEGO® Movies.

Jessica Sharpe

The Missions

There are eight missions, although they aren’t all missions in the typical sense. The first mission is to build two of your minifigures. And the second mission is to build the truck. This brings you to the third mission: to track the missing animals! At this point the third character, Maya, is introduced. Together you prepare the truck for the mission. Maya is super positive and encouraging as she exclaims, “Come on, lets make awesome!”. Once your truck is complete you move on to the third mission, to search for animal tracks. The tracks lead in the direction of the city where the remaining missions take place.

Traffic Chaos – Mission: Build to reach

Sleet meets you downtown with coverage of an owl dropping traffic jam. Your mission is to build something to reach up high to get the owl down safely. I didn’t enjoy this bag as much as the previous ones. I wanted to use more pieces, but I was quite happy with how my extendable ladder fit on the 1×2 with bar that was already on my truck. So, I only used the two red ladder pieces. If you are stuck for creative build ideas, you can always select the 3 idea icons for inspiration. You are then instructed to “Play your mission”. This is the first time I clued in that you are supposed to play out the scenario (perhaps it wasn’t mentioned when you built the minifigures or the truck?). I suspect the play part will come more naturally to younger builders.

parts for owl mission

You are then back in the gear room with Jessica and a bag 3 floating in the middle of the room. I was a bit perplexed until she let me know she had something to help me with the next mission. The bag then opens to reveal the surprise. It seems a bit out of place, but I guess it keeps in interesting. Plus, kids like surprises, right? Perhaps the even stranger part, is that you already opened bag 3 and the “surprise” chicken leg is already available for you to build with.

Panther Prowling – Mission: Build to lure

Sleet meets you in front of the movie theatre to try to find Tendi, the panther cub who is hiding inside. I feel like this was a missed opportunity to include the 1×1 brick popcorn box element. Your mission is to build something to lure Tendi out of the theatre. I like that the on-screen characters provide some educational information as they encourage you to lure the panther cub without touching it. They share the message that it is important not to touch wild animals with human hands.

panther cub mission screenshot of theatre

As with all the missions, there are three idea icons to help guide the build process if you get stuck. There is no new bag to open for this mission, but there are lots of pieces to spark your creativity from the bags you have already opened. One of my favourites is the bunny stuffed animal! Back in the gear lab Jessica has another surprise for you from bag 3 even though you already opened that bag. The very slow step-by-step instructions to build the “surprise” tree costume with two leaves is a bit painful.

Bad Hare Day – Mission: Build to dig

You open bag 4 at the start of the sixth mission. I lose the story a bit on this one, but kids might enjoy it. The mission is to help lure a hare hiding in a dangerous construction site. As I mentioned in the Build section, I think it would make more sense to switch the orientation of the construction site. This would allow the hare to stand with it’s head poking through the wall just as it does in the story you watch. After rescuing the hare, you head back to the gear lab for another surprise from Jessica. Similar to the previous surprise, this surprise is also from a bag you have already opened.

gear lab surprise screenshot

Baby Croc – Mission: Build to help

Mission seven includes more teaching moments about behaving around wild animals. Your mission is to create a safe space on the truck for the crocodile and to help clean it. You are reminded not to pet the crocodile (I suppose you can’t over do a warning like this). This mission is also filled with positive and encouraging messages like, “You can do it. You’re amazing with animals!”. I found this mission a bit more challenging when it came to building from my imagination. But perhaps I was just getting a bit tired at this point. I do like Jessica’s “surprise” after this mission. This time the bag opens to reveal the parts to build a water sprayer to clean the baby crocodile. Unfortunately, I used one of the pieces needed to make the water sprayer when I made my carrier apparatus to rescue the crocodile.

parts for the hare and baby croc missions

The Animal Thief – Mission: Build to comfort

The final mission takes a bit of a turn as you meet up with Sleet and the baby croc who is looking for its mother. Sleet again brings some really great humour to the experience, exclaiming that crocodiles smell really good. He then recognizes his grammatical blunder and corrects himself saying, crocodiles have a well-developed sense of smell. I don’t know if kids will catch all the humour, but I sure enjoyed it. You then find the momma crocodile who has cornered the animal thief, Mr. Fendrich. Unfortunately, a Mr. Fendrich minifigure does not come with the set.

screenshot of Mr. Fendrich

In between clips, you are instructed to open bag 5. Instructions are provided to help you build the momma crocodile. You mission is to build something to make the momma crocodile comfortable on the ride to the rescue station. As always, there are three idea icons to help you out if you need suggestions. The highlight of this mission is the “Play your mission” screen. Rather than a static screen, this time you are in the driver’s seat of the rescue truck as you drive through the city streets. You can see the momma crocodile in the rear-view mirror as she holds on when you take the corners. On one sharp turn she even closes her eyes. Again, I really appreciate those small touches of humour.

parts for the big croc mission

The story continues as Mr. Fendrich stops by the Animal Rescue Station to admit his mistake and to write a cheque to support the rescue station. In your last visit to the gear room Jessica has one more surprise for you. And yes, it is another element from a bag that you already opened. However, I suspect that most folks won’t use this surprise for anything until this point.

Closing Scenes

After completing mission 8 you are invited to participate in some bonus play. The three ideas icons appear on screen with suggestions to look for more animals, finish the documentary, and help at the station. I quite like that the game doesn’t just end but that it encourages the builder to continue playing and being creative.  

Overall, I think the entertainment value of the missions and the build experience is really great. The set is rated 6+ and I think it will definitely appeal to younger audiences (6-9 years old). There is good variety in the missions, the characters are engaging, and there are teaching moments throughout. Overall, I give the Wild Animal Rescue Missions set an entertainment score of 95%.

OVERALL SCORE: 91%

Technical Difficulties

Overall, the app functioned fairly well. However, I fell like there could have been a little bit more user testing. There doesn’t seem to be a rewind button and I couldn’t hit the back button until I completely finished a segment. It would have been nice to be able to pull the scroll bar along the bottom to rewind or fast forward the segment as needed. This feature did seem to work in the building instructions segments, but not in the video segments. A few of the scenes also ended on a black screen rather than a paused scene of the story. This made it feel like the app was incomplete.

There was also a small glitch during one of the scenes in Mission 8. The code language appears on the screen as part of the text. Also, if you try to re-enter the game and select a mission, it takes you to the end of the mission rather than the beginning. I did notice a reset button at the top, but I didn’t try it as I didn’t want to redo all the missions over again. However, this should allow you to play more than once or to let other kids or AFOLs have a turn. My phone (Samsung S20 FE) also got really hot. I have never run an app for this long (over 2 hours) so I don’t know if that had something to do with it.

code language glitch screenshot

Final Thoughts

The Wild Animal Rescue Mission does a great job combining story telling, instructions based building, and creative building. I really like the ideas icons with suggestions for free building. This set had me on the floor building to try to save the animals in each of the missions. The app is engaging, and the story line moves along at a good pace (except for the build instructions). I also really like the humour that Sleet brings to the game. Unlike most basic apps, I find the music pretty good. However, there are only a few main tracks that loop so if you spend as much time with this set as I did, you will wish for a bit more variety. And of course, you get LOTS of animals!

Overall, there isn’t anything glaringly negative about this set. The slow pace of the instructions was noticeable, but it might be the right pace for younger builders. Although everyone likes a surprise, I find Jessica’s surprise reveals a bit odd since you already open the bags in an earlier step and have access to the parts. The “Get creative & build your way” screen also stands out as a bit odd. It has very different graphics than the rest of the story. The image is an artistic depiction of a child’s head with bricks pouring out the top. A better fit would have been a LEGO® head.

Get creative & build your way screenshot

Unlike some of the recent attempts to merge physical sets and technology, I think the Missions theme might be a winner. The only major downfall is the high price point. What do you think of Wild Animal Rescue Missions? Let us know below or on social media!

Play well folks,

-Krista

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