The Arctic Explorer Ship (60368) is one of my most anticipated sets from the summer 2023 City collection. Initially, my interest arose solely because the set includes the first killer whale figurine. However, building it did not disappoint me at all. In fact, I was rather impressed with the model. My last foray into LEGO® ship building was the Ocean Exploration Ship (60266) from 2020. It was a decent set, but it also had size and scale issues for Minifigures. I feel like the Arctic Explorer Ship fixed those. Let’s take a deeper look!
NOTE: The LEGO® Group provided this set for review. However, the provision of products does not guarantee a favorable review. True North Bricks’ usual rating system applies (click here for more information).
Arctic Explorer Ship Specs
- NAME: Arctic Explorer Ship
- SET #: 60368
- THEME: City
- COST: $209.99 CAD
- BRICK COUNT: 815
- MINIFIGURES: 7
- OF INTEREST: 1 orca figurine
- RELEASE DATE: August 1, 2023
Quick Review of the Arctic Explorer Ship
- VALUE: 48% (Expensive bricks and build time, even for a City set.)
- BUILD: 90% (Wastes bricks telling a tired tale, but the boat is great.)
- MINIFIGURES: 93% (Great characters and designs, and a phenomenal orca.)
- ENTERTAINMENT: 100% (I enjoyed this set a lot more than I thought I would.)
- OVERALL SCORE: 83% (Good set.)
|What I liked||What I didn’t like as much|
|The orca figurine is amazing|
Great Minifigure selection
Minifigures can stand and access all ship areas
|This set is expensive for what you get|
The sunken treasure story is getting old
Why do we need another dinky helicopter?
Full Review of the Arctic Explorer Ship (60368)
Of all this City sets released in summer 2023, this is the second most expensive. It costs $209.99 in Canada, eclipsed only by the monster Downtown (60380) set at $259.99 CAD. The Arctic Explorer ship includes 815 bricks. Consequently, the cost/brick is $0.258. That is not a very good value, but I am unsurprised that is the case. The ship includes two massive hull pieces that allow the ship to actually float. We don’t see those in too many other sets to help spread the cost. Interestingly, the cost/brick here is marginally worse than it was with the 2020 Ocean Exploration Ship. My average cost/brick for LEGO® in general is $0.142, while the City theme sits at $0.185. Either way, this set is expensive. I rate the cost/brick at 49%.
In terms of build time, I assembled this set in two hours and five minutes. At full price, the resulting cost/minute of build time would be $1.68. That is not the worst I have ever seen… but it is among the most expensive for sure. Comparatively, all the LEGO® sets I’ve reviewed average around $0.88/minute, while City generally hovers around $1.13/minute. You do not get a lot of build time for the price with the Arctic Explorer Ship. I rate that at 47%. Averaging this with the cost/brick score gives an overall value rating of 48%. This set is certainly expensive for what you get, even for a City set.
So, you don’t get a lot of bricks, nor do you get a lot of build time for $210 CAD. What do you get? A really nice ship build. This one blows the Ocean Exploration Ship from 2020 out of the water. I don’t have that ship built anymore, but it would look downright basic next to this one. The Ocean Exploration Ship consisted of two identical hull elements placed back-to-back. The Arctic Explorer Ship features a new, larger, and more pointed bow in addition to the same, older hull element that makes up the stern section.
On top of that, the Ocean Exploration ship did not accommodate Minifigures very well. They were unable to stand in the crew quarters or on bridge. Additionally, the ship lacked doors for minifigs to access certain rooms. The Arctic Explorer Ship fixes those issues. Minifigures can stand in all areas of the ship, even with the roof sections attached. Additionally, doors lead into the research and crew quarters area, which also features a bathroom. The bridge is accessibly via a ladder and door off the deck of the ship.
The Arctic Explorer Ship fixes many issues I had with its predecessor.
The ship does not have much of a cargo hold. An open space in the aft section of the ship leaves room for some cargo of your own design. The center of the ship looks like it has cargo bay doors, but they actually open into open water. A functional crane swings over the opening to lower a deep-sea drone into place. The drone itself is a good looking design. The opening is a neat workaround for the design of the hull elements. Placing them back-to-back naturally creates that space with no buildable surfaces. But its not very realistic in terms of an actual ship. As a plaything, it works fun though.
In terms of other builds, you get the aforementioned deep-sea drone. You also get a small helicopter. I’ll never understand the LEGO® Group’s fixation with these little City helicopters. I don’t remember a single wave of sets without one. With that said, this one is not bad… but its certainly not great either. It employs some bricks in interesting manner, namely those making up the tail. But the helicopter does not fit on the ship nicely enough. I feel like the build is not at all necessary to the set’s story. The brick count should have gone towards a cargo container or something to fill up the emptier aft section of the ship.
The dinky helicopters and treasure hunting stories are getting a little old…
Finally, you assemble a Viking shipwreck. Again, it’s a build that is not necessary to set’s story. I wouldn’t say it’s a bad idea, but that brick allotment would again better serve the actual ship. I get that its fun to have something for the deep-sea drone to dive to. But making this ship a treasure or shipwreck hunting vessel downplays the amazing orca figurine. In fact, it kind of makes the orca a pointless addition. The killer whale does not appear on the ship’s computer screens. I wish this was a marine biology expedition that focused on the orca instead of another LEGO® sunken treasure expedition. We have seen enough of those. Researching killer whales adds a new story to the LEGO® catalog and makes better use of the new figurine. Perhaps without the helicopter and sunken ship, we might have even gotten TWO killer whales…
In terms of interesting build techniques, I liked how the bridge employs inverted windscreen elements. A round 1×2 brick with bars in the middle holds an upside down windscreen in place. It attaches to the printed screen brick in the image below. It’s a great technique to pick up for switching stud direction. Additionally, you acquire some large slope elements in orange. I believe this is the first time we’ve seen this piece in that color.
I really like the build technique used to invert the windscreen element.
As with many City sets, this one suffers from an unoriginal story that tries to cling to too many past City-theme staples. These concepts become tired over time. I love this ship design, and I am thrilled it fixes the issues I had with its predecessor. However, its story potential was a missed opportunity, and the bricks used to tell its tired tale could easily have been used to present something fresh and more unified. All the same, I rate this build at 90%. It’s a good one, especially if you need a big ship.
You get seven minifigures and an orca in this set. That’s eight characters total, representing 102 bricks/fig. City sets tend to include a lot of characters, so that’s only satisfactory in a theme-specific comparison. City averages 84 bricks/fig in my experience. However, LEGO® sets in general tend to offer more like 191 bricks/fig. In that light, the Arctic Explorer Ship is darn right excellent. With both these comparisons in mind, I rate the number of characters included in this set at 85%.
Now let’s chat about that orca. I LOVE IT. The only orca I’ve had to date was the brick-built version from the Creator 3-in-1 Lighthouse Point (31051 from 2016). I generally don’t like brick-built animals, but I kept that one assembled. I even used it in my Aquaman LEGO-fied poster back in 2019. Even though this new orca figurine only has jaw articulation, I am completely enamored with it. Such a shame it only comes in a super expensive set. It makes getting a pod of killer whales quite challenging. I’d almost fork out the money for this set just for this figurine… who am I kidding, “almost”, lol. I would have waited for a sale though.
I probably would have bought this set just for the killer whale figurine.
Otherwise, the set includes a great assortment of Minifigures in new-for-2023 attire. Interestingly, no two in the set share the same torso or face printing. Additionally, you get several alternate hair or hat pieces, so characters are not bald if their outside wear comes off. Five characters also have leg printing, but only two have alternate faces. In terms of accessories, you get a lot. I counted 27 items (see below). Of course, there’s the orca as well… and I might have missed some other accessories. Great minifigs overall, I rate the design and accessories at 100%. Averaging this with the character count score gives an overall Minifig rating of 93%.
Arctic Explorer Ship (60368) minifig accessories:
- winter hat
- collar ruff
- two-way radio
- two mugs
- two crabs
- a printed tile single celled organism
- four printed computer/radar bricks
- a printed tile keyboard
- a rubber raft
- two life vests
- a scuba tank
- a pair of flippers
- a scuba helmet
- a pilot’s helmet
- a treasure chest (with a new lid)
- a Viking helmet
- a Viking shield
- a Viking axe
- a laptop
- a wrench
- a camera
This was one of those sets that pleasantly surprised me. I knew I would like it before I got my hands on it. However, I didn’t know how much I would like it. I thought the minifigs would be cool, I knew the orca would be amazing. But I guess I didn’t expect all that much from the ship. I figured it would be mildly entertaining for AFOLs, like the Ocean Exploration Ship. In the end, the ship is much larger than I thought it would be, and it looks good.
On top of that, there is SO much play potential if you have young ones. This set actually floats. However, I would be careful with that feature. There are some little bits that come off pretty easily. They might end up in a pool filter or lost in a lake. Even if you don’t use it in the water, the design is a huge upgrade from the Ocean Exploration Ship, and you can really play in the interior spaces and all along the decks. I imagine this ship transporting dinosaurs à-la-Lost World. Despite the price, I am entertained as an adult… and my inner child is squealing with delight too.
I liked this set a lot more than I thought I would.
The only thing I might caution is on the topic of group building. You get multiple instruction manuals. However, the first adds small features to rubber raft, it barely counts. The second assembles the shipwreck and deep-sea drone… it’s not very long. The third goes to the helicopter, which is also a short build. The actual Arctic Explorer Ship is one, solid manual. Not much for your build team to share in after the first half hour or so of building. That doesn’t affect me personally, so I’m not deducting points for it.
OVERALL SCORE: 83%
The price point for getting the Arctic Explorer Ship (60368) is really the only major downer. I love this set. In fact, it’s one of the best City sets I’ve seen in a long time. You get great minifigs, an awesome orca, some interesting build techniques, some nice new pieces, and a design that fixes the missteps of its predecessor. I’m impressed. If the price tag wasn’t so high, I’d give it a much better grade. Now, if only the LEGO® Group would get some new story ideas to go with their fun new sets… What do you think? Let me know in the comments or reach out on social media.
Until next time,
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