Here’s a bit of a throwback – a review of one of my favourite modern LEGO City sets from 2014 – 60036 Arctic Base Camp. The set has proudly been on display in my study since 2014 but with a recent move coming up, I’m forced to dismantle and pack up most of my LEGO on display and unfortunately, the Arctic Base Camp is one of them.
As I’ve never reviewed it before, I decided to photograph and review the set as a goodbye gesture to one one of my favourite LEGO sets in recent history. Although 60036 Arctic Base Camp is officially retired, you should still be able to find it in your local Kmart or Toyworld if they still have stock. I’ve seen plenty of these sets around in my recent window shopping trips, so it’s not too late to snag one if you missed out.
Name: Arctic Base Camp
Set Number: 60036
Price: AU$129.99 [retired] (Still available from Kmart online)
Exclusive to: N/A
Theme: City – Arctic
Year of Release: 2014
Instructions: 60036 Arctic Base Camp
2014’s Arctic subtheme made a huge impression on me and I loved the refreshing focus on science and exploration, instead of the fairly pedestrian and mundane world of LEGO City. LEGO City might be LEGO’s best selling theme, but as an adult fan, I can’t help but feel fatigued by the recycled concepts and focus on vehicles instead of actual buildings.
I just wished that there would be more to LEGO City than crime, law enforcement, fire emergency services and logistics.
That wish was granted in 2014 with the Arctic subtheme and I’m proud to say that I have most of the sets in the theme except for the rare Supply Plane. The combination of bright orange vehicles and structures with the unique Arctic setting was a huge win in my books.
Here’s a look at the sticker sheet included in the Arctic Base Camp set. Although I’m not the biggest fan of stickers, I typically don’t mind the transparent decal-type stickers since they look decent when applied to bricks.
The Arctic Base Camp comes with 7 minifigures, featuring a complete cast of Arctic characters. You get a decent spread of Arctic explorers, a pilot and research scientists. The only criticism I have to make is the very uneven ratio of male to female minifigures. It would’ve been much, much better (and more progressive) to have at least 2 more female minifigures to balance things out.
Here are the four Arctic Explorer minifigures. They each have the same standard orange uniform and legs. Except for the female Explorer who has a tucked in waist and a slightly different uniform, all the torsos and leg prints are identical – the only way differentiate between the explorers is by their faces and eye-wear. I think the two green-goggled explorers might be identical twins.
For accessories, one of the Arctic Explorers is lucky enough to have a pair of snowshoes and a video camera.
Here’s a look at the back printing where the Arctic logo is prominently displayed.
Thankfully, the support crew is much more varied. We get a Scientist, Research Assistant and Helicopter pilot. Out of the 3, the Arctic Scientist has the best torso printing with plenty of details such as an orange jumper, white lab coat and tiny details like a nametag, pens sticking out of his pocket and an Arctic logo badge peeking out of his coat.
The Research Assistant also has a very attractive torso with a blue poofy vest with a nametag over an orange sweater. The pilot has a brown poofy jacket with fur lining, and orange and blue harnesses.
Here’s a look at the back printing, all of which proudly bear the Arctic logo in solidarity with their Explorer counterparts. The Helicopter Pilot is hands down my favourite, with an orange Arctic-branded parachute.
I’m a big fan of the Arctic minifigures in general, as they’re all very well designed and to a certain extent, it’s nice to amass a large research crew. With 7 minifigures in this set, it’s an excellent way to bolster your Arctic population. Shame there’s only one female Arctic Explorer.
Putting the Arctic Base Camp set together was quite a pleasant process as it was modular – each instruction booklet focused on one distinct component of the set, making it a very systematic build experience.
The first thing you assemble is a Husky Sled. You get 4 adorable LEGO husky dogs which is awesome as they’re one of my favourite new LEGO animals. The sled is fairly basic with a large wooden crate filled with fish, a fishing rod and a stickered control panel.
I gushed about the Husky Dogs in my Arctic Helicrane review and I still feel the same way about these adorable dogs. What I especially love is that each LEGO husky dog has a unique grey and white fur pattern that’s achieved by the seemingly random mixing of the paints.
It really gives each dog such a unique identity, enough so that they don’t feel like generic clones of one another.
Joining the Husky Sled is a small snow scooter. For all the stickers that this set contains, the curved slope in the front with the Arctic logo is printed which is always welcome. Like the sled, the snow scooter is also rather basic, with just enough space for one occupant to pilot it.
The next build is an Arctic helicopter. Again, it’s a really tiny helicopter, made out of a small number of parts but it does the job fairly well. The helicopter pilot snugly fits into the small cockpit, and the helicopter is constructed out of fairly generic bricks like slopes.
There’s really nothing to get excited about with the tiny helicopter. It’s not ugly – just small and in the grand scheme of things, I would’ve much preferred the bricks to be used for something else. I think a great substitute would’ve been a weather observation station, or perhaps some more equipment to study ice crystals.
So the best part about the helicopter build (and this set) is the Polar Bear included. As if husky dogs weren’t good enough, LEGO saw it fit to bless us with polar bears in the Arctic sets and it is a beauty. I love LEGO animals (I one day dream of building a zoo or farm) so the polar bear was a HUGE motivator to pick up this set alone and it didn’t disappoint at all.
The polar bear’s distinct facial features such as its beady black eyes and nose are perfectly captured. I do believe that the polar bear is a recolour of the existing LEGO Bear that we got in the Forest Police sets as the mould seems pretty identical.
The bear is able to stand on its hind legs, and there’s a great level of articulation with its legs and you can even tilt its head up and down.
This set is great as it shows that the Arctic Explorers aren’t just interested in studying/mining rare minerals hidden in ice crystals but there’s also an ecological focus to their research trip to the poles as well. Nature and conservation fans would naturally be all over this set for this aspect alone.
Speaking of ice crystals, we get our very first ice crystal in Book #2’s build. One of the main research projects of the Arctic Explorers is to crack open these huge ice blocks which contain a smaller silvery crystal piece. Could these be alternatives to fossil fuels or rare metals? I really like this aspect of the Arctic sub-theme as it gives kids (and parents) plenty of opportunities to roleplay and incorporate story-telling into play.
The major vehicle included in the Arctic Base Camp set is a massive tracked exploration vehicle. It comes in a gorgeous orange colour and features giant tracks to traverse the icy Arctic terrain. The exploration vehicle is really beefy thanks to the oversized tracks and also sports a large rotating drill attached to the back.
Here’s a better look at the vehicle from the side – the scorpion-like drill is attached to a swiveling seat and has plenty of articulation to position it in different positions. I really like the overall look of the tracked exploration vehicle and also appreciate some of the more subtle details such as the twin exhaust pipes, antennae and radar thingy on its roof.
The tracked exploration vehicle has a really unique and one-of-a-kind look that when combined with the fun interactive features such as the drill and tracks make for an all-around great Arctic vehicle.
The main attraction of the set is the Arctic Base Camp, the research hub of the Arctic explorers. The base camp retains the lovely orange colour scheme and is suspended above the ground on stilts.
The base camp features large interiors, that are separated into a laboratory, living areas, and a small garage that opens up from both sides. There is a large platform for the outside that has a conveyor belt to ferry the ice blocks up to the lab for examination and scientific experiments.
Here’s a look at the base camp from the side and back. I can’t overstate how large the entire structure is – it measures 28 by 16 studs. It certainly commands a respectable presence when you set it amongst all the other Arctic vehicles and minifigures.
Sitting atop the base camp’s roof is a large radar, an antennae with the Arctic explorers flag attached as well as 2 solar panels to generate electricity.
The conveyor belt works as well as you’d expect – you place the ice blocks onto the ridges in the belt and twist the knob to move them in either direction. There’s a small pen to catch the ice blocks when they arrive at the top of the platform.
One of my favourite features of the base camp is how the walls of the research lab flip open to reveal the interiors. It’s a really clever mechanism that’s quite well concealed, making it extremely satisfying when you open it up.
The research laboratory is well stocked and has all the equipment that you need to do all sorts of Arctic science. The lab contains a microscope to examine the crystals and two screens that display scientific data as well as radar information.
It’s a little narrow and devoid of ample space to move around, but that sorta plays well into realistic labs in remote aread of the world where floor space is a luxury.
Like the lab, the main living section opens up to reveal quite a large garage. The roof and main entrance flips open outwards, with the main door also functioning as a ramp for the ice scooter to be transported inside. In the garage, there is a small tiled area for the ice scooter to occupy.
The base camp also opens up from the back, giving you access to a small but cozy living area for the Arctic explorers and scientists to unwind and relax. With amenities such as a small television, fireplace and a table with 2 chairs, it’s a really cool and believable section of the arctic base camp.
There’s also a stickered poster of a woman and a kid, possibly stuck there by a scientist who wants to be reminded of home during these long research trips away.
What I liked:
- Makes a geat centrepiece for the Arctic sets
- You get all the Arctic animals (Polar bear + huskies)
- Plenty of vehicles facilitate roleplaying
- Heavy focus on science, research and arctic wildlife
What I didn’t like:
- Lopsided ratio of male to female minifigures
- Helicopter is the weakest vehicle
Final thoughts: The Arctic Base Camp lives up to its name as an excellent centerpiece and home base for the entire City Arctic theme. It gets a lot of things right and if you’re a fan of the natural sciences and exploration-type LEGO themes, this set will absolutely and fully delight you.
With 7 minifigures, you’re given a respectable cast of characters to play with and I really liked that each minifigure has a specific role to play. As I’ve mentioned, I do wish that we had more female representation to even the scales.
LEGO did cop a lot of flak for this a year ago, and have recently been putting a lot more effort into making sets a lot more balanced when it comes to gender which is great.
One of my favourite things about the Arctic Base Camp is the animals included. Four husky dogs and the polar bear are great additions for fans of LEGO animals, with the polar bear the obvious star of the set. I did wish that LEGO had included some penguins! I personally picked up a large number of penguins on Bricklink as I wanted to re-enact a documentary crew filming in the Arctic.
The vehicles included provide a lot of interactivity and fun with the set. The tracked exploration is satisfyingly huge and I’m a sucker for vehicles with large tracks. The helicopter is a little too simple for my tastes and is quite an odd fit into the set.
The Base Camp structure is really exceptional, benefiting from a very realistic design and the fact that the interiors are well furnished. The combo of science lab and living quarters makes it so great to set up for role-playing and serves as a great hub for your Arctic explorers to call home.
I’m hoping to find another one of this set on a deep clearance ($70 would be an awesome price) so that I can build a larger base camp module by combining two units together.
All in all, I have nothing but high praise for the Arctic theme and the Arctic Base Camp serves as an essential piece that underpins the entire theme together. There’s just something indescribably cool about LEGO using their products to inspire the next generation of children to care about science and research.
If you missed out on this in 2014, I highly recommend checking your local Kmart or Toyworld to see if you can still pick one up before it’s gone for good. It’s currently available on Kmart’s online store too if there’s no nearby Kmart!
Thanks so much for reading, I hope you enjoyed the brief blast from the past.