One of the themes I was most looking forward to this year (among many others) is LEGO City Jungle, the new exciting City sub-theme that eschews the concrete jungle for the real thing. It’s next in line of a series of Exploration and Science-based subthemes that has transported us to the Arctic, Volcanos and even the Deep Sea.
The sets started showing up in stores early this month and I’ve picked up a few of them to hopefully review in the coming weeks. First cab off the rank is 60159 Jungle Halftrack Mission, a mid-sized set that’s priced to perfection and is the most affordable way to get one of the new LEGO big cats – the Panther!
Name: Jungle Half Track Mission
Set Number: 60159
Price: AU$44.99 | US$39.99 | £24.99 (Buy from LEGO.com [AUS] [USA] [UK] [Amazon])
Exclusive to: N/A
Animals: Panther, Spider
Theme: City Jungle
Year of Release: 2017
60159 Jungle Half Track Mission is a mid-sized, hyper-accessible set that acts as an ideal introduction to LEGO’s new City Jungle theme.
Sure, you could drop AU$220 on the mother of all LEGO City Jungle sets, and dive into the deep end, but if you’re after a taste of the Jungle, I can’t recommend this set enough to whet your appetite.
It contains 2 vehicles, a bit of temple ruins, 2 minifigures and 2 of the 3 new critters (spider and panther) introduced in this theme. And yes, I’m counting the new Venus Flytrap as a critter!
Here’s a look at the sticker sheet which is pretty standard issue – you get some vehicle decals with the set’s number, metallic grating, and the logo of the City Jungle explorers.
Here’s a look at the panther and two minifigures included in the set. The black panther is exclusive to the set, and is the main drawcard.
The 2 Jungle Explorer minifigures are also technically exclusive thanks to their faces, and the female minifig is the only one in this theme sporting the brown hair tied up in a bun headpiece.
Let’s take a look at the LEGO panther, one of the new big cats introduced in this theme. The brand new mould (which is shared with the tiger and leopard) is excellent and should delight collectors of LEGO animals like myself.
The panther is made out of one piece with no assembly required and has the big cat frozen in a walking motion, with its left foreleg stretched out to take a step.
It has two studs on its back, if you ever want to affix a minifigure to ride it, and a printed face. The moulding is nice, with the panther’s lithe muscles well represented, as well as smaller details like its paws.
The panther’s shape is beautiful when viewed from the side, I love how well the designers captured the large hind legs and gave it almost a profile that looks like its stalking its prey.
Like most LEGO animals, the panther is also poseable, being able to rear up on its hind legs as well as its head being able to tilt upwards and downwards.
The printing on the panther’s face is sharp and as you can see above, I had a really good time capturing photos of it out in the wild. It’s quite possibly one of my favourite new LEGO animals and I hope we see more of the big cats outside of the Jungle theme.
Here are the two Jungle explorer minifigures. We get a guy and a girl, who both sport brand new torso prints. The orangey brown designs feature very fine details that befit an explorer, with walkie talkies, straps galore, rope and plenty of satchel pockets.
The standard female and male Jungle explorer torsos are shared across nearly all minifigures in the theme, so there’s isn’t a lot of variety but for the most part, I’m okay with that given the high level of detailed printing.
The female explorer has pleasant expression, with a small smile and her brown hair tied up in a bun. The male explorer has a slightly scruffier look, with stubble and a small scratch on his right cheek as well as a tan baseball cap.
Here’s a look at the back prints, which again, show off so much more of the gorgeous detail. I really love the green water bottle on the girl’s back, and the wired walkie talkies tucked into their belts.
The female explorer has an alternate face which is a little roughed up and has an uncertain, lip-bite with sweat drops across her face. It’s a great alternate face, and it’s a shame that the guy doesn’t have a dual-sided head.
Her face works great as she contemplates sharing her turkey drumstick with the panther to gain its trust.
Apart from new animals, LEGO City Jungle also introduces one of the most exciting new accessories/weapons in 2017, an official LEGO Machete! It totally makes sense in the jungle setting as the explorers need it to cut a path through the lush jungle.
The accessory is really well designed and looks fantastic. It’s got a pearl grey metallic sheen to it and I do like the textured hilt. It’s the perfect accessory for your Zombie Apocalypse MOC and it feels quite surreal that we finally get a LEGO Machete!
As a bonus, you’re given 2 Machetes in the set which is really nice touch.
I like that you get both a male and female explorer, which gives you enough play options for a medium-sized set. It’s also a nice little bonus that both minifigures are exclusive to this set but given that they’re rather generic characters, they won’t be setting the world on fire.
The build starts off with a small All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV), which has a pretty tried and true design. There are some small design flourishes that I like such as the use of tile clips for the side mirrors, and the lights being suspended upside down.
There’s a small crate on the back of the ATV, which holds the bulk of the equipment used by the Jungle explorers which holds a metal detector, frying pan, camera, a turkey drumstick and even a spare machete.
The ATV’s design isn’t particularly inspiring and I don’t quite like the grey crate behind. It doesn’t make sense popping a storage compartment on an ATV that’s going to traverse some rough, unpredictable terrain and the colours are a bit jarring.
It looks a bit better without the crate, which is an easy fix to make.
The main component of Jungle Half Track Mission is the Half Track Truck, which is a modified 4 x 4 outdoor vehicle/truck, with tracks on the back wheels. For starters, it’s on the smaller side of things, so don’t expect a monster truck.
The LEGO City Jungle vehicles make great use of the flame yellowish orange colour scheme, which is a relatively uncommon shade. The colours contrast very well with both the black and grey elements that dominate the lower portion of the truck.
Here’s a side view of the truck. In the past, we’ve seen set numbers being incorporated into LEGO models mostly, but this truck pulls it off in the most stylish way possible, with a custom sticker that runs on the side with stylised font and a black panther motif.
It’s pretty bad-ass and one of the nicer stickers that I’ve come across in a City set.
On the roof of the truck, you’ll also find a Jungle City explorers logo, which has a leopard peeking out from a bunch of leaves, set within a compass. The roof is of course removable to allow you to place or extract the minifigure from the driver’s seat.
In terms of play features, aside from being quite fun to push around on its tracked wheels, the Half Track truck also sports a metal chain at the back, which you can use to yank the temple ruins from its resting place and extract the valuable red jewel.
Not sure I quite agree with this rather violent method of interacting with jungle ruins. Seems a bit too much for me and doesn’t really send the right message to kids!
Here’s the Half Track Truck utilising its tracked wheels to get over some difficult terrain. One thing I really like about the flame yellowish orange colour scheme is that it contrasts so well against greenery, as you can see from these outdoor shots.
Also included in the set is a simple fire, which you can use to set-up a small camp.
The last model you build is a small jungle temple shrine which holds a few secrets. The ruins are quite small, constructed on an 8 x 8 plate. It features some foliage to the sides, a red jewel and a play mechanism to surprise any explorer that isn’t paying attention. It’s also the home of the new spider element.
I really like the clever use of pearl gold elements and tan “teeth” which creates a serviceable face of a deity without the need of any new moulded elements.
Here’s a look at the ruins from behind. As you can see, the spider is semi-hidden away from sight, occupying a small section right above the red jewel.
Here’s what happens if you try to yank the jewel out from its slot – surprise spider! While it’s a very basic play feature, I think the surprise execution works very well thematically – which is all you’d want from a LEGO play feature.
Here’s a closer look at the new spider element. It has an updated design, with 6 eyes and more prominent mandibles as well as a slimmer abdomen, compared to the older spider mould.
The bright red colour is a bit of an odd choice, because it kinda reminds me of a cooked lobster, but here’s hoping that LEGO gives us some new colour variants like black or brown in the future for a more realistic version.
The inclusion of the temple ruins really ties the entire set together, anchoring the vehicles and creating a setting that you can build or display around. For a sub-$50 set, I really like how self-contained this set is!
What I liked:
- Most affordable way to get a big cat
- Set is a great introduction into the City Jungle theme
- Colour scheme and design of the Half Track truck
What I didn’t like:
- Could do with more foliage
Final thoughts: LEGO does a lot of things right with 60159 Jungle Half Track Mission. The great thing about this set is how self-contained it is as it essentially provides you with everything that you need for your first foray into LEGO City’s Jungle theme.
With 2 minifigures, a panther, a spider and 2 decent vehicles, both kids and adult LEGO fans can enjoy this set right out of the box. The minifigures benefit from all the advancements that we’ve seen in recent times, boasting incredibly detailed torso printing – some of the best I’ve seen out of a LEGO City set.
The main draw of the set is of course the Panther, which doesn’t disappoint in the slightest. The panther is moulded almost flawlessly and it was nice to discover that you can articulate and style it in different poses.
It’s a fantastic new addition to the menagerie of LEGO animals – all we need now is a Lion and we should be good.
The vehicles aren’t mind-blowing, but they do their jobs well. The ATV is pretty much filler, but the Half Track truck more than makes up for it. The flame yellowish orange colour scheme really works well, and I have to say, is one of the best vehicle colour themes yet.
Tracked vehicles are a favourite of mine, and the unique half-half design of the truck makes for a pretty decent offering that doesn’t feel like it’s been done too many times before.
Lastly, the jungle temple ruins also do a great job of tying everything together by being the focal point of the set. It’s small but the play features and cohesive design work really well in unison.
If there was one complaint, I’d say it’s the lack of foliage, which is something that you’d expect from a “Jungle” theme. It’s disappointing that LEGO didn’t choose this theme to debut some new plants or greenery elements, but their budget probably went into the design of the spiders, venus flytrap and of course the big cats.
All in all, I’m really happy with 60159 Jungle Half Track Mission and thoroughly recommend it for anyone looking to dip their toes into LEGO City Jungle. It’s hands down one of the better LEGO City sets in the second half of the year, and is backed by a really accessible price point.
You can totally expect this set to go on sale, I personally picked up this set from Kmart for AU$35, which I thought was fantastic value for all this set has to offer.
Thanks for reading this review! I was already very excited by the LEGO City Jungle theme and now that I’ve started my foray into the sets, it’s safe to say that the sets have pretty much surpassed my expectations.
Will definitely be keen on checking out more, so if there are any sets in particular that you’d like me to review from the theme, please do let me know! Have you gotten into the LEGO City Jungle sets? I’d also love to hear your thoughts on the sets that you’ve got in the comments section!
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I’ll leave you guys with a tender moment shared when two Black Panthers meet for the first time!