We’re kicking off the Summer 2023 LEGO City reviews with a big one, 60368 Arctic Explorer Ship one of my most anticipated sets from this wave!
Summer 2023 LEGO City contains a small subtheme of Arctic Exploration sets which blends influences from Arctic and Divers into a small, but potent selection of Science and Exploration-themed sets.
I have a special place in my collection for Research and Scientific-themed City vessels, so this was a natural choice for me to start with, PLUS the introduction of a brand new LEGO Orca makes this one of the more interesting sets out from this wave.
Let’s jump straight into my review of 60368 Arctic Explorer Ship!
Who is this set for? LEGO City fans who enjoy very big ships and Arctic/Marine Exploration-themed sets. Animal collectors who want to add the very cool LEGO Orca to their collection.
Special thanks to LEGO for sending these sets over for this review.
60368 Arctic Explorer Ship Set Details
Set number: 60368
Set name: Arctic Explorer Ship
Retail Price: US$159.99 / AU$249.99 / £129.99 / €149.99
Release Date: 1 June 2023 (EU, AU, UK) / 1 August 2023 (US & Canada)
Unboxing 60368 Arctic Explorer Ship
I was very surprised by 60368 Arctic Explorer Ship box, which doesn’t come in a traditional push-tab/flap box but instead has a lid design – something you don’t encounter very often.
Here’s a look at the contents, which contain 9 numbered plastic bags, two large ship hull pieces, and the instruction manuals contained within a cardboard envelope.
The walls of the box are quite strong sturdy, and while you can’t fit the completed Research Ship in it after you’re done (it’s too long), it makes for a great storage box for other LEGO City sets.
Here’s a look at both the ship’s hull pieces.
A small sticker sheet is included with plenty of stickers with the new 2023 City Arctic logos on them.
60368 Arctic Explorer Ship Minifigures
60368 Arctic Explorer Ship comes with 7 minifigures which feels very generous, but once you take a closer look, you’ll realise that they each have unique torsos and there aren’t any duplicates here, which really impressed me.
You get a large number of characters, from the Captain, Wildlife Photographer, Doctor, Helicopter Pilot, Diver, Crew Member and a Scientist which rounds out most of the roles you’d expect on an Arctic Research expedition.
Here’s a look at their back printing, and despite having helmets, or hats, LEGO have also included wigs for each minifigure so that they can be “off-duty” and let their hair down so to speak.
I really like the minifigure designs, and especially like that they’re all colour-coordinated with the Medium-Azure and Orange colour scheme that defines the 2023 LEGO City Arctic theme.
Meet the LEGO Orca!
The star of the set, and what is going to be the main reason fans pick this set up is the new LEGO Orca element! It’s such an exciting time for LEGO to debut a large marine mammal like the Orca (or Killer Whale) and they’ve done a spectacular job with the mould.
It’s absolutely massive and the LEGO Element Designers have done an excellent job capturing the Orca’s silhouette, shape and colours well.
There are a few System connections that the Orca can use to interact with other LEGO elements. Interestingly, the dorsal fin has a rod moulded into it, allowing a minifigure to grab on!
And here’s the underside.
Oh and the jaw clicks open as well to reveal a mouth filled with plenty of sharp teeth!
Good for munching on divers. Just kidding, Orcas aren’t known for killing people, despite their Killer Whale moniker.
And there’s another surprising connection – the Orca has a small blowhole on the top of its head, and it’s compatible with Friends hair accessories, so yes, you can affix a princess crown on the Orca!
Or a party hat!
Just to illustrate how large the LEGO Orca, here it is next to a LEGO Triceratops. There’s a LOT of plastic used here, and I’m glad that it’s in scale-ish with a LEGO minifigure.
And for more size comparisons, here’s the Orca next to the large Great White Shark, LEGO Octopus, and a fish.
The completed 60368 Arctic Explorer Ship model
And here’s the completed model. The build was quite cruisy, and despite this being quite an expensive set, there aren’t many super technical or challenging bits in the instructions, so it’s really designed to be accessible to even novice or inexperienced builders.
The different instruction manuals are broken up into the smaller sub-builds, such as the Dinghy, Shipwreck, Helicopter, and ROV Submarine, so you can share and split duties of this build.
Up at the bow of the ship is a small helipad that’s occupied by a single-pilot helicopter.
The helicopter is pretty basic, but I do like the orange floats on the helicopter, suggesting that it’s an amphibious helicopter that can also land in the water.
Here’s a look a the bridge of the Explorer Ship, which utilises some really clever building techniques – the side glass sections are actually built upside down, giving it a really unique and eye-catching shape. It’s pretty smart to use 3 of the same windscreen elements to achieve this shape, and not have to rely on different elements.
To enable access to the bridge, the roof is easily detached. On the inside are printed console panels, three chairs and a steering wheel for the captain.
Opening the double doors provides access to a ladder to access the lower parts of the ship.
The bridge can also be removed, to reveal living quarters and a workspace below.
There are 2 beds for the crew to sleep/rest.
A crab tank which contains specimens they’ve fished out of the Arctic sea, and a microscope next to it which has a cool printed petri dish tile on it.
And on the other side are controls and a screen for the ROV Submarine, which is on a mission to retrieve and investigate a treasure chest.
There’s also a cool coffee machine in the corner, which I assume is integral to keeping morale high on the ship!
Going back up to deck, there’s a large crane that can be used to hoist the ROV Submarine into the sea bia the doors that open up to provide access to the waters below.
I’m not a fan of the crane design, as you need to click it quite aggressively to raise or lower it, and I found myself breaking parts off continuously because I either overestimated or underestimated the strength required to adjust the crane.
You can also extend the crane out and twist the gears to lower the submarine into the sea, which is a standard play feature with this Exploration Vessel-type sets.
On the sides of the ship are these planks/platforms that can be raised up, and can be used as diving boards, or to board the ship when docked.
And on the back is a storage section for the dinghy, which secures into place reliably, as well as a small pedestal that can be used to store the ROV Submarine when not in use.
And here’s the Arctic Research Ship from the side. It’s incredibly long, measuring 71cm from tip to tip.
A small dinghy is included, which is used to investigate and photograph the Orca.
There’s also an Undersea Wreck that’s being investigated by the ROV Submarine and Diver!
There’s a Viking Shipwreck at the bottom of the ocean, with a chest filled with viking weapons, as well as a crab wearing a viking helmet which is hilarious. Maybe a nod to 31132 Viking Ship and the Midgard Serpent?
The ROV Submarine is pretty basic, but I like the claw arms which will come in handy to grab either the treasure chest, or weapons inside.
Comparison to other LEGO City Research Vessels
I’m a HUGE fan of these LEGO City Research Vessels, and have spent most of my post-Dark Ages collecting them, making it a point to buy them whenever we get one.
When I was a kid, the LEGO Town Divers subtheme was one of my favourites, mostly because I had ambitions of becoming a Marine Biologist as a kid, so I was ecstatic when LEGO produced a theme that championed Undersea exploration that focused on animals.
Here’s how 60368 Arctic Explorer Ship looks alongside some of the other ships in my collection. From left to right, we have 60266 Ocean Exploration Ship (2020), 60062 Arctic Icebreaker (2014), and Deep Sea Exploration Vessel (2015)!
The massive 60266 Ocean Exploration Ship used to be the biggest LEGO City ship, but now that has been supplanted by 60368 Arctic Explorer Ship which is just a smidge longer than it!
It also completely dwarfs the Arctic Icebreaker, from the excellent 2014 City Arctic theme, which is possibly one of my favourite LEGO City subthemes ever.
When displayed all together, you can really see the shared DNA between the ship designs, from the colours of the hulls, and shared orange between the 2023 and 2014 Arctic ships.
And yes, this ship, like the other large City Research Vessels also can float on water! Here it is floating in my bathtub!
What I liked:
- Another great City research vessel to add to my fleet
- Great selection of minifigures
- Ship is absolutely massive
- Orca is one of the most exciting LEGO animals
What I didn’t like:
- Quite expensive at full price
- Could have included more animals, like a seal or at least a shark
- Crane is very hard to adjust and will be hard for kids to play with
60368 Arctic Explorer Ship is a great return to form for LEGO City Arctic, and fans of the infrequent subtheme will be delighted with this gargantuan research vessel.
The Explorer Ship itself is huge, and feels really significant and fun to play with because of its size. If you collect City Research Ships like me, this will make a great addition to your collection, or if you’re just getting started, this is a fantastic starting point as it’s got a really contemporary design, accentuated by the very attractive Medium Azure, Orange and Dark Blue colour scheme.
The hero is the Orca, which is a splendid addition to your LEGO Animal collection, and is incredibly well designed, and honestly, slightly justifies the set’s incredibly high pricetag.
The set is really quite expensive, especially as it has very little utility in the sense that you can’t rebuild the ship into something else, or harvest it for parts, but thankfully LEGO City sets often go on sale at third party retailers, so I would really wait on a slight discount to lessen the sting.
Thankfully, the set does come with a great cast of 7 minifigures, each with their own unique torsos and designs, making it feel quite substantial, and the smaller vehicles round out the package nicely and provides plenty of play options. Bonus points if play occurs in the bathtub or a swimming pool, if that floats your boat. Heh.
Build  – Build was quite simple and very accessible
Real Value  – At full price, this is incredibly pricy, even if you’re getting a really large ship, and the Orca is pretty substantial too
Innovation  – This ship doesn’t reinvent the Research Vessel wheel, but introduces some really fun building techniques and has an eye-catching colour scheme.
Coolness  – Orcas and science-based marine research vessels are incredibly cool
Keepability  – Definitely keeping and displaying this alongside all my other Research Vessels
Rating and score: 3/5 ★★★✰✰
Thanks so much for reading my review of 60368 Arctic Explorer Ship! The set will be released on 1 June in Australia, the UK and EU, and 1 August for North America.
What do you think of the 60368 Arctic Explorer Ship and the Orca?? Will you be adding this to your collection?
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Thanks for your review. I appreciate the detailed pictures of the interior. I like the set, but I would not pay $250 for it.
A very decent City set (perhaps a dream if at childhood). Great Vessel – attractive style and colorsceme.
Felipe L says
Thanks for the review! The set looks really neat. Ironically, one of the things that seems most promising about the set is the box itself; it reminds me a lot of the box for the 2004 version of the Millennium Falcon 4504. I really miss how the older sets had a removable “tray” type inner sleeve or an opening top that made for great storage when the set was disassembled. I’d love it if LEGO started using such designs again for their packaging!
I love your reviews. My 9-year-old loves this set – underwater themed is one of his favorite types of LEGO.
I think the Orca is so cool.
But, I have such a hard time with the price… $160 for just over 800 bricks for a set aimed at 7+. I was trying to put it into perspective and my son’s birthday is in September, so this comes out about a month before his birthday. My kids are spoiled by their aunt and uncle and my mom, as they’re the only grandkids on my side, but I tend to send them ideas in the $30-50 range for a birthday present, not $150.
Also, I’ve never really paid attention before, but why is there a 2 month difference in the release dates?
Thanks for the great review!
Didn’t we ALL want to be Marine Biologists!!? And I’m a big polar fan having visited both “circles” via expedition ships…so this is on my list.
Having just finished building a non-lego set, which has 6 seagulls, 8 fish, 2 crabs, a lobster, a dog, a cat and 4 minifigs and cost 1/10th the price of the Arctic Explorer set, Lego really need to lift their game regarding value for money.
CARMEN COLLIN says
Correct! The new nonlego brands have much better designs and have much better value!
Thank you for the great review.
As much as I’d like this set, I don’t want to start another sub-theme collection!
It might be an on-sale purchase, as it’s such a nice build.
But plastic bags still . . . nearly middle of 2023 and I still haven’t seen the new paper bags yet.
GURVINDER SINGH GANDU says
The current bags are fine with no problems. The clear plastic means you can inspect for any damage before opening it. Paper package will mean the plastic cuts the paper leaving holes or paper bits stuck in the studs. It also eliminates the build in a bag challenge!