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Friends has been a hit for 7 years now. Does this winning streak continue with the new Summer Wave? We take a look at the 41381-1 - Rescue Mission Boat.

Contents:

Introduction
The Set
The Bag
The Instruction
The Parts
The Build
Conclusion

Introduction

The LEGO Group has done several attempts to win girls over to build with their bricks. It started early in 1971 with the Homemaker theme. This was a line of sets that depicts various rooms, that you can join together into a house. There were also separate furniture sets. The figures were larger, so girls could use them as dolls. Minifigures were also included in some sets, serving as babies or toddlers.

Later came Paradisa, a series of sets that all take place in a sunny climate. There was a lot of white and pink, and most sets had a big baseplate (I miss those days). This theme used normal minifigures.

From 1997-2001 there was the weird (imo) Scala theme. This theme used large dolls as figures. Most weird about the theme, is that it's the first to steer away from the LEGO System. The LEGO System ensures that all bricks fit together, no matter from which year or theme. Even Duplo has possibilities to connect to 'normal' bricks. Another exception is Modulex, but I leave this one out, because this was a separate venture from The LEGO Group. Scala bricks used a 4 petal flower instead of the standard stud. Not that there was much to build. Most sets concentrated on dressing up the dolls. There were a lot of special-made items, created only for a specific set.


A longer lasting theme was Belville. This theme ran from 1994 through 2009, right through LEGO's dark ages. This theme, like Scala, used large dolls as figures. All sets were also designed into this scale.

In 2011, about 90% of all kids playing with LEGO were boys. That meant there was a large audience to be won. With a $40 million marketing budget, the Friends theme was launched to connect with girls.
A description from Lego website stated: "The Lego Friends story centers on the everyday lives and personalities of five girls in a fictional hometown called Heartlake City. Each of the friends ... has a distinct personality and interests, such as animals, performing arts, invention and design, that are reflected in the models. Building sets reflect different parts of town where the girls' adventures take place—downtown, suburbs, beach, camping grounds and mountains."

The main characters are:

Mia

The animal lover. Grew up on a country farm.

Olivia

The smart kid. Loves everything that is science. She has a pet robot called Zobo, who also appears in this set.

Emma

Has great artistic and karate skills.

Stephanie

She loves sports and is very athletic.

Andrea

The singer/musician.

In 2018, all characters got a make-over, hence there are 2 photos for each characters.

At the launch of 2012, the sales doubled the expectations, tripling the sales to girls.

Along with the sets, there was also 3 animated series in 2014, 2016 and 2018, and a direct-to-DVD movie.

The Friends theme is characterised by the designs. There is a lot of pink, purple and other 'soft' colors, combined with white or tan, making it 'girly',  but not over the top in-your-face stereotype girly. Most sets could easily be placed within a 'normal' LEGO city. Except that you would have to make some small modifications, in order to fit standard Minifigures.
Because LEGO Friends does not have MiniFigures (MF), as you can see above. For this theme, a new type of figure was introduced: the MiniDoll (MD). This MD is just a little taller than a MF. And I think this was a brilliant move. Love them or hate them (and a lot of people do for some reason!): This is best of both worlds.
MD are different from MF, making them stand out from the 'normal' themes. They are more doll-like (hence the term MiniDoll), making them more appealing to girls. But because they are in almost similar size, you can easily mix sets from LEGO City with sets from LEGO Friends. The scale is the (almost) same. So even when you don't like the MDs, you can just sell those of and let the MFs take over. I'll be writing more about MiniDolls in an upcoming Friends review.

The Set

Give the gift of endless hours of exciting animal rescue adventures with LEGO® Friends 41381 Rescue Mission Boat creative toy. Your little explorer will be able to play out a multitude of animal-saving scenarios with this highly equipped toy boat. There is a speedboat bay with launching function, swivelling crane with a stretcher for transporting sick animals, lookout position and a cockpit area. The deck is removeable to allow access to the cabin, which includes a lab, kitchen and a bedroom complete with toilet. Extending the play further is a separate heart-shaped island where a hidden water-reactive textile map hides the location of the underwater treasure chest. Give any LEGO builder an amazing building experience with Instructions PLUS, available in the LEGO Life app for smartphones and tablets. The easy-to-use, intuitive building instructions let them zoom, rotate and visualize their creation using the special ghost mode as they go. Instructions PLUS is also great for younger builders, guiding them through the building process for a greater sense of independence and achievement. This LEGO boat includes 3 mini-doll figures, plus a narwhal toy figure and a robot figure.
(From LEGO.com)

The 41381-1 - Rescue Mission Boat is with 928 parts the second largest set of 2019, trailing behind the 41375-1 - Heartlake City Amusement Pier with 1263 parts. JaredHinton will do a review for this set later on. The set has some delay because in America it won't be released until August 1th.
It contains 3 of the Friends: Andrea, Mia and Olivia.

The Box

The box measures 480 x 378 x 94 mm and weighs 1626 gram. It contains 928 parts, 61 spare parts, 2 building instructions and a sticker sheet. In the box we find 6 numbered bags, 2 unnumbered bags and the instruction manuals.

The Instructions

There are 2 building instructions.
Book 1 is 196 x 126 mm, has 43 pages with 49 steps, building bag 1.
Book 2 is 272 x 196 mm, has 171 pages with 216 steps, building bag 2-6.
I'm not sure why there were 2 books needed. Maybe so the child can build the easier part, while mom or dad is building the large part?

The pdf can be downloaded here.

The Parts

The set contains 928 parts and 61 spare parts, in 41 different colors, and 40 different categories, with a total of 392 unique parts/color combinations.

Main colors are:

Main categories are:

There are 3 Minidolls and robot Zobo.

These parts are new or rare in Coral:

These parts are all new:
49518pr0001 - Animal Narwhal with Dark Turquoise Eyes, White Spots

52494 - Equipment Binoculars with Stud on Top

49595 - Animal Sea Life

49577 - Sea Weed

39696 - DOME Ø21.53

53460 - Map

These parts are rare in their color:
In Dark Turquoise:

In White:

The Build

Bag 1 begins with a small boat, a coral reef and a heart-shaped island with a narwhal. As we're used to by Friends sets, there are a lot of small parts, and so also a lot of spares.

Bag 2 starts with the bottom front part of the boat. I'm not a big fan of the large hull pieces, as they make it a little too easy. But the result is very sturdy. And this keeps the part-count for the hull down, meaning there are more parts left for the rest of the build. In the bow is a sleeping quarters with a small bathroom. Behind that is a kitchen and a lab. There are a lot of small details here, more of these are added in later bags.

Bag 3 adds the last parts of the hull. This is a really big, massive ship! It's hard to fit the build in my photo area. The lower inside is completed with walls. On the stern is the groundwork for some more features.

Bag 4 adds more to the stern, completes the bow, and starts the roof section. Also Zobo is added here, with 2 new Trans-Clear domes as a diving helmet.

Bag 5 adds a crane to the stern.

Bag 6 completes the roof section. With a bit of squeeze, all Friends fit in the control room. The curves on this part are very well done.

Conclusion

Well, to put is shortly: This is now my new favorite Friends set. It looks amazing with the Coral, Dark Turquoise and Dark Blue color scheme. The attention to detail is high, with a lot of play features. The ship itself is very sturdy. You can easily pick it up and move about.
The test audience of 3 girls (9, 7, 3) are enthosiastic as well. They directly started playing out a storyline that the set inspired.
I did found that a lot of the little accessories kept falling out, like the safety vests or the food items without a stud holder. Also the island contains a crate and a shipwreck that are not attached to anything. That's an easy way to get parts lost. But those are all minor compared to the pros.

 

Disclaimer: This LEGO set was kindly provided for review by The LEGO Group. Anything said in this post is the opinion of the author and not The LEGO Group.
Parts- and build photographs by Tobymac (© 2019 Rebrickable)

3 COMMENTS

  • 2 months, 1 week ago XperiMent (36798) MOC Designer
    I don't like Friends or boat sets, but this looks cool. The review is thorough and interesting as always :)
    After my dark ages I bought all kind of LEGO if they were on sale, including Friends and Elves, but I don't like the minidolls (until this article I didn't even know the name :) ) and the big pieces, and sold them all.
  • 2 months, 2 weeks ago TerraIllumina (134)
    Nice Review! I guess some people don’t like them because of the new scale. “Why not make everything in the same scale?” But it definitely was a good marketing move from LEGO what makes it good for everyone who wants more Sets... ^^
    By the way: I don’t know why exactly but there really was a hype, my sister and all her friends got pretty much all LEGO Friends sets for a year (more or less) and they watched all the tv shows etc. etc.
  • 2 months, 2 weeks ago SamPlaysWell (2640)
    Great review of the set and its interesting elements, but far more fascinating is the history of Lego's forays into the feminine market.
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