Earlier in the year, we all got terribly excited when we got our first look at the so called Otter Battle Pack: With 2 otters lurking in a stream, while a human maintains the national park on their quad bike, all at an exceptionally reasonable price.
In the second half of the year, the LEGO Group have brought another similarly priced set to the market in line with the Arctic research/Deep Sea subtheme, this time with seals.
And does this set have much to offer, and is it reasonable to call it a battle pack? Let’s take a look.
I am writing this review on a train, during the start of the European summer, so apologies if the photos are not all up to scratch. I know there will be more reviews to do when I get home, so I’d better get something done while I am travelling!
We start with the minifigure: new prints for Arctic in 2023 including Azure and silver highlights on the torso. Our character has a smile on one side, and a wink on the other side of her dual sided face print. This is the same face print seen in the Otter Battle Pack. The change in hair colour makes me think that this is not the same character, taking on a new job. She is wearing a backpack – dark blue with a medium azure bed roll – very similar to that seen with the hiker in series 16 of the Collectable minifigures a few years ago. She has the option of a dark blue beanie, which allows her dark orange hair to hang down over her shoulders, or to wear a helmet while taking in the snowmobile out for a spin.
It turns out our figure is out filming the seals that have been spotted out in the wilderness. Rather than roll out an old, or indeed new Camera element, it is completely brickbuilt, on a 1×3 rounded plate – the holes through the suds allowing the 4 pronged assembly element introduced back in the halcyon days of LEGO Pirates as a palm tree topper, to be used as a tripod (quad pod?). A grey bucket takes on a second life as the comically oversized lens of the camera, while the superhero ‘action stand’ – the bent bar with a stud on the end acts as the view finder. An old school telephone handpiece serves as a strap, movie reels or else plain old quality greebling- bringing back images of those old school wildlife photographers who would set up camp and sit for days.
Of course, I order to set up camp and wait, she will need to get closer to the edge of the ice shelf, and to do this, she has a very practical snowmobile. This strikes me as a little less fantastical way to get around the snow, compared to the 60198 Ice Glider from 2018.
Maintaining the medium azure/dark blue/black/orange colour blocking maintains a degree of consistency with the last arctic wave, although the logo has had a bit of a change in the meantime. I have to admit, I really like this combination: it reminds me of Ice Planet 2002, and how the colour scheme might have evolved over time. We add some skis as well as a technic frame, mimicking the treads. Compared with the new Ninjago Imperium Chariots I recently looked at, the snowmobile has the courtesy to allow the camera to be carried on the back, thanks to a couple of plates with clips.
Finally, we get to the landscape: some white, some transparent light blue, more white, azure for the sea, and a little more white floating a small distance offshore.
Let’s add in a spring green fish, as well as an adult seal and its pup. I’ll presume they make up part of the same family unit, but it’s up to you really. The seals, that is. The fish is probably more akin to dinner.
The adult seal connects via 2×4 studs underneath, but extends 2 back with its tale, one forward with the nose, and about 7 plates high. The flippers extend one stud either side.
The baby seal is 1×4 studs in total, with clutch occurring over a 1×2 region. The flippers extend out a little while
It comes together as a nice little coherent unit.
Into the Wild…
Now, I may have actually put this little unit together a few days ago: If you have been following the Ramblingbrick Instagram, you might have noticed that I passed through Switzerland last week. As such, I thought I might avoid the traditional card craft and try photographing the set out in the literal wild. So I packed the set up when we visited Jungfrauhoch, close to one of the highest railway stations in Switzerland.. I had the chance to take this set out onto the plateau and catch a couple of shots.
Handy hints for taking photos of LEGO elements in the snow:
- Minimise the amount of snow flakes on your minifigures: Snow on a minifigure looks dramatically larger than it does on yourself. Brushing it off your figure and models are useful.
- Increase the exposure by a couple of stops: the sunlight reflecting off the snow will result in any ‘auto exposure’ setting to reduce the shutter time, making your subject appear darker than it really is. This might also have the positive effect of reducing the visibility of the occaisional errant snow flake.
- Allow for the fact that you might get wet while getting in the right position and adjusting your lighting.
A useful effect was being able to partially submerge the adult seal in the snow.
Of course, the problem with shooting on a relatively bright day, in a hostile environment is that you might not be able to review your work until you get home… and the return trip might be a little unforgiving!
But is this a battle pack?
What makes a Battle Pack? I would like to suggest that you need a couple of troops – probably of equal power, rather than one commander and a trooper: once you buy a couple of packs, you end up with a rather command heavy army – too many generals and not enough infantry.
I prefer to think of this as a family pack: the otter habitat released earlier in the year was christened a Battle Pack by some AFOLs (myself included), if only because the number of Otters out numbered the people 2:1, and at the same time they had somewhere to hide.
Here, we have a human; a baby seal and an adult seal (as well as a random fish). The closest thing we would get to a battle pack might involve revisiting a tasteless joke I heard back in the 80s: “These two seals walk into a club…”
Otters are crafty creatures, with the ability to craft nests, while stopping short of completely opposable thumbs. Besides, they are more likely to actually come into contact with squirrels.
Seals on the other hand are less dexterous (although certainly not devoid of physical conflict with each other, as any group of young adult males are likely to demonstrate at the height of the mating season. If I buy 2 sets of the Otter Habitat I have 4 – more than enough to cunningly ambush an unsuspecting couple of park rangers, or indeed a tree full of squirrels.
Despite this, the adult seal can probably put up a reasonable fight. But remove the pup from the adult defender, and it is quite unlikely to be able to defend itself against even the smallest of LEGO animals.
What will a seal do in that situation. Don’t get me wrong… I do feel that a team of 4 seals or more could wreak extensive havoc, I just don’t think that only one pack provides the numbers to create a quality battle.
As far as a set overall, battle or otherwise? It’s a fun set, with neat play value, as well as providing a couple of cute animals for you you to add to your collection. It’s reasonably inexpensive, and is sure to sell out quickly. I’d recommend it as a quick and easy playset for kids and grownups, especially if they are love their LEGO animals.
You can find it now at the LEGO Store online for AUD16.99/USD10.99/9.99€/£8.99/CAD13.99
I’d love to know what you think: Family Pack or Battle Pack? Leave your answers in the comments below. You can keep up to date with the Rambling Brick on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr (or just sign up for our mailing list) and find some extra content on Instagram and TikTok. And feel free to share this post with your friends who might be interested… Until Next Time,