Lego City sets are almost like the bread and butter of the Lego line, and new sub-themes are released on a regular basis. This year, Volcano is one of those themes, and the Volcano Exploration Base is the flagship of that line.
The set comes with a number of vehicles, 6 mini figures, a drone, 4 lava balls and a volcano. The volcano is much larger than it looks on the box, and I was genuinely surprised at it’s size. I was also disappointed that it’s made from 8 giant pieces, rather than it all building up with smaller parts the way it looks like it should. The volcano includes a trap door at the top, and a lever which allows you to fire the lava balls from the top.
The set is very similar to the Arctic Base Camp that was released back in 2014 and was retired at the start of this year. The tracked drilling machine is almost identical, and what were blue ice balls in the Arctic sets are now lava balls with crystals inside here. What was the Arctic base is now a mobile operations centre – but there are clearly similar shapes involved. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, it’s not like everyone bought the Arctic sets, but it’s interesting to see similar ideas in play.
From a price point of view, a £79.99 set with 824 pieces is 9.7p per piece, making this similar in price to the Lego City police station. It’s almost the same price per piece as the Arctic sets were a couple of years ago too, so it’s nice to see that there hasn’t been a significant price rise in the time frame. Lego City sets often see deep discounts in places like Argos and Amazon when compared to the Lego RRP, so you can probably expect to pick this set up for 25-30% less eventually.
The build process has everything split up into numbered bags, and nothing was particularly taxing, and well suited to the 8-12 age range. I obviously build a lot of sets, and many are much more complicated Technic, or medium difficulty Creator sets like the 10247 Ferris Wheel, but there’s a simple pleasure in building one of these because it’s fun to just see it all come together without having to put all your concentration into the instructions. There are a lot of stickers, which is always disappointing, but there’s also not too much repetition, which is the kind of thing that can really make a build feel like a drag.
The mobile unit is my favourite part, with it’s good chunky wheels and front-cab like a large truck, and the side-opening rear trailer makes it a good place for putting both minifigures as well as the lava balls. All the finished models are striking in lime green, and the transparent orange of the lava balls looks great in contrast, with clever placement of pieces on the volcano to make it look like lava is running down the sides.
None of the models included are particularly unique among the many other trucks and diggers that have come out of the Lego City line over the years, which makes these unlikely to be popular among those who like to display their sets. But as an actual play set, which is the target audience, it’s great. All the elements really tie together nicely rather than it feeling like a disparate collection of parts, which is often a problem with this kind of set. There are lots of opportunities for loading, and drilling with the various trucks, scenarios involving the drone and doing research missions, plus of course, what kid could not enjoy firing lava balls out of a volcano?
If you’re looking for a good sized Lego playset this summer, you’re in good hands here. A fun build, lots of play opportunities and unique, striking colours which will look good in your own builds in the future – it’s a winning combination.
Full disclosure, this set was provided by Lego for review, but these opinions are my own.