"After a 20-year break from Lego, I now have a young son and decided to see what Lego has to offer these days, since I loved it as a kid. This set immediately caught my eye, as I have over a decade of experience working on survey vessels just like this one! I was really excited to build it, and it did not disappoint.
The designers clearly studied research and survey vessels before inventing this, because the level of detail is fantastic, and frequently surprised me. The little touches like the radar on top of the bridge that can spin round, and alongside it the satellite receiver (looks like a grey cone) are great. The detail on the minifigures is also excellent, especially the BA sets on the divers.
The build itself was a lot of fun, as it starts with the smaller craft before moving on to the main vessel. There were only about 8 different stickers, most of them optional. I left off the yellow stripes on the hull. The pirate ship wreck is a really nice addition, you could stick it to the bottom of the bathtub with some blu-tack if you wanted! I also love the new shark design, as it can fit a whole minifigure inside, and you get a stingray too.
The main vessel is not particularly challenging to build, although it is a lot of fun to see how the 3 different decks come together. You have the lab and mess area on the bottom, then the accommodation in the middle, and the bridge at the top. It’s very clever how the different decks can pop off easily, and if you prefer, you can have the bridge facing the other way (as all the vessels I’ve worked on have it). There are doors at the rear of the bridge, as well as hatches at the top to access the minifigures inside. It’s a sturdy construction when put together - the two floating base pieces seem well connected. I haven’t really stress-tested it, but you can hold one end of it without the front falling off ;)
By far the trickiest (but best) part of the build is the main crane. The only part I had to re-do was the winch cable, but once I figured out how to hide the excess cable it looked great - no loose ends. The range of motion the main crane has is very impressive - it can slide fore and aft, rotate 360 degrees, and the arm can raise and lower using a worm gear system. The winch is controlled from the top of the arm, the arm itself from the base.
There is actually a smaller crane at the aft of the vessel, which can deploy the fast rescue craft (FRC) either side of the ship, which I was delighted with. In fact, one of the best things about this set is how all the auxiliary craft have a place on the main ship, without it looking crowded. The submarine can fit in the forward hold, underneath the helipad, so it’s out of the way until the crane needs to lift it out. The helicopter sits on the pad, the shark cage can hang on the crane (or if you prefer to stow it, you’ll need a 2x2 brick from somewhere so it can attach to the deck), and the FRC sits nicely on the aft of the vessel, held there by the small crane. The FRC also floats, which is another bonus to this set!
Overall it’s a terrific set as it is, however it has reminded me what I love so much about Lego - the way it can spark the imagination! I can already see things I would like to change and build differently with this set, and I can’t wait to try them out. I’d highly recommend this to just about anyone - I certainly enjoyed playing with it in the bath!"