10 October 2022

LEGO® City review: 60353 Wild Animal Rescue Missions

Posted by tobymac

LEGO® City introduced something quite original this year with the Missions series: there are no instructions, instead giving the builder a series of building challenges. Is this the thing I need to inspire me to finally start MOCing?

Products in this article were provided by LEGO®; the author's opinions are their own.
LEGO® City 60353 Wild Animal Rescue Missions
US$39.99/ £24.99/ 29,99€/ AU$49.99
246 parts
Buying from LEGO.com? Please consider using our affiliate links, we may get a commission: USA LEGO Shop | Australia LEGO Shop | UK LEGO Shop.

I am one of those AFOLs who seldom creates MOCs. My love for LEGO is more in building with instructions, which allows me to turn my head into chill-mode and relax. Designing my own model gives me so many options, it’s overwhelming. I also lack the patience for trial and error, especially with physical bricks. And no matter what I design, I’m never satisfied by the result. 

When I do want to be creative, I dive into organizing – both the bricks, and the data that comes with them. Nevertheless, I often get a bit jealous when I see what creations other AFOLs can come up with. Maybe I should just step past my insecurity and give it a try?

While pondering this, LEGO City announced the Missions series which come with an app that guides you through a story. During this story, the characters run into problems that require a LEGO build to be overcome. And those LEGO builds need to be built by you. 

It’s an intriguing idea that stimulates creativity, and I figured it is worth a closer look.

So far, there are 3 sets using this new concept: 60353 Wild Animal Rescue Missions, 60354 Mars Spacecraft Exploration Missions and 60355 Water Police Detective Missions. The sets come with 246 to 298 parts, and are all priced at US$39.99/ £24.99/ 29,99€/ AU$49.99. For this review I picked the Mars Spacecraft Exploration Missions, but made a typo on the order, so I’ll be looking at 60353 Wild Animal Rescue Missions instead! In a happy coincidence, this is the preferred set of my daughter E. (aged 6) who, given the age-mark of the set, did most of the testing.

The elements

First we’ll have a look at the elements that come in the set.

There are no new molds to be found, but we do get some useful recolors. 

  • Plate 2 x 6 in Bright Green (6399741 | 3795)
  • Wheel Arch, Mudguard 3 x 4 with 2 x 2 Plate in Bright Green (6399740 | 28326)
  • Slope Inverted 45° 2 x 1 in Bright Green (6399739 | 3665)
  • Brick 1 x 4 in Bright Green (6310856 | 3010)
  • Animal, Frog in Vibrant Coral/ Coral (6399743 | 28841)

As the name of the set suggests, the set contains a nice amount of animals. Most have a new print and come in a new color.

  • Animal, Alligator / Crocodile Baby with Black Eyes print in Bright Yellowish Green/ Lime (6317062 | 69602). The baby has previously only appeared in Green along Sylvie in 71031 Marvel CMF.
  • Animal, Rabbit / Hare, with Black Eyes with White Pupil Print in Medium Nougat (6317057 | 69599) has only been seen in plain Glitter Trans-Light Blue in 75966 Hogwarts Room of Requirement
  • Animal, Bird, Owl Small with Open Wings, Angular Features with Black Eyes, Dark Brown Spotted Chest Feathers Print is new in Dark Orange (6316898 | 69569).
  • Animal, Big Cat Cub, with Lime Eyes and Dark Pink Nose Print in Black (6317060 | 69600) has been seen only in White and Tan before.
  • Animal, Rabbit / Bunny [Plain] in Brick Yellow/ Tan (6295398 | 66965) appears for the first time without print.
  • Tile Special, Splat with Rounded Sides in White (6387989 | 80677), used as bird droppings, comes for the first time in plain White. The other White version has a Fried Egg print.

Some other nature-related elements from the set that are rare:

  • Costume Tree Trunk with Branch, Hole for Face in Reddish Brown (6207142 | 35827) has appeared in 2 sets prior.
  • The crocodile was introduced in 2015, but appeared in 2021 for the first time in Green and this print.
  • Animal Body Part, Alligator / Crocodile Body New Style in Dark Green/ Green (6103380 | 18904)
  • Animal Body Part, Alligator / Crocodile Head Upper Jaw with Yellow Eyes Print in Dark Green/ Green (6343845 | 78323)
  • Animal Body Part, Alligator / Crocodile Tail with Hole in Dark Green/ Green (6103383 | 18906)

Some of the minifig elements are rare as well.

  • Helmet Dirt Bike in Bright Green (6334181 | 35458) was introduced last year in 2 sets.
  • Hair Coiled, Parted in Black (6343688 | 78301) has been seen in 2 other sets prior.
  • Minifig Head, Thin Eyebrows, Eyelashes, Smile, and Hearing Aid Print in Bright Yellow/ Yellow (6311265 | 69148) which I’m very happy to see in a relatively cheap set. Introduced in 2020, the only set it appeared in for 2 years was the 60271 Main Square, but this year we get 3 sets featuring this head with hearing aid.
  • Torso Jacket with Pockets and White Stripe, Open over Tan Undershirt Print, Blue Arms, Dark Bluish Gray Hands in Bright Blue/ Blue (6349516 | 76382) was introduced last year in the Wildlife Rescue series.
  • And the same goes for Torso Shirt, Dark Blue Belt, Dark Tan Rope, Dark Red Shirt print, Blue Arms, Yellow Hands in Bright Blue/ Blue (6350811 | 76382).

And that leaves us with these other rare elements.

Bottom row:

  • Bar 7 x 3 with Double Clips (Ladder) in Bright Red/ Red (6329922 | 6020)
  • Bar 1 x 8 x 2 in Bright Orange/ Orange (6334534 | 2486)
Middle row:
  • Support 2 x 2 x 2 Stand with Reinforced Underside in Dark Azure (6374454 | 19798) is new for 2022
  • Slope Curved 4 x 6 x 2/3 Triple Curved with 4 Studs in Brick Yellow/ Tan (6349885 | 52031)
  • Slope Curved 4 x 6 x 2/3 Triple Curved with 4 Studs and 'RESCUE' and Vet Logo with Paw Print in Brick Yellow/ Tan (6339356 | 77879)
  • Slope 45° 6 x 4 Double [aka Train Roof] in Flame Yellowish Orange/ Bright Light Orange (6218081 | 32083) has only been seen in 2018.

Top row:

  • Construction Vehicle Bucket 3 x 6 with Locking 2 Finger Hinge, Reinforced Center in Black (6266631 | 50335)
  • Dish 4 x 4 Inverted [Radar] in Brick Yellow/ Tan (6265305 | 3960) was last seen back in 2008.
  • Hinge Brick 1 x 4 Locking with 1 Finger Vertical End and 2 Fingers Vertical End with 7 Teeth in Bright Yellow/ Yellow (6267090 | 54661)
  • Tile 2 x 4 with Road Works Sign, Blue Safety Helmet Symbol, Red Warning Stripes in White (6289411 | 66744)
  • Plate Special 2 x 4 with Pins, Reinforced in Dark Stone Grey / Dark Bluish Gray (6351293 | 40687) has popped up this year, and is a reinforced version of the 30157 (left in the photo below).

Mission: Impossible?

On to the build. In the box we find just a leaflet with a QR-code to take you to the app store. Luckily I didn’t have to install a new app, because the missions are built into the existing LEGO Instructions app. (Android | iOs) We used a low-budget Android tablet, which had no problems running the app. There are also 5 numbered bags, which suggest there is some sort of order in the missions.

©2022 The LEGO Group

When we open the app we are greeted by Jessica, who runs the Animal Rescue Station. Today, nature documentarian Westbrook visits to film the crew saving animals. The first mission seems an easy one: Open bag 1 and pick minifig parts and accessories to create your own character. It took a bit of convincing to E. that there was no right or wrong choice here, just do whatever you want. 

Next, we’re instructed to build a camera and ‘practice taking photos in nature’. So we moved around the house pretending to take pictures of our white boxer, Pip. And with that, mission 1 is complete. So far, it seems a bit childish, even for children, but we have 7 more missions to go.

©2022 The LEGO Group

For mission 2, we open bag 2 and use instructions (yes, you read that right) to build a truck so Westerbrook can drive through the park and shoot his documentary. But as it turns out, all the animals have disappeared! So we need to search for them. This brings us to the first real challenge: using the leftover parts to add equipment to the truck that can track the animals. And this was the moment the concept fully landed and E. got invested. We ended up with a magnifying glass on an arm at the back of the truck. 

In the following missions, we track the animals and try to rescue them. The owl sits on the top of a traffic light, and we need something to get her down. We built a ladder, but the app also has suggestions that show a helicopter and a crane arm. The panther cup needs to be lured, which we did using a drumstick on a zipline. The hare is stuck, so we tore down a wall with a grappling hook on a chain. The baby croc needs to be moved, for which E. used the stretcher on chains and ziplines to hoist her out of the mud. For the transport, E. built a cage.


After around 75 minutes, we completed the final mission. And I have to say: this was awesome! I’ve never seen E. so invested in a LEGO set before. Normally, she has no problem building a set, but she constantly gets distracted by everything around here. Here, she was completely focused on the missions. 

Normally, all parts in the set are used for the model, but now we have a nice pile of parts left over. After the missions were done, E. stayed at the table and started building random things to use in her play with the figs and the truck, keeping her entertained for another 2 hours. It's a testament to the interesting and varied element selection provided in the set. 

It was great to see her switch ‘on’ during the missions and experience LEGO in a way she hadn’t before. I do think the challenges are a bit too simple for older children (or adults), but for a starter set, it does what it promises.

There is just one thing bugging me: the app. It works great, but for how long? The Nexo Knights app, in December the BOOST Droid Commander app, in 2 years the VIDIYO app and so many versions of Mindstorms are no longer supported, making the sets just a pile of bricks. And without any paper version of instructions for the truck, how long until this set is reduced to just parts? But until that day, the LEGO City Missions remains a great concept that did what it needed to do: spark creativity.

In closing, let's get back to my primary question: will this set turn me into a MOC builder?
This set is designed to help children to literally think outside to box, sparking a way of creative thinking they can let grow during their lifetime. I might just be a bit past my prime to let the spark flourish.

LEGO® City 60353 Wild Animal Rescue Missions
US$39.99/ £24.99/ 29,99€/ AU$49.99
Buying from LEGO.com? Please consider using our affiliate links, we may get a commission: USA LEGO Shop | Australia LEGO Shop | UK LEGO Shop.

READ MORE: What are the new LEGO® parts for October 2022 and which sets contain the most?

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  1. Excellent article! (Nice to find another AFOL who doesn’t really build MOC’s 😅) This has sparked my interest tho. I’m always interested in the ‘play’ aspect. I’ll have to check out this new series. Thanks!

  2. I hope to see some "Missions" sets for the adult crowd as well. Bigger themed parts packs, and maybe a couple missions inspired by Lego Masters challenges. And printed challenges, or at least PDFs.