In late 2009 the wilds of Alaska were a US pop culture staple thanks to the vice presidential candidate of the time, so I half-jokingly referred to the 4-Wheel Drive with Kayak and Ranger as the Palin Adventure Set - as it was a more current reference than Northern Exposure. As far as I know, the vehicle configuration with the faux diamond plate bed is exclusive to this pack - as is the vehicle itself. Maybe there's a color variant or another release, but I can't seem to find anything else quite like it. Adding in the moose, the canoe, and the adventurer, it's a pretty nifty set - and you get a tree, too.
The SUV, or truck, or whatever you want to call it, is actually pretty neat. You put some stickers on it complete with "ALASKA" license plate MP-10 5898 (it was part of the 2010 line, set 5898) as well as one that says "ADVENTURE" and two "WILD YUKON" labels that scream "tourist." But for kids, it's a good idea - you get some concept of the sense of adventures they were shooting for here. The rubbery tires require some assembly, and there's a spare to boot - you've even got a rollcage of sorts, a diamond-plate trunk, and a cable to store a canoe on top. If that weren't enough, there's a trailer hitch which seems to be compatible with a number of trailers I have on hand - none are included, but it's a useful feature. It has seating for two - as usual, Playmobil engineered the seats so a child can't actually drive the thing - and you can throw the gun in the back. It looks like the diamond plate has an indentation for a specific piece to store in there, but what? I have no idea, as it wasn't included.
The canoe - with a cream floor and yellow sides - is also unique to this set, at least so far as I can tell. It has seating for two, some curved oars, and not much else. You can put figures in it, they row, it floats, it's good. The set actually would benefit greatly from one or two more figures, since you've got seats for four and only one adventurer here. The rubbery bit on top can carry it, but it's a stretch - literally. I expect it will snap over time, as most rubber bands do, but maybe I'll be wrong. I can hope so. Some deco would be nice, but hey - it's a decent set in a big box for the money. A lot of it is air, but that's life.
The 3-inch figure is pretty good - I assume he's a summer adventurer because he has a short sleeved shirt and a vest. The pants are good, the boots are nice, the blue hat is... uh... decidedly un-adventurerey. But it gets the point across - and he can hold the steering wheel, or the gun, or the rollbar, or the canoe with the hands. It's a well-engineered set, is what I'm getting at - everything just plain works, which is one of the reasons I always come back for more even if I decide to take a break. Very rarely am I disappointed, even if it's a little dull.
The main selling point for me was the moose. No joke. I've wanted one for ages and it showed up in this set, with the figure, tree, and vehicles as a bonus. I got it on clearance and quite like it. The moose itself in circulation right now, and is of the older school design of animals. This means one point of articulation at the neck, no decoration - not even the eyes - and the antlers are molded in a different, softer plastic for contrast. As engineering goes it's quite clever, but the sculpting is a little rough as the interiors of the legs are flat and almost sharp to the touch. It also seems to be a boy moose - such elements have been downplayed or eliminated in recent years.
Rounding the set out is a tree, which is small and doesn't do much but add to the forest you're probably able to assemble from other sets. It's easily assembled and a few small pegs will let birds sit on top. It's a swell design, but it doesn't feel like it adds to the set. If you're taking photos of toys it's very useful, but as a kid I assume it'd go in a box. I'd have loved for them to throw in a bird or something to do with it, or a cable to tow it and drag it around, but it was not meant to be. I assume these sets are mostly just made of parts they have around unused, with the seeming exception of the car.
It's a little more expensive these days, but it's a good set with durable parts and pieces. The car has reflective headlights that almost look like they light up - and rubber tires, and rolling wheels with what seem to be decent wheel covers. And a gas tank intake. It's still pretty inexpensive, given how long it has been off the market and what you get in the box. $25 or so seems to be the eBay going rate, which is a pretty good value for an animal, a couple of vehicles, a tree, and figure. It's not like you've got an opening hood or special features on the car, but at least it's nicely engineered and seems like it could take some abuse. As a collector it's not a set I can say is particularly show-offy - I got it because I liked the stuff in it enough to buy one, but it doesn't have as much visceral weirdness as some of the other sets - but it does retain compatibility with over four decades of other stuff. The fact that trailers sold with the Dinosaur sets - which use a different clamp trailer hitch mechanism entirely - still work here amazes me. It doesn't kinda sorta fit, the hole is the exact size to use with the trailer. It's perfect. No other figure line except LEGO has sustained this level of compatibility for this long, and most figure lines can't even deliver hands that can hold their own accessories - let alone all the rest. Standardization has value, and while you lose some detail and all the variety in heights, you can be assured that the toys you grew up with will work with the new ones you buy for your kids. Also, the set itself may be cheaper than the sum of its parts - some are paying premiums for just the moose my its lonesome. It's worth researching what all the sets cost before throwing down a few bucks to buy just the single animals.
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