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6490-1: Amazon Crossing
Published 2 months ago
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The inventory is ~98% accurate; unfortunately, the sprung wheelbase is missing, so I had to use a few generic plates to replace it.

1. https://rebrickable.com/parts/30082/arm-piece-with-towball-and-clip/
2. https://rebrickable.com/parts/2484c01/vehicle-sprung-wheels-holder-2-x-2/

1. https://rebrickable.com/parts/973c27h01pr0073/torso-vest-with-patch-pockets-over-white-shirt/

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This set no. 6490 'Amazon Crossing,' alternatively known as 'Crocodile Creek' in the UK, came out in 1997 as part of an "Outback" theme. Only lasting for one season, this curious Town's subtheme succeeded the '81-96 "Leisure," essentially depicting similar outdoor activities. The five sets' collection portrayed an eponymous real-life tourist destination, Australian Outback—vast, remote territories populated by the continent's aboriginal communities.

(And from the geographical point of view, the Amazon Crossing's name is pretty hilarious, as the Amazon rainforest and river are in South America, obviously, not in Australia).

The model also came as part of an impossible-to-find Product Collection—set no. K6444 'Outback Adventure Collection Catalog Special,' offered exclusively to Shop-At-Home readers during the '97 Christmas season in America. This boxset is so extraordinarily rare there aren't even any traces of it online, let alone box photos.

Clocking at ~120 parts, the 'Amazon Crossing' was the third-largest set in the "Outback" collection. There's a shaky, unstable wooden bridge across a river, surrounded by rocks and remnants of an old camping ground nearby. Besides one minifigure, the set included a parrot and a crocodile (which, indeed, populates North-Australian rivers). The 'Amazon Crossing' was only the second Town's set ever to feature this animal.

The chunky and rugged off-roader, finished in bright yellow like the rest of "Outback" civilian vehicles, has a prolonged chassis with a spring-loaded wheelbase for extra cross-country abilities. The car is packed with accessories, including a disassembled fire extinguisher, a photo camera, a pickaxe, and a backpack.

Most importantly, though, the 'Amazon Crossing' features a rifle (Lego part #30141, mostly used in "Western" and "Adventurers" themes in the 1990s). Forget about the damn crocodiles mentioned above—that's a unique exception! The Lego Company always enforced strict firearms ban in Town; even "Police" never had pistols or carbines. To the best of my knowledge, no official sets featured hunting either, at least during the Classic Town era (only fishing rods and harpoon rifles). The 'Amazon Crossing' remained a sole, unique exception to this rule.

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The "Outback" appeared as a specific theme only in North America. For some reason, though, a regular consumer US catalog excluded one of the sets from the dedicated page under the Outback logo—set no. 6553 'Crisis News Crew' ended up on the next centerfold, among the generic "Town" models: https://images.brickset.com/library/view/?f=catalogues/c97na&p=23

In a more detailed Shop-At-Home '97 catalog (see Holiday and Summer editions), an "Outback" centerfold promptly featured the entire lineup: https://images.brickset.com/library/view/?f=catalogues/c97sahHoliday&p=28

As a matter of fact, there was one extra model on the same page, set no. 6563 'Gator Landing' released in '96. This model always used to strike me as an odd-ball in the pacifistic "Leisure" subtheme. Marketed under names like 'The Gold Gang' or 'Smugglers' Hideout' in Europe, it depicted a few suspicious guys "camping" without any luggage besides cash and gold. It was also the Town's only set with a crocodile.

Now, compared to Outback's lineup, it all makes perfect sense! Whether the 'Gator Landing' was designed as part of the same collection in the first place or simply inspired the new theme, the parallels with "Outback" are apparent. Especially with the 'Outback Airstrip' and 'Amazon Crossing,' which even feature the same minifigs.

Meanwhile, only 'Amazon Crossing' and a few more "Outback" sets appeared in Lego catalogs in Continental Europe and Britain, and they were shown in generic "Town" or "Leisure" lineups. "Outback" wasn't even marketed as a dedicated theme, and it appears the collection was available in limited quantities.

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6487: Mountain Rescue (1997)

6563: Gator Landing (1996)

6552: Rocky River Retreat ('93)

1720: Cactus Canyon Value Pack ('94)
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