Saturday, July 2nd, 2011 at 6:48pm by Andrew, BZPower News Manager
It's time for another review, but not a Hero Factory one. Arpy has taken a look at one of the new Kingdoms sets - Blacksmith Attack. Read on to learn more about this little set and see if it's worth a buy.
"Under a spreading chestnut tree / The village smithy stands [...]"
Okay, there's no spreading chestnut tree in this set (much less a village), but aside from that this set is completely true to the Longfellow poem... right up until the second stanza. So really, it's not at all accurate. Contained within this box is a playset that will make you question your preconceived notions of right and wrong, good and evil, and whether Lego can actually make realistic-looking chickens.
From the design of the box to the instruction manual, these are the first things you see before building the set.
From the design of the box to the instruction manual, these are the first things you see before building the set. Everything before that? Your life to this point? It doesn't matter, because you didn't really see it. Not like this.
Let's take a moment to just absorb the overall picture here: a rough-and-ready, burly blacksmith rushes towards a hapless knight. We sincerely hope that this knight's armor and shield will suffice to protect him against the blacksmith, because his short, bluntly tipped sword isn't going to cut it.* He's not outgunned by the blacksmith — oh no! Guns didn't exist back in the peaceful days of yore, so he's just outmaced, outaxed, outglaived, outsworded, outdaggered, outarrowed, and outbucketed.** Even the chunk of ore and the chicken could conceivably be used as weapons.
In an interesting move for Lego, it would seem that they have subverted the usual dichotomy of good versus evil relationships in Castle themes with this set, which bears the name Blacksmith Attack and has a common citizen rather than a force of uniformed knights taking up arms against a perceived menace. Let's be clear here: this is not a Black Knight Attack or even a Chicken Attack set. It is a Blacksmith Attack, and as years' worth of Lego set names will attest, attacks are named for the attackers, not the ones being attacked. In the Angler Attack, Evil Ogel Attack, Ewok Attack, Tiger Shark Attack, and many, many other sets, it is absolutely clear who is initiating the attacking.
So, whatever you may think about the motives of the blacksmith, he definitely started it. But let's not forget those motives. He's got a good job making quality weapons, quite a bit of gold ore, and a pretty nice smithy and a chicken to show for it. Why would he even attack the knight? Certainly not for the armor — the blacksmith already has a fine piece sitting there on a rack — but perhaps the blacksmith wants to redirect the violence inherent in the system or simply needs a model for his products. Whatever the case, there are better ways to negotiate than through armed conflict. Silly blacksmith.
* You winced, didn't you?
** I admit that I am not totally up to date on the correct terms for medieval weaponry. Please correct me if that bucket is not, in fact, a bucket.
Half the fun is had building the set. How fun is it to build and how easy or challenging is it?
Five-sixteenths of the fun is had building the set. How fun is it to build and how easy or challenging is it? New or interesting pieces will also be examined here, because you're hopefully going to notice them here instead of in the Set Design section.
I kept waiting for something to be put on top of that light grey 1x1 cone, but to no avail.
This set's instructions are divided into three parts: the minifigures, the weapons rack, and the main forge. The building process is fairly simple, with the most complicated part being the waterwheel/hammer assembly that provides the set with its function.
So you still don't believe that the blacksmith is overarmed? Then just look at his assortment of weapons. They seem to be slightly softer plastic than the norm, though they are not entirely rubbery either. These are also found in Lego's Heroica line of board games, and it seems that they were made primarily for Heroica rather than Kingdoms — this is the only Kingdoms set to even have these new weapons. Weapons that might ordinarily be longer (the bow and arrow, the mace, the sword, and so on) are fairly short, perhaps in keeping with the small size of the games' microfig playing pieces, and they all have bar-width thickness at the bottom to fit into the hollow studs on the boards. This isn't a problem for most of the pieces, with one exception: the bow and arrow are even more awkward for minifigures to hold than the old mold is. But I think it's good to see Lego making new weapons molds, and I'm sure these pieces will find use outside of their intended use as medieval weaponry.
The other new pieces are the chicken, the bucket, and some new slope pieces. These slope pieces look to be quite useful, containing as they do a slope similar to that of the colloquially named "cheese" slopes. The 1x1 plate sticking out sets them apart, though.
I must confess to being somewhat conflicted about the chicken. On the one hand, it's smaller and more realistic than the brick-built fowl of old, with a printed comb, wattle, and eyes. On the other, it almost doesn't seem like Lego anymore. The sole concession to the Lego system is the stud hole where its feet should be, and this looks awkward on the otherwise detailed and accurate chicken. It could at least be a stud higher and more integrated into the chicken's body. But hey, it's a chicken. Chickens are fun.
The bucket is a neat new assembly. It comes in two pieces (the handle and the bucket proper), which means that it can be swung around, picked up, and so on. A spare bucket handle is included among the set's extra pieces.
Somewhere, a Lego walrus is lamenting the loss of his dear companion.
Now that the set is complete, we can critique how it looks from every angle. New or interesting pieces can also be examined here.
Now that the set is complete, we (or at least I) can critique how it looks from every angle. Every. Last. One. Psych!
Now completed, the set reminds me of the larger forge in the Medieval Market Village set that came out a couple years ago, just on a smaller scale: there is a waterwheel, a hammer and anvil, a fire, and a weapons rack, but they are all reduced to fit in a $10 set, and with that fact come sacrifices. For instance, there is a fire, but no bellows to stoke it. Also, there simply are not enough places for the weapons and accessories to safely rest. Even with all the hands and clip parts occupied, there are still going to be a few loose pieces. Another couple of clips on the rack might have helped to alleviate this.
The minifigures are both quite well done. Dark green and gunmetal look good on the knight, while the blacksmith has a few different shades of brown and tan. Both have printing on the back, and the blacksmith's two-sided head lets him go from manically grinning to seriously irked.
The other half of the fun is in playing with the set. How well does the set function and is it enjoyable to play with?
About three-sixteenths of the fun is in playing with the set (the remainder comes in geeking out over the neat pieces). How well does the set function, and is it enjoyable to play with?
As with most Lego sets, this one's playability is primarily dependent on your capacity for imaginative roleplaying. In their infinite kindness, Lego have included some features to facilitate this. The anvil can be placed in the smithy or taken off its stone base to be played with outside of the building, and though the waterwheel is not actually in the water, which I found a bit odd, you can still spin it to make the blacksmith's hammer bang upon a weapon that you place in the anvil. While I applaud the blacksmith's ingenuity in coming up with this environmentally friendly and automated system of manufacture, I would hope for his sake that a flash flood does not come along and cause the hammer to start tapping away at a very fast rate indeed.
Once it's all said and done, how does the set stack up? Should I get it?
What's to like?
- Neat new weapons and other bits
- Decent minifigures
- Rather good value for the price, at least in terms of parts
- Could be a Chik-Fil-A starter pack
What's not to like?
- As a smithy, it's somewhat lacking
- Playability may be limited
I consider this set to be more of a weapons pack than a playset, and with that in mind, its purchase can easily be justified. If you have some money to spare, I think this set is among the better ones in its price range, so do consider picking it up. After all, your collection can always use more chickens and buckets.
Thanks go out to Arpy for taking the time to put this review together for us all. If you're not a castle fan, don't worry - we'll have more Hero Factory reviews coming up soon. Until then, keep checking back right here on BZPower!
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