Wednesday, January 1st, 2014 at 1:17pm by Andrew, BZPower News Manager
[Source: Nuju Metru]
Today we've got another LEGO Movie set review! BZPower Forum Assistant Nuju Metru does a great job introducing it, so I'm just going to let him get started:
Hey guys, and welcome to the BZPower review of set 70806 Castle Cavalry, from the LEGO Movie line! As always, I'd like to thank both TLG for giving us at BZP free stuff and Andrew for passing some of it on to me. Read on to see my thoughts - captured for you in both a video and the traditional text/image format - on this 2-in-1 model. Is the set greater than the value of its component pieces, or will it be thrown into the parts bin? Let's find out!
From the design of the box to the instruction manual, these are the first things you see before building the set.
"Castle Cavalry" comes in a box of the same display-space dimensions as the rest of the LEGO Movie 2-in-1 sets. The theme/film logo occupies the top left corner of the box front, emerging diagonally... How dynamic! The corner of the box opposite the logo demonstrates the 2-in-1 nature of the set, showing the gatehouse and catapult that can be made out of the pieces within.
The other model takes up most of the display space; the "creative" model (quotation marks here employed to label the non-traditional model as such, not to imply the reviewer's scorn) - in this set a castley-looking Pod Racer thing - zooms after one of Lord Businesses evil Micro Managers clutching a damsel in distress (very medieval) while showering the malevolent black cube with flickfire missiles and 1x1 cylinders. Take that, fiendish cube!
The upper portion of the back of the box is more evenly divided between gatehouse and Pod Racer. The gatehouse image is the same one from the front of the box, but larger and on a different backdrop; the Pod Racer is given another dynamic diorama, where the Micro Manager lunges for the good guys.
The bottom of the box employs a larger-than-life filmstrip to house the images demonstrating the set's functions and other details. From left to right, they are: opening gates (gatehouse model), an extendable wheel foot (Micro Manager), a better look at the set's figures (Sir Stackabrick, a Gallant Guard, and Sharon Shoehorn, the aforementioned damsel), a wussy little catapult (I really am not a fan of these; they don't work well, and they only assist you in losing some pieces already ideally suited for rolling under the couch), and a preview/ad for "The LEGO Movie Videogame" (Rating pending; I'm crossing my fingers it'll be something I'm old enough to play).
Enough of the box... Let's open it up.
Half the fun is had building the set. How fun is it to build and how easy or challenging is it?
The 2-in-1 sets offer much more building time (twice as much, actually) as other sets of their price point. I like this; building new products is fun, and for these, we get double the experience. Both models come together slower than I expected, as they are made up of mostly small parts (which offer more potential versatility, after all).
Speaking of piece versatility, I wondered during the building process how the 2-in-1 sets were designed... Which model came first in the design process? Which model was prioritized for its brick needs? My suspicions that the "traditional" model - the gatehouse, in this case - came first, and that the "creative" model - the Pod Racer - came second were reinforced especially when I was building the creative model, which used stacked plates, slopes, and even contour bricks in lieu of simpler support pieces. However, some considerations had to have been made for the creative model, too, since occasionally the gatehouse employed similarly superfluously complex constructions, and there were a few Technic parts - crucial to the Pod Racer - left over.
"Castle Cavalry" includes three instruction books: one for the gatehouse, one for the Pod Racer, and one for the minifigs and Micro Manager. To my happiness, the Micro Manager's component parts were not required for building either of the set's two main models, meaning that our adorable villain can remain built regardless of whether you want to play with gatehouse or Pod Racer.
Now that the set is complete, we can critique how it looks from every angle. New or interesting pieces can also be examined here.
In terms of new/interesting pieces included in this set, there aren't many. Most of the stuff is fairly standard issue for LEGO medieval-type products; the contour brick, the faceted corner, and the round 1x1 plate are, though, some excellent detailing pieces that one can never get enough of. The most "useful" of the pieces in here is the four-way clip part, first seen on some Marvel set or other. The Skeleton arm with clips not perpendicular and the brown wedge-shaped plate probably shouldn't be here, but I liked them. So they got to stay.
Here are our three figures: Gallant Guard, Sir Stackabrick, and Sharon Shoehorn. Mr. Gallant and Mr. Stackabrick aren't unfamiliar; their torso and leg prints are lifted from the latest line of LEGO Castle products. The aesthetic on them - and the set, blue accents and grey walls - is the same as the good guys of that line. They are the sorts of knights that we've seen for years. Sharon is different, though; clad in a red blouse of remarkably simple print, some black pants, and Marilyn Monroe locks, she is a pretty anonymous - albeit elegant - LEGO female.
Looking at her back printing, though, Sharon gets more interesting. The boring blouse has a suitably simple rear print, but her second facial expression is hilarious, and lends her much more character. I'm unsure as to whether or not her face has been used before on one of the dozens of Collectible Minifigures. Neither of the knights have reverse facial printing, but their torsos are back printed.
None of these figures really makes me feel much of anything; they're pretty basic, and sort of lackluster. I'm mostly okay with this, though, since in a set where building and rebuilding in new ways is the whole point, the minifigures aren't the focus.
The Micro Manager is pretty endearing for an evil black cube, and manages (hardy har har) to pack some functionality in there, too. The one in "Castle Cavalry" has a flip-down wheeled "foot" and a long claw arm, which is excellent at holding minifigures. When the wheel foot is down, the Micro Manager balances; even when it holds a figure in its claw or leans slightly back, it stands up well.
The first instruction manual I followed yielded the traditional model - the gatehouse - and its accessories. The catapult, which has a large bucket for ammunition, and the two halfhearted lamps feel like piece-fillers, but the gatehouse itself is prettier and more detailed than I expected at first glance.
Angular rock, achieved by some SNOT and slopes, forms the base of the towers; the rough-hewn/natural appearance (accentuated with vines) continues up the insides of the clean towers to make the gateway arch. The pinnacle of the arch is topped with nicely intricate sculpting, and the turrets are accented with blue. One technique I really liked and will probably end up stealing at some point was the way the designers attached the curved balcony piece at an angle to the inside of the parapets; those skeleton arms I pointed out earlier, attached to rotation points on the tower, achieve it.
The gate includes a locking mechanism, another unexpected but welcome feature, and inside one of the towers are a few bones. Such savage treatment of prisoners for such nice-looking knights! Sharon should watch out...
The second manual gives us the Pod Racer. This machine is heavier than I had anticipated, due mostly to its dense core/command module. The forward-facing prongs are lighter weight, and they look similar in many respects to the towers of the gatehouse, especially in their shape (and in the return of Dead Prisoner Dave inside one tower). At the rear/bottom, they are equipped with what I assume are meant to emulate thrusters because of the paltry flames coming out of them. The gate pieces turn into cool stabilizers, the ammo bucket from the catapult becomes a seat, and the clever balcony attachment is reused.
The repetition and rearrangement of build motifs between the traditional to the creative builds - the tower/pod prong shapes, the prominent LEGO elements like the lion statue or bucket or gates, and the reusing of notable combinations, for instance - emphasizes that this castley vehicle is derived from its parent construction while serving a wholly different purpose. I like the tone this creates, because it really draws focus to the characters' ingenuity in fighting Lord Business.
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?
Insofar as play features go, "Castle Cavalry" doesn't have many, and nothing new. The puny catapults supposedly count on this list (I'd disagree); the folding wheel of the Micro Manager and the flickfire missiles of the Pod Racer are more tangible ones. The Pod Racer's flick fires have extended triggers, the red-coded ends of which protrude slightly out the back of the vehicle, elusive in their niches until the projectiles are loaded. I also want to point out that I really like how the vine parts were used here to frame the triggers.
The real play value of a 2-in-1 set is just that: that you get two models for the price of one. Admittedly, one of the two looks a little hodgepodge when held up against TLG's usual wares, but I don't think that's important; in fact, it's kind of nice to see models that are more about creative liberty - the legacy of the brand, the really unique thing about LEGO - and less about accurate representation of something or other which, though the company has gotten even better at over the years, dampens some of the toys' intangible magic.
In a similar vein, the 2-in-1 designator is actually something of a misnomer, because like all LEGO products, this one is really an "infinity-in-1" set. The building possibilities that come inside any LEGO product - including those designed only to make one thing - are practically limitless, which we often forget. Just six 2x4 LEGO bricks can be combined a whopping 915,103,765 different ways - if they're all the same color! The 2-in-1 product does something really great: it reminds us, as consumers, of the potential inherent in the LEGO system. These sets in particular invite invention. Why should a gatehouse be limited to becoming just one other thing, after all?
Once it's all said and done, how does the set stack up? Should I get it?
"Castle Cavalry" is ultimately a pretty fun idea, and of the 2-in-1 sets from this theme, it's the most distinctive, as it turns a fantastical location (not a LEGO City truck) into an alternative vehicle. While the traditional model looks cooler than the creative one, the creative one is so totally unique that I have to give it props. Since I've written this review, "Castle Cavalry" has become one with my bins of pieces, donating a few welcome additions (especially its abundance of SNOT parts and contour bricks), but this is mostly because I've been starting to plan some new fantasy creations, and I saw its pieces as more valuable than its sum.
The gesture of this set, though, must be commended, and won't dissolve nearly as quickly into the sea of bricks that I own as the product itself. With these 2-in-1 products, TLG is acknowledging and reinvigorating its most fundamental nature as a toy of imagination.
What's to like?
- Awesome product concept (see above 'graphs)
- Many small and useful parts
- Two sets for the price of one
- Micro Manager is cute, can exist with both models
- Not too many stickers
- Price-to-piece ratio is awesome
- Gatehouse is pretty and detailed
- Pod Racer is weird!
What's not to like?
- Pod Racer is weird...
- No new parts, few rare parts
- Figures are lackluster
- Itsy bitsy catapults, itsy bitsy NO
- Catapult and lamps in gatehouse model feel tacked-on
The pros outweigh the cons, here. While you may not want to get Castle Cavalry, I highly recommend one of the other 2-in-1 products (the other two of which, "The Flying Flusher" and "Ice Cream Machine" are forthcoming from me; see "Trash Chomper" here for a look at that one). I really love the idea behind these, and had a lot of fun with them.
Where are our controls...?
Thank you all for reading - I hope you enjoyed it. Of course you can leave any questions or comments for Nuju Metru in the Talkback, where you should thank him for doing this awesome review. As he hinted above, we're not done yet, so keep checking back on BZPower for more LEGO Movie set reviews and LEGO news!
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