Saturday, 15 March 2014

Lego Review – Castle Cavalry (70806)

Set: 70806 Castle Cavalry

Theme: The Lego Movie
Pieces: 424

Build Time: 1 ½ hours (castle)

        1 ½ hours (flying machine mode)
Year: 2014

RRP: $35 AUD

The Background
As my Australian readers will probably already know, The Lego Movie has been postponed until April over here (boo!). I won’t deny that I’ve been jealous of my international brethren. However, the delay hasn’t stopped most of the movie tie-in sets being released already, which means I can experience the movie vicariously.

As with every Lego theme worth its salt, there’s a broad spectrum of price ranges – from the cheap to the ultra-expensive. However, the mid-range sets are probably the most interesting. Why? Well, the main gimmick with the mid-range sets is that they’re standard Lego sets…but they can also change into something more bizarre, usually some sort of a flying machine. In this case, a castle’s gate morphs into a twin-barrelled flying machine, resembling a medieval Phantom Menace podracer.

This set comes with three minifigures – Sir Stackabrick, Gallant Guard and Sharon Shoehorn (an actress on the in-universe TV show Where Are My Pants?). The actress is the only figure with two faces – one looking happy, and the other one for looking distressed when she’s abducted by one of Lord Business’ Micromanagers.

Sir Stackabrick

Gallant Guard
I know nothing about their personalities yet, but they’re nicely made, standard minifigures that will fit in easily alongside your Castle or City theme figures, and that’s what I wanted them for.

Though it’s not technically a minifigure, I’ll include the Micromanager here – I assume it’s some sort of evil minion, but I don’t know much else at this stage. It’s a black box, with two rubber wheels (which roll) and a grabby claw-hand. Seeing the movie may change my mind, but I’m a little underwhelmed with it at first glance.  It’s a little too featureless.

Sharon Shoehorn
I haven’t really built anything since Lord Vampyre’s Castle over Christmas, so perhaps I’m a little out of shape, but I was quite taken aback at how long it took me – close to an hour and a half, I’d say.

The gate is surprisingly complex, though it definitely works to the advantage of the kit. There are lots of cool little details such as the flags on the ramparts, the skull in the tower and the vines hanging above the torches. And of course, a working catapault is always fun for the kids, if neither here nor there for me.

Its generic "Castle-y" nature is possibly its biggest strength. Add a couple more elements – like the tree from the Monster Fighters Werewolf set, some dim lighting and a minifigure ghost, and you’ve transformed the whole thing into a whole new environment too.  

Colour scheme-wise, it fits with the Castle theme that was released in 2013 – specifically, the “good” faction, the Lion Knights.
As for the alt mode, it was fun to build – but I don’t love how it looks. The 2-in-1 idea is cool (even though when I was a kid, this was a standard thing) is a good one, but I don’t think this set is the best example of it. The flying machine mode is entertaining, but if I didn’t want this as a castle front I’d probably be a little disappointed. The other sets in this range, such as the Ice Cream Truck or Recycling Truck look much better from a purely toyetic perspective, and their alt modes are definitely cooler, if not quite up my alley. Though if I collected City, I’d be all over those bad boys. 

Recently I realised that I had enough minifigures to create a Dungeons and Dragons-style party of four adventurers – the Barbarian, Elf Ranger, Paladin and Wizard. But adventurers need a place to adventure in. I have the City of Atlantis, of course, but it would be nice to have something along the lines of a more traditional castle or dungeon. This set looked like as good a starting point as any! 

So I think this is a simple, pretty cool Castle set. The only real downside is the price – for $35, I think it’s a little higher than it should be. Get it to $29, and I think I’d be even more satisfied, and might have even bought two. I suspect that the slightly raised price is to do with the third minifigure – and the “2 sets in one” gimmick.* 
As for the wider Lego Movie range? I have mixed feelings. I may change my mind once I see some of them in action in the movie, but I’m not in love with this theme. Of course, I said that about Monster Fighters, and look where that got me! 


*Oddly enough, I think it may also be experiencing the “license tax” that affects themes such as Super Heroes, Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit et al. Warner Bros are the ones who actually produced and distributed the movie, so the price may be slightly higher to make sure that they get their cut too? But this is only speculation on my part.

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