Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The return of LEGO Castle

As a young boy, LEGO's Castle theme was easily my favorite of the bunch. I've commented before about the hours spent drawing up my own plans for massive LEGO castles and the excitement of getting a large portion of the theme in its early days. I still have most of those sets sitting in storage, waiting to be rebuilt.

Unfortunately, that's likely where they are going to stay for a bit. I seem to have multiple projects piling up and the new and shiny stuff keeps grabbing my attention. Of course, that new and shiny includes the latest wave of Castle sets that are starting to come out right now. LEGO had them online first and now Amazon has them listed as well. The line is pretty small, but I wanted to take a few minutes to go over what's being offered.

70400: Forest Ambush
The smallest set in the line is essentially a battle pack, featuring four minifigures (two from each faction) and a dog. The treasure chest on a cart is not really a new concept and I do have to question why the flick-fire missile is coming out of a rock wall. There are some useful parts in here, but at $11.99 I'm probably waiting for a discount on this one.

70401: Gold Getaway
For $19.99, you get a decent carriage, a horse, and three minifigures. From an army builder perspective, I would probably prefer the Forest Ambush set. Carriages are pretty much a standard with every Castle/Kingdoms release, and I would probably prefer some of the older versions over this one. The tiny wall and Balista are a nice touch to round out the set, but I probably would have opted for a fourth figure over the outpost wall.

70402: The Gatehouse Raid
Here we go. For just $10 more ($29.99), you get a far more impressive set that really starts to feel like a Castle offering. The structure itself looks very well done and I've always been a sucker for the barding piece on horses. The catapult is little simplistic, but I have to admit I really like the color scheme for the Dragon Knights and the use of red cheese wedges to kind of create a dragon scale effect.

70403: Dragon Mountain
There's a dragon! Also a princess and a wizard! This is a pretty sweet base for the Dragon Knights. While the wall itself is not very big, there really are plenty of play features packed in. Also, did I mention there's a DRAGON!? I'm sold. I'm already having the urge to put a couple of these together to build a real dragon stronghold. It might take awhile before I get there at $49.99, but I'm feeling the need to start sketching up some castle plans.

70404: King's Castle
There have been five sets that have carried the name "King's Castle," including the one that also has "Siege" in the title. There's actually seven, if you count both versions of King Leo's Castle. In modern times, they have all had a RRP around the $100 mark.

This latest offering in the line looks to be pretty much your standard castle. I do notice there are some stickers to give the wall pieces some texturing. Dislike. With seven figures (The king of the Lion faction, three Lion soldiers, and three Dragon Knights) it will not be the most well populated conflict. You do get a decent sized fortress to defend though, so as the namesake of the theme, it will do. There's nothing that really stands out with this latest iteration of the King's Castle, but it's not exactly terrible either. An easy pick up if you have so far managed to not end up without a castle in your collection.

Overall, the latest version of the Castle theme offers up pretty much what you would expect from the line's history. You get a few fun playsets and a big fortress to serve as the crown jewel of the line. All feels right in my LEGO world having castles back on store shelves. It's only a matter of time before all feels really right and one of these is in my collection.

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