Friday, 24 February 2012

The Lego Fright Knights 1997 -1998

1997 was a sad year for most of England: Princess Diana Died, we gave Hong Kong back to China, the Teletubbies first came on TV, Elton John got knighted and Tony Blair came into power (he was rubbish). Being an apple cheek young child of tender years I didn't pay the slightest bit of notice to any of this (though I did give my mum a hug when she cried over Diana) but for me this year was even worse, this year marked the release of the Fright Knights, I shudder at the memory.

For those who don’t know (lucky you) Fright Knights were the final faction to be released for the classic Castle sets we all know and love. Yes Fright Knights can class itself as a member of the same family that produced Forestmen, Falcons, Black Knights and all the other wonderful LEGO factions from the 80’s and 90’s, clearly Classic Castle had been suck a little too long in its own gene pool however as this new offspring is a sad mutated parody of those noble factions of yesteryear.

Please don’t miss understand me, this child looks ok, sure his ears are a little too big, he’s missing a few teeth and his eyes are blank vacant orbs of despair, but there is a clear family resemblance; no, the problem lies deeper on a more subconscious level, Fright Knights is just inherently wrong.

Ok, I’m sorry, I’m going to drop the metaphor now (it was running a little thin) and just start explaining this faction.

Fright Knights featured an evil couple by the names of Basil the Bat Lord and Willa the Witch, now it has never been confirmed if their relationship was anything other than professional but I like to think there was something going on in that tall juniorised tower of theirs. After all it would explain why Basil was the first Minifig the come with a frown rather than a smile (I’m joking of course I Love my partner).

New elements for this wave come in the form of new torso prints, a new bat helm, a crystal ball, a bat fig, and best of all, the chain piece we all love nowadays. They also repainted the Green Dragon from the Dragon Masters theme with a nice coat of black and gave him the name Draco; this theme also stole the broomstick piece from the Fabuland line.

This faction had castles, catapults, hot air balloons (kinda), flying machines(not as cool as they sound) and carriages; they also liked to pick fights with their two most modern of rivals (Dark Forest and Royal Knights) but these other factions never appeared in any great number. This faction also had a very large number of impulse sets.

It has also been pointed out to me by Lego_Lord _Mayorca on Brickset that these guys had something of a short story publised in the LEGO magazine, here it is below.


Set Name = Fire Cart 2538
Piece Count = 20
Year Released = 1998

This set was one of three Fright Knights sets that were part of a Shell Garage promotional offer. As a spare part set its ok, you get a bat, some handy flame and wheel pieces plus a barrel; the fig is also a nice addition to the troop collection. As a set its ok, not the most exciting thing in the world but I can respect LEGO for doing things a little different.

Set Name = Flying Machine 2539
Piece Count = 21
Year Released = 1998

Number two in the Shell list. Ok, what? I don’t know what to say about this, silly, very silly, for shame LEGO, however I do like the shiny sword and would probably get this just for that. Here is a classic example of the ‘wrongness’ surrounding this faction.

Set Name = Catapult Cart 2540
Piece Count = 28
Year Released = 1998

The third promotional set and thank goodness it’s not another flying machine. This set is ok, the catapults a little blocky, I’m not sure what it’s supposed to fire (those yellow studs?), the man has no weapons and it has the look of a set my little brother would build from spare brick, but other than that it’s ok (in which I mean to say ‘yay, not a flying machine’).

Set Name = Flying Machine 2848
Piece Count = 19
Year Released = 1997

Same name, same silliness, different set, this one doesn’t even have wings, how does it fly? Magic? Is it a jet? Ok I have to stop laughing and be serious for a moment, a new fig and a shiny sword doesn’t make it a good LEGO set, this is so random and it’s a shame LEGO put time and effort into this type of thing when they could have given us almost anything else and it would have been better.

Set Name = Witch and Fireplace
Piece Count = 19
Year Released = 1997

Thank you, a witch, a fireplace and a nice number of accessories (including a cat!) this is a set I can get behind. There is nothing wrong whatsoever with this set, it’s actually really good and both the really successful Castle Lines of the modern age have included something similar (except both had wizards instead of a witch), that fireplace has sat in my Crusaders Mountain Fortress for the majority of the last decade and it’s a nice early example of LEGO designing some furniture. What I don’t get is way LEGO didn’t make more sets like this rather than the atrocious promo sets above.

Set Name = Crossbow Cart 6004 and 6006
Piece Count = 20
Year Released = 1997

Here we have an example of another good impulse set; the amount of weaponry with it is stunning and the fig is useful to bulk out the troops of your army. Another siege weapon but at least it can’t fly.

Set Name = Treasure Cart 6028 and 6029
Piece Count = 22
Year Released = 1998

This is the final impulse set for Fright Knights, it’s a standard model that we have seen before but that comment is not supposed to be detrimental. I would have liked a shield to be included and for the chest to be filled with treasure (rather than two yellow gems) but other than there’s nothing wrong with the set, the figs ok and a chest is always useful, average would be a good description of this build.


Set Name = Bat Lord 6007
Piece Count = 12
Year Released = 1997

Anyone want a Dragon Army? Well this is a brilliant way to get it, I love the old style Dragon fig and this set made the Black one very accessible (you even get a flame element to show him breathing fire). Aside from that you also get a cape, shiny sword, a bat and another Bat Lord. It’s more a minifigs pack than a set but if you like those figs you can’t go wrong.

Set Name = Fright Force 6031
Piece Count = 30
Year Released = 1998

This set is the minifigs-pack and again it’s rather nice, I would rather have five figs than a horse but I can appreciate the inclusion, just as I like the fair amount of weapons, nice figure variety, the red feather, the flag and the witch’s crystal ball, overall not bad.

Set Name = Bat Lord’s catapult
Piece Count = 55
Year Released = 1997

Another set that to me highlights the ‘wrongness’ of Fright Knights, sure the cart looks ok but why is that bat riding on the horse, why is the catapult just a barrel, what are those fire pieces doing? The whole design looks ok at first but feels like a set my little brother would design after I had made the basic structure for him, I can’t decide if LEGO was being patronising to children or just lazy with the set designs.

Set Name = Witch’s Windship 6037
Piece Count = 56
Year Released = 1997

This is possibly my most hated Castle Set from the 90’s and 80’s combined. It’s silly, ugly, poorly designed and makes no sense, witches fly on brooms; they don’t steal Dragon from the Dragon Masters. The dragon breaks off quite often and the rigging is not stable, I also dislike the halberds on the front and what I can only describe as tail-lights at the back, my other big gripe is what would I use it for? It’s pointless and the hull is just one large circular brick piece so we don’t even get a large build to enjoy. The only thing I like about this set is the figs and parts (dragon, witch, broom, cape, ect.) that is not enough for a set.


Set Name = Traitor Transport 6047 and 6099
Piece Count = 139
Year Released = 1997

Interestingly enough this set came with a cave in the US (see below); sadly I do not have the cave so I can only speculate, however I think the idea is clever (a cave for the Dragon finally), though in the picture it looks like the Bat Lord is sacrificing the Traitor to the Dragon.

 As for the set itself I am in two minds, the design looks solid and I like that the cage can lift out, but I really dislike all the wings, trans-yellow bricks, the big red roof and the way it attaches to the Dragon. I like the inclusion of the barding for the horse and the fig who I can only assume is a Black Knight, but by this time I am board of the Bat Lord Fig (he’s everywhere).

This set has a ‘hit or miss’ value to it I am not sure if I like it or not, I will say that its one of the better Fright Knight sets but that is not the highest of praise.

Set Name = Witch’s Magic Manor 6087
Piece Count = 250
Year Released = 1997

Now before we make judgments on this set I as you to pause and consider this one comment, ‘it only ‘Looks’ like a random assortment of black bricks, grey bricks and BURP’s because the witch herself put a magical spell over it’. All we need to do is kiss the frog (I could be confusing my fairy tales at this point) and the curse will be broken and before our eyes this set (if you can call it that) will transform to something more akin to the Magical Workshop or one of the houses from the MMV.

Have you considered that? Ok I know its wishful thinking but this set is defiantly not what made LEGO great, it horrible, the baseplate is too thick, there’s way to many BURPS, the colour scheme is ugly and the play elements are rubbish; you get a skeleton that can spin round from a wall and a stone trap that has nothing clever about it (seriously the stone on a chain drops when you detach it from the wall manually, no clever pulley system or anything). As for the design there a big open gap at the back so the trap is useless anyway and there’s nothing inside the building other than a little witch’s corner on the second floor and 70% of the construction is BURP’s, eurgh.

Ohh and if that wasn’t enough we also get a helicopter, great.  I regretted getting this set which is a very rare occurrence; I will say that if this is one of your treasured sets from your childhood then go and treat yourself to one of the most expensive castle sets you can find from the early 90’s as you deserve a treat after years of torment.


Set Name = Night Lord’s Castle 6097
Piece Count = 601
Year Released = 1997

As much as I dislike the Manor, I find myself unusually drawn towards this set, it has its problems its design is lacking somewhat, these gaps and holes all over the place but there is just something so fun in watching this set slowly reach out towards the skies . I get that same childish rush of joy when I build this set just a I would when I splash in a puddle (come on we all do it occasionally), this set fires off some long forgotten pleasure synapse in my mind that comes from building stupidly impractical things from LEGO, each floor added is another little thrill.

As for the set itself, it is by no means a groundbreaker and it is way too ugly to do anything other than build it and then dismantle and I would never leave this one out on display. It is also one of the sets I would happily give to a smaller LEGO fan (someone of five or six) to keep them busy when their parents come round to visit and we need to keep them quite, I don’t feel particularly attached to this set (small people however cannot touch my Forestmen).

I will also say that as a parts collection you do get quite a good deal, a fair number of figs, a cool flag, a dragon, two horses, a skeleton, bats, fire, chains, shields, weapons, a magic scroll, ect... However once it’s been first built any LEGO collector with any talent will mod it in a hundred tiny ways to improve it; why didn’t the LEGO designers do this in the first place?

If any of you are still in the mood for Fright Knights after reading this overview I will say this is the best one to get, its big, it’s dumb but its fun.

Set Name = LEGO Dacta Castle 9376
Piece Count = 321
Year Released = 1997

This isn’t a set exactly it’s more of a huge bits box (which I don’t own) but I thought it would be good to include it here. If something like this came out now I would be all over it and to include 14 figs is just wonderful (two of each). This type of thing is very handy to use on an already existing castle to make it even bigger.

Am I Biased?

Ok reading back over this review I can see that I haven’t been the fairest individual, I feel the need to point out that what I say is only an opinion, you are perfectly welcome to disagree and some of these sets might mean more to you than me because you have had a different experience with them.

So I will say now I am biased against Fright Knights, as a child I only had a couple of the smaller sets (including the windship) and when I started doing the research for these guys I spent quite a bit of my own money on sets I really didn’t feel were worth it. This is all from a modern perspective with the benefit of comparison, I will compare these guys to all the sets that came before because I except LEGO to get better, I except them to take what was done and improve on that. With these sets I see little of that, the designs are basic and the whole idea behind the faction feels lazy, we had knights and wizard and dragons before.

To me LEGO Castle lost its way a little over this time, I feel like they took all the good castle designers and sent them off to make Western and Adventure sets instead, don’t get me wrong I love those themes and when I finally get round to doing those faction overviews you will hear a fair amount of praise for the set design, but that design is lacking from these guys, it’s as simple as that.

Thank you for taking the time to read this next faction on the chopping black ‘Knights Kingdoms I’.

Monday, 13 February 2012

The Lego Dark Forest 1996

By 1996 most of us had existed for over half a decade without any variation within the Castle world, it was just an repetitive, endless stream of troopers in helms marching around in castles, sure some of those castles had kings and others had Dragons, some had blue bricks as a minor colour, some had red, but except for a small faction who liked to steal (the Wolfpack) LEGO had stagnated.

Then some bright spark in the design department (with large slightly unfocused eyes and a tendency to bark like a dog at the admin clerks) had an idea; that idea was to “create a cool new faction centred around forests, with a sort of Robin Hood vibe, they could use bows and wear caps of green and brown, yeah it would be great, yeah”

Everyone around the design table gave a shy sort of half smile some even nodded, no one wanted to tell this ‘special guy’ that it had been done already. Out of pity this man was encouraged to go ahead and start designing some sets, then everything started snowballing and the bright fellow was given  permission to proceed with the plan, money was invested, lots of money.

Out of shear desperation and a hope that the public wouldn’t get suspicious, the word ‘Dark’ was added to the front of the faction title and what was to follow was the joint smallest faction ever to grace out toy store shelves.

The Dark Forest, not to be fooled with the Forestmen sets from the late 80’s or the Wolfpack from the early 90’s, this theme was 'dark' like the latter, yet came from a 'forest' like the former. All joking aside I can understand why LEGO would revisit a very successful older theme but I am always a little disappointed when they do because the new sets are never as good as the old ones and I would prefer they spend their time investing in new things, a good example of this is the ninja theme and western theme both of those are examples of LEGO trying something new rather than sticking with the familiar. As you can see the new Dark Forest was very familiar.

As for the faction themselves we see one of the most warlike groups ever to grace the LEGO world, tackling Dragon Masters, Royal Knights and Fright Knights these guys made a lot of enemies. Points in their favour come in the form of some new and interesting torso prints and the inclusion of the brown brick for the tree parts rather than black. Points against them come in the form of a repetition from the Forestmens theme (including the exact same shield) and a lack of sets. However compared to a lot of what was available at the time these guys look much better, watch this advert and see if you can see the Dark Forest set at all.

Its like their not even trying to advertise the Dark Forest, anyway onto the sets.


Set Name = Bandit Ambush 6024
Piece Count = 59
Year Released = 1996

The smallest set available would have fitted perfectly alongside the Forestmen sets from the 80s. If viewed from the front this sets looks like a rock with some twigs growing out of it, however turn it around we get this awesome little hideout complete with catapult, chest and a completely unnecessary ladder. I like the huge amount of weapons (though I would rather the spear be brown not black, but hey you gotta get that ‘dark in there somewhere) and I like the fact that for such a small number of bricks you can do a lot with the set, My only real gripe is why include gems with the chest, yes I understand that treasure in chest is something LEGO always do but it feels so out of place here, why would outlaws living in the forest have gems? Overall its one of my favourite smaller sets as it is so useful anywhere.


Set Name = Hemlock Stronghold 6046
Piece Count = 216
Year Released = 1996

This set is another classic example of LEGO getting the set name wrong; to call this small tower a stronghold would be laughable, however that is not to say the set isn’t good, no a set cannot be judged by name alone. However when you look at design that is when a set can be deemed ‘bad’, so is this set bad? Well in my opinion yes and no, but mostly yes.

 The set lack cohesion it is clearly divided into three parts and yet none of the parts really connect together or complement each other, it also lack quality as the tower itself is very poorly built and despite the bottom half being a hideout and the middle part being a jail neither of them really look like they are filling the roles assigned them. As for the large catapult I like its design but don’t like its inclusion in the set I would much rather they invest the bricks in building us a tree or small river to make the baseplate seem more worthy, as there is a lot of spare space in this build and we already get a catapult at the top of the tower, two is just overkill.

Thematically the set is a letdown as well, why are the Royal Knights attacking with a chest of gold? Why is one of them using the catapult on the other? Why is there a stone fountain in the middle of the forest? It’s all a bit of a mess.

Good parts about this set come in the form of the minifigs and the design of the water fountain in the middle however that is not enough to lift it up from the mediocrity it is wallowing in.


Set Name = Dark Forest Fortress 6079
Piece Count = 464
Year Released = 1996

It is funny that I could have two such opposing views on two sets from the same theme, but as strongly as I dislike Hemlock Stronghold, I strongly approve of the Dark Forest Fortress. This set is really good because of one thing, theme, it focuses on telling a story and improving the LEGO world, it has its flaws but the fact that the set is so engaging thematically means it will always be on my top ten list.

The story it is telling is of an ambush in the forests, we get two nice tall trees, a wonderfully designed baseplate (first seen in blue for the pirates Enchanted Island set) and a very well designed carriage, these elements alone make the set interesting.

For those who love gimmicks we also get plenty to do, firing catapults, collapsing trees, raising drawbridges and exploring hidden compartments. We get a generous number of items and weapons (three golden goblets and printed map being the highlights) and a decent number of figs including (but not limited to) all the new Forestmen and two horses.

As for the overall design I like how it feels, it is like a forest that has been adapted by its occupants, it feels like the outlaws have collected what parts they could and have tried to create some form of shelter using the very landscape around them.

Once, some parts of this set slightly annoyed me, I didn’t like the Black Knights shield, the grey helm or the annoying little jail built into the tree but now I see those things as quirky, odd and fun. Sure it doesn't make the greatest amount of sense but the set is a good example of solid LEGO design, its fun, it looks nice and it’s quite unique.

If you’re after something a little different this is for you, however it’s quite rare and fairly expensive so I would advise this one only for a truly fanatical collector unless you see it cheap somewhere, however once bought I doubt you will be disappointed.

Burnt Out and Faded Away

As with the Wolfpack faction these guys only got three sets, yet they are mostly forgotten about whereas the Wolfpack are still referenced today on must LEGO sites (Eurobricks in particular).

This is an interesting phenomenon which I believe is due to the fact that these guys were a repeat; they were simply ‘Forestmen Diet’ they had none of the originality of that kept the Wolfpack so popular and due to the fact that all these sets where released in a limited number for a limited time, means that they never had a chance of becoming ingrained in our collective psyche.  

This is a shame because the sets were (mostly) great and I think if most collectors now were offered them at a reasonable price they would jump at the chance. The Dark Forest are like the b-sides to any music album, they aren’t the reason you love the band and they aren’t as good as their hits but by owning them you are listing to something few people get to experience and you are experiencing more of the band than other fans, you are blessed by its very own elitisms.

Is that good or bad? I can’t tell.

As always thank you so much for reading.

Until next time (when we get a little spooky) Cheers.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

The Lego Royal Knights 1995-1998

By 1995 LEGO Castle had gone a few years delving into the darker side, glorifying factions devoted to Theft, Dragons or simply the colour Black (Black Knights if you missed that last reference). Really it had pushed itself to offer something new and exciting to the world of LEGO Castle, but as with all things it was time for a change; they needed something new, different, shinier; where did they go for inspiration? Did the invent Sky Castles or some interesting Steampunk knights? Well the short answer is no, they simply stopped looking at something new and reverted (like all profit conscious companies) to something familiar.

Royal Knights leans rather heavily on the Crusaders faction that came before it, they both share a number of common interests (the colour red and a fondness for lions being at the top of the list). But there was one inherent difference that made this faction stand out, can you guess it? Hint the clue is in the name.

A Royal Knight fig from 1995 alongside a Crusader fig from the late 1980s

I was the fact that these guys actually got to have a King! Yes a new type of fig had entered the LEGO world, Royalty!

Now a fresh cheeked young child could use the King to boss around all the serfs and peons, he could climb to the tallest tower, wear his shiny crown, possibly sip from a jewel encrusted goblet and look down on his legions of minions whilst they march off to battle some distant bordering territory, each warrior fighting for his very life and dying in the mud for a uncaring King living in luxury miles away.

You thought the Dragon Master or Fright Knights were evil? Well those guys are nothing when compared to the power of a hereditary dictatorship, despite what the adverts said.

Sorry clearly I was getting a little side tracked there (personally I have nothing against Royalty, as long as they have nothing against me) but it’s interesting to think that LEGO Castle received a Dragon fig before it received a Crown head piece. Also new for this faction are the shiny sword and the skeleton minifigs; as for the Royal Knights themselves we see a large abundance of regular troops and an uncommon amount of Kings (Oddly) but as for the Knights themselves only two appear over the whole theme, the common inclusion of the oval shield is a welcome inclusion however.

The Royal Knights faction was surprisingly small and yet was also seen as reasonably warlike (appearing as opposing factions for Dark Forest and Fright Knights whilst also fighting Dragon Masters in one of their own sets). Other than owning a large castle they had very little in the way of a navy or siege equipment, so it is possible to say this faction had some of the best masons but very little else.


Set Name = Crossbow Boat, Boat with Armour and Thunder Arrow Boat 1752, 1804 and 2892
Piece Count = 21
Year Released = 1996 and again in 1998

This set came in a box, a polybag and was repackaged in Japan alongside some sweets. Yet despite being so popular, I am not sold, the boat is tiny and the two crossbows unnecessary, we also see no other weapons and most infuriately of all, no quiver. I like the shield and I like that its fits really well with the drawbridge set but this set is far from one of my favourite impulse purchases.

Set Name = Royal King 6008
Piece Count = 10
Year Released = 1995

Possibly the stupidest name for a set ever (ever heard of an un-Royal King?) but I quite like it. LEGO was going out of its way to make exclusive figs (and parts) available; anyone could get a king without having to buy a huge set, this made it possible to buy four or five of these sets and give the crowns and sword pieces to each of your factions (then you could make some really cool warring nations, split families and royal intrigue). The best way I can describe it is to look at the collectable minifigs series, this has given us the option to get so many more interesting pieces for such a good price, the fact that they are on their six series (and have plans for two more) show just how successful that venture has been.

Set Name = Unnamed Value Pack 1843 (US Only)
Piece Count = 48
Year Released = 1996

This set came along side a space ship so it is hard to judge it fairly as a castle collector is only getting half the actual LEGO goodness they pay for, it’s also US only which is very disappointing.

I like the set, it’s got some good accessories and is a nice sturdy build but it’s just not worth going to the trouble of getting it unless you like space too. One minor note this set is the only siege weapon available for the Royal Knights (on a side note the combined build is brilliant).

Set Name = Skeleton Surprise 6036
Piece Count = 74
Year Released = 1995

This set is a good example of the quaintness that was possible in LEGO sets, why has this lone guard been left in this spooky fort? Why is a skeleton occupying the lower floor? Why is there a mechanism in which said skeleton can swings down to unsuspecting trespassers to that lower floor?

It’s all a little eccentric but fun, the fort itself is sturdy and the parts it is made of are very useful for any Moc’er or someone wishing to expand their own castle. I like sets that have the potential to be used for other things and this set will go very well alone or as a guard house to a village or castle, if only the knight came with a sword rather than a spear I would give it top marks as a small set.


Set Name = King’s Carriage 6044
Piece Count = 124
Year Released = 1995

A King’s got to have a way to move around in luxury and he’s also got to be protected so on the fact that the set is carriage and that it contains a generous number of bodyguards (even if they are crusaders in disguise) the set wins points, I also an a huge fan of the cloth pennant, the two horses and the accessories (goblet and treasure for example).

However the carriage itself is a rather gaudy and blocky, its scale is also off with that of the castle and the blue, yellow, black colour scheme is horrible. It’s a real shame because I love everything about the set when you look at what it contains, but I just don’t like the build, this is a good example of how designs will always beat gimmick (which is why LEGO will always come out on top over Mega Blocks, P.S sorry for swearing).

Set Name = Royal Drawbridge 6078
Piece Count = 258
Year Released = 1995

I see that more crusader figs have been ‘borrowed’ for this set, and it’s a little odd to see a Dragon Master considering the last sets to include that fig had released a year earlier (so effectively that theme had been discontinued).  As for the set itself I see something of a mixed bag, the design looks very nice but it’s made from too many large parts so it feels slightly juniorised, the trap is clever but the mechanism to hold it in place is not very sturdy so you have a problem of the bridge spinning when you don’t want it too and I like the inclusion of the raft but I just fail to see why it’s needed. I also miss the inclusion of some higher ranking Royal Knight, the guards look a bit feeble compared to the Dragon knight and as such I see an uneven battle ahead, we also fail to receive a quiver for the crossbow (ARRRRRR).

I like the set and it’s nice to get a proper bridge to span all those imaginary rivers in the LEGO world but I see it more as an average quality set rather than one of the highflyers that is remembered for years to come.


Set Name = Royal Knights Castle 6090
Piece Count = 764
Year Released = 1995

Now we come to the flagship set, the big one, the set that this ‘so called’ King states his claim to royalty on, The Royal Knights Castle. And what an impressive place for a King! It is one of the Largest Castles available and was defiantly the biggest set to appear up to this point for the castle theme.

So many parts of this set are unique, useful or exciting, the base plate, corner walls with windows, horses barding, large flag and King’s cape all cannot be found anywhere else (I think correct me if I am wrong).

Minifigs wise the set is also brilliant you receive a pleasant and varied number of troops, no longer are the figs only distinguished by their weaponry and helms but they also receive a slightly varied torso printing (white for archers, red for swordsmen and chainmail for spearmen). Three horses is a nice start to any Calvary and the inclusion of both a ghost and skeleton makes this castle the most haunted structure to date. It should also be noted that this set is the only example of Knights for the whole of the Royal Knights theme, I am really not a fan of the red gloved one as I feel he is touching a little too close to the jelly bean knights that came later (to be reviewed later also) but I can appreciate the inclusion of both of them in this set.

As for the design of the castle you can see that it is very appealing, the castle gates and portcullis are nice (though I would have liked the drawbridge at the front of the castle) and the splashes of grey offset the black nicely so that this castle look somewhat different to the Black Knights structures which also used a similar colour scheme. I am not the biggest fan of some of the gimmicks in this set, I don’t like that the King’s throne trap the pop up skeleton or the ugly technic catapult but these are minor quibbles to a great set.

Personally I see this set as one of the final greats alongside that of the Black Monarchs Castle, Forestmens Fortress and Black Falcon’s Fortress, something any diehard fan should build at least once (and preferably own forever).

Faction Overhaul?

The one big question that arises with the Royal Knights is this, are they just the Crusaders repackaged in a slightly different formula?

That’s a hard one to answer, when I initially went back to look at my Royal Knights, I realised that the majority (meaning all) of them had been mixed in with the Crusaders, both Factions were aligned side by side defending each other’s castles, swapping gear, carrying each other’s banners and generally getting on like a pair of non-identically twins. This faction have a clearer motive running through them (do whatever the King says) were as the Crusaders where always a little harder to read in terms of motive and drive but looking at both themes I feel (to me personally) that the Royal Knights are always remembered as the 90’s Crusaders but that the Crusaders are always seen as the royal faction. Really to me both factions have become one.

So that leads me to my next question, is that a bad thing? Did LEGO waste time and resources simply making the same thing twice? Well to that I can say absolutely no; to think that the continuation of a good thing is a ‘waste of time’ is nonsense, to follow that train of logic there would be no need for a second year wave (or third year wave) for any theme ever. I see the Royal Knights simply as a further wave of Crusaders that took a little longer to come out, but with the inclusion of the Royal Castle, that wait was well worth it.

As always thank you very much for reading.

Next time I go back to LEGO Castles Roots (pun intended).