Closes May 31st:

Competition: make a LEGO font

5 February 2014

Castle meets Space

On reviewing and rebuilding duty today we have James Pegrum, a prolific builder famed for his British history series (his model of WWII code-breaking computer Colossus sits on display in Bletchley Park next to the real thing!) and his realistic Castle builds. At 2013's STEAM exhibit in Swindon, UK, he built the massive castle and grounds for The Land of Tigelfah group display and recently he's entered seven categories in CCC XI (the eleventh annual Colossal Castle Contest). Given these honourable credentials I thought it would be interesting, or perhaps horribly cruel, to send him 70806 Castle Cavalry.



Anyone who says you can’t like the two classic evergreen LEGO® themes of Castle and Space may be interested in the way the Designers have combined both themes in this one set from The LEGO Movie. At first glance it looks very much like a spaceship (possibly inspired by the podracers in Star Wars I). When you take a longer look at the box you will notice that it is in fact two models in one, with the second model being a castle gatehouse.

In recent years I have tended to leave my set building to my two boys (aged 5 and 8).  So in this tradition we have done the same with this set.  It would be fair to say that as they have been surrounded by so much LEGO from birth, they are probably able to make sets with an age mark beyond their own ages. So with this set being for 8 to 14 year-olds it was going to be interesting to see how well they got on.

I gave them the choice as to which model to build first and was a little disappointed to hear that they wanted to build the spaceship first.  But given that it is the main model on the box and comes first in the instructions, their choice was not overly surprising. They both liked the look of the set and the fact that two models could be made from it.  This versatility takes me back to my younger days in the 1980s when the sets always had other ideas of models on the back on the box. As a child I liked those alternates and it’s what encouraged me to build my own ideas. As a parent I like the idea of sets encouraging children to use their imagination. I’ve heard a number of fellow parents say that their children never break their models up, which to me sounds sacrilegious!

Micro Manager and Spaceship


The boys opened up the bags and got building, with no help from Dad!  Before I really knew what had happened the minifigures were made and they were making good progress with the Micro Manager’s claw. I needed to give a little bit of help with the hinges and they soon moved on to the main build.  My oldest son took charge here and found the model easy enough and gave help to his younger brother when they got to making the wing/engine sections.  I took great pleasure in seeing them make the model, with next to no help from me.


It’s a nice model, but doesn't come with a great deal of play features; just some shooters and catapults. Aesthetically, it is dominated by the two Light Bluish Gray [BL]/Medium Stone Grey [TLG] castle wall panels, part 30246, which TLG amusingly name the "French Tower", ooh la la. This is a part that I have found little use for myself over the years and haven’t seen too many times in other people’s Castle MOCs; I wonder whether those space fans will give it a go?

I thought the detailing at the rear of the model looked pretty cool though.



The Castle Gatehouse


Having made the spaceship we then had to break it up and start on the second model. Interestingly, as we were breaking it up, they wanted to have a go at making their own model from the parts! But New Elementary had definitely assigned that particular task to Dad, as you'll see in a bit. By the time we had all helped with the break up my youngest son had lost interest and so my oldest boy was left to crack on while I filled the role of parts monkey.

As with the spaceship the build was easy enough for him and he had the model built in good time. Whilst he had been building I had kept an eye on the parts being used, wondering whether this second model would use all of them; at the end I was impressed with how few parts hadn’t been included. The Micro Manager is a separate build though, so you can include it with both models.



My oldest boy particularly liked the lock on the gates along with how the two towers had differing features. On the downside, he wasn’t too impressed with the stability of the cart-come-catapult, which I have to agree on; the design is a bit on the weak side. But overall, having built the two models, we were all pleased enough with the set and impressed they were both made from pretty much the same set of parts. I may find myself having to go out and get some of the other models now!

Parts


We all have differing reasons for buying sets. For me, it's all about those parts that are new or useful for me in my own models.  So when looking at this set I saw the flags straight away and was hopeful that the crown emblem would be printed on them; I was disappointed to find a pack of stickers in the box instead. As personal preference I don’t use stickers and they get put away with the box, so unfortunately I didn’t get a new flag for my castle builds. The minifigs were equally disappointing for me, being made of the same parts as 2013's Castle line minifigures, although I guess this consistency is good for kids who own those sets. The (modern day) damsel in distress contains the only elements exclusive to this set: her head and torso. So, a disappointing set for new parts.

The one part that did excite me was the 2X3 plate in Dark Tan [BL]/Sand Yellow [TLG], although this came out in 2013 in three sets.  But most of the parts are relatively common; depending on what you like there may be some things that interest you such as the Reddish Brown quarter-circle fence (part 30056), which has only appeared in a handful of expensive sets to date, but there's only one in this set.

Alternate model


1282AD, Forest of Dean, England. War has broken out again between King Edward I and the Welsh. As part of the war preparations, timber and charcoal are being collected from the Forest of Dean near the border of England and Wales. Two knights visit Thomas Swángeréfa for a report and are greeted by Thomas's wife, Emma.

Emma Swángeréfa tells the knights that she has not seen her husband for some days and that a Welsh war party had been seen near by; maybe he has been taken or killed by them?


Unbeknownst to the knights, this story is a cover-up. Emma, having been born in Wales, remained loyal to her roots and murdered her husband to put a thorn in the English's war efforts. Once dead, she burnt him in the charcoal burner of their cottage. The knights leave satisfied with the story and without giving thought to the skull and bones outside the cottage.




Our thanks to LEGO's Community and Events Engagement Team for providing these sets.

70806 Castle Cavalry retails at US$29.99/GB£24.99.

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Castle Cavalry
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LEGO The LEGO Movie 70806: Castle Cavalry

2 comments:

  1. Good review, and imaginative alternate build. Not much focus on new parts, but there's not a lot to focus on — if I'm not mistaken, only the face and torso of Sharon Shoehorn are brand-new, and those are fairly generic, seemingly by design.

    Still, the model does a great job using existing parts in new ways, which is basically the idea behind a 2-in-1 model. The use of carriage wheels and towers as engines is quite clever. I think both the A and B models are great for their size. The flying machine version is delightfully whimsical, while the gatehouse manages to balance generic sorts of parts and subject matter with a design that is still wonderfully unique.

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