Posted 09 February 2009 - 10:40 PM
2009 is bringing a wave of changes in TLC’s set lines – civilian and farm sets in the town line, a castle village, long awaited kits of popular Starwars movie locations and spaceships – and of course, the return of Pirates. Yes, after nearly a decade and a half, and two beyond disappointing 4+ and Duplo “pirate themes,” one of TLC’s most popular and enduring lines is finally returning with the first proper System line since 1996. Today, I’ll be bringing you a review of one of the largest sets in the new line, the impressive Soldier’s Fort.
Name - Soldier's Fort
Set Number – 6242
Year – 2009
Theme - Pirates
Pieces – 367
Minifigures – 6, plus two animals
Age Recommendation – 6 to 12 years
Price – $49.99 USD / 51.99 EUR / 34.25 GPB
The Box and Instructions:
The new pirates line has excellent boxes, and Soldier's Fort is no exception. There’s plenty of action going on in the frontal box shot, which will certainly give kids a lively and adventurous impression. I especially like the new logo – it looks like it’s made up of driftwood and bones. Also, up at the top-right corner, you can see the label pointing out that this kit has a “modular build,” and is “easy start.” The first we already know is true, but will the second hold steady as well?
On the back of the box, you have a smaller action scene, shots showing the action features and modular system, a small corner shot of the big Pirate ship of the line, and my favorite - an impressive array of accessories. Note however that since the keys come attached to a plastic sprue, you get two instead of the single one pictured on the box.
The instructions are arguably as good as the box art – the steps are simple and easy to follow, there’s very little color confusion, and the instructions have a weathered parchment look, complete with a “rolled up” part in some of the corners.
The Pieces and Minifigures:
One of the unfortunate weak points in this set is the low piece count for the price, which seems to be more a sign of the times than a notable exception to the rule (this problem is widespread through much of the 2009 lego line). Still, you do get some great pieces in this kit, both old and new. Bits I found interesting include one of the new iron bar doors introduced in 2008, a light grey iron bar window, a new fortress wall that is completely square, a large dark blue plate, a street lamp pole, and a brand new flag. Unfortunately, the flag is plastic, not cloth, probably no doubt because cloth is far more expensive to make than plastic. Also, for some reason TLC decided that it was a good idea to print their copyright ON the flag. That’s very disappointing, but at least it’s not as noticeable as it is on the Pirate ship’s sails (yes, they have the same problem ).
On a much more positive note, Soldiers Fort is absolutely loaded with accessories. A cannon, three flags, a telescope, a piece of dynamite, a torch, two muskets, two pistols, two cutlasses, two keys, two oars, three barrels, a fish, a banana, three jewels, and a treasure chest filled with coins! It’s a proverbial boatload, and there’s a great mix of old and new molds. The pearl grey cannon and the fish are especially wonderful.
Now, the figures! 6242 contains 6 figures – four Imperials and two pirates. I’ll start off with the imperials. As you can see, they are very sharp, with their bright uniforms and printed hats. I love the new plume, and the exclusive Governor figure is outstanding.
Even better is the fact that the backs are printed! Love the satchels and coat buttons.
Next, the pirates. Captain Brickbeard, while a very nice figure, is the only figure in the new line that you really need only one of, so it’s disappointing that he appears in more sets than any other figure. Still, he is wonderful, and it’s great to see the return of the peg leg and hook molds. Oh, and we also get a generic pirate. Love the new face and torso, which both look especially manly.
Again, printed backsides. Brickbeard has a coat buckle!
Finally, it’s worth mentioning that you get two animals in this set – a dark green crocodile and a monkey. Lego monkeys continue to look bizarre with their yellow hands, but it adds to the cartoony feel. Note that I didn’t include the fish in this picture, because he’s obviously dead and only ranks as an accessory in my mind.
The Building Process:
Since the box advertises this set to be an “easy start,” most would assume that the kit is fairly simple to build. And they’d be right. 6242 is really a breeze to put together – with one notable exception. You should have noticed by now that the Soldier’s Fort includes crane, and that unfortunately means tying a string to the ends of the hook and winch. Now, I know that this was necessary to achieve that function, but I highly doubt an average young kid would be able to tie the ultra-thin string included through the tiny holes. Even I had trouble with this, which was why I got my mom to do this part for me (women have more delicate and precise fingers than us men ). Otherwise though, the building went off without a hitch.
The Finished Model:
I’ll start off with the smallest and most simple component, the Pirate rowboat. It’s great to see this mold back, and IMO it looks fine in the new brown color. Also, the flag looks good to me, even though it has a more cartoonish skull. There’s no real build here, however, although as an interesting note, the instructions mistakenly tell you to attach the flag to the FRONT of the boat, which just looks weird. Another note is that Brickbeard can’t actually sit down in the boat, due to his peg leg.
Now, onto the real meat of this set – the fort itself. It’s fairly impressive, and is bigger in real life than it may look on the box.
First, let’s take a look at the jail cell. I like the little lanterns on the edges of the walls. Unfortunately, the brick wall patterns are stickers, which makes this the only kit in the line to have a DSS. Still, this does mean that the walls are more useable than if they were printed.
One of the neat features is that the jail cell has a slide away wall, which allows for both easy play and a good overall look (I for one am getting a bit annoyed with lego jail cells that don’t actually have any backs). There’s not really anything inside the cell, but that’s probably fairly accurate for this time period.
Oh, and did I mention that there’s also a spider web sticker? This is nice, as the actual lego spider web part is way too big for a scene like this.
On top of the jail cell, there’s a nice spot for a rotating cannon, which also has two cannonballs and, oddly, an old style “torch.” Considering that there’s a much better torch in this kit as well, I don’t understand why they added that. Also, you may not know that the turntable is the free-swerve type rather than a clicking interval type, and it is actually a special base attached to one of the new circular plates. That makes it less tall than earlier turntables, which could be useful.
Next, here’s the small part with the palm tree and a little bridge. I honestly feel that this bridge may be nicest part of the entire kit – it just is so effective and neatly designed. Unfortunately, the palm tree is the awful single-piece trunk type. Oh well, at least the leaves are separate…
A cool feature not on the box is the ability to lift the palm tree base up, revealing a small hideaway with three jewels inside.
The third part of the fort is this area with a small shack-like construction that has a barrel with a fish under it. The flagpole is attached to the very corner, and there’s a Brickbeard wanted poster sticker on one of the shack’s back pillars.
Finally, the biggest part of the fort, the tower with the crane. Some black dock ends and hanging flags are nice touches.
Unfortunately, there’s nothing much inside, other than an admittedly nice ale barrel with a tap. Please ignore the spiderweb – it’s actually supposed to be inside the jail cell, but I didn’t notice I had used that particular stickered piece in the tower until after I had built the kit for the second time.
And of course, the crane. Despite the difficulty in attaching the string, this actually looks fairly nice, and it does offer a fair amount of playability.
One final note regarding this set is the aformentioned modularity that is incorporated in this set. As you can see here, the fort breaks up into four sections, which are connected together with technic pins. This means two things - the fort can be aranged in different positions, and it will be fairly easy for fans to build their own interconnecting additions for the fort. I think this is a great new approach to Imperial forts, and I hope that TLC releases more modular buildings to add to this set.
The Model In Action:
Today, Port Regal has received some special guests. A Spanish trading ship has arrived at the docks, carrying plenty of booty from the New World. Governor Hastings welcomes them eagerly, hoping to score some more gold for himself. But, in the midst of this friendly meeting, the notorious Captain Brickbeard is sneaking into the port, hoping to steal all the Aztec riches for himself! “I’ll get me plunder, or ye ship shall burn to rubble!” the captain whispers, glancing at the dynamite he has aboard his boat with glee.
Presentation – 10/10
Pieces – 8/10 (stickers, one piece palm tree trunks, and the poor quality of the flags take some points off)
Minifigs – 10/10
Model – 8/10 (great, but could be better)
Playability – 9/10
Price – 5/10 (Very expensive)
Overall Rating – 8.3/10
Soldier’s Fort is hardly the perfect kit. The model is a bit simple, the quality of some of the pieces is not the greatest, and the price is very high. But, considering that Pirates have been gone for over a decade and a half, this kit and the others in the line are a breath of fresh air. Get it on sale, or get it normally, but I highly urge you to buy this kit if you’re a Pirate fan, or a fan of good lego in general.
Brickshelf gallery for this review (when public)
Brickset entry for set 6242
Bricklink entry for set 6242
Posted 09 February 2009 - 11:16 PM
This is my favorite of the pirate sets (not counting the soldier impulse set) and on my "to buy list". The more I see of this set, the more I want it.
Posted 09 February 2009 - 11:17 PM
Posted 09 February 2009 - 11:17 PM
(_)The guy who thinks Epaullettes are awesome(_)
Posted 10 February 2009 - 12:32 AM
I hate the hideous palmtree, and that there are stickers, but I much prefer this jaildoor over the old one. Gotta get me some of those doors. Those new wall panels look more usefull than the old ones, allthough they seem less stable in a structure. And the modularity is nice as well.
Edited by Fluyt, 10 February 2009 - 12:34 AM.
Posted 10 February 2009 - 12:39 AM
While this set is definitely a bit overpriced, I still love it, especially the great minifigs. The modular aspect is wonderful and I plan on expanding my Soldiers' Fort and incorporating it into a much larger MOC.
Thanks again for the review! I'll write up a CP article for it.
Posted 10 February 2009 - 01:35 AM
I can't wait to get this set when it arrived in my country and it looks to be one of the best set ever for the Imperial Navy faction since it is able to create different modular design. For this, many hardcore collectors could easily buy up to 3 to 4 sets to build an extensive harbour. Furthermore, what I like about this set just by looking at the review is, I think I could integrate this fortress to my castle collection. Sorry if I sound a little wierd, but I do think it looks much better for this to be integrated with the Medieval Market Villiage with slight modifications. I am sure it will look nice. That will be something for me to look forward to when I am able to get hold of these.
My name is Wilhalm Bloodaxe and I am back to be part of the Ragnarök Now Redux.
Lord Kenneth Valise, Level 1 Knight, 28yrs old human
Power: 4 Health: 10/10 Gold: 10
Inventory: One potion, a Greatsword (WP: 3) and a Shield (SP: 2)
Posted 10 February 2009 - 01:45 AM
It has a nostalgic feel towards the imperial trading post, my most prized Lego set that I own.
Again, my compliments to this stellar review, Grevious
Edited by Patriot720, 10 February 2009 - 01:45 AM.
Posted 10 February 2009 - 02:51 AM
why would they do that?
oh i miss the old palm tree that you could make as tall or short as you wanted..
this must be the worst part in this set..
otherwise i love the accessories but the fort itself could have some more detail
Posted 11 September 2009 - 02:32 PM
I haven't wanted this set for two reasons - all the stickers and the single-piece palm tree trunk. However, they don't look so bad in the pictures as I thought. I'd still prefer at least the wall pieces be printed. And I really hope the multi-piece palm tree trunk shows up in future sets, not this single piece one. But that said, after seeing more pictures of this set, I might be more interested in it, especially if I could find it on sale sometime...
Posted 11 September 2009 - 02:45 PM
A very nice review too!
I got it for €40, which is 10 euros cheaper
But isn't there supposed to be another sticker on the jail wall? (the one with the counting lines and a birthday mark)
Posted 12 September 2009 - 10:47 AM
no victory without suffering,
no freedom without sacrifice.
Posted 12 September 2009 - 04:23 PM
Edited by Rick, 12 September 2009 - 04:23 PM.
Posted 15 September 2009 - 05:59 PM
its the top (and bottom :pir_laugh2:if you dont inclued the "book") of my pirate buy list, the price is a sad touch along with the palm tree.
i hope they make a proper fort with walls, even if the walls are panels it wont be too bad.
(the officer to normal ratio is up-set, but a few cannon battles and heads from the collection even out the ranks i guess).
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