Here it is, another review of the smallest summer 2009 Castle set that most people hated so much from just the picture.
Title: King's Battle Chariot
Set #: 7078
Theme: Castle/Fantasy Era
Price at Release: USD $19.99, EU €20,00-ish
Buy It? Inventory? LEGO Bricklink Peeron
Like Svelte_Corps says in the introduction to his fabulous review of 7097 Trolls' Mountain Fortress, this set has also been hated since the time some preliminary pictures were released. Then, when the mostly completed set was shown at Toy Fair, even more people jumped aboard the "OMG 7078 is so awful" train. They said it was so overpriced, with just 103 pieces for 20 bucks. They said even for that amount of pieces it looked badly designed, and not very thought out. The only good thing I personally read someone say about this set was that it comes with two orc shields. That was it, just the shields.
Well, I didn't know how I felt about. I don't buy a lot of Castle (the only other Fantasy Era sets I have are 7040 Dwarves' Mine Defender and 7091 Knights' Catapult Defense), so I didn't really care one way or another about this set. It did seem overpriced, but lots of sets are these days.
Anyway, I was in New York over the weekend so I popped into the big Toys R Us in Times Square. Just as I'd expected, they had the new Space Police, City, and Agents, but not many copies of the new Castle sets. But there were two crushed copies of 7078 King's Battle Chariot, and they were marked down to $16.90! Although that's not really so much of a bargain, I can never resist things that are marked down. Without a second's thought, I grabbed it and bought it.
Pardon the wooden floor in these pictures. I did not want to carry the box with me from New York, so I had to take the pictures where I was staying there.
The front of the box shows a cute little scene. The design of the grassy rocks and stone road is a lovely artwork. The set itself already looks a bit small though, and it says 103 pieces right there, which is a giveaway that there will be a few less pieces than expected in a $20 set.
The back of the box has more lovely artwork that continues onto the flap. There are two little inserts, not really showing play features, because there are none. It's hard to tell from the picture, but it was a real struggle to get the box open. What happened to the great punch holes?
The top side of the box does not show all the minifigures, just the king in actual scale and the king again fighting with an orc. Also of note, no parts of this set were made in China, for any of you who care (I do a bit).
On another side of the box, there was this game ad. I wonder when we can expect to see the game.
The instructions were not horribly mangled, just folded neatly in half. The front has the same art as the front of the box.
The first two pages. Nice and neat, good color distinction, although black and dark bley blend together just a little.
Here is another nice page featuring the built set with its box, the other two summer sets, and that same little ad for the Castle game.
Ok, on to the plastic part of the set as opposed to the paper and cardboard parts.
First, the minifigures from the front. The trolls and regular crownie have been seen before, but it's always nice to have more of them and to get the copper-helmeted troll with an alternative orc torso. The masterpiece of the minifigures is the king, who comes with beautiful armor, torso printing, and leg printing. He also has a dark blue plume...delicious!
My my, the king also has a wonderful back printing! That furry part of his cloak makes him look so kingly!
In sum, the minifigures in this set are absolutely wonderful. The king is fabulous beyond description, and the others are great to have as well.
MINIFIGURE Special Section: KING
I read on one of the forums that people were annoyed that LEGO put "yet another" king into a set. Those people wished there were just more crownies in this set, and no beautiful king that can easily be afforded. Well, lets take a look at how our newly outfitted king holds up with kings of the past ten years.
From left to right, King Leo of KK1(sorry, I could not find his crown, but it's quite worn anyway), King Mathias of KK2, and our new king, of Castle.
The new king is a lot more exciting with his dark blue and back printing. King Leo does have nice leg printing, but the gray just does not compare to royal dark blue. Plus, our new king has beautifully printed armor and a plume!
Now, let me show you a few things that you can create with pieces from the new king, to further show you how great he is.
Firstly, two semi-obvious Castle minifigures: a crownie in armor with a lovely sash and dark blue plume, and a dwarf in a kingly robe.
But then I got to thinking, and I realized that you can even use the king's torso for city-themed characters, like so:
You couldn't have made that guy with King Mathias' torso.
I hope these few thoughts about the king further convinces you (WhiteFang) of this minifigure's beauty.
Yes, they get their own section. Here is where we see that there are two, not one, two! orc shields. We also get some dark grey long poles (I still think they should have never left the Orient), four differently colored gems, a chrome gold broadsword, a bow, and two dark Reown (reddish-brown) spears. It seems LEGO likes its dark brown spears, because it put them in the Mountain Fortress too. I have to wonder though, why did the trolls have those cool metal chipped swords before, but now revert back to wooden spears? While LEGO did put some chipped swords in the even newer Trolls' Battle Pack, the spears were still an odd choice in this set. They are nice to have though.
We also get a horse (I consider it a minifig accessory). It comes with bricks to fill it in when it's not attached to the chariot.
The back of the box shows the king riding the horse, even though there's no saddle.
A great accessory collection, especially for just four minifigures.
Who needs a picture of the parts list in the instructions when I set all of them up so nicely? Even sorted by color. The color variety is very nice. It's great to get gold, brown, and especially dark blue!
And don't forget the extra piece
Ok, you're ready, let's put those pieces together! (Does that sound corny to you too?) I took pictures of every fourth step after the fifth one, don't ask why!
In 5 steps, we have:
9 steps. Weapons and horse attacher added, plus the first panel of what will be the floor of the chariot.
13 steps. Mmm... dark blue added.
17 steps. More dark blue is added, starting to build the walls of the chariot. The gems (and extra piece) have been put in the gold chest. This king must be filthy rich to have all that gold plated stuff.
21 steps. The chariot part itself is mostly done, now with gold flags and a two-high wall.
While in between steps 22 and 23, you build the horse attaching part. I find it funny that the instructions have to show you that you must take out that white brick from the horse before putting the different part on.
23 steps. It's just missing the metallic bow.
I also find step 25 odd in the instructions. Firstly, I thought that usually nothing was added in the last step but the minifigures, but here the bow is attached. Also, why is the king in the front manning the bow, while the soldier is standing in the rear? I would think the other way around would make more sense, but maybe this is a king who likes to be right out there in the action.
The build does not take very long, so it is not boring and it is not repetitive.
Now I'll critique how the set is once it is built.
First, the left side. From this angle, it is a nice looking chariot, with good colors and nice big wheels. I put the king in back and soldier in front, the way I would have thought to. Perhaps two horses would have been better for the comparatively large chariot, but I think it's ok. The set is symmetrical, so there is no need for two side pics.
Front. Yes, the angle is a bit funny, but the chariot does look a bit imposing when viewed head on.
Back. Here's an obvious flaw, what's holding the chest in on the back. If the chariot zoomed forward, wouldn't the chest fly right out?
Above. Here we see that there is really not so much space in the chariot, and it is hard to put the king and soldier in many different positions when they're holding their accessories.
I know this is not a traditional section of a review, but I want to spend time on this, so I created this section.
First, I mentioned above that there is nothing holding the chest on the back of the chariot except LEGO studs, which don't exist in real life anyway (sorry kids!). Why couldn't LEGO have added one more gold rail thing to the back, to make the chest look safe? The way it is now, this could happen:
Another flaw is that there is no designed way for the minifigures to enter the chariot except by the hand of G-D.
The poles leading up the flags also block the vision of the minifigures inside, so an orc could climb up.
For a battle chariot, the whole thing seems a bit under-armed. The only armed part of the chariot is the spears and crossbow. I wonder why LEGO did not rig it with play features like flick-fire missiles, that shooting system they use on the Troll Warship, or some regular flick-catapult. Not that I mind not having those, I really don't. It's nice to have a simpler model without those play features, but I still can wonder why LEGO opted not to have them. It's not like they were over their piece per price limit.
Since there are no things to flick or fire, one must be imaginative with the armament of the chariot. For instance...
1. An orc warrior is standing ready to jump on the approaching chariot.
Looks like the King's Chariot had that attack covered!
2. Two orcs fear the King's Chariot, so they run for their lives.
Good thing the king had that crossbow installed!
3. This time, the orcs decide to attack from above. The king wasn't ready for that.
The best thing about this set, hands-down, is the minifigures. They are beautiful. The accessories for them are also really great, a big plus for this set. The color scheme and parts selection is quite good, but it is at least 50 pieces under what is today the standard of price-per-piece. There are also a bunch of flaws in the design, as I demonstrated above. So, am I happy I bought this set? Yes, I am. The minifigures alone are worth the $20, and the chariot is a nice addition to the myriad of other crowny vehicles already available. The Castle line was crying for a vehicle for the king, and it got an acceptable one.
Minifigures: 10/10 - I think you know my feelings about them by now.
Pieces: 8.5/10 - Great color scheme and selection, but not enough.
Build: 9/10 - Not repetitive, and you can't really expect a long build in a $20 set.
Playability: 8.5/10 - Apart from rolling it around and banging little plastic men together, there isn't much to do.
Price: 8/10 - You can't expect this to be a $10 set, even though $10 would fit the 103 pieces. The finished model is bigger than that of a $10 set, and the minifigures are awesome. Throughout the years, LEGO has always considered a variety of factors when pricing a set, so $20 is not so bad.
Overall: 8.8/10 - A calculated average says "this set is most likely worth getting." Although I've given you this advice, the best way to find out if you will like this set is to buy it and see it yourself!
I hope you enjoyed my review, and learned something about a set that so many people hated.