Last March, I got my first castle set in 20 years, the Dwarves' Mine. Since then, I've gotten Castle fever, picking up 7009, 7037, 7040, 7090, 7091, 7092, 7094, and the almighty 10193 Yesterday I got my first of the 2009 sets, the Drawbridge Defense. Having been swimming in Castle sets for the last few months, I can judge this more impartially than perhaps I did the Dwarves' Mine. Let's take a look!
Name: Drawbridge Defense
Minifigs: 7 total: Fantasy Era - Skeleton Warrior 1, Black; Fantasy Era - Skeleton Warrior 2, White; Fantasy Era - Skeleton Warrior 6, White Black Hood and Cape; Fantasy Era - Jester (Dual Sided Head); Fantasy Era - Gold Knight; Fantasy Era - Crown Queen; Fantasy Era - Crown Knight 36, Metallic Silver Helmet with Neck Protector
Price: 4,700 yen
MSP: U.S.$39.99, £26.45, euros
The box was surprisingly big, about 50% bigger than my last set at a similar price, 8036 Separatist's Shuttle. I quite like the action here, the flaming arrows, the frothy water, the knight running into battle. It's simple and nice.
The action features are on the back, plus more play concepts. I love the skeleton running off with the queen, and the traumatized jester forced to bear arms.
The figures are arranged with the knight as the sample size at 1:1.
Nothing special, same features as the back of the box, and an ad for this year's new sets.
Four numbered bags, with some bags in the bags. The only loose pieces are the oversize rock pieces.
Besides the soldier on the right, these are all new figures for me. I admit, I pre-ordered it when I saw the jester, he's an awesome little guy. The queen has a nice tiara, and the printing is great on all of them.
No back printing for most, but the queen has a two sided head.
And the poor jester has an upset face, showing his depth as a character
The knight looks fantastic in his metallic tones. Real nice job.
On top of that, he gets a printed torso. I like the choice to make him gray-haired, it gives him sort of a grizzled Sean Connery feel.
The skeletons are pretty much what was released in 2007, but the hooded skeleton is a nice addition.
This is not an AFOL set, it's very simple to build. There are no more than 8 pieces per step, and the bags are broken down. First, bags one and two are but together to make the base of the drawbridge, and the figures. No trouble here.
The other two bags are opened, and with little trouble we come to...
The Finished Product
Head on, it doesn't look like much, but I wanted to show the amount of open space in it.
At the 3/4 view, you get a much better feel of it. It really is an upgrade from the entrance of the 7094 King's Castle Siege. I think the sets could be combined to make a really fantastic playset. The moat and walkway are modular, and easily come off.
Like most Castle sets, the back doesn't look all that great, mostly empty.
The one feature is the drawbridge, which has a really clever winch system. The blue piece locks the switch.
Lift it up to release the drawbridge.
The drawbridge is up.
Also common in these Castle sets is a loose munitions stock. I like this feature a lot.
And here it is in all its shaky-cam glory!
The Final Verdict
Design: 9/10 This is quite nicely done, and uses the modular build style that this year's Soldiers' Fort used. The slope and water are easily removed. The winch on the drawbridge is cleverly made. The castle makes a nice silhouette, and the 'water' is charming.
Build: 8/10 Not outrageously clever, but interesting, and well planned out.
Playability: 8/10 Knight and skeletons, plus some civilians. You can act out various abduction and siege scenarios.
Minifigures: 9/10 Four different figures, plus skeletons. I'm quite happy. And I love the jester. I love the jester.
Price: 9/10 Not 10 cents per piece, but there aren't so many little little pieces making up that number. A good price for a substantial set.
Overall: 9/10 This is possibly my favorite castle set. A nice size, nice price, great mini-figures, and great looking. If this is the final year for fantasy in the Castle line, then it is definitely going out in style. If fantasy is going to continue, then bring it on.
He gets what he came for.