I've always only seen this set in those little catalogues that used to come with sets or more recently on sites like Brickset. The set looked appealing to me and after nearly 18 years I've finally been able to get myself a MISB copy of it. Read on to find out all there is to know about the often overlooked Fire Breathing Fortress, the largest set in the Dragon Knights theme.
Set # - 6082
Name - Fire Breathing Fortress
Theme/Subtheme - Castle/Dragon Knights
Year - 1993
Piece Count - 393
Minifigures - 6
Price - MSRP $64 US
Brickset, Peeron, Bricklink, Brickshelf
The front of the box depicts the fortress on some sort of very high mountain top. This is set against a lovely orange and yellow sky as we can see far off into the distance. Note the emblem at the top right - while the theme is commonly known as Dragon Knights, the box refers to them as Dragon Masters. Missing from the front of the box is the set name, piece count and age recommendation. The set name is found on the top of the box while the piece count is found on the bottom. There is a warning that the small parts are not suitable for children under 3 years of age, however there is no other age recommendation present!
As expected for a set of this time, the back of the box is host to an assortment of alternate models. Some of these are actually pretty decent, shame there are no instructions for them
My favorite feature of these old boxes is the front flap that can be lifted up. The pictures highlight several of the play functions of the set. Also present is a small motivational set up story for the set.
Here's a close up of the story:
Under the flap are some clear plastic windows that allow you to see some of the contents of the box. The window to the left displays a number of interesting and exciting parts. The other window shows off some bagged parts.
Sliding the cardboard tray out of the box gives us a better view of its contents. Thanks to this style of box everything is nicely packed and nothing gets damaged. The plastic on the display tray has started to peel away but no harm has come to the parts.
Safely tucked away underneath everything is all the paper work. Here we've got a poster, the instruction manual, a subscription offer to the magazine of the time, a flyer advertising some sets, and a lovely cloth flag.
The back of the instruction manual has a slightly different picture than on the front, and at one corner is a points token that could be cut off and used to help qualify for the Lego club of the time.
Here are two random pages from the instruction manual. The page to the left shows what most of the build was like - there were no piece call outs and often 10+ pieces were added every step. Sometimes there would be arrows that point out where parts go if the view is obscured. The page to the right shows one of the few sub-models. As mentioned, the pace of the build is very fast - there are a lot of parts added every step and you have to pay close attention to spot where they go sometimes. I personally think this makes the build a lot more fun and it also allows the manual to be a minuscule 26 pages long. Colour differentiation is a no brainer as they're all perfectly represented. Some parts appear in multiple colours, but identifying the proper one to use is never a problem. I miss manuals like these...
The set also comes with a beautiful fold out poster. This thing measures approx. 16x22" and features a variety of castle sets on the front side (pictured) and many other sets that were available at the time on the back.
Here are the contents from the display tray. Printed parts include the lovely wall and arch as well as the scroll. We've also got the head knight and his amazing cape, Majisto the wizard and his beard and glow in the dark wand, the dragon's torso, the distinct red roof, and some other stuff.
The set contains seven bags of parts. Loose in the box were two LURPs, a rare stair piece, and a 1x16 beam.
The contents of panel 1 were loose in the box (same as above), while 2-4 were the largest bags. They contain many arch pieces of varying sizes, wall pieces, turret tops in two sizes, some plant life, other large bricks, some minifig torsos, dragon limbs, a horse, and some accessories. Not a bad little castle building kit.
The four physically smallest bags are stuffed full of more pieces. 1 contains loads of basic bricks and blocks as well as some accessories and weapons. 2 has got a wide variety of useful parts, including a set of large brown doors. 3 gives us the bulk of our minifig legs, and well are other parts. 4 contains the smallest pieces and more interestingly it also has two swords, a bow and arrow, and a quiver.
The fortress comes with three "generic" soldiers. These guys are admittedly pretty cool though. The printing on the torso is really nice - the big belt and dragon head look great. The red, blue, grey, and black colour scheme is simple but eye catching. All three figs have the same head, but thanks to the different weapon and helmet combinations they all seem unique.
The pimped out guy on the left has an interesting torso print with metallic shoulder armour. He has a large helmet with three small holes to allow those yellow accessories to be attached. Note his lovely bright shield and cape. In the middle is the infamous Majisto along with his glow in the dark wand and crystal ball. To the right is the lone wolfpack minifigure. None of the minifigures have back printing as such as technique wasn't done at the time.
Here are some extra shots of the awesome uber knight and his sweet cape
The Dragon Knights theme introduced the dragon figure. His mouth, arms, tail, and wings can all be repositioned. Studs on his back allow a minifigure or anything else to be attached.
The set also includes a horse. He can carry around some flags and a weapon. Note his dragon-esq head protection.
And of course here are all of the figures together.
As with most sets that are built on one of these raised baseplates, you start the build by placing supports around at the back. A support is also placed in the large pit. These allow the fortress to have greater floorspace.
This is literally 2 steps later. As you can see, the build progresses quite quickly. At this point the base has been rotated around as well. At the back we can see a low wall has been built. Note the two hinge pieces - a secret wall will later attach onto these.
The main doors have been added. At the back the prison is being built. The first of two LURPs has been put in place.
Here is the secret wall/entrance. It is eventually pretty well hidden/integrated with the fortress.
From a different angle, the second LURP is added - this one will host a large tree.
Here is the current view of the back/side of the fortress, we can see that the staircase has been added.
Everything has been built up some more, many large arches have been added. At the back some red roofing has been put in place.
Back/side view again, showing the distinct red roof that is used throughout the dragon knights theme.
A treasure chest is filled with some rubies and emeralds. This fits in nicely at the base of either LURP. The dragon can fit nicely in the pit and protect the treasure.
The trap door at the top of the fortress is built. It is simply built out of a couple technic beams, a plate, and some pins, but it works very well.
The rest of the roof plates are added, as are the turret pieces. There is a lot of floor place on this level.
Here is another view of the roof, this time the supports for the tower have been placed. Tucked away in there is a small fireplace.
The tower is a sub model that is then placed accordingly. The lower black round 1x1 is the top of a chimney, while the top one will soon hold a flag pole.
The fortress at this point. It's looking great and is just about done. Note the finished tree.
The dragon head is yet another sub model. More on how this works later.
The dragon head attaches thanks to a technic beam. This allows the head to pivot.
Alt. views 1 (front and right side)
Alt. views 2 (back and left side)
Complete set. Doesn't it look nice?
Play features and other details
Here we have the secret entrance all closed up.
The entire wall piece can be pulled down to allow entrance or exit from the fortress.
Around at the back of the fortress is the prison. In this case the sneaky wolfpack figure can be locked up. The cell is pretty cramped, but one can't really expect a medieval prison to be very comfy.
There is an entire brick built bar underneath the trap door that normally keeps it up and flush with the rest of the second story. Pull the bar back and the giant trap door drops. You could drop an entire army or guys through this thing! Down to the dragon below!
Here is a video of the trap door in action:
The dragon head is filled with four grey 1x1 bricks that are sitting on the tongue. There is a spear that runs through the side of the dragons head that keeps the tongue level and in place. When you pull the spear our, the tongue can then drop down and released the "boulders" upon unsuspecting intruders. Here's another video:
Majisto can stand up in his tower and cast spells on those below. There is no ladder up to the tower, but we all know ladders are a rarity among Lego structures. Besides, Majisto is a wizard, he can just used magic to get up there.
There are many clips spread around that can be used to hold weapons. Note again all the lovely floor space on the second level (and that ridiculously huge - but very well hidden trap door)
On the way up the stairs is a hook to hang whatever you want... such as a bow and arrow.
Design/Build: This certainly is not your generic looking, boring castle. In fact, this fortress is quite unlike any other Lego castle. The fortress has some good height to it and despite its relatively small size seems pretty imposing. While I say relatively small size, this is in comparison to say the Royal Knights Castle, or most modern castles. I must admit though that the fortress is larger in person than I thought it would be after all of these years of seeing it in pictures. It's quite attractive looking from just about any angle and has a nice organic feel to it. The red roofs contrast nicely. Though there is a lack of a ladder to the top tower, the rest of the set is logically laid out and makes for a good defensive fort. The build is a lot of fun and takes longer than modern sets of similar pieces counts. This extended build time is due not only to how the instructions are laid out, but the design of the castle is deceptively complex. A complete lack of any sort of repetition makes this an utter joy to assemble!
Pieces: Though the piece count is relatively low for this being the largest set in a theme, this is still a wonderful castle parts kit. At first glance it appears that the castle is made up of only large parts, but there are in fact loads of regular bricks and blocks used throughout. There are not a lot of printed parts, but the ones that are included look great. There are no stickers. The fortress could benefit from an additional minifigure, but the current 6 is respectable considering the size of the set and the piece count. The included minifigures look great and the dragon is very cool.
Playability: Wow, a castle that doesn't have a single catapult! That's right, the playability comes from a secret wall, a boulder launching dragon head, and a massive trap door! The dragon head and trap door are actually very satisfying (the dragon head is a bit fiddly to reload) In addition to these, there are plenty of other details and things to keep you busy. Top marks!
Verdict: This set is often overlooked and referred to as the castle that was "the beginning of the end" in terms of quality castle designs (even though Royal Knights Castle, one of the finest castles ever made, as well as Fright Knights which really were pretty good came afterwards) but this fortress is actually really neat. I've been wanting to get my hands on this set for nearly 18 years and I'm not disappointed at all - the set is far better than I thought it would be. The design is very unique and the set offers loads of playability - the best of both worlds for any Lego fan.
As always, comments and questions are more than welcome. Cheers!
Edited by Rufus, 21 May 2011 - 05:12 PM.