Posted 01 May 2011 - 02:14 AM
Welcome, pirate fans and all. For my second and final Pirates of the Caribbean review, I'll be taking a closer look at 4183: The Mill. Even if you haven't seen Dead Man's Chest, the second installment in the PotC series, you've probably heard of the epic scene on which this set is based off of. But, is the set as epic as the scene? Let's find out.
Set Name: 4183 The Mill
Number of Pieces: 365
Number of Minifigures: 4
Price: 40 USD / 41 GBP
Theme: Pirates of the Caribbean - Dead Man's Chest
Box and contents:
If you've seen the Pirates of the Caribbean films, you'll remember this iconic scene in which Jack Sparrow, Will Turner, and Norrington fight a three-way sword duel on an old mill. The box quite obviously depicts this scene, with a soft jungle picture serving as the background for the more intense action in the foreground. As I said in my London Escape review, the dark blue box of all of the PotC sets fits really well with the theme, as well as with the crisp silver font near the top of the box.
The back of the box displays the set in a less crowded environment, with a light parchment colored background. In addition to the entire set, the back shows a few of the play features this set has to offer.
After carefully removing the tape and opening the box, the contents pour out. The first things to notice are a poster and the sticker sheet. What the poster shows is a secret for you to find out ( ), and I'm sure we've all seen the DSS (Dreaded Sticker Sheet). I'm just glad mine wasn't crumpled.
Unfortunately, the same can't be said for the two instruction booklets. Both were pretty mangled in my box, but its nothing an hour or two underneath a heavy book can't fix.
Finally, the bulk of the content. Four numbered bags hold the set's pieces, each containing its own smaller bags with smaller pieces. Having numbered bags seems just a little nonsensical for a set this size, especially since some of the builds combine more than one bag. But, I'm not complaining, I always prefer numbered bags for a quicker build.
Unfortunately, no trading card is included in this set. I've built four of the new Pirates of the Caribbean sets, and it seems to me that that only the sets from On Stranger Tides include trading cards.
Bags 1 and 2 (Tower Foundation):
The first build, the foundation of the tower, calls for both the first and second bags, which makes me wonder why they're numbered at all. Moving on, there are quite few interesting pieces within the first two bags, including the new bucket piece, the new bottle piece, a 1x1 dark blue tile with compass print, sword sheaths in brown, and a dark red 1x1 round brick with heart print. Also included is a sprue with two keys attached, a fish in metallic (not pearl) silver, and two headgears enclosed in separate polybags. Not a bad selection at all.
I am consistently wowed by these new minifigures. They're just so detailed, and it's obvious that a lot of thought was put into them. All four figures have back printing and double-sided heads, as well.
Going from left to right, Captain Jack Sparrow is probably one of the weaker minifigs of this set, but still good in itself. In his tunic attire, this Jack is very different than the one in the London Escape set (there's a comparison picture a little ways down). Like I said in the London Escape review, I don't think this face is quite right for Johnny Depp's character, and needs to be more comical looking.
Next is Norrington. This is by far my favorite fig of this set, because the designers just nailed the expression on his face. Since his decommission from the Royal Navy, Norrington has been a carefree drunkard, and I am instantly reminded of his relaxed, slightly dazed expression from Dead Man's Chest when I look at this figure. The torso and leg prints are also great (with shiny gold trimmings), and a new brown scabbard piece completes the minifig.
Second from the right is Will Turner. I can't complain about anything with this figure, but the expression isn't quite there. I think that Qui-Gon Jinn's face works a little better here (comparison shot below).
Finally, TLG was kind enough to include a fourth figure, one with far less significance in the film but still a nice addition. The front of the box calls him "Hadras", and he's one of the fishy members of Davy Jones' crew. This minifig's printing is quite nice, and there's even a new hairpiece that can be used as a common shell. Hadras wouldn't look out of place in an Atlantis MOC.
Finally, here's a comparison shot with the two versions of the Sparrow minifig (Cannibal Jack not shown), as well as Qui-Gon Jinn and Will Turner with their heads switched. Personally, I think that Qui-Gon's head works better for Will, and Will's head doesn't fit either of the two.
This is the result after the first two bags have been built. Please keep in mind that I did not use stickers on my set, so what you see here may differ from what the box shows.
It's not much yet, but the foundation for the tower is complete. I like the ruined look of it, with crumbling stone walls and overgrown plants. The shambled roof is also a nice touch.
On the reverse side, you can see a ladder leading up just inside the doorway, a barrel with a fish (I wonder how long that's been in the abandoned tower), and a bottle of rum.
Bag 3 (Complete Tower):
Spilling out the contents of the third bag, a few interesting things are to be noticed. First, there are a few of those 1x4 round plates in gold (a new piece if I'm not mistaken), as well as a neat 1x2 tile in dark brown. What's really of interest here, though, is a mysterious white box. What could it hold? We'll soon find out.
After finishing bag three, the tower is now complete. From this angle, you can see an impressive doorway, a tall tower, and the spot where bag four's build will go. The tower is a decent size, I don't think I would want it too much larger, in order to keep the price down.
Another angle. Again, I didn't use stickers, so the side looks a bit plain. I'll have to modify this a bit it make it more three-dimensional.
On the inside of the tower hangs a large gold bell. If you've seen Dead Man's Chest, it should be easy to guess that this is a play feature. By the way, that string is what was enclosed in the mysterious white box.
Allow me to explain. The string is tied to The hole on the bell, and is then looped up through the roof and back down again, and finally is wrapped around the 1x1 brick with post to stop the whole thing from moving. This effectively creates a pulley system between the bell and the other end of the string, just like in the movie.
One thing I didn't like was how the rope had to be done. I was never good at tying knots, especially with tiny string like this. It wasn't horrible, but it was a little frustrating to tie the knots onto the small pieces.
Anyway, let's see this thing in action.
Will and Jack are dueling on the roof, while Norrington cuts the rope and flies upward using the weight of the bell. On his way up, he stealthily reaches for the key while Jack is distracted!
While playing out this famous scene from PotC: DMC is fun, I have to bring up another flaw. There's no place for the minifigures to stand! I could barely fit two minifigures on the little bit of roof space, but there definitely should be some stairs and platforms coiling around the inside of the tower, even if it means widening the entire thing. More modifications, I suppose.
Bag 4 (Wheel):
The fourth and final bag doesn't contain any pieces of interest, but the build makes up for it. See, you build these separate planks and connect them all via hinge bricks, so it looks like a railroad track. Add the supports, and then roll it up to form a wheel! This build, to me, was extremely satisfying and fun, not to mention that the wheel is well built.
Now, once the wheel is built, you just set it on the little V-shaped supports as shown. The wheel is loose, and the little Technic holder pins work well to make the whole thing spin smoothly on the supports. It's even fun to just pick up the wheel and spin it between your fingers.
Oh, that's not all it does. On the backside, there's a lever touching the wheel. If you push down on one end of it, the other end raises, and...
..off it goes! This play feature works really well, and the wheel, naturally, rolls quite far on its own. I'd go far enough to say that this is one of the best Lego play features ever.
Here are the leftover pieces. An extra compass and key, nice!
Finally, here's the complete set. It's very impressive, at least from the outside. I'll summarize below.
To close the review, here are the final ratings, the grading of the set.
Build/Design: 6/10. Decent, but not outstanding. I really wish more of an interior would've been included, as well as a more detailed exterior (although the doorway is very cool). What didn't bring this score lower was the wheel, which was extremely fun to build.
Playability: 9/10. Superb. The bell feature is a little awkward to set up with minifigures, but works all the same. The wheel, on the other hand, is a blast to play with. The minifigures also provide playability, so you can reenact that epic three-way duel in Dead Man's Chest.
Minifigures: 10/10. I really can't complain here. I would've been alright with just the sword-fighting trio, but the fish guy was a very nice addition. Perhaps if this set was larger, the two "comedy-relief" pirates would've been included, too.
Parts: 3/5. There aren't many special parts that you can't find in the other PotC sets, but they all serve a purpose for this set one way or another.
Price: 3/5. When I bought it, this set was quite expensive, but I think the price has fallen a bit since then. Still, 40 USD is a wee bit pricey for this set, IMO.
FINAL SCORE: 31/40, above average in my opinion. Not as good as London Escape, but still one of the stronger sets in the line because of the playability factor. Seriously, you could add on as much as you wanted to this set to reenact the scene from the film to the fullest extent. Add minifgures, buff out the tower, build a beach and forest, even add some pirate ships. The possibilities are endless, which makes this set superior to, say, a spaceship or the like where your choices are limited. I would suggest this set if you can afford London Escape and Isle de Muerta first.
Jack is stuck in the wheel, and spins round and round while Norrington and Will duke it out, oblivious to the pirate's presence.
While all three are oblivious to fishboy getting away with the chest!
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Posted 01 May 2011 - 03:08 AM
I wish this set was a little grander. It doesn't look bad, by any means, but it could have used a little more variation in the building. I think the two more expensive sets (London Escape and Whitecap Bay) offer a LOT more in terms of both playability and and useful parts. If I get any of the big POTC sets, I'll probably shoot for Whitecap Bay, and hope I can get this one at a discount later on in its shelf life.
Posted 01 May 2011 - 03:47 AM
Posted 01 May 2011 - 10:34 AM
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