Pieces: 1575 (a host of extra pieces excluded)
Minifigs: 9 + 2 horses, frog and rat
Price: 119,99 euro / $ 119.99 / £99.99
On my yearly visit to the LEGO shop in Oberhausen in Germany (the nearest LEGO shop to the Dutch border) I bought the 10223 Exclusive Kingdoms Joust. Grogall already brought us the gorgeous official pictures of the set and many a word has already been said about this set. The official pictures pleasantly surprised many of us, but there was also a feeling that the minifigs did not really stand out, that there was a lack of detailing and accessories, that the gate did not fit and, well, generally that the official pictures already revealed everything. Above all the set comes at a hefty price, so one could wonder: is this set worth it?
As you will see, I feel the set is more than worth its price. I am very pleased with it, particularly because of the detailed build, the building techniques, the amount of good and useful pieces and (surprisingly perhaps) the minifigs.
Before I start the review I would like to stress that compared to the truly superb official pictures my own pictures can only disappoint. To have an added value I therefore tried to take pictures that compared the sets to other sets or figs.
1. The box and the completed set
The box looks beautiful. It includes numbered bags (1 to 8). The build is divided into 8 different builds. Given that this set includes a lot of pieces that resemble each other (e.g. 198 bley builbing bricks) this is turns out to be very helpful once you get to the building of the set.
2. The instructions
The instruction booklet comes in a plastic package, as has become the standard for this size of sets.. It looks great as well!
A random page of the booklet...
The instructions are clear, though there are sometimes difficulties in distinguishing between the black, dark bley, brown and dark brown coloured bricks as this page testifies. Nothing too difficult though. The building proceeds quite slowly, but for a set this size I actually did not mind.
In fact yesterday I built the Winter postal office and I sometimes found myself missing steps because it all went so fast. No such problems here: the build proceeds quickly enough but isn't too quick either.
3. The minifigs
The official picture shows us the 9 minifigs:
But there is more to see. Let's start with the good guys:
The good guys
We have two regular crownie footmen; one knight with the old helmet, the squire and the king and queen.
The king has the new torso nd leg printing as used in the carriage set (set nr. 7188), so this is fairly rare. The queen is the same as the one the advent calender brings us.
However, the advent calender queen had some issues with the printing on the lower part of the gown.
This one, however, is spot on. She looks beautiful
Now there has been some debate about the emblem on the squire's torso.
Is it a lion or are they grapes?
The backside of the torso sheds some new light on the discussion:
Clearly it's grapes. Interestingly enough the instructions put the squire in the sand blue building with a baguette and... a bottle of wine.
I guess that is where he got his emblem
LEGO's usage of emblems is a bit confusing in this set. Clearly the squire is a lion and yet he has grapes as an emblem. May be he belongs to one of the houses that pledged allegiance to the Lion King?
The truly beautiful minifigs, however, are found among the three remaining minifigs:
The highlight is the princesss. This is the official picture which is impossible to topple:
I also took a picture of the back of the torso. It is as beautiful as the front side!
Now let's talk heraldry. We have a princess at the tournament, but which house does she belong to? She can't belong to a house aligned to the lion king (after all she has a green dress). Her emblem looks like a green flower, so I am guessing she belongs to a house alligned to the dragon faction. However, she does not have the dragon emblem, so I'm wondering if we can actually call her a princess as it looks like she is merely from a house aligned to the dragons Or may be she is from a distant land and she is a princess after all (or may be I am just taking this too far )
In any case, the printing looks jaw-dropping.
Now there has been some debate about the hair. It is said to be a shame that the hair is so common. So I tried some different hairpieces:
I varied the hair colour...
No real success. Especially the bright one is
I like the black hair though...
Makes her look more 'dragonny'.
I also tried some old-fashioned hair:
And the butch look
All in all I think the black hair fits best, but the brown one is actually quite ok as well.
Sure, it is a common piece, but it fits (and aesthetics matter most in my view).
By the way: I think the princess fig makes an excellent elf as well:
The colour fits the CMF series 3 elf perfectly.
Now the two remaining figures, the stableboy and the black falcon are less spectacular than the princess but nice nonetheless.
I am happy that we get another civilian torso, and in fact this one is very rare as it only comes in the MMV and this set. The face is also quite rare. Apart from this set it only comes in the Winter Village Post Office (10222) and the Safari Building Set (4637).
The Black Falcon
The black Falcon figure is the same as the standard Dragon knight, but the armour is unique and gorgeous
Jojo made an excellent comparison between the old and the new Black Falcon: The two Black Falcon brothers. I like the new one a lot, I must say.
The Black Falcon also comes with a truly gorgeous horse barding:
This brings me to the two horses and their equipment. The set comes with two fully equipped horses. I already discussed the Black Falcon horse barding. Next to that one we also get the lions' 'battle' horse barding.
I am not completely satisfied by the printing on the lions' barding. The one I got in the Dragon tower set was definitively printed in a better way. The following picture illustrates this:
Not only is the white on the barding pink, but the 'armour' is also misprinted and the red beneath it clearly shows at one point. Luckily I'll get a replacement part soon enough.
Conclusion about the minifigs:
Some people find the minifigs of this set disappointing. The set includes one completely new figure (the princess ), one new torso (the squire) and new armour and horse barding (black falcon) it also brings us a very rare figure (stableboy) and two relatively rare figures (king and queen, though both feature in cheaper sets). If we however compare this to the MMV this is actually not that bad. The MMV included one new fig (bartender girl), two new torsos (peasant and blacksmith) one relatively rare fig (medieval woman).
All in all, I think we are spoiled by the licensed sets (which sometimes include lots of unique figs). Yes it would have been better to get a Black Falcon squire, but the current setup does fit with the 'lonely black knight' idea. Moreover the current lineup is splendid by itself and the princess and the black falcon armour and horse barding are even more beautiful in real life than the pictures suggest.
The set comes with a decent amount of accessories. The number of weapons is limited, but the number of shields is definitively satisfactory.
We get no less than three of the Black Falcon shields. They are gorgeous!
There are also a number of 'peaceful' accessories. We get a golden plate, three cherries, a goblet, a bucket, two bottles and some other accessories and animals. We also get the Pirates of the Caribbean printed painting (set 5193) and... a map?! The map will be on the wall of the right-hand tower.
The set also includes furniture, but this will be discussed in the next section.
5. The build
5.1 The tents and the jousting area
The first bags allow you to build the tents with the melee weapons and the jousting area.
The jousting area is very long (no less than 40 studs). I added a crownie to get a grasp of the sheer length of the thing. This is something that also holds for the rest of the set: it is far taller than one would guess based on the official pictures.
The tents are a nice bonus, and I found myself enjoying the build very much. TLG tried to make the two tents different but similar nonetheless. The builds are quite different actually - more than I expected.
When one looks at the tents from the side, they look gorgeous. The back of the Falcon tent is also very nice, the lion tent is slightly disappointing from this side, but nothing some modding can't fix.
Overall the first pair of bags yielded a fun build. Nothing too fancy and no extraordinary bricks, but just plain Castle build fun.
5.2 The Royal tribune
The second bag includes the parts for the royal tribune. The build is easy, but there are a lot of smaller pieces in the bag. All in all the finished product is very detailed.
There are a lot of smaller pieces hiding in this build...
The build was again fairly straightforward: no SNOTting or anything fancy. We do get some nice pieces though. A lot of pearl gold round bricks (in total this set has 44 + 2 extra of them). And I really like this brick:
We get 4 white and 4 red of these. Excellent for making a medieval market!
5.3 The stableboy's hub
Next up are the main buildings. We first start with a wall piece with a stand where the stableboy can cheer the knights.
The finished product looks like this:
It is quite a neat little model. It includes plenty of little pieces (cheese slopes, 1x1 tiles etc) as can be seen in the following picture:
I especially like the fact that TLG tried to create a non-rectangular space by allowing the wall to attach to the main building in a diagonal way. All in all this is again a nice little build. It includes a lot of small pieces and it is clear that the designers wanted to escape from the ordinary bley wall by using smaller dark bley pieces in the wall (as is also shown by the fact that the set includes no (!) 1x2 bley bricks. I must say it works well I think.
5.4 The squire's hideout
The fourth build is the nice little sand blue building on top of the wall. It looks absolutely gorgeous!
The set includes no less than 10 of the sand blue pieces. This piece only comes in two sets until now: the pet shop (10218, which has 48 of them but costs 149.99 euro) and this one. The subset is a nice little vignette where the squire is enjoying life (and may be a little too much wine).
There is some furniture, but it is rather scarce.
5.5 The Keep
The last four builds (left tower, right tower, archway and roof) allow you to build the keep. The build is clever, uses lots of SNOTting and a gazilion smaller pieces. (mind you I have a very large table - the building is huge)
One of my favourite parts of the build was this part:
It uses some great SNOTting and a clever way to build the balcony.
The attention to detail is simply stunning. I love the decoration of the wood:
The two towers are attached to each other, but the archway can be removed:
Now let's move to the interior. I like the right tower with its library...
By the way both ground floor areas are tiled. In total we get 20 dark red 1x2 tiles. Not bad
Another good thing about this set is that it includes a lot of the flower pieces so often seen in the modular sets (bricklink calls them Dark Pink Plate, Round 1 x 1 with Flower Edge). Especially because you get 12 brown coloured of these pieces (+ 3 extra ). Again these come in only two sets until now, the Joust and the Pet Shop. If I am not mistaking, the Pet shop does not use them in furniture. The Joust set does, and the furniture looks very good. Just one example:
6. Comparison and integration
Some of you have wondered how this set fits with the other castle sets. The most likely candidate is obviously the Castle. There are some similarities: the colour scheme and the height suggest that the buildings fit together, but the style is clearly different, as can be seen in the following picture:
Even more so when one looks at it from the side...
Clearly not a good idea to attach these to each other.
The same holds for the walls. They are very different, as is shown in the following picture.
Yes the colour scheme is similar, but the walls from the Jousting set are lower and more patchy. They seem to be inner city walls while the Castle walls are clearly outside walls.
All in all it seems that the Castle can be used as city wall, while the Joust can be used as the keep inside the city. It would look something like this:
More importantly, however, I feel that this set was meant to match the MMV. The style of the buildings is the same, as is the colour scheme and the (type of) detailing.
Both pictures are not even the usual suspects, as the Squire's hub obviously fits the blue Inn from the MMV set. Regarding the size of the two sets: the MMV buildings are as tall as the bley parts of the keep (i.e. excluding the roof).
Lastly, one could wonder: "Thou shall not pass"?
Sure he shall! You just need to remove the flag, which means an extra flag for the stableboy! .
Build: 9/10 Excellent build, not too repetitive. Some interesting techniques (especially the SNOTting in the keep). TheMMV is better, but this one comes close
Playability: 7,5/10 Let the Jousting begin! Seriously, there's nothing else to do ; but then again playability was never the aim of this set. So...
Displayability: 10/10: an excellent showcase set!
Minifigures: 8,5/10 Love that princess and Black Falcon armour! I would have loved to see a new Falcon torso, but I guess we can't have it all. As I said earlier, compared to the MMV what we get is pretty good.
Design: 9.5/10 Very nicely designed set. A tremendous attention to detailing. Though this is mostly the detailing of the exterior, this is again not that different from the MMV. Moreover, this set has no stickers, but has some printed parts
Pieces: 8,5/10 Some nice parts (brown flower parts, black falcon shields, sand blue pieces, a baguette in a rare colour).
Price: 10/10 You get almost 1600 pieces, including two horses and 9 figs for less than 120 euros. Yes that's a lot of money, but is a lot of bricks too...
Total: 63/70 (or 9/10): This is a great set. It is not as great as the MMV, but it is definitively a close second!
Edited by KristofBD, 09 January 2012 - 11:32 PM.