The Apiary is one of my attempts to get a little industry going outside the walls of the castle. It was also an attempt to get a set in the £10 bracket which means less than 100 pieces.
I chose The Apiary, bee keeping, because it was an important part of medieval life. Bees produce honey which was the only sweetner readily available in Medieval Europe and their wax produced the finest candles that graced castles and churches across Christendom. Additionally, perhaps most importantly, the props are fairly simple! The beehives are simplest in the extreme, the cauldron for boiling wax similarly so. The wooden canopy is mounted on hinge plates and kept up using a 6l brown bar, it's primarily there to add some variation when inserted into a long stretch of wall.
The wall itself was limited to a single 4444 panel with an extra studs worth of buttress to take it to 6 studs wide. The only other detail was to use a 1x8 arch to support a section of wall running perpendicular to the main wall. This is the first time I've done a three way joint the wall and provides a starting point for a more complex wall scheme within my town that cna separate individual wards and areas.
Minifig selection was easy, a peasant with paniers to tend the hives and a soldier on the wall to guard.
Story: There is no story it's just an addiiton to castle life. Maybe a third minifig who could steal or attack the peasant would add story to the set but it would push it just out of it's price bracket.
Playability: No tricky access, what you see is what you get. The addition of a third minifig would allow the playing out of a scene where the peasant is protected from the thief by the soldier.
Buildability: Nothing problematic. 10 steps on the instructions at most.
Cost: ~88 bricks. similar to 6918 Blacksmith Attack so it should hit the £10 price point.
Consistency: The domes are an anarchronism, they weren't available until 1995. Initially I'd used Tan for the hives which is another anachronism as it didn't become publically available until the 90's; however, I reverted back to yellow for the actual build. My use of cheese slopes for the fire was for the purposes of expediency only, at some point I will correct this and replace them with 1x1 plates in transparent red and yellow. The above issues aside I believe that it looks like it fits, the photo's below showing it inserted between 6074 Black Falcons Fortress, 6067 Guarded Inn and 6041 Armour Shop. If anything the Apiary's small size means that it's lost amongst the larger sets. However it does serve it's alterior purpose of getting some industry outside the walls and providing a 3-way joint in the wall to help divide my medieval town into sections.
I'm torn on this one, it's a nice little set but I think it's lacking something to make it desirable. Other than the urge to collect, what is there that sells this set? For a set that's in general retail, unlike say the City Modulars or UCS Star Wars which are clearly targeted at adult fans and collectors, there needs to be an immediately act-able story to sell it. Hence the predominance at the £10 bracket of simple cars and good-vs-bad minifig sets. You don't get that instant play from boiling candles and keeping bees. I'd love to know how many little sets Lego designs and gives to the play-test group only to find that the kids would really rather play cops-and-robbers or knights jousting. This is where a third antagonist minifig would be useful, it's what makes 6918 Blacksmith Attack a sellable proposition, it's not just about bashing metal it's about defending the forge against a Dragon raider. Conflict is drama, drama sells product.
Edited by The_Cook, 07 March 2012 - 09:08 PM.