Photos aren't the best, I don't have great lighting or a proper still camera and it was 1am when I started... but since no one else has reviewed this set yet I will have a crack at it.
Price: USD $99.99, EUR €99.99, GBP ?, AUD $149, CAD $129.99
Bricklink Brick Set
Enter Vampyre's castle and rescue the world from eternal darkness!
Survive the traps and terrors of the Vampyre Castle to stop the Vampyre from uniting the moonstones and cloaking the world in darkness!
I ordered this set from the Netherlands via Bricklink at US MSRP when it first started appearing.
Set contains 7 bags, 2 large black tower roof pieces, 2 instruction booklets & a sticker sheet (secured in plastic with a cardboard sheet ). The stickers have some glow-in-the-dark (GITD) elements, but the glow effect is minimal (unlike the plastic parts).
Bag 1 contains all minifigs plus the parts to build the sand green car. I love the vampire bats. Or bat vampires. Whatever. So glad that 2 come with the set. Most minifigs have front and back torso & face printing. Interesting are the bats' winged arms. They look great, but they don't really work in any other position than that shown. Lord & Lady Vampyre's heads are GITD. The cannon on the back of the car shoots a net. The seating for the car includes a tile, so that Dr Rathbone (with his artificial leg) can sit in it. Included is the old style standard skeleton minifig. You've seen him before.
Bag 2 contains the pieces to build the front right tower (as you look from in front of it). It contains a prison cell using handcuffs and a chain that can be wound up & down to suspend a prisoner. The rock piece is "explodable" as a play function to allow a prison breakout. Or you could just have used the door, I mean it isn't locked... Up top Lady Vampyre tries her cold hand at a witches brew containing the ubiquitous frog and a toadstool. the curious bit sticking out at the side is a perch for a bat to hang upside down from.
Bag 3 contains the pieces to build the front gate. There are retractable teeth on both sides, presumably as a booby trap to squish any unauthorised entry through the gates. There is also a "flick-fire" GITD spider. For whatever reason. I like the GITD spider, it works better than the luminous green one that came in a few previous castles I think.
Gate & front tower assembled
Bag 4 contains the pieces to build the left tower. At the top level is a "study" with a trap door. Falling through that, the victim lands on a series of spikes on the bottom. Below the roof is a treasure chest containing colourful gems. Also sticking out the side is another perch for the 2nd bat to hang upside down from.
Assembly so far
Bag 5 contains the pieces to build the bottom level of the rear/main tower. Right on the bottom is a nice coffin. I don't think I have any other coffins so I'm not sure if the print is new or not.
Bag 6 contains the pieces to build the next level and a bit. We have an interesting spiral staircase (not sure how new it is, it's my first set with one, but I first noticed it in the previews for LOTR Attack On Weathertop before this was released). A nice AFOL MOC styled bed (doubtful it's for guests...) but only room for one minifig tells me that Mr V is in the doghouse below, or should I say bathouse. A couple of other details include a GITD rat (a bit more interesting than a plain grey one) and a bookcase incorporating plates+tile method for the books.
Bag 7 contains the pieces to complete the rear/main tower and therefore the entire castle. Included we have all 6 colourful moonstones (sorry Dr Rathbone, but you've failed already!) a printed 4x4 dish with GITD crescent moon, and we build an interesting pipe organ in the roof. Not sure why there are only 10 semitones here, it's not your standard European keyboard... If you pull/push the handle the moonstones fold out/back. This part of the build is probably the most difficult for the less adept.
Put it all together and what do you get?
This is what was left over at the end.
The instructions are standard for sets nowadays, each step clearly shows the parts to be added, and each step is easy to follow. I would describe the build as very enjoyable for an adult. There are a few advanced sub-builds that were very satisfying. Usage of advanced techniques everywhere, this is an excellent set for an AFOL even though it is a minifig scale system set from a theme aimed at a younger target audience. I think the lower end of the age bracket may find this a challenge - but maybe kids are better at this than I was at that age.
The minifigs are brilliant, a good number and good selection. I personally have little interest in the protagonists of the line but the car looks great. I greatly dislike stickers, but the stickers in this set really add to its charm. Shame that the GITD feature of the stickers isn't very strong.
The parts selection for the set aren't extremely unusual, but this is the first time I've built a set with the "brick" brick from memory. Obviously the GITD pieces are new, if not exclusive.
This is one of my favourite Lego castles... that's saying something. (I have all the Castle line castles.) Obviously this one wouldn't be great for defending against a horde of knights, but it's got stacks of character. Highly recommended set for build, display & play functions. I also had a camera taking shots every 10 seconds, if I can figure out how to turn it into a stop motion video I will upload that too. Thanks for reading.
I will add more pictures in future to flesh this out when I get some time with sunlight, as I managed to do with the minifig closeups. I will also redo some photos and try to show the GITD appearance. But for now, I'm trying to post this before I get ninja'd!
edit: added more photos
Here are some better shots from Leng Jai's comment later in the thread
Edited by Artanis I, 21 August 2012 - 04:16 AM.