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Review: 853373 Kingdoms Chess Set


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Poll: On a scale of 1 to 5 (53 member(s) have cast votes)

How do you rate this set?

  1. Poor (4 votes [7.55%])

    Percentage of vote: 7.55%

  2. Below average (9 votes [16.98%])

    Percentage of vote: 16.98%

  3. Average (17 votes [32.08%])

    Percentage of vote: 32.08%

  4. Above average (16 votes [30.19%])

    Percentage of vote: 30.19%

  5. Outstanding (7 votes [13.21%])

    Percentage of vote: 13.21%

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#1 Stiel

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Posted 22 July 2012 - 12:29 PM

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Chess sets have become somewhat of a tradition for the last few subthemes in Castle, and Kingdoms is no different. This set, apart from being a playable chess set, can also be regarded as an army builder/source for minifigures, with an excellent price-per-minifig ratio. It also compares favorably to previous chess sets in terms of general color scheme, minifigure selection and overall equipment.


Name: Kingdoms chess Set
Theme: Castle / Kingdoms
Year: 2012
Pieces: 201
Minifigs: 28
Price: $50 MSRP
Resources: BrickLink Brickset Brickshelf

Let's get started!

The box

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My first impression of the box: it is huge! Of course, it has to be able to fit a chessboard, plus the box art shows that there is some sort of base for the board too, with bastions on the corners. The box is LEGO Games style, made of thicker, more durable cardboard, and the top of the box slides onto the bottom. I prefer this kind of box to regular ones for storage purposes, and I don't often buy LEGO Games, so the box is highly appreciated.

Side of the box
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Three of the sides are bland; the only interesting side displays some of the minifigures.

Bottom
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Actually, the bottom of the box is also printed. One of the smaller pictures show how the items are organized in the box, and there is a huge display of all the chess figures organized neatly. These are nice pictures, even though I won't stare at them that much.


Contents

Contents
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There is this huge baseplate of sorts, with bastions on the corners. Very fitting for a castle-themed chess set. On top of it, there is a regular 32x32 green baseplate (fitting right into it), then a piece of cardboard listing all the chess figures, then building instructions and five numbered bags. Bags 1-4 contain the pieces for the figures, and bag 5 contains the black and white squares of the chessboard. Nothing is glued, thankfully.

Cardboard
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This might be useful if someone wants to play actual chess and is not familiar with LEGO figures. Most of the figures are intuitive, except perhaps the knights.

Baseplate with bastions
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The raised baseplate is sturdier than first expected, but still not the same quality plastic as regular LEGO parts. Eventually, I decided against using it, but others might find it useful (e.g. as a base of a castle).

Instructions
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The instructions booklet is slim, yet very detailed, with every single type of figure shown separately, down to pawns that differ in weapon only.

Random page
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The instructions are nice and clear, but then again, it is not very important for a set like this. The whole set could easily be assembled just going by the box art.

Less random page
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And this is how you put the complete set in the box once it's built.


The board

The board
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The first thing to build is the board. It is monotonous, but at least quick and absolutely easy. From a parts point of view: basic plates are always welcome, but I have no idea what to do with this many 4x4 pieces (apart from building a chess board, of course). The green baseplate is also nice, it has enough room to accomodate both armies if you decide to make some sort of combat scene.

On to the main portion of this set: the minifigures.


The Red Side

Pawns

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The red pawns are regular soldiers with the quarter torso and armed with swords and spears (and shields). The two types of weapon give a bit of much needed variety. The choice of head is nice, one of the less-used heads. Actually, two different heads might have given even more variety, but that's probably asking for too much. Overall, the pawns are fairly standard, just as expected.

Without equipment & from behind
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I have one quality issue though: the colors are slightly off. But more on this later, let's get on to the other figures.


Rook, knight & bishop

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The rooks are straightforward builds from mostly common bricks. Each rook has two torches and an ovoid shield. The ovoid shields are nice since they are otherwise not so easy to come by. Again, the rooks are fairly standard, and I am happy with them.

The red knight is a jester with a crossbow. In some older chess sets, the knight was often brick-built with a horse helmet, which is more easily recognizable as a chess figure. In general, I prefer a minifigure to that, but seriously, a jester? For a knight, something more combat-oriented would have been better. I assume that it is at least useful for those who don't have it from the impulse set. (I do.) At least there are no quality issues here.

The bishop is one of the highlights of the set. It comes with the bucket helmet, a lion armor and an ovoid shield, which are all welcome, especially the plate. Its torso is more often used on archers, but the plate covers it anyway, so it's fine. The glaive/corseque is also nice, making this figure very distinct and well-equipped. Great!

Without equipment
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The jester also appeared in his own impulse set, while a similar soldier was in the set Escape from Dragon's Prison (7187).

From behind
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Both the knight and bishop have dual sided heads. You could switch to these once they are taken. :laugh:


King & queen

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No surprises here; the royal couple are familiar from other sets of the Kingdoms line. These are nice figures, even if they have been released before. The queen's hair color is dark brown (it has also been released in black before).

Without equipment
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The king looks great, his torso very detailed with lots of ornaments. As for the queen, the gold on her torso is a slightly different shade than on her skirt. It's not much though, I only realized the difference after looking at the picture.

From behind
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The queen has a dual sided head (in case she's taken, too :wink:).


The Green Side

Pawns

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The green pawns are very similar to their red counterparts; this time with halberds and flails. The choice of head is strange; something less childish would have been better. I want grim soldiers ready for battle! These also have some problems with the painting. More on this later.

Without equipment & from behind
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Ugh, that face... it is much better looking from behind!


Rook, knight & bishop

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The green rook is fine; it differs from the red rook only in color scheme.

The green knight is actually a knight! That is a nice surprise after the red jester. It is one of the trademark dragon knights from Kingdoms, which last appeared in the set 6918 Blacksmith Attack. He comes with an axe; I assume they wanted to give him something which is different from any of the pawns' weapons. Great minifigure, I am happy with this one.

The bishop is, again, excellent, equipped with armor and ovoid shield. Unfortunately, the colors on the ovoid dragon shield are off. It's surprising since all the other shields in the set were OK. The torso is an archer torso again, but again, the plate covers it, or you can alternatively give the plate to the knight to have a fully armored knight. Either way, this figure is very useful.

Without equipment
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Real heavy duty guys. The choice of heads is excellent here. They are more common ones, but on 2-of minifigures, that's fine.

From behind
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No dual heads here. I assume these guys will keep their grim faces even in death (e.g. taken).


King and queen

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The green king is a wizard similar to the one in the set 7955 Wizard, but there are some differences: the green cape, grey beard, and no dragon painted on the hat. He has the same scroll and wand as in 7955 Wizard. I think I overall prefer the impulse version a little bit more, but this one is abolutely OK as well.

The green queen is technically a new figure, but from old parts; basically one more variation on the dark green-black 'barmaid' torso. Her head is the same as that of the red queen, but interestingly, here the annoyed face is put forward instead of the smiling one. She comes with a cape and a dagger. The dagger doesn't look like much of a weapon, it feels like they just tossed something in her hand. Also, the queen's hair pushes down her cape too much, which is poor design.

Overall, I think that the green king and queen minifigures do meet the minimum requirements for the job, but just that, and they look definitely inferior to their red counterparts.

Without equipment
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They don't look like much, do they?

From behind
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You might notice that the queen's head is looking sideways. This is not an oversight on my part, and goes down as yet another quality issue. :hmpf_bad:


Interesting parts

OK, so this is highly subjective, but for me, these parts are the most interesting:

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The lion plate is an especially rare commodity. I possibly would have passed on this set without it.

The complete set

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It's a nice display, the colors of the two sides are distinct, and the figures are impressive. The raised baseplate with the bastions is a nice addition.

Before the final verdict, there is one more thing to address.


Quality issues

My main quality issue is that some of the color on the minifigures were off.

Red pawns
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The white on the red pawns' torso has a little pink hue, and the gold painting is darker than on figures from regular sets. It is actually not that bad, hardly noticeable in itself, but the comparison shows there is a difference.

Green pawns
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Green pawns: again, the gold is darker than it should be. Among themselves, the pawns still look fine, but against an older figure, the difference is striking. Even the green shades are different.

Bishops: I just wanted to mention that the gold painting is darker on the bishops' torsos as well, but seeing that there is very little gold on these torsos anyway, plus they are covered by plates, I think this is practically not an issue.

Dragon shields
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Both of the yellow shades on the dragon ovoid shields are MUCH brighter than on other shields. It is actually quite bad, possibly the worst of all the color issues. I am not happy about this. :angry:

Misprinted head
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Finally, the green queen's head is misprinted: the two faces are not exactly opposite to each other. Her hair still covers the back face, but this could be problematic with other types of hair.

I am actually quite disturbed at the amount of quality issues. This is not what I am used to from LEGO. The value-for-money ratio of the set is still OK, but frankly, it would have been much better without all these pesky color and printing issues.

Regarding these issues, my advice is that don't mix them with figures and items coming from regular sets, especially the pawns and the dragon ovoid shields. In among themselves, they look OK. I personally planned to use these figures as 'extra' armies anyway, so it's not that big of a problem for me, but still, it would have been nice to have the option to mix the figures up at will. Oh well.

Conclusion

Playability: 8/10 - either as chess or two opposing armies, it's nicely playable
Minifigures: 8/10 - a few weird choices, but mostly great
Quality: 4/10 - some colors are off; the weak point of the set
Price: 10/10 - a lot of minifigures for a very reasonable price
Pieces: 10/10 - very generous equipment
Overall: 8/10 - a nice set, but with some quality issues

Overall, this is a nice set with a very good value-for-money ratio, and I have no regrets about buying multiple boxes. It definitely delivered in the areas most important for me. Also, if you didn't have any Kingdoms figures before, you don't have to care too much about the color differences, and this is a great set to get two sizeable armies for a low price in one swoop. That said, you should consider the quality issues before buying this set.

Edited by Stiel, 22 July 2012 - 12:32 PM.


#2 Brinstar

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Posted 22 July 2012 - 12:45 PM

Thanks for this super detailed review of the Kingdoms chess set. As a fan of the Kingdoms theme I was delighted when Lego released this, completely out of the blue. I agree with your criticisms, the baseplate isn't very attractive and feels completely out of place alongside the rest of the set. The quality issues are also regrettable, with the figs made of the cheaper chinese plastic rather than the better quality plastic found in most Lego sets.

The positives definitely outweigh the negatives. The chess set is a fantastic army builder, with 28 mini-figs for £40 which is excellent value for money. The price certainly offsets the lower quality plastic. I think it also compares favorably with the similar fantasy era chess set where I didn't really care for the skeletons. It also plays a very good game of chess! I may get further copies to build up my Kingdoms armies further.

#3 Nagyzee

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Posted 22 July 2012 - 01:59 PM

Thanks for the review. It seems the Chess Set suffers from the exact same quality issues as the battle packs did. At least this one is a lot better value for money than those.

With the battle pack figures the very noticeably different green shade of the dragon soldiers really bothered me, I sold all such soldiers that I acquired. I might do the same this time as well, only keeping the shields and plate armours. The weird colour of the ovoid dragon shield is the biggest let down for me as I've purchased this set mostly for the otherwise rare and thus expensive ovoid shields and plate armours.

The figure choices are more or less okay but there are few weak spots there, too:
- The jester as a knight is laughable. And whoever needs more than one jester anyhow? I foresee the jester becoming an extremely cheap figure on Bricklink.
- The green queen uses that done-to-death barmaid torso, a very cheap choice.
- A bit of a head variation wouldn't have hurt among pawns. At least the lion pawns have an okay head but the dragons' one is poor.

In itself I'd rate this set below average for what it is but the great price pushes it up to at least average territory. I would have gladly paid a bit more for better quality though.

Edited by Nagyzee, 22 July 2012 - 02:00 PM.


#4 dwarf-brik

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Posted 22 July 2012 - 03:05 PM

I'm really annoyed with the discoloration of the ovoid Dragon shields as well. What's worse is that with the influx of discolored shields on Bricklink, it is going to be impossible to tell if a seller is selling discolored shields or correctly colored shields. I recently wasted $10 on ovoid shields, only to get them and find that the Dragon ones are unusable.
The discoloration of the figs doesn't bother me. Sure, the gold is a bit duller on the Chess set figures, but in an army of 30+ minifigures the differences disappear.

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#5 Darkdragon

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Posted 22 July 2012 - 03:15 PM

Thanks for the thorough review. I've been really curious about the minifigs on this set. I think it's still worth the price, especially for someone who might want to build larger kingdoms army. I'm planning to pick this up myself and I am glad that they released it, but wish the quality was on par with the chess sets i've seen from older castle themes.

#6 Hive

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Posted 22 July 2012 - 04:51 PM

Good review, but below average set for several reasons:

- No new figures, only rehashes - and in some cases, poor ones. Like the jester or the Dragon queen. I mean, they could at least have used the new green dress from the joust set or something.

- Poor quality which is quite obviousy to the eye.

- Really ugly plastic baseplate that has no other uses.

- Unimpressive towers.

#7 Bilbo Baggins

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Posted 22 July 2012 - 05:46 PM

Good review, the lack of quality in this set really doesnt surprises me because of the amount of minifigures. They had to  sacrifice quality to keep the set on a good price, :wink:

#8 Sir Fred

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Posted 22 July 2012 - 07:24 PM

Nice review. In my copy of this set it has all the same printing quality issues as yours, except for the queen face printing issue. Probably the printing issue that annoys me the most is the Lion Knight pawn torso, since I already had a fairly substantial number of Lion Knights that never learned to separate their whites and colours when doing laundry. Still though, the price per minifig ratio is quite nice making this a nice set. I'm completely baffled by the jester knight though.

#9 Deathleech

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Posted 22 July 2012 - 09:01 PM

Thanks for the review!  That's disappointing to hear about all the quality issues.  I would of easily paid 60, or even 70 bucks to get better coloring, more durable plastic, and a few more pawn head options and maybe a minifi rook and better red knight.  All well, at less than 2 bucks a minifigure I guess this is to be expected.  

One question though, the Queen's head being printed off center, was that an isolated incident or is it the same in all of the chess sets like the gold and green coloring being darker?

#10 kermit

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Posted 22 July 2012 - 10:12 PM

View PostBilbo Baggins, on 22 July 2012 - 05:46 PM, said:

Good review, the lack of quality in this set really doesnt surprises me because of the amount of minifigures. They had to  sacrifice quality to keep the set on a good price, :wink:


I don`t know if I am the only one appalled that Lego, a company that prides itself in delivering quality products, would as you said ''sacrifice quality to lower the cost''. I hope that is not true on Lego`s part because if it is then Lego fans should not only complain but demand Lego to lower their price on this set or refund them a percentage of the cost. This is very worrying.

#11 just2good

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Posted 22 July 2012 - 11:25 PM

Great review, 'Stiel'! :sweet:
This is a great set (and surprise by TLG), but I doughnut think I'll pick it up. I have other sets I have invested money in. :sad:

#12 MCNwakeboard

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Posted 22 July 2012 - 11:33 PM

I don't plan on getting this as I am not much of an army builder but it seems to be a good seller so I wonder if most army builders are ok with the lower quality since they can get them cheaper than through normal sets. Do you know if the figures are made in China with no neck mark and the stamp on the arms?

#13 Yooha

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Posted 23 July 2012 - 06:33 AM

It looks like a nice set! Thanks for the close up pictures of the minifigs. I like the printed armor of the bishops and the printing of the red king very much. Since I don't have too many kingdom minifigs (and no dragon shield), I wouldn't mind the mismatching colours  :classic:
It is odd having jesters as "knights", maybe using the red "bishops" as knight is better, they are knights after all! Then you have to switch the helmets for the knight and the bishop at the green side, using the minifigs with flags, helmet and armor as knights and not bishops.
It wasn't clear for me: is the red team the "white" and the green the "black" side? According the position of the queen it looks so.

#14 HawkLord

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Posted 23 July 2012 - 06:41 AM

Great review. Being someone who owns no Castle related sets but loves chess, this one is very tempting. I have a feeling I'll end up getting it one of these days.

Shame about the Jester. I could almost see it being more of a Bishop than a Knight, but even then that's a stretch. I think the set would have worked alot better if the pieces were identical in form, but different in color. That would make it easier to tell who is who. Still it's an army-builder dream set with some small plate pieces.
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#15 SheepEater

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Posted 23 July 2012 - 07:06 AM

Meh.

Shame about the stupid Jester "Knight", boring rooks, stupid faces on green pawns and quality issue. Otherwise I'd consider buying it.

#16 Stiel

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Posted 23 July 2012 - 11:39 AM

View PostHive, on 22 July 2012 - 04:51 PM, said:

- No new figures, only rehashes - and in some cases, poor ones. Like the jester or the Dragon queen. I mean, they could at least have used the new green dress from the joust set or something.
They didn't release any new minifigures before in sets like this, so the barmaid torso seems like a shoo-in. Sure, the sand green lady from the joust would have been nice, but I assume they wanted to stick to the dark green color scheme.

View PostDeathleech, on 22 July 2012 - 09:01 PM, said:

Thanks for the review!  That's disappointing to hear about all the quality issues.  I would of easily paid 60, or even 70 bucks to get better coloring, more durable plastic, and a few more pawn head options and maybe a minifi rook and better red knight.  All well, at less than 2 bucks a minifigure I guess this is to be expected.  

One question though, the Queen's head being printed off center, was that an isolated incident or is it the same in all of the chess sets like the gold and green coloring being darker?
I completely agree with you in that I would have paid a bit more to avoid these issues. The misprint on the queen's head seems to be an isolated problem, as other people weren't having it.

View Postkermit, on 22 July 2012 - 10:12 PM, said:

I don`t know if I am the only one appalled that Lego, a company that prides itself in delivering quality products, would as you said ''sacrifice quality to lower the cost''. I hope that is not true on Lego`s part because if it is then Lego fans should not only complain but demand Lego to lower their price on this set or refund them a percentage of the cost. This is very worrying.
Well, I keep saying to myself that in regular sets, you can still expect good quality. It would have been nice to get the same quality in a chess set for once, of course, but it didn't happen. Maybe next time.

View PostMCNwakeboard, on 22 July 2012 - 11:33 PM, said:

I don't plan on getting this as I am not much of an army builder but it seems to be a good seller so I wonder if most army builders are ok with the lower quality since they can get them cheaper than through normal sets. Do you know if the figures are made in China with no neck mark and the stamp on the arms?
Indeed, all of the figures have stamps on the inside of the arms and no neck marks.

View PostYooha, on 23 July 2012 - 06:33 AM, said:

It wasn't clear for me: is the red team the "white" and the green the "black" side? According the position of the queen it looks so.
Well, it is like that on the box art and in general, it seems more intuitive that way.

#17 thecolossus

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Posted 23 July 2012 - 12:00 PM

Luckily, I don't have any Kingdoms sets, having been a Star wars only lego fan throughout its tenure, before coming back to castle when kingdoms had mostly ended. Thus the quality issue is less of, well, an issue, to me. Not to mention I mostly want it for the armour parts and weapons, rather than the torsos etc.

Still would have been nice to have better quality.

Great review, pretty informative, I've been waiting for one as in depth as this before I buy!
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#18 Graysmith

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Posted 23 July 2012 - 01:24 PM

Regarding the Dragon Knight shields, you could always pretend they're brand new and haven't been faded by battle damage. :wink:

Anyway..

Of course it's too bad that some of these minifigures aren't the same high quality as in the regular sets, but still, if you're looking for an army builder it's not going to get much better than this. I don't plan on buying it myself, but for that price I don't really have much to complain about.

#19 Bob De Quatre

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Posted 23 July 2012 - 01:35 PM

Considering the "jester issue", in France the bishop is called "le fou", which refers to what could be called a jester... But even with this confusion, the jester should have been switch with the red bishop who is actually a knight  :hmpf:

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#20 Multiverse

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Posted 23 July 2012 - 01:36 PM

That was a great review, with pretty much all the relevant information and notes. =)

If I ever find this at a reasonable price (perhaps if I don't, we'll see), I'll take two. One as an army builder, and one to modify into a more elaborate chess set (to compensate that I never got the Ultimate Castle chess Set, a set I sorely regret missing out on).

#21 mpoh98

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Posted 16 October 2013 - 04:55 AM

I am buying this set, and noticed this review, thanks for telling me this, so I know what I am getting!  This is a big help, thank you again!
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#22 Mutant Orc

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Posted 16 October 2013 - 09:21 PM

I bough this set and I didn't find anything wrong with the printing BUT-

a) some of the legs were really loose (sadly the printed ones were the worst)
b) the pike men/pawn helmets were obscenely loose, some to the extent that a single touch would send them spinning 360 degrees and flying off.

Despite this it is a nice set with no glue and a large green plate.
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#23 ZCerberus

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Posted 16 October 2013 - 09:49 PM

I know we are celebrating 5 years of reviewer's academy so I'll let bringing up these old review threads pass for now, but in general, threads that are over a year old should be left alone unless there is something REALLY worthwhile that has happened.

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#24 naf

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Posted 17 October 2013 - 07:44 PM

I was planning on buying this set for army building purposes, but after reading about the quality issues I might reconsider.  Seeing as how this review is a year old, has anyone bought a copy of this set recently?  Does it still have the same quality issues?

#25 Eleinad

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Posted 17 October 2013 - 11:39 PM

the best chess set lego made is 852293 which is epic. This one is just average. I hate the Dragon Soldier faces, there could be more variety. They used the cheaper plastics also used for Minifig Series. I also dislike the Dragon Queen and the Wizards hat, because its not the printed version and finally i don't like the two lion crossbows. But this set is good to build a clone army.

Edited by Eleinad, 17 October 2013 - 11:50 PM.





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