While cleaning an old hard drive, I found this review I never posted. Sure, the pictures are crude, I even forgot to take a shot of the entire set, but it reminded me of why I liked writing reviews so I wanted to share.
Bandit's Secret Hideout (6761) - Wild West
•Original Retail Price: $40.00 US
•Figures Included: 1 Cavalry Soldier, 1 Calvalry Lieutenant, 3 Bandits, 3 Horses (black, white, brown), 2 grey Birds, 1 Skeleton head
•Mini-fig Accessories: Playing Cards tile, 4 Golden Coins, Dynamite Tile, Golden Trumpet, Yellow Chair, Cavalry Flagpole, 2 Saber Swords, 8 Rifles, 4 Pistols, Pick-Axe, Cannon w/Cradle, 2 Saddles (brown, black), 1 extra brown Cowboy Hat for the Sketeton Head
Helpful Links: Peeron / Brickset
Due to the subdued color-scheme, this set looks like an unimpressive pile of bricks right out of the baggies. There aren't any flashy colors, like there are when working with neon Aquashark or Ice Planet pieces, but with some imagination, the end-result is still enjoyable.
This Hideout is a mid-sized set, building it won't tax your skills, but it's still entertaining because of the neat features. It's fun to invent booby-traps, just ask Wile E. Coyote! You can test the traps as you make them, fine-tuning the way that barrel bonks the guy standing under it. Even though they're simple to use, the traps are effective, and consistent too. Most notably, the falling barrel from the roof lands in the same spot every time, so you can actually aim it.
The rails, the tipping water-barrel, and the interesting way the rifles on the roof are connected give us a look at some of the more unorthodox ways of building useful tools and features. The black sloped roof is another place to grab ideas from as it shows us how we can make buildings with roofs that flip open.
It looks like the bandits found a crumbled granite hill and built around it with bits of wood and stone. A shabby, dirty, lonely place is what I picture a secret hideout in the wild west to be like, this set captures that drab essence.
Isn't it funny that these bandits have a big GOLD MINE sign on the hideout but there isn't a mine anywhere in sight? Well, maybe it's not that funny, it's kind of disappointing actually! I'd love to have seen a real mine released with these Wild West sets (maybe there was one made for the Rock Raiders line?), but this set is exactly what the description on the box says it is, a bandit's hideout! There are a few areas where the minifigs can hang-out and play cards, along with a small storage area where the cannonballs are kept. I think it's about time to update the "cannonballs", they don't look like cannonballs at all. Unfortunately I can't suggest any practical designs for them. If they're little balls then there won't be any way to add a little indent so they can plug onto normal studs, because they would have to be much smaller to fit inside the cannons.
The storage-room has a small ledge against the rock-wall where the bandits can put the rifle-box if they manage to steal it from the soldiers. They can't reach up there, so they'll have to bring-in the ladder from the big rock outside. There's plenty of room below for the safe and any other equipment they manage to get. I think this storage area could have been made to look like the opening to a deep mine-shaft. All it might require is a small black tile to simulate a dark hole in the floor, some fence-pieces, maybe a DANGER sign?
The stairs lead to a narrow ledge behind the window where a bandit can sit and be a look-out. The fire lighting the door is dangerous though, I mean, look at it! It's just bursting out of the wall! It would definitely look more realistic with a clear yellow cone, to simulate a lantern, but I have to admit, the fire makes the whole hideout seem more wild and rugged.
I'm not sure why the chair behind the window is bright yellow, it's obvious that it's in there when the window is open. Maybe subconsciously the bandits want to get caught.
There's room on the roof for a bandit to sit comfortably, where he can either take a nap or talk to the birds.
Something I don't understand about these thieves is, that even though they're smart enough to create useful and hidden traps, they're not smart enough to make people STAY AWAY from their secret hideout. They have a big sign up top that says they're in a Gold Mine, that's a good way to ATTRACT a lot of attention! I think the skull on the "Keep Out" sign and big cannon on wheels is a step in the right direction for these bandits, but that sign on the roof needs to be changed, or taken down completely. Any suggestions?
I think at some point every Lego fan covers a car or building in guns and swords and stabby bits. The 3-rifle contraption on the roof of the hideout is a goofy weapon because it looks so hard to use. How can the bandit even aim that thing? Or more importantly, how can he reach the triggers without falling off the building? It's going to take some major creativity to make it work!
Is there anything more effective at stopping your enemies than collapsing stairs? They stop soldiers, wolves, salesmen, dragons, anything!
The cannon rolls-out when the ramp is lowered after the trip-cord is pulled, but it doesn't fly-out like the drawings in the instruction-booklet show, it simply glides out smoothly because of how well all the pieces fit together. Legos are precision-made, and most of the time that's a good thing, but in this case the Lego pieces are limited by their own awesomeness! How many other toys can you honestly say that about?
I see this set as a place for the bandits to drop-off their stolen goodies, like a big closet, and then run off to steal more stuff. It would have been nice to see a little cooking-fire included, some pots and pans, maybe even a chicken leg, to make the bandits more comfortable, but you can always buy the smaller Western sets for that.
Can't say I'd pay the $40 retail price for this set, luckily it seems inexpensive nowadays. And not to toot my own horn too much, but I like the alternate model I built a lot more, it shows the kind of fun features you can create just by playing-around with the bricks a little. I also like the Cavalry Fort shown on the back of the box, it looks like a strong, solid model.
The Hideout has a nice enough design, but building on a more detailed baseplate, like this desert-version, helps us think of things we normally wouldn't. For example, if you want to use the whole base, then you'll have to find a way to work around the road running through it. How about building a toll-booth? Maybe a bridge?
That's all for now, folks! Something I'll try to include with every review is an alternate model that can be built using only the set's pieces, like this neat little box I made for the Golden Trumpet. Feel free to post links to the cool stuff you've made using this set!
-The Skull I used for the sign-post is a modern one, the one this set is supposed to include is the "friendlier-looking" version.
-The brown Horse's ear and the black Top-Hat were chewed-on by a Budgie that will remain unnamed.
Thanks to my neighbor for letting me borrow this set to review.