Mr Maniac

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  1. Mr Maniac

    Review: All Terrain Trapper

    Thanks @Pdaitabird! Glad to see I'm not alone in that phenomenon, although I'll admit it came as a bit of a surprise when it first happened. Like, I get the Aquazone arm pieces breaking, but I always thought this mold was fairly sturdy.
  2. While Jurassic Park rightly deserves a lot of credit for re-introducing audiences to the pleasures of mankind encountering living, breathing dinosaurs (before said dinosaurs eat man, leaving women to inherit the earth), let's not forget some of the earlier versions of this, including the 1925 silent movie The Lost World, based on the 1912 Arthur Conan Doyle novel of the same name. I bring this up mostly because the Adventurers' Dino Island subtheme, first released in 2000, has more in common with Doyle's work than Crichton's more contemporary version. And as an avid fan of both dinosaurs and turn-of-the-20th Century adventurers, this was a pretty solid third wave for one of my favorite LEGO themes. So hold onto your butts, as we explore: Info Set # - 5955 Name - All Terrain Trapper Theme/Subtheme - Adventurers/Dino Island Year - 2000 Piece Count - 185 Minifigures - 3 Price - MSRP $30 US Links Brickset, Peeron, Bricklink, Bricksafe Box 65 million years ago, I did have a box for this set in my collection. But alas, it has since been lost to the ravages of time, (otherwise known as the parents recycling it) so we'll just have to push on without it. Although for those curious, it looks like Bricklink has a listing for the box. Instructions Aside from the usual wear-and-tear, along with some postmortem contractions of the posterior neck ligaments, this is probably one of the better Adventurers instruction manuals in my collection (especially compared to my River Expedition one, yikes). The world map graphics bordering the actual set image is a great change of pace from the previous imagery around the two earlier Adventurers subthemes, suggesting Johnny Thunder and friends (along with his nemeses) are well off the beaten path here. While the background is very clearly computer-generated, I don't mind the swooshing lines for the trapper or the stationary net, which help to highlight the play features. Moving closer, we can also see a revision to the old Adventurers logo, which I'm personally not too crazy about. What was great about the first two was that it gave you everything you needed in one concise package. You had the brand-new hero for this brand-new theme in the center, along with the new wildlife molds in the border. Add in palm leaves in the background of the Jungle subtheme logo, and pyramids (plus that all-important biplane) in the Egyptian one and you've got a pretty great logo. The fact that it looked like an old-school stamp you might see on a steamer trunk or a passport didn't hurt things either. But this logo's a touch too sprawling for my tastes, even though it still gives you everything you need to know about this subtheme (namely that it has dinosaurs and Johnny Thunder). So while I'm nitpicking, it still gets the job done. Much like in previous manuals, this one also offers alternative builds, and given how this subtheme featured more blocky, less specialized pieces, it could make for a bit of a mixed bag. Fortunately there's mostly good stuff here you can create, from a nice little jeep and storage depot in the bottom-most image (even if that plane is severely lacking in controls), and a pretty good barge in the smaller image. Also, there's a fun little comic here, which helps to explain the different alternative builds, even if it's clear the two lead characters are dreaming a little bigger than what's actually possible with the pieces in the set. And for anyone who always wished they could actually build the alternative models, LEGO kindly incorporated abbreviated steps for a few of the designs, which is pretty nice. I can't remember how often I'd try replicating one of the cooler alternative builds with the earliest Star Wars sets, only to run into a wall during the attempt. As an added bonus, you also have fun infographics near the end, offering interesting facts on each Dino Island dinosaur, such as their weight, size, what they eat, and most importantly of all, which sets they came in, so, like Pokemon, you can collect them all. Moving on to the interior of the instruction manual, you can see it's a pretty basic layout, with the background vaguely continuing the atlas-like motif, with some latitude and longitude lines. The color distinction is perfect, while sub-models get call-out boxes and steps. But for those of you used to having individual piece call-outs for each step, get used to carefully looking over each image for new pieces that are added on, before doing the same with your pile of parts. Pieces As you can see, we spared no expense sorting all 185 pieces of this set. Aside from the bright yellow and red, which will mostly be covered up by the rest of the vehicle, the brightest color will be blue, which is the dominant color scheme for the villain's vehicles on Dino Island (minus one glaring exception). Plenty of green and light gray will make up foliage, while black will help round out the shaping of the Trapper. Much like how frog DNA easily slots into prehistoric dino DNA to fill the gaps, LEGO opted to use mostly generic bricks for the Dino Island subtheme, which can fit in everywhere. Similarly, the unique pieces aren't too out there, largely being quite common, although that only makes the set more attractive if you're not looking to keep it built. Take for instance the ubiquitous string net, 10x10 square. which appears in 55 sets in black, used in everything from Pirates to Ninjago. Or the plate, modified 2x2 with bar frame square, appearing in 35 sets total. The same goes for all the other pieces pictured here, which are interesting compared to the rest of the pieces in this set, but aren't too unique when you look at the bigger picture. The biggest exception to this rule might be the slope, curved 2x2x1 double with two studs and the vehicle, base 6x5x2 with two seats, both of which were introduced in the Adventurers line, but have since been incorporated in a number of other sets. Again, owing to this theme's relative simplicity in parts usage, there are no printed parts here. Fortunately, LEGO spared no expense in providing plenty of accessories for this motley crew, which is always nice. Here we have two different kinds of firearms, along with a hammer and wrench for making quick fixes to the Trapper, a crate to carry it all around, and some cooking supplies. Let's just hope they don't mind sharing utensils. Minifigures While we don't have Dodgson here, what we do get is the entire villain's team in one set, which is rather nice. From left to right we have Baron Von Barron, er, I mean Sam Sinister, his sister Alexis Sinister, and their intrepid big game hunter/guide, Mr. Cunningham, which, while not as much fun to say as Rudo Villaino, still gives you a good enough idea of his character. He's cunning! And judging by that shirt of his, he's a big fan of ham. As for the other two, Alexis Sinister is a nice way of shaking things up in the villain department, since I don't think the Adventurers theme ever had another female villain (who's apparently rather interested in getting Johnny Thunder to work with the bad guys, if the September/October 2000 issue of Mania Magazine is any indicator), and Von Barron, or rather, Sam Sinister is the quintessentially perfect pulp adventure villain. I can't really blame LEGO for re-using his character so many times (though I can blame them for changing his name), since he's got everything you need in a villain, from the snooty-looking monocle, to the nasty scar and the hook for a hand! He's honestly perfect. I decided to skip photographing the backs of the minifigures' torsos, since there's no printing there anyway, so we can move onto the real reason you'd buy this set in the year 2000: Dinosaurs! While they've made more detailed ones in the Jurassic World sets, with better articulation, these ones are still fun to have around and get the job done. Aside from the baby T-Rex which I forgot to include here, there are no predators in this set (aside from the human ones, that is), with a Stegosaurus and Triceratops making up the quarry for our nefarious trio. The Build We kick things off by building the titular Trapper, which is nicely symmetrical, and actually rather intricate. We start off with some white plates and vehicle axles... ...followed by some tiling and a few 1x1 blue round bricks. The tiles will become part of the main play feature. Add in a covering for the back, along with a propeller, and it's starting to take shape. But first, a sub-model. Here's one of the two sub-models. This piece fits over the blue tiles, which will make contact with... ...this axle brick. While the yellow and red stick out a bit, they'll mostly be covered up in the final model. So installing these two and covering them with another plate, we'll have... ...a fairly complete model! But first, after some tires are added, and... ...we get to move onto the actual trap part of this All Terrain Trapper. Using these 7 pieces, we create... ...a weighted net, which still looks the part with those 1x1 round bricks in blue. Add that to the end of Trapper, along with a chain and the cab, and... ...Behold! If you want something that'll let you get around Dino Island easily while catching said dinos, this is the vehicle you'd want. Some additional perspectives of the All Terrain Trapper. One thing you don't get from the image on the instruction manual and box is how the vehicle seems designed for amphibious use, able to drive right into a river or lake and get to the other side without getting the minifigures wet (though I wouldn't try this in real life). The propeller in the rear, along with the wedge-shaped plates help contribute to that look, while the cab, typically situated closer to the ground, is near the top of the vehicle. And those tires look like they're made for the type of rugged environment I'd imagine Dino Island to be, making this a vehicle that can traverse through a variety of different terrains, including long grass. An added bonus of this vehicle is how, unlike the jeep in Spider's Secret, there's more than enough room to place a headlight or two on here if you want, since, unless I'm mistaken, Dino Island doesn't have electricity or running water that isn't a river. Of course this group couldn't call themselves effective poachers if they only had a single trap, so we get a stationary one as well, for all the clever girls who avoid the Trapper. We start by taking the big 8x16 green brick and attaching it to two more 2x3 green bricks. The two 1x8 light gray tiles will be part of a play feature, which comes next. We start by building the mechanism that will support the net, with one 2x10 blue plate and two 1x10 light gray plates to start. Two 1x1 round bricks in blue will get added later. Speaking of, this particular brick did not hold up. Not sure if this has happened to anyone else, but it's a good lesson kids. Always treat your bricks gently. Fortunately I had a spare, and the part of the trap that supports the net is done. Now we move onto the platform that'll trigger the trap. Add some bricks onto the grille plate, and boom, we have a trap! Just attach it to the plate, and... ...we have trap number two! While not as striking as other booby traps in the Adventurers theme, the low profile works well for Sinister and Company's prey, especially with the camouflage on either side. Some more angles of the stationary trap. While with current parts (or even parts back then, if I'm being honest), you could probably add more camouflage to the grille plate and net, resetting it would be a pain after springing the trap, so it's fine. Last but not least, we have the actual campground for Sinister's base of operations. A 4x8 blue plate makes for a nice river, and provides some welcome change to the set's environment. So after building up a solid connection between the two baseplates with bricks and plates... ...we can get started on the campsite proper, with a barrel complete with a tap on top and a 2x2 round brick in brown, which will become a stove of sorts. So after adding a few more pieces, along with the Trapper's super-simple repair kit, and we have... A campsite, complete with Alexis Sinister and that pesky baby T-Rex I missed up above (though you tell me whether he's supposed to be an accessory or wildlife. Guess it depends on if you're in Sinister's camp or Johnny's). Some more views of the campground from different angles. Dino Research Compound this is not (for one thing, this model has a completely different name), but it's still a great addition to this set, giving our villains room to scheme and plan their next trap while enjoying fresh fish or whatever else they have on hand to eat. And there's plenty of room, which ensures all three minifigures can fit on here easily when the Trapper's engine is on the fritz. Let's just hope that they set up camp away from a game trail. And now you have the whole set, with all characters and vehicles included. As you can see, there's plenty to do here, so let's move on to the play features. Play Features Once you've built your top-of-the-line, custom vehicle designed for capturing dinos, it's only natural if the next thing you wish to do is give it a little field test. In the case of the Trapper, which capably traversed the rough terrain of my white tablecloth, we see it's encountered a rather docile Stegosaurus, caught unawares. Let's see how it does. Well, Mr. Cunningham must be a religious man, since it seems as if he got an assist from the Hand of God. Aside from outside help, you can see how the arm propped up launches the net. Once the Trapper hits a dinosaur (or a hand, wall, or pet), the front plate will be pushed in, sliding along the tiles to push the arm carrying the net up. It's pretty clever, and works wonderfully every time (although you do need to hit it like you mean it to get any kind of trajectory. Otherwise it just lands on top of the engine). Moving onto the stationary trap, we see Alexis Sinister has kindly offered to demonstrate how it works for us. By placing something on the black grille plate and pushing down... ...the net gets lifted up and falls over the quarry, leaving them a little tied up. Between the two traps, this might be the better one, since it doesn't require any finessing. Just stick something on the plate and let 'er rip. Finally, there's the campsite, which again, isn't anything noteworthy in terms of play features. But given how we get two really good ones with the other two models, having a bit of scenery where your minifigures can just hang out is nice. Although that flame under the frying pan might be a little strong if it's holding it aloft. Might want to turn that thing down, unless you like your food burned to oblivion. Final Thoughts Following my new tradition of trying to use numbers in my set reviews, let's see if I can sum this set up fairly. Pricing and Value - According to Brick Insights' statistics, which will probably be skewed a bit once this review is added to their index, the price-per-part for this set today is $0.24, an improvement over the initial price-per-part in 2000, which stood at $0.26. Overall, I'd say the value of this set is a 7/10, since you get a fair number of pieces for the price (and if Brickset is any indicator, the prices on this set used haven't gone up too much). Pieces - Sadly, this is where the set takes a hit for me (along with the other Dino Island sets), since so many of the actual parts aren't that unique. Unlike the Egyptian or Amazon subthemes, which offered a wealth of printed parts, here the only printed piece which is unique to this subtheme is a film strip tile, which is nice but a far cry from what we received in previous Adventurers subthemes. And the foliage isn't even that interesting, with all of it variations on this piece. On the other hand, you get two dinosaurs and two nets, along with some other useful, cool pieces, so it's a 7/10 for me. Design/Build - Here's a set which shows that, despite a lack of interesting or unique parts, you can still accomplish a lot with basic bricks, slopes, and plates. The design of the Trapper is fantastic, and the stationary trap is good too, while the campground has enough diversity in appearance to make it fit in with the other two models without completely disappearing. So it's a 9/10 for me, due in large part to the dedicated campsite and unique amphibious design of the Trapper. Playability - No preoccupations about whether or not I should try and trap a dinosaur with the Trapper or with the stationary trap, only that I can do so and should honestly do it more often. This set is very playable, and offers just enough accessories to give each minifigure something to hold or do. While the Trapper only seats two, you can still give the odd man out (or woman, if it's Alexis) something to do at the campsite or the stationary trap, which is great. While the net-launching feature on the Trapper doesn't always work if you aren't actively ramming the target, the rest is fine, so 8/10 for me. Verdict: All told, I'm glad life found a way to bring this set to me. While it was sacrificed at the altar of Star Wars, and later, Indiana Jones, it was a real treat to put it back together and play around with it some more. While some of the Dino Island sets are a little wonky now, especially in the surrounding environmental design, this set is a perfect balance between cool vehicles and playable terrain. Plus, if you're trying to avoid overdoing it with your LEGO purchases (preposterous, I say), this is a great set to get since it has all the villains. But again, the blocky design is a little primitive and lackluster compared to the designs of the previous two Adventurers subthemes, so the total score is a 77.5% from me. So while this isn't, say, a UNIX system, it's still a set I'd absolutely recommend picking up. Welcome...to collecting LEGO sets. Thanks for reading! Feel free to leave questions or comments below.
  3. Mr Maniac

    LEGO Hidden Side 2020

    Excellent point. Wrote this elsewhere, but for me, one of the more interesting aspects of Hidden Side was how it struck that balancing act (at least among the location sets), between working as a perfectly good City set (if a bit more run-down and dilapidated) in addition to appearing more 'haunted.' Obviously some of these worked better than most (wish the Wrecked Shrimp Boat had more transformation features), but on the whole, there was plenty of good here for me to get a few.
  4. Mr Maniac

    Witch's Grove [MOC]

    Thanks @JintaiZ! Hope you thought it was...spook-tacular!
  5. Mr Maniac

    Is there a 'medieval-punk?'

    Interesting. Lots of good stuff to chew on here. I glanced at some other forums that were non-LEGO discussing stuff like this, and yeah, I realize that you've gotta make it look real clunky to fit the era. Since the official line-up from Fright Knights already had some gestures in that direction, I should be able to make it work with a more expansive color palette regarding newer parts. @Peppermint_M, I love these designs (and the terminology. Filing that away in my head for use elsewhere)! Did you ever get any further than those two horse-carts in building? Thanks for the tips, @vitreolum! Looks like some of my earlier Bricklink orders were moving in the right direction, though I suspect I'll still want to add some gears or pulleys to create an 'effect,' such as the one in the actual lab with the spinning vortex part. which honestly could totally work as a magic vortex. I think you nailed it. Don't know if I'll try something as big as a horse-powered train (though that would return the term 'horsepower' to its rightful place )! Chances are brickbuilt windmills will definitely come into play for the witch's workshop. Should've known one of the biggest role-playing games would have some sources of inspiration! Thanks for the tip! Reading your arguments, and I'm inclined to agree, which is why I want to limit any novel 'magi-tech' MOCs to Willa's 'Magic Manor,' since I don't want to redesign the entire society and theme. Thanks again everyone! This has really helped me focus on how to get this stuff to blend in with the existing medieval Fright Knights theme!
  6. As soon as I first heard rumors and rumblings around the 2012 Monster Fighters line (on this very website, come to think of it), I knew I'd be hooked. Having grown up with the LEGO Studios Monster sets, these were very much my jam. It was like we were getting more detailed, updated settings and monster minifigures from that line, except it was real, instead of being confined to a movie set. So naturally, I ended up buying all of them (except for two sets) from this line, and still get them out every year before Halloween. That being said, I felt like this theme was ripe for expansion, especially after I purchased several spooky CMFs. So after a few Bricklink orders, I managed to add to the existing sets from this line-up, including my Witch's Grove MOC. With that being said... Wouldst thou like to live deliciously? The lead witch with her sssssssssplendid familiar: And kudos to LEGO for gifting us with this wonderful fig stirring the pot. Works great as a Renfield, Igor, or (for me) another witch! (Just keep that brain jar away from the zombies!) And while there's plenty I love in this MOC, the crystal ball with the leering skull gets me every time. Such a cool effect! Some more angles: Of course, not even witches can hide from the tenacious Monster Fighters! Which includes Frank Rock jamming out taking out one of the witches with...what else? A (holy?) water pack! Along with the adventurous Ann Lee fighting fire with silver stakes (at least now we know how she got that scar)! A few more angles on Frank's water pack. This is probably one of my favorite quick-builds I went through while building, as it fits the Monster Fighters having some thematically appropriate weapon for fighting witches. I tried to build them a vehicle, but, uh, let's just say it could use another go. Photos are on my Bricksafe folder, though I'll probably try and make something that looks meaner, and closer to some of City's Firefighter sets with a water-turret in the rear. In any case, hope you all like it! This build was actually an improvement on something I had tossed together years ago, taking the parts from the tree that made up LEGO Studios' Werewolf Ambush to make the archway, including the eyes. This is more naturalistic than that, but still has great atmosphere, I think, especially paired with the Monster Fighters' The Werewolf tree, making for a spooky forest setting. Anyways, thanks for looking! Comments, feedback, and questions are always welcome! Happy Halloween!
  7. So this question may seem a little out there, but bear with me (and if this fits in better on the Sci-Fi Forum, than by all means move it over). I recently published a review of Witch's Windship here a few days ago given the season, and in it I mentioned how I ended up picking up most of that particular wave. Whether that was folly or not remains to be seen, as I've only built two out of four of the mid-sized sets. But I do find parts of this subtheme appealing, especially when we get to the different flying machines. Given the actual state of the official sets, I'm already in the process of modding them to have a more consistent color scheme, but want to go further. Given how this subtheme already dabbled in more "advanced" technology for LEGO Castle compared to other subthemes, I was considering incorporating some more "machinery" that would be high-tech...for the Middle Ages as I modify the existing line. For instance, I'm thinking of reverse-engineering a device similar to the one from the Scary Laboratory in the Studios line, where you have a door and a turntable you can spin to "transform" a minifigure. But given how I'm working in a more medieval setting, I'm not sure a direct transfer would mesh as well. So my question is whether anyone may have any thoughts on what kind of parts would make a contraption like the one I described appear more "medieval," instead of Victorian. More clockwork mechanisms? Gears? Wagon Wheels? Or is this a silly question, and should I just try a direct transfer? Given the era, I'm inclined to stay away from any designs that resemble the harnessing of electricity, and am trying to consider what other designs I could implement to convey a sense of power being harnessed for this infernal machine.
  8. Mr Maniac

    Halloween & Spooky 2020 Sets

    I think you nailed my own feelings toward Hidden Side, though I don't know if I ever hated it, so to speak. Given how the last big "spooky" theme was Monster Fighters, which basically featured classic Universal movie monsters along with quasi-steampunk/cyborg monster slayers was very much my jam in every way. Nothing against Hidden Side, but it was just a bit jarring after Monster Fighters, where we're suddenly moving from the early 20th Century to a more contemporary setting for a "horror" theme. But as someone who frequently detests how entire shelves of LEGO are often made up of nothing but vehicle-based sets, Hidden Side was refreshing to me for featuring a number of location-based sets, ones that honestly looked very nice, and even had some good play features to boot when it came to transformation actions. Plus if you're a big collector of LEGO City or Town, it's incredibly easy to integrate it into your normal city, or if you collect some Hidden Side parts from Bricklink or another vendor, you can build a whole bunch of "possessed" vehicles or buildings, which is cool. So that's a definite plus for Hidden Side for me. On the other hand, the number of hero minifigures was...not ideal. The fact that most of the sets, with the exception of the larger, more expensive ones featured only Jack or Parker (or if you're lucky, Jack AND Parker) meant it was easy for anyone collecting these to quickly reach saturation levels, which is too bad. If they could've just thrown in JB or El Fuego in a few more sets instead of the two teen protagonists, I think that would be less annoying. Although in the larger scheme of things, minifigure saturation isn't that big of a deal (after all, I already have way too many Johnny Thunder minifigs), so on the whole I'd say Hidden Side is a great addition to the spooky LEGO stable.
  9. Mr Maniac

    LEGO Hidden Side 2020

    That's a good point. I know that @Lyichir mentioned how costly it would be to make unique molds for each of the specialty ghost-figs, especially when you get into some of the more unique designs like the Harbinger with that toothy-chest-maw. But still, would've been great to get at least one big-fig or brick-built fig before Reem as a way of expanding the actual villains for the kids to fight. To look at another theme, Nexo Knights had some great designs for the villains that were brick-built while the app (they used an app, right?) didn't take away from actual set execution. Now I'm curious to know if any other current themes have a VR/app component, or if Hidden Side was it. Monkie Kid doesn't have anything similar, right?
  10. Mr Maniac

    Vargheist - Warhammer

    Genuinely curious about the part used to support the bats over the tree. Is that official LEGO, or a modded part? And great use of that skull along with the man-bat hairpiece! Never thought to combine the two, but it's a great look, and that whole build for the monster looks very poseable!
  11. Mr Maniac

    LEGO Monkie Kid 2020

    As someone who recently decided to buy enough sets to qualify for that Monkie Kid GWP set, I think I'm starting to get won over by this theme. The one thing I'd love here (and I'm sure this will surprise no one), are smaller sets at lower price points. That's probably been one of those larger stumbling blocks for me picking up more sets from this theme (he said, while hypocritically buying the big Research Ship).
  12. Well if that doesn't work, you can always give Hermione's Time-Turner a whirl!
  13. Mr Maniac

    Review: The Lost Tomb

    Hey, thanks @The Reader! Great idea combining the two, since that would probably give you a nice little temple complex, along with the central hero and two of the villains! Out of curiosity, have you taken any photos of your combination? Or is it just the two sets put next to each other? Because either way, that sounds pretty cool! And good call on those maps. Had no idea they corresponded to the printed columns, but that's an interesting theory! One of the impressive things about this debut subtheme was how generous they were with printed parts. The fact that we only got one map from the Jungle/Amazon subtheme and one of each from the biggest Orient Expedition sets make these early maps far more special. And unlike some of the later maps from Pharaoh's Quest or City's Jungle Exploration subtheme, they're generic enough to work with any number of Egyptian MOCs!
  14. Mr Maniac

    Review: Witch's Windship

    Growing up, I was never really a huge fan of LEGO Castle. The one exception to that rule was Fright Knights, which honestly looked pretty cool in the LEGO Racers video game, as if the designers had taken the previous Castle racetracks and upped the difficulty and spookiness of it all. Years later, looking up some of the actual sets from this subtheme proved...underwhelming, with their occasionally slapdash designs and weird color schemes, suggesting that I should've stuck with the memories from that game instead. But I guess I love a good fixer-upper on occasion, since I still ended up buying most of the sets from that wave anyways. Among them was a MISB Witch's Windship. So let's go 'round the cauldron and check out this set review, which was double, double toil and trouble, especially since I took these photos last year and had to spend some time looking for them again: Info Set # - 6037 Name - Witch's Windship Theme/Subtheme - Castle/Fright Knights Year - 1997 Piece Count - 56 Minifigures - 1 Price - MSRP $8 US Links Brickset, Peeron, Bricklink, Bricksafe Box Forget your older castle subthemes, with their pleasant green fields and blue skies. We're in nightmare territory here, as you can tell from the box art. Craggy mountains in the background suggest this is a harsh, mountainous terrain with little vegetation, while the orange and red sky is very Halloween-ish, which is great. I also dig the...large bats? Dragons? Dragon bats? that are fluttering around in the background, again suggesting that we're not in Kansas anymore (or the Yellow Castle, at the very least). With all that being said, the model that is the main reason for buying this set also looks great, seemingly swooping through the sky. And don't forget that excellent logo in the upper right-hand corner of the box, still mostly visible despite the obnoxious reflection. As for the back, it's more of the same in terms of designs from 90s sets, with alternative models and additional practical photography. Given the parts selection, there aren't exactly too many alternative models you can construct, since some of these pieces are rather specialized. Though I do like how they placed Willa and that dragon-type monstrosity for the bottom-most build on what seems to be actual rocks, allowing it to mesh better with the rest of the photos in creating a consistent world. Not to mention the dragon daintily carrying her broomstick in the upper-right model photo . The sides of the box are mostly the same with a yellowy-orange color, and all are viewable on my Bricksafe folder, so we'll just put the most interesting photo in this review, leaving the others for completists. Again, it's nice to see LEGO use what looks like actual rocks here, even if they're just pieces of painted Styrofoam. I also think this alternative model doesn't look too bad given the limited range of parts we have to work with, opting for more of an aerial chariot look. Okay, enough ogling the cool box art. Let's punch a very satisfying hole in this old set and take a look at all of the nicely preserved pieces. Here's what you get if you pay a premium for this set still sealed in its box, and what you would have gotten if you picked this up back in 1997: one bag with the smaller parts, while the rest are just sitting loosely inside. We also get an instruction manual and promotional posters, which isn't too surprising. What is surprising is that Willa's excellent cape is completely unprotected from getting accidentally creased or crumpled due to loose parts. Fortunately, it looks to be just fine. Unlike some of the other older sets I've picked up MISB, the promotional materials for this one seem to be advertising new sets for next year instead of the current year, which is always a fun trip down memory lane. If I hadn't spent the summer rebuilding and playing with several of these older themes, I might feel inclined to take them out again in the near future. Instructions Now that we've got the box open, here's the instructions which...resembles the box, except with no UPC codes or appropriate age ranges, so it's cleaner. And here's your random page from inside the instructions. As you can tell, pretty straightforward, although you have to pay attention, since there are no parts call-outs telling you how many pieces you need to get through the next step. You also get treated to a really nice orange to yellow gradient, which helps maintain the spooky, creepy atmosphere that defines this theme. Unfortunately, I neglected to take a photo of the back of these instructions, but if you want to know what it looks like, simply scroll up to the photo of the back of the box, and there you go. Pieces There aren't too many parts that I personally thought were interesting, but that's largely because I've seen them in other sets I own. In any case, below are the parts of interest for me, which include the old-school LEGO dragon mold, first introduced in 1993 through the Dragon Knights subtheme. Willa's red magic wand, which has since been used in a number of clever LEGO Star Wars jokes as a substitute lightsaber blade, also first appeared in 1993 among the Dragon Knights subtheme and since then has appeared in 92 sets. Of particular interest to me are the last two parts, which are unique because they were introduced specifically for this theme. Willa's Slope 65 2x2x2 without bottom tube with dark gray and red witch's pattern has appeared in only six sets, all of which are Fright Knights with the exception of one castle set from 1997, which still does feature all the key figures from this subtheme and from the Royal Knights. Lastly, the crystal ball piece, which is always nice to have, also made its debut in the Fright Knights subtheme, and has since appeared in 48 sets. Minifigures Here's the only minifigure for this set which, as you might have guessed, puts the witch in Witch's Windship. Unless I'm mistaken, Willa the Witch is LEGO's first ever witch minifigure, and she certainly looks thrilled to be a pioneer, with that big, cackling grin complete with a single tooth. While many of the more recent witch minifigures more closely resemble the classic pop culture depiction of a witch by being green, she still looks nice all these years later. And the printed slope is also novel to me, since it seems like any kind of leg printing is a very recent phenomenon. And here's the back of Willa, with her gnarly spider cape, matching the brooch on her front. Much like Basil the Batlord's cape, we've got a nice little fringe on the bottom, giving it a slightly eviller look compared to other capes from other Castle subthemes. And for those curious, here's what Willa looks like without her cape. While the front of her dress is printed, it's clear that backprinting was still a little too advanced for the time. But since it's covered by a cape, it isn't really a problem. As far as wildlife goes, we have Willa's noble steed, represented here by that classic green dragon of yore. While Ninjago has given us plenty of really nice-looking brick-built dragons, this guy's still pretty cool and can easily sit on a desk or castle tower without taking up too much space. Seeing how this mold was first introduced in the Dragon Knights subtheme, I like to think Willa either grabbed a similar dragon or, better yet, stole him from Majisto . Another angle on this lovely dragon, which has a nice little hole in his mouth where you can place some of those older flame pieces. Sure, you can place Zamor Spheres and all sorts of other things in the newer dragon mouths, but it's still quite satisfying to have some fire shooting out of this guy's mouth. Uh-oh, looks like he's starting to sneeze. Better move on. The Build Since we only have a little over 50 parts here, the build goes fast. So fast, in fact, that I didn't have time to photograph each step. In any case, here's what I got: We start by building the base, inside the large black cockpit 10x10x4 octagonal with axle hole part. The round yellow bricks on the bottom make up the landing struts. Then after a few more steps, it's starting to take shape, complete with rear taillights, I suppose. After all, don't want to hit one of those monster bats! And after adding the ship rigging and a very simple harness for the dragon along with its wings, we have one lean, mean, medieval flying machine! For those interested, a closer view of the interior of this ship. One of the more disappointing things here is how little space there is for more than one minifigure. Sure, you could cram two more inside the basket while other Fright Knights ride on the rigging, but it sort of takes away from this working as an aerial siege engine, since space is limited. Willa even needs to stretch to reach the crystal ball for steering, which is too bad. Two wedge plates would quickly fix this problem, instead of the 2x6 plate we're stuck with instead. And here's another angle of the windship, showing those sweet taillights. Play Features Since we only have one vehicle, there isn't really too much you can do that would count as a "play feature," short of swooshing it around. The dragon can rock in its harness, which feels realistic, and as you can see below, the two axes are on red hinge bricks, which means airborne decapitations and lancings are now possible. When I first connected these hinge bricks, one of them was loose while the other was a little stiffer, but they both worked fine and I found it quite fun to swing them back and forth. And here's the complete set, with Willa and her (presumably flying) broomstick, in case this invention of hers doesn't quite work out. Overall I like the black and red, which both matches Willa's wardrobe and the Halloween-ish vibe they're going after, although I'm not quite sold on the light gray, which I too often associate with rock, something that wouldn't quite fly with something like this. Oddly enough, the yellow is fine, since it isn't as prominent as some of the Fright Knights' other vehicles. Final Thoughts Pricing and Value - Brick Insights suggests that this set is still worth it, based on the price-per-part ratio, which is currently at $0.22, an improvement over its initial price-per-part in 1997, which was $0.24. With that being said, I would probably place this at a 7/10, since cost-wise, it hasn't skyrocketed the way other sets from 1997 have, and that means plenty of unique parts for a buyer that have since been retired, without paying too much. Pieces - With only 56 parts in the set, that means most of them better count, and boy do they ever. That large octagonal part is very usable across a number of themes, and this is a pretty nice grab-bag of medieval parts if you're running low, from a magic wand, two axes, a broomstick, and a crystal ball. Oh, and don't forget that dragon, which is always a plus. So let's say 8/10. Design/Build - Surprising no one, this set is not exactly designed super well, which is a shame. While LEGO has now done several fantasy subthemes in their Castle line, with plenty of wildly impractical siege engines, I still think Fright Knights is impressive for the sheer number of medieval flying machines they tried to make. Unfortunately, with the strangely colored parts included with this set, along with the pitifully small plank for Willa to stand on, this only gets a 6/10 from me. Playability - You can swish around Willa on her broomstick, or if she doesn't feel like slumming it, put her in the windship. With the dragon attached by an axle brick, you can also get plenty of swinging action too, which seems right when your method of propulsion comes from a dragon instead of hot air. And with the axes that can swing open and close easily, I think I'm comfortable giving this an 8/10, which may seem high, but you can get a lot of mileage out of this set even though you only get a single minifigure and a dragon, without a separate faction to fight. Verdict - LEGO may have made many villainous factions for heroic knights to fight, from Vladek's forces to armies of trolls and skeletons, but for me, Fright Knights takes the cake. This faction remains one of those compelling subthemes probably because they got there first, and as you can tell by how much I gushed over the box art, has atmosphere to burn. While I love seeing some of the more recent fantasy-era Castle sets, those still seem to take place in a shared universe with the usual trappings of rolling fields and impregnable castles. Fright Knights, on the other hand, seems very different, with innumerable flying machines, booby traps, and a batlord who may or may not be a medieval vampire. Granted, the design of several of these sets leaves something to be desired, and Witch's Windship is no exception, with a lackluster interior and odd choices for the colors of certain parts. But since you aren't getting more than one minifigure, it isn't that much of a problem for me. Given how this set is a flagship vehicle of sorts, having driven by it several times on the Fright Knights' course in LEGO Racers, I suppose I shouldn't be too surprised that this set gets a 72.5% from me. Thanks for reading! Comments and questions are always welcomed! Little did Willa realize the downsides of traveling in a large, spacious basket instead of a small broomstick. Especially when dealing with a tenacious Monster Fighter. Happy Halloween!
  15. Mr Maniac

    Review: The Lost Tomb

    Absolutely! It's taken me a while to realize this, but hey, turns out I like quite a few LEGO themes that are set in the past, as opposed to the present or future! While it's nice to have some version of Pirates back with that Ideas set, and while Ninjago has been excellent with giving us a simulacrum of Castle right now, I'd dearly love to have something from the early 20th Century again like these Adventurers sets, Pharaoh's Quest and some of the Indiana Jones sets! Even if it's related to Ninjago, I think that would be enough for me to, uh, break my unofficial embargo. Thanks man! It was a blast to write (though I really got to do these earlier)! Thank you! I could've sworn I found a fan page of LEGO Adventurers somewhere on the World Wide Web that had translations for each printed column, but again, in my haste to Get It Done, I decided I'd leave it to any commenters who happen upon this review. While I still need to read Tintin (which would very much be in my wheelhouse, as a fan of the movie and pulp adventure overall), a quick Google Search immediately brought up the illustrated version of this character, and wow, that is spot on! I can't help but wonder if LEGO released a new head with round spectacles and a beard, because you're right, Sinister's original head is far too evil for Sophocles (even though I love the LEGO version. That's probably why I've elected to avoid using Adventurers heads in other themes. They're too iconic for me now).