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Found 1 result

  1. 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!