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 June 29, 2004

BrickTalk: LEGO Knights' Kingdom Press Kit
Mark: LEGO® Knights' Kingdom has been available in parts of Europe since January of this year and just officially launched in North America, although it has been featured on for many months and the sets have been available from LEGO Shop At Home for several weeks now.

Knights' Kingdom definitely has an interesting bloodline. Five of the ten sets are constructible action figures, dubbed "constraction figures" (a phrase I hope never to see again) in the Press Release above, sold in reusable plastic containers shaped like castle turrets. Four of those sets (8770 - 8773 [Europe] or 8782 - 8785 [North America], DANJU, JAYKO, RASCUS, and SANTIS) are brightly colored heroes. The fifth set, 8774/8786 VLADEK shown up top, is the bad guy.

Each of these five action figures is just about the same height as the TOA METRU. Their helmets are actually their heads with mask-like faceplates that snap on the same way visors snap on minifigs. That's too bad, because otherwise these masks might have worked in the BIONICLE universe. The swords may be of interest to some BIONICLE builders though.

The overall construction of the action figures is somewhere between GALIDOR and BIONICLE. The piece count is closer to BIONICLE (VLADEK has forty-nine), but the actual pieces suggest a less-integrated GALIDOR. The action feature is a lever which raises and lowers the sword arm.

The other BIONICLE-like features of Knights' Kingdom include a strong backstory along with ongoing serial Flash comics (revealing that story, currently up to Episode 3) and games on the website. (Oddly though, the conclusion of the story is already laid out in comic form in the back of the instructions.) Add to that a Collectible Card Game with each set containing three cards, la Orient Expedition.

The truly new twist to Knights' Kingdom are the five minifig-scale sets. Medieval construction sets are nothing new as far as LEGO sets are concerned, and therein lies the genius-stroke of Knights' Kingdom. By combining Knights' Kingdom action figures with Knights' Kingdom construction sets, The LEGO Company breathes new life into their medieval sets while simultaneously minimizing the risk of launching new action figures by sharing the story and promotion.

Above is the 8777 VLADEK ENCOUNTER set. Obviously, VLADEK is rendered here in minifig form as is the purple DANJU. The new minifigs and new swords are strong selling points, as is the horse's battle armor.

The big (read expensive) set for Knights' Kingdom is The Castle of Morcia. The press release lists some interesting features for the castle: new mechanical features, secrets to discover, minifigs can scale the walls, and elements can be turned from good to bad and back again to "reflect a change in rulers." This highlights the one thing I think is missing from BIONICLE: a play space.

It was easy enough to take LEWA out into the back yard and swing him through the trees or plunge GALI into the kiddie pool when imagining Mata Nui, but, with the exception of lava flows for TAHU to surf on, Metru Nui seems a bit tougher. The vast majority of BIONICLE has been good guys, bad guys, and collectibles. The occasional transport (EXO-TOA, BOXOR), critter (MASTERBUILDER), or combo critter-transport (PEWKU, GUKKO, and NIVAWK) have been our only respite. Bring on the Knowledge Tower set, the Great Archives set, etc.

Enough of my soapbox. In summary, Knights' Kingdom builds upon the solid foundation laid by earlier themes, namely Castle, BIONICLE, and Orient Expedition. It does not offer much in the way of parts for the BIONICLE builder other than swords and possibly some joints. It does offer a strong story of good-versus-evil though, and the usual joy of building things out of colorful bricks that click together.

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