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Lego Maniacs' Guide: Reviews: Castle : Ninjas : Flying Ninja Fortress

[Purchase Online at Amazon.com] 6093 - Flying Ninja Fortress

Rating: 3 Stars
Pros: A pretty neat structure with very cool mini-figs, use of pins and holes to stabilize the sections was nice to see again after so long.
Cons: The construction of the entire castle isn't very stable (though it stands up well under play).
Contents: 687 pieces including 9 mini-figs and 1 horse
Price: $89.99
Reviewed: 18-May-1998
Reviewed by: Joseph Gonzalez

6093 The night is still and moonless. In a motion the masked one leaps and becomes one with the air, gliding out from the mountain peak and over the chasm toward the Shimazu fortress below. The fortress is reached without a sound as he lands atop the highest tower, quickly tethering the wings to a balcony railing. Two guards are dispatched with less noise than a breeze and now lay crumpled in a corner of the third story. Carefully inching his way to the lower level, at last the sacred scroll is reached and secured, a trap door opening but snaring no captive. He has almost reached the top of the tower when a voice sounds behind him, "You are a fool, Tsuyoshi, you should not have come back....now I am the master!" and opposing katana blades flash in dim candle light.

Okay, there's good news and bad news. The good news is that the Lego Group hasn't forgotten how to make modular castles whose walls snap and fasten into other wall sections by way of pins and holes. The bad news is that this only shows up in the 6093 Flying Ninja Fortress (although some modularity still shows in the sub-theme by way of removable/interchangable towers).
I was totally bowled over by the appearance of Ninja sets in the 1998 catalog, and after suffering through five months of drooling over them, I can safely say that they were worth the wait and live up to expectations (at least of current sets).
The Flying Ninja Fortress is quite an impressive castle very comparable to the 6097 Night Lord's Castle both in size and structure. As with the 6097, the FNF is separated into three base sections with three removable/interchangeable towers. With this in mind, I will describe the castle with the left and right wings being placed so that the castle front measures 48 studs long (as in catalog pictures). The other option switches the right and left wings and allows for shallower wings but a longer facade of 72 studs in length.
The center section of the castle provides an entryway with large wooden doors and a booby trap of four halberds that swing down onto intruders. Talk about your slice and dice, this is one of the more gruesome booby traps the Lego Group has provided us with in some time. A one-story tower sits on the second level of this section, and with a smaller base size of 6x8 it isn't quite as interchangeable as the other towers (whose base areas measure 8x8). This shortest of the towers is a simple room.
The right wing of the castle houses a sword stand. It has a two-story tower with the first level containing a revolving door with a crystal chalice on one side and a skeleton on the other side. The second level is a living space with a small table and bed (now when was the last time you saw a castle structure with a bed for a mini-fig?). The roof of this tower is an open balcony.
The left wing has a spacious prison cell and a three-story tower. The first level of the tower is a simple room, the second level has a table bearing a scroll and two large gem elements based on a trap door which can drop mini-figs down to the level below. The third level has space for a trunk to be stored, and again, the roof is an open balcony. An additional/separate construction with the set is the Ninja glider, kind of bulky but cool.
Minifigs included with the set are four samurai (a chief and what look like three guards), three Ninja (two grey and one black), a peasant-type bandit-looking guy, and a skeleton. There were plenty of weapons for the figs including seven katana swords, two muskets and a flintlock pistol (firearms were in black for a change), and six or seven brown spears.
There were plenty of new/unique parts: wood sculpted bricks in grey and white (1x4, 1x2 and white wall sections), 1x4x8 brown doors, the odd-shaped 4x6x6 preprinted slope bricks which make up the base walls of the fortress, 1x1 round green bricks with the leaves attached to the brick (not flexy like plants usually are so the elements stick better to bricks), the green rope-with-handgrips element, fishies, and a new 2x2x3 beam brick in white. The blue 2x2 flags are preprinted on both sides with the samurai insignia.
I'm very surprised to note that base constructions don't have the stability they once did. Where "L" braces would have been built interlocking the 1x2 and 1x3 bricks, separate beams of 1x2 and 1x3 are constructed and then joined at the top. This may seem minor but in the old days this type of construction was not only frowned upon but advised against (thanks to Joe Lauher's site for the example). This mentality of building up the beam as high as possible and then joining it to something else is becoming rather prevalent in today's constructions and it concerns me. It's a minor complaint but proof that designers are not being as careful as they once might have been.
I'd love to give this model four stars. When it first arrived in the mail and I did a victory dance with the box held high over my head I probably would have given it six, but after looking at the structure and trying to see how it will stand over time, I realize that it is probably worth three stars at best. If you buy it you will undoubtedly love it for the array of mini-figs and the tall construction (one thing the abundance of specialized parts allows is the building of much larger buildings than was possible before), but I can sadly identify the possibility that our beloved Lego sets are becoming less and less construction toys.

72 readers have rated this set as 4.17 out of 5 stars.
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