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Lego Maniacs' Guide: Reviews: Castle : Royal Knights : Royal Knight's Castle

[Purchase Lego at Amazon.com] 6090 - Royal Knight's Castle

Rating: 3 Stars
Pros: A pretty impressive set with lots of bricks and new/unique pieces
Cons: Basic structure could have been more firmly designed. It's a shame, a set of this size really should/could have been five stars.
Contents: 743 pieces including 11 figures and 3 horses
Price: $89.99 - Discontinued
Reviewed: 26-Oct-1996
Reviewed by: Joseph Gonzalez

6090 Castle Achillestone sits kingly on the hill overlooking the valley. With a condescending glare, it evokes both fear and respect of the village peasants. Honoring and unworthy of that respect, it holds a hundred dreadful secrets, has withstood a thousand battles from without, and quietly quelled a like number of rebellions within its cool stony walls.
Through it all, it remains a monument to ennobled pomposity and the facade of grandeur. But a new era begins as stewardship of the castle is soon to be passed onto the spoiled unscrupulous brat-prince of the great King Wallace. Who would dare question Prince Richard's character since the mysterious disappearance of the two lords that dared dispute the prince's decision to wage war on the armies of the Black Knight's shire in his greed for more land? Tonight a grand gala will be held in honor of Richard's new principality. The smirking lad smugly greets each guest, so assured that none can discover the terrible secret hidden in dark and musty dungeon cells.

I was quite captivated with this set as I was constructing it, but after a few days of looking at it and allowing my two-year-old to find its weak spots, I like it a little bit less. Still, it is a good-size castle and comes with an ample number of pieces (including the new ramp and pit plate) to make it worth the money, especially if you wait for a sale.
The set consists of a rather imposing castle structure whose outstanding features include two entrances, a tower for the king's throne (with a booby-trapped floor), and some semblance of a dungeon layout (where most castle sets just have a pit).
One of Lego's most interesting qualities is their use of portcullis gates and those gates' frameworks. This particular set uses pairs of 2x2x6 bricks on each side of the gate with a groove running from top to bottom in the bricks so that the gate is raised and lowered while being held firmly within those grooves. Aside from its use of this gate, the main entrance is also protected with two large wooden doors. This entry is located in the facing wall of the castle which I will term "East". To the side of this large entry is a double-door vestibule (usually pictured housing the ghost). The entrance doesn't actually lead into the castle (which kind of ticked me off), so I guess this is simply a guard booth. (Pity the poor sucker that gets trapped in there when the castle is under attack.)
The South and West walls don't have any features worth mentioning but the North side of the castle contains the King's "judgement tower." This tower is sustained by pairs of 2x2x3 1/3 octagon bricks. The first level of the tower is chiefly an exit/entry with a functioning draw bridge. The second level (actually about three levels up) houses a throne and "pleading court" before the throne. This small area is actually a booby-trapped floor which can be dropped open for quick and easy judgments. (Time to take out the trash!) There is a small peaked-roof area above this throne level where treasure chests, barrels, or bodies can be hidden.
There are quite a few unique pieces I found with this set that will probably start cropping up in future castle sets, but I saw them here first: 32x48 ramp and pit plate (as opposed to the standard 32x32 ramp plate) which obviously covers more area. The ramp is not as steep, sloping up in to about mid-height of the plate rather than stretching up to the very top; the plate also has a molded stairway going up the "North" side of the plate (roughly covers a 3x10 area) which ascends from the ground to the top of the plate. I have to admit I like this additional stairway that I didn't have to make myself.
Other new pieces include 1x2 grey semicircle bricks (form a whole circle with four placed end on end), 2x2 dark grey inverted slope bricks (not uncommon in grey or black, but now available in the dark grey tone that some rocky-wall sections come in), 1x5 diagonal beams in black and grey (as opposed to the smaller 1x3 diagonal beams), these dissect a 5x5 square where the old 1x3 beams dissect a 3x3 square. I like the longer beams, but like no less the shorter beams.
Still more unique pieces include the 1x5 diagonal black wall corner section (again, dissects a larger 5x5 square as opposed to the standard black wall corner sections), 1x4 arch brick in dark grey (whoa, is dark grey gonna become a standard color now?), and the use of a red motorcycle helmet for a knight. The red helmet is by no means new to Lego, but they have never been used as a knight's helmet.
On to my complaints: I found out only too quickly what should have been obvious, that the King's tower is not very sturdy. The tall thin columns are more like skinny, wobbly legs and if you bump them just the wrong way, they become loose, or worse, just fall over and take everything with them. The tower is aesthetically pleasing, but it isn't going to stand up to any kind of attack. Also, I found corners of the castle here and there with holes or gaps in the structure. You can pretend the attacking army can't shoot their arrows through these small gaps, but every other castle structure I've worked with (and that is quite a few), hasn't had this "slapped together" look to it. One last complaint/comment is that this is supposed to be the knight's castle, get that big-crown flowing-caped bozo out of here.
There are some great bricks here to work with and the principal design includes some never before used gargoyle-face structures that adorn two of the towers of the castle, those are pretty cool. The great number of bricks will allow you lots of variations, but if you just spent a hundred dollars or more, you dang well better get a lot of bricks!

133 readers have rated this set as 4.505 out of 5 stars.
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